It was another quiet month for movies as I only watched four films this month – Bad Hair, Pariah, Woman of the Dunes and Deadpool. They were vastly different in tones and theme (ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous) and just another example of how varied my film tastes are! Here’s what I thought…
Bad Hair (Pelo Malo)
A look at sexuality, race, poverty and mother/son dynamics as seen through the eyes of a young boy and his obsession with straighten his hair.
This was a very harsh watch. It tells the story of a recently widowed mother and her increasingly fraught relationship with her nine-year-old son, Junior, whose obsession with straightening his curly hair before his school photo has her worrying about his sexuality.
Everything in the film is hard. The family live in cramped flat in an inner-city block in Venezuela where everything is in turmoil. Junior and his only friend, a wannabe beauty queen referred to only as ‘the girl’, hear gunshots in the background and talking about rape in a shockingly matter of fact way.
His mother is lonely, tired and frustrated. She’s trying to get her job as a security guard back and clashing with her dead husband’s mother. She showers love on her youngest son, still a baby, while neglecting Junior. She is a difficult character to like, but it was also refreshing to see a different view of motherhood – liking your child and being a nurturing mother figure isn’t guaranteed, particularly when a everything is against you.
Alike is a teenager growing up in Brooklyn. She’s juggling identities to fit in, struggling with her friends and family, and looking for a girl to have her first kiss with.
I’ve mentioned before that I love a good coming-of-age story, so this was right up my street. I was completely engrossed from start to finish and it also made me cry a lot… I cry quite easily at films and the thing that gets me most is parent/child relationships, so I was pretty much a mess in any scene featuring Alike and her mum or dad. There is one particularly harsh scene towards the end of the film, where Alike tells her mum she loves her, that broke my heart.
The film has it’s fair share of hard to watch moments, but it’s also full of lovely, tender depictions of being a teenage girl and I found the ending wonderfully poignant and full of hope.
Woman in the Dunes
An entomologist from Tokyo finds himself tricked into living with a woman whose job is shovelling sand for the local villagers… Things get intense.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this strange and beautiful film. A man gets trapped in a house with a woman who shovels sand for a living doesn’t necessarily sound like the basis for an interesting film, but this film is so intriguing.
It’s set almost entirely in a small house at the bottom of a pit in a desert region of Japan. Here the man and the woman find their lives reduced to work, sleep, sex and food. The man tries to escape by any mean possible, the woman resigns herself to her confined existence. The engage in a dance of resistance and acceptance, hope and despair.
The cinematography is stunning; sand on screen has never felt so real and so suffocating. The film oozes with sensuality (who would have thought sand could be so sexy) and each short feels at once illuminatingly real and ethereally surreal. It’s unnerving, poetic and layered with metaphor.
When former special forces operative Wade Wilson is diagnosed with cancer, he submits himself for an experimental treatment that leaves him with regenerative powers, but severely disfigured. Naturally he wants revenge, and luckily he now has the superpowers to get it.
Deadpool was basically everything I expected – rude, violent and entertaining. It’s got more rude jokes than you can shake a stick at, Ryan Reynolds is undeniably charming and it’s even got a cute love story in it.
I enjoyed all the fourth wall breaking and meta-humour. I didn’t really care about the two X-Men, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead at all, but loved Dopinder the cab driver and his love for Gita. Morena Baccarin (who does not seem to have aged a bit since Firefly) was just dreamy as Wade Wilson’s girlfriend.
Also, the whole thing is one big ‘You go Glenn Coco’ for Ryan Reynolds, which is just nice isn’t it?