2000's Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
1Nov/170

Lake Mungo (2008)

Alice Palmer, sixteen years old and seemingly happy with her life, drowns under mysterious circumstances.  Dissatisfied with official reports, her family begins taking unusual steps to find out what happened to their daughter.  A documentary crew follows, records, and leads the Palmers to revelations they might not want to know.  Joel Anderson wrote the screenplay for and directs Lake Mungo, and stars David Pledger, Rosie Traynor, Martin Sharpe, Talia Zucker, and Steve Jodrell.

Lake Mungo, in concept and execution, may be the most perfectly realized found footage film in existence.  Found footage is fascinating as a mode of cinematic expression because of the implications of its existence.  There's a fictional editor at the wheel, taking bits of people's lives and crafting a narrative for an audience to serve a purpose we can only speculate about.  Writer/director Joel Anderson understands this on an almost preternatural level, witnessing a family torn apart by the loss of their daughter, having those wounds freshly reopened because of technology, and creating a film where its existence relies on wounding the Palmer family one more time for our entertainment.

The affect of Lake Mungo is in its gaps.  Other found footage horror has played with our expectations of empty spaces, that anxiety that something needs to be in shots of empty halls or static bedrooms, then confirming that anxiety with horror.  The gap at the center of Lake Mungo contains no scares - at least not in the way other horror films have used them.  The absence of Alice Palmer (Talia Zucker) isn't some distraction so her ghost might pop out of the corners.  The absence is the horror, the realization that she is dead and never coming back, and that our constant need for entertainment and intrigue has put the Palmer family on a traumatic cycle where they'll be forced to relive the loss of their daughter for the rest of their lives.

31Oct/170

Martyrs (2008)

Lucie cannot escape her trauma.  It comes at night, when she rests, and in moments of peace.  With the help of her lover Anna, Lucie hopes that confronting the source of her suffering will bring it all to an end.  Pascal Laugier wrote the screenplay for and directs Martyrs, and stars Mylène Jampanoï and Morjana Alaoui.

We don't believe victims.  When victims come forward with stories of sexual assault or targeted harassment for their skin color, we do everything we can as a society to dull their truth.  How else could we get through the day if we accepted there is more trauma in a city block than any human has shouldered in recorded history.  But martyrs are an industry.  Martyrs give advertisers inspiration porn, stories of people who have every right to lash back at their aggressors while opting instead to forgive, and we get to comfort ourselves in the useful lie that what separates martyrs and victims is the strength to forgive.  Victims are weak, martyrs are inspirational.

Writer/director Pascal Laugier exposes this truth in brutal fashion.  In the propulsive first half of Martyrs, Laugier introduces young Lucie (Jessie Pham) as the sickening sound of her flesh pounds and scrapes against pavement while she runs away from unseen torturers.  The next moment, she's the subject of a television special with a warmly dressed presenter aimlessly speculating as to why Lucie suffered.  Without unearthing a reason and Lucie too traumatized to speculate, there's no martyrdom, and if Anna (Erika Scott) didn't become Lucie's friend she'd be just another victim lost to the orphanage system.

22Oct/170

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)

In the cold of an Inuit camp, a menacing shaman appears to place a curse on the community after the sudden death of the camp's leader.  Decades later, the evil of the curse manifests itself in a conflict between the petty Oki and charming Atanarjuat - the fast runner - who is forced to trek for miles alone fighting the curse.  Zacharias Kunuk directs Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, with the screenplay written by Paul Apak Angilirq, and stars Natar Ungalaaq and Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq.

Seven minutes in, and my body tingles with delight.  Drums on the soundtrack form a suggested rhythm.  When the cold familiar sound of compacted snow crunching against the footwear of an Inuit man steadies the beat, other instruments feel free to express their presence in the growing melody of work.  The camera glides from snow to face in an unbroken shot - the man toiling with the beat but cheerful - and when director Zacharias Kunuk cuts to the goofy tired wolf at the front of this labor I went from delight to bliss.

The sequence is short, maybe two minutes at most, but sets up a visual philosophy I rarely see on film.  Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (The Fast Runner moving forward) finds pleasure in the hard work of staying alive when so many other films mine our labor for despair or existential anguish.  A similar act of labor opens Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse, and the funereal dirge of the horse's trot in a harsh landscape feels light-years removed from the tough, if often wonderful, trek of The Fast Runner.  It fulfills a craving I didn't know I had for art that does not neglect the labor of living but also celebrates the miracle of existence.

20Sep/170

Changing Reels Episode 27 – Whip It

In Bliss Cavendar’s small town, winning a beauty pageant is akin to being a star player on the football team.  Though her mother, a former beauty queen, longs for her to follow in her footsteps, Bliss finds her own path when she discovers her love for the sport of roller derby.  Assuming the name “Babe Ruthless” she soon makes waves on the circuit while dealing with the complexities that come with finding oneself.  This week lace up the skates and take a spin with Drew Barrymore’s 2009 film Whip It. We also discuss our short film picks: Hana Wuerker’s When Perri Met Aly and River Finlay’s Luchadora.

Show notes:

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes!  If you have a comment on this episode, or want to suggest a film for us to discuss, feel free to contact us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC), follow us on Facebook and reach out to us by email (Changing.Reels.AC@gmail.com).  You can also hear our show on SoundCloud or Stitcher!

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27Jul/170

Changing Reels Episode 23 – The Visitor

The complexities of American life are on our minds today as we dive into the somber side of patriotism.  Exploring the post-9/11 world of Tom McCarthy’s wonderful film The Visitor, we discuss everything ranging from the immigrant experience to the possibility of finding love in the most unexpected places.  We also reflect on the Bush and Obama years, and America’s love of guns, when chatting about our short film selections this week: Charles Stone III’s 8 Years Later…Waaazzzuuppp and Nicolas Lévesque’s In Guns We Trust.

Show notes:

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes!  If you have a comment on this episode, or want to suggest a film for us to discuss, feel free to contact us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC), follow us on Facebook and reach out to us by email (Changing.Reels.AC@gmail.com).  You can also hear our show on SoundCloud or Stitcher!

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