Gone Girl is one of those films you wish you could watch for the first time again.
Masked as a typical murder-mystery, Fincher manipulates the audience into sympathising with Amy Dunne and despising her husband; Nick Dunne, thus shocking us when the screen cuts to black and the words: “I’m so much happier now that I’m dead”, are uttered. In a few seconds Amy’s ‘helpless victim’ persona is left behind, replaced by the reality of who she truly is; a villain. In one sentence our whole perception of her is changed and that’s how you do a plot twist.
The phrase “Satanic feminist art film” will get you laughed out most rooms that aren’t a liberal arts classroom or the Hot Topic in your hometown mall, so it should come as no surprise that A24 struggled to brand The Witch for audiences upon its wide release in 2016. Written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Robert Eggers, The Witch is a horror movie by almost any standard, riddled with the genre’s usual tropes of supernatural possession, exorcism and things that go bump in the night, but it has little regard for audience expectations. By relying on period-appropriate language (“Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?”) and opting for meditation in place of jump scares, The Witch left hardcore horror fans wanting and others asking, “What did I just watch?”
In the Twitter bio of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it reads “we champion the power of human imagination.” In the last ninety years of the academy’s existence however, this “human imagination” has been overwhelmingly straight, white and male. In this year’s Oscar nominations alone, only one of the five directors nominated for best director was a woman (Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird”) and her presence in the prestigious lineup marked the end of an eight year dry spell of the exclusive “boys club” of male directors in the category. Dee Rees (Mudbound) was snubbed of a best director nomination, marking yet another year that no women of color were nominated for best director. What was truly shocking was that this year marked the very first time that a woman was nominated for best cinematographer (Rachel Morrison for “Mudbound”) in the entire history of the Academy Awards.
Starting out strong with a funky opening credit sequence set to “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” a nod to blaxploitation films of the 70s, Proud Mary appeared to be steeped in potential. As the titular Mary, a hit woman for a powerful Boston crime family, checks out her personal arsenal of sleek guns with her steely stare, we sense we’re in for a wild ride of firefights and ass-kicking by the one-and-only Taraji P. Henson. Sadly, this is not the movie we get.
Instead, ProudMary is loosely based on the plot of the 1980 John Cassavetes crime drama Gloria starring Gena Rowlands. After a hit goes awry, Mary finds herself responsible for a young boy named Danny (Jahi Di’Allo Winston). Juggling both childcare and an assassination profession is a ripe set-up for some comedic scenes, such as Mary taking Danny to a hot dog cart near her mark’s apartment so she can surreptitiously scope out the area.
*The following piece is by our guest writer Vikram Zutshi
On Jan 20th, David Lynch, unquestionably the foremost surrealist artist of our times, turns 72. It is as good a time as any to take stock of his eclectic and wide-ranging oeuvre, which includes film, music, art, literature, photography and architecture.
His films take us deep beneath the quotidian surface of small town America, a space he knows intimately, where sublime truths and dark fantasies play out, unhindered by the strictures of consensual reality. Early impressions and memories of an all-American childhood in rural Montana in the 50’s inform much of the artist’s work.
Hrutar, or Rams, follows the story of two brothers in despair. Situated in a remote Icelandic farming valley, Kiddi (Theodor Juliusson) and Gummi (Sigurdur Sigurjonsson) have not spoken for forty years, despite being neighbours. Rams sees the siblings unite to save their livelihood and what is most important to them: their flocks of sheep. However, Rams is also a poignant film taking on revenge, and perhaps even the futility of it when it is pushed to extremes. Rams can be considered Grímur Hákonarson’s first film to take the western world by a surprising storm (in a relative sense).