ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 40: I Am Not A Witch

A dry humour. An uncomfortable satire. A stunning fairytale tableaux. “I Am Not A Witch” (2017) has an impact that’s hard to describe. The film starts with a young Zambian girl Shula (non-professional actor Margaret Mulubwa) being accused of witchcraft. She is given the choice of being turned into a goat or declaring she is a witch. She chooses to say she is a witch and is taken to live in a ‘witch camp’. At the witch camp Shula is cared for and encouraged by the other women who all remain attached to long white ribbons at all times lest they fly away. Tourists arrive by minibus to leer at them as a local attraction and they’re loaned out to work long hours for someone else’s benefit.

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ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 41: Pariah

The Forever Young Film Club is a British organisation whose primary activity is to host screenings of coming-of-age movies. "Girlhood", "Booksmart" and "Mid90s" have all attracted large crowds, and the Club is clearly going from strength to strength. The main reason for this continuing success is down to the hard work of the three women behind the screenings, but there’s also the fact that, sooner or later, pretty much all of us have to grow up. Changing friendships, sex, sexuality, hopes, dreams and discovering your parent/s’ flaws are all part of moving from childhood to adulthood, which means that coming-of-age is perhaps cinema’s most relatable subgenre. Dee Rees’ 2011 feature debut “Pariah” is one such film.

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.

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No.50: Late Night

Given how much the late night talk show has been revitalised in recent years with the advent of online video, it’s shocking it has taken Hollywood this long to make a modern comedy set within that world. After all, there’s nothing more tantalising for a comedian to write than a movie about the nature of comedy. But with "Late Night", the filmmakers have gone beyond merely dramatising the ins and outs of putting on a show and made something of a landmark to the current state of media; an encapsulation of everything both great and terrible about it, and a clear vision of how we can make it better. "Late Night" hits a lot of the expected beats of the workplace comedy: the fresh-faced newstart comes in, the veterans are dubious of them, they make their early mistakes but learn the ropes, they bring fresh ideas to the table, and eventually gain the trust of their new colleagues. However, getting past the formulaic structure, it’s clear that the filmmakers are using the familiar platform as a building block to share topical ideas.

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