Cronenberg of the past, ‘Crimes of the Future’

It is time to stop seeing. It is time to stop speaking. It is time to listen. Images courtesy Neon.

In 2022, after more than a century of pumping carbon into the atmosphere at an industrial scale, the environment has fully turned against us. We’re still recovering from a new plague, wildfires have become an annual fact of life in parts of the world and, somehow quite separately, we’re running out of water. Total ecological collapse feels not just inevitable, but already in motion.

In David Cronenberg’s new psychological body horror/satire Crimes of the Future, the body is rapidly adapting to this new world. The plastic waste and toxic sludge we spent years pumping into the world are now, instead, inside of us. The reality of the climate crisis poses an obvious question – at what point will Earth no longer be Earth? In this film, the question on everyone’s lips is, at what point, how many changes can take place, before humans are no longer human?

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Golden Lion-winning ‘Happening’ is all about abortion, wonderful

Images courtesy FilmNation Entertainment.

7/10 Like many high-profile foreign films, Happening is capital “I” Important but not capital “G” Good. The newest Golden Lion winner is just as absent-mindedly charged as its recent peers, but it feels a little different this time. 

Université de Rouen Normandie, 1963- In Catholic France where having an abortion, or even assisting in finding one, is punishable with prison time, literature student Annie Duchesne (Anamaria Vartolomei) discovers she is several weeks pregnant. Determined to finish her studies and rise out of poverty, she is lied to by anti-abortion doctors, betrayed by her friends and sought for “risk-free” sex by men she hopes will help her as she looks for ways to wrest back control of her body from the threat growing inside her.

The film is based on one of many autobiographical works of French writer Annie Ernaux. France would legalize abortion in 1975, and the French universal health care system has paid for most abortions in the country since 1982.

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A guilty caricature of ‘Men’

Images courtesy A24.

8/10 Men is a surprisingly straightforward film about God’s hatred for women. Writer/director Alex Garland is a master of associative imagery and abstract filmmaking, and this is one of those cases where the visuals are the plot, but also individual details of the plot are crucial, so I’m just going to mark this for spoilers and get into it.

Detailed spoilers below.

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‘You Won’t Be Alone’ slides silently through theaters, one of year’s best

Am I the devil? Images courtesy Focus Features.

9/10 You Won’t Be Alone made a little more than a quarter million in theaters, but what’s the point of writing about movies all the time if I’m not going to make time for one of the year’s best pictures. This is a breathtaking masterpiece of humanity, folklore and personal history.

Macedonia, 19th Century- A shape-shifting witch referred to as a “wolf-eatress” called Old Maid Maria (Anamaria Marinca) comes for a newborn baby, but her desperate mother promises to give the child over to the witch a 16-year-old virgin so that Maria won’t be alone in her old age in exchange for being allowed to raise her for that time. Maria marks the baby, breaking her mouth and leaving her apparently mute for the rest of her life.

The mother tries her best to go back on their deal, raising Nevena in a hidden cave that she seems to think is holy ground, but 16 years later, Maria kills her and takes her daughter. Maria transforms Nevena into a witch, something she says she can only do once, but is immediately disappointed in the naïve, uneducated and non-verbal teenager and leaves her to fend for herself. Nevena (Sara Klimoska, Noomi Rapace, Carloto Cotta and Alice Englert) uses her new shapeshifting powers to sample lives across the preindustrial land, a blank slate thrust into the world already sexually mature, learning how to be human.

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‘Everything Everywhere’ closer to one thing in one place

Images courtesy A24.

5/10 They say the two things you can’t avoid are death and taxes. Even in a movie about jumping through the multiverse, one that built an advertising campaign around introducing the concept to audiences, the characters can’t find their way out of the IRS office.

San Fernando, California- Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh, who also produces executively) is dealing with everything at once. Her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), is leaving her, her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is gay and her failing self-service laundry is under audit by the IRS for fraudulent business expenses, charges she hopes she can get out of by playing dumb but also seems to genuinely not understand. At the IRS office, Waymond Wang suddenly becomes a different version of himself from a parallel universe and urgently tells Evelyn that she is the key to saving the multiverse from the Jobu Tupaki, a nihilistic gay multiverse demon who’s destroying everything for reasons unknown.

Everything Everywhere All at Once would be more appropriately titled Martial Arts in a drabbier-than-you’d-expect IRS Office for about 20 minutes too long. The movie advertised on its expansive, multiversal settings is uncomfortably cramped, and several choices draw a lot of attention to how cramped it is. The movie was made for an audience that may not know what a multiverse is, so the movie dedicates a lot of time to fleshing out its version of the concept and impressing what an expansive idea this is, but then it spends the rest of its time presenting a multiverse that feels extremely small.

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