MEN (2022)

Unsettling A24 folk-horror, with fantastic production value and a third act that will split audiences entirely in half with how little it decides to explain itself.

Thematically, it’s very plainly about the abuses that men visit upon women and how they trap them, but it’s how it refracts this idea into vague abstractions and the supernatural that make it symbolic, creepy and grotesque.

There’s a good deal of confronting imagery, a bunch of body horror, plus depictions of stalking, gaslighting and psychological/emotional abuse that will turn a lot of people off immediately.

It’s confusing and oblique, while also being very direct and almost literal. An extremely subjective movie that I enjoyed a lot, and will spend a while trying to entangle exactly what the fuck happened.

HEAVY SPOILERS BELOW

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THE GREEN KNIGHT (2021)

A cinematic Arthurian heroic poem, complete with knights, woodland creatures, saints, spirits and mythic quests.

Run all of that through the sort of slow-burn style and striking visuals that A24 is known for and you’ve got The Green Knight.

Incredibly well crafted, the sort of tone that the fantasy genre is sorely missing more of.

Dev Patel brings exactly the right blend of gravitas and arrogance, the scenery and production design are gorgeous, the tale weaves and meanders perfectly as fables should.

The sense of world and myth is huge and dense — it chooses contemplation and symbolism over action and succeeds massively in presenting something thoughtful and strange. More akin to Pan’s Labyrinth than The Lord of the Rings.

It’s slow and mostly ambiguous, but if that’s your thing then this comes highly recommended.

THE FAREWELL (2019)

A Chinese-American family returns home to attend a cousin’s wedding, except the wedding is fake and the family are really gathering to say goodbye to their grandmother whom they haven’t told is dying.

Awkwafina should have received more than just the hushed critical attention she got for this — she really anchors the perspective of an outsider watching a familiar yet alien culture navigate a complex situation, and does so with gravity and a genuine, moving charisma.

Each of the family members offers some insight into the clash of culture between East and West, but seldom do we really get to see that conflict from the modern Chinese perspective and what their own misconceptions of Western culture are like, especially regarding something as universal as a death in the family.

Deserves all the praise. It’s a wonderful film, highly recommended.