The Wife opens on Joan Castleman waking up in the wee hours of the morning to find her husband, Joe (Jonathan Pryce), munching on an unhealthy snack. She reprimands him, telling him to go to sleep. But he can’t because he’s just so nervous for a particular phone call. To help him fall asleep, he suggests they have sex and, as Joan protests, he says that she can just lie there. What a realistic and uncomfortable look at married life. The Wife aims to expose these moments found in long term relationships and how they force women to assume a stereotypical role of caregiver, while also stifling them.
Joe was waiting for a phone call to tell him that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is elated at the news and so is Joan, at least on the surface. Following the news is a flurry of parties where Joe is the center of attention, with Joan flitting on the periphery, taking care of everything, hiding from the spotlight. But there is something inside of Joan that is hesitant about this news, a tension that is building inside of her with each camera flash, compliment, and toast to Joe. As they travel to Sweden for the award presentation, the tension builds and builds and builds as Joan becomes a glorified coat rack. Adding to the tension is biographer Nathaniel Bone, played by a sleazy Christian Slater, who is poking the fire burning behind Joan’s eyes. Joan is done being subservient to her husband and having her creativity stifled. But can she break free from the role she has so long been assigned to?
Imagine, if you will, driving down a quiet country road, surrounded by greenery. As you round a corner, there is something looming ahead: a large, old house in a state of disrepair. There is something fascinating about this crumbling estate – it was once something grand and beautiful, but now shabby. You’re enchanted, mesmerized, and want to walk through its threshold to see what lies behind its doors. This is the estate at the center of director Lenny Abrahamson’s The Little Stranger, a film that seems to defy a genre label, spanning thriller, drama, romance, and supernatural. But the marketing, as minimal as it has been, makes The Little Stranger seem purely like a horror movie. Horror fans, or people looking for a horror movie, will be disappointed. Instead of ghosts, they’ll get melancholy, loneliness, desperation, and the need to hold onto the past.
The Little Stranger begins with Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) visiting the dilapidated Hundreds Hall to check on the Ayres family’s young maid, Betty (Liv Hill). After the visit, he becomes close with the family, particularly Caroline (Ruth Wilson), as he helps her injured war vet brother, Roderick (Will Poulter). As Faraday learns more about the family, seemingly supernatural events start taking place around the house, slowly tearing the family apart.
As the dreadful month of August ends, fall begins and with fall comes the most wonderful time of the year: Festival Season! Venice already started, Toronto and Telluride will follow, then comes London and New York. The happiness and the discourse will spread from the sunny seaside of Italy, bringing film lovers together (or apart) until the Awards Season, in which we all will sell our souls to competition. But until then, enjoy a list of some of the films we cannot wait to see from festival season.
Body horror is usually discussed in tandem with directors like David Cronenberg, Clive Barker, and John Carpenter. Body horror is defined by the Collins Dictionary as “a horror film genre in which the main feature is the graphically depicted destruction or degeneration of a human body or bodies.” John Carpenter’s 1978 The Thing is a prime example, as an alien parasite takes over a group of human bodies. The parasite stretches, rips, and destroys the group one by one, rendering their bodies into something totally unrecognizable. Other examples are The Fly, Videodrome, and Alien.
But body horror doesn’t always have to be about such intense and graphic depictions of the ruined body. Yorgos Lanthimos depicts a different kind of body horror in his film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer. His body horror is more controlled – instead of bodies falling apart into bloody piles, the bodies of Bob (Sunny Suljic) and Kim (Raffey Cassidy) fall apart in a predicted and methodical way. The horror comes from the inevitably of this decay, the medical solutions used to try to solve the decay, and the brutality of its solution.
After eight weeks of building tension, making us hate Wind Gap, and giving us Amy Adams at her best, Sharp Objects has come to an end. Its shocking yet satisfying ending was the perfect conclusion to a show centered on trauma, being a daughter, mental illness, and memory.
The finale plays out like a stressful horror movie as Camille and Amma fight to survive, all while clad in thin nightgowns that cling to their sweaty bodies. They are fragile dolls and Adora’s toys to play with, dress up, and torture. To confront her mother about the death of Marian, Camille lets Adora poison her. Adora accepts the task with ease, finally letting Camille enter her room, showering her with love and strange medicines. Adora grabs her tray of medicines like a serial killer pulling out his tray of torture devices, all while smiling that sickly sweet Adora smile. As she prepares Camille’s next dose, Alan mutters, “Don’t go overboard,” proving that he is in fact a human trash heap and has been enabling Adora’s toxic, murderous tendencies. You’ll have to watch the episode to see its final twist, but even having read the book, I gasped comically loud. All I’ll say is that Eliza Scanlen is an actor to watch in the coming years, delivering a devilish performance as Amma Crellin.
From Yorgos Lanthimos’ highly-anticipated The Favourite to Greta Gerwig’s star-studded interpretation of Little Women, 2018 will be the year of period pieces. In anticipation of these films, the Much Ado crew has put our heads together and shared some of our favorite period pieces. They span genres, directors, and countries, but one thing is for sure: We are a group who loves a good period piece.
Atonement (2007) dir. Joe Wright
I’m not here to introduce you to a hidden gem of historical fiction about a marginalized population or oft-ignored perspective – I’m here to talk about Atonement. Yes, the Ian McEwan adaptation starring Keira Knightley and directed by Joe Wright. The combination of those three names yields a period piece so period piece-y, it’s quintessential genre viewing.
This movie’s got everything: war-torn lovers, smoking parlors, sexual tension, an evil chocolatier played by Benedict Cumberbatch, family secrets, precocious Saoirse Ronan, dramatic deaths, and betrayal. Set against the backdrop of the First World War, Atonement follows the sweeping love story of beautiful, snobbish Cecilia and working class Robbie, played by Keira Knightley with a jaw so sharp it could kill a man and boy-next-door James McAvoy, respectively. Saoirse received her first Oscar nomination for her role as Cecilia’s incredibly annoying theater kid sister Briony (or at least that’s how I viewed her when I first saw the film as a preteen). But most of the gooey, decadent drama of the film draws itself from everything but the acting.
As the end of Sharp Objects approaches, I keep thinking there’s no way this show could get any more upsetting, raw, and tense. And each week, I’m proven wrong. In the penultimate episode to HBO’s limited series, the pain, cruelty, and suffering of each character seems to reach its peak.
The episode begins with a surprisingly tender moment as Adora tries to take care of Camille after her night of partying with Amma. However, Camille is quick to reject such attention, pushing her away and refusing medicine from a rather large blue bottle. As Camille is leaving the house, she checks on a hungover Amma, who says, “You know what my favorite part of getting wasted is? Mama takes care of me after.” She also reveals that John is about to be arrested for the murders of Anne and Natalie. Camille rushes to John’s girlfriend’s house, while Richard, on the other hand, does his own investigation: This time, it’s into the death of Marian Crellin. As he speaks to nurses and reads old medical records, it becomes increasingly clear that Adora suffers from Munchausen by proxy, a disorder where a caretaker makes someone sick on purpose. There are not only records for Marian, but for Amma’s various hospitalizations. This is juxtaposed with Amma lying sick in bed, sweating, puking, trying to escape her mother’s medication.