Suspiria

Your new favorite horror dance film.

Suspiria gives us many unsettling scenes and imagery that is quite hard to forget. This remake with Dakota Johnson as Sussie Bannion, the american ballerina student who enters Helena Markos dance academy in Berlin. With the many hidden messages and secrets underneath the Markos dance academy, it leaves the audience glued to the screen… what could happen next?

Meanwhile, there is also the case of the disappearance of an old student, Patricia Hingle who was played by Chloe Grace Moretz. Patricia Hingle expresses her fears and anxiety towards the academy and the witches who run it as she seeks the help of Dr. Kempler. 

Don’t be deceived, there are no jump scares here. Rather, this movie is bound to freak you out with what it can do to human bodies and the kind of pain it can give. It’s definitely disturbing with all its bone-crunching glory. 

Aside from the expression of dance, circle of women and the supernatural occurrences, the movie also tackles German post war realities as it is set in Germany 1977. 

It is not exactly your traditional horror movie but one thing’s for sure, you wouldn’t wanna miss this horror movie.

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The light in the dark

The ravishing Penelope Cruz stars in the Spanish film, Volver, which can be categorised as a ghost story, yet so full of colour and warmth. Penelope Cruz was perfect for the role of Raimunda, incredibly beautiful with the most expressive eyes yet she remains down to earth exuding a charismatic personality to the viewers. You’ll fall in love with her in an instant. Casting her was a great move as she is acting in the culture of her own. 

Volver means “to turn over” or to “turn upside down” in Spanish, this is greatly manifested in the narrative with regards to Raimunda and Sole’s mother coming back and how Raimunda turns her life around after a series of adversities. Raimunda is put to the test as life brings her to different directions, and yet we see her conquer each one in the movie. She had trouble providing for her family because of her husband, Paco, who kept losing his job, and she had no choice but to work extra hard, working multiple jobs day. The audience tries to empathise with Raimunda in the obstacles she is entangled in.

Women are widely represented throughout this melodrama, giving us an overview of the many patriarchal views on women in Spain, as experienced by Raimunda and her teenage daughter, who was raped by her husband. The movie also tackled many poor aspects of humanity such as discrimination of women and sexist remarks. However, these women are portrayed to be strong, independent and empowered despite the obstacles and predicaments they are faced with. It pays homage to the important women in our lives and how vital their roles are. We see Raimunda’s character evolve as she is faced with these challenges. 

This movie reminds me of the typical, conventional plot lines that could be watched on local modern day television. It explores different moods, big revelations and complex relationships. The film does not even put a spotlight on romantic love, rather it depicts a different kind of love— the love of parents and children. The significance of familial relations is evident in the movie where they visit their late parents and clean their graves, spend time with their ill aunt, Paula and their strong relationships with each other. It has heart wrenching scenes, it deals with many family dynamics, abandonment and of course, death. However, it deals with these tragedies quite lightly portraying it to the audience with exuberance.

Volver reminds us of the feeling of coming home, or the feeing of nostalgia. In order to find solutions to the present, the women have to return to their dark pasts and overcome them one way or another. In the face of lost and triumph, we see these women try to defy their misfortunes, find solutions to their problems through reunion and reconciliation and prosper in the process as the movie closes. 

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‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’

The film begins as it presents two women, possibly with an age gap of 20 years are on a train on the way to Zurich to acclaim the man who provided her (Maria) with her first role and stardom, Wilhelm Melchior, who also had passed away. Coming across director Klaus Diesterweg during the tribute, who wishes to stage the Maloja Snake persuades Maria, the well-renowned actress, into playing Helena. Val (Kristen Stewart) encourages her to take this part and strongly believed it was a good opportunity for her, even if she felt detached from the character of Helena since she played Sigrid (the younger character) when she was younger. 

Things take a turn when Maria accepts the job and runs lines with her assistant, Valentine. We see them having a hard time separating from their true selves, they end up strongly identifying with their characters. The cinematic experience is unlike any other as we feel the tension between the two. Due to much conflict between them, Val just disappears all of a sudden as they were hiking to see the Maloja snake.

Assuming the role of the older woman, paved the way for Maria to realise a lot of things. More complications arise as the divide between her personal life and career was slowly blurring. Not only for her, but for her assistant as well. The audience is given an outpouring of dialogue, allowing us to seep through their words and their true feelings and emotions, as we watch the plot organically unfold before us. The character dynamics is incredible and well-played out, with Val’s hostility and Maria’s passion for her craft. We see them play power games with each other as Maria prepares for her role running lines in the house. The sexual tension and immense desire is felt all throughout the movie; they are rather translucent with their feelings, yet they don’t speak of it nor take action. Many aspects of the play reflects their personal lives, which caused quite a hysteria between the two.

The film is strange yet beautifully crafted uncovering many elements of what it means to be a woman, depicting the different stages of a woman’s life. There is a pressure that women have to conform to that was evident in the film and in the obstacles the characters faced. The movie also touches up on the difficulty of adapting through time and change. Maria finds comfort in Val who provides emotional and executive assistance to her boss, possibly due to the fact that she misses her younger self and identifies with Val’s youth.

 We see these two women (Stewart and Binoche) take on daring roles, that require them to create “sparks” between them through solely their conversations and eye contact— without the physicality of it all, which they successfully achieved. It is also exploratory in a sense, with regards to the lives of celebrities and gives greater appreciation for the gruelling process of their job, similar to Holy Motors. As if we’re watching celebrity frenzy from a distance the same way Val is.

Throughout the movie, the viewers are treated with heavenly views of the Swiss alps. It is like a visual treat of watching art and life come together. A tale focused on soul-searching, we see a woman in the midst of contending with her personal life and professional life.

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Silliness and absurdity within reach

Heavy trip is a loving story of outcasts who have hopes of becoming something more by getting out of the small, rural town they’re living in in order to reach their dreams. It is a ridiculous movie filled with laughter and unforgettable scenes. It makes you see metal heads in a different light— metal heads are not so tough as they seem after all. They can be quite shy and timid, too. It goes against the convention of metal heads being tough and scary. We see them with feelings and actually a lot softer than most would picture.

This hilarious film gives us a very charming set of characters who lived in rural Finland. We see the characters in their most true, and vulnerable selves. It starts from Turo, a shy, bike-riding metal head who also works at a mental institution. He is part of a metal band called Impaled Rektum comprised of him and his friends who enjoy the genre in their bandmate’s basement. They are comic characters who have their own distinct personalities that set them apart from one another. They regard themselves as a “Symphonic Post-Apocalyptic Reindeer-Grinding Christ-Abusing Extreme War Pagan Fennoscandian” metal band. 

People who are not familiar with the metal genre would totally enjoy this film. The absurdity that goes on in this film would be enjoyable to any audience. Shortly after lying to impress Turo’s crush, Miia, that they were soon to be playing a gig in Norway, the word travels fast and next thing you know it the whole town is impressed and loves them suddenly. They were highly regarded and respected all of a sudden. Their journey  filled with obstacles begins. In the process of reinventing themselves, they were even able to help a mental institution patient to get to of the lonely and depressing walls of his room, and play with them in Norway. 

We see the shift of tone and mood from Turo when he gets mocked by the other villagers, and how he cannot even think of anything witty to say whenever they scoff at him to when he’s screaming his lungs out with his metal band. 

Unlike many other comedy movies nowadays, Heavy Trip does not turn to mockery and making their characters objects of ridicule, instead it tries to build a connection between the characters and the audience. The movie urges the audience to find great appreciation for not only the music but the loveable characters as well and sympathise with them. 

The last part of the movie where Turo imparts to us some of the things he learned with a big smile plastered on his face even if the guards were already taking him was a great touch and it makes of a meaningful ending. It just tells us that this movie is far more than its comical plot lines and humour, it actually has a lesson that it wants to impart to us as well. There is a metal head inside every one of us.

I think this movie is exploratory and it gives us a fresh new take on comedy movies like never before with Finnish metal heads. Although it is not exactly a movie that asks you to take it seriously, the movie also depicted many unfair expectations with regards to masculinity. Being subject to constant mockery and humiliation by homophobes mostly due to his long hair did not stop Turo. Despite his appearance, he was an innocent, naive man who wouldn’t hurt a fly. There is a place for every kind of person in heavy Trip.

Heavy trip is more than a comedy, it’s a movie that touches up on a lot of things in our everyday lives that the audience can definitely relate to, it is also a heartfelt story of following your dreams and goals in life. It takes us into the gruelling process of chasing one’s dreams and the adversities that come with it. Despite all the hurdles thrown at them and the hopelessness of the circumstance they were in, they still pushed through and found themselves singing on the stage they coveted and dreamed of. Heavy Trip reminds us to live and dream a little more, and stay courageous in the process. Heavy Trip could not have said it any better.

“Better to shit yourself than to forever be constipated.”

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Sisterhood of man-eating

At the beginning of the movie, one might be deceived by the image of Justine, a seemingly  innocent young girl entering veterinary school. As a strict vegetarian, she definitely did not know what she was getting into trying out meat for the first time. Her true character was revealed. It became some kind of addiction. She would try it over and over again, not to mention lusting over her best friend/ room mate’s flesh and would turn to choking herself to regurgitate all the meat out of her system. She had thought she was going crazy and she did not know how to stop the cycle, only to find out her sister, Alexia, has been on it all this time. Alexia acknowledges whatever it is going on with her sister.

This drama-horror is a visually disturbing movie with scenes that will be better off with your eyes closed. Some scenes include watching two sisters literally biting each other’s hands off like wild animals,  regurgitating tresses of your own hair, deliberately getting cars into accidents to devour the victims and seeing your best friend dead beside you, only to find out he was eaten by your sister. Every scene made me ponder whether or not the scene was a mere dream or if it were reality.

The director has a great technique and style in letting us go deeper into Justine’s life of cannibalism unfolding before us. From watching her experiences of gripping, soul-stirring nightmares under her bed sheets to watching her eyes full of desire lust over the people’s flesh. The audience is left overwhelmed with scenes of carnage in unsettling ways. 

Aside from cannibalism, we are also let in on disturbing hazing rituals in colleges, and other common harassments that could happen in school grounds. The audience understands the pressure she’s feeling from entering this school almost clueless, wanting to succeed and find herself, she was forced to eat rabbit kidney as a part of the many alarming initiations the school had. Moreover, it touched up on familial relations like sibling relationships and it was a fearless and spectacular performance by the two sisters. It was the same vet school both her parents attended and her sister is currently attending. Towards the end of the movie, it was later unveiled that her mother suffered from the same illness. No wonder their mother was so adamant about not eating meat as seen in the first few minutes of the film. From this, it gives us hope that Justine could eventually find a solution to this, the same way their mother did and still found a way to live a somewhat “normal” life with their father. 

One thing is for sure, it is not for those afraid of the sight of blood and human flesh. To me, it was not scary but rather disturbing. It does not exactly startle you but you would much likely choose to look away in a lot of scenes. Nevertheless, it was entertaining and captivating— the twists and turns of the movie make it a strongly executed film. This cannibal fantasy film was definitely gruesome. It went on from being a subtle horror film to frame after frame of horrifying flesh-eating scenes. Many unpleasant aspects of humanity are portrayed in the film like cannibalism, humiliation and even topics of sexuality, which makes it somehow relatable. It’s an ingenious film that has a fresh take on cannibalism, blurring the lines between a growing sense of self and pleasure-seeking. 

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Edukating the world

Two best friends have a secret between the two of them. These two youngsters living in Germany are behind the revolutionary movement “The Edukators” who break into big villas owned by billionaires, rearranging the furnitures and leave obscure messages for the wealthy home owners to see. They don’t commit theft but they go through all these lengths just to send a message. Jan and Peter are most definitely not your average pranksters, they have a message they want to be heard. They surely have a quirky and creative take on political activism, with a vision to subvert the unjust system.

The real story begins when Peter leaves for Barcelona and his girlfriend, Jule, is left behind. In Peter’s absence, Jule and Jan fall in love with each other. In an impulsive break-in, June and Peter end up in a rich businessman’s house, Hardenberg, who was also the owner of the Mercedes Benz Jule’s crashed and is currently paying for. She is faced with multiple obstacles including the huge insurance claim debt because of the car, losing her job as a waitress and losing her apartment due to late payment. 

These youngsters despise how these people have to be so arrogant and assert their power over those who are in the working class just because they have a lot of money. The sense of entitlement of the bourgeoisie is manifested in the restaurant scene where the customers asked to take their orders back just because their brandy was not in the right glass, not to mention, the treatment of her overly domineering and abusive boss. In their dialogues, we feel the frustration and discontent the three had for the wrongs of global capitalism and their vision to change the system.

Because of a mishap caused by their friend, Jule, they are left with no choice but to kidnap and take Hardenberg into hostage. Bringing him to a mountain retreat, things get  more interesting when the three have a conversation with Hardenberg. They learn more about each other including Hardenberg’s past as a revolutionary teenager who worked his way up, and talked about how this revolutionary spirit in him just faded away through the years. It is a great movie because the other side of the story is heard as well through Hardenberg.

In the end, despite parting ways in good terms, even waiving Jule’s debt, Hardernberg pushed through with calling the police but before they could even be caught they had already flown to Spain. They left him with a note, “some people never change”, which was fairly true, even after all the everything he had learned from the trio about why they what they do, he still refused to see the point. Some just choose to see what they want to see and shuts off the predicaments the rest of the world faces. I think this scene encapsulates one of the most important lessons of the story. 

There are many themes portrayed in the movie like revolution, rebellion and even, love. The movie puts great emphasis on real-world affairs like the injustices of reality and the disparities in the system. Their anti-capitalist movement makes you want to question the system you’re living in, even your own values and the lifestyle you have. They aim to fight against the system and make these capitalists think with the messages they leave  like “you have too much money” and “your days of plenty are numbered”. The Edukators is a daring movie that wishes to explore and dive into political activism. It is truly an inspiring and thought provoking movie especially for the youth with these youngsters in pursuit of denouncing the evils of capitalism one millionaire home at a time. 

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In pursuit of closing the loop

This sci-fi movie, Timecrimes (2007) or Los Cronocrímenes  is a time travel jargon filled narrative but with a fresh and ingenious take on it. There have been plenty of time travelling movies in the past, such as Time travellers wife or everyone’s favourite, Back to the future. Not a lot of the time travelling movies that were out in the theatres were a hit but I think Timecrimes was able to pull it off with its intelligent and well thought of plot twists. It was mind boggling to think travelling just a few hours back could change things drastically and we clearly see how this has affected Hector’s life. It’s one of those mind-blowing films, it will always have you thinking, “what will happen next?” Or “how can they possibly resolve this?” And you find yourself at the edge of your seat while watching the series of events unfolding.

However, what was most puzzling to me was how did it all begin? Who started the loop and why? How did Hector get to the time machine in the first place? Because he still had memories of the phone call, the woman who stripped, the man with the bandages around his head, even before he travelled back in time. How did it all begin? The audience are always thinking, always analysing the situation at hand and derive meaning from the happenings. Nonetheless, I think leaving a few things unanswered for the audience to ponder on was a good move. The open ending and the baffling series of events allow it to be even more intriguing. 

It is not overly complex that will leave you totally confused with the next sequence of events that follow, the audience can still catch up with the series of events. The opening of the film feels like a horror movie with a thrilling background music, portraying itself to be one. No details are given. Although, I think this was able to set the tone quite perfectly. But the second sequence unravels the narrative making things clearer and allows the audience to go deeper into what the plot is really about. Things actually make sense now we get the bigger picture, how the fabric of the space-time continuum is ripped altogether. Despite the thrilling scenes and plot twists, the film was still able to inject a few humorous moments here and there that were subtle but somehow, still worked. 

This one is a lot more naturalistic unlike other time travel movies that are far more adventurous. You feel the frustration of the character watching things go horribly wrong as he tries to find his way back home and his desperation for his life to go back to normal. The audience empathises with him.

What’s interesting about this movie is that, it’s frightening but not in the horrific sense. Frightening enough to bewilder you, giving you a strange feeling after the movie. It puts a spotlight on the inevitable consequences of time travelling— your actions are bigger than you think and it could totally mess everything up in the real world.

It’s an inventively crafted film with endless possibilities and unimaginable loopholes. An introspective approach to the time travelling genre that will leave the audience wanting to know more, but is left to enjoy the rollercoaster ride as Hector helplessly moves towards a possible solution to go back to his ordinary life. 

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