Posted in movie review

The Blackcoat’s Daughter – Review

Labelled horror but more akin to a slow-paced psychological thriller instead, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, directed by Osgood Perkins, is a movie about two students, Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton), who are left behind at their boarding school, waiting for their parents who have failed to arrive to take them home for their break. We also follow another character, Joan (Emma Roberts), who is seen making her way towards Bramford with no explanation given of her relevance to the story, establishing an unnerving presence in the progression of the narration all the same. A simple tale with an exceeding potential to play out in multiple ways, the movie unfolds with abrupt leaps and with little happening through its 95-minute runtime.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter relies heavily on its eerie soundtrack and talented actors to elevate the movie up from its somewhat flat script. The majority of the film is made up of close, angled headshots that catch every shift in the actor’s expressions, with rarely more than two characters on screen at any given point, playing off each other to cause the tension to build and fold with ease. We see the characters in reflections, from backseats, and often observe them from behind others on screen, shifting our perspective with every adjustment of the camera, moving between well-crafted settings fashioned to allow for the discomfort of every conversation to settle in. It is this detail that develops the movie more than any other, where we are constantly left feeling like there might be something just out of our line of sight, some element we missed that the character experienced without us.

The movie’s non-linear structure is an interesting choice, but it does little for the film other than prolonging the suspense, creating a sense of confusion more than curiosity. Moving back and forth in time, we’re slowly exposed to details in measured doses, a creative attempt at keeping the viewer engaged despite the lack of too many nightmarish happenings. Even the moments of terror that do arise on occasion, spark a greater fear of innate insanity than they do the fear of the devil. The movie doesn’t invest too much in marking this distinction either, never lingering on the possible presence of something ‘evil’ for too long. The characters, while well-portrayed by those playing them, appear insufficiently developed and seem unable to leave any significant impact despite their misfortune. While the film ends its conclusively gruesome narration on a morose, lonely note, there is little emotion left to drive the impact of that loneliness home.

Having watched ‘I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in this House’ before I watched this one, I was looking forward to the uneasy horror of minimal jumpscares paired with an optimal level of grief that the other movie had laid out, but as much as I wanted to like this film, other than appreciating the acting and aesthetic, I found myself left wanting more. A good study for those interested in well-placed cinematography and a necessary exploration of horror that is not necessarily about haunted homes, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a well-made movie that while an engaging watch, could really have been so much more.

Title: The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2017)

Director: Osgood Perkins

Language: English

Runtime: 95 min

Posted in movie review

Happy Hour – Movie Review

Five hours of someone’s time is a lot to ask for, always implying a long wait while sitting down to watch a story play out as the subtitles skip by, with a silent hope to be rewarded by the experience.

Now, five hours and seventeen minutes later, I have a feeling that this is a movie that will ring in the back of my mind, as I continue into adulthood and grow to experience these things for myself. I don’t feel rewarded just yet, but the sense of understanding remains.

Starting with laughter and misleading simplicity, Happy Hour, directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, is a movie about the little moments that make up a lifetime of experiences, where no event is too insignificant to explore. With scenes that are exceedingly long and unpack a lot of complex ideas within those minutes, the Japanese movie is an amalgamation of normal people doing normal everyday things, and while that doesn’t sound like the recipe for a thrilling movie, it has the right ingredients for a mature retelling of the experiences of people just like us.

Aesthetically constructed, the movie is a perfect blend of extended stills and moving shots as it follows characters into rooms and out into open landscapes naturally, with little attention drawn to the magic of its complexity. Continuing the imagery into sound just as it does with words, the silence of an uncomfortable conversation or the echo of lonely footsteps carefully reminds us of the daily noise of our own lives.

Going off of the poster with no previous knowledge of the movie, at first, I thought this was a story of womanhood and friendship, one similar to the South Korean movie Sunny, but the story evolved to one that extended beyond the four women and explored the dimensions of countless relationships, including their relationship with themselves.

The movie grew more intricate almost immediately, shifting my sense of support for the character towards and, suddenly, away from them, as their relationships shifted as well. Despite the multitude of characters who have done ‘bad’ things, I was left with an uncomfortable feeling of understanding, a sense of acknowledgement for the things we often do to the people we love. A lot is said in the conversations that take place, where misunderstandings and secrets shade how much the characters reveal about themselves, the fear of rejection disguising words until they’re forced out in action.

From loud, extroverted Akari, to shy, timid Sakurako, each one of them struggles to acknowledge something about themselves while trying to lift those around them, speaking up in bursts and holding back just as often. Recognising the battles that the four women face while balancing different parts of their married lives, the movie picks apart the very essence of marriage, zooming in from every possible angle to analyse the dynamics of two people who come together and try to build a life in an already multifaceted world.

Symbolic details abound throughout the movie, as they stand, stumble, and often fall apart in their attempt to control the things happening around them. Closing doors and open windows threaten to lead their fall towards even greater despair. The movie is similarly littered with movement, whether on foot, by train, or shifting mentally as we accompany the characters on their journey.

Although often disagreeing with the decisions made in the course of the film, there was a distance I felt between myself and everything that happened, taking the judgement away to let me be a listener or a spectator, merely there to observe. I caught myself thinking, “not all women” or telling myself, “If this was a man I would feel differently”, but I do not believe it is a movie that requires interpretation or defence, but instead an open mind that keeps reminding us that things are not always one-sided.

Happy Hour fades to an end with lingering questions of love, fidelity, and intimacy left behind unanswered, and while that feels a little incomplete, abruptly cutting us off from the lives of these women, it also follows through with its own advice, reminding us that its best to speak for ourselves first, and answer the questions we want answered. It is not an easy story, nor one that justifies itself in the end, but it is a story of people who deserve to be heard once in a while. It isn’t a pleasant ending, but it does leave behind an unexpected, unprecedented taste for change.

Title: Happy Hour/ Happî awâ (2015)

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Language: Japanese

Runtime: 5h 17min

Posted in Short Story, Shorts

10.7.20 / 6:38am


Dawn snuck in past the curtains, uninvited yet spreading across every surface, slowly chasing the flimsy shadows away. The phone screen that illuminated my face through the night, slipped in importance, my attention shifting to the strange in-between light filling my room instead. My vision blurred momentarily, making room for colour, replacing the static shades of black and grey that had kept me company all night long.
I could feel the wedge of discomfort in the unseen hollow of my chest as I shifted, adjusting pillows and blankets in the hopes of finding comfort in an itchy bed of unwanted thoughts.
Thoughts of the future and the past grated and glided against each other, fighting for a moment of supremacy that would push me to dwell on it for the rest of the day, heavy with the weight of regret lived and predicted. I felt the pull of morose morbidity, the need to pick apart every moment with scuffed cutlery, worn out with years of overuse, yet sturdy enough to tear to pieces every decision I had ever made.
I wanted to blame the stealthy dawn haze, for bringing in a new day and reminding me of the time slipping through my fingers like smoke rising from the pyre of my dreams and intentions. And yet as I felt the night edge away from me, I had to admit to myself that I had let myself steep in the mixture of despair for far too long, to lay the blame anywhere but at my own feet. The turmoil was of my own creation.
I held on to the discomfort for a few more heartbeats, finger wrapped all too tightly around the familiar ache of self-pity and uncertainty. Then slowly stretching my limbs as far as they would go, I buried myself still deeper into my bed, hiding myself away from the thoughts that had insisted on keeping me company at night. I drew the covers over my head and ran my fingers along the spines of happy memories, displayed like a library of ancient texts in my head. Picking one that sounded like sunshine and tasted like the sea, I settled into the reverie as it drew me into its warmth, and melted away the tension I’d kept coiled within me.
The weak beams of daylight grew stronger around me as I left it behind to slip into my city of dreams.

Posted in poetry

A writer?

 

The last click echoed in the room

the feeling of satisfaction growing with the fading sound

leaning back I scanned the screen

maybe, just maybe I wasn’t a bad writer after all.

It wasn’t ink and paper

but there was authenticity in my art

just me and my laptop together

a moment of solitude as I tapped out my heart.

simple words, no flowery additions,

broken sentences in imitation of poetry

just staggered lines of feeling

recorded with a history of changes and backspaces.

I was done and I was happy

but not for long.

 

A jagged green line highlighted an error

more grammatical than theoretical

but the irritation to fix it grew

as I scanned the pages once more.

Slowly, ever so slowly,

the dissatisfaction slithered in

what was I trying to say? who was I writing for?

‘what a pretentious piece’ I whispered to myself

what a sad attempt,

what an unfortunate occurrence

that I kept fooling myself.

 

Do you ever think you could publish this?

does this really stand out?

what a weak weak idea

what a disappointment, there was no doubt.

Sighing, crying, closing the page

I resigned to reading someone else once more

‘I’ll never write like that’ I whisper

I’ll never write at all’.

Posted in poetry, Uncategorized

More than just somebody’s wife

I see perfection glancing past me

gentle knowing eyes placed too close together

a ghost of a smile silhouetted against uneven teeth

a dreamy air of elegance practiced,

chiselled by the dreams of many

she was perfection in its truest form.

Skilled hands meant for so much more,

greeting guests with chai and coffee

she worked her way through the gossiping crowd,

a nod here

a congratulatory whisper there

she played the gracious wife

born to play much more.

Carrying more than just refreshments for ‘her’ guests

her cracked dreams lay cradled within her

scratching, prodding, cutting her inside

she refused to set them down for anyone.

for now she would play the perfect wife

her glittering jewels no more than borrowed costume

but someday she’d play the queen reigning

dented armour, flawless courage.

her dreams would live to be whole

decorated, framed, glistening

from their shelves as awards

no more serving refreshments in someone else’s home.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Everything is okay

Smile and nod

Smile and nod

“Yeah exactly” I say animatedly

As I smile and nod.

Teeth bared but politely

Hands raised but waving slightly

Teary eyes cloaked by laughter

I keep pretending.

I want to be anywhere but there

Yet there is nowhere id be happy.

I want to be anywhere but here, I think to myself

As I agree to a plan that id rather sabotage instead.

I reach wildly for excuses

Struglling, shuffling, pulling at straws

Doing what I can to distance myself without offending.

I don’t want to be here

But where else would I go.

Every moment spent with company feels hollow, meaningless

But every moment I spend alone I cry about the loneliness

The unhappiness that threatens to submerge me in self pity

As my chest shrivels at the thought of living and carrying on.

Disgust and anger boils under my skin as I gather myself

Tearing through the walls of my veins,

I feel the depression leering at me once again.

Smile. Giggle. Everything is okay.

Everything is okay.

Everything is okay.

I chant to myself as I try to focus on words that aren’t mine

Try to decode the thoughts flowing out of someone else’s mind

I listen intently trying to work out their message

And decipher what im supposed to do in response,

But – Everything is okay. No.

Everything is okay.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Thought pile

We speak of love while holding grudges against accidental strangers who did no wrong. We ask for equality when we’re willing to fight only if we feel threatened or harmed. We look into each other’s eyes and make promise that we know we won’t keep but we say those words anyways; we let those lies slip through our teeth, while we whisper to ourselves words of comfort to convince ourselves that it’s for the best.

We lower our eyes at the occasion of a tragedy, not out of respect but in an attempt to shelter ourselves from sights, from the thoughts that could keep us up at night. We smile and say everything will be okay, trying to will things into existence, or sometimes out of existence, as we pray for the pain to go away. We pretend not to feel jealousy or hate, afraid to admit to these base emotions and let the world know that we’re only human. Because being human is no longer enough, we all want to be ‘more’.

Normalcy is an abstract concept, shaped century by century, second by second, a collection of averages put together haphazardly so we can begin our journey pretending we’re all the same, yet refusing to accept the similarity. Then we pretend we’re all unique, wanting to stand out and be noticed by the universe, yet we reject the idea of being ‘different’. We push and pull at the elastic walls of the world we created without realising it ourselves, trying to see the universe when we don’t even understand ourselves. We leave people unexplored, hunting instead for a god who will save us from the unknown yet take us to another unknown. We shun religion but we pray, hoping some force will help us through things that are beyond our control. We pray for ourselves and we pray for the world and we pray for the future as we struggle to make it through a day without cursing someone.

We’re running, always running, leaping towards a destination, scrambling to keep a grip on reality as our focus struggles to hold on to a goal that might not be our own. Every day we live, keep on living as we die slowly, speeding towards a better tomorrow or a catastrophe that will make sure there isn’t a tomorrow. We don’t know but we keep moving anyways. We’re always fighting to stay standing, not knowing that it’s okay to still for a while. We fight to prove that we are alive, even though a single breath is enough to tell us that we exist.

We exist in colour yet we perceive in primary shades and secondary shades and shades that we label because that’s just who we are. We’re not bad or good; there is no divide between the two. A simple wave, a slight caress could move us to into the abyss between the two figurative extremes, where we struggle with reason to guide us instead of our hearts, hoping our ancestral archetypes will tell us how to decide between rights from wrong. We admit to no mistakes as we stumble and crawl through life, always moving, always surviving in bits and pieces.

We’re still real underneath all the drama and sludge. Under layers of clothes and tissues and scars and memories, we’re real and we are here. Always close to giving up, yet always going back to dig graves and roads and pave futures for those who come next. We survive, and we force everyone to survive, out of selfish need and selfless humanity we convince others to keep living. We hold hands to comfort and to save guiding someone as we’re guided ourselves. We keep moving. Dancing, skipping, crawling, swimming, and tiptoeing around glass canyons and stone clouds. We move. We keep moving. And so life goes on…

Posted in Uncategorized

Stop

I always prayed that all the noise

All the shouting

Every yelled insult

All of it would just

Stop.

 

I wanted peace

Some heavenly respite

A breath of silence

To wash over us.

But nothing came of it.

We fought like we were

Possessed by spirits,

Clawing at each other’s minds

Ripping out chunks of each other’s

Exposed, speeding hearts.

 

But suddenly one day

When we were expending

The last of our souls

Determined to bring the other down,

The sound, your voice,

It was all gone.

You gave up on us.

 

There was a hollow silence

Carved out by your absence,

While I stood frozen

Unable to breath

Incapable of shattering the void

With even the sound of my broken sob.

 

I’d always prayed for silence

But i didn’t want it anymore,

Its haunting presence

Draining my life

Arresting even my heart

Leaving my mind, body

Devoid of the energy,

Suckling at my resolve

To hold on.

 

This silence was worse

Than any sob or shout

Because it left me alone with myself

And ever since then,

I’ve been terrified of what I found.

Posted in Uncategorized

Blink

I open my eyes to the glaring light

Blink. I can’t see

I’m blinded by your lies.

 

My eyes adjust to the brightness

I can see a little now

Blink. Your light is slowly going out.

 

All I’m left with is the darkness

That’s blinding me once more

Blink. You’re gone

Just left, disappeared

Letting me stumble to the floor.