The first week in a while where I didn’t visit the cinema once. It’s dire out there, gang. Seriously – if you have any recommendations or suggestions on smaller movies to catch up with please send them my way. I’d give my right arm for a MUSEUM HOURS right around now…don’t even ask what I’d hand over for a BEFORE MIDNIGHT.
#52FilmsByWomen continued this week with MEADOWLAND directed by Reed Morano.
Morano is a bit of a first for me in this series, since it’s the first film where the director is also the director of photography. Prior to making her directorial debut, Morano brought her photographic talents to films such as FROZEN RIVER, KILL YOUR DARLINGS, and THE SKELETON TWINS. Beyond that, she’s also worked on the TV series “Vinyl” and a portion of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” visual album – specifically, the “Sandcastles” segment.
In the off-chance we haven’t met, I’m all about the visual. There are whole movies I cling to just because of the visual. Morano’s imagery is unique and gorgeous. She’s has a way of composing her shots in ways that make them feel incredibly raw, and uses a colour palette that makes the characters feel that much more damaged.
She employs this awesome technique that almost makes the images seem both over and under exposed (they aren’t, of course, since it’s a deliberate choice). The result is pulling details out of the darkness and out of the light in ways that washes things out. Her very images strain to be seen, evoking the struggles her characters go through just to keep their shit together.
MEADOWLAND is about more than just the visual, of course. It’s about a couple that go through the unimaginable (to steal a Broadway reference) and just cannot deal. Like so many couples that have to endure grief, their methods of coping isolate them from one-another…and often from the world at large. Morano captures that feeling incredibly with her approach to each scene, often letting the silence fill in the feelings and that strain in her visuals speak for the endurance the characters are going through.
Such an approach is a risky move, since it can sometimes be seen as short-selling the actual emotional resonance of a story and forcing the audience to do the work. For my money though, Morano hits the sweet spot and captures something genuine from her actors – especially Olivia Wilde. Wilde spends most of this movie looking very frayed around the edges, carrying a lot of denial, fear, and depression in her eyes. It’s not really the sort of thing a director could say “Gimme more _____”, so seeing Wilde and Morano capture it naturally is a powerful sight.
Of all the filmmakers I have covered nearly halfway into this series, Morano is one of the newest where features are concerned. She was first mentioned to me eighteen months ago on a podcast about SELMA (speaking of female filmmakers), and one I took my sweet time finally seeking out.
Several months later, I count myself as an unabashed fan of Morano and all her work…and I couldn’t fathom myself waiting eighteen months to catch up with her work again.
Here’s the week at hand…
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
BOXCAR BERTHA – This was the only Scorsese feature I had left to see, and while I enjoyed every second of it, I can’t help but feel a little sad that now I have no more left. Guess I need to move on to his docs…slowly…
BLAZING SADDLES – Ah, the 70’s – when racism could be played for laughs.
FOCUS – Stylish and fun, if unsurprising.
ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS – This is what happens when I ask Lindsay “So, what should we watch?”
MEADOWLAND – I look forward to more Morano in my life.
SIGN ‘O’ THE TIMES – I think I’m gonna need to get my hands on that version of “Housequake”
DIRTY HARRY – I’m growing an affinity for the grime of 70’s cinema.
EQUUS – Yep, that was every bit as fucked-up as I thought it would be.
LETHAL WEAPON 2 – Really, this should just be part one.
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
LOST IN TRANSLATION – My brother and sis-in-law are going to Japan. I, on the other hand, watched this. Pretty sure they win.
THE INFORMANT! – It’s underrated. See for yourself.
Boxscore for The Year
107 First-Timers, 68 Re-Watched
175 Movies in Total
How’s about you – seen anything good?