206 posts categorized "Women Filmmakers"

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.

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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

  ColeSmithey.com       Welcome!

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!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

 

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

Cole Smithey on Patreon

December 27, 2022

IS THAT BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU ?!?

    ColeSmithey.com    Groupthink 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.comThorough as it is lean, Elvis Mitchell's telling of Black American Cinema is an essential documentary.

Straight up cinematic text book.

Mitchell's pitch-perfect narration takes the viewer on a heartfelt journey of Black film that volleys between personal interviews with Black Cinema artists, and neatly subtle editorializing.

You have to read between Mitchell's lines, and if you do, you'll find more treasure there.

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This ex-film critic for the New York Times, knows his stuff inside out.

Elvis Mitchell's kind vocal delivery is silky smooth, a delight to hear.

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It's great that this amazing film is released on Netflix, because it means that so many audiences have access to it.

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You might want to keep a notepad handy to jot down a list of Black films you want to track down when this one's over.

Superbly written and edited, "Is That Black Enough For You ?!?" is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.

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Thanks to its cool funk heavy soundtrack, you can feel the funk long after the movie ends.

Cheers baby, cheers.

Rated R. 135 mins.

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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