There’s been no shortage of vampire films this year, so it’s pretty remarkable that the darts have been landing so close to the bullseye. The best of the group have succeeded because rather than recreate vampire lore, they use it as an entry way to more universal and interesting stories. The genre operates like the best of restrictions, providing a skeletal structure that creative writers and directors can animate as they see fit.
In a post-WILD TALES Q&A, Argentinian director Damian Szifron said the thematic connection tying his varied and terrific vignettes together is “the pleasure of losing control.” While building his film around such a feeling, Szifron had to have hoped it would be a pleasure to watch these characters lose control as well.
And it is. In so many cringe-worthy, uproarious, and surprisingly insightful ways, WILD TALES is an absolute pleasure.
I’m always torn on didacticism as a way to deliver meaning. I grew up reading Church magazines full of stories that are — let’s be honest — never true, but always well intentioned. Realizing the flaws inherent in these stories (asking your friends to swap the R-rated film for something more uplifting never works, for example) didn’t necessarily make me averse to didacticism, only hyper-aware of its usage and and wary of its sloppy overuse. Those magazines are intended for young kids in the Church, and short stories of sharing, caring, and love work best when the moral is clear, even if the content is false.
Didacticism can be an extremely powerful method, and one that works particularly well when the audience agrees with the message. My Straight Son (with an alternative [re: better] title of Blue and Not So Pink) is a recent Venezuelan film written and directed by Miguel Ferrari, an actor-turned-director whose conscience is clearly concerned with the marginalized of the world and whose narrative tendencies quickly become pulpit-pounding rhetoric. I wrinkled my nose a bit when Delirio del Rio (Hilda Abrahamz), a transsexual juggernaut, concludes the film by literally preaching acceptance and love on her new television talk show, but this may have been a way to keep tears from flowing.
New York City and the dreamers who flock there have been a staple of film almost since the medium’s advent. King Vidor chronicled the American Dream’s poisonous mystique in his silent masterpiece The Crowd in 1928. Busby Berkeley threw the city’s majesty on screen with his extravagant dance numbers, creating the illusion that something this visually stunning could only happen in a New York City setting.
Now that filmmaking has gone digital, smaller New York stories are growing in popularity, often focusing on adults wrestling with their imminent adulthood. We have Gimme the Loot, Broad City, Tiny Furniture, High Maintenance and Frances Ha just to name a few recent entries. Even this tiny selection shows the variety that fits under this umbrella.
I consider myself a man that has been fairly desensitized by modern cinema and television, according to today’s standards. Sure, I avidly avoid the torture porn fandom of the Hostel, Saw and Human Centipede style films because frankly, I like sleeping at night. However, the typical rated R violence, nudity, and language can roll off my back pretty easily. That being said; Under the Skin is the current placeholder for one of the most upsetting scenes that I have ever seen, and will probably keep my stomach churning for the next 2-4 weeks.
Jonathan Glazer’s, pseudo sci-fi/social commentary movie has been a rather difficult film to track down. Not being completely up-to-date on the releases within the U.S I had to wait until non-cinema options were available to see this picture. However, once I got a hold of Under the Skin I was transfixed from start to finish.
Who remembers when pre-apocalyptic movies were a thing? Those were the good old days.
Joon-Ho Bong’s latest movie Snowpiercer was an overall fantastic action movie set in, yet another, dystopian future wherein the human race has dwindled to the population of one massive train. Watching the movie you can estimate that there are roughly a thousand human beings left in existence and our story focuses on the “tail” section of the train where the poorest of the poor reside in the locomotive version of labor camps. The narrative set forth begins 17 years after the icy apocalypse and portrays the uprising of those in the tail section of the train, with the intent of taking control of the train’s engine, because “whoever controls the engine controls the world.”