Justine Smith’s Five Favourites
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Made nearly 40 years ago, Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man has become so engrained in the public imagination that spiritual and religious beliefs have actually sprung from his creation. There is nothing redundant in his revisiting of the small Scottish community of Summerisle, and his “sequel”, engages and challenges aesthetic and thematic choices of the original film. Much as Werner Herzog creates a dialogue through pastiche and excess between original and remake in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Hardy employs similar techniques in his 21stcentury revisiting of religion, sex and oppression in adapting his novel Cowboys for Christ.
Lucky McGee creates a horrifying and fantastic portrait of gender politics in this gruesome horror masterpiece. The Woman pulls no punches and is not for the faint of heart. A visual hurricane, the film shocks and surprises, creating iconic images of horror and (a)moral decadence.
A pre-post-apocalyptic love story, Bellflower is one of the truest examples of auteur filmmaking to hit the american indie market in decades. Charming, dark and inventive, the film is a treasure of a lost generation. Filled with young adults who seem to work only at creating machines of destruction, these young people are never as strong or capable as they would like to be. Their apocalyptic fantasies affording them imagined power, they are ultimately at the mercy of their emotions. A truly gut wrenching story of love and loss.
A samurai picture whose villain is a delicious exaggeration of the samurai code. With a dash of cruel and wild humour, the film shocks and awes with one of the most beautifully constructed war sequences in recent memory. Nearly one third of the film is devoted to an epic battle, which reveals the true conceit of blind loyalty. Has some of the most disturbing imagery in any film you will see this year.
A horror film that doesn’t rely on cheap scares and trite motivation, Absentia is a perfect storm of great writing, directing and performance. As we delve into this frightening generic suburban landscape, we see the horror in urban life. The real cost of our greed and the painful loss of independence as one life after another fades without a trace.