“Jojo Rabbit” is--at first glance--quite the peculiar film. It opens up with vintage footage of Nazi Germany; Hitler-hailing fascist nutjobs going wild in exaltation over their idol. All this while a German rendition of The Beetles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” plays...this is the part where you, the viewer, may start to scratch your head in bewilderment, then utter to yourself what I did during this sequence: What. The. Hell.
2019 was an eventful year for me, I grew so much as a person and found an outlet to express my writing and thoughts about film as a whole. This isn’t a definitive list by any means but a list of the films that have had the biggest impact on me personally. I have a lot to say about some of these so let’s get started, shall we?
I had the unique privilege of reading My Abandonment in Pete Rock’s creative nonfiction class during my junior year at Reed College, a tiny, liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon. I already knew that I wanted to write a creative thesis my senior year, but I had not yet taken a creative writing class (oops). Pete was kind enough to take a chance on me, accepting me into his mostly full upper-level course. It was in this course that we read a vast array of creative nonfiction, a unique genre that Pete capped off with one of his own works. The writing of My Abandonment is solid, of course, the story of a weathered Iraq war verteran and his thirteen-year-old daughter imbued with the rough Oregon life that I myself had been growing accustomed to for the past two and a half years.
Debra Granik is an expert in creating stories with a naturalistic sense and giving us characters that are vulnerable, and organic. “Leave No Trace” (2018) is no exception. Will (Ben Foster) and his thirteen-year-old daughter Tom (Thomasin Mckenzie) live alone in a remote part of the woods. There they’ve survived, without technology or material things, and he’s taught her the skills needed to make it away from the world. Will desperately does not want to be found and the two practice drills to ensure Tom is ready if something happens. Is it for the best? The film tackles the familial impact in a new and gradually compelling way.