Christopher256G's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Girlhood
Girlhood (2015)
23 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

"Girlhood" is a French film by director Céline Sciamma about the coming of age of a teenage black girl in Paris under tough circumstances, who decides to go in a more sinister direction with a new group of friends, and she has to prove herself, but there are family complications, and a romance is involved too. Yes we've seen movies like this before; this film, unlike "Boyhood", won't be talked about as some kind of cinema revolution in decades to come (the two films really are so different they shouldn't be readily compared, though they have similar titles, came out at close to the same time, and deal with the experience of youth). But that's perfectly fine, because the craft is exceptional. The story is interesting the way it builds, the acting is great, particularly by Karidja Touré in the lead as she physically transforms once, and then again completely believably. And what's more, this has the most memorable use of an American pop song in a foreign film I have seen in a very long time. Just great.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
2 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, masterfully directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, is one of the best and most unique horror movies of recent years. In her stunning directorial debut, the Iranian-American Amirpour (who also takes the writing credits) shows not merely promise as a filmmaker, but the kind of rare talent that seldom comes through this strongly in a debut film. Creepy, beautiful, and wickedly strange, it is something special.

Its premise is an original and deceptively simple one: a female vampire of hunger and few words, played by Sheila Vand, roams the night streets of an Iranian town, and encounters a number of individuals there. The town is simply referred to as "Bad Town", and includes many colorful and nefarious people; it's like the local of something out of an American western crossed with a film-noir film, only considerably more bizarre than a majority of them. We see her interactions with several people, among them a drug pusher, a prostitute, a street kid, even a cat; and, most intimately, with a man, played by Arash Marandi, also named Arash, struggling to find his way in such a place. When the lady vampire is not out she's in her apartment without wearing her head cover, dancing to pop music among other things. This film refreshingly doesn't pile on monologues about vampire mythology, which we've seen anyway in many other films, and instead just focuses on showing the creature's actions in the very interesting place this movie puts you in. Vand and Marandi do very good jobs in their roles, especially in the scenes when they're together, showing vulnerability, connecting as outsiders in the community, Vand expressing herself almost entirely non-verbally, with her eyes in particular. The black and white is shown is gorgeous, this is ones of those films you cannot really imagine in color.

A Girl Walks Alone at Night is an original, beautifully haunting film, of some fantastic images, well-acted and directed, sometimes funny, and often quite strange-strange mostly in interesting ways, though at few parts I'd perhaps call it a little weird for its own good. In the end, I have never seen anything quite like this movie, so while it's not perfect I can find very little to complain about the experience.

About the same time as this film came out another horror film was released, also by a woman, one who was also directing her first feature film, and that film also ranks among the best modern examples of the genre: Jennifer Kent's Babadook. What Amirpour and Kent prove, I think, is that if more female talent was given a chance to make the films they are capable of, the kinds they desire to make, that many more would shine, and studios are doing a disservice by not considering filmmakers of that gender more often. I can probably count on one hand the number of horror movies since 2000 that I could put alongside either of these two.

Beyond The Hills
5 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Of all the many, many foreign language films I have seen, only a sparse handful are from Romania, but every one of them has impressed me with their rich detail, and their sensibilities to the lives of people in their country. Beyond the Hills, directed by Cristian Mungiu (who also did the masterful 2007 film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) continues in that pattern. It tells the story of two young women, longtime friends who grew up together in an orphanage. Their lives have taken very different paths while they've been apart. One, Voichita, played by Cosmina Stratan, has found a calling as a nun in a Romanian convent; the other, Alina, played by Cristina Flutur, has lived in Germany for work, and once they reunite there's a tension from the start. The person that each has become, conflict with the relations they used to have to each other-relations of a deeper sort at least one of them wants to rekindle once more.

While both young ladies staying at the convent, Alina is impatient with her friend's Orthodox piousness, and angry with the other nuns and the head priest there, and she acts outs erratically and at times violently. Voichita meanwhile tries to make Alina find her way in God. Both these performances, of almost polar-opposite tones, come in vivid believability. Flutur's wildness is extraordinary to see, but Stratan's emotive restraint is nearly as impressive. The pace of the story builds gradually but never uninterestingly, rich with the Romanian setting and character interactions, making scenes of even apparent mundane tasks compelling (a scene of Voichita getting her friend a document reminded me a lot of a scene in Mungiu's, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, where one the main character tries to register a hotel room for her friend to get an abortion in). It's has a gritty realism that doesn't typically shock (though there is at least one big shock) as much as it gets under the viewer's skin.

Beyond the Hills is not an easy film to watch, particularly in the turn it takes towards the end. I won't say much about it other than it concerns very much how the push and pull conflict of the two protagonists comes to ahead in a sequence of ignorant decisions based on superstition (in addition to the lack of interest of people outside the convent). At the end, there's a shot of somebody's face that will not be easily forgotten. This is a film which rewards patience and appreciation of detail, and though at nearly two and a half hours it is not a slog at all if you let it draw you in. It's not quite at the level of 4 Month, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, but, thanks in large part to the two strong leads and the director's building of their story, it comes quite close.