204 posts categorized "Women Filmmakers"

November 05, 2023

NIGHT GAMES — SHOCKTOBER!

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ColeSmithey.comMai Zetterling began her film career acting in Ingmar Bergman's "Torment" (1944), before switching from acting to directing after moving from Sweden to London to pursue her craft.

With "Night Games" (1966), which she co-wrote with her then husband, British novelist David Hughes, Mai Zetterling matches Bergman's filmic sophistication on every level of filmic storytelling.

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This is filmmaking at its finest.

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This thoroughly original work of social satire delves into the heart of childhood traumas, while taking sharp aim at '60s era European sensibilities around free-love and the narcissistic values of the bourgeoisie. 

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Jan (Keve Hjelm) brings his fiancée Mariana (Lena Brundin) to his childhood home, a wealthy mansion estate full of horrific memories and rich furnishings. Jan indoctrinates Mariana into his debauched upbringing. Flashback sequences detail the atrocious actions of Jan's mentally unstable mother Irene (Ingrid Thulin).

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Freud's oedipal complex takes center stage in Jan's ambitious attempt at reconciling sins of the mother by annihilating all that her sexual abuse and wealth had created.

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Jörgen Lindström, the young actor from Ingmar Bergman's "The Silence," and "Persona," is the film's empathetic center as Jan's boyhood version.

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"Night Games" retains its ability to shock viewers after over 50 years due to Mai Zetterling's intuitive ability to dig equally into the male and female psyche, while keeping a pure artistic metaphoric vision. This is the gift of liberation that Mai Zetterling gives her audience.

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At last Jan and Mariana are set free to grow their relationship in fresh soil.

Amen.

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Side note: If I'm not mistaken, "Night Games" is John Waters's favorite film!

Not Rated. 105 mins.

5 Stars THE BLOOD OF DRACULA THE BLOOD OF DRACULA ColeSmithey.com THE BLOOD OF DRACULA THE BLOOD OF DRACULA

Cozy Cole

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October 15, 2023

STRANGE DAYS — SHOCKTOBER!

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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!

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ColeSmithey.comOne of the most ambitious examples of the dystopian genre, Kathryn Bigelow's "Strange Days" (1995) is a forward-looking predictor of America's economic collapse that combines sci-fi and political elements with a back-handed love story.

Set on the potentially apocalyptic eve of the millennium, and co-written by James Cameron and Jay Cocks, the film's hook is a futuristic black-market mini-disc technology called SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device) that records real-life experiences directly from the cerebral cortex of the wearer. The recorded experiences can be relived by anyone with a SQUID player and a bootleg copy of the original disc.

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Adrenaline-pumping criminal activities and sensual encounters provide hot commodities that former LAPD officer Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) deals to "wire-tripping" junkies. Lenny desperately wants to steal back his ex-girlfriend Faith (Juliette Lewis) from Philo (Michael Wincott), a sleazy record producer who promises to sign rock-singer Faith to a record deal. At home, Lenny keeps a stash of intimate SQUID recordings of his relationship with Faith that he returns to frequently to remind him of what he’s lost. Lenny is a broken loser feeding on the negative energy that surrounds him in turbulent Los Angeles. No amount of humiliation or physical abuse is sufficient to make him forget his loss.

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The film opens with one of nine virtuosic point-of-view sequences from inside the mind of a SQUID-wearer. A gun wielding masked robber accompanies two rowdy accomplices through a Chinese restaurant where cash is grabbed before cops arrive to chase the audience-as-subjective-criminal to a rooftop showdown that doesn't end well. Lenny snaps out of the deadly event he has been viewing. He’s angry that his SQUID disc connection Tick (Richard Edson) is trying to sell him a “blackjack” snuff clip. Indeed, the four-minute sequence bristles with hair-raising energy.

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“Strange Days” owes adebt to Michael Powell’s “Peeping Tom,” the film that ruined his storied career. A key subplot involves a SQUID wearer who rapes and kills a woman upon whom he places the recording device so that she sees what he sees as he kills her. 

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Kathryn Bigelow exhibits an acute eye for detail and an affinity for maintaining an energized tempo to the action. As a woman filmmaker, Bigelow also sinks her teeth into a seething sensuality that emanates from her powerful female characters. Juliette Lewis’s nude scenes spring from the screen with slinky feline determination. Lenny’s best friend Mace (Angela Bassett) carries equal protagonist duties. Bassett’s theme-carrying character simmers with a fury that consistently erupts with ever increasing force toward the story’s socially volatile climax.

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If ever there was proof that a woman filmmaker can go toe-to-toe with the boys in the arena of complex action sequences, this is it. You’ve never seen chase scenes like these before.

Rated R. 125 mins.

5 StarsColeSmithey.com SF SHOCKTOBER!Cozy Cole

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January 17, 2023

WILDCAT

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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!

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ColeSmithey.comMore Direct Cinema than documentary, "Wildcat" takes an invisible approach to capturing its unfolding narrative.

Melissa Lesh and co-director Trevor Beck Frost spent several years working in the Peruvian rainforest with American wildlife rehabilitation specialist Samantha Zwicker and British Afghanistan war veteran Harry Turner.

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Samantha and Harry have what it takes to handle living in the middle of the jungle. They make for a badass team. Naturally, carnal romance enters their entwined lives.

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Both Samantha and Harry do battle with personal demons, his from war experiences, hers from growing up with an abusive alcoholic father.

Harry struggles with depression.

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Samantha is more of a trooper. She doesn't wallow in the past.

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Raising a lost ocelot cub for the 18 months it takes for the fierce creature to be released into the wild, allows for a similar trajectory for our complex leading characters, Samantha and Harry.

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This is the first time such a rescue and release has ever been attempted.

No rule book for this shit.

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Suffice it to say "Wildcat" is a deeply personal film that makes a transparent comparison between the jungles of Peru, and the jungle of society that we all traverse.

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Challenging, thought-provoking, and suspenseful, "Wildcat" is a lot of movie.

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Hearts will be broken.

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Hearts will be healed.

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Long live the wildcat.

Rated R. 106 mins.

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“

Cozy Cole

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