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What would you do if you were immortal? Would you save people and help the impoverished? Or rather use it only for your own selfish needs? Those and many similar questions arise in the minds of audiences while watching The Old Guard. Directed by filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights) this sci-fi Netflix film touches on the subject of immortality and the abuse of body autonomy, as well as many other aspects. The Old Guard, adapted from a graphic novel series by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez, captivates audiences with its superb cast and fascinating topic that makes it more mature than other films based on comic books. The director steadily builds up the tension, leading to its satisfying finale.
Often, when a beauty pageant is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the film Miss Congeniality. Young white women dominate beauty contests around the world. But Miss Black America, Miss Black USA, and other similar competitions have been celebrating Black beauty, culture, and identity for more than half a century. This is where Channing Godfrey Peoples steps in with her first feature, a drama titled Miss Juneteenth. The film first premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The director, also known as a writer for the TV series "Queen Sugar" or for her 2013 short film, Red, shines a genuine light on Black motherhood, the Miss Juneteenth pageant, and mother/daughter relationship in this heart-gripping drama.
Elisabeth Moss never disappoints. The actress proves this yet again taking on the role of a mysterious and extraordinary horror writer in Josephine Decker's film Shirley, which originally premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Written by Sarah Gubbins and based on the novel of the same name by Susan Scarf Merrell, this oddly satisfying portrayal of lust, attraction, and stimulating inspiration holds one's interest alongside a first-class cast that dazzles. What comes to the forefront in Shirley is the emotional bond between two very different women. One thing is certain – you’re in for a pleasurable treat.
Living in a small town is hard for a teenager. It's even harder if you live in rural Oklahoma in the 1960s, and you feel different than all of your peers. Director Martha Stephens captures the atmosphere of this small town (and small-minded people) in her period drama To the Stars, which originally premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. While Stephen's production is not an innovative film that bends the standards of cinema, it's certainly an eye-opening coming-of-age story. The drama first premiered at Sundance in black & white, but it was later reverted back to color. I watched the latter version for release (on digital April 24th), and although it was unquestionably satisfying, I'd still love to experience this story in the original format.
There is always something extra inviting when it comes to small villages located by the sea. Let's take one from Practical Magic. It makes you want to go there, meet all the people, it makes you feel free and happy. But it's the opposite feeling in Easter Cove, Maine presented in indie noir, Blow the Man Down. Directed and written by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, the film tells the story of Connolly sisters - Priscilla (Sophie Lowe), and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor). After their mother's passing, the sisters have to figure out the way to save the house from bankruptcy and keep up with their store that Mary Margaret left them. Unfortunately, nothing goes as planned. After a run-in with a dangerous man (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Mary Beth, with the help of Priscilla, tries to cover up his grim murder. Afterwards, both attempt to come back to their new normal; still, it's not easy, especially with the police asking questions and their mother's friends snooping around. One of them, Enid (Margo Martindale), is particularly interested in the sisters.
Sex worker, prostitute, escort. Never a woman, a sister, or a daughter. The headlines are always the same. The media, as well as law enforcement authorities, lack compassion and a genuine desire for rightful justice for women that provide sexual services. Lost Girls, directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus (making her first narrative feature film after directing numerous documentaries including What Happened Miss Simone? and Bobby Fischer Against the World), returns to the painful, incredibly sad story of Shannan Gilbert and her mother, Mari (portrayed by Amy Ryan). The film revisits a series of unsolved murders and recreate the actions of the Gilbert family in their desperate search for answers and justice.
Just last week, I coincidentally chose to rewatch Zodiac – David Fincher's thriller from 2007. The film about the unidentified serial killer, based on the book by Robert Graysmith, is about the search for the legendary murderer. Throughout the film, there is often a mention of The Most Dangerous Game – a 1924 short story written by Richard Connell. The infamous "Zodiac Killer" was supposedly inspired by it. The story's original plot is about a big-game hunter who is hunted [sic!] by a Russian aristocrat. It has been remade into many other film and TV projects over the years. Now The Most Dangerous Game gets another contemporary update – The Hunt, which addresses a modern society that thrives on dividing and misinforming people.
Almost every person I know has had that feeling. The bloodcurdling, anxious feeling of someone watching them. No matter what, you'll always feel shivers down your back and an unsettling atmosphere that doesn't want to leave. Elisabeth Moss' character in this movie, Cecilia Kass, knows precisely how it's like to be watched at all times. The Invisible Man, based on H.G. Wells' novel, and written & directed by Leigh Whannell, brings the new meaning to that feeling. Cecilia seems to have everything. A beautiful, modern house, a generous husband, a dog. Still, something makes her abandon her life in the middle of the night. After endless psychological and domestic abuse, a distressed woman leaves her husband (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and finds refuge at her friends' house (Aldis Hodge). But the nightmare only begins. Left with PTSD and depression, Cecilia is still tormented by what seems to be a ghost of Adrian. The woman must convince her friends and find a solution before the man (or whatever he is) utterly destroys her and her life.
Harley Quinn. Two words, many meanings, one powerful woman. The woman that she used to be in Suicide Squad is gone. Now, audiences have a chance to experience this badass lady cause some serious mayhem and teach a spoiled man a lesson. The action unfurls swiftly as Harley breezes by in her sparkling roller-skates and breaks bones. Cathy Yan and Christina Hodson demonstrate their phenomenal directing and writing skills with DC's Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. They bestow upon us a thrilling, full of twists and turns, packed with action, entertaining movie. The tale in Harley's narrative jumps back and forth, where past blends with the present. We are introduced to all the characters in their own legendary style. The way the story is told defines the crazy, multidimensional, and complex personality of the former doctor. But before we go further, let's get back to the core plot of BoP.
When I ask around, nearly everybody knows the story of a brother and sister, who wander in the dim forest until they reach deliciously smelling house made of ginger cookies, candy, and other treats. A fairytale, as one should know, created mostly for kids to prevent them from talking and taking things from strangers – a moral teaching us a core value that we, from a very young age, can apply to daily life. Gretel & Hansel is a dark, eerie, bloodcurdling counterpart of the story we remember. A long time ago, in a land full of famine and despair, a young girl, Gretel, and her little brother Hansel, leave home, a place that they have always known. After a long and exhausting vagabond, they come across a house that's full of treats and warmth yet dark and mysterious at the same time. An elder woman who lives in the cottage allows them to stay and offers food & shelter. But, there is something wicked about the woman, and they will soon find out what it is.