When I was in college, it wasn’t uncommon for me to watch three movies over the weekend — one on Friday night, one on Saturday, and one Sunday. Other times, I’d watch two movies on Saturday at different movie theatres. It’s been many, many years since I’ve done anything similar (film festivals notwithstanding).
I’ve been wanting to watch three films ever since I knew they existed and this weekend, they came out in my fair city.
I saw Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2017) Friday night and Raw (Julia Ducournau, 2016) and T2 Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 2017) today. Olivier Assayas’s film stars a Kristen Stewart that resonates with her performances in non-blood-sucking roles (Clouds of Sils Maria, Welcome to the Rileys, The Yellow Handkerchief, and even Fierce People). She plays Maureen, a woman who can see and sense the dearly departed and yet still doesn’t know what to call them. The film follows her as she tries to connect with her deceased brother and fulfill her personal shopping job obligations to a high-profile woman. I didn’t think the film would be genuinely scary (damn sound design and horror film tropes), suspenseful and sad. It inspired a poem.
Minor spoiler alert — highlight words at your own discretion. I also wasn’t expecting the film to depict apparitions. I didn’t think the director would go there narratively, but he did. And what of the ending, the very last line spoken? How much of the inexplicable goings-on of the plot were all in the titular character’s head? As much as I enjoyed the secondary story-line that features onscreen texting with page-turning intrigue, I was much more psychologically invested in whether or not Maureen and her brother ever really connect.
Product placement and branding: Google, Apple, and Cartier.
Julia Ducournau’s morbidly erotic examination of repressed appetites focuses on a veterinary school student and the unintended consequences of freshman hazing. Raised a vegetarian by her vegetarian parents, Justine (Garance Marillier) discovers that not only does she have a taste for animal flesh but her hunger for sustenance is both sexual and cannibalistic. It’s not suggested, it’s stated. From a certain angle, she’s more or less a vampire who wouldn’t necessarily let the rest of the kill go to waste. Raw is reminiscent of Claire Denis‘s Trouble Every Day (2001) in the way it presents the blood/flesh-lust as biological rather than metaphorical to the characters in the story world. For Justine and her older sister, who is also a veterinary student, sisterly love and hate are taken to a whole new level given certain inherited details.
What bothered me more than watching a vegetarian eat meat (of any kind) was the hazing activities and the periodic representation of enclosed spaces with too many people. If you don’t like being in small spaces with lots of people, lots of people who are sweating and spilling beverages all over the place, be prepared to close your eyes.
By the time Raw had ended and I was making my way to the other theatre to watch T2 Trainspotting, I was hungry and started making a mental grocery store list. Danny Boyle’s sequel to his 1996 film was a good way to bring Saturday to an early evening. I laughed and gasped and went “hmmm” a few times. I haven’t fully formed my thoughts on it, so I will just say this much: is it ever good to be a tourist in one’s own youth? Mark Renton was by far my favorite of the group, but was that because he was portrayed by Ewan McGregor? Considering some of the scenes from the sequel, he’s just as flawed as Sickboy and Begbie. Is Spud actually the “best” person of the lot? Be that as it may, I like them still. All of them.