After returning home from a business trip, Dan discovers that his wife has gone missing. Desperate to find her, Dan begins to suffer hallucinations spiraling towards madness. Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani's Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears is a film that defies typical description. The aesthetic of the film is pinpoint accurate in capturing the look and feel of the Italian Giallo films in both film stock and color palette. I can definitely understand why this is considered an homage to the Giallo genre but it certainly ups the crazy considerably. Using a fragmented narrative, much of The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears is a visual nightmare as we voyage into madness with sex, violence, panic, and confusion being major themes. This is a heavily experimental piece of filmmaking that is disorienting but close to perfect aesthetically. The editing, cinematography, and sound design of this film is awe-inspiring, with an abundance of inventive ways to capture this fragmented descent into madness. Hypnotic and confusing would probable be the first two words that come to mind when trying to explain this film, but towards the end I believe the film does come together to a degree. For me, this is a film about Gynophobia, with Dan's masculinity fearful of the female form which haunts him throughout the film. This is absolutely not a film for everyone as many people will have trouble dealing with a film that's so oblique but there is no denying that this is cinema at its most raw and intoxicating.
Set in 1982 Stockholm, Lukas Moodysson's We Are The Best! follows Klara and Bobo, two middle school aged best friends who are viewed as outsiders at their school. Together they decide to form a punk rock band as a way to express their dissatisfaction with the world around them. We Are The Best is a cute film about adolesence that could only be described as a crowd pleaser. We follow these young girls as they experience everything from their first crush to their need to rebel from authority. This is definitely a lightly toned film but Moodysson does subtlety touch on some family issues, particularly with Bobo's relationship with his parents. While Bobo's mother is frantically looking for love, his father is never around, leading Bobo to resent his parents. While this is a small aspect of the narrative, it is an important aspect and something I wish Moodysson would have explored more. As is, We Are The Best is a cute crowd pleaser that captures the exuberance of youth well, even if it does feel like a bit of a fluff piece. 7.5/10
Just being released from prison Victoria settles into a small cottage in the Quebec countryside. Taking care of her dying uncle, Victoria and her girlfriend, Florence, live a life of near solitude. Denis Cote's Vic + Flo Saw A Bear is an intimate yet sometimes frustrating examination of a relationship in which the two participants want very different things. Victoria is much older than Florence, fearing its just a matter of time before Florence moves on. She doesn't need or desire anything but Florence with Florence herself, being much younger, not ready to settle down in this secluded area. Vic + Flo's pacing can be a little frustrating but the film is a powerful examination of a relationship. These two women clearly care deeply for each other and Cote captures all the insecurities and faults with a narrative if many layers that is very unpredicatable. The ending gives the film a very poetic conclusion with Cote suggesting that love and relationships aren't easy but if its meant to be it will happen. Vic + Flo Saw a Bear is not an easy film for the casual film fan but gor those who stick with it, it can be quite rewarding.
Set in a rural villiage in South Korea, The Fake is a complex and controversial look into organized religion. The rural village is in danger of a flood which leads the town folks to turn to a church that promises salvation. The Fake is not the scathing commentary on religion like most believe but rather a commentary on how desperation and grief is what fuels people's belief in God and salvation. The church is run by a manipulative con man, with the film's main character Min-Chul, a husband and father, being the only person not buying into this con man's church. Min-Chul is an absolute monster of man who frequentely abuses his wife and daughter. The film really makes it hard to root for any character in this film, all of them having their faults, though some more than others. In the end The Fake is a film thats message is a little hard to pin down, but I believe it may be a commentary on the toughness of life and how this lack of control leads one to faith and religion. It could have been clear but it's a fascinating and complex microcosm of religion and humanity nonetheless.
Justine, a New York college student of privilege, becomes inspired to help out the less fortunate after hearing about the monstrosities happening in Africa. She joins a group of student activists who travel to the Amazon to save a dying tribe from being destroyed by big business. Tragedy strikes when their plane crashes in the jungle and they are taken hostage by the very same natives they were trying to protect. To make matters even worse these natives turn out to be cannibals. Eli Roth's The Green Inferno is the latest entry in Roth's frat-boy sense of horror that is full of incredibly putrid dialogue, dick joke type humor, and some gore porn. The Green Inferno is a very silly film that features bad acting, one-dimensional characters, and total lack of subtlety in anyway. Believe it or not this is actually a film I'm a little torn on. I simply can't decide if Roth's writing is intentionally horrible in the sake of self awareness or if he really is just this bad of a storyteller. I know there are moments that are intentionally funny but then there are these scenes throughout The Green Inferno that are supposed to be dramatic but they just come off incredibly superfluous where you feel absolutely nothing for the characters. The film does have a few really good gore sequences and a few of the more absurd moments are definitely fun, but I still can't get over how inadequate a director Eli Roth is when it comes to human emotion.
After the murder of his parents, Dwight lives the life of a drifter, cutting himself off entirely from modern society. When the man responsible for this act is freed from prison, Dwight returns back to his home to enact vengeance. Blue Ruin is a unique and fascinating entry in the revenge sub-genre, that uses an atypical protagonist to comment on the violence breeds more violence notion. The first thing that jumped out at me about Blue Ruin is how minimalistic it is in approach. That isn't to say there isn't a lot going on but Blue Ruin relies heavily on the silence and atmosphere to build tension. This is an extremely intense film from start to finish, with a great mix of intensity and quiet moments that give the film a nice rhythm. The film creates a compelling character whose hit rock-bottom, capturing the unbearable suffering and tortured soul Dwight has become. Typically in these vengeance films the lead is a glorified badass but Dwight couldn't be farther from this. He is a man of little skill or knowledge, relying on his sadness to fuel his vengeance. By the end, Blue Ruin is a commentary on the circular notion of violence and revenge but how it gets there is the real treat.
Brilliant sculptress, Camille Claudel, protege of Auguste Rodin, and sister of Christian poet Paul Claudel, is confined to a remote church-run insane asylum in the french countryside. Bruno Dumont's Camile Claudel, 1915 is a rigorous portrait of a woman's whose artistic expression conflicted with the expectations of Christianity in early 20th century French Society. It's a film very much about artistic expression and the forces of society that which to regulate or restrict one's ideas simply because they aren't the norm. Typical of Dumont's work, Camille Claudel 1915 is a tepidly paced film with beautiful cinematography. The film is a bit of a slog at times but there is no denying the hypnotic effect Dumont's aesthetic can have on a viewer. Dumont sprinkles the film with real asylum patients as well, making the film feel incredibly authentic and all the more disturbing. Juliette Binonche is phenomenal in the film, capturing the grief, desperation, and isolation Camille feels from losing her fundamental rights of mental and artistic freedom. Camille has a somewhat troubled mind sure, but the film also suggests that artistic expression is a necessity that only further destroys the mind and soul when taken away. Bruno Dumont's Camille Claudel 1915 is a film just as much about censorship as it is about the repression of Christianity, painting a fascinating portrait of the importance of free will and artistic expression.
Robert Bresson's Lancelot of the Lake defies the standard romanticism of the legend instead offering a Lancelot character who is selfish and ruthless, just like the other nobles who seek to find the Holy Grail. Coming from Robert Bresson, it's no surprise that this is by-far the most minimalistic take on the classic tale. Bresson argues that the whol idea of Camelot was mearly a dream for Arthur, nothing more, and this delusion is what ultimately has been remembered and retold. He completely strips away the fantastical elements and romance between Lancelot and Guenevere replacing it with a gritty, cold-blooded portrayal of the medieval times. This is a film about the characters, their perceptions and emotions that tend to be selfish and greedy. The stylistical choices of the film are minimal with Lancelot of the Lake being a film that is simply put, pure storytelling. I should be clear though, this does not mean that the film feels like a stage play (it doesn't), but rather a film that is symbolic and inventive in a minimalistic way. Robert Bresson's Lancelot of the Lake is a profound film that examines the link between the Knights allegiance to god vs. their own selfish desires, delivering a film that stands right up there with any of his other films - This one of Bresson's finest works.
Jean-Marc Vallee's Dallas Buyers Club tells the true story of Ron Woodroof, a stereotypical macho Texas cowboy, whose free-spirited life style is flipped upside down when he is diagnosed as HIV-positive and told he has roughly 30 days to live. With the lack government-approved effective medicines, Ron takes matters into his own hands, tracking down alternate treatments all over the world and establishing the "Dallas Buyers Club". Serving others like him, this "buyers club" aims to aid these individuals as opposed to the FDA which is just as concerned with monetary gains. The Dallas Buyers Club is a strong piece of dramatic filmmaking that is only made stronger with two great performances by Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey. The film is a rather scathing commentary on the way the FDA is run, showing it as an organization more concerned with commerce than the lives of the many people it is supposed to aid. The beginning of the film sets out to establish Ron's free-wheeling lifestyle using great use of fragmented editing and quick segments which effectively capture the vapid and directionless nature of Ron's life. Taking place in 1985, these are the old days of the AIDs epidemic, with the US politics being divided on how to handle the virus and most common people viewing the problem as something which only inflicted homosexuals. The film captures the time quite well, with the fear-mongering and misunderstandings much of these people had with AIDS. I particularly liked how Ron's own friends quickly ostracize him, treating him like a rabid dog. Throughout the story the filmmakers never forget Ron is still dealing with the virus, constantly showing the wear and tear it has on his body - the loss of energy, problems with dementia, etc. Jean-Marc Vallee's Dallas Buyers Club does a wonderful job at capturing this time in America while simultaneously capturing the bigotry and greed which encapsulated the war for the lives of HIV victims.
Taking place in a small village on the Slovak-Moravian border, My Dog Killer tells the story of eighteen-year-old Marek who lives with his distant father. Marek is often neglected by his own father and other relatives, with his only true friend being his guard dog Killer. He escapes from his loneliness by befriending a group of local skinheads but whether Marek buys into their beliefs is hard to comprehend. He hasn't seen his mother in eight years but when she reappears into his life with his half-brother, a part gypsy kid, Marek is forced to confront his inner turmoil in order to see if hate or compassion will triumph. Mira Fornay's My Dog Killer is a subtle, meditative study of racism and hatred and the ill effects it can have on everyone and everything. The film opens with a series of long static shots, capturing the calmness and tranquility of this small town. What we soon discover is that their is much hatred boiling beneath the surface, with much of the town's populace being racist towards people from Moravia. Marek is a fascinating character whose at odds with his own feelings and Fornay never makes Marek's intentions or feelings surrounding his half-brother known. Fornay simply lets the film play out, letting the viewer slowly grasp where his feelings and intentions are. The film features no music whatsoever but even with the film's reserved qualities, much of My Dog Killer is incredibly uneasy and tense. As the film progresses we begin to discover that Marek's evolving racism and hatred for Moravians could stem from what he believes was his mother choosing them over him. Subtlely the film reveals that his mother didn't abandon him but that she was forced out of town for falling in love with a man of another skin color. This is something that young Marek never seems to fully grasp, which pushes the film to an unforgettable conclusion. My Dog Killer is a contemplative study of hatred and racism and the trickle down effect that it can cause, often leading to unnecessary tragedy.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.