Bo Burnham's first feature length film takes a scouring look at early teenage life now.
The film follows Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher, as she navigates her way through her final year before high school.
Why is the film painful to watch?
Because it is an excruciatingly accurate depiction of what it is like to grow up in a world where social cliques and social media combine. The film is chronicled by Kayla's videos that she makes for her blogs, 'how tos' for her contemporaries. They are awkward, endearing, and surprisingly wise for a 13 year old.
The relationship between Kayla and her father accurately details the murky waters of the father/daughter dynamic frequently neglected by filmmakers. It is a relationship of attrition, yelling, eye rolling and cringe Dad moments. And underneath it all, the father's sincere persistence to connect with his daughter, his pride in her, is a powerful driving force to the scenes.
But why is it SO painful?
Two words. Elsie Fisher. The film's success relies heavily on Fisher's achingly poignant performance. The casting for the film is strong across the board (these are not the clear-skinned dead-eyed Hollywood drones we normally see) Fisher plays both the loner quiet character who privately is a talkative. She inhabits the character without ego, with apparent ease. Her bravery when she has to enter the pool party of the cruel popular girl in her year group is rousing.
The scene in which Kayla ends up in a car alone at night with her high school partner's male friend is particularly difficult to watch. The moment between Kayla's safety and lack thereof passes by quickly. It's a moment that has happened to so many girls before. It's happened to me. The film sheds a light on how quickly society encourages boys to put their libido before the respect of their female friends. It shows how girls realise young that being polite will keep them safe, to a point.
Why you should watch it...
You should watch it not because it's painful, but because it's truthful.
If you were ever in doubt of what it was like to be a girl growing up in the world, or if you know exactly what it was like but want some closure with your past - watch it.
If you want to watch a film with a pacy script that is both witty and agonising - watch it.
If you want to know what all the fuss is about - watch it.
'Loving Vincent', the world's first fully painted feature length film, is a work of art, and a calling to push boundaries further than ever before.
Making a film about the life and controversial death of Van Gogh seems like a reasonable enough artistic endeavour. Including his art in the film also seems straightforward enough. But first time feature director, Dorota Kobiela, wanted to take her project a step further - paint the entire film, every slide, and in doing so set a world record and do something never before seen in film.
Amidst a landscape of rapidly evolving CGI and VR, where the materials that artists and animators use are rapidly becoming solely digital, there is something gratifying about the film's return to oil paint and paper. The viewing experience is certainly startling by contrast to what we are visually accustomed to. Characters melt into landscapes, which shiver in colour with quivering brushstrokes. Thousands of paintings appear and disappears in milliseconds. We are thrown into Van Gogh's work, and we swim through his world in southern France, and explore his anguish, and his death. Every movement of each characters' face takes on new significance in painted form, and we are enraptured.
The film was not always set up to have its gargantuan proportions. Initially, the film was set to run at only 7 minutes. But director Kobiela saw it grow before her into a project that she could no longer just paint herself. But the support that she received, the creative enthusiasm, enabled the project. In an interview she described her experience. 'To have people who go for it and just suddenly say 'Ok, let's do the film of a first time director, that will be fully painted, in 65,000 frames,' I guess that takes courage, you know?' (Kobiela, BBC, 2017)
Courage is the right word. It is the prevailing term I would use for both the film and Kobiela herself.
But how did they do it?
Profane, devastating and hilarious; Martin McDonagh’s brutal and beautiful rendition of grief, loss and redemption make it a strong contender in the awards season, and one of my all time favourites.
It is a rare thing to make people laugh and cry moment to moment, ricocheting between feelings of complete devastation and hilarity. I have never found a film, nor any piece art, that achieves this delicate seesaw-ing in the way that McDonagh does in his masterpiece ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ (2017). It certainly deserves all seven of its Academy Award nominations.
The story begins when Mildred (Francis McDormand), a grieving mother, purchases advertising for three billboards in her small town of Ebbing, Missouri, which point blame at the town’s police for not solving her daughter’s murder case.
The film is characterized by its embrace of the imperfection of its characters, just as it embraces the darkest themes of sexual assault, abuse, murder, suicide and racism. Comedy is the last thing you would expect. And yet, this film will make you laugh.
We did it! We made it through Christmas, the New Year, slalomed through conversational potholes with our families, accepted socks with smiles, and we've tumbled into the new year. A little more padded round the waistband, a little worn down, and we can but sigh at the 'new year new you' mantras that fade into echoes around our head.
Another year, and yet I can't escape this odd buoyant optimism that's risen within me. I have made the decision to pursue the creation of film and television, and it gives me energy I'd forgotten I had. So as the Christmas tree decomposes on the pavement outside and every social media outlet tells us how to get our new year hot bod, I am energised by the prospect of working with new people in the year ahead, the mistakes I'll definitely make, and the work that I will create.
If you're interested in a sneaky snapshot of what I've been up to so far, here's a link to my show reel.
It is so easy to look at ourselves, and our work, and think.. ugh. I got 99 problems and this thing I just created is another one. But sometimes, on good days, it can be valuable to look back at work and be a little kinder to ourselves.
Today I had a look at my first ever feature length documentary, which traced the creation of Shakespeare's infamous character, Lady Macbeth. And, yeah, I cringed, more than a little. But today, because we're having a kind day, I'll say that I am proud of it too.
If there's work that you're proud of, comment below, share a links if it's film. Let's spread the encouragement, we could all use some.