Beach Rats – Eliza Hittman
Watch this film if you are a CINEMATOGRAPHER
Mood of the film: MELANCHOLIC
Overall Score 6.5/10
To sum up Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats in a word: ethereal. It lacks much of a physical punch, but scenes blend together in a beautiful way. Lost soul Frankie (Harris Dickinson) struggles with his desire for the men he meets online and how it’ll impact the life he leads as a bad-boy, selling drugs and hanging out in vape shops.
Hearing of Beach Rats’s premise, I had hoped for something that would deliver a more nuanced exploration of fluid sexuality. Alas, Beach Rats constricts itself to the classic ‘closet case’ storyline. Frankie can’t have sex with his girlfriend without going to the bathroom to get hard first and it only results in a single scene that intentionally pales compared to the tangible eroticism present in the man-on-man scenes present in the film.
The writing is the film’s weakest element, bar none. Characters are either plot devices or mouthpieces for the film’s themes. In Frankie’s case alone, we see an interesting, yet flawed, character study into a young man pulled between the safety of being an alpha male and the dreaded fate of being a gay man. “It’s just hot when two girls make out.” “When two guys make out, it’s not hot, it’s gay.” Credit where credit’s due, Eliza Hittman manages to express the latent homophobia of her film’s world without relying on endless slurs. On the other hand, there’s an undeniable Freudian influence present in the film, as Frankie lives in a house of women and his father dies part of the way through, seemingly throwing a switch in Frankie that pushes him to pursue men proactively. Frankie passes through the sea of naked male bodies and finds the older men, who are fully clothed in their jackets and fishing hats, incredibly “dad-like.” It doesn’t hurt the film much on a surface level, but a closer inspection of its lead’s sexuality leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Where Hittman fails as a writer, she makes up for as a director. Following the plot of this film isn’t as important as what watching the scenes unfold makes you feel. Hittman puts a magnifying glass to the physical closeness of “lad culture.” She relishes in taking back the male gaze and making it work for her, simultaneously objectifying and glorifying the male form.
What fills in the cracks, story-telling wise, is a superb performance from Dickinson, who manages the difficult task of capturing all of his character’s conflicted feelings and showing them off entirely through facial expressions. Going forward, he’ll definitely be one to watch!
More so than that, is the simply spell-binding cinematography. Shot on 16mm by French cinematographer, Hélén Louvart, Beach Rats’s most important moments are captured in fragments, that somehow expresses everything they need to. The bright colours of Coney Island are contrasted in such a way with the darkness that surrounds Frankie and the men he meets in his explorations, that they begin to feel hollow as a result. Here, there is beauty in the darkness.
Image courtesy of Philipp Engelhorn
A Quiet Place – John Krasinski
Watch this film if you are a DIRECTOR
Mood of the film: TENSE
Overall Score 8/10
A Quiet Place explores a family attempting to survive in a destroyed world now invaded with aliens, who will kill instantly if anyone makes a single sound.
This film’s unique and simplistic concept draws the audience in immediately with its sleek execution of suspense and deeper understanding of the horror genre.
The audience is instantly ridden with anxiety and fear for the family’s survival in this new era of inescapable silence to avoid hyper sound sensitive aliens.
Throughout, it is hard not to feel uncomfortable watching the family’s dedicated and courageous attempt to simply adapt their daily routine in order to survive. The dialogue is strong, especially the lack of it, making every sound or word spoken determine the outcome of a character’s life.
The film makes the audience constantly question everything, such as what would they do differently in the circumstances?
The family’s choice to persevere, avoiding the cliché of destroying all the aliens, allows for the audience to connect on a deeper empathetic level, and approach the fear of the unknown as if they were there. This is also emphasised through the family’s dynamic, which is relatable throughout, due to the outstanding performances displayed by Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and Cade Woodward.The casting director’s choice of Millicent Simmonds perfectly adds to the authenticity of the film, and highlights her outstanding acting ability among the other actors.
Word of Warning:
Be careful where you see this film, since silence is the most crucial element of the film, and must be appreciated and respected without popcorn crunching and small talk.
Image Courtesy Of Paramount Pictures
Terminal – Vaughn Stein
Watch this film if you are a CINEMATOGRAPHER
Mood of the film: Mysterious
Overall Score 6/10
With its enigmatic synopsis and aesthetically pleasing visual look, the directorial debut from Vaughn Stein definitely intrigues you to take a trip into the dystopian world, but, the problem is that you might not want to stay.
Starring Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Mike Myers, and Dexter Fletcher, the star studded ensemble portray secretive outlaws, unknowingly connected by Robbie’s alluring femme fatale character, Bonnie. Her alter ego, Annie, is a loquacious diner waitress who mainly interacts with Bill, (Simon Pegg), a terminally ill teacher looking for the quickest route to death, which in this bleak location, doesn’t seem too far away at any moment.
Hidden in a distorted yet appealing city, the story takes place inside a deserted terminal, blanketed in bold noir film tropes. Home to no more than mysterious outsiders and our leading fugitives, the surreal location is where most of the film presents itself, which, whilst offering an eerie tone, also does no favours to the overall pace.
Paying homage to the familiar story of Alice in Wonderland, the film is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll and his abstruse tales of mysterious worlds, offering references throughout the duration of the story. Other influences such as dystopian films including Blade Runner, and Dark City are heavily identifiable.
Whilst it undoubtedly has a few structural issues, Terminal is successful in telling an ominous and dark story, admirably illustrating the film noir genre, depicted with stylish and luminous visuals brought to life by vivid and enticing performances.
Image courtesy of Image Entertainment
Written by Reece Mawhinney, April-Rae Hughes And Lauren Macaree