Walking out of The Lighthouse a big sense of uneasiness inhabited me. A feeling I couldn’t shake away even hours after seeing the film. It left its mark, an impression that wouldn’t leave me even after leaving the comfort of my chair. But even in front of all this uneasiness, my eyes never looked away from the action that unfolded in front of me. I was mesmerized by what I was witnessing. The Lighthouse is powerful when you think about it: a spectacle that is shot on 35mm in black and white with only two characters and that never loses your attention. As the film progresses, you can feel the madness slowly invade your being. You feel trap, you are transported on the island with them. As they go deeper into their madness, you follow them along. Even when it’s all over, when everything is wrapped up and you sit in the darkness of the theatre as the credit play, your body is frozen in space. The Lighthouse is an experience, an experience that will leave you wanting more but also dreading more.
Quirky feminist comedies are my thing, the sort of movies that I look for as often as possible. They are what I enjoy the most out of films because I can connect to them on a deeper level. They always make me feel like I am seen and more often than none I walk away with a feeling that no other film gives me. That is exactly how I expected to feel for How to Build a Girl a new comedy coming from director Coky Giedroyc and written by Caitlin Moran based on her own memoir. It was a film that appealed to me in every way but while it worked really well at times, it also failed at others.
While in line for this film, someone approached me and asked about the film. About why I decided to buy a ticket for this film that has no trailer and knows very little about it. Outside of the fact that it’s something exciting and fun to do as many films for a festival as possible, but to me it boiled down to three things, H.P. Lovecraft, Nicolas Cage, and that single still. It is gorgeous and otherworldly and exciting enough to want me to be brought into this other world.
Jean Seberg became an icon after starring in the film that would start the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Goddard’s Breathless. She became a staple in French cinema and her star burned bright after. While never really being able to escape her feature debut as Joan of Arc, a role that left permanent scars not only on her body but also on her mind, Seberg disappeared from Hollywood and would go on to die from what appeared to be suicide after disappearing for ten days just a few days after the anniversary of her daughter’s death. But the real mystery came between those years before she left Hollywood where a few years she found herself being a political activist in the United States and found herself at the centre of an FBI investigation that would end up kind of ruining her life. This is period of her life is explored in the biopic Seberg starring Kristen Stewart in the titular role.
British feel-good films have a very specific feel to them. They are a template that we have seen but they are also very effective to make you feel happy for their duration. And in a period where most films are depressing and hard to watch, sitting down for two hours and watching a group of women who supports each other is a nice change of pace. It might not be a pitch-perfect film but the fact that you walk away crying of joy is a nice change from the emotional wreckage that most Festival films will give you,
Oscar bait films are something we know, something that we have seen grow in number years after years. But that doesn’t always mean that they are bad, sometimes they actually are good. They just don’t try and change the norm. For me, Just Mercy falls into a category. A film packaged for the Oscar that hits hard but also doesn’t try and change anything in the way it tells its story. But the truth is that I was a mess after Just Mercy while I can see how it fails to innovate, it did hit me so hard that I was hiding in my shirt to try and to be loud. You know how it will end, just like any other courtroom movies of the sort, but you can’t help to get sucked into the story.
Corpus Christi isn’t like most religious films, or at least the ones I have seen over the years. Church and religion might be at the centre of it all, but it’s about much more. Faith, redemption and second chances are at the centre of it all. A tale that we have all seen but not in the way Corpus Christi tells it. Daniel’s life has been anchored by crime and violence, even when in juvie he’s complicit in all of it. But when he finally gets out, going back to his old ways seemed to be what would happen to him. But on his way to work, he takes a detour and finds himself reinventing his life, this time as a young priest.
Marie Curie is probably the most famous female scientist in the world, she is after all the only woman to have won two Nobel Prize in different categories. Her discoveries have shaped the twentieth and twenty-first century. So the fact that it took so long for her to get a biopic is something that we can wonder about, a woman like her should have had her story told a long time ago. But at last, a biopic about the woman who changed so much of our world is here and while not perfect, Radioactive does do a good job of putting Curie’s life under the spotlight.
Films that you didn’t love but also didn’t hate are the most difficult to write about. Not because it’s hard to emulate what you mean but because feelings about them are mixed and too often don’t reflect everything that you feel. That’s why writing this is hard because I wanted to love Chicuarotes and sometimes I did. Sometimes I saw the brilliance behind Gael Garcia Bernal’s film. But then that little flicker of hope that was in me slowly dissipated only to be replaced mostly by annoyance. Chicuarotes is the in-between for me, the film that I liked and hated at the same time, a film that walking away I just thought that I had seen it, didn’t feel anything extraordinary whether positive or negative that would have been. It was simply a film that I had a witness.
Movies make you feel things. Those feelings can vary from films to films but they are supposed to be there. Walking away from a film feeling nothing is never something that should happen. And then there are the movies that make you feel everything, overwhelms your sensations and make you question everything you think you know For me, Portrait of a Lady on Fire did just that. It’s not that it’s emotional per se, it’s more of a feeling that the movie gives you. While there is some moment that will bring you to tears, the atmosphere and story itself make you feel. Films that are able to set feelings without really trying are unique, they are in a category of their own, at least for me. I hate to compare films, I think it doesn’t do justice to them really. But if I had to compare Portrait of a Lady on Fire to another one, in terms of the way emotions, or at least what it made me feel, I would compare it to Call Me By Your Name. Let me tell you why.