Beauty itself is depicted in the following films, in various forms. Characters also struggling with inner family conflict, or of the sexual or violent variety. But these are movies big and bold, or small and quirky, from all over the planet, all important depictions of a reality we may or may not associate with.
Green Street Hooligans (2005) – Lexi Alexander
Lexi Alexander has made a composed, gripping, and somehow honest, story on film of the seemingly relevant football hooligan culture in the UK (a discourse of tine very different from other such films like Football Factory). Green Street spills over from the gang rivalry and violence into the lives of everyday folk, the potentially tragic ramifications on families unwillingly involved. American Elijah Wood plays a character with a certain moral compass in the story, but he too is dragged into the passionate, dangerous spectator-ship. It’s a film that hits hard without going over the top, and leaves a lasting impression on its audience. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005) – Rebecca Miller
Perhaps one of Daniel Day Lewis’ lesser known films, but by no means deserving of less respect. Day Lewis tends to give way above one hundred percent with his acting, that’s just his nature, and in The Ballad of Jack and Rose he is once again compassionately good. As his Camilla Belle, a thoroughly compelling performance by the youngster, playing the daughter with a dilemma of affection all the while her father heads towards the final impact of a heart condition. Rebecca Miller pulls you in with an emotive and free-wheeling tone in her direction, telling a simple story of complex feelings and forces of human nature. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
In My Skin (2002) – Marina de Van
The French strain of body horror, the ‘New French Extremity’, distilled and deployed to better effect than any of those other, male gore-hounds could ever aspire to achieve. Marina de Van wrote, directed and starred in In My Skin, an intense and intimate study of subtle societal oppression borne out in the mind, transferred to the corpus. Violence (depicted with compassionate restraint, that it might unsettle rather than gross out – an objective most undeniably fulfilled) is a symptom here, not a cause. It is the twisted expression of a twisted psyche, turned upon itself by a twisted society, most potently portrayed in a restaurant-set scene that’s indescribably claustrophobia-inducing. It’s a pure, true piece of body horror, and yet In My Skin is only a horror film in what it instils in the viewer, despite its numerous scenes of dread (de Van’s touch for evoking particular moods here is one she’s otherwise never reclaimed) and self-mutilation. It’s a rigorously, disarmingly focused character drama about one character, an exploration of the self’s relationship toward itself. It’s no wonder that the same person who wrote and directed it is also the person who stars in it. – – – Paddy Mulholland @screenonscreen
Infinitely Polar Bear (2015) – Maya Forbes
People were surprised when Mark Ruffalo was nominated at the Golden Globes for his endearing turn in Maya Forbes’ family / mental health drama Infinitely Polar Bear. I say drama, the film definitely has it’s comic moments, but given the subject matter this is no way an out and out comedy. Forbes wrestles with fatherhood, bipolar disorder, childhood with an affection without ignoring the harsh realities of an extremely fragile but loving family environment. Ruffalo is simply brilliant though, and somehow AMPAS failed to see it, kudos too though goes to the girls playing his daughters, Imogene Wolodarsky (the director’s own 12-year-old daughter) and Ashley Aufderheide, who pack a hefty punch in the acting stakes also. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Sleeping Beauty (2011) – Julia Leigh
In competition at the Cannes Film Festival, novelist Julia Leigh’s debut feature is gazingly bleak and fairly static in its technical prowess. The pacing and narrative development is more stealthy than droll, but you can see why audiences would be put to sleep by this lethargically arty effort – so to speak. Even without a swing it definitely doesn’t miss though. The story revolves around high-end prostitution where penetration is forbidden. Clearly not exclusively based on the classic tale, Sleeping Beauty still does have a layer of fairy-tale in its wispy portrayal of more defined adult issues. Emily Browning as Lucy, who spends chunks of the picture in flimsy underwear or completely nude, makes an inspired, brave choice in her career, and given the sullen, leisurely execution of her appearance here it is actually something to be admired in the end. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Originally published in June 2016.