Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Lobster

Lobster is on my list of favorite foods, but I doubt I would ever want to become one. Oscar-nominated Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (‘Dogtooth’) casts Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and Lea Seydoux in a surreal parable about a future world where people are forced to couple up or be turned into animals. David (Colin Farrell) whose wife just left him, has been thrust into the dreaded single status. According to law he has 45 days to find a suitable mate or be turned into the animal of his choice. The animal David chooses, should he not succeed in finding a partner, is the lobster.

I will admit, this movie was weird. My husband found it too weird and wondered why the heck we went to see it. However, it was that very weirdness that made me absolutely love this film. I watch a lot of movies, and I particularly appreciate movies that don’t fit the usual predictable formulas, and I especially love movies that have something important to say. The Lobster is a commentary about the pressures our society puts on finding one’s soulmate.

I grew up in a culture that touted marriage as the preferred state. Single women, especially, were looked down upon and labeled spinsters. I guess I could be grateful that at least being single wasn’t illegal. Yet I somehow felt like a total failure for being unable to find the right and perfect partner.

In The Lobster, the right and perfect partner takes on a whole different meaning. It wasn’t just that each single person had to find a partner…that person had to have the same defining characteristic. In fact, except for David, none of the other characters had names. They were known for their specific physical trait. There was the man who limped, the woman who had constant nose bleeds and the man with a lisp. What were the odds of finding someone with those exact traits? The pressures were so great that one man deliberately smashed his nose so that he too would be a nose bleeder.

I wouldn’t call the film a comedy and yet I found it to be quite funny. It is told in a serious deadpan manner that kept me engaged throughout. The first part of the film is about this alternate society and its rules and logic and is filmed in the hotel where the singles are imprisoned. The second part of the film is in the surrounding forest where a ban of renegades called the Loners live. The Loners have rejected the society’s rules, and yet have rather strict rules of their own. Here coupledom is shunned. One has to remain alone and celibate or they are severely punished and even maimed. No form of intimacy is allowed. David escapes into the forest and joins these Loners and there ends up finding a woman (Rachel Weisz) he finds attractive. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say….it gets more interesting and even ‘weirder’, if that is possible.

If you like films that do not fit the normal formulaic and predictable patterns then you will love this film. I did!

Thursday, May 5, 2016


I'm attending the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) this week. This is the second year for this festival that was begun by Geena Davis who is a champion for inclusion of women and diversity in film. She has actually done a study that shows how little women are used in front of and behind the camera. Even crowd scenes with extras do not have enough women to represent our society. She has taken the results of that study to Hollywood producers and writers and powers that be and shocked them all. Most of them have vowed to change. This film festival is all about inclusion and is the only film festival that offers full distribution for the winning films.

Yesterday I attended a panel called Progress or Perfection and three films. All three films were well done and well received by the audience.

Driving With Selvi, a documentary about a former child bride who escaped her abusive husband to become South India's first female taxi driver. The film follows her over several years and we see a courageous and strong woman who is determined to not only succeed, but to thrive.

Wild Prairie Rose is a narrative film that started a bit slowly for me, but quickly won me over. Rose comes back home to the country from Chicago to take care of her ailing mother. She hopes to only be there 3 weeks and get back to her life. However, she meets a deaf man that changes her perspective on everything. What is interesting about this film is the director chose to cast a deaf man in the role rather than a hearing man who played deaf. Also, in the audience watching the film were a number of deaf people with an interpreter off to the side who signed for them during the film. The interpreter was two rows in front of me and I was surprised that it offered no distraction from my movie watching at all.

The third film I saw yesterday, was clearing the best produced.....all three films were very good and I loved them all....but this one had more star power. The Great Gilly Hopkins stars Kathy Bates, Olivia Spencer and Glenn Close. This film had me laughing and even in tears towards the end....and I saw many people around me with tissues. All of the films had their film makers do a Q & A after the film, and even David Paterson, the screenwriter/producer of this film was in tears as he stood in front of us. The film was adapted from a novel written by his mother Katherine Paterson. He said the book is used in schools and was based somewhat on their family. It's about a 12 year old wise cracking young girl who has been shuffled from foster home to foster home until she meets Maime Trotter, played by Kathy Bates. Having been in foster homes myself until I was finally adopted at age six....I could identify with this film from the start.

I'm off to watch a bunch more films today...and will try and post more about them tonight. So far, I'm loving this festival. Thanks Geena Davis for all the work you are doing to promote diversity in film.