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.

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."

ITOL 2019 Round-up: Portrait Of A Lady On Fire

“Portrait Of A Lady On Fire” is a wonderfully subtle, minimalist film, one that trusts the audience’s ability to pick up on the slightest glance, the coyest smirk. It’s also worth nothing that the director is herself a queer woman, having known Haenel as a partner both professional and romantic, and reminding us that queer and trans folk should be taking the lead on LGBTQ+ cinema.

ITOL Top Films of the Decade, Entry No. 3: Booksmart

n Olivia Wilde’s 2019 directorial debut “Booksmart”, two bright high school seniors learn that they mess up. Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) are Ivy League school-bound and learn on their last day of school that the partiers and burnouts, also got into those same schools. That is because, as one character said, they are “incredible at handjobs but got a 1560 on the SATs.” They did both. Molly, more distraught than Amy, resolves that their last night of high school should have the two most studious girls go to a house party. The plot sounds simple. The early presented troupes seem familiar. But “Booksmart” is more than just your typical high school movie. It is a wild ride about self-discovery, learning that the cover doesn’t always match what’s inside, and love.

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: Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life

“I don’t feel anything”, Jonathan (Yonatan Langer, also known as the internationally-recognized porn star Jonathan Agassi) laments at the end of the film, having ostensibly reached an all-time low. He is broken, sick, depressed, numb, and addicted to drugs. He’s also a hardcore gay pornstar who does some escorting on the side. This documentary (by Tomer Heymann) establishes early on that porn is about building a fantasy and attempting to break the fourth wall. Here, we scratch the surface of Yonatan’s psyche; we learn that despite all the supposed fun that keeps pornstars like him busy, he seems terribly dissatisfied.

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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