1.5.2023 DANCER IN THE DARK (2000) I just finished watching this one today and what a sad film... Bjork's performance in this was actually really moving to me. I was initially inspired to watch this one after listening to the soundtrack and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Catherine Deneuve was in this as well! Kathy, her character, had such a touching relationship with Selma, Bjork's character. I've Seen It All has been on repeat for me and I'll probably keep it that way till I've sucked it dry because it's such an emotionally powerful song to me, and now knowing the full context of the song, it moves me even more. The final scene was one of the first times I've felt actual dread while watching a rather dark scene, Selma singing a song to herself before she is abruptly hung, leaving the final 10 seconds of the film to be complete silence. The music dies with her. Selma loves musicals because she believes nothing bad can ever happen in them, and though Selma's life is cut short due to nothing but tragedies, she goes out with one last song. In the song "In The Musicals", Selma sings that there will always be someone to catch her when she falls in a musical. In a way, music catches her and carries her in the end.

Took me awhile to get used to the filming style for this movie, the shakey camera and abrupt zoom-ins, but I think it made the film feel much more personal, very real. I have to admit that in the first half of the movie, I found Bjork's acting to be strange until the movie developed and I could see that she is capable of showcasing so much pain and misery in more than just her music. Then again, maybe I'm just a sucker for Bjork's vocal range. Selma screaming for help as her face is covered by the shawl as she awaits to be hung was so terrifying to me because I felt as though her fear was palpable, like I knew the feeling of suffocation. I don't think this movie would work with anyone else but Bjork, and I think her performance covers up a lot of flaws in this one, but nonetheless I loved this one. Maybe it's just because I'm hormonal, but this one definitely got a tear out of me, which is incredibly rare. Bravo!

11.21.22 HOUSE OF HUMMINGBIRD (2019) I have to get serious about this one and capitalize because I think this movie deserves to be treated as such. I found this movie while scouring through Letterbox'd in search of a lonely movie because at the time, I was feeling extremely isolated and I wanted to feel my pain through the lens of a movie. I ended up stumbling onto this one. After briefly looking at reviews and avoiding any spoilers I could, I settled on giving it a try because I was gloomy and needed anything to help me get through it. I don't think I have ever watched a coming-of-age film that has captured the essence and emotions of being in middle school and growing up. Even more, I've never watched a coming-of-age film that was able to capture what growing up with a dysfunctional family truly looks like. Now to be fair, I don't have a lot of coming-of-age films under my belt or anything, but I still think it's worth mentioning. This is the kind of movie I wish I could send to my younger, middle-school self, to show her that the experience wasn't as unique.
Spoilers! What I think I love the most about this one is that it's able to show the effects of a dysfunctional home life, that having emotionally detached parents leads a child to latch onto the closest guiding figure they can find in their life, which is commonly a teacher. Ms. Kim reminds me of the teachers and adult figures in my early teens that I would almost idolize and envy because they were playing the role of someone who's role should have already been filled. Being a 14 year old is watching friends come and go overnight, romantic relationships ending almost as soon as they started, while each semester of the school year turns you into a brand new person with brand new interests. It conveys both the innocence yet almost unforgiving nature of first-time relationships, the once inseparable now avoiding all contact. The movie's main lesson is the lesson of impermanence, everyone will come and go and nothing will ever stay the same, which is a hard lesson to wind up learning when you used to think the world revolved around you and nothing could knock it down. Eunhee's parents show little regard to Eunhee, consistently berate their other daughter, and allow Eunhee's brother to use physical violence against Eunhee herself. The Mother and Father of the household have an almost loveless relationship which sometimes gets physically violent, but are seen the next day laughing and sitting together as if it never even happened. Way too real. Despite these dynamics, the family still eats at the table together, they still talk about their day, a familial bond withstanding it all. Aside from the great acting and writing, the set of the film is so beautiful! Even just shots of Eunhee's tiny little bedroom or shots of the hospital manage to be so breathtaking, it really adds to the bittersweetness of childhood and your hometown. The one key part of this film I will always carry with me is the entire hand scene, when you don't feel like a person or feel like you're incapable of doing anything, look to your hands and move your fingers one by one. You're doing something!

11.17.22 THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER (2018) oh man was this movie hard to get through. so many times i had to pause and just breathe either out of uncomfortability or second-hand embarrassment, which i kinda enjoyed about this movie. maggie gyllenhaal's performance was so raw and suffocating, if i had to pin down the words to describe her acting in this one. i adore movies that explore creativity in our modern world, and how most communities today don't exactly nurture or emphasize creation or the arts because it doesn't pay the bills, it's not monetizable. what i loved even more about this film is how it explores female creativity, how maggie's character "lisa" sees what her life may have been had the world around her encouraged her to keep her imagination alive. it's very cliche to say, but children's minds are extremely expansive and their childish wonder is sometimes merely laughed at or seen as outlandish at best, and as we get older, we tend to neglect our imagination and pursue a life like everyone else's.

lisa as a character was so interesting, a woman who created a life for herself as the doting, lovable wife and mother at the expense of her love for the arts. was lisa really just a spectator in the world of art, or was she merely just trying to live the life she had really wanted for herself? her poetry is seen as ordinary, bland and repetitive, chockful of metaphors that try to come off as deep and meaningful, in contrast to her 5-year old student who is capable of crafting beautiful poems off the top of his head. lisa's children are archetypical highschool students, who view doing good in life through grading systems or acts of heroism, but lisa wishes they were something more, that they were inventive and passionate about something that was not expected of them. lisa sees her own failings as a mother through her children and the children she teaches because she sees her own life through them, and believes they all could have possibly created beautiful things. that's my theory, anyway. can any child become mozart if you tried hard enough? were we all capable of being child prodigies at some point, or is it really just a game of chance? lisa tries her hardest to keep the flame she sees in her student alive, sometimes pushing the limits of morality, because she knows that one day he will be expected to pursue a life of academics and labor, stifling the flame.

i really really loved this one, as hard as it was to watch, because i wish i was more creative, more inspired and motivated to create art that i can find value in. i envy the mind i used to have when i was younger, someone who wasn't so afraid to create!

10.1.22 SMILE (2022) i just got back from seeing this movie in theaters and i don't have too much thoughts on it to be honest. it's a pretty cheesy, typical, jumpscare-filled horror movie where the main plot is about getting infected/cursed. sadako and the ring will always be the blueprint! i actually enjoyed it though, i was with friends and i love experiencing horror movies that aren't the best rather than a horror movie that takes time to understand. unfortunately, the couple next to me would constantly say when a jumpscare was about to come up, so i was never caught off guard once during it. not sure whether to be thankful or not? also, i experienced intense panic/nausea in the first 10 minutes, not because it was scary but because i ate beforehand and it all culminated at the absolute worst time. also, i had to take a bathroom break midway through, which i usually never do because i'm stubborn and don't like to miss parts of a movie.

anyways, getting back to the actual review, the last 30 minutes or so of the movie was infinitely better than the build-up to it, i found it really predictable but i didn't hate it for that. i won't spoil it, but if you like movies like "it follows" or the ring series, this did pretty okay for that trope. it was basically like a much better version of that one really bad horror movie, "truth or dare", i wonder how much lucy hale got paid for that... i think the only part i really found amazing was the body horror, i'm a big fan of that when it comes to horror films. i didn't really like the ending scene, i had a much better idea for what they could have done, but i'm too lazy to find a way to hide spoilers through code, so i won't go any further with that. i'll end this review by repeating something my friend brought up, which is that we should have intermissions during movies where people can take bathroom breaks or what have you, like the opera. don't force me to hold my bladder!

9.1.22 "SECRET CEREMONY (1968)" this movie had been on my watchlist for awhile, and i finally decided yesterday to give it a watch after looking through my letterbox'd.

first impressions, i was initially very confused in the first 30 minutes, but i did not care because elizabeth taylor and mia farrow are amazing actresses. i was so obsessed with mia's character, "cenci", and just how creepy and kooky she was. i love weird girls!!! i was so interested in the dynamics between cenci and leonora and how they both on some level understood they were only deluding themselves for their own benefits, but the audience isn't made aware of this for most of the film. i love any sort of plot that centers around mother and daughter relationships/dynamics, and this was nothing short of that. besides all that, the settings for the film were all so ethereal and dreamy, i want one of those music boxes so bad. i think the film sort of dipped near the ending, but the eventual build-up where both characters are forced to drop the act and realize their fantasies were unwinding was so intense and enthralling. anyways, i hope albert really did die in the ending.

throughout the entire film i wondered what the script for this looked like, and what the actresses thought of it. i did not recognize mia until i finished, but i'm definitely going to watch rosemary's baby now that i've gotten a taste of how well of an actress she is, especially in psychological horror settings. i think this film would definitely be a miss for a general audience, but unfortunately it worked so well for me because i'm a lover of all things weird and eerie. i'm unsure if i'd ever really recommend this to anyone, probably a movie you just have to discover for yourself. overall, a strange and uncomfortable, yet intriguing film.

8.30.22 "8 FEMMES" (2002) okay, so i watched this film quite a bit ago, but my thoughts on it are still very, very fresh. this movie was 100% not what i expected at all. firstly, i had no idea it was a french film, which led me trying to find a website that had this movie with english subtitles for almost an hour. i watched the introduction credits at least 5 times before finally finding a site with subtitles. the only piece of plot information i was aware of was that it had some sort of sapphic element to it, but reminded myself to keep my expectations extremely low (i've watched so many low budget movies...).

i don't think i've ever been invested so much into a movie for a long time, and i could not believe this random, early 2000's french film had me practically glued to the screen. typically when i go into a movie like this, i imagine that most of it will suck, and that the one scene i watched it for was not worth the time wasted at all, but this one subverted every expectation i've ever had! not only is it a musical (which made me laugh so hard when the first opening number came on out of nowhere), but it's also a "whodunit" comedy that is actually very unpredictable. anytime you think you know where the plot may be going, something else happens that was nowhere in the realm of possibilities. this movie also opened me to the world of french actresses, such as fanny ardent, catherine deneuve and isabelle huppert, as well as their league of online lesbian fans. i don't want to spoil this one because if this ever somehow inspired someone to watch it, you have to go into it with no deep knowledge of the plot to really enjoy it to it's full potential. even if the plot was predictable, i'd have still ended up enjoying it because the characters were all so uniquely written and i think the actresses on the film did an amazing job portraying them. also, the movie takes place around christmas, what is not to love about that! i am not kidding when i say this is a near perfect film to me, an all women, christmas themed, musical murder mystery! (rating: 5/5 stars)