Hello, everybody. It’s a beautiful Sunday (well, not really, it’s raining buckets, but it is a Sunday) and it’s a good day to watch some films!
I’m not actually much of a film-watcher myself. I love them, but I just can’t seem to chase them down the way I would with a book or a song. This playlist is as much about getting myself to be more engaged in films, because I really do enjoy watching them, as it is about me recommending/reviewing them for you. I hope you enjoy them!
Let’s get started.
Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Story: The life of Adèle, a French teenager, takes a dramatic turn when a young painter, Emma, enters her life. The movie follows Adele through her adolescence to her early adult years, showing how she and her handling of relationships develops and changes.
I’m sure many of you have already watched this film, but for those who haven’t, RUN TO YOUR NEAREST VIDEO STORE/ TORRENT SITE AND GET THIS ASAP.
This film says a lot about the kind of art I want to create someday: it’s understated, raw, explicit, yet gentle due to its signature visual aesthetic. I love the way it portrays romantic and familial relationships, sexuality and the coming-of-age of a young girl caught in their tussle. I love the way it shows female desire. I love the acting of the two leads, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, especially the former. And I love how all of this is painted against the backdrop of middle-class society. It’s an infinitely relatable film and a very, very visually beautiful one at that. Honestly, probably one of my favourite movies, ever.
I Killed My Mother (2009)
Director: Xavier Dolan
Language: Quebecoise French
Story: Hubert Minel, a 16 year old boy living in the suburbs of Montreal, has an explosive relationship with his mother. Their interactions are characterised by frustration and anger; Hubert is hiding his sexual identity from her, while she cannot gauge the effects of her behaviour on him. The film follows the journey of the mother and son as they both try to come to terms with the people they have become.
This film was directed by Dolan when he was nineteen.
That’s right. Nineteen. And then it went on to receive an 8-minute standing ovation at Cannes. And here I am at twenty one, toiling away in obscurity, achieving absolutely nothing. But I digress.
What I loved about the movie was its uninhibited exploration of nuances in the characters of both the mother and the son. Both are shown to be flawed; the mother is not a monster; the son is not an angel. The fact that a 19 year old gained enough perspective to show characters with this level of maturity is pretty awesome. The fact that he also managed to create a very distinct cinematic language that works on a psychological level, what with all the abrupt non-sequitur stills peppered throughout the film, is pretty inspiring. Also, this is one of the most overtly feminist films I’ve watched. How cool is that?!
Director: Mijke de Jong
Story: A young girl called Merel is suddenly getting bullied at school. At home she must deal with a younger, autistic brother and distant parents; at school, with the pressures brought on by her own talent.
Let me tell you that I freaking LOVED this movie, okay.
Probably because I could relate to it quite a bit (ahem). I was twelve when I first watched it, so I can’t really offer any great critique, but what I can tell you is that it left a profound effect on me and it’s one of my favourite films to this day. I do remember it having a very stripped-down, minimal use of sound and a predominantly greyish-blue palette, which I loved: clearly, my aesthetic was in place even then. I loved the relationship between Merel and her brother, whom she protects firecely, and Merel’s own self-determination in the end. It’s a very beautiful movie and y’all should definitely give it a try.
Side Effects (2013)
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Story: A young woman is awaiting her husband’s return from prison. The four-year wait drives her into depression and she attempts suicide, leading her to psychiatrist Jonathan Banks. He ascribes a pill to her to help with her condition: except that the medication has certain unknown side effects that will lead to lethal consequences. One night, tragedy strikes. The film follows Jonathan’s attempts to try and discover what really happened that night.
So first of all, this film blows your mind very many times on multiple levels.
I hate that one of the only movies to feature a certain, ahem, non-heterosexual relationship must end up indicting those involved, but it was still pretty cool. The cinematography is brilliant and the film has some really great performances, especially from Rooney Mara and her character’s former psychiatrist, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Also, it has Jude Law and Channing Tatum in it. What more do you need.
Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
Story: Rosetta is a seventeen year old girl living in a trailer park with her alcoholic mother. She struggles to get a job and hold on to it, and to take care of her mother, while dealing with her loneliness and isolation. One day, she meets a young man called Riquet. How does she ensure her survival, while becoming friends with him? I cried a lot while watching it.
I will end this list with one of the most heart-breaking films I have ever watched, just so you can join in my suffering as well.
It’s a gritty film about a grim young woman determined to survive, who has been taught to be harsh and self-serving by the life she’s lived. Her friendship with Riquet is one of the most emotional points in the film, and there are these beautiful little scenes in which she shyly peeks out from around a street corner, watching him, wanting to be friends but not quite knowing how. I cried a lot, okay? And you will too. It is, without doubt, one of the best depictions of youth I have seen on film.
And that’s it!
This brings us to an end of August’s playlists. If you liked this, don’t forget to see the ones on music and books, and share with your friends! Keep following C’est la vie on Facebook for more stories about books, films, poems, events and much more.
See you next Friday!