January: January Jams
Happy New Year Light Leaks! There's already something about 2019 - maybe you can sense the energy from the Instagram posts and an imperceptible wave of optimism rising. Maybe it's just the normal new years flow, or maybe it's just me, but I think we are ready for healing good vibes. And as your January born, Capricorn film lover in arms - I am here to give you some of my favorites this month.
1. Frances Ha (2012)
Remember when the show Girls made NYC millennials look like an insufferable group mired in not only job struggles but their own personal BS? While there's a lot in that show that may ring true or be funny, Frances Ha burst out of the wood work with its own brighter take. It tells the story of 27yo Frances (Greta Gerwig) and best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) growing distant as Sophie seems to slip seamlessly into adulthood with a serious relationship and job. Frances grapples with part time jobs and trying to figure out her path, facing it with a powerful and goofy energy. For anyone creative who feels like maybe they aren't killing it or maybe don't love their day job, Frances Ha will give you the energy and joy to make the journey fun.
2. Daisies (1966)
Somewhere between Nazi occupation and Soviet communism restricting the arts and liberties of Prague citizens, Vera Chytilova made the experimental, feminist, low budget Daisies. And it's a great movie. Two girls named Marie (Ivana Karbanova & Jitka Cerhova) decide that the world is spoiled so they will be spoiled in it. They play pranks, they ditch dates, they wreak havoc, and they gorge on fantastic feasts. There's a celebration of a sinister sisterhood and a big F U to any patriarchal boundaries meant to keep the Maries in check with a dreamy, color changing lens to tell the story. It's rare to see women pigging out on screen without the scorn or sexualization from the male gaze and it's so great here!
3. Volver (2006)
We open in the windy Spanish town of Alcanfor de las Infantas with women sweeping the graves of loved ones. What an image! Raimunda (Penelope Cruz), her sister Sole (Lola Duenas), and daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo) travel from Madrid to the superstitious town to visit the grave of mother/grandmother Irene (Carmen Maura). During their visit, Tia Paula (Chus Lampreave) insists that her sister Irene is still alive and living with her. Three generations of women unravel the secrets of the town and their family, bonding closer together through adversity. Almodovar has the magic touch with managing melodrama, magical realism, and brilliantly colorful and memorable compositions. It's powerful, boldly emotional, and a little weird IN SPAIN - that's got Pilar written all over it.
4. Heathers (1988)
I can't speak for the musical or any television adaptations since, but watching Heathers for the first time as a teenager made my jaw drop. The darkly comedic satire follows the most popular group in school: The Heathers ft. Veronica (Winona Ryder). Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) rules the school with tyrannical pleasure flanked by cheerleader Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk) and Heather Duke (Shannon Doherty) and Veronica finds herself disenchanted with the group and enchanted with a new student JD (Christian Slater) who fires blanks in the cafeteria and loves convenience store hot dogs. The movie is fearless in killing off characters and bolding commenting the bitingly insensitive and performative sensitive reactions of the characters. Maybe you won't learn anything, but you will likely quote it. All I know is I want my grave to say: "Jesus God in Heaven, why'd you have to kill such hot snatch?"
5. Lost Highway (1997)
If you are a fan of David Lynch and a feminist... it can be a complicated relationship, but I feel that Lost Highway has the most raw underlying female power. After a weird party, Fred (Bill Pullman) is framed for his wife Renee's (Patricia Arquette) murder he morphs into a young mechanic who begins a relationship with Alice (Patricia Arquette). This new dimension is a fantasy where Fred doesn't have to feel emasculated and seems to fall back into the same short comings since Patricia Arquette is too powerful and resists any kind of control. It is a surreal movie so all of this is up to interpretation, but David Lynch goes to underbelly and fantasy worlds to expose the true self. I suggest paying attention to Patricia Arquette's changing nail polish colors as the story unfolds.
Enjoy your binge! Until next time, Pilar <3
ABOUT WHAT SHE’S WATCHING
Hi y'all, my name is Pilar and I am a filmmaker & lover who has gotten overwhelmed by suggestions at film school parties and didn't know where to start. I'm hoping this column will give you some hors d'oeuvres to chew on and help you discover other great movies to inspire your own filmmaking. This is a safe space no judgement if you haven't seen it, in fact, I'm very jealous of you right now for getting to experience some of this for the first time.