SXSW Exclusive Review: The Carnivores

Writer/director Caleb Johnson’s sophomore effort, "The Carnivores", has a lot of strong intrigue, allure, and character to entrance viewers into its strange story of how man’s best friend is dividing a couple and making one of them oddly obsessed with raw meat. The film follows Alice (Tallie Medel) and Brett (Lindsay Burdge) as they are divided by Brett’s dog Harvie as his illness is causing him to slowly die. Although Brett wants to spend every last second with him since she feels she has so much history with him, Alice feels like he’s ruining everything. With Brett pretty much being obsessed with Harvie, Alice is starting to feel left out and it’s causing a major rift in their intimacy and love for one another. However, after Alice’s sleepwalking and her issues with Harvie come to a head, Harvie goes missing and the two women begin to uncover strange, beautiful, and even horrifying parts of one another.

1917: The Romance That Never Happened

“1917” was one of the biggest hits of this year’s awards season. It has made almost $300 million at the box office and counting. The film won Best Drama at the Golden Globes, Outstanding British Film and Best Film at the BAFTAs and... well let’s just say I’m glad I waited until after the Oscars to write this article. Regardless, this WWI film wowed audiences with its teeth-grinding tension and “HOW DID THEY DO THAT?!” one-shot cinematography. But you know what would have made it better? If it were gayer. I’m probably going to have to justify that. Spoilers ahead. The core relationship of the film is between the two protagonists, Lance Corporals Blake and Schofield. Through their perilous mission across the war-torn fields of France, they display openness and intimacy rare from male leads in action films. The single-take aesthetic heavily emphasises their closeness, almost always placing them together in the frame. Their bantering dialogue makes them feel like they’ve been close friends for years. They need each other, they save each other.

Review: “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and Q&A with Céline Sciamma

“It’s done,” Céline Sciamma said through laughter, “I don’t need your approval!” Ten minutes earlier, a lengthy applause break punctuated the film screening and Sciamma was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation. Sitting in a folding director’s chair on-stage in the sold-out Music Box Theater in Chicago, IL, Sciamma shared insights on the filmmaking process during a question and answer session with the audience. The early pre-screening of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (2019) was part of a press tour preceding the films wide release in the United States.

Best Actress of the Decade, Entry No.19: Cate Blanchett

To celebrate the last decade 2010-2019, we are counting down the best actresses and discussing some of their most notable and memorable performances of the decade. With the help of Film Twitter, the ITOL team has selected 30 actresses. Today, we write about Cate Blanchett - a winner of two Academy Awards, for Best Actress in "Blue Jasmine" and Best Supporting Actress in "Aviator." The actress was additionally nominated in Best Actress category for her phenomenal roles in "Carol" and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age."

Review: What Keeps You Alive

Oh, "What Keeps You Alive" is Hitchcockian, alright--in how one of the characters isn’t the way they seem at the beginning; in how a gasp-worthy plot twist comes right outta nowhere at the film’s midpoint which will surely elicit gasps. Unfortunately, it starts to make less sense the longer it goes on. Colin Minihan’s thriller presents a horrific nightmare about a new relationship. It presents the “never really knowing your own spouse” trope with fresh packaging which mostly succeeds in delivering a high-octane thrill ride. 

Retrospective Review: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Anne Rice’s debut novel, “Interview with the Vampire” was published in 1976 and was somewhat controversial at the time for its openly erotic depiction of the undead. Two years later, “Dracula” would open on Broadway with first Frank Langella and then Raul Julia as the Count with obvious sex appeal. The book would take nearly two decades to be adapted to the screen but by that time, Rice had paved the way for vampires to be portrayed with animal magnetism such that Bela Lugosi would never have gotten away with in the 1930’s.  Brad Pitt plays Louis as a mournful sympathetic vampire, regretful of his lost humanity and the loss of human life he is directly responsible for. His desire to unburden his conscience sets up the interview of the film’s title as he tells his life story to Christian Slater. Director Neil Jordan deliberately shows Pitt as androgynous with long hair, perfect skin and full lips. It is no surprise that the vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) desires him or that other vampires will want to possess him as well

Review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

This is the female gaze like you’ve never seen it before. "Portrait"--a film set in Brittany, France in the 18th century--is a showcase of how the depths of insight and poignancy in a work of art comes as a result of the artist having a deep, loving, obsessive understanding of their subject. It is a film about two women on an island with hardly anyone else around them and the painfully, yet deliciously slow romance that materializes from a connection of their minds, bodies, and souls. The film is thematically rich and daring, yet never once seeks to shove a message or agenda down your throat; it’s a love story, plain and simple. Writer/director Céline Sciamma clearly isn’t interested in subverting history in an effort to appease the needs of a contemporary audience--yet in spite of that, this is a film brimming with human truths. It is reminiscent of the underpinnings and themes found Greek and Gothic literature and poetry. Tender, yet complex and multifaceted--this is in no way a political film, but rather, a subtle social commentary on the kinds of job opportunities available to women in the 18th century.

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 41: Pariah

The Forever Young Film Club is a British organisation whose primary activity is to host screenings of coming-of-age movies. "Girlhood", "Booksmart" and "Mid90s" have all attracted large crowds, and the Club is clearly going from strength to strength. The main reason for this continuing success is down to the hard work of the three women behind the screenings, but there’s also the fact that, sooner or later, pretty much all of us have to grow up. Changing friendships, sex, sexuality, hopes, dreams and discovering your parent/s’ flaws are all part of moving from childhood to adulthood, which means that coming-of-age is perhaps cinema’s most relatable subgenre.

Dee Rees’ 2011 feature debut “Pariah” is one such film.

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