Librarian’s Pick of the Week: I Know a Woman Like That

Library patrons are always asking me, “what have you read (or seen) lately that you loved?”  This is what I loved this week.

I Know a Woman Like That directed by Elaine Madsen 

Why: Elaine Madsen, mother of actress Virginia Madsen interviews a variety of influential women spanning the length of the country with daughter in tow.

In this wonderfully touching, honest and heartening documentary, Madsen spotlights a range of women from ages 60-90+ who are powerful, altruistic, driven, spunky, and kind, otherwise known as “women like that.” The interviews include former mayor of Evanston, IL, Lorraine Morton, Gloria Steinem, Eartha Kitt, author Maxine Hong Kingston, and other incredibly strong women of grit.  Madsen’s impressive interview skills warm the interviewee into genuine responses as she asks them where they are now.  What is life like at that current moment, resisting the urge to wax poetic about the subjects’ youth as so many films tend to idealize.  What is so fascinating about those being interviewed is their nearly universal responses about sex, confidence, and wisdom, thereby defying how those of “a certain age” behave behind closed doors, and what they think about their bodies.  All of the participants expressed a feeling of calm, or as Lauren Hutton explains, when you’re younger you have higher highs and lower lows, and it evens out as you age; you get smarter and more comfortable with who you are (paraphrasing).  All expressed, whether in their 70s or 90s, that they feel that they’ve finally gotten to know themselves and are just starting a new, exciting phase in their lives.  Given how the U.S. treats and views senior citizens, this reality defies common conception, bordering on revolutionary.

The Madsen duo have created a piece of art that seems could only have been accomplished by a closely bonded mother/daughter team, relating their personal and familial experiences to their subjects and the screen.  The phrase “youth is wasted on the young” springs to mind as the subjects in the documentary make a compelling case for the vivaciousness and security that often accompany later years, the best kept secret of women like that.

I Know a Woman Like That is currently available on Hoopla through most libraries and on DVD.

Watchalikes: Faces Places (Varda & JR)
Advanced Style (Cohen)
Out Late (Alda & Brooke)
The September Issue (Cutler)

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Librarian’s Pick of the Week: Inquiring Nuns

Library patrons are always asking me, “what have you read (sometimes seen) lately that you loved?”  This is what I loved this week.

Inquiring Nuns directed by Gordon Quinn

Why: In the late 1960s, two nuns traveled around Chicago asking people if they were happy, what lead to happiness, and what would make them less happy.  There are several remarkable aspects of this film, including the visual details and the responses of the subjects.

The footage of 1960s Chicago architecture, the street signs, the Art Institute, the fashion, and even the subjects’ manner of speaking seem to become their own characters as each possesses such distinct style and depth.  As the nuns approach the interviewees, they gingerly ask, “are you happy?” and the subjects responses show us an extraordinary glimpse into human nature.  It reminds us that there is no us/them depending on when you were born; personality types transcend, and a penchant for peace is a large part of the human condition (the documentary takes place during the Vietnam War).  There’s always that one person who is perpetually happy, sometimes making you doubt their sanity.  The depressive who attempts to hide their anxiety with humor; the self-involved; those who live in the moment, and those who live in the future.

The best part of this documentary is its subtly–it resists dramatic music, closeups, or editing that could manipulate the viewer into a prescribed emotion.  It’s a straightforward film where the subjects are asked a question and its their answers, their surrounding environment and the climate of the era that packs a restrained punch.

Librarian’s Pick of the Week: The Unrepentant Cinephile by Jason Coffman

Library patrons are always asking me, “what have you read (sometimes seen) lately that you loved?”  This is what I loved this week.

The Unrepentant Cinephile: Collected Reviews of Cult,                                                   Exploitation, Horror and Independent Films by Jason Coffman

Why:  When this substantial book arrived in the mail, I was surprised by its impressive size due to the healthy amount of reviews contained therein, especially given the modest price of $15.99 on Amazon.com.  With a decade of film criticism under his belt, local (to my neck of the woods) Chicago critic and filmmaker Jason Coffman has complied a truly impressive tome of reviews from the 1960s (or even earlier, there are a lot of reviews) to present day.  Coffman’s reviews will speak to even the lay audience to the titled cinephile as he discusses such films as the most recent Ghostbusters, Jack Frost, Let the Right One In, Scott Pilgram v. the World to more independent films such as Mercury in Retrograde, Nude Nuns with Big Guns (definitely on my list), to my favorite indie horror flick, Basket Case.  The charm of the book lies within both the variety of reviews coupled with the author’s laid-back and warm affection for all his subjects, even if they are “complete trash,” prefaced by an endearing, “Goodness me” (The Nail Gun Massacre).  Coffman also includes a hilariously entertaining chapter entitled “Bad Movie Night” of the best of the worst films which scream to be viewed.  I’d recommend this book (it would also be a wonderful gift) to anyone who loves film, whether it be a penchant for Steel Magnolias to Un Chien Andalou.  Fingers crossed for Frankenhooker in the second printing.

Librarian’s Pick of the Week: XX (Film)

Library patrons are always asking me, “what have you read (sometimes seen) lately that you loved?”  This is what I loved this week.

XX: Four Deadly Tales by Four Killer Women (film)

Directors: Roxanne Benjamin 
Karyn Kusama
St. Vincent (Annie Clark)
Jovanka Vuckovic

Why: XX is a complication of four short horror films either directed or written by women, about women.  The Box (JV), about a mysterious box whose contents wreak havoc on the well-being of a suburban family and the suspense in this film could not be more monumental.  The Birthday Cake (SV), directed by musician St. Vincent, is a quirky, beautifully shot and sometimes adorable tale of death and family.  Don’t Fall (RB), about four friends camping in uncharted territory in the wilderness with suspicious cave drawings and amazing creature effects.  The anthology concludes with Her Only Living Son (KK) about the love that a mother can possess for her child (possess being the operative word), sacrificing herself at all costs, whether to her detriment or not is debatable.  It’s plain to see why these four were chosen to accompany each other in this volume because though so dissimilar in content, each story is masterfully directed, creative and excitingly original.

Watchalikes: Grace dir. Paul Solet
Rosemary’s Baby dir. Roman Polanski
May dir. Lucky McKee
Contracted dir. Eric England

Ain’t Your Average Apocalypse: Exploring the “Cool Apocalypse” with Director Michael Glover Smith

Exploring Feminisms sat down with director Michael Glover Smith to discuss his forthcoming feature length film, Cool Apocalypse.  This is Smith’s fourth film to date, ranging from a tobacco-slinging thief, a misguided folk singer, a cigar salesperson who stumbles onto a murder plot, to finally, a 24-hour tale that takes the viewer on a journey through the gamut of relationship ups and downs.

                                            

JM: Tell me, what is your new film about and how did you come up with the title, Cool Apocalypse?

MGS: The film is about the relationships between two 20-something couples: Paul and Julie meet and go on their first date, while Claudio and Tess, who’ve been together for years, finally break up for good. All of these characters interact with each other over the course of a single summer day in Chicago.  It’s probably best categorized as a drama but I hope it’s also funny in a realistic way – the way that life can be funny.

“Cool apocalypse” was a phrase I had read a long time ago and I always wanted to use it as the title for something.  I like it as an ironic juxtaposition of words: we think of an “apocalypse” as something that is very hot and loud and obvious, but “cool” implies the opposite of that: that it might happen with a whimper instead of a bang.  When I came up with the idea for this film, I thought the title fit.

JM: Are we to assume the obvious, that the “cool” refers to the coming together of a couple, and the “apocalypse” is the breaking up?  Or could it be read another way, that out of apocalyptic chaos comes calm, like the calm after a storm, and we are to assume that the break-up of the couple will allow for positive transformation?

MGS: As far as the title goes, however you want to interpret it is fine. It’s like coming up with the name of a band: ultimately, I just think it has a nice ring to it.

JM: Where did you get your inspiration for the script?  Was it culled from memories of your 20s, or is it informed by your life now, in your upper 30s and expressed through 20 somethings?

MGS: It’s a combination of both of those things. All of the characters are amalgamations of different people that I’ve known in my 20s and 30s. I take aspects of people I’ve known (including myself, of course), and things that people I’ve known have said, and then spread them around among all of the characters. And then some things are just made up out of thin air. My philosophy is that if I feel like something fits, I’ll use it.

There’s a great French film from 1998, The Dreamlife of Angels, made by a guy named Erick Zonca. It was his first film — even though he was in his early 40s when he made it — and it’s about the friendship between two women in their early 20s. When I first saw it I thought, “This clearly represents a point-of-view on people in their 20s that was made by someone who’s older and wiser.” I hope that people have a similar reaction to my film — that they can sense that it wasn’t made by someone who is the same age as the characters. There have been a lot of low-budget indie films in recent years about “aimless twentysomethings” where the style and structure of the films also feel aimless. I want the style and structure of our movie to feel formal and elegant – but then also have spontaneous, naturalistic performances within that structure.

JM:  It’s interesting that you’ve taken personal details from your friends and from your own life.  I would think that it would help to make the experiences and dialogue more relatable, as opposed to it all merely being created out of thin air.  Sometimes, I watch films directed by men and find myself screaming out, “this would never happen in real life!” especially when it comes to parts for women written and directed by men–obviously most often in movies with sex scenes.

By writing for characters who are twenty years younger though, does it risk feeling inauthentic due to the experiences/dialogue seeming incongruous to what a typical 20 something year old may have experienced, or does it hope to serve as a cautionary tale to 20 year olds- learning from the mistakes that others have made when they were their age? Who do you envision as your prospective audience for this film?  Is it meant for people in their 20s specifically?

MGS: One of the things I tried hard to do in writing this script was to create interesting and realistic female characters. I think that the experience of being married and living with a woman for years has allowed me to be better at doing that. I don’t think, however, that the film risks being inauthentic just because the characters are younger than I am. As a filmmaker, I think I tend to be more interested in the aspects of relationships that are universal and timeless (rather than in, say, making pop culture references that might be specific to young people today) – so I hope that people of all ages will be able to relate to it. Having said that, I’m also looking forward to working very closely with the actors and allowing them some dramatic license with the dialogue. During auditions, for instance, I told one actress to put the dialogue in her own words. So instead of saying, “I really like your shoes,” she said, “Those are some sick-ass shoes.” What she said was way better than what I had written and so I consequently changed the line in the script.

JM: Do you think that actresses improvising their own lines, and again, the dialogue that you take from your own personal life, will help to make the characters more life-like and relatable, as opposed to the typical Hollywood drama or rom-com, a la Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, and Kristen Wiig characters where they still fit so predictably into the same box?Mike on Catastrophe

MGS: Exactly. We’re going for the opposite of formula, the opposite of cliche. I hope that when people see my film they say, “These are the kind of people I know in real life but who I never see in the movies.”

Michael Smith (left) on the set of his last film, The Catastrophe

JM: I once heard you say that you have to separate the art from the artist (I believe we were discussing the homophobe who wrote Ender’s Game).  Given that so much of the script is taken directly from your personal life, wouldn’t you say that in this case, the art cannot be separated from the artist?

MGS: Ha! Not really. In my opinion, this film will be successful if people see it and then, when it’s over, talk about what they think it says about the world. Ideally, viewers will leave the movie wanting to talk about people, emotions and relationships – not what they perceive to be the personality or the point-of-view of the author.

JM: But you can admit that the characters – their experiences and emotions – are manifestations of your own experiences, and therefore the POV of you, the director, is inherent throughout the film?

MGS: Yes, but I would say that the film is personal, not autobiographical. To me there is a crucial difference between those things. I’m not interested in making the kind of art that is like an extension of my diary.

JM: How does Cool Apocalypse differ from your other three films?

MGS: I think everything I’ve done before this was the work of an amateur. Before, I was making movies to learn how to make movies. Cool Apocalypse is the first film I’ve made where I feel like a professional. In particular, I’m very excited about collaborating closely with the actors this time. Even something as simple as having the actors improvise during the auditions – that’s not something I would have had the confidence to do before. But it’s something I now look forward to continuing with throughout the entire process of rehearsing and shooting this film. We are going to treat each scene like a little one-act play and just go over every little moment again and again until everything feels authentic.

JM: When can we expect to see this film on the big screen?

MGS: We finish shooting in late August and then we’ll work on post-production throughout the fall. I hope to have it ready for a film festival premiere in early 2015.

JM: Awesome, I can’t wait to see it!  And who knows?  Maybe we’ll have to do a He Said/She Said after it premieres…

 

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My Top 10 Feminist Horror Movie Picks for 2013

In the Exploring Feminisms household, horror is one of the most common film genres playing on our television.  Of those out there, very few are what I would consider feminist, or at least having a feminist agenda of some sort.  So the task of the day is to find some that may lend a little hope to the genre.

As with every year, this task is always a lot more difficult than I think it will be, resulting in a lot of viewing, and a lot of discarded films.

While sifting through the plethora of bloody thrillers, teen screams, zombie flicks and vampire love stories, directed by both men and women, I came across a few that stood out as notable films ranging from masked and subtle to overtly feminist.  Overall, I saw two distinct motifs appear this year, and their themes timeless: coming of age stories and attaining beauty at any cost.

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Aliens
(James Cameron, 1986)

Okay, I know that we’ve all probably seen this film about a thousand times on TBS, but as I watching it again (sans commercials) with a more critical eye, I was surprised to see a few nuggets of insight that maybe be somewhat hidden to the casual channel flipper.

In the second of the franchise, (Aliens being the follow-up to the classic, Alien) we learn that Ripley had a daughter decades before she was propelled through time, but who is now within the timeframe of the story, deceased.  This fact gives more weight to her self-appointed role of guardian of Newt, the newly rescued child who undoubtedly reminds her of her daughter.   What’s more, because the nature of the military is inherently male-dominated, based on a masculine ideology, it is extremely subversive that Ripley’s character makes a conscious decision in the face of her superiors and other military personnel to show compassion and nurturing qualities.

The cast also includes not only women, but a variety of races and ethnicities within roles of power.  Given that this film was made in 1988, seeing a measurable amount of minority cast members is arguable progressive for the time.

Aliens

American Mary
(Jen & Sylvia Soska, 2012)

 American Mary is the story of Mary, a med school student who is extremely adept in the way of suturing, but is having trouble making ends meet.  When her dominating (ok, asshole) male professor invites her to a party with only male doctors as guests, she is used as a human rag doll.  Too disturbed to continue her formal education, she becomes an amateur plastic surgeon for an underground body modification crowd.

The film can be categorized in the body horror sub-genre, and recommended for fans of films like Inside or In My SkinAM is a definite step up from the Soska sisters’ first film, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, by giving us some satisfying gore, a more fleshed out plot, and better acting with Katharine Isabelle from Ginger Snaps leading the way.  Though I do tend to feel that rape revenge movies, much like Holocaust films, by virtue of the content, already have the audience fired up and ready for revenge.  Lo and behold, I did get fired up and like Mary, wanted revenge, and we as an audience are not disappointed.

american-mary

Black Rock
(Katie Aselton, 2012)

In Black Rock, three old friends return to a deserted campsite in an attempt to reforge their fragmented friendship, though while on their way there, it becomes explosive due to painful betrayals in their past.  In an ironic twist, a group of violent, dishonorably discharged men back from the Middle East is what glues the women back together again.

The situation between the ex-soldiers and the three friends mirrors that of Americans invading the Middle East, and the reports of aggressive soldiers abusing civilians and prisoners of war.  Except in this instance, the three friends must go guerrilla style after the men try to murder them and turn into the hunters.  In essence, the women become the aggressors themselves, but do so in the name of their own survival.  This film is extremely suspenseful and at times uncomfortable to watch because of its complete unpredictability.

Black Rock

Contracted
(Eric England, 2013)

Contracted is a breath of fresh air not only within the horror genre bubble, but also to film at large right now.  When compared to any given contemporary Hollywood film, this indie flick puts them all to shame.  It’s funny, gory, shocking, cute, and original, and film that conveys all of those adjectives is certainly a rarity.

Contracted is about a down on her luck in love lesbian that makes an unwise, alcohol and drug induced mistake and sleeps with a strange guy.  What follows is a cosmic retribution, possibly by the lesbian Gods that be, where an unknown and horrific plague is cast upon her body.

Contracted

Death Becomes Her
(Robert Zemeckis, 1992)

Like Aliens, you may be surprised by this film making it on the list.  But, after watching it for the first time since the 1990s, the writers were onto something, and my assumption is an astute eye for observing the pervasive late 20th culture of Hollywood and the stigmatization of the elusive aging actress.

The title Death Becomes Her sums up the whole point of the film; death, or aging comes upon a woman, but for many actresses, aging is the proverbial kiss of death-the death of their youth, and subsequently in the youth-obsessed culture in which we live, the death of a career.  This concept is parodied in the film as two women drink “the potion” and stay young and classically beautiful forever.  However, the caveat is that they must take care of their bodies because if their physical bodies do in fact die, they will continue to live.  Though parodied to the extreme, we see the lengths of what some women will endure to stay forever “beautiful,” though for these women, beautiful is exactly the opposite of what they become.

Death Becomes Her

Dumplings
(Fruit Chan, 2004)

Mrs. Li, an actress in her 30s sees herself, in comparison to herself decades earlier in her films and to her husband’s younger lovers, as unattractive and undesirable.  Like the middle-aged actresses in Death Becomes Her, the not even yet middle-aged Mrs. Li also takes a potion of sorts, except instead of swallowing a glowing pink liquid one time for eternal youth, she needs to continually eat fetuses in the form of dumplings to remain wrinkle-free.

Dumplings is the perfect bookend to Death Becomes Her, and shows how regardless of the decade or country, women feel pressure to maintain eternal youth to feel a sense of relevance as they get older.  In Mrs. Li’s case, she finds complete legitimacy in skirting the lengths of infanticide.

dumplings

Excision
(Richard Bates, Jr., 2012)

 It is rare when a writer/director can tap into the the inner workings (similar to Jack and Diane (below) and Turn Me On, Dammit!) of a teenager with any modicum of accuracy, and this film does just that.

Excision depicts the darker side of a teenager navigating through their newly discovered, unwieldy sexual urges, and in this case, the main character fantasizes about necrophilia.  The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) describes lead character Pauline as, “disturbed and delusional,” but this description underestimates the difficultly of coming to terms with your newly developing body and all the psychological confusion therein.

Sex with corpses aside, the way that main character Pauline is portrayed is both unusual and empowering.  Though in high school and without any real friends, Pauline is preternaturally self-assured.  She owns her desires; she decides when to have her first sexual experience, with whom, and what type of experience she wants to have.  She recognizes the limitations of an encounter with a teenage boy, and instead of the typical first jackrabbit-like, awkward sexual experience for most teenage girls, she dictates how the experience will best pleasure herself.  This is especially rare in both film and real life as many women feel a sense of shame concerning their own bodies.

Excision

 Eyes Without a Face (“Les yeux sans visage”)
(Georges Franju, 1960)

Christiane is involved in a disfiguring car accident, but instead of letting her live with her less than perfect visage, her father kills young women in the hopes of transplanting their faces onto his daughter’s now lack of one.  Her father practices his untested medical procedures on stray dogs, puts her through a series of transplants where her face rots away from her bones, and even stages her own death.

Throughout the film, as her father continues to assert more authority over her life, Christiane begins to prefer death to a life of a virtual ghost with no autonomy.  Without her permission or the choice to make decisions over her own body, he prefers that she be dead to the world as opposed to being perceived as unattractive to a society that is universally understood to be obsessed with flawless beauty.

Eyes Without a Face

Grace
(Paul Solet, 2009)

When it comes to the horror genre today, in this case, the vampire genre, it is damn near impossible to glean any originality in most horror sub-sects today that haven’t been regurgitated, recycled or spread too thin.   In the story of Grace and her newborn child, we see originality brought to the genre by taking the vampire story a step further outside of the box as Grace finds that her baby is only satiated by the nourishment of blood.

Grace is thick with issues that are extremely personal to women specifically, including the loss of a child, breast feeding, women loving women, Oedipal issues, et al, but takes them a step further by stretching the limits of what women will endure to fulfill their more disturbing desires.

Grace Film

 Jack and Diane 
(Bradley Rust Gray, 2012)

Jack and Diane is one of those great coming of age stories that serves as a reminder that the experience of first love, whether you are attracted to the same or opposite sex, is the great equalizer.  Don’t you remember?  You acted completely irrational; you ignored your parents’ phone calls; you came home late without permission; you couldn’t sleep…you went crazy!  It was all very star-crossed lovers, and even Shakespeare understood hundreds of years ago the power of that innocent, all consuming love, except in Jack and Diane’s case, it would be more akin to Juliet and Juliet, but the passion remains the same.

Of course, with all the lovey-doveyness of the first love, there was always a deeper-seated, more sinister undercurrent: obsession, insecurity, doubt and all of those new, unchecked emotions.  Instead of, say, in Romeo and Juliet, resulting in double suicide of sorts, in Jack and Diane’s case, these emotions manifest themselves as ravenous monsters.

Jack and Diane is unique, sweet, and dares to step outside of the realm of the typical coming of age script by normalizing young, same sex relationships and offers us a quaint, original way of representing human emotions.

Jack and Diane

Afterbirth

After three years of feminist horror lists, a shocking thought came to me recently.  Is there such a thing as a feminist horror film? Considering one angle: in many of the films listed over the years, a common thread is the victim reclaiming power by exacting a bloody revenge against her aggressor.  Reclaiming power after being subjugated can be, well, empowering.  On the other side of the coin, if someone asserts their power over you, and you then reclaim that power and use it against them, it maintains that imbalance, and the question becomes: doesn’t asserting power over another make you no better than your abuser?  Or does appropriating that violent power from your aggressor empower?  You have to ask yourself, which kind of feminist are you?

Need more recommendations?  Check out my lists for 2011 and 2012!

Five French Films Worth an Hour and a Half of Your Time

Amélie
French: Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain
dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2001)

Arguably the most mainstream of the five films, Amélie is the epitome of quirky and whimsical.  The main character, Amélie, decides to dedicate herself to helping others find a glimpse of happiness, if only for a brief moment.  Amélie, the movie and the character, is reminiscent of an introvert’s Sex and the City; she lives alone in an extremely attractive apartment on a waitress’ salary in a small diner and galavants around an ideal France whilst spending most of her time playing reindeer games with her neighbors and a potential love interest.  It’s chock-full of bright colors, quick camera movements, and mischievous little surprises at every corner.

If you’ve never seen a foreign film or even a French film, I’d recommend this as a reliable primer.

Amelie

Heartbeats
French: Les amours imaginaires
dir. Xavier Dolan (2010)

It’s astounding that someone so young, at the tender age of 21, could have written, directed and starred in a movie so entertaining, beautiful and complete.  Heartbeats introduces us to two friends, Marie and Francis, and the introduction of  the blonde, Greek God lookalike, Nicolas.  The crux of the story is that Marie and Francis are friends, both are attracted to Nicolas, and it is ambiguous as to which one he is attracted to.  The ambiguity of his attraction, if at all, is relayed through subtle queues that just seem to linger a little longer than they should, i.e. a gaze, a kiss, a hug.  Not to mention sleeping in the same bed as both friends and inviting them away (and together) on romantic weekends.

Though this may seem like the typical Hollywood type of love triangle, it has the benefit of not being produced in Hollywood and therefore isn’t expected to follow the prescribed romantic comedy script that pervades American cinema.  The trifecta of the characters mirrors that of the film: wonderful cinematography, a solid story, and a perfect ending.

Heartbeats

17 Girls
French: 17 filles
dir. Delphine Coulin & Muriel Coulin (2011)

Based on the real life events that took place in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2008, directors Delphine and Muriel Coulin tell the story of 17 high school girls who all became pregnant during one year.  Though not a documentary, the directors hold true to interviews and news stories of the time.  The film begins with a group of tight knit high schools girls where the leader (she sits at the head of the table, she accepts or rejects others, has sex first, et al) becomes pregnant.  All we know about the male partner is that he is out of the picture, and a quiet slight is alluded to.  After she decides to carry to term, one by one, her friends and girls outside of their posse begin seeking out random guys to impregnate them.  The result is an ever-growing circle of pregnancy, social acceptance, comfort and inclusiveness.  The teenage angst genre has rarely been expressed so subtly.

This is definitely an onion of a film.  At the end, I was left with a faint aura of a Sofia Coppola film circa the Virgin Suicides.

17Girls

Paris-Manhattan
French: Paryz-Manhattan
dir. Sophie Lellouche (2012)

From the age of 15, Alice has not only been in love with the films of Woody Allen, but has also been corresponding with the poster of him in her bedroom.  Mostly taking place in her 30s, she is still being fed words of wisdom from God-like Allen who answers her questions about love, life and struggle through quotes from his films.  As the main character Alice grows into a woman, one can’t help but be drawn to her independence and confidence (yes, I do want to be best friends with her).  Whether that is a result of Allen’s guidance or not is for the viewer to decide.

Of course, the Woody Allen fan would adore this film, but its appeal spans that of his fan base.  The script is solid, the characters are well-developed and you end up caring for them at the finish line.

ParisManhattan

Queen of Hearts
French: La reine des pommes
dir. Valérie Donzelli (2009)

Queen of Hearts is about a woman who gets dumped by her boyfriend, and spends the subsequent weeks unable to financially support herself and basically makes horrible decisions in judgement by sleeping with unavailable men.  The character is basically an emotional mess and her actions left me screaming at the screen at how incredibly awful she was.  Definitely not a queen of hearts.

As the film came to a close, I was truly turned off.  So why spend an hour and a half of your time watching?  It’s because if you’ve ever gone through a break up, been single, or young, or made a bad decision, then this film is extremely uncomfortable to watch because it is a mirror into your own life.  The realism of the sex, nudity, lapses in good judgement and heartache are all so tangible that they require a level of introspection on the viewers’ part that may be off-putting, but it’s worth the experience.

QueenofHearts