‘His Dark Materials’ is a Worthy Series Adaptation of Philip Pullman's Trilogy

I read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy when I was ten years old. My parents don’t write or speak English well, but they made sure that I could by bringing me to the public library whenever they had time off from work — which was very little. Pullman’s work, in this sense, made me feel the wonder of possibility in its purest form: Like Lyra Silvertongue (Dafne Keen), I had to navigate a world which didn’t make the slightest bit of sense. His books, however, taught me that if I just tried, maybe I could make it work. Above all, the trilogy has always been about the beauty of found families — in this day and age, our chosen alliances are more important than ever. Later on in the series, Roger Parslow (Lewin Lloyd) tells Lyra that she is an orphan too, and that perhaps all they have is each other. While the newly adapted television series of Pullman’s trilogy, co-produced by HBO and BBC, noticeably struggles with pacing and the glaring absence of key plot points, it does an excellent job at honing in on the complexity of familial relations, and how found families remain crucial to our survival in the age of political violence.

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Best Films of the Decade

It is what it is.

You’ve probably seen at least ten best of the decade lists by now and you think, Really? Another one?. Well we knew you’d say that so we thought we’d spice it up a bit. Instead of doing our usual “Best of …” format which usually includes ten to fifteen films ranked based on our individual lists, we are doing individual lists only. We felt that this way, we could present you with a more diverse list of films. We asked fourteen critics, academics and programmers to list their top twenty-films of the decade and write about their #1.But we still wondered if we made a big list, what would be our #1? What film was it that showed up on the list again and again? What film, to us, really captured the essence of this decade? The last ten years have been defined by loss, financial ruin, and anxiety about what world the next generation is going to inherit. But it’s also been a decade where seeds of revolution were planted, and the rise of social movements by people not afraid to fight the powers and systems that have become goliaths. Darkness rises, and light to meet it.

Much Ado About Cinema’s favourite film of the decade is Mad Max: Fury Road. Enjoy and happy new decade! Continue reading “Best Films of the Decade”

In ‘Gwen’, Horror Lies in the Cruelty of Patriarchal Capitalism

“Steal a sheep, and they’ll take your hand. Steal a mountain, and they’ll make you a lord.”

Set in 1855 Snowdonia, Gwen (2018) is a brooding Welsh gothic drama on the brutalities of poverty, the patriarchy, and capitalism. As William McGregor’s debut feature, the film finds its horror in the inhumane ways men appropriate, control, and abuse women’s bodies for self-serving purposes. 

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Female Director Spotlight: Desiree Akhavan Tackles Sexuality with Refreshing Honesty

Often semi-autobiographical in nature, Desiree Akhavan’s work unabashedly celebrates what it means to be an Iranian-American bisexual woman. As an openly bisexual filmmaker who centers her experience of bisexuality in most of her works, Akhavan has had to frequently deal with critics expecting her to deliver a “taboo-breaking drama on bisexuality.” To this, Akhavan responded in an interview for the Independent that she is merely trying “to figure shit out for [her]self” rather than put forth a “taboo-breaking” narrative on the matters of gender and sexuality. Indeed, it is worth questioning why gay artists are expected to deliver ground-breaking work when the film industry persistently denies funding, access, and support for gay artists. When gay people are still fighting for their right to simply exist, ground-breaking becomes a luxury reserved for the most privileged. 

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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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‘Consequences’: On Gay Loneliness and the Spectacle of Hyper-Masculinity

Slovenia’s first LGBTQ-themed film, Consequences (or Posledice, 2018), is an arresting portrayal of what happens when institutional and judicial structures fail young gay men. The debut film by director Darko Štante asks: if men haphazardly placed in youth detention centers do not receive adequate support, what happens to the gay men in it? How do failing political structures further marginalise gay men, and leave them twice-removed from society?

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‘Hard Paint’ and the Tenderness of Gay Love

“Is this paint the kind that shines in the dark? Do you have someone who makes you happy? Someone who makes you shine like paint?

While an unflinching look at the plight of LGBTQ Brazilians up to this day, Hard Paint (or Tinta Bruta, 2018) is a sweepingly tender portrayal of gay love. Directed by Brazilian writer-director pair Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon, the film astutely illuminates the realities of poverty, sex work, and gay loneliness amidst the backdrop of rising homophobic violence against Brazilian LGBTQ people. 

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