July was a good one

David Thewlis and Tom Noonan in “Anomalisa”

What a month! I didn’t have the opportunity to watch as many films as I wanted to, but the ones I did watch were pretty solid. I knocked a few off my list (like Captain Fantastic and Anomalisa) and found a few I hadn’t heard of before (Distant Voices, Still Lives).

Upon picking my favorites and writing my reviews, I’ve noticed a pattern: The films I fixated on the most are about breaking away from the monotonous, the average, the conventional. Now that we’ve spent over a year and a half settling for a sub-par version of our routines (and…

Hear me out

Zoë Bell, Tracie Thoms, Rosario Dawson, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in “Death Proof” (2007)

When I was studying film (both undergrad and postgraduate), professors loved having everyone introduce themselves with their favorite movie. I’ve had to sit through countless 20-year-olds extol the virtues of Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick (someone noticed the use of sound in The Shining — how groundbreaking), and I would, half-wryly, announce that one of my favorite movies was Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 film Death Proof.

Rarely did anyone in the room know what film I was talking about, but sometimes the professor would smirk and, with a raised eyebrow, say, “Really?”

Cultural Context

Death Proof is one half of the Grindhouse double…

Emma Stone as Cruella De Vil

So, I saw Craig Gillespie’s Cruella last weekend, and I cannot understand why it’s received as many negative reviews as it has. The Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says that it “can’t quite answer the question of why its title character needed an origin story,” but what the hell does that mean? Villains are sexiest, most dynamic characters in any film, so it’s natural to wonder where they came from. Cruella (played by Emma Stone in this adaptation), in particular, always fascinated me in the original 1961 One Hundred and One Dalmatians cartoon, with her fashionable, spindly appearance and her…

Come find out which ones I think are hot and which ones are decidedly ~not~

Haylie Niemann in “The Wedding Singer’s Daughter” (2018)

I’m back! Hello!

I know I haven’t published anything since February. To be honest, the pandemic really started to wear on my mental health over the past few months, leaving me lethargic and pretty uninspired.

What matters, though, is that I’m back and ready to review some films! So let’s get right to it.

13. “Carmen” (Chloë Sevigny, 2017)

This is a weird Valentine’s Day.

Tommy Wiseau embodying that 11-month-deep quarantine mood in “The Room” (2003)

Usually, if I don’t have a date on Valentine’s Day (cue wink), I get margaritas with my friends. This is something I look forward to, not only because tequila is a form of therapy (JOKING) but also because Valentine’s Day is a weird holiday that more-or-less makes single people feel like they’re lacking. During cuffing season, no less.

But because, like all of you hopefully are, I’m staying home this V-Day, it’s a great year for a movie marathon. And I’m not about to spend my evening watching a sad romance (no Romeo and Juliet — not even the Baz…

And you know praise doesn’t come easy to me.

Rachelle Vinberg in “That One Day” (Crystal Moselle, 2016)

The directors of these four films are some of the biggest names in the series: Alice Rohrwacher, Agnès Varda, Naomi Kawase, and Crystal Moselle. It’s a stacked lineup and it really shows, because I was extremely impressed with each of them.

There’s something here for everyone, whether you prefer experimental, traditional, or even documentary-like films. These are some of the most plot-driven and accessible pieces in the series.

Without further ado…

9. “De Djess” (Alice Rohrwacher, 2015)

In some cases, that’s a good thing. In others…not so much.

Athena Hunter and Lika Bosman in “Somebody” (Miranda July, 2014)

I’m back with my review of the next four films in Miu Miu’s “Women’s Tales” series! These were, on average, longer — running between 10 and 15 minutes, and on the whole they told more coherent stories and were more plot-driven than the first few. They were also the least experimental bunch.

Other than these basic similarities, though, these films are vastly different from one another.

Let’s get into it.

5. “The Door” (Ava DuVernay, 2013)

My Reviews of the First 4 Films

From Film #14, Celia Rowlson-Hall’s 2017 “(The (End) of History Illusion]”

Did you know that Miu Miu, the Italian high-fashion house, has been commissioning short films from female filmmakers since 2011?

Me neither! Not until Mubi put a streaming spotlight on them, that is! (I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m really trying to get my money’s worth of that Mubi subscription)

The shorts are anywhere from 3 to 25 minutes long, and they’re made by renowned directors like Agnès Varda, Ava DuVernay, and Alice Rohrwacher. …

“Cold Meridian” (2020). Photo courtesy of Mubi

I was getting my MA in Film when I was first introduced to Peter Strickland, a British director that my Music in Film professor adored for his use of sound in films like Katalin Varga (2009) and Berberian Sound Studio (2012) — the former of which I searched for desperately until I found it online (it’s streaming on Mubi now, though! Yay!), and the latter of which we were all assigned to watch that weekend. And, interestingly enough, Strickland’s In Fabric (2018) screened at a film festival in the city in which I was studying.

So you can say I’m…

Kuei-Mei Yang in “Vive L’Amour”

Tsai Ming-Liang’s 1994 film Vive L’Amour is an incredible film to watch if, like me, you’re an urbanite in a hyper-capitalist world (my current job is literally in sales) who is currently working from home, pining for things you used to hate (like commuting, street noise, and crowded places). Vive L’Amour uses slow cinema (think along the lines of Chantal Akerman’s 1975 Jean Dielman, though this isn’t quite that extreme) to paint a detailed landscape of Taipei in the earl/mid-nineties, and the urban unease of the young men and women who live there.

In a way, these qualities make Vive…

Gabrielle Ulubay

Writer, filmmaker, feminist. Twitter: https://twitter.com/GabrielleUlubay

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