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Sundays at Videotheque

Videotheque in South Pasadena, CA was my film school post-college. Even though I live far away now, I still make it out almost every Sunday to check out movies that I have no luck finding online, for money or otherwise. In this ongoing series, I will give my brief impressions about my rentals from the past week.

The Arbor (2010) dir. Clio Barnard, starring Manjinder Virk, Christine Bottomley, Natalie Gavin

A biopic like no other about playwright Andrea Dunbar, who was just 15 when she wrote her first play The Arbor. It is essentially a mixture of interviews that are lip-synced by actors and scenes reenacted from her plays. The effect is a fascinating insight into Dunbar’s psyche and the impact of her very troubled home life and working class surroundings. The endless inventiveness and the sharp emotional insight makes this drama/documentary constantly compelling.

Deep End (1970) dir. Jerzy Skolimowski, starring Jane Asher, John Moulder-Brown

There’s a reason that teenage boys are the worst (I should know, I was one), and this movie is what happens when a teenage boy’s sexuality is allowed to run amok and steamroll over everyone in its way. It’s especially perceptive that it’s the seemingly nice boys that can be the most dangerous because they feel that their niceness entitles them to sex with their desired women, and this film follows that nightmare to its grotesque conclusion.

The Holy Girl (2004) dir. Lucrecia Martel, starring Mercedes Morán, Carlos Belloso, Alejandro Urdapilleta

Kind of the flip side of Deep End, The Holy Girl is just as transgressive and strange as Deep End, except with a young girl’s sexuality. Martel touches on many of the same themes as Skolimowski does, but her style is considerably less flashy yet no less accomplished. She ground the film in her personal experience growing up with religion, which gives the film a lot more familiarity and immediacy despite being so specific.

Children of Heaven (1997) dir. Majid Majidi, starring Mohammad Amir Naji, Amir Farrokh Hashemian, Bahare Seddiqi

A somewhat forgotten gem of the Iranian New Wave, Children of Heaven deserves to be reissued and remembered. It is a simple story of a young boy who loses his sister’s shoes and the complications that arise from it. It manages to examine a whole society through this very small story yet also manages to be an engrossing narrative with just really solid storytelling.

This week’s rentals: Chilly Scenes of Winter, Go Fish, Green Fish, Legend of the Mountain, The Story of Adele H. Read my thoughts on these next week!

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