Horror Movie Review: ‘Suspiria’ (Dario Argento, 1977) ~ let the colors be the darkness

Intrigue, drama, murder, music & haunting shades of red all come together in Suspiria, a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento that captures you the entire runtime through its eery atmosphere.

A gem to the genre, this horror movie doesn’t try to wake you up from your sleep through jump scares but creates a mood that makes you unable to leave yet you don’t even want to because the horror comes with beauty.

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Breathless

À bout de souffle (Breathless) Film review (Godard, 1960) & Nouvelle Vague

When the name Jean Luc Godard is uttered, this never goes without praise. He played an important part in the emerging of the French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague) and therefore his name is among the list of directors that you need to have seen one or two films of if you want to count in film discourse. My first Godard was Le Mépris (3,5*) followed by Vivre sa vie (4*). Today I want to write about arguably his most important film, À bout de souffle.

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Put the blame on Mame ~ ‘Gilda’ movie review (Charles Vidor, 1946)

The glamour in classic Hollywood movies make me dizzy with nostalgia to a world I probably wouldn’t have liked to be in. Yet I still romanticize the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s precisely because of the beautiful movies that were made back then. Though I’m not unaware of the problems in those movies, especially as a feminist. Women are either femme fatales and serve solely as a catalyst for the downfall of a man or serves merely as an accessory and can be replaced by a lamp. A few weeks ago I’ve finally watched Gilda and through her being constantly pushed into a femme fatale box by her ex-lover Johnny she eventually starts to see herself as nothing more than that. Yet the movie offered a raw portrayal of what this label does to those women in question rather than zoom in on how the men are disadvantaged by those women. The movie is also an ode to all the female actresses that completely outshone the male character & a plea for more female characters in movies. Because damn it, did Ford’s acting pale in comparison to that of the magnificent Rita Hayworth.

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Team Hurricane

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Nothing gets me more excited than movies directed, written & lead by women. So when I saw this in the selection of IFFR 2018, I had to go see it. I can write and plea for more women behind the camera on this blog, or I can go out and support them. I saw three movies that were directed by women: La Holandesa (Messi and Maud) , Pin Cushion & this one. I also bought tickets for Lady Bird & My Friend The Polish Girl. 

The movie is about radical girls in an ordinary world. I’d know all about that. It’s directed by Annika Berg. It’s her picture debut. I am a huge fan of Scandinavian movies (Bergman!!) & Scandinavia in general. This movie could not disappoint. And luckily, it didn’t. Don’t let all the bright colors in the pictures fool you. They love their Hello Kitty and their neon, but they are feeling blue. And that is essentially what this movie is about. The contrast between the vibrant colors, the anime cuts with motivational quotes & the shots where they discuss their mental states make for a intriguing movie that is not only accurate in depicting the range of mental states of young women but is also a raw depiction of the expectations of society to always be colorful, even when inside you constantly try to mix grey with grey to form pink.

It’s definitely an experimental movie & it’s aesthetically pleasing . The cast consists out of a group of girls (and a dog) who formed a friend group in the youth center. All characters have their stories told in a satisfying way. Although the problems range from severe to mild, nothing is portrayed as insignificant. And that is the curse that most teenagers suffer from. Their problems are not taken serious because they’re just teenagers who haven’t experienced real problems. I like how there’s no moral voice overshadowing their voices. So I found the characters to be fleshed out sufficiently. It was a short movie, so I won’t say they were developed as much as they could. But they were developed enough in light of the movie. Nothing pisses me off more than cardboard characters. And the shorter the movie, the more chance of that. But Annika Berg & her cast managed to introduce 8 threedimensional characters in 96 minutes that I could all find some common ground with. But I guess we all still have that teenage angst buried deep inside somewhere. The graphics of this movie looked so 2007 with the flashing texts & moviemaker cuts that it reminded me of mine. I’d love to see more of this director!

Kiki’s delivery service (1989) – Studio Ghibli

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For 103 minutes, the above girl and cat have captured my complete attention and left me in awe for the entire movie. From the beautiful seaside town scenery, the perfectly timed jokes to the relatable teen (and adult) melancholy.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a beautiful coming of age movie about a young girl who seeks independence in a new town, as per witch mandate. On her way to finding a new town to live in, she meets another witch who is returning home from her quest to independence and she asks Kiki what her skill is and that’s when she realizes being on her own might be a lot harder than she thought in advance. She’d have to find her witch skill. And when she arrives to the new town (by accident) it’s everything she had dreamed it would be. The ocean stretched out before her signified all the possibilities she could find a town where everything is foreign. The ocean of possibilities swallowed her whole and finding her place did not come as easy as she thought it would be. No one would talk to her, or let her sleep in a hotel (without her parents) so she contemplates leaving the town.

tumblr_n3zibp6abo1rmvkpdo2_r1_500not so excited anymore..

But when she least expects it, help comes in the form of a pregnant baker, Osono, who offers her a roof, a job, and throws in breakfast too. Utilizing her skill (flying), she makes deliveries and meets special people along the way (Ursula, the painter and an older woman for whom she has to deliver a pie to her grandchild). Of course, there is a boy too who is introduced earlier in the film but it was not love at first sight (take that, Disney!) Rather, she has her reservations about the boy, Tombo. He’s an aviation enthousiast and is therefore fascinated by her. I thought this is cool because he doesn’t fall for her purely based on her looks, but he falls for her because she has special abilities that fascinate him.

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After a given moment, Kiki realizes she can’t understand her cat Jiji anymore (her being a witch allows her to understand her cat and he her). She tries to fly her broom but she can’t soar. Fortunately, help comes in the form of Ursula who helps her lay the groundwork for regaining her confidence and motivation. Ursula empowers her in a way that she was unable to do herself and after a while, she can fly again when Tombo needs her help. So in the end she saved Tombo, regained her confidence and thus her flying abilities but heartbreak comes in the form of the fact that she can’t understand her cat anymore. Yet, the story was empowering and extremely feminist too and that’s why I finished the movie with a smile. This is exactly the kind of movie I would show my little girl (or boy) if I had one.

Jiji

Animal sidekicks in animated movies usually do not stick with me. They are welcoming additions but rarely make me feel things the way Jiji did. I had a genuine laugh out loud moment during this scene:

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I just thought it was so cute and innocent and in no way fabricated as cat mugs are literally everywhere you look. Despite the fact that Kiki can’t understand him anymore at the end of the movie, he has found happiness with a beautiful white cat and with his little babies. And of course he’s still close with his protegée.

 

Ursula

Despite her short cameos in this movie, she is my favorite character. She added so much to the movie. She is witty, smart and extremely empowering. She spends her time in solitude to perfect her art and dedicates her life entirely to her craft.

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When Kiki loses her power, Ursula compares magical power with art. Sometimes artists lose their inspiration and need to regain confidence in order to get it back. She tells Kiki that she needs to find her own inspiration and that will help her get her powers back.

Kiki

tumblr_ob0i0bkhyf1uqwlj3o1_500Story of my life, girl.

A typical 13 year old girl , but with witch abilities. I think it was beautiful that in the beginning of the movie she is mainly concerned with buying a cute dress and in the end she is facing an existential crisis and ends up saving a boy from falling from the sky. This really shows the transition from 13 year old girl to young woman.

The movie has so many aspects to discuss in a blog post. Papers can be written about the recurring themes in this movie but I’d like to make a short feminist analysis of the movie.

Miyazaki is known to feature strong, relatable women. He drew inspiration from the daughter of a friend for Spirited Away because the women he saw on the screen were not like young girls he knew in real life. And this is really visible in the movies I have watched of him thus far (Spirited Away and of course Kiki’s Delivery Service). 

The movie passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors. But this alone is not enough to deem it a feminist movie. And this might not be a feminist movie in everyone’s perspective because I believe every woman has a different view of what empowers her. Osona believes in her straight away upon meeting her and takes her in and provides her with everything she needs for independence. Ursula helps her regain her strength. The older woman shows her much needed kindness at a time when needed most and although Tombo is a big part of the movie, he does not take over the narrative. He does not look at her like she is weak, or dumb. He admires her and she inspires him. In the end, she saves him when he could not save himself. So the fact that she loses herself and finds herself by the grace of Ursula, Osona and the older woman is extremely empowering and that it ends with her saving a man rather than being saved by one is something not often found in Disney movies. The movie did not end with marriage (because that is what all females should eventually aspire to right? Because everything is great in marriage). It ends with her getting her shit together. And that is amazing.

I’ll give this movie a 9/10 and I feel like it will enter my all-time favorite movie list soon enough. I need to digest it a little more but I’m looking forward to watching more of Miyazaki’s movies.