Ingrid Goes West – Matt Spicer
Watch this film if you are a WRITER
Mood of the film: Sinister
Overall Score 8/10
Matt Spicer presents a harrowing yet bewitching dark comedy about the implications and repercussions of social media in his debut film, Ingrid Goes West.
The film follows Ingrid Thorburn, a good-intentioned and misunderstood outsider, as she attempts to construct what she believes to be a preferable and socially acceptable life for herself, through the process of befriending a seemingly perfect social media influencer that she discovers online. The events that follow are both ridiculous and over exaggerated, but not completely far fetched, fearfully enough. Amongst the darkness of the film’s serious tone, there are moments of humour and amusement, particularly provided by O’shea Jackson Jr, with his brilliant performance of Ingrid’s tranquil, and Batman loving, ‘unofficial’ landlord, Dan Pinto.
Accompanied with an unsettling score juxtaposed with alluring and aesthetically pleasing cinematography, it is hard to look away from the events that happen in front of us, despite how uneasy a number of the scenes make you feel.
Aubrey Plaza is both absolutely captivating yet completely unnerving as Ingrid, creating a character that you simultaneously sympathise with, but also resent, more than likely because she is shockingly and undeniably relatable.
We may laugh and feel undoubtedly uncomfortable towards the character of Ingrid, but in reality, she is a very extreme and heightened version of any of us that use social media today, using our platforms and devices to combat likely feelings of loneliness and uncertainty, whilst also trying to fit in and present ourselves as worthy, which many previous films surrounding the theme of social media fail to present or acknowledge, and is something that sets Ingrid Goes West apart from those attempts.
Spanking the Monkey (1994) – David O. Russell
Watch this film if you are a DIRECTOR
Mood of the film: BOLD
Overall Score 8/10
Spanking the Monkey was David O. Russell’s first feature film. It won the audience award at Sundance 1994. Made on a $200,000, it would go on to gross a total of $1,359,736. This would be the platform to propel Russell to years later to go on to make critically acclaimed films such as Silver Linings Playbook and Joy.
In 1967, it was considered shocking enough to show a college student pursue a romance with an older woman in The Graduate. 1971’s Harold and Maude had to up the stakes by highlighting an even larger age gap (made worse by Bud Cort’s babyface). Honestly, what choice did Russell have but to make the older woman the college student pursued his own mother? The inspiration from the latter is obvious, perhaps at times overbearingly so (the ending is almost identical) but Russell is able to deliver enough original material to make his first feature a completely enticing watch. Marketing and legacy aside, the incestuous relationship is one of the elements the film concerns itself with the least. It’s about family and parent-child relationships, yes. But it’s also a coming-of-age story that tackles depression, sexual repression, sexual assault and suicide. It strikes a good balance with not coddling these issues but not presenting them in an overbearing way as well.
Spanking the Monkey is a film constantly balancing on the edge. That’s par for the course for any dark comedy, of course. In that regard, Russell does his job exceptionally well. There’s not many laugh out loud moments here but the ones that there are, accompany the darkest moments in the film every time. Russell uses these scenes sparingly and only at their most effective. That said, there’s a roughness to what’s on screen that becomes more pronounced towards the end of the second act, when a better sense for shots and pacing is crucial to sell the emotional undertaking the film pursues. That said, there’s certainly a talent present and a boldness in the decisions Russell makes. We presume the father is cheating on his wife just because he’s a travelling salesman. Russell knows that and has a naked woman casually walk into camera view, assuring the audience in their assumptions in a way that is both effortless and very effective.
Russell’s greatest strength, especially notable as a first-time filmmaker, is in his calculating nature. Spanking the Monkey, for the most part, takes you on a measured journey that makes the developments the characters undertake feel natural, in spite the twisted nature of the subject matter. What hurts first-time filmmakers the most is often their lack of restraint in tackling the subjects they’re passionate about. At times, Russell caves into this as well but those times are far and few in-between. It’s clearly a first outing but, for filmmakers, it’s more endearing because of that fact. A definite watch for any budding filmmaker, especially those interested in tackling darker subject matters.
Juno (2007)- Jason Reitman
Watch this film if you are an ACTOR
Mood of the film: FEEL GOOD
Overall Score 8/10
With its sharp, witty, sensitive and sweet script Juno tackles the topic of teenage pregnancy face on with a fresh outlook. Complimented with a low-fi indie folk soundtrack Juno is thrown head first into the adult world, while being a mature teenager we watch her grow immensely into herself as the film progresses . As an audience we follow her decisions and challenges regarding abortion, first love and parenthood. The script enables us to see humor in such topics, not taking itself too seriously but never undermining the importance of Juno’s choices.
Juno is a strong female lead taking matters into her own hands unfazed by social norms and owns a irresistible charm not based solely on her looks. Juno has no fear in embracing her quirks and her irony filled comments are endearing. Although her situation isn’t ideal for every young girl, her attitude and approach to her pregnancy is one to admire.
Ellen Pages performance is honest;capturing a wide range of emotions and relationships earnestly alongside Micheal Cera embracing the awkwardness puberty in his acting; this duo together makes the film refreshing to watch. Juno is a outstanding feel good coming of age film which will continue to make you smile long after watching.