Category Archives: Film

“MASSACRE GUN”– A Yakuza Crime Drama

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“Massacre Gun” ( “Minagoroshi no kenjû”)

A Yakuza Crime Drama

Amos Lassen

Jô Shishido stars in this tense and violent yakuza yarn from Yasuharu Hasebe Shishido stars is Kuroda, a mob hitman who turns on his employers after being forced to execute his lover. Joining forces with his similarly wronged brothers, hot-headed Eiji (Tatsuya Fuji) and aspiring boxer Saburô (Jirô Okazaki), the trio increase their mob retaliation to all-out turf war where no one will stop until one faction emerges victorious. The film is extremely violent and beautifully photographed. It is a bold iteration on the genre featuring some stunning compositions under the direction of Hasebe.

“MONDOVINO: THE SERIES”— Learning About Wine

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“MONDOVINO: THE SERIES”

Learning About Wine

Amos Lassen

Not to be confused with “Mondovino” the movie, this is a series that is epic in scope and takes us around the world to learn about not only “the entire gamut of wine making, but wine’s place in a treacherously globalized world.” Among other things we see the human side of wine making and meet the power brokers of Napa Valley and see the rivalries of competing Florentine dynasties and the efforts of three generations of a Burgundian family fighting to preserve their few acres of land. The series concentrates on the human drama of making wine. It was a project that was shot over several years and five languages. We meet some of the icons of the wine world including critic Robert Parker, legendary wine mogul Robert Mondavi, art collector Jan Schrem, and the noble proprietor of the mythical Romanée Conti vineyard.  

 Director Jonathan Nossiter’s presents his thesis that “civilization is inexorably succumbing to the homogenizing forces of globalization.” We see that here in the visits we make from California to Brazil to Sardinia. As Nossiter travels he introduces us to people involved in the wine industry. We meet Michel Rolland the “flying winemaker” and superstar consultant on a number of lightning house calls, during which he invariably advises his clients to “micro-oxygenate” their product (a process that no one quite appears to understand). Then we are off to a humble vineyard in the Argentinean outback and a long interview with the Staglin family on their Napa spread.

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There is so much to learn here and Nossiter is a wonderful teacher. While in Napa, Nossiter is told by a Mondavi family retainer that patriarch Robert is not simply a businessman but also a “philosopher.” Nossiter is a sommelier as well as a filmmaker and we certainly see him bringing both skills together in this film. He is a champion of artisanal wines that are created and produced by eccentrics. His theory is one of an anti- globalist notion that terroir or soil and the other geographical qualities of a vineyard are more important than what we read on a label on the bottle.

This is a personal and informal film and we never feel like we are being taught but rather we feel we are having a conversation with a friend. What is constant in Nossiter’s argument is the cross-cutting between the globalizers (Mondavi, Rolland, Parker) and the “terroirists” (the de Montilles of Burgundy, the Columbus of Sardinia, New York importer Neal Rosenthal). As presented by Nossiter, the Mondavis and their allies come across as megalomaniacal and many feel that they are democratizing the wine “experience”. Rolland blames diversity for the number of bad wines; he believes that great wine can be made anywhere.

We see that not everything is black and white. Good terroir does not necessarily make for impeccable morality. Some French old-timers dissipate viewer sympathy with offhandedly disinterested references to their Jewish neighbors who disappeared during World War II. Likewise, the Tuscan aristos complain that they sold their birthright to the multinationals and then wax nostalgic for Mussolini, while certain French foes of Mondavi-dom are only too happy to have homeboy Gérard Depardieu fronting some other globalization thing. (And even the Mondavis, it turns out, can be purged from the company that they founded.)

The question of who is killing the great wines of Europe remains. It is considered at length in this series. There are several answers but you will have to watch the series to get it.

“10% MY CHILD”— Meet Franny

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“10% My Child”

Meet Franny

Amos Lassen

Franny is a seven-year-old girl. Her mother’s boyfriend, Nico, is twenty-six. Franny’s mother tells Nico that if he wants to be with her, he must first “win Franny’s heart.” Nico is trying to be a film maker but because of a number of reasons couldn’t finish his graduation film. The first time he meets Franny, Nico is in her mother’s bed and they get off to a bad start. From that moment on, Nico and Franny need to find a way to get along, love and hate each other.

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While Nico tries to “court” (when was the last time I used that word? Do people court anymore?) Franny’s mom, Franny gets stuck between her mother, her jealous father and Nico who has now been appointed official babysitter. 

10-2 We are faced with the questions of whether Nico be able to win Franny’s mom’s heart and Franny’s affection and how will Franny and Nico find a common ground in the heart of bustling Tel-Aviv?  This is a drama of a love/hate relationship but it is sweet to watch as Franny and Nico learn to love and hate one another – usually at the same time…

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“A KILLER CONVERSATION”— Decisions, Decisions

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“A Killer Conversation”

Decisions, Decisions

Amos Lassen

I have had the pleasure of seeing “A Killer Conversation” before its official release and want to share some of what I saw and felt. This is a story that had to be dreamt up but the way it is handled is just pure fun. Here is the premise, “On the same day a burglar wants to kill you and your ex wants to make up – and for the life of it, you can’t decide which is worse.” From this point on, get ready for quite a cinematic adventure where the only losers are those who do not see this film.

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Karl (Ryan Hunter) has unknowingly invited a burglar (Rudy Barrow), who is armed, into his home and before he realizes it, he is tied up and understands that eternal rest might be awaiting him. Yet, he is aware of one option, Pauline (Melanie Denholme), his ex who has just happened by to try to redeem their relationship. For Karl, this is not a way he wants to go; Pauline is a snob and insincere and really not the kind of person to lend a helping hand but….there is an armed burglar in his house. If making up with Pauline keeps him alive, it is a risk he just might have to take.

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In case you have not guessed, this is a comedy about a break-in and a hostage situation. Michael Haberfelner wrote the screenplay about a situation, which by and large would terrify the average person, but he reduces it to dark comedy and it is very, very funny. Together with director David V.G. Davis the two give us a film that is full of imagination and has a lot of heart. It all starts simply enough when Karl answers the door and then discovers that nothing will ever be the same again. We watch as Karl and his burglar verbally go at each other until the entrance of Pauline when everything changes. Pauline brings unintended humor with her and we can almost hear Karl say to the burglar that he would probably be better off dead than having to deal with her. When she enters the picture, she does not know what is going on and immediately starts with her bitchiness and her gripes. Even after she sees that he has a gun, she still continues going at it and really gives a good hint of what this movie is all about. But then we realize also that the film is made up of many layers and as we watch we understand more and more. The parlay of words going back and forth really seem to have no destination as so often happens when exes exchange words. This is a movie with a lot of dialogue that does have to be necessarily understood as long as we are aware that it is there. Because of that, there are surprises. One surprise I discovered while looking up some information about the film is that everyone connected with it has come from the genre of horror movies. While not important necessarily to this film, it is an interesting fact.

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Personally, I love the droll beginning to the film. I just found it impossible to imagine a scenario like this but it works here. Karl after opening his door to an armed burglar and soon finds himself not only tied to a chair but he watches the burglar eat his pre-cooked microwave dinner for one. The burglar is so polite that he even brings his own napkin and offers to share the food that could be Karl’s last meal. At the same time, Karl is deep in thought about how to keep the burglar busy. Then Pauline arrives.

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The fact that Pauline is there could have been a way to keep Karl alive but when we see Pauline for the arrogant and selfish person that she is, we realize that perhaps Karl’s fate with the burglar is a step up. I must say that I had quite a hard time trying to imagine Karl and Pauline as a couple but I would have had the same feeling about Pauline and anyone. Even more interesting is that the burglar sits there as the two of them discuss their past relationship.

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The movie is propelled by its characters and as I said, there are surprises. I tried not to give anything away and I really want everyone to give this film a shot. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

“THE WOLFPACK”— When Everything Changes

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“The Wolfpack”

When Everything Changes

Amos Lassen

The Angulo brothers are locked away from the outside world on Manhattan’s lower east side. What they learn about the real world is from what they see in the films they watch. They are nicknamed “The Wolfpack” and they spend their childhood reenacting their favorite films by using elaborate homemade props and costumes. Then their world is shaken up when one of the brothers escapes and everything changes.

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I doubt any of us have seen a story quite like this before and it is a documentary. Seven children, all with waist-length hair, are raised on welfare in a messy four-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. And they are almost never allowed to leave the house. They have not seen the outside world for years. The only key to where they live in in their father’s possession and he keeps the place locked. There have been time that they have been allowed outside but there are other times that they have been not. Today, all but one of the children still live there.

This is one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction documentaries. In 2010, Crystal Moselle, the film’s director, met six of the Angulo siblings— boys who were then aged about 11 to 18, on one of their rare trips outside and befriended them. Over time, they allowed her to bring a camera inside the apartment. Moselle tells us, “I was their first friend, and I think they were as fascinated by me as I was by them,” “Slowly their mom warmed up. The dad was definitely a roller coaster.”

They, Bhagavan, Govinda, Narayana, Mukunda, Krisna and Jagadesh — and their sister, Visnu were homeschooled by their mother and when they were not learning, they were allowed to watch movies nonstop, on DVDs bought at a discount or borrowed from the library. What they saw of the world came from Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, David Lynch and Martin Scorsese and while these provided something of a different look at the world, the films did give them some creativity which they incorporated “into their lonely, claustrophobic lives.”

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We get a look at what happens to the human spirit when it is locked away and interaction does not occur. The kids do not realize that life is different from the movies and not all girls break boys’ hearts. The brother, Mukunda who is now 20 and who got away has said that he had seen the film and that it accurately represented his family but declined to comment further. Susanne Angulo, the children’s mother stated that “I probably should not comment further,” she added before ending the call. Attempts to reach the children’s father, Oscar Angulo, were unsuccessful; a number listed in Manhattan had been disconnected. What we see in the film is“the intertwined, complicated and nuanced relationship between filmmaker and subject. The raw intimacy she [Moselle] is able to capture is a testament of the trust and bond she was able to establish.” We see the Angulo siblings in “The Wolfpack” as articulate, sensitive and extremely likable. At times, whether lost in role play in the apartment or heaped in a pile on a mattress to watch television, they can also seem a bit feral. A few speak, at times, with a cadence that is slightly off kilter. They clearly love their mother, Susanne, who is presented as being controlled to the same degree that they are.”

“There were more rules for me than there were for them,” Mrs. Angulo says quietly on camera. The father is more complicated. Ms. Moselle, 34, does not reveal him until about an hour into her 84-minute film and, even then, he speaks very briefly and doesn’t make much sense. He is a Peruvian immigrant and Hare Krishna devotee and we see him as as a paranoid man who has struggles with alcohol. He believes his children will be “contaminated” if they are let into New York City.

Director Moselle states, “We wanted to tell the truth without making too many judgments. Believe me, I could have really gone off on the guy.” She also says that “The thing is, these brothers are some of the most gentle, insightful, curious people I’ve ever met. Something was clearly done right.”

“The Angulo children, all of whom still live at home except for Govinda, 22, according to Ms. Moselle, are shown struggling with resentment toward their father. Narayana at one point says, “There are some things you just don’t forgive.” Later, he worries about “being so ignorant of the world that I won’t be able to handle it.”

Of course, we can only wonder if the children suffer psychological problems as a result of their unorthodox upbringing. “The Wolfpack” suggests the answer is yes but does not go into what they might be. The film does note that government agencies have become involved in recent years — following a visit to the apartment from the police — and that the children, at least for a time, were treated by psychiatrists.

Moselle first met the brothers in 2010 as they walked “in a pack” down First Avenue. “All of them were wearing black Ray-Ban sunglasses inspired by “Reservoir Dogs,” and their long hair was blowing in the wind. “I just started running after them to find out more and was instantly obsessed,” she said.”

“To divulge how the Angulos happened to be out of the house that day would move into spoiler territory. The Sundance programming guide does disclose that “everything changes when one of the brothers escapes and the power dynamics in the house are transformed.”

 

 

‘LAST OF THE MOBILE HOT SHOTS”— Williams and Vidal

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“Last of the Mobile Hot Shots”

Williams and Vidal

Amos Lassen

“Last of the Mobile Hotshots” is based on the Tennessee Williams play “Kingdom of Earth or The Seven Descents of Myrtle”. It is a slapstick comedy and it really seems like a parody of the author himself. The screenplay was written by Williams and Gore Vidal.

Set in the Mississippi Delta at Waverly, an old plantation, this is a look at life and death. Jeb Stuart Thorington (James Coburn) is the last of the legitimate Thoringtons and he is suffering from terminal cancer in his one lung. He married Myrtle (Lynn Redgrave), a hooker, on a TV show for which he got $3500 dollars to fix up Waverly. His brother, Chicken (Robert Hooks), is half black and a bit simple.

The Mississippi River flooded the property as Jeb continued to die upstairs in the bedroom. He dreams how life once was and through flashbacks we see that he and Chicken would visit whores and together have sex with them. It is not clear but it seems as if they have sex with each other. Chicken sits downstairs waiting for Jeb to die. Myrtle stays on the move, running between upstairs and downstairs. She tries to get Jeb to make love to her and she makes love to Chicken because he has the deed to what she wants to inherit. If you have seen other Tennessee Williams plays and/or movies made from them then you will recognize the characters.

Directed by Sidney Lumet the film just does not make it. Parts of the film are slow but the images we see are fascinating— James Coburn descending the stairs in a wedding dress, Lynn Redgrave winning on a TV game show, the flooding of the Mississippi delta are some of what you see. I understand that the movie received an “X” rating so it was cut and rereleased with an “R”. There are rumors that Criterion plans to release the original “X” version much like it did with Williams’ “The Fugitive Kind”.

There are some interesting Biblical references here— a flood that washes everything away – except one house that bobs up in the current like Noah’s Ark. This flood occurs on the Day of Judgment, when human beings are either redeemed or damned. There is also the subplot of racial transgression and there is a lot about the past. Jeb lives in the past and is heavily influenced by it. Chicken comes to terms with the past but not until the end of the film. Myrtle, at first, is consumed by materialism but she realizes that there are personal issues that are more important than money.

The film was originally released in 1969 and I believe it was probably misunderstood. It is an honest and brutal film that takes place in the calm before the storm and then afterwards. This is the South in its decadence. The movie polarizes the viewer and makes him/her confront their personal prejudices. I collect films of Tennessee Williams and sitting down to watch this made me realize once again just how powerful he was.

“THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MISS OSBOURNE— An Adaptation of Stevenson

Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne” (“Docteur Jekyll et les femmes”)

An Adaptation of Stevenson

Amos Lassen

The engagement party of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Miss Fanny Osbourne is the backdrop of an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s original novel. After the party, Jekyll and Osbourne, someone yells out that a child has been murdered outside on the street. The party guests watch a dancer perform and during which Jekyll tells a lawyer to change his will and leave everything to someone named Mr. Hyde. Soon after that the dancer was found murdered and the guests at the party realize that one of them must have done so.

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Jekyll had been spending a lot of time doing medical research and just recently he published a book that give his thoughts on transcendental medicine. While the party was underway, Fanny went into Jekyll’s lab where she sees him having a bath of chemicals. The chemicals are what cause him to transform into Hyde who is a representation of the bestial side of human nature.

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Made in 1981, this is Walerian Borowcyzk’s take on Stevenson’s classic. It is a kinky French horror film, with a disturbingly lustful sadism. Dr. Henry Jekyll (Udo Kier), a wealthy and celebrated scientist, is hosting a party to celebrate his engagement to Miss Fanny Osbourne (Marina Pierro). His crippled mother, his mother-in-law as well as assorted scions of Victorian society, a clergyman, a rival scientist and a general (Patrick Magee), come together for an evening of food and celebration. They are pompous, self-satisfied and bubbling over “with barely concealed desires as they exchange pleasantries and hotly debate Jekyll’s new theory of transcendental medicine.” Jekyll wants his estate given over to the mysterious and as yet unseen Mr. Hyde, and there seems to be a settling of accounts coming up.

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The director makes no pretense about not holding to the original story. Jekyll’s assault on the guests is savage, and yet they are complicit in their own downfall, either because he stirs in them their own (scarcely) hidden desires, or because they provide him with the weapons of their destruction. His own sadism is pitched against their own hypocrisy and general vileness. It seems that Fanny also would like to experience transformation.

Borowczyk’s take on the story starts with a dread-provoking, mysteriously filmed sequence of an adolescent girl running for her life from a shadowy man. She runs through alleys and dark buildings before he finally chases her down and beats her with his cane, which shatters. He starts tearing her clothes off, but someone who happened along scares him away.

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Meanwhile back at the party we learn that Jekyll has recently published “The Laboratory and Transcendental Medicine”, a book that lays out his new theories of metaphysical medicine and is the topic for hot hotly debated at the dinner table by Jekyll, Reagan, and Jekyll’s colleague and critic Dr. Lanyon (Howard Vernon). Throughout the dinner, we see brief glimpses of horror that will take place before the night is over.

When Victoria, the dancer is upstairs resting after her performance, an intruder she is savagely raped her and left her for dead (which she was). The men at the party think that whoever did this had come into the house. The women are told to lock themselves in the rooms of the house and the men take off to find the perpetrator. The general shoots Jekyll’s coachman by mistake and the general is then jumped on and tied up by the man guilty of the other crimes and then he runs off to commit more crimes and one of those happened to be the sexual assault of one of the young male party guests. Everyone has assumed that Jekyll was outside taking care of his coachman but…

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Lanyon gets the women to take a sedative but Fanny does not and she goes to Jekyll’s lab where she sees him bathing in the solution that will cause his transmogrification into Hyde (Gérard Zalcberg). The film keeps the identity of Hyde mysterious for more than half the film, with Hyde’s appearances fast, obscured, and punctuated by unnerving glimpses of perverted savagery. Hyde’s killings are the result of sexual aggression, for in the course of the film he kills at least one man and one woman by sexual penetration (or so we’re told) with his gigantic, animalistic phallus, as Lanyon tells us. Lanyon feels that they are up against a creature that is not just brutal but has no sense of what is allowed and what is not. I could continue telling you about the plot but I do not want to spoil the mystery, etc. For anyone who is interested in the development of the horror film, this is a must see.

“BLOOD AND BLACK LACE”— One of the Early Slasher Films

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“Blood and Black Lace” (“Sei donne per l’assassino”)

One of the Early Slasher Films

Amos Lassen

Many trace the roots of Hollywood slasher films to “Blood and Black Lace” and that is because of the wonderful work done by the director, Mario Bava who gave us this blood-drenched mod-whodunit. It all starts with a young woman walking through misty woods where she is strangled by a man in a trench coat with a fedora on his head. We see her body being dragged out of the frame and as this happens we see statues of cherubs in the garden. That site is the House of Christina, a haute couture fashion house where the other characters are assembled. It is presided over by salon owner Cameron Mitchell and recently widowed countess Eva Bartok, While it seems quite elegant, it is actually a place filled with greed, drugs, abortions, blackmail, and especially, sadistic slaughter.

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Director Bava gives us a lot of intrigue as we try to figure out is the person responsible for the murders. His imagery with the color red is amazing and even with the blood and horror; the film is a visual feast. Some would say that it is a typical murder mystery that certainly made people pay attention. There are lots of characters and lots of suspects as to the murderer are and why is he killing beautiful women. The major clue that we get is that the murders seem to be connected in some way to a diary. As the movie plays out, people die all the time.

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The story is somewhat hard to follow but there are enough aspects of the film that will keep the viewer interested. Something else that most audiences are not used to it ending of the film does not clarify everything. The motive for the murderers is predictable. Bava is one of the leading advocates of the giallo kind of horror.

The house of Christina is really just a façade for all kinds of sins including drugs, cheating, and abortions. Because Bava filmed this having everyone look guilty, we cannot really guess who is the murderer. The narrative is very strong as is the wonderful use of colors and shadows. The violence is brutal (at least in 1964 was when the film was made).

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When the police began their investigation, the carrying-ons at the House of Christina were exposed and it was also discovered that Isabella, one of the murdered models had kept a diary that detailed all that went in the House. At first the diary went to Nicole who promised to turn it into the police but Peggy, another model was able to get the diary. Soon after Nicole was killed and we can surmise that the murderer was after the diary. When the murderer realized that Nicole did not have the diary, he then kidnaps Peggy. This shows a trend that is played out throughout the film.

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The film was considered to be a tremendous advancement in the development of the modern horror film. It has remained as one of best slasher films ever made. Bava plays down characters and psychological motivations and creates a grand symphonic rendering of violence. We soon realize that no one is who he/she is supposed to be and no one is to be trusted. The camera is used in a way to make the audience part of the film’s action. What we do see about the characters is that they do not possess the ability to love. Even those characters who are in relationships are to caught up in their own lives and worlds and this has weight when we look at how they feel for each other.

“THE ALPS FROM ABOVE”—From Mont Blanc to the Dolomites

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“The Alps from Above” (“Die Alpen – Unsere Berge von Oben”)

From Mont Blanc to the Dolomites

Amos Lassen

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If you have ever been to the Alps then you know the definition of the word. “beauty”. However, not everyone has had the chance to see them for themselves and here is the next best thing. “The Alps from Above” is “a stunning expedition into Europe’s greatest mountain range”. It is composed of exclusive aerial shots that are both close-ups and breathtaking panoramic images and we go on an expedition the peaks of Mont Blanc to the Dolomites traces the history and geography of the Alps.

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The film covers most of the important aspects related to the Alps. We learn about the flora and fauna, about recent developments in terms of geology, ecology and economy and about historical significance. There is a scene filmed with a falcon camera and we see the view from the bird’s perspective and it is both amazing and mesmerizing. Now this is one of those films that is best appreciated when seen on a large screen (this does not mean you cannot enjoy it at home, however).

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The film is a visual feast that emphasizes the beauty of the mountains but it does not shy away from the dark and commercial aspects of the Alps. As we watch we are totally aware of the aesthetic power of both nature and technology. However, it is fair to say that the film works on a purely visual level. There are other places to find that information.

“GIRLHOOD”— Finding Identity and Freedom

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“Girlhood” (“Bande de filles”)

Finding Identity and Freedom

Amos Lassen

Marieme is bored with her family, dead-end school prospects and the boys in the neighborhood so she begins a new life after meeting a group of 3 free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her dress code, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping that this will be a way to freedom.

Writer/director Céline Sciamma’s film “Girlhood” largely ignores many of the external factors of growing up and highlights the emotional battles that we have within ourselves, as well as the struggle centered around the concept of morality. She deals with the questions of how do “right” and “wrong” apply to adolescence, and how they affect our future.

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 Marieme (Karidja Touré) lives within a difficult family structure, as she primarily takes care of her two younger sisters. She fears her older brother, Djibril (Cyril Mendy), and his abusive tendencies. Their father is absent while their mother is constantly working. She joins a group of three free-spirited girls, led by Lady (Assa Sylla) and pursues a similar lifestyle in order to find both the freedom as well as the identity that will take her from under the oppressive rule of both her brother and from what she thinks that society expects of her.

I think that most of us will agree that the people that we spend time around as a young adult truly affect the outcome of our personalities as we continue to grow up. In Marieme’s case, she wants to blend in with three popular girls so she begins spending a lot of time with them. At first she seems to be an outsider but she progressively becomes more like the group as time continues. However, her status within the group isn’t truly recognized until she receives a necklace from Lady with the word “Vic” on it, which is short for “Victory.” This is the theme that follows Marieme through her journey in growing up. She procrastinates with many of her responsibilities so that she can spend more time with this group, in which she feels a part of. When Marieme briefly meets a previous member of her clique, she slowly begins to realize that her place within this group very well may be nothing more than a step towards a greater future. She knows that her place with the in crowd will not last forever, and she realizes that if she wants to go anywhere in this world, she needs to do something with her life.

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The film is divided into chapters divided by a black screen and what is so amazing in this film is that director Sciamma perfectly captures the phases that so many individuals endure throughout adolescence. Each chapter is a section that is influenced by previous occurrences that continue to shape Marieme’s path to adulthood. There is a lot of emphasis placed on gender and its construction. One of the major elements to this coming-of-age story is society’s construction of gender. In most of Marieme’s relationships there is an obsessive patriarch and her older brother of whom she is afraid represents him. Then there are the social pressures of the popular boys, and the dominating presence of a future employer. When the film begins we see Marieme playing football and then later we see her playing sports video games. Many of her activities are viewed as being male-driven, as she continues to contradict gender stereotypes. The fights with other girl gangs are certainly provoked by the talk of male peers, as Lady and Marieme are willing to do whatever it takes in order to keep a good reputation. We realize that “Girlhood” is so much more than a film about growing up; it also is the story of a struggle to overcome the patriarchal aspects of Marieme’s community.

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Karidja Touré is absolutely brilliant as Marieme. She gives us an inspiring portrayal that perfectly captures the young adult, who is fighting to find her identity and thereby insuring that “Girlhood” gives a new meaning to the coming-of-age film. The film is a complex look at growing up, as well as the gender constructions that exist in society. It’s the feminist answer to Boyhood, yet it manages to dig deeper. The film somehow thrives in both its subtle and direct approaches, as it captures young adulthood in a unique fashion. The film does not patronize and it provides credible representations of class, race and gender as it illustrates the intricacies of social inequality. Sciamma manages to harness the specificity of both her characters and their surroundings. I found the film to be an indictment on the inaccessibility of contemporary culture as seen through the eyes of black working-class girls.