Hereditary: A Visual Odyssey

The scope of Ari Aster’s Hereditary is much deeper and coarser than what you might assume within the horror genre. The film evokes an emotional and psychological reaction; destroying the cliched setting of a scary film.

The process of grieving is a stagnant and remote one. And it brings feelings of isolation as much as the destruction of self. What this film does is it creates an atmosphere in which it is impossible for the characters to relate to one another. They grieve but secluded, confined, and forsaken. And so the film is inspired in the way it is executed.

The most gratifying aspect of the film lies in its cinematography. It does more than capture the essence of the characters; it escalates their every movement. And as the movie gains momentum, the weight of every scene is chilling to the bone. You don’t know what’s going to happen next until it does and you’re so completely shaken by it.

I’ve had unsettling thoughts about the film when I first saw it. But now, after having watched it again, I did not resist its disturbing and disquieting personality. It does tackle the traditional family tragedy in a consistently horrifying and complicated way. Which is central to its appeal: that it’s not cut out of the ordinary jump-scare tactics. To watch it is to drift into the most unexpected corners of terror that are hard to shake off.

Inside Llewyn Davis: Contemplating An Inner Life

The tide of loneliness is a personal one. Its fabric is shrouded in a sort of reverie that floats over the horizon like a mirage. Only visible to you, it blurs every path in your way. As much as you want to get closer to it – to embrace it, make something of it – the farther and farther it walks away from you.

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis tells a tale of what it means to be far inside of oneself and far outside. It connects with you, in the strangest way, because it’s an honest film. Films like these are hard to come by. And once they do follow through – a bittersweet pill that is hard to swallow – it’s memorable.

The film is cloaked in isolation and sadness. About a struggling musician in the early sixties, the protagonist embodies an inner voice. Fragile, intense, and unheard in a world defeated with people. Inside Llewyn Davis creates an unbeatable world in which you see him travel from a single point of failure to another. Rejection after rejection pulled into the direction of numbness and apathy. Such is the gruesome path of loneliness in art that couldn’t have been art without it.

It’s an unforgiving film which is quite characteristic in its making. The cinematography is deeply inviting and pulls you in instantly with the help of subtle cues shadowing some of life’s most significant questions. The dialogue which is as surrealistic and shattering as the setting in which it is being said throws humor into the mix beautifully. It really contemplates what we find difficult to finish; that is the ability to map our struggle in a territorial world.

Frances Ha: A Woman One Returns To

A poignant film about choice and the sum of one’s microscopic dealings with life. Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha is what leads to up your grandest moments in life and what they cost you. At the expense of a miserly and lonely life does the protagonist, Frances, swim through a diminishing reality. A reality in which there are blurred friendships, scintillating conversations, awkward encounters, unfulfilled dreams, and insufficient desires.

Maybe there’s also a hint of truth in them all. A sense of raw goodness that is often the extension of one’s true self. And through that path is the ethos of self-expression and sentiment. The kind that sticks for a long time; like the first rain falling on thick, dense grass.

Movies like Frances Ha must continue being imperfect, a bit unsure, but revelatory and comforting, nevertheless. Watching this film is like looking into a mirror and having life’s story told. Its manifestation, intention, failures, and rewards. What life takes with it and what is left behind.

For such movies do not remedy the sharp edges that often soften our skin. They are involuntarily attached to the world. They must impinge upon our self-made delusions about love, passion, and attachment. Until what’s left is a reflection that looks back at us; that is, on days we don’t feel strong enough to look in.

Moonlight: The Many Lives One Lives Often

Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight guards the fragility of what it shows to be a man. It gains most of its sentiment and volition in the way it’s told. Every nuance is engrossed in its own story. The film is divided into 3 chapters: from when the protagonist was a boy to a teenager and finally as an adult with roles to fill.

The film takes a microscopic perspective on the life of Chiron. The groundwork laid down to express such inexpressible feelings is difficult to compose. And yet, Moonlight draws you in so effortlessly into Chiron’s world. And through it all, the experiential capacity of this film is colossal.

We are all measured against our ephemeral presence in this reality. But to a young boy struggling with identity, this existence doesn’t feel so short any more. And to bring such fragile life questions with you and to have them unanswered as you grow can be even more daunting.

Moonlight makes this sentiment seem emphatically perceptible in a limited and questioning reality. Which is one of the most significant aspects of the film. To watch it is to endure some of the most important questions of existence and identity.

Chungking Express: Poetry and Melancholy At Their Best

A melancholic film that is comfortable within its own set of rules, Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express is silence suffused with expression. The film is soft in the way that it’s unrestricted. It is packed with dialogue that transcends normalcy and with colors that beget an eccentric reality.

The film materializes more than just a feeling. Hence, it stands as its own defense against the justification of that feeling. And so there’s no knowing what lingers within the surface of the film; at least not until the deep presence of each character’s realities is sought. And to do so takes much courage and empathy which isn’t well-suited for a light-hearted audience.

The film is ambiguous but with its own rare personality. It digs into everything from loneliness, loss, heartbreak, and expectation to what it means to earn a living and how one’s livelihood can never be one’s true reflection of self.

The structure of the film and its narration take up a poetic place. The cinematography pulls you in, from time to time, in an engaging and comfortable manner. Until finally, it drops you into its intricate elements so thoughtfully and sentimentally – it’s discovering life in its purest form.

If you pay attention, you will find that this film’s details contain its whole. The gestures, stillness, and generosity of the first story are portrayed alongside the second. But fate is such that they’ll never meet. Maybe this is what gives Wong Kar-Wai’s films a unique and nostalgic sense of wisdom. To watch it is to instill essence into the simple as much as the grand scheme of things. A gentle, corrective reminder that the proof of our existence is not in what happens to us, eventually, but what we do, as much in our thoughts as in our actions.