MUBI Review: ‘The Duke of Burgundy’ and the Theatrics of Love

This review is part of our coverage for MUBI’s August’ 19 slate.

Focalised through the slowly waning romantic affair between two women, director Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy (2014) is an intriguing examination of the theatrics of love. The film occupies an alternate plane of reality altogether — temporal markers are removed, only women exist, and all everyone ever does is attend lectures on butterflies or customise beds for those interested in S&M. Perhaps the almost surreal setting of Strickland’s film is a fitting match for the isolated romance at hand, which borders on consumingly solipsistic.⁠

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Female Director Spotlight: Julie Dash’s Legacy is Rooted in Black Heritage and Extraordinary Women

Deeply poetic, and rooted in her heritage, Julie Dash’s work showcases extraordinary women from the past and present. A pioneering director, Dash places historical heroines—both known and unknown—front and center in her filmography. Her refreshing work places a lens on black women, and showcases them in a way that doesn’t follow society’s (or Hollywood’s) rigid standards. Dash’s women overcome obstacles, and exhibit a resilience and grace no matter the circumstances. She doesn’t allow her leads to follow traditional narratives, in fact she allows them to follow a narrative of her own design.

The heart of Dash’s work are the complex women that she paints a vivid picture of, both real and fictional. While she often explores the complex relationship of racial identity, at the same time she is a visionary that refuses to place her heroines in a box. Dash cites that her films were influenced by authors such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Toni Kay Bambara.

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#WomanWithAMovieCamera: Let’s Talk About Thirst

During her talk at this year’s Woman With a Movie Camera summit, Christine Newland argued that cinema, desire, and sex are deeply interlinked. For instance, while male critics are able to talk openly about desire with regards to female characters and stars, the more “recent” phenomenon of female critics openly expressing desire for their favourite celebrities’ acting abilities has drawn criticism from certain groups in the film industry.

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#WomanWithAMovieCamera 2019: The Memefication of Feminism

If you’ve ever spent time on the internet, or if you grew up on it like I did, you know what a meme is. From innocent cats doing things to Vine (RIP) compilations to the the far right co-opting a cartoon frog, there is no doubt that they are central to much of our lives without anyone really paying much attention.

At this year’s Woman With A Movie Camera summit at the BFI, Associate Editor at Little White Lies Hannah Woodhead led one of the more lighthearted and funnier talks about feminism, memes and cinema.

Originally coined by Richard Dawkins (aka “the edgelord of atheism” to quote Woodhead) back in 1976, the meme was defined as a “unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation.” It is something that can connect us across countries, borders and identities, that highlight aspects of culture and society. They are also hilarious.

Memes are a way we absorb and understand art. Think of the hundreds of ‘no context’ accounts on Twitter. From Louis Theroux to The Phantom Thread or First Reformed, we use these screenshots of memorable lines, or facial expressions to both show our love and appreciation for cinema and TV.

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Fantasia Festival 2019 Boasts a Line-up of Female Voices

Every year, Fantasia International Film Festival showcases some of the best and most unique genre films out there. Horror, thrillers, sci-fi, Fantasia has it all, and this year is no different. In anticipation of the festival, which lasts from July 11 to August 1 in Montreal, we’ve rounded up some of the films directed by women that will be shown throughout Fantasia. 

Brazilian director’s Gabriela Amaral Almeida second film, My Father’s Shadow, will have its North American premiere at Fantasia 2019. The film follows Dalva, a young girl who is trying to summon her mother’s spirit to help quell her father’s depression. She’s inspired by George A. Romero and given a little encouragement by her aunt. Almeida mixes traditional horror with contemporary Brazilian issues to create a poignant story that reflects the horrific nature of our contemporary moment. 

Perhaps one of my anticipated films of Fantasia is The Deeper You Dig, a film directed by John Adams, Toby Poser, and their daughter Zelda Adams. It is a DIY supernatural film that was directed, written, and scored by this family unit. They are also the film’s stars. It revolves around a daughter, a mother, and a stranger after a roadside accident. I’m excited to see the work of these three people and what art they created with their limited resources.

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Female Director Spotlight: The Radical, Feminist, and Czech Filmmaking of Věra Chytilová

Film history classes may pound the French New Wave into the heads of cinema students everywhere, but not much is said about the Czech New Wave. Unsurprisingly, this movement was in direct response to the French version and was an attempt to showcase the filmmaking talents emerging in Eastern Europe. These films were made in the 1960s and featured nonprofessional actors, long dialogue, and dark humor. One of the integral figures in this movement was director Věra Chytilová, whose 1968 film, Daisies, put her on the map as a daring feminist filmmaker. As described by Criterion, “No director pushed the boundaries of the Czechoslovak New Wave further than Věra Chytilová.” Her work pulsates with an anarchic energy, each frame saying something new and explosive. While not all of her work is as overtly political as Daisies, each of her films makes a political statement about women, the Soviet Union, economics, socialism, and more.

All of the films mentioned here were made before the 1968 invasion of the Soviet Union into Czechoslovakia. Due to her controversial filmmaking, it was impossible for her to find work as a director during this time. Daisies was banned from Czechoslovakia, so she had quite the reputation for her filmmaking style. While not all of her films are described here, Chylitová worked in a wide range of genres, making a sci-fi horror film called Wolf’s Hole and a rape-revenge film called Traps.

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‘Santa Clarita Diet’ Season Three Perfects The Genre of Comedy

This is a largely spoiler free review.

Nothing about Santa Clarita Diet is supposed to work out logically on television. It is absolutely ludicrous, absurd, and simply downright unbelievable. A woman turns into a cannibal and is worshipped as the messenger of God. Organs grow their own legs and murder people. Somewhere along the way in this season, we have ancient knights fitting in perfectly in a white, suburban, and soccer-mom-dominated neighbourhood. We have characters questioning the point of existence, as if that even matters when cannibals are accepted as the de facto state of affairs in the show. However, not only does Santa Clarita Diet manage to find a coherent logic amidst the chaos, it also shows us that the comedic medium does not need to thrive on bigotry in order to question what it means to live in a world so horribly broken. Continue reading “‘Santa Clarita Diet’ Season Three Perfects The Genre of Comedy”