Film: American Hustle

You know when there’s an actor that you simply cannot resist? It doesn’t matter what good or bad movies they make, or what awards or accolades they recieve, or what batshit crazy things they do and you see in the media, you simply love them and will see whatever film they’re in, no matter what. Beyond that, you’ll go into films with the warm fuzzies, and a sense that it MUST be a good movie because, duh, so-and-so is in it! When you come out of their movies, you feel renewed – they are just so great. Yeah. Well, that person is Christian Bale for me.

I will go and see any Christian Bale movie, I’ve seen all the Christian Bale movies, and I’ve loved pretty much every single one. (“Reign of Fire?” you say. I say, “yes, I love it.” “Harsh Times?” you say. I say, “Duh.”) Of course, I am aware that some of his movies are better than others, bigger than others, etc. But he’s always amazing. I, like many women of my generation, “fell” for Christian Bale in “Newsies,” carried a torch through “Little Women,” and was ushered disturbingly into puberty by “American Psycho.” Emotional and sexual scarring aside he remains, in my opinion, one of the most gifted actors alive today, and sometimes his Batman voice narrates my dreams (about Patrick Bateman.)

However, this is  not an epic about how great Christian Bale’s nose is, or his beard is, or how psychotic his crazy shout is. Though, I should inform you I was once deeply involved with  man who looked astonishingly like a bearded Christian Bale. I often wonder if that’s why I was involved with him. I shit you not.

This is about “American Hustle.”

“American Hustle” is a movie with a really upstanding cast of really good looking people looking less good looking than usual. Bradley Cooper has a troublesome hairdo, Amy Adams looks tired, Jennifer Lawrence looks intentionally older than she is, Jeremy Renner has an even more ridiculous hairdo, and Christian Bale is not only fat, but also bald. I thought this would be pretty off-putting, but everyone manages to maintain their sex appeal (less so Cooper, except for this one scene when Adams is sitting on a counter, and another when they’re in a bathroom stall. Actually never mind, they all retain sexiness.) It’s also a movie that seems like it’s going to get terrifically complicated. I imagine anything about hustling must do, it seems like a complicated verb, to hustle. However, this is a film where everyone seems to be who they said they were in the beginning and performs their roles in the narrative true-to-form. I kept expecting someone to make a 180, for some seemingly good-guy to go rotten (I’m looking at you, Jeremy Renner) or for a wormy character to turn out to have a heart of gold, or maybe even someone stupid to turn out to be a fucking genius. Don’t hold your breath, everyone is who they say they are. This makes what would be a really complicated film a very easy film to follow, and in some ways, a peculiar romance.

The story revolves around a faultlessly charming conman, Irving (Christian Bale) who meets a cunning and beautiful young woman, Sydney (Amy Adams) at a pool party (where she’s wearing a macramé swimsuit, and it is awesome.) and they develop a fast and furious affair. She then goes into business with him when he reveals the full scope of his less than legit means of employment. Turns out she’s totally brilliant at conning people out of money, and they fall ever more in love. It’s then revealed that Irving has a wife so young and so hot that the fact that he even thought to have sex with Sydney makes no sense at all, except that they are a true love match and his wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) though gorgeous, is really not the girl for him. She has a child who he adopted and though his family life is troubled, he’s committed to it. Sydney is willing to accept this, probably because despite the fact that he’s dense about the middle and has an “elaborate comb-over” he’s still Christian Bale, wait, I mean, he’s still someone she feels a profound connection to.

However, in the midst of all this balancing and conning and falling in love, they manage to get busted, by an incredibly inexperienced though oddly well-funded FBI agent, Richie (Bradley Cooper). Let me be clear here, I hate this character. This is a film without clean antagonists, and without a sense of where good guys stop and bad guys start (Irving is actually really similar to Nick Miller’s conman dad, Walt, on “New Girl.” Irving’s cute kid will probably grow up to be Nick, “not a healthy adult,” but a good guy. Sidenote: go watch “New Girl”.) The bane of Richie’s existence is having to answer to his stodgy but very wise boss, played unironically by Louis CK, so you could say there’s nothing wrong with his life and he’s just a bit of a wet blanket. He and Sydney predictably get involved with each other as he holds the she and Irving hostage, giving them the option to buy their way out of prison by exposing four other major conmen. Sydney tells Irving she’s playing a part of their sake, but we as viewers, like the characters around her, get lost in her charade. Amy Adams is a great actress playing a great actress. It’s cool.

Richie, apart from being a bit of a prat, also has a dowdy fiance, and lives with his similarly dowdy Catholic mother. He gets really swept up in all the intrigue, glamour, and velvet suits of conning in the 70s, and also gets seriously swept up by Sydney’s physics-defying silk blouses (the budget for fashion tape in this film was probably 100’s of dollars). Being the sort of prat who can’t tell when he’s got a good thing going, he pushes the other two characters to dizzying heights, and they plan a con which would inculcate the cheerful, well-loved, badly-styled Major of Camden, NJ. Carmine (Jeremy Renner) is a loving Italian-American family man and, like everyone else, is just as he seems. In addition to Carmine, the con involves a make-believe Sheik, an a whole lot of political types. It’s complicated, and I still really want to talk about meaningless stuff  like what Jennifer Lawrence wore.

One of the best things about “American Hustle” is how stylistically interesting the 1970s were. Whenever I see films set in the 70s, I feel like there’s no way it actually looked like that, but it did. People really did wear bell-bottoms, and velvet suits, and macramé, and really big hair. This film does not disappoint for people looking for righteous examples of shirts open to the waist, dresses covered in sequins, long sharp nails. What is perhaps most visually important is Jennifer Lawrence. While she doesn’t look quite as serious or fresh-faced as we may be used to, with piles of teased blonde hair up on her head, glossy pink lips, and the aforementioned red nails, she’s stunning. There’s also a scene with a big party where she wears a silver, sparkly dress which will make you revaluate everything you think about women and dresses, and probably your expectations of both.

Honesty, you could go and see the movie just to see the silver dress, also a moment early on where she’s wearing a tight white shirt, and calls her wayward husband to bed with her. That’s not true, you should watch the film because it’s a visual masterpiece, beautiful, and moving.

Also, Christian Bale is in it.

(And he’s really sexy, despite the comb-over, and the fatness, and because of the velvet. Hmmm, love a man in wide-lapelled velvet.)

 

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…and with the fortitude of a concrete rhinoceros.

Today my best friend, Nicole sent me this article. It’s about the cultural archetype of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and more importantly, one very smart woman’s experience of buying into the desire to be this stereotype and then finding herself on the other side of it, realizing that she is far more than the manifestation the brooding men of modern cultural production would have her be. The article is sharp and familiar for any woman who’s felt constrained and constructed by media narratives and other people’s opinions and more so, anyone who has abandoned those limitations in favor of a self-authoring approach.  

The article got us talking about Manic Pixie Dream Girls. For those of you who don’t know, this is the type of girl introspective, artsy, alternative guys seek in movies. She’s Jessica Day, Ramona Flowers, and that character Kirsten Dunst was in Elizabethtown (this was were the term was coined). She’s the sort of girl that seems like a “realistic compromise” compared to the glamazons, ingenues, Final Girls, femme fatales, and succubi who have often occupied the media landscape, but she is no more real. MPGD has been for many young women of the Millennial and Y generation, a desirable role. However, despite being a clever, quirky sort of girl this is a designation that I am not allowed to participate in because MPDG’s are little

It is this what I am interested in. A terrific amount is tied up in women’s littleness. Littleness is often considered valuable, appealing, sexy, sweet, delicate, and perhaps most complicatedly, feminine. There are a plethora of positive associations for little girls, and not just little petite, or little skinny girls, but little curvy girls, and even little fat girls. This isn’t about weight though, it’s about bigness. I am a very big person, in addition to being enthusiastically obese*, my thighs are like small countries. I’ve realized many of the negative connotations for larger women aren’t just for fat girls or women as big as I am, it applies to women of many sizes, the 5’9, the size 10, the athletes, the broad shouldered, and wide of rib cage, the long legged, and big footed. However, after much consideration and the my committed goal to think through things positively I’ve realized there is real privilege in being a larger-than-average woman. 

There is a particularly poignant Louis CK bit where he talks about the sheer insanity of dating for heterosexual women. He ardently asserts, “there is no greater threat to women than men. We’re the #1 threat to women. Globally and historically, we’re the #1 cause of injury and mayhem to women, we are the worst thing that ever happens to them.” Women learn very early on in life that this is a dangerous world, and that it is simply and sadly just not safe to be a woman in this world. Domestic violence, systemic misogyny, rape – the list goes on. These are all very scary realities. However, I can honestly say while I am aware of these dangers, aware that men could pose a very real threat to me physically, I am not intimidated.

By being a larger woman, I am, in some ways, insulated from some of these threats (not all, by any means – especially considering the prevalence of date and acquaintance rape.) I am also insulated from a great deal of misogyny, it’s simply more difficult to patronize someone who is eye-to-eye, it’s more difficult to belittle someone who physically dominates a space. I don’t feel like men are talking down to me, or encroaching on my physical space. I rarely, if ever, feel physically threatened because I know my body has the outward appearance of a kind of substance and strength women are not often afforded. 

While there is no cutesy, make-believe movie character for me, and many things feel alienating, it’s important to remember that in a world where men’s physicality is so often used as a weapon, that women who are able to stand up to that are lucky in some way. It also brings to light how important it is that we move toward a space where a woman doesn’t have to be 6’something with the fortitude of a concrete rhinoceros to be able to safely walk to her car at night, or ask someone to leave her alone in a bar.

 

*Enthusiastic obesity, or jubilant obesity refers to fat people rejecting the death fat condemnation of our ol’ faulty friend, the BMI index. Go home BMI index, you’re drunk and stop yelling that I’m going to die on the way out. 

Hostel and Feminism

I am currently watching the direct-to-DVD third installment in the “Hostel” franchise. I didn’t even know there was a “Hostel: Part III” and I think of this as a major failing on my part as I am serious advocate of the “Hostel” films (says the girl who spent hours and pages working on a creative-meets-analytical writing exercise on a scene from the first one.)

Now, I am more than certain that plenty of people have plenty of less than favorable things to say about these films. Eli Roth’s “Hostel” redefined horror and peaked on a completely new wave of the genre, made changes that horror will never recover from. And rightly so. Yes, it’s wildly violent, utterly grotesque, filthy, gritty and leaves you feeling sick to your stomach, and not because of the drilling, hacking and gouging but because of the clever, unsettling construction of the film and more so the grim reflection it casts on our own nature.

Many a critic would point to the dismal things this indicates not only about our selves but also the state of the horror industry. I naturally think they are wrong and that “Hostel” (and even it’s low-fi follow-up) is a neat, sharp, troubling bit of cinema and deserves praise, I would also like to point to a little oddity that really pulls this particular franchise from the abyss.

The classic and acknowledged world of horror is one of institutionalized racism, misogyny and searing patriarchy. In horror movies, non-white characters die first and in stupid ways, women who have sex are done for, men who are vain never last, and the invariable survivor is a doe-eyed ‘final girl’. A sweet, virginal thing, with good morals and a good heart – she is the epicenter of Western virtue, and we know only she can beat evil.

Not “Hostel”. Interestingly, the first and third films focus on the capture and torture of men rather than women. (Because “torture porn” is dominated by “Saw” it seems like an equal-opportunity subgenre, but in reality the majority of torture films which are not “Saw” are about watching beautiful women suffer.) I will note that the second “Hostel” film is about women being tortured, but I get the sense this is to pull in audience, and it’s the only thing beyond coming up with new and gruesome ways to use power tools, that changes it from the first film.

The conceit of “Hostel” is that young men seeking sex and deviant good times are captured and subjected to various forms of gross bodily damage to the benefit of paying clients (in the film, and yes, you, paying audience.) What makes this interesting is that these men are lured into these situations by female sex workers. Prostitutes, escorts, strippers – these lascivious ladies of the night are usually the sort of characters who get popped off almost instantly in a horror. But not here, in fact, here, the men who so enthusiastically seek to treat these women like objects, to engage in the institutionalized abuse of women who don’t matter because of their relationships to sex are punished.

Not only are they punished, but the women are not. They are neither compliant or active, they simply have the opportunity to deliver the nice, white bread men into the clutches of evil. It doesn’t seem fair, until one stops and thinks about the way nice, white bread men are allowed to treat strippers, prostitutes and even any other women in film. As the women lure the men in they are beautiful, porn-staresque babes, flowing locks and perfectly glossy pouts, and once the men are in the facility and facing their torturous deaths, we see the women unmade up. Because they are real people, not just agents of destruction.

Film: “The Woman In Black”

Can it really have been about a year since I reviewed a film? I have watched several dozen films in the past year, including an installment of “Twilight”, the searing end of “Harry Potter” and “Shark Night” – did none of these films move me to writing? Apparently not.

Today, however, I went to see “The Woman in Black”, arguably the first time we’ve seen Daniel Radcliffe do anything on film since the end of “Harry Potter”. A gothic period piece, set in a dismal, marshy village and a dilapidated, but rather sprawling house. The film is interestingly partially produced by Hammer (known for some of the greatest looking women, fake blood and Dracula movies ever made in the 1970s). Hammer films have generally been considered over-produced, campy and frivolous. They are also generally of a relentless, powerful horror style, one which is comfortable adhering to genre conventions and making a more traditional horror film. “The Woman in Black” is no exception.

I think it’s safe to say that I am very familiar with horror films, I do not scare easily. That’s not to say I don’t get scared, I don’t respond (film is significant, I am affected by it.) because I do. I squeal, weep, laugh, etc. etc. I generally walk away from most horror offerings more interested and invigorating than truly freaked out. Over the course of my life very few movies have honestly frightened me. (TV productions of “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “The Shining”, “13 Ghosts” and “Mirrors” being the short list.)

“The Woman in Black” honestly frightened me.

The story is about a young widower, with a four year old son. In order to preserve his career, he takes a job out in the marshy northern countryside, he has to go to the decidedly creepy, empty home of a recently deceased character we never see and sort through their shamefully disordered papers in order to get their true will. He has to actually go there because the town lawyer is being completely unhelpful. Immediately upon his arrival, everyone our hero, Arthur (Dan Radcliffe) encounters seems to want him to leave. Eventually be finds himself at the terrifically scary house, beyond a marsh that floods with the tide, and thus isolated for most of the film, though, he has a little scruffy dog with him some of the time. He experiences haunting phenomena and visions of a woman in black mourning attire. As his time in the town goes on, two young girls die in unpleasant accidents, and the townspeople become ever more convinced he should leave. They ostentatiously blame him for the deaths of his children, as he continues to sort through letters and uncover the superstitions of the town, the house and the visions he keeps having.

Eventually, Arthur (and the audience) discover that the town is plagued by the untimely deaths of children as a result of the spectral woman. The ghost is a woman who’s son was taken from her, and adopted by her sister because of his mother’s presumed insanity. After this, her son drowns in the marshes and his body  is never recovered, as a result his mother hangs herself in his nursery. She also vows never to forgive her sister for taking the boy or for his loss. The curse which haunts the town is that when she is seen, a child dies. (A classic: you took my baby, and now I’m taking yours) Of course, being that Arthur is messing around in the house – Arthur sees her a lot. This ability to sympathize with and connect to this entity is fueled by his own troubled visions of his wife (an angelic blonde, lady in white) It becomes apparent that his son is coming to join him in the village, so in an effort to appease the woman’s trouble spirit and thus protect his own little boy (who is portrayed by the most beautiful, cherubic child I have ever seen.) Arthur finds her son’s lost body, and reunites them in the grave – he does so with the help of a gentleman in the town who lost his own son as a result of the woman in black and who’s wife is a sweet, but troubled medium.  However, this fails to do the trick and the narrative ends with sufficient unpleasantness to make the audience feel honestly uncomfortable.

The film is incredibly atmospheric, making extensive use of light, flickering candles, the gloom of the gray village and the gothic mansion, as well as the setting in 19th century England during the height of spiritualism. A moment in history where the business of the dead and the interaction between worlds is both recognized and widely acknowledged as possible. The film isn’t violent, or gory – but dark, and menacing. Filled with the kind of seeping discomfort that encircles you and follows you out of the theater. The honest-to-God heebie-jeebies. 

One of the most interesting things about this is, naturally, seeing Daniel Radcliffe be someone other than Harry Potter. He is as impressive as anyone would think, and is almost unrecognizable compared to his early time as Harry. The character is at least 26 or 27 (married, lost wife, four year old child, lawyer…at least 26), and while it’s pretty routine for actors in their mid-20s – 30s to play characters in their early 20s, and for actors up to 25 to play teenagers, Radcliffe, who is ONLY 22 (wtf have I been doing with MY life?!) successfully portrays someone much older, without seeming ridiculous. He’s also much more understated, Harry tends to do a lot of moping, whining and gnashing of teeth, but of course, from book three forward that’s how Rowling wrote him. Things that may have seemed like they were the run over of someone reaching adulthood on screen, seem much more to be characteristics of Harry than Dan. It’s also easy to forget who he is, which is generally difficult with very famous British screen actors – it’s only the most exceptional people who get lost in their portrayals, and that is evident here.

Great movie – I do not expect to sleep easy tonight!

 

Marilyn Manson.

In the past couple of days I’ve been quite accidentally reminded of Marilyn Manson. It’s not as if I forget Marilyn Manson, a figure that serves as one of the undeniable influences of my life, but he’s not as front and center as he was in my teenage years.

The first instance was in a post on a tumblr, it was a series of comments of people reflecting on how they will one day feel when Marilyn Manson inevitably dies. Immediately I realized that it will probably be devastating for me, in terms of celebrity/entertainer deaths.

The second instance was in using Amazon to search for books about pain and culture, as one does, and encountering this. I was perfectly aware of Manson’s art, but not aware of the title of the book, “Genealogies of Pain”. It sounds like a title I would give a paper, or a section of a paper.

The realization that throughout my life Manson has provided not only a consistent soundtrack to my existence (I continue to buy albums long after it seems the general public has lost interest, download short film-esque music videos, read his writing etc with some fervor.) but also a consistent aesthetic element is remarkable. I realize that I can undoubtedly credit his developing style throughout my life with the development, not only of my intellectual interests, but the style with which I’ve approached them.

The rational which emerged in my teenage years to explain the often idiosyncratic combination of extremities that (still) characterize me, morbid darkness with day-glo, glitter was as if Marilyn Manson and the Spice Girls had a child (this is still very much true, though other influences have gotten themselves involved.)

I remember vividly my first exposure to Manson, the song was Dope Show it was reviewed (Why? I don’t know.) in an English teen girl magazine I’d occasionally get in Lusaka. It was 1998, I was 13, an impressionable age. Granted, I’d been exposed to far more shocking media before Manson arrived in my world. I asked my father to buy me one of Manson’s CDs the next time he went to South Africa for business (media was very limited in Zambia in the 90s, due to demand.) My father got me “Portrait of an American Family” (Because who wouldn’t let their 13 year old listen to this…thanks, Dad!), an album that was almost excruciating for me to listen to at first, I was so used to the bubblegum pop I’d been consuming since 1996. I kept trying, the late 90s was a time of incredible fame for Manson, and his cultural value as the most shocking, rebellious, confusing thing going was too good to resist. Seemingly overnight I moved from a distinctly Spice Girls influenced aesthetic to something much darker. I was neither alienated, miserable, or depressed, but something about his man, I was instantly able to identify with.

It was only a few years later when I read his autobiography, “Long Hard Road Out of Hell” (the book was released in 1998, I didn’t see it until 2002 (media is like that in Africa) that I really began to understand the connection, by which point my aesthetics, ideologies, and interests had already really firmed up with his music (among others, I should give ample credit to Rob Zombie, Korn, Rammstein and Cradle of Filth – all of whom I appreciated the highly aesthetic style of.) Manson’s rejection of normative religion, dislike of convention and insistence on doing whatever he wanted really resonated with me as a mildly grumpy 17 year old. I really wasn’t a sad or angry teenager, mostly concerned with how my behavior affected people around me, I have always enjoyed raising some eyebrows and provoking a reaction.

I always have and do to this day feel very unalone because of Marilyn Manson, very comforted. As if even when I’ve felt completely at odds with everything around me, entirely unsure of how express what I want or define who I want to be, that there is at least one person I would have no trouble explaining myself to. I suppose this is the true value of influence, the artists who allow the listener/reader/viewer to feel connected, to feel as if their work is valuable. I’ve always felt like Manson was somehow useful to me. Now, in the face of my own work, negotiating bodies, violence, gore, torture, pain and the aesthetic pleasure of it all, I know with complete certainty that his ongoing aesthetic projects are useful. It’s a chicken/egg argument, I don’t know if it all makes sense and ties together nicely because I grew up listening to this stuff, with his continuous experimentation directing my own development, or whether I’ve simply grown into an adult insistent on not “out growing her childhood” (This is a whole other topic, I don’t “outgrow” things, I make them useful in different ways.) and as result have found ways to keep his work relevant to me. Either way, I find myself endlessly inspired, amused, delighted by the on-going changes and shifts of his, seemingly endless, career.

 

 

 

The End of the End

First up, I realize I’m in Zambia and so all I should have to write about is Zambia, but quite frankly, I lived here for most of my life, I’ve thought a lot of deep thoughts about Zambia, and while in my 2.5 years of absence both it and I have changed considerably, I don’t feel all that motivated to write about it.

However, it is important to emphasize that I AM here, and being in Lusaka (now, even, despite the wireless in my parents house and zippy Internet) I am way on the other side of the world. I am in a very different timezone and effectively, find myself somewhat isolated. I don’t really mind this. Usually being in Lusaka serves as a time for me to withdraw from the world and deal with things. I graduated from Georgetown about a month ago, and it has been one of the most tulmultuous months in a long time. I supposed I’d be well served to take this time to disappear.

I’ll get back in mid-July. Specifically, I’ll be back just in time to see the new (and last) Harry Potter movie on July 15. (This was the one request I made of my father, yes, I shall spend 1 month in Lusaka, on this one peculiar condition.) While, like millions of other people my age, I am totally excited about Harry Potter. I am also incredibly nervous. This is the end. (Granted, I’m aware of Pottermore and waiting with baited breath.) However, for all intensive purposes Harry Potter has been *the* dominant cultural narrative of my life.

In 1997 when “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” came out, I was 12. Granted, I did not become invested in the series until about 2 years later, when I was 14. I will turn 26 this year, Harry Potter has played a huge role in my life for 12 years. I became invested in it because Nicole moved to Lusaka and had been very engaged by it, and wanted to have someone to engage with about it. (Boy oh boy, did we get involved.)

Since the age of 14, which, let’s be honest is an impressionable time of a child’s life, Harry Potter has been a highly influential aesthetic object. Waiting for books have marked events in my life, through high school and college, the films provided a visual actualization which I was desperately motivated by. The thought that there will simply be no more makes me feel incredibly lost.

I just don’t think any of us expected this story to become so much a part of us. I know I didn’t. The characters became so important, mirrors and reflections of our own growing up. I’m nervous about the end, just thinking about it makes me want to cry.

With that, I leave you with the final trailer for “Deathly Hallows: Part 2”.

Why Write:

In the past week something pretty significant has popped up on my radar.

Firstly, I was directed to this article.
and I read it and become concerned, as the days went by, I read a few other articles, like this one and this one. I also gathered information from Eli Roth’s ever reliable twitter. What this all has to do with is the fact that Angel Sala, the director of the Sitges Film Festival is being charged with child pornography as a result of including Srdjan Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film among the films being screened.

Now, if you choose to read these articles, I encourage you to tread carefully, if you choose to watch this movie – I advise further careful treading – it is not a pretty picture.

In fact, it’s a horrible, monstrous, grotesque film – full of sights that cannot be unseen, and thoughts that will turn your stomach. It is also one of the films I’ve chosen for my thesis. I’ve seen the film, and will have to watch parts of it many times over, I can’t say I’m really looking forward to it. But then I don’t always enjoy the moments of agony I watch closely.

I’ll be maybe one of the few people to think this, let alone admit it, but I really enjoyed A Serbian Film. I’m not saying I approve of the content, but I’ve learned that a lot of films are no fun at all, and that is where their greatness lies. I admire filmmakers who will not flinch under the watchful gaze of morality and include in their films whatever they want. I admire films that actually are willing and brave enough to go to whatever terrible lengths they can. I don’t believe in censorship, I understand why this film hasn’t gotten US distribution and why when it does it will be edited to death.

I don’t think this is right. I really don’t think it’s right that an important and admirable member of the film community is being persecuted for showing the film.

Film doesn’t need to be beautiful, it doesn’t need to be acceptable, it doesn’t need to be enjoyable. Some cinema hurts, some of it is horrible and agonizing. Some of it is pure torture to watch, watching some of it isn’t fun, it isn’t cool, it’s just endurance.

And this point, I know all about it.

However, this film deserves to be released, the filmmakers deserve credit, it deserves it’s place among a wide array of extreme media. A Serbian Film does not look like your everyday horror movie, it goes to lengths I never thought I would see on film. It is painful and searing and excessive. Not everyone wants to see this, a lot of people will protect themselves from media like this, protect their children – but cinema is about vision and art – and there should be no boundaries as to what can be put on screen, and certainly no punishment for people who choose to screen or watch this media.

What this has done is allowed me to understand why I’m writing my thesis. I’ve sat through a lot of horror movies, I’ve watched difficult, gross, gory, painful scenes. I chose the most horrible, disgusting, abject movies I had ever seen. Some of them I love, some of them are so hard to watch – but I have chosen them for study, I am looking at them more closely than I think anyone other than their makers have. I wonder everyday why I chose to do this, and the reason is now clear.

I don’t believe in censorship, I don’t believe in hiding scary, troubling, complicated movies. I think there’s merit and power in A Serbian Film, as well as in my other selections. I think there is a beauty to these films, if not in their content, in their construction, in their aesthetics – it is in their ability to exist, despite censorship and judgement.