Amy’s June 2024 Viewing Roundup

June 11th, 2024

The news out of Mexico gives me hope for the future. A country traditionally known for its conservative attitudes towards religion and feminism has just elected for the first time ever a woman to the office of the presidency. In her spare time, President-elect Claude Sheinbaum also happens to be a scientist, a member of Nobel Prize-winning team and a mother. While I don’t feature any films from Mexico in this round-up, the country is also experiencing a renaissance in filmmaking, highlighting the connection that exists between between art and politics and the importance of both being able to thrive simultaneously.

CATCHING FIRE: THE STORY OF ANITA PALLENBERG (in theaters): “I’ve been called a slut, a witch and a murderer.” These are the opening words to this documentary film about the woman who could also be called the sixth Rolling Stone given her legendary influence over the band. No mere groupie or girlfriend, she was the inspiration for many of the bands most famous songs and provided them with creative direction at a time when they could have floundered under the internal conflict and strife that existed between the members. Pallenberg is a fascinating figure in her own right-mostly for her ambition and talents as a screen actor-but also a potent symbol for the excesses of that experimental and wild era. In other words, she became a heroin addict who spent years of her life in a drug induced stupor. CATCHING FIRE is largely told from the perspective of Pallenberg and so her voice is never lost or diminished. The film examines Pallenberg’s early years and how her childhood in Italy and Germany during the second World War shaped her and may have influenced her later self-destructive behavior. Despite her talent and ambition, she eventually gave up her dream of acting in movies to be with her children and support her then-partner Keith Richards. This fateful decision to put others first also contributed to her loneliness and dependency on Richards, factors that would contribute to her increasingly chaotic existence. Still, our plucky heroine never gave up on herself and eventually resumed pursuing the creative life she yearned for and for a long period in her life was denied.

MEN (streaming on Amazon Prime): Mansplaining, male toxicity and the gaslighting of women finally gets the horror movie it deserves. A young woman suffering a personal loss travels alone to the English countryside to recover. While in this isolated environment, she encounters an assortment of increasingly unhinged men (all eerily similar in appearance) who will make you long for the crowded streets of London. This frightening and bizarre film is just the sort of interesting fare that audiences have come to expect from director Alex Garland. This film will leave some scratching their heads, wondering what the hell they just watched, but keep an open mind. This film’s message is that men are babies, incapable of independence or growth and that women are forced to suffer the burden of the male compulsion to control them. The way Garland portrays this message makes for a compelling movie and makes me hopeful that there’s still filmmakers willing to challenge audiences with dark and complex material. Even more impressive is that these films are actually being funded and distributed.




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