“The Wolf Hour” is set in an era ripe for cinematic depiction; the summer of 1977. We spend part of this summer with reclusive agoraphobic June (Naomi Watts) as she is cramped in the smoldering heat of her stuffy, dusty, apartment in a dilapidated South Bronx walkup. An apartment with a window which--as June peers through with a cigarette in nudged between her pointer and index finger--seems to be a television with a crime show playing on repeat. The apartment itself is coated with dust; we see piles of books graying with grime, and what would appear to be discarded items pilling up in every corner. June herself has greasy coffee-colored hair; she is fleeced with a perpetual sheen of sweat. It’s miserable--the oppressive bleakness in her apartment mirrors the brutal crime outside. This is a rousing, dark look at a depressed, tortured woman’s self-imposed isolation. A near-colorless depiction of a mental struggle which is carried defiantly, from beginning to end, by a stunning performance from Watts.
We often associate the “male gaze” in cinema to how female sexuality is portrayed, but I would argue that it exists when it comes to modern military movies, as well. This is one of the thoughts that found itself moving through my brain rewatching Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.” There is a jingoistic, action-driven version of this or “The Hurt Locker,” Bigelow’s Oscar-winning drama about bomb diffusers in Iraq, that could be made by a Michael Bay or Peter Berg. It would have been empty thrills compared to the contemplative work Bigelow does in both films.
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.