Category Archives: Films & Television

Elle (2016)

Yes, this is, intriguingly enough a French film by director Paul Verhoeven, the same director who is best known for Robocop, Basic Instinct and Showgirls. Verhoeven apparently first tried to make this film in the US but could not find a well known American actress willing to accept this risqué role. He then decided that an American film would be too conventional a thriller anyway and so made it in France, going to the extent of learning French to do so. Impressive dedication for a man in his mid-70s!

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The Love Witch (2016)

This was an interesting recommendation from, among other places, Vox. Vox is one of the leading sites nowadays that best represent liberal America so it’s very much pro-feminism. That’s interesting because this film has plenty of nudity, both male and female to be fair, but it’s easy to see that it draws viewers mostly through the sexy antics of its female lead Samantha Robinson. Still it contains a remarkably sophisticated discussion of how sexuality empowers women and its very studied throwback to the 1960s makes it impossible to dismiss it as crass commercial fare.

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How Green Was My Valley (1941)

As expected, this film is quite similar to director John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath made only a year earlier. Both films concern themselves with the lives and times of a single family but while the former is about the travails of a sharecropping family who makes their way westwards during the Great Depression in the United States, How Green Was My Valley depicts the way of life in a Welsh mining village.

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The Road Home (1999)

Not so long ago I was griping about how the Chinese films by the so-called Fifth Generation of directors all exhibit the same kind of fatalism about the misery that the country has suffered over the course of the twentieth century. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that in The Road Home, Zhang Yimou has made an entirely different kind of film instead. Most of it takes place during approximately the same time period as the earlier films and political events like Anti-Rightist Movement hangs like a specter in the background but the focus here is completely different.

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The Invitation (2015)

I seem to have developed a real liking for these small American independent films. Since their budgets are tiny, they’re pushed to do more with what they have and are usually daring enough to try some new things. At the same time, they’re still mainstream enough that watching them isn’t too mentally taxing as few people are up for watching truly groundbreaking films all the time. This one was directed by Karyn Kusama who has actually made expensive big budget films before.

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