Moving drama "Lost Transmissions" (2020) is Katharine O'Brien's debut feature about one man's struggle with schizophrenia in a healthcare system ill-equipped to help. Theo (Simon Pegg) is a music producer who stops taking his medication and begins a rapid downward spiral, losing grip on reality and getting into increasingly dangerous situations. His friend Hannah (Juno Temple) chases him through LA and psychiatric institutions to try to get him the support he needs but is thwarted by an inadequate healthcare system. Based on writer-director Katharine O'Brien's experiences of trying to support her own friend who went off his medication, the film is deeply affecting. It highlights the difficulties that people suffering from mental health conditions, and their loved ones face. I spoke with Katharine at the Glasgow Film Festival 2020.
“I give really bad blowjobs” laments Mandy (writer/director/star Billie Piper) on a first date as “Rare Beasts” opens. Mandy, a clearly agitated yet quirky woman prone to over-analyzing herself sits across her work colleague, Pete (Leo Bill). He postulates that he is religious that “modern women have more testosterone coursing through their veins than blood”. Mandy’s response? She ends the date by sprinting across the street and regurgitating the dinner they had just had onto the sidewalk. This is the best indicticator of the tone to follow: a blend of cringe-inducing, self-deprecating, visual humor confidently presented through a woman’s unfiltered vision. This is a wonderfully stylish and brave film that offers a new and unique perspective on the role of the modern woman in today’s society.
This historical drama directed by Marjane Satrapi follows Marie Curie from her discovery of radium and polonium to her death in 1934. It merges a range of historical time periods in a blended visual style which leans on its graphic novel roots. It may not work for some but is certainly bold. We meet Marie as Maria Skłodowska (Rosamund Pike), a Polish immigrant living in Paris and "taking up too much space" in a shared laboratory. She is informed by a roomful of men that she is being kicked out and she must find another if she wants to continue her scientific endeavours.
There are many forgotten faces in Hollywood who once captivated audiences. Few were more groundbreaking than Mabel Normand who starred, directed and produced silent films when the medium was still experimenting with what it could do. So much of what she and her professional, sometime private, partner Mack Sennett accomplished has now become standard, even cliché in film comedy. That she did so much in so few years is as dizzying as the breakneck chase scenes they would become recognized for in one of their more successful film series.
Writer/director Kelly Reichardt has gained quite some notoriety over her career, so much so that Bong Joon-Ho even denotes her as one of his heroes, and her latest film, “First Cow”, gives audiences a unique Western adventure filled with friendship, character, and a cow. Set in Oregon during the 19th Century, the film follows two scavengers – a skilled but secluded cook named Cookie (John Magaro) and an opportunistic Chinese man named King Lu (Orion Lee). Although they meet on strange terms, the two grow a special friendship as they look to make a name for themselves. However, when an incredibly wealthy man named Chief Factor (Toby Jones) purchases and brings the first cow to the area, the two see an opportunity to gain a wealth of their own. So, as they sneakily steal milk from under Factor’s nose, Cookie and Lu make a name for themselves by cooking baked goods that eventually gets them unwanted attention.
Lucy Brydon’s “Body of Water” (2020) is a terrific film with sage, meditative weight on its shoulders. Its subject matter is an issue that requires a level of sensitivity to properly address. Brydon herself commented about the horrific fetishisation of such a subject in popular culture during the Q&A after the film. By refusing to fall in line with such trends, she has crafted a film that is simultaneously cathartic and melancholic. Sian Brooke plays Stephanie, a woman who is seen leaving a care facility at the start of the film. She has been grappling with an eating disorder but appears ready to return home. Waiting for her is her mother Susan (Amanda Burton) - who is about to marry her new partner - and her teenage daughter Pearl (Fabienne Piolini-Castle). Her relationship with both has been fractured due to her struggles with her disorder. Upon her return, Stephanie must put the pieces back together while also dealing with the threat of relapse.
Directed by Jeanette Nordahl, "Kød & Blod" ("Wildland") is a Danish film about a toxic family and the need to belong in a community. It’s a matriarchal mafia genre with the focus on violence within a family not outside. It’s a drama steeped in mistrust and danger. In a succinct series of shots we learn that Ida’s (Sandra Guldberg Kampp) mother was killed in a crash and she now has to live with her aunt Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and three older male cousins (Joachim Fjelstrup, Elliott Crosset Hove, Besir Zeciri). Ida is sullen, quiet and withdrawn, thrust into a home which appears to have something sinister going on under the surface.
What happens when a woman falls in love with an inanimate object? A rollercoaster, to be precise? This colourful, strange, sensitive feast for the eyeballs explores just that. Jeanne (Noémie Merlant, "Portrait of a Lady on Fire") is an outsider who is unlike the people around her. She’s tormented by cruel men and lives with her leopard print-wearing, day-drinking mother Margarette (Emmanuelle Bercot) who loudly displays her own sexuality to the point of embarrassment. Her favourite place in the world is the local theme park and she spends hours creating illuminated models of the rides in her bedroom.