8 posts categorized "Feminist Cinema"

January 30, 2023

BLONDE

  ColeSmithey.com    Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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ColeSmithey.comStraight masterpiece.

Screenwriter/director Andrew Dominik's filmic adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates's 2000 fictionalized novel of the same title serves as a trenchant indictment of capitalism, the media, and of an incoherent American patriarchy that knows nothing but abuse.

Ana de Armas is uncanny in her fearless portrayal of Hollywood's most iconic actress.

Stunner.

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It's a coincidence that in the same year that Austin Butler embodied Elvis Presley with an otherworldly performance of rigor and inspiration, Ana de Armas hits a similar if not more profound height of authenticity.

Elvis and Marilyn were each prisoners of their enormous fame/marketability.

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Ana de Armas may just be the finest actor of our time.

Unforgettable.

Spellbinding.

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Through the darkness and pain of a constant stream of traumas, Norma Jeane Baker battled demons near and remembered with a sharp intellect that Andrew Dominik keenly exposes through Ana de Armas's high-wire performance.

Indisputably, Andrew Dominik is a true master artist of Cinema.

The proof is in the pudding.

Gracefully cuts quick to the bone.

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Audiences familiar with Dominik's past films, "Chopper" (2000), "The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford" (2007), and "Killing Them Softly" (2012), might have an inkling for the depth of visually dynamic storytelling on display in "Blonde."

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"Blonde" functions as a feminist narrative that digs in dark corners of 20th century American reality and ideology where beauty is a trashy fad object to be worshiped, reviled, used up and thrown away.

Rigorous feminist think piece. You bet.

Joyce Carol Oates was no slouch.

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So, if you're real serious, read Joyce Carol Oates's novel "Blonde," because you can.

And, besides, Joyce Carol Oates is still alive at the time of this writing, and even gave Ana de Armas

props for her exquisite portrayal of Norma Jeane Baker/Marilyn Monroe.

Right on.

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Norma Jeane Mortenson revolted against the cold indifference of those who imagined they owned her, which was just about everyone.

Rebel.

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It was a herculean effort that could not be sustained for very long.

What we are left with is just a memory of a rare, fragile, talented young woman being bought and sold into modern-day slavery under the guise of Hollywood.

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These days people give their lives away on social media and YouTube for pennies. 

People's lives are reduced to content.

This phenomenal film is not that.

This is Cinema.

Take your content and shove it.

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Rated NC-17. 166 mins.

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“

Cozy Cole

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February 13, 2018

BREAKING THE WAVES — SHOCKTOBER!

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comWelcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.com ColeSmithey.com

ColeSmithey.comIt's impossible to know when you are watching film like "Breaking the Waves" that you are witnessing the high watermark of a filmmaker's career.

Made shortly after Lars von Trier (he added the "von" himself) co-authored with Thomas Vinterberg the strident "Dogme 95 Manifesto" for low-budget filmmaking, "Breaking the Waves" comes with a clarity of vision and social urgency that is an assault on the senses and the intellect. Von Trier leaves no stone unturned.

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In her breakout performance Emily Watson plays Bess McNeill, a simple-minded Scottish, Calvinist churchgoer who marries Jan Nyman (Stellan Skarsgard), and oil rig worker who suffers a terrible accident that leaves him paralyzed. Bess McNeill's worldview is hampered by the religious indoctrination she has gone through.

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Intimate conversations with God, in which Bess takes on both roles, provide insight into her sincere but ill-conceived thought process. Nonetheless, the love that Jan and Bess share is real as her imagination brings her to God. 

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When Jan urges Bess to go out and have sex with other men and report back to him her carnal experiences, she takes Jan's wishes beyond the realm of common sense. In her mind Bess is helping cure Jan from his dire circumstance.

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Cinematographer Robby Muller’s documentary shooting style favors intimate close-ups to reveal characters’ inner emotional lives. Muller captures Scotland’s rugged atmosphere as a supporting character to the Shakespearean tragedy on hand.

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Although fiercely criticized for its shaky handheld camerawork, the technique gives the film an ungrounded sensibility of floating on roiling waves. Naturally, film and television industries coopted von Trier’s technique so much so that it doesn’t stand out at all.

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The film's seven-acts are marked by colorful postcard chapter headings accompanied by songs such as Mott The Hopple's "All the Way From Memphis" for Chapter One — Bess Gets Married or Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" to announce Chapter Six.

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Lars von Trier makes a clever attack on organized religion that resonates with Bunuel's famous line, "I'm an atheist, thank God." Emily Watson gives an angelic if earth-shattering performance that is transgressive, cathartic, and viscerally painful. Here is a film that makes you feel like you've read the novel, seen the movie, and lived the life of a protagonist more empathetic than any other. You just might need a stiff drink afterward but you will have witnessed one of the best films of all time. 

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Rated R. 159 mins.

5 StarsColeSmithey.com ColeSmithey.comCozy Cole

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November 24, 2017

VAGABOND — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

ColeSmithey.comGroupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

Welcome!

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon



ColeSmithey.comAgnes Varda’s sturdy neo-realistic social study of a fiercely individualistic young woman, who happily lives a hobo’s life on the road in France, is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Here is Varda inventing Cinema before our eyes. The gifted filmmaker of the French New Wave plays with style and form via a reverse bookend narrative about Mona (featuring a guileless early performance from Sandrine Bonnaire), a loner leading a makeshift lifestyle based on the people she comes across.

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This touching film can rightfully be considered a feminist think-piece of the first water. Documentary techniques add to “Vagabond’s” humanist appeal as a timeless artifact of French womanhood in the ‘80s, and the social conditions of the time. Some men who Mona meets are more dangerous than others, but she soldiers through predictably unpredictable situations with the full force of her corporeal nature and abilities.

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“Vagabond” achieves and effortless sense of social currency and filmic transparency.

Everything rings true.

Not Rated. 105 mins. 

5 StarsColeSmithey.com

AGNES VARDA: VOYAGER OF LIGHT

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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