(WOMENSENEWS)–The end of November brings four excellent films vying for viewing. Do yourself a favor and see them all.
Opened Nov. 21
A femme-centric, female-directed Iranian horror film? Rare, indeed but "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" delivers that all brilliantly. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, the movie stars Sheila Vand as ‘The Girl,’ a lonely vampire who roams the streets of Bad City every night, cloaked in her black chador, seeking human companionship while also stalking them for their blood. The story of the town and its dysfunctional society is filtered through her perceptions, needs and behavior. She is discriminating in her choice of victims and actually rids the town of its evil in the process of surviving through her own misdeeds. Beautifully shot in black and white, the film is a revelation about the underbelly of Iranian society. The Girl is an entirely engaging character and Vand does a wonderful job making her multidimensional without any explication of how or why she came to be a creature of the night. "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" will fascinate you. It’s a must see.
"The Imitation Game" is a fascinating fictionalized account of the life of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), the brilliant British mathematician whose cryptology skills contributed to the defeat of the Germans in World War II. Turing, an Oxford scholar, was recruited by the British government to join a team charged with deciphering enemy messages about troop movements and planned attacks transmitted by the presumably unbeatable German coding machine known as "Enigma." Turing built a machine that could do that and ushered in the computing age. But Turing, for all his undeniable brilliance, was a social outcast. His only friend, ally, fierce protector and intellectual partner was Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley). She, in keeping with the social constraints of the time, had to work on the project in secret because her parents frowned on her working with men at a "man’s job." Also in keeping with the times, Turing’s closeted homosexuality, which was eventually discovered by authorities, led to his arrest and prosecution, loss of credibility and public disgrace. This beautifully crafted biopic is rich in its revelations about how society mistreats those who don’t fit the norm. Cumberbatch’s brilliant performance is already garnering Oscars buzz. Another must see.
In "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1," Jennifer Lawrence is back as Katniss Everdeen, the female warrior who has survived the other "Hunger Games" installments and must now fight again to save her fellow citizens of her district and, in particular, her fellow survivor Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). "Mockingjay" is peopled by the memorable "Hunger Games" characters played by the familiar cast, including Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson and others. Here she is joined by Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin. This film is the first of two-part rendition of the final novel of author Suzanne Collins’ phenomenally popular trilogy. Lawrence’s star continues to shine in "Mockingjay – Part 1," and the film is full of the fictional causes and cinematic effects that captured the imaginations of fans in the earlier films. Get on the bandwagon! Part two is due to be released in 2015.
"The Babadook," written and directed by Jennifer Kent, closes November on a scary note. Essie Davis stars as Amelia, the widowed mother of Samuel, a troubled 6-year-old boy (Noah Wiseman) plagued by nightmares that a monster is coming to kill the two of them. Samuel’s behavior is ruled by his increasingly strong and frequent hallucinations about the monster, which takes on the identity of a scary storybook character named The Babadook. Amelia, unable to exorcise her son’s fantasies, or to get rid of the disturbing book, gradually comes to feel the monster’s actual presence and feels powerless against it. "The Babadook" will trigger recollections of your worst childhood fantasies. In its telling, this completely spooky and very well-made film underscores the influence that stories have on children and social behavior. The film concerns a children’s book, but it’s really not for kids.