Sunday, January 30, 2011

Catherine Breillat Awakens a Beautiful Sleeping Lesbian in The Sleeping Beauty

Catherine Breillat's most recent film The Sleeping Beauty / La Belle Endormie (2010) is the kind of lush exploration of the burgeoning sexuality of a young woman that audiences expect from her after her more than 30 years of delivering such works. This time, that sexuality is decidedly not heterosexual.
The Sleeping Beauty wakes and discovers that she is a lesbian.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Outside the Law: Year of the Arab Diaspora at the Oscars

If Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972) and Gilles Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers (1966) where to have a baby, and that baby was a film, that film would be Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law / Hors La Loi (2010).
The Godfather and The Battle of Algiers have a baby

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Incendies: Lebanon is Scorched, Burned and Blistered

To say that the Middle East has been scorched, burned and blistered by war is an understatement. In Incendies–a ground breaking diaspora film, set in both present day Canada and in Lebanon in the recent past–we get to see in painful detail the intricacies of how the war burned many families into horrific mangled messes.

The idea of return is common among diaspora films of the last few decades. Usually the protagonist of the film returns to their family's place of origin and discovers the rubble and ruins that have been vacated by their parent's generation. Usually we do not see the atrocities that happened, but we are told that they are too terrible to talk about or to show. The protagonist walks around looking traumatized which, I have to admit, despite my devotion to these films, is part of the growing pains in the development of a genre.

Where Incendies distinguishes itself is in the crafting of a story that really is too terrible to tell and too terrible to witness. And then it makes us witness every terrible moment of it.
A cinematic moment. The image comes first and the explanation comes much much later.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

True Grit: The Formidable Fortitude of Tweens

Every once in a while a role comes along for a young woman who is at that tough age, that age that makes her adult-like, but before she's realized the limiting effects of the male gaze. She is smart enough to know what is right and young enough to not know that the world doesn't work according to right and wrong. She speaks truth to power, and expects power to accede to what would be justice. She sees what is incongruous and expects that if she shows it to others, they will correct their ways. If they don't correct their ways, she is old enough, and in her own power enough to be able to resist their attempts to make her follow their ways. She is interested in freedom and is often called willful, clever, argumentative. It is a window that, for most women, opens as puberty hits and then shuts as puberty ends. For many women, the social relations of feudalism and capitalism make us bend and transform under patriarchal control.
Mattie Ross in True Grit, played by a 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld, looks unimpressed and determined

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tron Legacy: Arcades and the Zen of Nostalgia

If you are old enough to remember watching the original Tron when it came out in 1982, then you're old enough to remember playing upright video games at an arcade. You'd probably remember too that arcades were the hang out, the cool place to be, and also one of the few places to challenge your hand eye coordination. 
Original poster for Tron from 1982. They posed again like this in the sequel.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lykke Li's Vagina Dentata is Gonna Get Some

Lykke Li was asked to describe her new, not yet released album Wounded Rhymes, as an outfit. She responded in Bust Magazine's issue 67, "It would be black gothic clothes that someone has been wearing all night. Maybe like if Keith Richards was wearing all black and he'd been out and about for two weeks." A little gross, right? And her first single and video from that album has been grossly misunderstood. People are calling it a departure and charging her with using sex to sell an album. Really, if you look at this video carefully, you'll realize that she does show her legs, and her pants are off, but what's revealed is not easily consumable sex. It's more like PJ Harvey howling "lick my legs, I'm on fire" than it is Britney Spears yapping about whatever it is she does. Lykke Li is finally telling us what she wants, and if you aren't ready for it, she will hold you down and give it to you anyway.
Lykke Li without pants, in her video 'Get Some'
Are those metal claws on her vagina (dentata)?