French-Argentinian director Gaspar Noé creates extreme cinematic experiences. His films are mind-bending examinations of the darkest parts of humanity. Noé’s subject matter is extreme; his films explore grief, abortion, drug use, incest, abuse, rape, and more. His methods are no less extreme. He has a reputation for unorthodox filmmaking choices, like hiring Japanese yakuza as security for Enter the Void in order to gain access to the Tokyo underworld or using audio frequencies designed to make viewers physically ill in Irreversible.
Climax, in theaters today, is a musical psychological horror about a group of dancers who are dosed with LSD. It’s a guaranteed psychedelic trip, like much of Noé’s work. Noé’s films are also notoriously shocking, so prepare yourself for the intense insanity of Climax by reading our primer!
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Catherine Hardwicke hasn’t exactly gotten a fair shake in Hollywood. Despite directing several indie favorites and turning the first Twilight book into a goldmine, she’s gotten relatively little credit. Hardwicke tends to direct films aimed at feminine audiences, which are traditionally looked down upon by (overwhelmingly male) critics. She’s a true indie director who understands the power of storytelling, even on a shoestring budget. Hardwicke knows how to highlight emotion, using handheld camera techniques and working closely with performers to get the most out of every scene.
In Miss Bala, in theaters now, Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) is a makeup artist from Los Angeles who gets caught up in kidnapping, money laundering, and drug cartels after a trip to Tijuana. She ends up playing both sides, working with both the cartel leader and the DEA. She’ll have to rely on all her strength and cunning to survive the dangerous world of cross-border crime. Based on the 2011 Mexican film of the same name, Miss Bala highlights Hardwicke’s return to telling emotional stories about women in precarious situations.
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Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is not the most accessible filmmaker for your average audience. To begin, his characters don’t behave as if they are bound to the same cultural norms that we are. Conversations that would be utterly taboo in our society are discussed with abandon, like Steven (Colin Farrell) in The Killing of a Sacred Deer casually telling a colleague that his daughter has started her period. Lanthimos’ worlds run parallel to our own, but they offer a unique and sometimes disturbing vision of our darker desires.
In The Favourite, now in limited release, Lanthimos pits Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and servant Abigail (Emma Stone) against one another for Queen Anne’s (Olivia Colman) affections. While The Favourite is the first Lanthimos film he didn’t at least co-author himself (the screenplay is credited to Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara), it’s sure to have lots of quirks peculiar to this avant-garde director. To prepare for The Favourite or just find out more about this rising auteur, we have prepared a primer.
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The popularity of witches in our culture waxes and wanes, but 2018 has been a year of occult obsession around fierce females. Witches of all kinds have been forced from the shadows as misogynists and bigots are emboldened by American’s game show president. Celebrity witches like Lana Del Rey and Azealia Banks have been especially vocal lately, fictional witches are showing up on the big and small screen, and women are embracing witchcraft as a form of rebellion against the patriarchy.
According to Patricia MacCormack, an author, academic, and practitioner of chaos magic, witchcraft can be an outlet for the oppressed to find strength.
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Being black in America has always been a surreal experience, defined by living in two worlds at once. It’s something that’s difficult for white people to understand, though black Americans have been trying to share this struggle for decades. Back in 1963, a young newspaper reporter named Shirley J. Scott wrote about her experiences as a black American.
“As an adult Negro, you live in two worlds: the white world where you make your living; the black world where you make your friends,” she wrote.
With roots severed by the slave trade and cultures shunned by the white majority, black Americans have long struggled for a distinct identity and a way to bridge the two worlds. To communicate the black experience, filmmakers are turning to a magical realism approach: Afro-Surrealism. And if you’ve seen Sorry to Bother You, one of 2018’s best movies, you have an idea what it is all about. And if you’ve been following the career of Lakeith Stanfield, you’re certainly familiar with it.
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