2019 oscar nominated shorts – live action

by/nicholas leon
Shorts International/108 min.

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Fauve– A French-Canadian production, directed by Jeremy Comte, follows two boys playing around at a cement plant, the cinematics are what drew me in for this one. From the images of natural decay at an abandoned railway to the gray hills that confuse the viewer as to whether they are manmade or not, to the cross-stitching of asphalt and greenery. A mostly plot-driven narrative, the characters are relatable and their actions are believable enough that the power of the consequences exacted on them prove to be powerful, and leave a lingering feeling after watching. The ending, especially, is searing.

Madre– Shot in one take, this story concerns that of a mother trying to ascertain the location of her son, who is on vacation with his father (inferred as her ex) on a beach in France. The acting and suspense are what powers this piece so effectively, that, as well as the shooting technique. What’s crazy about this short is just how real it feels. A nightmare of the more mundane variety, the terror of potentially losing a child in a foreign country that is within driving distance, yet still being unable to find them when you get there, is palpable and pulsating.

Marguerite– A touching story set in the home of an elderly woman assisted by her caretaker, Marguerite is a touching, if fairly adequate affair. A slow-paced character study, viewers ponder the minds of the characters, until filmmakers show us what motivates them and their thinking. Marguerite is elderly and lonely, and looks to her caretaker Rachel for comfort when certain revelations come to pass. It’s certainly nice, but a little too slow and contemplating for my personal tastes.

Skin– In what is probably the timeliest of the shorts, Skin tells the story of a family of Neo-Nazis who are dealt some ironic punishment after participating in a hate-induced beating. Reminiscent of the short story “Cultural Appropriation” by Percival Everett, the short film pushes the boundaries of realism in a way that, although slightly bizarre, is oddly fitting given the themes that the short is working with.

Detainment– Essentially a long-winded, half-hour Investigation Discovery program, Detainment dramatizes the real-life murder of James Bolger. Usually, the tagline “based on a true story” brings moans and constant doubt as to the veracity of the film, but that would have been helpful here. Intense for the sake of intensity, the piece goes back and forth in time, making for a somewhat nonlinear narrative that, although intriguing at first, gets tiresome with the pained acting and zigzagging of emotions.

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An element of tragedy is the thing that ties all of these short films together. It’s similar to the animated selection in that they were all tied by the aspect of family relationships. But the difference between the two is that all of these shorts are unique unto themselves, which is refreshing. What I find interesting about these live action shorts is that they all function as short stories. The stakes are high for the people involved, and shake their world, with the ripples moving into ours. With that, I have to say that my favorites are Fauve and Madre, with Skin coming in a slightly distant third, if only because I feel like it could have examined its own

2019 oscar nominated shorts – animated

by/nicholas leon
Shorts International/75 min.

The past few years of the Academy Awards have seen a few controversies. From the overabundance of white nominees to the introduction of new categories to compensate for “popular films”. But something I only just recently noticed is the abundance of accomplished pieces in categories that may not get as much attention from the lay audience member – short films. Being someone of particularly low taste when it comes to anything concerning art, short films tend to escape my notice. So it was a pleasant surprise when I got the chance to review the selections for this year’s nominees in animated, live action and documentary features. First up for these were the animated selections, a group of touching, well-thought-out meditations on our relationships to family and others.

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BaoThe first short I watched was an amazingly cute piece from Pixar in which a mother watches her child grow from (in a metaphorical fashion) a small pastry into a human-size adult. It’s easy to tear up in this one because of the way in which the animators tell the story through visual displays of emotion, as well as music. If the short seems familiar, like it did to me, that’s because it originally appeared before Incredibles 2 last summer.

The animation quality is Pixar, so it’s nothing short of great. But what I admire the most is the consistent design around the human body as well as the geometric symmetry of the world. In relation to story, it is mostly cohesive, but the reliance on metaphor to show the growth of the son’s character is slightly confusing, but the ending makes sense out of the plot.

One Small StepAnother touching and a bit more thoughtful examination of a parent-offspring dynamic, this time of a father-daughter relationship from childhood to adulthood. Showing the relationship by a repetition of images in which the father is there for the daughter during her hard times, the short achieves its emotional objective by slowly showing how the relationship evolves in small steps and flashes back to certain images in ways that reminds viewers of the emotional significance of those moments to the characters.

Late AfternoonAn exploration of the life of an elderly woman named Emily intermittently through real time and flashback, as she examines objects of significance while sitting in a room in her home. There are clues to unravel in this particular short, such as who the woman is, and who are the people around her. In this way, the viewer is firmly planted into the mind of the protagonist, and with the assistance of visual clues, can piece together her life alongside her. The animation is simple with lines that clearly define the character, going from a simple sort of realism to wavy abstraction from one scene to the next as Emily transitions from real life to memory. It compliments the scenes, which are narratively simplistic but emotionally powerful.

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Animal BehaviourAn interesting and profoundly more mature take on relationships, this short takes a look at a group therapy session populated by anthropomorphic animals. In a way, this pairs literal animal behavior with emotional needs of human beings. This makes what happens both hilarious and terrifying, and the mature themes make for a unique character study that I find lacking in the other shorts. Ultimately it is at once supremely dark and comic and perhaps the most unique out of all the selections.

WeekendsThis short is about a boy caught between his mother and father, staying with the former during the week, living a mundane if stress-filled life; while on the weekends he goes to live with the latter in the big city. The detail of the animation style is intense, with the environments and people having a dreamlike, chiaroscuro element to them. Although this short does a good job of showing the emotional growing pains of its characters, sometimes the dreamlike qualities can outweigh the more realistic elements in a way that is not entirely satisfactory. But the ending makes up for it with a quiet, emotional satisfaction of well-paced character development through constant hardship.

Out of all the shorts, I think that Late Afternoon and Animal Behaviour were my favorites. The other three were terrific, but Bao and One Small Step ultimately proved to be too similar to really stand out in anything besides their animation. Weekends is fine, but its reliance on dream imagery to communicate what the characters feel weren’t nearly as strong as simple evocation of human displays of emotion. Late Afternoon and Animal Behaviour both take a different tact in how they approach their examination of relationships in unique ways that resulted in unique resolutions for the stories.

cold war

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by/chris stephens
Amazon Studios/89 min.

Visually speaking, Cold War is probably the most accomplished film from 2018. You could pick any shot at random and it would be a strong contender for the poster. The restrained black and white cinematography nicely compliments frames filled with vibrant, dynamic action: dancers spinning and twirling. Lively bands playing music. Our leads drunkenly stumbling after each other, or dancing on bar tops, or walking alone through busy streets at night. Even smaller things like trails of cigarette smoke or a look in someone’s eye, there’s always something interesting and active to look at on-screen. Beyond that, the production design, costumes, and wig and make-up really sell the time period of the film, which spans nearly 20 years during the actual Cold War as two artists fall in love. But unfortunately, that love doesn’t exactly feel real.

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The story follows Zula and Wiktor (Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot, respectively). When we first meet them, Zula is a peasant woman with an excellent singing voice, and Wiktor is a composer and pianist. Over the course of 20 years, the only consistencies in both of their lives are music and each other. But the structure here is rapid, those 20 years fly by over the course of 88 minutes, and we’re always finding ourselves at the most dramatic, intense moments in the lives of these characters because there’s no time for anything else. We see the big melodramatic set-pieces, but none of the build-up necessary to give those things any weight. I don’t believe that these two really love each other. I understand that they do, because the movie tells me they do, but I don’t feel it. This high-speed pace gives me all of the information, but it cuts off the emotion.

Kulig and Kot do their best, though. I believe their performances. Kulig is definitely the strongest of the two, she brings Zula to life with a big and boisterous performance without ever being overt or obnoxious. Zula is someone with troubles, who feels things very strongly and wears that on her sleeve. She is lively and spirited, but when that energy breaks down it feels almost catastrophic, and Kulig captures that wonderfully. Kot is far more subtle in his approach, and at times he can seem somewhat dull, but for the most part you get the sense that he is fully in control of his emotions at all times. The things he can do with a simple look are incredible. There’s a quiet sense of nuance to him, and this plays well off of Kulig’s more animated and exuberant acting.

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And the film isn’t totally emotionally vacant. There are some great scenes that play really well. The opening takes place at a conservatory in Poland for song and dance, and that entire sequence feels alive and captivating. There’s a dinner party with some of Wiktor’s friends from the French entertainment industry that’s meant to convey how the “opposites attract” nature of Wiktor and Zula’s relationship can also be detrimental to them at the same time, and it does so in a painful and explosive way. The ending of the film is visceral and fantastic, and there are many other, smaller beats peppered throughout that manage to resonate, either through the beautiful visuals or the strength of the performances.

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This is by no means a bad film, but it might be an ungraceful film. It has high ambitions and high talent to back those up, but there are major pacing and structural issues built into the story that ultimately damage the development of the narrative and the characters, which hinders the emotional impact. I always understand what’s happening and why, and how these people have changed and grown, but I don’t feel it. Not really. Sometimes I do, in blips, and those are the heights, but I never get the time to see these two people get to know each other. I never get to watch their passion and love organically evolve. It just feels forced. And despite all of its strengths, nothing can really fix that.

if beale street could talk

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by/chris stephens
Annapurna/119 min.

What immediately struck me in Barry Jenkins’ latest film, If Beale Street Could Talk, is an atmospheric sense of warmth that never lets up. From the opening frames, we see a young couple, Tish and Fonny, holding hands as they walk through a park. Deep green grass and bright autumnal leaves crowd all around them, and Tish and Fonny wear matching blue and yellow outfits as they stroll quietly along. Later on, we see them on a cold street, but their vibrant outfits pop in the dreary weather, blurred multicolored lights radiating behind them. Or we see them in a jail with sunshine yellow walls, or an urban apartment with cozy tungsten lights. Across the entire film, through costumes, production design, and cinematography, this visual motif of ambient warmth provides a comfort to what we’re seeing, even if the events of the movie feel cold or oppressive or painful.

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This warmth and comfort reflects the intimacy between Tish and Fonny, a young black couple living in New York City in the 1970’s. The story — adapted from the 1974 novel of the same name written by James Baldwin — follows the challenges these two face when Fonny is arrested after being falsely accused of sexually assaulting a young woman. However, while Fonny is stuck in jail awaiting his trial, Tish reveals that she’s pregnant, and the two of them struggle to support each other through their mutually trying experiences. The narrative plays out in a non-linear structure that goes back and forth between Tish’s pregnancy, Fonny’s legal case, and the early stages of Tish and Fonny’s relationship. Their dynamic is brought to life wonderfully by KiKi Layne (who delivers a subtle but evocative performance, her minute facial expressions saying so much) and Stephan James (who brings equal amounts charisma and vulnerability). The way that these two just look at each other conveys so much. Fear, passion, devotion, love. Far and away, the heights of this film are whenever these two share the screen.

The other performances are mostly strong throughout. Brian Tyree Henry shows up briefly as an old friend of Fonny’s, and as always he’s totally captivating. Regina King and Colman Domingo play Tish’ mother and father. King brings in the dignity but also the suffering and sacrifice of a loving mother, while Domingo is fun and comedic, but always caring. Fonny’s family, however, is less impressive. Michael Beach as Fonny’s father is effectively funny, but his mother and sisters (played by Aunjanue Ellis, Ebony Obsidian, and Dominique Thorne respectively) come across as needlessly and excessively cruel to the point where they don’t even feel like characters so much as devices meant to convince the audience to sympathize with Fonny and Tish. But when the sympathy is derived from characters that feel false, then the sympathy feels false. This issue isn’t major, it only really occurs in one scene early on, and once the story moves away from his family then things pick up again, but it does stand out as an obvious low point in the overall narrative and performances.

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The political aspects of the film are overt, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This movie has no qualms with openly and desperately showcasing the frustrating injustices of prejudice and a warped legal system as directly as it possibly can. I understand why this lack of subtlety could bother some people, especially with elements as blunt as black-and-white slideshows of police brutality, but none of it feels hamfisted or insincere to me. It just feels honest, and angry, and genuinely sad in a way that’s open and motivated by the story.

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The weakest element overall is the classic dialogue. It seems stylized after the more theatrical writing from early romances of the 50’s, the kind of dialogue that always sounds incredibly acted and written rather than naturally spoken by a human being. In older movies it’s easy to forgive as a product of its time, but employing it in a modern light feels stiff and unnatural. It’s difficult to tell whether or not this stems from Jenkins’ writing, or from the prose of the novel not really translating to current audiences, but either way the dialogue often times feels stagy in a distracting way. However, this is salvaged by strong performances that work well with the writing, and a cinematic style that displays Jenkins’ utmost respect for his characters. He’s not afraid to linger on them, even if they’re not a major focus in the story, and the way they’re shot whenever they’re screaming or having sex or breaking down is intimate without being voyeuristic or exploitative. We feel like we’re there with them, and this helps us feel what they feel; their claustrophobia and anger and loneliness, or their love and joy and passion. These characters and the respect the movie gives them elevate this film into a delicate piece about sociopolitical injustice, familial sacrifice, and love as a means of redemption and salvation.

mary queen of scots

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by/nicholas leon
Focus Features/124 min.

Mary Queen of Scots, starring Irish actress Saoirse Ronan as the titular Scottish queen, and featuring Australian actress Margot Robbie as her English contemporary, Elizabeth I, is an exercise in endurance. Directed with the visual fidelity of a made for TV movie with a big budget, Mary Queen of Scots makes a false promise to the audience in the first scene of the film. From the stylized cinematics, color palette, and writing, it foreshadows something contemplative, thoughtfully filmed, and, well, good.

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To rewind a moment, though, the movie shows you how it is going to be in the text card before the aforementioned intro scene. Telling the audience about how Mary has returned from exile in France to seek the throne of England, for which she has a legitimate claim, we get nothing in the way of personal motivation, sociocultural significance, or anything remotely personal that the film tries to imply when it opens with Mary’s execution (500 year old spoilers).

I don’t mean to blunder, but the movie is frustrating in a bit too many ways for me to tolerate. From the plot-driven narrative which make things happen not because of any personal motivation that involves the audience, but because Mary wants a throne that ultimately plays no significance. People negotiate and backstab, and we don’t know why, but what’s worse is that there is no reason to care. A big part of that is the music of the film, which ironically isn’t that memorable. Tonal mishaps that try to tell the audience how to feel every time a character is hurt, killed, or makes a seemingly life-changing decision, it all becomes a bit of a mess.

This is also due a number of characters in the film allied with either Elizabeth or Mary in their struggle for the Crown. On Mary’s side there is her half-brother, her counselor, a sexist protestant minister, her conniving bodyguard, and a couple conniving English parliamentarians. On Elizabeth’s there is (thankfully only) her ambassador, her counselor, and her boyfriend the stable boy (he takes care of horses, I think). With Mary’s cast of characters it soon becomes clear that there is not enough room to carefully flesh out their individual unique traits, so when they betray Mary for trite reasons like her not being smart enough to rule because she’s a woman (even though they are with her campaign for significant portions of the film), it’s because we’re supposed to care more about Mary. And I certainly would, but throughout the film’s runtime, I never felt as if I had enough time to get to know her.

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Contrast that with Margot Robbie’s Elizabeth, who, although she’s more of a featured supporting character than a fully realized counterpart to Mary (with not nearly as much time onscreen), does plenty to flesh out her insecurities and desires. Elizabeth’s own circle of characters is small enough for them to make contributions to Elizabeth as a person, more showcasing her own different character traits, while still coming off as real people on their own.

With Mary, however, it boils down to this: everyone betrays her because they want the power that is hers by right, even though no one has any idea what that power really means (if they knew what it meant, I would too).

Imagine my surprise then at director Josie Rourke’s masterful shots of the Scottish landscape and various aspects of blocking and lighting in certain scenes that intersperse the otherwise quite slow-moving parts of the film. It is in stark contrast to the aforementioned made-for-TV quality of much of the film’s visuals. I don’t have much to say about the shots besides that they are astounding. Mist falling over a dark mountain while Scottish horsemen ride on a road flanked by ancient stones, or a character flanked by people pressuring him to sign a document that will legitimize the murder of his wife’s friend, a candle flickering on the wall above them showing the last flickering light of humanity leaving his soul, or even Mary whispering a Catholic prayer in Latin before she is to be executed. These elements are sparks in an otherwise smoke-filled room. They, along with Saoirse Ronan’s and Margot Robbie’s performances, are the good parts, it’s just unfortunate that that’s about it.

the favourite

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by/nicholas leon
Fox Searchlight/119 min.

THE FAVOURITE

Yorgos Lanthimos, the director of such films as Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Lobster, delivers slightly more normal fare with his latest film, The Favourite. Set during the reign of Queen Anne of Great Britain, the film follows two of her ladies-in-waiting: rags-to-riches Abigail, and ambitious but frank Sarah. The former, played by Emma Stone, claims to come from a disgraced noble family, and, upon arriving to the royal residence, uses her skills to get close to the Queen. The latter, played by Rachel Weisz, is Queen Anne’s most trusted confidant, one who clearly states her intentions but has more than herself in mind.

With a script (written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara) that is both comedic and dramatic, this is as much a character study as it is historical fiction. Being set in a royal palace, political intrigue abounds, and characters work around and behind each other as each seek to attain what they desire. Of note is the performance of Nicholas Hoult, who plays Earl Robert Harley. He, along with Sarah and Abigail, seek to earn the favor of the Queen for various reasons. Earl Robert and Sarah are politically opposed, with Robert desiring and end to English involvement to a war on the European continent and Sarah intensely invested in it. Abigail, meanwhile, disguises what she truly cares for, whether it is the crown, kingdom, or herself, it takes the entire film for audiences to find out.

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It is this back-and-forth that alerted me to the notion that there isn’t a single protagonist in this film, but rather two, and it’s one of the many changes to the usual narrative and cinematic approach that Lanthimos makes that, while I questioned, I certainly didn’t take glaring issues with. In summary, the writing balances the narrative paths of both Stone’s Abigail and Weisz’s Sarah, with Abigail seeming at first the protagonist, but Sarah still having plenty of meat to her story. Hoult’s Harley pops in every once in a while as a fun treat that belies a certain ambiguity, but is fun to watch nevertheless. And before I forget, Olivia Colman, playing Queen Anne, is perfect.

Accompanying the performances is a staggering cinematic quality. Shot in all natural light, Lanthimos uses dolly shots, many wide angle lenses, and effective close ups to convey his characters thoughts and intentions. The result is an astoundingly clear presentation that I would say is the best-looking film I’ve seen all year, all because it changes the way the real world is presented to me without using any artificial means besides a really expensive camera.

But while the film succeeds in many of the areas it sets out to improve, in so doing, it also falters. The writing, while having a playfully serious tone, sometimes overstays its welcome with a few jabs at purposeful comedy. A formula becomes apparent in the early parts of the film where the script will add up a lot of serious character drama, and then finish off the scene with a joke. Most of the written ones didn’t land for me, and when I caught on to the way they were written in, I became increasingly disappointed. But it wasn’t all for naught, however, as the physically comedic bits, while fewer and further between, make up what the writing lacks. Awkward and unexpected, they don’t waste time and move the story forward more effectively than a punchline.

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It is slightly unfortunate that the filmmaking also hamstrings itself with overreach. Although most of the shots are fantastic-looking, calling attention not to the technique but to what is seen onscreen, Lanthimos’s use of wide angle lenses had me asking myself silently: Why? While the close ups and other midrange lenses do well enough to present the changing moods within people and groups, the wides tend to distort the frame in a way that distracts, rather than informs. I love wide angle lenses, but here, it just seems that the filmmakers were looking for a way to present the natural and manmade world in a way that would compensate for its size, and sadly, it misses the mark repeatedly.

But while those issues peep out from the woodwork, it does not detract from the film’s overall quality. The writing, direction, lighting, and performances are all quite stunning, and although those words are trite, I only say it because you need to see the film for yourself to believe it.

suspiria

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by/nicholas leon
Amazon/152 min.

Horror is not something that is generally looked up to in modern cinema. It’s definitely more of a guilty pleasure or treasure for connoisseurs of trash or cult classic films (which I do consider myself to be a part of, for clarification). So when I felt mesmerized by the astounding skill with which director Luca Guardagnino employs still shots, blocking, and imagery, I knew I was watching something other than a conventional film.

Starring Dakota Johnson as Susie, the film follows her journey through an elite dance school in Berlin during the 1970s. Numerous events of historical context play out in parallel to her plot, echoing the themes of the central narrative but only playing a minor role in its importance. Susie comes to Berlin from Ohio, where she lived an oppressive life in a religious school. She goes to Berlin, in part, to be free, but during her time there, she discovers that what she wants may not turn out to be so fantastic and enlightened.

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Surrounding Johnson’s Susie include Tilda Swinton as Madame Blanc, Chloe Grace-Moretz as the elusive and perhaps delusional Patricia, Mia Goth as Sara, and also Tilda Swinton as some other characters which I’d prefer not to spoil. There are many more characters that add to this group I’ve already listed, but they serve a purpose more akin to set dressing that say things and have mischievous looks about them, rather than three-dimensional people.

Of course, for those who have seen the original film, something mysterious is happening behind the doors of the dance academy that Susie attends. Others have their suspicions, but the teachers at the academy have their ways of concealing what happens behind closed doors. It is this air of mystery that Guardagnino lights and directs the film. Faces and bodies cast in shadow while rooms are clearly lit with a stylized flair. The dormitories of both student and staff characters, corridors leading to the dance studio, and even the lobby of the dance academy are lit like a temple, with barely any noticeable light except what is needed to properly illuminate characters in a dark, mysterious fashion. Take, for instance, a scene early on in the film, where Susie goes in for the initial audition to the prestigious dance academy. Susie stands in a dark hallway, and then a door opens. A teacher stands there, backlit with bright dance studio lights. Susie’s face is illuminated, while the teacher’s face is in silhouette.

In hindsight, I personally view this as Guardagnino’s thesis for the lighting in this film. The dance studio serves as a place of ceremony for both the students and teachers of this dance academy, while all other parts are simply dark and gray. That is quite literally true, as all scenes that take place outside the film look like they take place in realistically colored settings on an otherwise quite dreary day. I understand that this is a sort of antithesis to the lighting of the original film, and I judge it not on that basis, but rather its own originality. I was going to label the way Guardagnino lights outdoor settings something cliché like desaturated or overcast, but really, it’s more like everything outside the dance studio is lit this way because the elements are without life, not to say that the dance academy is a joyous experience for all its students.

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It’s nice then, that this film gives the audience people to root for in their respective arcs. Sara, played by Mia Goth, and a Dr. Josef Klemperer become the audience surrogates, characters who have motivations to find out what’s going on behind the scenes. Compared to Susie’s journey, which is almost oppressively static until the end of the film, theirs are paths of change. The scenes that involve them investigating the mystery behind the academy are quite intense, and had me gasping about what was going to happen, likely to the annoyance of the audience members in front of me. Although Sara’s character is less complex than Klemperer’s, with the latter having a fairly obscure past that is dug up as the film goes on, she slowly became my favorite character in the whole movie.

Characters, rather than plot and genre, are the driving force behind the film. I wouldn’t find the darker elements so interesting if I hadn’t taken note of the people onscreen. I don’t want to spend too much time on the darker elements of the movie, besides to say that they are good, if slightly overindulgent at times. One scene near the beginning of the film, for instance, starts out intense, but as it goes on, becomes a slog to watch, as if the director is saying: “look how terrible I can make you feel” rather than just scaring us with the thought of what could be happening onscreen. Otherwise, they’re good, except for a few glaring times that the direction changes the way viewers see what plays out onscreen.

Up to now, I’ve had nothing but praise for the direction of the movie. More than anything, it made me care about the characters’ lives, and even better, it looked darn good. I barely mentioned the way Guardagnino deftly uses slow and still shots, which evoke a belying calm to the proceedings. It’s unfortunate then, that the director has a tendency to break his own rules.

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Character motivations, lighting, and filming techniques are all things that the film does well, and yet there are occasions where it trips on its own face trying to be different about its own approach that it’s heretofore built up so well.

Flashbacks to Susie’s life in America, Madame Blanc’s decisions that have her siding with students sometimes, the academy and instructors at others, and Dr. Josef Klemperer’s life history playing into his character come as interruptions to the narrative, causing me to question both the importance and decisions of placement in the writing. They don’t override how the good the film is, but they are serious road bumps in that they are not very clear to understand.

Other mistakes that Guardagnino makes is messing with his own formula, and also taking it too far. As I said, his best shots are slow and still. Although they make up most of visual arrangement of the film, they are interrupted at times by really quick, really sloppy zooms. Unless he’s trying to replicate purposefully terrible B-movie zooms or somehow attempting to echo shot composition of the original film (which I would not know since I have not seen it yet), then it makes no sense why they are included. In addition, there are times, especially toward the ending, where the film’s already eccentric lighting is taken to an extreme, and although I am certainly not complaining about what I saw onscreen, I do take issue with how it is executed. Deliberately slowing down or speeding up the way people move onscreen works if it is a leitmotif, but not in singular instances, as is the case here. Of that, I will say no more.

This is the best horror film I’ve seen in quite a while, and one of the few that I personally take seriously as real contenders for excellent writing and direction. But it is overly self-indulgent in the way it approaches its own techniques in lighting and editing, which although seems fine at first, just causes me to question why it’s come out this way in the first place, throwing me out of a film that is otherwise quite engaging. But Suspiria is a lot more than what it looks like, and for that I am thankful.