Celine Sciamma’s films are uniquely attuned to examining the female body, without a whiff of exploitation or a sexually charged agenda to be seen. After tackling films dealing with puberty and gender dysphoria, she’s taken a seemingly unusual step for her fourth feature, 18th century period drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire. No longer is she dealing with the struggles of young people as they deal with their changing bodies, but she is taking the logical next step, crafting a romance all around the very idea of capturing the essence of the female body in a work of art.
The film to which Pain and Glory has been most extensively compared is Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, the Italian director’s genre-bending, meta textual examination of a filmmaker crafting his most ambitious project to date. Both films are excellent, but the comparisons prove to be something of a dead end; Fellini was more preoccupied with the process of filmmaking itself, while Almodovar is interested in exploring the human factors that would inspire somebody to tell a story in the first place.
There’s a strikingly realistic tone to this Brazilian drama, pulling the audience into the experiences of a teen who is being squeezed in from all sides. Socrates was created in a workshop of young people between the ages of 16 and 20, and it’s the feature debut of Brazilian-American filmmaker Alexandre Moratto.
Marilyn is based on a true story, but tries its hardest not to transform into reductive misery porn, or emotional exploitation. It offers an intimate look at the life of a queer teenager figuring out their identity in a small town, acknowledging the (often violent) hostility they would face, while still acknowledging the expected identity crisis that is teenage life beyond these harrowing moments.
The 2009 release, Raging Sun, Raging Sky (Rabioso sol, rabioso cielo), is a lush and artistic project by Mexican writer and director Julián Hernández. Composed of three distinct acts, this film is a rich visual tale of love, sexuality, and destiny, starring Giullermo Villegas, Jorge Becerra, and Javier Olivan.
The Ground Beneath My Feet is a slow burning delight, that manages to effectively balance its arthouse style with its genre inclinations. As an exploration of the emotional toll on women in the male dominated world of business, it would definitely make for a delightfully oddball double bill with Toni Erdmann.
Pitched somewhere between a behind the scenes look at downtrodden cabaret acts previously seen in a film like The Full Monty, and a high camp tale of an ageing drag queen reminiscent of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Tucked feels very distinctively like a throwback to the most successful of those efforts.
Most directors feel the need to overcompensate their material with cinematic flourishes, but Fitzgerald’s stripped down and intimate approach to the drama is far more rewarding. Splinters is a simple, quietly affecting family drama told in a humble manner; an authentic portrayal of an estranged family, where both the funny and moving moments come from the everyday. There’s no out of the ordinary dramatic twists here – and the film is all the better for it.