Film Viewings of the Week: Stoker (2013) and Spring Breakers (2013)

1:46 AM

While living in Vancouver comes with some incredible perks, having a job that somewhat relies on clear skies is a bit irksome when you live in the rainiest city in Canada. So, this week ended up being one for movie watching. For the film enthusiast, it's fantastic but for the broke student, it's a little less so. Any who, I had a tough time picking a favourite film for this week since I just sat on my ass for three days straight, browsing Netflix, and completely legal, not at all sketchy, not at all virus-ridden German movie websites. In the end though, I came out of this with two extremely different film experiences, each a standout in their own, twisted, beautiful and fucked-up ways. 

"Stoker" dir. Park Chan-wook

I came for Oldboy and stayed for Stoker. This film marks the first English-language film form Park Chan-wook, who is best known for his 2003 beautifully constructed gore-fest, Oldboy, and Stoker is an impressive North American debut. Mia Wasikowska is eerily absent as India Stoker, a girl who's in the midst of tragedy while caught on the brink of womanhood. When we first meet India, it's at her father's funeral, who is said to have died under mysterious circumstances...and on India's 18th birthday. At the funeral, India meets her Uncle Charlie for the first time, a man whom she had no idea existed, and who has been travelling the world her entire life. The relationship between the two is immediately tense as India remains wary and Uncle Charlie maintains a Norman Bates composure. Very creepy. Mia Wasikowska is fascinating to watch as this Wednesday Addams kind of character as she transforms from Oxfords and silk dresses to finding a terrible twisted darkness within her. The darkness contrasts wonderfully with India's almost elf-like appearance, wearing flowing dresses and loose hair as she slips through fields and flowers with such deliberate fragility. Stoker really is an absolutely gorgeous film. Its combining of the visual beauty of nature with the perversions of human nature is at once exquisite and horrifying to watch.

"Spring Breakers" dir. Harmony Korine

I had a lot of friends tell me not to watch this movie. Most people I've talked to told me it was pointless, vapid, idiotic - you name it. But damn it if half-naked Disney darlings grinding against a corn-rowed James Franco isn't intriguing. And unlike those things you peek at and then immediately regret, Spring Breakers is definitely not something I regret watching. I actually loved it. Spring Breakers may start off as a fun party movie with boobs, beers and bongs on the beach but it gets seedy and it gets there fast. The bulk of the film is almost reminiscent of Nicolas Winding Refn's latest film, Only God Forgives, with glaring neon and the potential for danger around every corner. In fact, the entire aesthetic of Spring Breakers is this constant conflict between vibrant neons and sightless black, presumably a very deliberate choice from Korine as a reflection on the young girls' transition from Spring Break to break-ins and shoot-outs. The girls playing the 'spring breakers' were good...but I guess not interesting enough to warrant me going aaaaaaall the way to IMDb to look up their names (one was in High School Musical I know that for sure). James Franco on the other hand is incredible as the almost unrecognizable 'Alien', a self-proclaimed 'hustla' who proudly shows off his grills and sports corn-rows. The ultimate cringe-worthy white dude. If anything, watch this film for his monologue on 'his shieet'. I can guarantee that edgy theatre kids are going to be re-imaining it for years to come. It's simply glorious. 

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