ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 34: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

To capture the essence of the LGBTQ+ community is becoming a more popular narrative in contemporary cinema. But to be able to evidence their struggles and hardships, whilst also attaining a light-hearted atmosphere, showing raw emotion, and enabling a true presentation of a situation that can be reflected into many of the audience’s daily lives, is what is lacking in many of these recent movies. Yet Desiree Akhavan presents all of this so effortlessly in her film "The Miseducation of Cameron Post". Being part of the LGBTQ+ community herself enabled significant support for Akhavan when she directed this beautiful narrative which follows friendships, betrayals and the exploration of sexualities.

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Retrospective Review- “Foxfire”: a Universal Coming-Of-Age Story

When "Foxfire" came out in 1996, I was only one-year-old. While watching it only a few months ago, it became clear that Annette Haywood-Carter's drama exists in the dimension of exceptional productions. Those productions have a crucial influence on young women's lives. Meet Legs Sadovsky (Angelina Jolie). Nobody knows where she came from. Tomboy-ish looking, young woman is a mystery, especially to Maddy Wirtz (Hedy Burress). Maddy, a high school teenager, doesn't even know that Legs will change her life forever. After hearing about the teacher's sexual harassment, the mystery girl teaches Maddy, Rita (Jenny Lewis), Goldie (Jenny Shimizu), and Violet (Sarah Rosenberg) to stand up against abuse and fight for their rights as women.

Retrospective Review: 8 Women

François Ozon’s “8 Women” (2002) is a locked-house murder mystery whodunit with over the top caricatures who fling around accusations and burst into song. It’s ultra-theatrical and it’s brilliant. Based on Robert Thomas’s 1958 play “Huit Femmes”, the film is set in the 1950s in a snow-bound French manor far from help. As the family gathers for Christmas the patriarch Marcel (Dominique Lamure) is found murdered. Of course nobody can contact the police or get out through the snow. The murderer is amongst them and they need to figure out which one of them it is.

ITOL TOP 50, Special Review: Faces Places

The Grand Dame of French cinema, Agnès Varda's work has ranged from the New Wave in “Cléo from 5 to 7” (1962), to feminism and friendship in “One Sings, the Other Doesn’t” (1977), to rebellion in “Vagabond” (1985), to documenting the life of the poor in “The Gleaners and I” (2000). Her recent work has a more introspective feel; a reflection on what she films, and why. This is part of what would turn out to be her penultimate film, “Faces Places” (2017). A joyous and bittersweet look at the role of art in everyday life and work, as well as the role of the artist in society, “Faces Places” is an expansion of her work in self-reflection, a study in her constant quest to challenge herself as a filmmaker, and her love and attention to French rural and working life.

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 42: The Love Witch

Anna Biller's 2016 film, "The Love Witch", is a magical, sensual exploration of female sexuality and empowerment. With stunning cinematography, set design and costume design, this film inspires praise for both it's undeniable style and thought-provoking messages. The film follows witch and burlesque dancer, Elaine on her quest to find true love. However, her outlook on men and their capability to love is concerning to her fellow witches, especially since many of Elaine's intense love potions do not result in a happy ending of any kind.

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No.44: Obvious Child

Re-watching and reappraising "Obvious Child" in 2019 for the In Their Own League top 50 films directed by women since 2010 list, it’s hard to imagine the film finding distribution in the US in an era where stricter abortion laws are being imposed, and the government-backed film Unplanned was a box office hit. Not that the film wasn’t without its share of anti-abortion outrage on its initial 2014 release.

This is a personal film, with a shot of the political. Gillian’s Robespierre’s debut feature isn’t as steeped in the abortion debate as something like Alexander Payne’s "Citizen Ruth", but it balances a heavy subject with a lightness of touch that shines through Jenny Slate’s leading performance as Donna.

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 46: The Beguiled

Sofia Coppola’s American Southern Gothic film, “The Beguiled” (2017), is an atmospheric drama that takes place at a girls’ school in Virginia in 1864. The American Civil War rages around the house, ever-present despite the lack of action. The film features a trio of talented blonde women -- Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning -- in addition to Colin Farrell. While it’s not the masterpiece that some of Coppola’s other films like “Marie Antoinette” (2006) or “The Virgin Suicides” (1999) are, it’s a moving and aesthetically beautiful portrait of women in wartime.

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 47: Cloud Atlas

"Cloud Atlas" (2012) is not an easy film to understand. In this sense, it owes a debt to another film about time, space and mankind’s cyclical movement through both, Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). Whereas Kubrick asked where mankind was going, directors Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Lilly Wachowski seem to answer that wherever we’re going, we’ve been there before.

“Cloud Atlas” defies a simple plot summary. It is essentially a series of interconnecting stories of people who live and die in different eras of time but who might be the same people reincarnated to face similar challenges repeatedly in an attempt to change the course of mankind’s fate. The truth at the heart of the film is that all of humankind are metaphorically like the multitude of drops that make up an ocean.

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