The director of 'Mud', Jeff Nichols came after the film and did a little Q&A. He truly seems like such an ordinary guy but his films especially Take Shelter is so incredibly emotional and powerful. He has used Michael Shannon in every film of his since Shotgun Stories (2007) and every time, he brings such a unique character to the story. It's so hard to make good coming-of-age stories anymore but with powerful performances and a unique vision, it is always inspiring and worth-watching. Mud was a sheer pleasure that did not disappoint especially with such jaw-droppingly convincing performances by Matthew McConaughey and newcomer Tye Sheridan. McConaughey in his rom-com days are over and I can't wait to see what else he does after a stellar year he had with films like Killer Joe, Magic Mike, Bernie, and The Paperboy. I'm definitely going to be looking out for future Nichols projects cause although he usually tells male perspective stories, it is one of the most unique visions I've seen yet.
I had been putting off watching Submarine for the past three months ever since it was continuously been popping up in my most recommended section in netflix for fear that for 1) I would overwhelmingly like it (and wasn't ready for that and no, i'm not being weird) 2) it would be just another hyped coming-of-age story that I didnt need to see. So last night I caved after a friend had told me how much he had liked it so here I went, clicked the play button, there's was no turning back now. What I saw was a male version of myself when I was in my teens: creating imaginary scenarios in my head, obsessed with the opposite sex (till the point of stalking), tripping and fumbling over my own words, and last but not least, snooping in on people's lives aka my parents. Maybe I exaggerated a bit on these same characteristics and behaviors but nonetheless, I'm sure we've all done this right? (RIGHT?!)
I had first laid eyes on Richard Ayoade, in the trailer for The Watch (2012) as the mysterious token Black guy amongst the familiar faces of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill. Little did I know that he directed this incredibly charming film. Ayoade is one of those multi-talented guys who is so skilled and accomplished in being a comedian, writer, director, actor, it is hard not to be jealous of his talents and endeavors. Ayoade is close friends with the lead singer of The Arctic Monkeys, Alex Turner and have directed not only multiple videos of theirs but also Vampire Weekend and my favorite, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Richard Ayoade is now definitely in my radar of careers to follow because this man is more than just a sideline actor. He is much, much, more than that.
Certainly, we've all seen our share of coming-of-age stories whether it is The Squid and the Whale, The Breakfast Club, or 400 Blows. And they all have the shared theme of exploring the transition to adulthood, the angst and confusion of youth, the temptation of losing one's virginity, and dealing with the reality of parent's broken love. While Submarine embodies all of these trite themes, Ayoade was able to bring undeniably originality to the protagonist Oliver Tate's journey. Needless to say, I feel it's redundant to continue to express my love for this film. I may not have ever been a 15-year-old boy, but I have definitely share the same emotional roller coaster that Oliver Tate went through. And yes, all while talking to an imaginary camera. A
Holy Motors is in the limited and elite category of films that is recognized and revered more for its innovative story than its actual execution. So rarely are there films that can truly sweep and intoxicate the audience with its sheer audacity in storytelling. Sadly, I had not heard of Leo Carax till Holy Motors came out last year as it was the subject of much hype during Cannes Film Festival and AFI-FEST. And to my surprise, I had seen his work Merde in the cinematic triptych Tokyo!back in 2008,along with other shorts by Bong Joon-Ho and Michel Gondry. In Merde, his long time collaborator Denis Lavant appears as this socially inept creature who roams and terrorizes the city, devouring flowers left at graves and smoking incessantly with his disfigured fingers. And in Holy Motors, not only is he a one man show that transforms himself into more than a dozen characters but he resurrects his previously monstrous role from Merde.
I had only seen Denis Lavant previously in Merde and then again as Charlie Chaplin in Harmony Korine's outrageously idiosyncratic film Mister Lonely. But when witnessing Lavant transform into different types of people with extremely distinct personalities, it is jawdroppingly convincing it makes you wonder if any other prestigious actor would be able to possess and accomplish what Lavant has just done on screen for the entirety of the film without missing a beat. Maybe given the opportunity, possibly even Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis would be able to pull off a stunt like this but even then, I'll only believe it when I see it. At only 5'3, Lavant is larger than life with his talent and performance bursting at the seams, ready to give more notably revered thespians a run for their money and probably win!
In the beginning of the credit, Kylie Minogue's name appears which made me question if it is in fact the same Kylie Minogue that we all know. After patiently waiting till the end of the credits, I had not seen anyone who had remotely resembled the 90's pop star that I once danced along with on MTV. With the help of the rewind button, I had realized that she had completely disappeared into her character because of the make-up of old age and of course, decent acting. It seems as though the French have been dominating in the genre of absurdist surrealism. Or maybe I'm just generalizing considering I just saw Quentin Dupieux's Rubber only a week ago. But they do share many of the same filmic qualities and it must be noted that the French really know how to create such worthwhile surrealist films that can even surpass Luis Bunuel's filmmaking antics. With such homages to classic films, like Eyes Without a Face, it is a downright pleasure to say that Holy Motors is a wholly wild and courageous experience that should not be missed. B+
Snowpiercer will be Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho's U.S. debut adapted from the French graphic novel of the same name. The post-apocalyptic story follows the last survivors on Earth during an Ice Age, travelling on a massive train that is divided by economic classes. The film might premiere at Cannes 2013 and The Weinstein Company is planning on full theater release in the summer although no date has been set. Regardless, I'm super excited to see this VERY DIVERSE assemble interact in this post-apocalyptic world.
So Yun Um is a ryde or die chick living the ultimate #filmlyfe in The City of Angels. She runs So's Reel Thoughts (duh) which highlights international, independent, and genre films. She writes a bi-weekly column called Badass Femmes for Crome Yellow & is the creator of the #GirlTalkSeries. She programs for LA Festivals and is part of the Women Film Critics Circle.