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.

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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.

Booksmart Censorship Controversy: The Prejudiced Censorship of the Human Experience

It was disheartening to read that a butchered version of one of this year’s best films, "Booksmart", was shown on Delta’s aeroplanes. It was reported that “A version of the coming-of-age comedy that is being shown on Delta doesn't include a hookup scene between two teenage girls and eliminates references to female sexuality.” Thankfully, Delta has recognized the problem and is now making the film available in its entirety. This whole story must be discussed as it says some telling things about prejudices and biases that, sadly, are still present today.

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 48: Appropriate Behavior

Heartbreak is the worst, and heartbreak in New York City is a crime against the universe. All it takes is a little New York ingenuity, some comic misadventures, and then everything will come back together again, right? That’s how it works in a romantic comedy!

But what about when the star of our romantic comedy isn’t just a typical New York artist? What about when she’s bisexual out of work journalist, when she’s the daughter of traditional Iranian immigrants, and when she’s determined to get back together with her ex-girlfriend?

Retrospective Review: Beau Travail

“Beau Travail” (1999) is a poetic film about French Foreign Legionnaires by director Claire Denis. It shows an unexpected side of masculinity given the setting and the characters, and it celebrates the beauty of men’s bodies. Twenty years after it was made and Claire Denis’s "Beau Travail" still offers a unique perspective on a subject matter which has the potential to be plagued by violence and toxicity.

The film follows Legionnaires based in Djibouti, West Africa. The story is somewhat loose but it centers around three main characters – Chief Master Sergeant Galoup (Denis Lavant), his superior Bruno Forestier (Michel Subor), and a new recruit Gilles Sentain (Gregorie Colin).

The Moral Perplexities of Two Women In Love in Todd Haynes’ “Carol”

When "Carol" premiered, the film received a 10-minute standing ovation at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The motion picture based on Patricia Highsmith's novel titled "The Price of Salt" was shot on Super 16 millimeter film. Todd Haynes, the director and Phyllis Nagy who wrote a screenplay, wanted "Carol" to look and have an atmosphere of the late 1940s/early 1950s. Both did such an outstanding job.

We Need to Talk About the Gay Stuff in IT: Chapter Two

“IT: Chapter Two” (2019) has been talked about a lot since its still fairly recent release, and the internet has already gone through multiple modes of discourse on its queer representation. The first consisted of people posting extremely necessary content warnings for the film’s opening scene, which features a violent homophobic hate crime. The second occurred when many people took to Twitter to mock a recent Out article which labeled the character of Pennywise “homophobic".

The Matrix: Trans Empowerment

The year was 1999. I was but a mere six years old then, but I remember vividly the release of such monumental films as Stanley Kubrick’s "Eyes Wide Shut", Paul Thomas Anderson’s behemoth masterpiece, "Magnolia", and the first return of "Star Wars" in nearly 20 years, "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace". Amongst the litany of great films that year, another had come along, rich with unique tension and flavor, destined to change the very fabric of action films and blockbusters forever.

The Matrix.

Retrospective Review: Whip it

In a warehouse space, a little drab around the edges, a spotlight illuminates a disco ball suspended over Jimmy Fallon holding a large microphone. He welcomes the stars of the night: women of all ages ready to compete in the roller derby. Outfitted in green vests, skirts, padding, and roller skates, the Hurl Scouts team skates as the crowd cheers them on. Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page), is in the crowd and ends up becoming a Hurl Scout.

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