Mixed Reviews on Miu Miu Women’s Tales 13–16!
Come find out which ones I think are hot and which ones are decidedly ~not~
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)
I love stand-up comedy, so I’m partial to this piece. It takes the dark, existential comedy of Carmen Lynch and pairs it with a melancholy soundtrack. Knowing that Chloë Sevigny directed the piece, I found that the vibe of the whole piece reminded me of Sevigny’s character’s taxi ride home in Kids (Harmony Korine, 1995) with its urban isolation and seemingly drug-induced visuals.
Definitely worth the watch, and definitely one of the more mainstream and overtly Third Wave Feminist pieces. I still can’t decide whether the experimental visuals work or whether they resemble the work of a first year film student, but I stand by my recommendation nonetheless.
14. “(The (End) of History Illusion]” (Celia Rowlson-Hall, 2017)
I was surprised by how much I loved this surreal, plotless satire.
Rowlson-Hall’s short started by replicating a highly saturated, ethnically diverse version of a 1950s commercial trying to convince people to move to suburbs — except in this case, they’re trying to convince people to move underground.
Through both the ad itself and through the nuclear alarms that go off later in the film, we get the sense that something terrible has already happened in the world above ground, and that the privileged have been offered the opportunity to escape below.
I loved this take on near-future dystopia and the depiction of a subterranean suburb. The film pokes fun at the extreme eccentricities of the wealthy, but it also highlights the existential downfall that usually goes hand in hand with such comfort (think: ancient Romans putting lead in their wine to add flavor).
As we witness the gradual, routine breakdown of our purported paradise, we see our characters engaging in normal activities, like chores, but in manic and/or dreamy ways. They dance, stretch, have mini-breakdowns, and tangle themselves up in vacuum wires. This film is also one of the most ostentatiously fashionable ones in the series, which adds to this friction between opulence, monotony, and impending doom.
The more I think about this piece, the more I adore it. 10/10
15. Hello Apartment (Dakota Fanning, 2018)
WOW this was terrible. Terrible terrible terrible. And I’m stoked because you all know how much I love to talk about bad films.
Films like these are the reason why girls from small towns who subsist exclusively off of Taylor Swift music videos decide that New York City is “calling their names.” Having grown up in the greater NYC area, I have not held the Big-Apple-where-dreams-come-true fantasies that so many young people do. I do not think that my first apartment in the city (unless I’m making BANK) would in any way resemble the massive apartment that this film’s protagonist (played by Eve Hewson) moves into. And I do not think that my life would immediately become a high fashion, wine-drinking romance in which my boyfriend makes gentle love to me while royalty-free acoustic elevator music plays softly in the background.
This film is just so silly. So obviously made by someone who has never been a 20-something in the real world (sorry, Dakota). Hello Apartment is filled with childish scenes, including, but not limited to:
- Our manic pixie dream girl of a main character clumsily hammering a hole into her wall, over-emoting her shock, and then looking performatively pleased with herself as she manages to hang up a mirror. Am I supposed to be proud of her? Was this supposed to be a difficult task?
- Manic pixie dream girl then goes to a party and meets a boy who we immediately know is her love interest based on the knock-off Norah Jones music that starts playing in the background. In what we’re supposed to believe is a grand and sentimental romantic gesture, he hands her a peppermint candy (when I saw him put something in her hand I thought it would be MDMA. I was disappointed that it was not). And it seems that she keeps the candy until the end of the film?
- Our couple eventually argues, but it’s not clear over what. That he’s not getting enough attention? There is barely any dialogue in this film, but we manage to hear the boyfriend shout “universe in which I exist” during their fight, which is so over-the-top that I laughed out loud.
- People are constantly spilling red wine in this film, and I’m not sure if this is supposed to represent blood? Their problems don’t seem deep enough for this film to go to the blood place.
- In the end, the older version of our main character (played by Christina Rouner) goes back to the apartment and reminisces. All the while, an acoustic song plays in the background with the chorus “We had a good time,” and at the end our protagonist says, “Hello, apartment.” My goodness, the nausea!
It’s all just so on-the-nose, guys. The cinematography is gorgeous and the clothing is spectacular, but no amount of aesthetic beauty can mask how bad this is.
16. The Wedding Singer’s Daughter (Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2018)
I enjoyed this piece. I thought that the music and visuals were beautiful, and didn’t find it especially political. Of course, it stressed the separation of genders in Saudi Arabia and explored the dynamics within a conservative, exclusively feminine space, but its message felt tame in comparison to Al-Mansour’s debut film, Wadjda (2013).
The film would be better if it honed in on the titular wedding singer’s daughter (Haylie Niemann) and the climactic scene in which she fixes the amp for her mother. Strangely, this event is glossed over by our unnamed bride’s entrance.
The film also devotes far more time to the daughter’s friendship with a young boy (Adam Niemann), whose relationship with our main character is barely developed. This overall disorganization left me confused about the plot and even the purpose of this piece.
I also must mention the comments left on the YouTube video for this film: It seems that a number of Saudi people were deeply offended by this film, calling it inaccurate and nonsensical. Personally, I feel uncomfortable passing judgment on its politics or accuracy because although I am ethnically Middle Eastern, I am a born-and-raised Westerner and don’t want to critique any film through an ethnocentric lens (though, to some extent, this is inevitable for all of us). All I’m saying is that this film, which was made by a Saudi woman, is a contested piece of art amongst other Saudis — an important contextualization for those of us on the outside peering in.