CatStrand: Film Feels Hopeful Reviews

Thomas McClure

Tuesday 31 August


Following CatStrand's Film Feels Hopeful activity, their Programming Intern Thomas McClure reviewed their programmed films.

Juno

Sometimes there’s a movie that defines a year, other times there’s a movie that defines a whole generation. Jason Reitman’s Juno came out in 2007, and in the years since has become a cult classic, with the witty dialogue sparking the modern quippy nature of blockbusters and contributing to the irreverent and absurdist attitudes of the younger generation. Juno is a very funny, very smart, and very iconic movie that either predicted or provoked the current cultural zeitgeist, and for those reasons alone it is a great watch!

That ain’t no etch-a-sketch, this is one doodle that can’t be undid home skillet.”

When the sixteen-year-old titular high-schooler, Juno, discovers she has an unwanted pregnancy, she decides to give the baby away to a couple after she gives birth.

Every actor involved, such as Elliot Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, and Rainn Wilson, bring their A-game, delivering the hyper-articulate dialogue with natural ease. The film oozes charm and style and backs it up with the substance of a wholesome and poignant coming-of-age story. With quick-paced comedy and iconic characters in a relatable coming-of-age story, Juno is one of those films that every young person should watch.

Bellbird

Mum used to do the talking for both of us, so I guess we just got used to leaving it to her.”

After the loss of his wife, a dairy farmer carries on his work as he tries to ignore his grief. His son returns to the farm to support his struggling father, but neither know how to communicate with one another, having gone for so long with someone else doing all the talking for them. Both father and son have different prospects for life, but struggle to convey what they really want.

Bellbird explores the vulnerability of grief and the sensitive nature of communication. Writer and director Hamish Bennett presents his film with subtle conviction, not shying away from the slow picture of grief nor giving into explosive drama, as he portrays the alienated relationship between father and son.

The lingering cinematography displays the beautiful yet silently still landscapes of New Zealand, trapping the characters in their self-imposed lives of stoic isolation. And the understated acting of the main leads effectively portrays the inarticulation of the characters and their underlying struggles to be heard. Bellbird is reticent but heart-warming film that explores connection across the slow seasons of life.

Our Midnight

You can still find a connection even during the darkest times, this is the core theme of Our Midnight. Jihoon is a struggling actor who has recently been broken up with by the love of his life; Eunyoung is a survivor of domestic violence and feels at the end of her tether; when they meet atop a suicide bridge in Seoul, they begin to explore ways to live their lives, walking and talking through the night.

Our Midnight is a conversation on living in, around, and after difficult times, and through the brilliantly subtle acting of the two leads, the characters find their way forward through trauma and hardship. This film is an important film for our day, as it’s not explicitly about current events, but nonetheless delivers vital commentary on hope in, around, and after lockdown.

Lim Jung-eun’s directorial debut presents a slow and stoic film that carefully uses each shot and action to convey the experience of isolation and connection. The final shots have lingered in my mind for weeks purely because it gives the audience exactly what they didn’t even know they desperately needed, overwhelming them with a very simple glimpse of the true power of connection.


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