Among fans of superhero movies, few films garner as much adoration as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Even in a decade where theaters and box-offices alike have been dominated by a rejuvenated interest in superhero stories, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t hold the original Spider-Man movies in the highest esteem, often regarded as second only to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008). With Coral Gables Art Cinema holding a one night only after-hours screening of Spider-Man (2002) later this month, I had to ask: how does Sam Raimi’s foray through the world of superheroes hold up nearly twenty years later?
Films released in the first quarter of the year are known for ranging from passable to dreadful. With these low expectations in mind, Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane (2018) still manages to disappoint with its predictable story, messy structure, and generally unimpressive cinematic style.
As the forty minute mark approached during my screening of Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time (2018), I struggled with a simple question: Is it possible to review a film you walked out on? When I write about a film, I try to deliver more than a recommendation or a warning. A review should cast a spotlight on an aspect of filmmaking or storytelling that audiences and creators alike should treasure – unless the product is so bad, it should be obliterated for the cathartic entertainment of others. However, there’s a rare exception to my line of thought, where a product becomes a vehicle for a valuable lesson in the creative process. In the case of A Wrinkle in Time, while the fact that I walked out of the theater should be an indication of the film’s quality, it should mostly be a display of the importance of keeping your audience invested through compelling story elements.
As one of this year’s nominees for Best Foreign Film, Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman covers a sensitive issue well, delivering a powerful film worthy of its Oscar nod. A Fantastic Woman follows aspiring singer Marina Vidal (Daniela Vega) through her experiences as a transgender woman who wants nothing more than to fulfill her life goals. Unfortunately, when her boyfriend Orlando (Francisco Reyes) suddenly dies, Marina finds herself unable to properly mourn, as Orlando’s family are quick to throw suspicion and scorn towards our protagonist when they discover her gender identity.
On a rare occasion, the passage of time helps a film age like a fine wine. Such a rare example of this phenomenon is best observed in the case of Georges Franju’s French horror film, Eyes Without a Face (1960). Released the same year that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) was criticized for its “vulgar” shot of a flushing toilet, Eyes Without a Face is a movie that phenomenally blends emotional turmoil with the grotesque into a simple story whose unnerving aura transcends time and language. With four screenings of the film scheduled for this week thanks to the Secret Celluloid Society, now is an opportune time to sit back and re-examine a classic that deserves more mainstream attention than it currently has.
To believers of the supernatural, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California is the remnant of an unfortunately haunted widow, while skeptics see the mansion as a monument to the power of inherited guilt. After consulting with a medium who foretold that the spirits killed by Winchester branded rifles would haunt her until her death, Sarah Winchester’s mansion became legendary for having been under construction every day of her life. The end result was a beautifully ornate mansion that once stood seven stories tall, and was filled with over a hundred and fifty rooms, stairwells and doors that lead to nowhere, and had the chaotic floor-plan of a labyrinth. Knowing this, when I heard there were plans to make a film about Sarah Winchester and her interactions with a psychiatrist, I was genuinely excited by the prospect of a horror film that blurred the line between a genuine haunting and tragic psychological turmoil.
How foolish of me to anticipate a horror film released in February.
Janurary 29th marked the Phantom Thread – Fashion and Film discussion panel, hosted through a collaboration between the Coral Gables Art Cinema and Books & Books, moderated by Nat Chediak, the Director of Programming of the Coral Gables Art Cinema, and featuring special guest Christian Garcia, one of the last true bespoke tailors. Much like the Monsters in the Shape of Water discussion that was hosted earlier this month, the panel was packed, with many guests standing to join in on the conversation on the latest Paul Thomas Anderson film, Phantom Thread (2017). Throughout our discussion, our panel covered topics such as some of the interesting conditions that brought the film to fruition, the themes of the movie, as well as the real-world fashion industry and the experiences Christian Garcia has had throughout his fashion career.