“Poppies bleed petals of sheer excess. You and I, this sweet battle ground.” – Janet Fitch, White Oleander
Whether they’re in full bloom or slowly wilting, petals delicately falling to the floor like abandoned dreams, flowers can represent an array of emotions. It is customary to give flowers to loved ones during times of celebration and remorse. Their striking beauty and distinctive aromas provide a quick comfort, while some possess noxious traits that can elicit hallucinogenic, painful, or even fatal outcomes.
Ari Aster’s sophomore feature, Midsommar, utilizes flora to enhance the film’s visual and thematic use of juxtaposition. Light and dark. Foreign and familiar. Freedom and codependency. Safe and dangerous. The presence and use of flowers are reflective of both life and death while a young woman navigates through her grief in the sun-kissed fields of Sweden. Spoilers for Midsommar ahead. Read More »
Things get weird in the trailer for The Death of Dick Long, a new dark comedy from director Daniel Scheinert. Scheinert is one half of DANIELS, the filmmaking team responsible for Swiss Army Man, aka “the farting corpse movie.” Armed with that knowledge, you can safely assume Dick Long is going to be a bit off the wall. After Dick Long dies, his bandmates struggle to avoid the truth of what happened from getting out. Easier said than done. Watch The Death of Dick Long trailer below.
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What if The Goonies, but one of the spunky teen boys were actually psychotic? That’s the premise of Low Tide, the upcoming A24 thriller starring It star Jaeden Martell. Low Tide follows a group of teenage boys who, to pass the time during the long days of summer, break into vacation homes to steal valuables. But when two of them stumble upon a bag of gold coins of immeasurable value, that threatens to tear the group apart. Watch the Low Tide trailer below.
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Facial hair! Accents! A 1.19:1 aspect ratio! A heavy dose of “What the hell am I seeing?” It’s all here in the first trailer for The Lighthouse, the latest tale of terror from Robert Eggers, director of The Witch. In this black-and-white nightmare, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe play old-timey lighthouse keepers on a remote island. Things go downhill pretty quickly. Watch the incredible, creepy and incredibly creepy The Lighthouse trailer below.
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Lulu Wang‘s The Farewell tells the story of Billi, a Chinese-American artist who discovers that her grandmother is dying of cancer. Her initial distress intensifies when she realizes that her family has no intention to tell grandma about the diagnosis, although they do schedule a mock wedding so the family can have one big get-together to say goodbye.
In today’s day and age, movies like The Farewell are a miracle. When even movies based on hit franchises can’t get any traction with critics or the box office, The Farewell, which is continuing to expand in theaters this weekend, has found its place as one of the most emotionally powerful films of year. The film has achieved this success despite taking place mostly in a different language, having no explosions or action scenes, and with a cast devoid of household names (beyond Awkwafina, who is excellent here).
I had a chance to watch The Farewell at the Seattle International Film Festival last month and was fortunate enough to chat with Wang afterward. We talked about the style of the film, the challenges of the Chinese-American experience, and how the power of “no” got the film to where it is today.
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(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: Midsommar is one of the most cathartic movies ever made.)
Cinema has always had a way of making the real world make more sense to me. Throughout the years, I’ve identified with the heroines of rape-revenge cinema and the women of Tarantino films. When reality prevents me from getting closure, I can sometimes find it in film. However, I didn’t expect to find catharsis in Ari Aster’s Midsommar, especially given how traumatic Hereditary was. I expected to leave the theater feeling disgusted and raw, but I left elated. By experiencing my own trauma again through the beautiful and twisted lens of Dani’s story, my years-old wounds were scrubbed clean. I left feeling as if I had just been through two and a half hours of intense therapy.
Midsommar is a challenging film. It’s heavy – full of grief, death, pain, and genuine horror. There are moments of levity scattered throughout as the movie riffs on its own absurdity, but it isn’t an easy experience. Aster has said in interviews that the movie is protagonist Dani’s fairy tale, and in a way, it felt like my fairy tale. I identified with Dani (Florence Pugh) in several ways, and our shared name didn’t hurt. Like Dani, I have an anxiety disorder. I have a terrible fear of abandonment. At the age of twenty, I moved thousands of miles away from anyone I knew besides my then-boyfriend, whose behavior mirrored her boyfriend Christian’s enough to be eerie. It wasn’t Sweden, but it wasn’t home either. While our experiences obviously weren’t identical, the interactions between Dani and the people around her mirrored my own. Her trauma legitimized my own. (Spoilers ahead.)
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A24, the indie film distribution company responsible for films like Moonlight, Eighth Grade, Midsommar, Swiss Army Man, and dozens more, has announced a cool new project called A24 Public Access. It’s a six-week screening series in which the company will take some of its best films on the road this summer and project them onto billboards in cities across America in which the films are set. Best of all, the screenings are free. Find out which films are playing in which cities below. Read More »
How do you help sell a disturbing 2 hour and 30 minute horror movie to the masses? Toys! The skilled marketing folks at A24 have come up with a funny and somewhat ingenious tie-in to their latest nightmare, Midsommar. The Bear in a Cage toy features exactly what the name suggests: a bear in a cage. If you’ve seen Midsommar, you’ll find this rather amusing. If you haven’t seen Midsommar, you might be curious enough to learn more. In any case, the commercial A24 put together to sell the Bear in a Cage has to be seen to be believed.
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Ari Aster’s directorial film debut, Hereditary, invited audiences into the home of the Graham family as its members spiraled deep into the dark corners of grief, loss, and depravity. His sophomore film, Midsommar, lures similar themes out of the shadows into the bright, sunny landscape of Sweden where a lovelorn couple attend a symbolically sinister festival. In order to capture the proper tone of juxtaposition and deeper themes within the film, folklore, and cultural traditions, Aster paired up with Swedish production designer Henrik Svensson.
A prolific musician and artist, Svensson’s extensive research and meticulous design methods enhance the characters’ pain, beliefs, and motives. An impressive first feature film as production designer, I spoke with Svensson to unveil his inspirations and design choices that made the village of Hårga a place you should think twice before visiting.
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At its heart, writer/director Ari Aster’s twisted new folk horror nightmare Midsommar is a relationship drama. Florence Pugh (Macbeth, Fighting With My Family) plays Dani and Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Free Fire) plays Christian, a couple who are slowly drifting apart and whose problems come to a head during a trip to an isolated Swedish commune. It’s a mesmerizing “break up film” that’s punctuated by occasional bursts of violence, and watching this couple work out their issues leaves you with some images you won’t soon forget.
I sat down with Reynor for in a spoiler-filled discussion about the movie, and he told me about the jaw-dropping scene that instantly became his reason for making the movie, the movie’s comedic elements, the shot that made him cry for real, and more.
Final warning: spoilers for Midsommar ahead. Read More »