Continuing from last week’s movie post, I thought I’d continue with the movies I’ve watched this week, just in case you find yourself at a loose end this Saturday night, and require some movie guidance.
This week, I’ve only watched two movies – I spent the rest either gaming or re-watching The US Office for the ninth time (what? Don’t judge me…) – and I have to admit, that both of these movies were not my cup of tea. So, if you want to read what to avoid this weekend, press on!
The Witch: a New England Folk Tale
Strictly speaking, I am not a horror fan – I simply can’t deal with them. While I can watch classics and appreciate their horror, I still find myself freaking out in case Jack Nicholson bursts through my door as I bathe, and I am sent into a sweaty panic whenever I hear a chainsaw. However, my male human is an enormous horror movie fan, so every once in a while, I have to suck it up and watch something scary.
The Witch: plot
A family in the 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from a folk tale about witches set in the 1600s, but The Witch certainly didn’t meet any of my relatively low expectations. I finished the movie feeling like I’d wasted a generous portion of my existence, simply waiting for something to happen.
The cinematography and overall mis-en-scene in The Witch was impressive, and far outweighed the actual plot, which for me, seemed distinctly lacking in anything remotely dramatic or horrific. Not too far into the movie, I leaned towards my boyfriend and summated my opinions of the plot:
“It’s because she’s on her period! And look, look at that sinister goat, if he’s the witch I’m going to go mental.”
It was met with sheer incredulity, obviously; a coming of age horror with the main antagonist being a black goat? I’d clearly had too much Cabernet Sauvignon at this point.
Admittedly, The Witch started out well enough; it was appropriately dark and introduced some horrific themes quite quickly, but each one fell disappointingly flat. The most promise lay in the introductory scene, in which the baby was stolen and ultimately ripped limb from limb (penis first, too) by the witch. It held promise for the rest of the movie, and I genuinely expected to be left feeling utterly horrified. However, as The Witch progressed, it simply continued to stale in my mouth, as the minutes dragged on agonisingly slowly.
However, my insane statement from earlier proved to be right on the god damn money, as the conclusion to The Witch began to near. Black Phillip – the goat – turned out to be a goat in disguise and in cahoots with the witches. His aim, to possess and kill the entire family, with the exception of Thomasin, whose changing body seduces the goat who aims to romanticise witchcraft and draw her into his coven. It works, and the closing scenes see Thomasin trotting off into the woods – stark bollock naked – with Black Phillip trotting dutifully behind her.
Surprisingly, The Witch has received relatively positive reviews, but I didn’t see the appeal at all; an absolutely dire attempt at a horror movie, and I would suggest – no, I would implore you, to avoid it all costs. Unless, of course, you want to laugh at the naked girl placating herself to a seductive talking goat, that is.
For me, The Witch deserves a very fair 0/10, although movie review sites and the like will tell you otherwise. You can, of course, make up your own mind about The Witch, but be sure to return to The Geek, Simple. and leave your comments below!
Clouds of Sils Maria
As The Witch was my boyfriend’s watch this week, Clouds of Sils Maria was mine. I was intrigued after seeing it listed in a ‘must watch of 2015’ list and knew that the director, Olivier Assayas had created the role with Juliette Binoche in mind, so I gave it a go.
A film star comes face-to-face with an uncomfortable reflection of herself while starring in a revival of the play that launched her career.
If I’m being totally honest – I didn’t like it. Although I usually am a fan of independent cinema and dissecting theories from complex plots, I simply thought this movie was inexplicably contrived.
Clouds of Sils Maria offers an incredibly slow moving plot that focuses primarily on the relationship shared between Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) and her assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart). The relationship the two share begins relatively normally; Val is PA to Enders and they exist together in the role of employer/employee quite peacefully; there’s a mutual respect between the two that also indicates a close friendship. This relationship continues, until Maria Enders agrees to take on a lesser role in the play that launched her career 20 years previously, when she played the lead – it is here that their relationship becomes increasingly fraught.
In the relative captivity of the alps, there are nuances and behavioural suggestions that indicate a shift in their relationship – despite her refined behaviour previously, Enders becomes a petulant child, increasingly despondent over the role she agreed to play and her behaviour towards Valentine changes too. Where before, Enders knew that Valentine was in relative awe of her, she feels that this has shifted and that – like everyone else – she only cares about the actress playing the more vivacious and career-launching role. Enders begins to seek re-approval from her assistant and becomes increasingly dependent on her, while openly chastising her, not only for her opposing opinions regarding cinema, but also her supposed vivacious youth.
At one point, I thought I knew what was going to happen and that the purpose of Clouds of Sils Maria was to deliver a construct in which Maria Enders’ reality broke; the lines between fantasy and reality blurring, with Valentine representing – not only the construct of youth – but the lead character in the play too, which I thought was executed during the scenes where the two ran lines together.
In short, I found the film difficult and I certainly didn’t agree with all of the casting choices. Even though she did win a Cesar award for her role in Clouds of Sils Maria, I thought that Kristen Stewart’s acting was terrible – or at least exactly the same as it always is; lacklustre and irreverent – as though she wasn’t trying and didn’t want to be there. I read in an interview later that she only rehearsed her lines 25 minutes before shooting began, and you can tell – she looked like she didn’t want to be here and didn’t understand the plot- and if that’s the case, then I could have played that role with great aplomb and acted more in my little finger than Stewart ever does in her whole body.
I think I like the movie a bit more now that I’ve written my thoughts and feelings down, but I still wouldn’t watch it again. Even though I am into complicated independent ventures, this was not for me, so I’m going to give this a 1/10.