EIFF may not be the biggest event on everyone’s calendars but it’s the world’s longest continually-running film festival. For the next 2 weeks, Scotland’s capital will play host to British world premieres, festival circuit favourites, and plenty of smaller films looking to find distribution. Two of our writers, Iana and Hannah, are attending this year and highlight a few of the films they are excited to see from this year’s eclectic programme.
The use of horror as a metaphor for the impact of repressed female sexuality in cinema can be found in a range of films, from Julia Ducournau’s arresting debut feature, Raw, to Brian de Palma’s masterful tale of a girl’s unusual coming of age in Carrie. It’s not necessarily a new way of tackling the subject of teenage girls and their first ventures into sexual desire, but it is a deeply effective one and serves as the central theme of Thelma—Joachim Trier’s brilliant meditation on one young woman’s discovery of the wants she has stifled for so long.
The titular Thelma (Eili Harboe) is a quiet, thoughtful freshman who, when we first meet her, appears to be overwhelmed by shyness. As she attends university in Oslo, a sharp contrast to the notably eerie house that she lives in with her parents in the Norwegian countryside, she initially struggles to settle into the student lifestyle with her fellow classmates. Through brief glimpses into her relationship with her parents, often presented in the form of somewhat invasive phone-calls to Thelma after her classes, we learn that they are fundamentalist Christians to whom Thelma can barely admit that she drank a little wine without panic rising. Already, within the film’s first thirty minutes, the repression surrounding Thelma’s life has been established. Once we learn that she has spent the first eighteen years of her life under the thumb of her parents–akin to the way in which Sissy Spacek’s telekinetic lead of Carrie spent hers restrained by her mother–the visible concern that arises whenever she speaks to another person begins to make sense.
I was fifteen. Unsure of myself, unsure of the world around me and deeply uncertain of the feelings I was beginning to develop; I was lost. As my friends began to develop an interest in boys, as first dates began to occur, I found myself isolated; I simply could not relate to their conversations and felt that I had to feign excitement and agreement in order to fit in. Many a time, I felt alone. I knew, even if I had not truly accepted it yet, that I was not really attracted to boys. Although almost everyone and everything in my life said I should be, I was not. I knew that I was the odd one out amongst my schoolmates, whether they knew it then or not. Then, I stumbled upon a film that would change my teenaged life and introduce me to a whole new way of thinking about sexuality. Having been a fan of cinema for a while at this point, I read regularly about movies and I was always trying to keep myself up to date on the most widely acclaimed. When I was fifteen, it was 2013 and Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Colour had just premiered at Cannes to widespread praise. Raw, teeming with passion, and heart-wrenching, this would be the film that my young self would cling to dearly and is one that I still turn to for comfort, despite its flaws, today.
Ten years in the making and Infinity War is finally here! Blockbuster cinema is filled with milestones; Steven Spielberg’s Jaws invented summer blockbusters and years later MCU impacted the way we view and consume them. Previous generations remember seeing iconic shots from Terminator or Lord of the Rings films in cinemas, today’s generation will have The Avenger‘s circle shot. Whether you like MCU films or not, it would be ridiculous to deny that they’ve had huge cultural and cinematic influence for the past ten years. With Infınity War‘s arrival, it’s time to look back at past ten years and rank our top five!
Ryan Coogler is a history maker. Barely a week and a half since its release, his gargantuan Black Panther has already broken various records, with an early box office taking to rival that of Star Wars and a near-perfect score of 97% amongst critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Much like Star Wars, or perhaps Lord of The Rings, Black Panther is the kind of media that transcends ‘film’ and becomes a cultural event; the kind that is impossible not to discuss with friends, colleagues, or family. The reception to Coogler’s contribution to the seemingly endless Marvel Cinematic Universe is well-deserved; Black Panther is phenomenal. It is arguably the most outwardly political film in the MCU’s history (and is all the better for it), features a fantastic cast and utilises every one of them to create likeable, multi-dimensional characters, and also includes one of the most memorable antagonists of any recent superhero movie. Put simply, Black Panther is an incredible film and stands out amongst a sea of tired Marvel features.
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.
Love it or hate it, the best thing about Valentine’s Day is always the movies. From arthouse drama to cheesy rom-coms to depressing tear-jerkers, we all have our favourite kinds of romance film. There’s a wide variety of faves even amongst the Much Ado team, so hopefully our recommendation list will give you a new idea or two this February 14th!
(500) Days of Summer
Why conform to watching a traditional romantic comedy this Valentine’s Day? Why submit to Hollywood’s saccharine nature and settle down with a formulaic feature when you could instead confront the heartache that comes with unrequited love and the realisation that no person is ever really what you imagine them to be? If you’re looking for a bit of realism in your romance, then 500 Days of Summer is the film for you. Its central theme can be summed up in one line delivered by a young Chloë Grace Moretz’s character, the younger sister of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s hopeless protagonist Tom, as she tells him that ‘just because some girl is into the same bizzaro crap as you, that doesn’t mean she’s your soulmate.’ Truer words were never spoken, indeed. There is no doubt that every one of us is at least somewhat guilty of convincing ourselves that someone is the one for us simply because they share a few of our interests. What 500 Days of Summer does is show just how problematic this kind of thinking is and how disastrous it can be for us in the long run, by having Tom break his own heart in attempting to believe that the titular Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is the person he has made her out to be in his head. Summer may like the same music as Tom, she may enjoy the same kind of cinema as he does, but that doesn’t mean that the two are made for each other, or that they are even remotely compatible. Reality can never truly match our expectations, 500 Days of Summer reminds us, and people are not ours to mould into whatever we want them to be. It is the perfect antidote to the onslaught of Nicholas Spark’s adaptations that infiltrate cinemas around this time of year and shows us that love is, often, not what we believe it to be.
– Hannah Ryan