Podcast #1: Halloween, Horror, and Childhood Scares

Dear Much Ado readers, get ready to be listeners!

We’re so proud to share the first episode of our podcast with you. It’s been a year (and a month) since we opened Much Ado and we could never imagine how far we’d come in such a short time.

On our Patreon page we set a goal of $75 to start working on our podcast and this month we hit that goal, thanks to your help! Every time we gain a new Patron, we come one step closer to saving enough money to pay to our writers. You can help us with as little as $1.

Our first episode is about, as it should be on October 31st, Halloween! Podcast host Charlie Dykstal talks with our writers Mia Vicino, Mary Beth McAndrews and Tyler Llewyn Taing about horror films that scared them in childhood, jump scares and how cathartic horror films can be.

Listen to the first episode on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play. Don’t forget to subscribe for upcoming episodes and share your feedback with us on twitter or via e-mail at muchadoaboutcinema@gmail.com.

“I Bite at the Hand That Feeds Me:” A Watchlist for Vengeful Women

Since November 2016, there has been this swirling pit of rage that permanently resides in the center of my heart, nestled just below the aortic arch. Sometimes it is quiet, like the beach at low tide in the middle of the night, gently ebbing and licking the sand. On days like today, when a sexual abuser is appointed to the highest level of justice, it is an electric maelstrom. More inflamed and unyielding than the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. Stay out of my way; I’m out for blood.

But many other women have written more eloquently about this topic than I could ever hope to, so I will let cinema speak for me. Here are seven films of varying genres (most written or directed by women) that deftly provoke rage against our broken system while simultaneously inspiring that passion for a better world for women and survivors, many of whom overlap. 

1. Shut Up and Sing (2006) dir. Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck
Image result for shut up and sing dixie chicks“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”

After Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines made this offhand statement at a 2003 concert in London, the vehement backlash from the American country music community nearly ended the trio’s career. Kopple and Peck’s intimate documentary chronicles the aftermath of the incident, including the conception of their 2006 comeback song, “Not Ready To Make Nice.” Their country ballad demonstrated their daring refusal to apologize, denounced the death threats these women received for critiquing their government, and found success as a three-time Grammy award-winning bop!

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‘Madeline’s Madeline’ Expertly Blurs the Line Between Performance Art and Reality

Madeline’s Madeline is unafraid to delve into the volatile psyche of a teenage artist. Art is so often used as a tool to sort through perplexing emotions, so it makes sense that struggling teens tend to lose themselves in this low-cost form of therapy. This semi-experimental fever dream poses the question: At what point in the creative process does art as personal self-expression begin to do more harm than good?

Madeline (newcomer Helena Howard) is a 16-year-old actress in a physical theater troupe, fresh out of a brief stay in a psychiatric ward. Her teacher Evangeline (Molly Parker) is at once forceful and understanding, as if Fletcher from Whiplash actually had a heart. On the flip side is Madeline’s mother Regina (Miranda July), an unstable but ultimately loving helicopter parent whose moods, like Madeline’s, violently change at the blink of an eye. From a more neutral perspective, Regina’s actions may come across as a frustrated, terrified mom doing her best to make sure her daughter stays healthy. But the eyes of a teenage girl, especially one with mental illness, see the world through a distorted lens. I know this because I once was one.

Continue reading “‘Madeline’s Madeline’ Expertly Blurs the Line Between Performance Art and Reality”

Most Anticipated Films from Fall Festivals

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.

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Let’s Go Back In Time: Much Ado’s Favorite Period Pieces

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

atonement2

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.

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Under the Influence of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

When Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey first opened in 1968, critics and general audiences were immediately polarized. Upon its premiere, a Variety review boldly stated, “2001: A Space Odyssey is not a cinematic landmark.Others argued that it only broke even at the box office because of the time period’s affinity for dropping acid and lapping up that righteously trippy last 20 minutes.

It is now 50 years later, and 2001 is hailed as one of the most influential films in the history of cinema. Christopher Nolan’s restored 70mm print is making the rounds in the United States, coming to my home state of Oregon. The fervent popularity of the hallucinogenic LSD has been replaced with a proclivity for the psychoactive, and much safer, THC. And that happens to be very, very legal here. In fact, the announcer at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland joked, “Have you all ingested your edibles?” before the screening began (Yes. Yes I had). In short, times have changed.

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‘Hearts Beat Loud’ is the Saccharine, Sapphic Smash of the Summer

In a world inundated with films about angsty artists rebelling against their more traditional parents, Hearts Beat Loud is the breath of fresh air that we didn’t even know we needed. Yes, it’s another entry into the, “‘You’re giving up on your dream.’ ‘No, Dad. I’m giving up on yours,’” film canon, but with a welcome twist: 18-year-old Sam (Kiersey Clemons) wants to attend UCLA for medical school and her father, record shop owner Frank, wants her to stay in New York and start a band with him. Frank (Nick Offerman) is the quintessential goofy dad, pulling his daughter away from studying so they can “jam sesh.” He plays an old guitar, and she plays a keyboard hooked up to a Macbook; he represents old school rock, and she represents contemporary pop. Together, they make an unlikely songwriting duo called “We Are Not A Band.”

Continue reading “‘Hearts Beat Loud’ is the Saccharine, Sapphic Smash of the Summer”