Raw: On desires of the flesh, French extremity, and female sexuality

When Raw premiered at Cannes in 2016, it quickly became known amongst audiences as the ‘French, cannibalistic horror’ that led some to leave screenings in search of the nearest bathroom to relieve their nausea. To allow Raw to be talked about only as a shocking feature, for it to be remembered solely for the physical reactions it provoked in viewers, however, would be to disservice it hugely. Julia Ducornau’s daring debut is far more than an exercise in body horror. Rather, it is a truly unique take on a genre that has been done hundreds of times before: the coming-of-age drama. The story of a young woman forging an identity for herself is not exactly a new concept, for the Romantic and Victorian novels of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters were often centred around the same subject, but never has it been tackled in the way that it is by Ducornau. With Raw, Ducornau takes the moment in a teenage girl’s life in which she verges on womanhood and uses it to craft a truly horrifying piece, in which carnal desires are explored in the most unexpected of manners.

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Is Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne a villain?

Gone Girl is one of those films you wish you could watch for the first time again.

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Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl (2014) © 20th Century Fox

Masked as a typical murder-mystery, Fincher manipulates the audience into sympathising with Amy Dunne and despising her husband; Nick Dunne, thus shocking us when the screen cuts to black and the words: “I’m so much happier now that I’m dead”, are uttered. In a few seconds Amy’s ‘helpless victim’ persona is left behind, replaced by the reality of who she truly is; a villain. In one sentence our whole perception of her is changed and that’s how you do a plot twist.

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Throwback Review: “Her” & The Mechanics of Human Condition

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Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly in Her.

The emotional climax and the breaking point of Spike Jonze’s 2013 romantic science-fiction drama film Her, is a rather silent, smaller one: there are no fights, no raised voices, no unexpected car accidents. Its visual and audial qualities provide two very different realities: the former is muted in its similar world of addiction and isolation — maybe not even that different from our society, while the latter literally explodes in itself with emotional connection and sensuality. In what can only be described as the portrayal of the weirdest, yet still purest for some, form of human connection; the male protagonist Theodore Twombly, who is played by Joaquin Phoenix in a remarkable performance, sits on the stairs of the subway of the futuristic Los Angeles that the movie is set in, asking simple, yes-or-no type questions to the voice planted in his ears. On the other side of the picture is Samantha, a talking operating system with artificial intelligence voiced by Scarlett Johansson, answering slowly. Johansson’s signature tone is soothing, an invisible yet undeniable veil between what is designed and what is felt within the code-based existence of her character. Continue reading “Throwback Review: “Her” & The Mechanics of Human Condition”

The Dark, Wild, Feminist Liberation of “The Witch”

This essay is by our guest writer Cassidy Olsen. 

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© A24

The phrase “Satanic feminist art film” will get you laughed out most rooms that aren’t a liberal arts classroom or the Hot Topic in your hometown mall, so it should come as no surprise that A24 struggled to brand The Witch for audiences upon its wide release in 2016. Written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Robert Eggers, The Witch is a horror movie by almost any standard, riddled with the genre’s usual tropes of supernatural possession, exorcism and things that go bump in the night, but it has little regard for audience expectations. By relying on period-appropriate language (“Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?”) and opting for meditation in place of jump scares, The Witch left hardcore horror fans wanting and others asking, “What did I just watch?”

The answer? Well, a Satanic feminist art film.

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“Bright”, “Cloverfield Paradox” & The Changing Landscape of Movies

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A scene from the movie Bright. | Courtesy of Netflix.

On December 13, 2013, American singer Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth body of work, along with visuals dedicated to each song, was released in the early hours of the morning without any prior announcement or promotion, exclusively on the iTunes Store — in a move following the footsteps of David Bowie, who himself had launched his comeback single, Where Are We Now, without any prior warning during the January of the same year. “I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it,” she commented on her unexpected business technique. “I am bored with that.” The album went on the sale 617,000 copies in the United States in its first three days of availability, becoming the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes Store up to that point.

More than four years later, popular American film director Ava DuVernay tweeted that, quote, “#FilmTwitter is going to explode tonight. Something is coming that I can hardly believe. Lawd. History in the making.” Just hours later, Netflix announced during the Super Bowl LII that it would be dropping the latest entry to the J. J. Abrams’ science-fiction horror series Cloverfield, titled “Cloverfield Paradox” immediately after the game.

DuVernay commented on that “something”, now revealed to be the movie, again after the announcement on her Twitter account: “No advance press, ads, trailer. Straight to the people. Gamechanger.”

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What Lady Bird’s Nominations Mean to Fellow St. Francis Alumnae

Being only the fifth woman to be nominated for an Academy Award as a director, Greta Gerwig’s work and accomplishments have had a monumental impact on women across all industries. But, Lady Bird‘s highest nominations offer a deeper significance for a group of women I am proud to be a part of. Like Gerwig, I am a St. Francis High School alumna, an all-girls, Catholic high school in Sacramento, California. As St. Francis Troubadours, aka Troubies, we were taught that we would one day change the world, whether it be in STEM or the arts. Seeing other girls doing such amazing things as teenagers only made me eager to see what I, and the young women I went to school with, would do as adults.

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Sam Levy and Greta Gerwig on set of Lady Bird. ©A24

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Tipping the Scale: An Oscars Think Piece

This essay is by our guest writer Edina Alix. 

In the Twitter bio of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it reads “we champion the power of human imagination.” In the last ninety years of the academy’s existence however, this “human imagination” has been overwhelmingly straight, white and male. In this year’s Oscar nominations alone, only one of the five directors nominated for best director was a woman (Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird”) and her presence in the prestigious lineup marked the end of an eight year dry spell of the exclusive “boys club” of male directors in the category. Dee Rees (Mudbound) was snubbed of a best director nomination, marking yet another year that no women of color were nominated for best director. What was truly shocking was that this year marked the very first time that a woman was nominated for best cinematographer (Rachel Morrison for “Mudbound”) in the entire history of the Academy Awards.

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Rachel Morrison, the first woman nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography

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