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The Worst Person in the World

“I’ve never seen anything through. I go from one thing to another.”

Have you ever felt like a complete failure? Like you’re the worst person in the world? These feelings plague Julie (Renate Reinsve), a 20-something college student who isn’t sure what path she wants to take in life. Every new career move leads her to a new guy but she just can’t quite stay put. That is until she meets comic book artist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie). He’s older, a bit wiser and absolutely smitten with her. As Julie turns 30 and they move in together, she finds herself at a crossroads. That restlessness seeps back in. She then meets Eivind (Herbert Nordrum) at a party and the two can’t help but be drawn to each other. With both Julie and Eivind in separate committed relationships, the world seems to stop just for them. But then reality hits Julie hard as she must reckon with her relationships and her path moving forward.

“Nothing’s ever good enough. The only thing worse than all the idiots is yourself.”

Directed by Joachim Trier, The Worst Person in the World is a richly layered portrait of a young woman in flux. I’m not usually drawn to stories like this but I couldn’t help but be captivated by this one. It’s structured much like a novel and features an introduction, twelve chapters and an epilogue. Oslo, Norway serves as the setting and a gorgeous backdrop for the story. Julie’s decisions in life seem to be solely influenced by the men in her life, whether it’s Aksel, Eivind, another boyfriend or her emotionally distant father. It’s takes a major life event for her to rely on just herself. The film does suffer a bit from a strong male gaze and male perspective especially considering the focus is on the female protagonist. However, Renate Reinsve does at complexity to her character which makes Julie a character you can both sympathize and be frustrated with.

The Worst Person in the World is distributed by Neon and will release in theaters February 4th.

Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation

For more than forty years, these two giants of American literature goaded and supported one another in the agonizing quest to turn life into art.”

A new documentary profiles two literary giants and their lifelong friendship. Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation is comprised of archival footage and photographs and personal letters and writings by the two authors about themselves and each other. Jim Parsons narrates as Truman Capote and Zachary Quinto as Tennessee Williams. The biggest takeaways were how these two gay icons saw themselves in relation to their sexuality, how they handled their celebrity and the adaptations of their stories to film. It’s a straight-forward documentary, simply told, and an interesting watch for anyone who enjoys learning about literary world.

Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation is distributed by Kino Lorber. It’s available on DVD and to rent on demand, including Kino Now.

The Feast

Directed by Lee Haven Jones, The Feast is a Welsh horror film that pits the characters’ own greed and selfishness against themselves. Glenda (Nia Roberts) and Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) are hosting a dinner party at their home to convince their neighbor Mair (Lisa Palfrey) to take a business proposition from Euros (Rhodri Meilir). Gwyn is a politician who’s made money hand over fist with shady business deals especially when it comes to crude oil. Their sons Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies) and Guto (Steffan Cennydd) are outliers at the party, bitter against their parents and both engage in their own forms of self-punishment. The force of chaos comes in the form of Cadi (Annes Elwy) a young woman Glenda has hired to help with the dinner. Cadi is mysterious, quiet and about to give the dinner guests a taste of their own medicine.

The Feast is a visually captivating but ultimately shallow revenge horror film. The conceit is neither explained nor is it able to be pieced together with clues from different scenes. The mystery lacks resolution and will ultimately leave the viewer unsatisfied. 

The Feast is distributed by IFC Films and available to rent on demand.


Kristen Stewart shines in Pablo Larraín’s latest drama Spencer. Told over the time span of Christmas and Boxing Day in 1991, the story follows Princess Diana (Stewart) as she has a mental breakdown due to Prince Charles’ infidelity, public scrutiny and the unwavering pressures that come with being a member of the royal family. Princess Diana is someone the audience will already be protective of and Stewart does a fantastic job portraying her not as a victim but of a free spirit trapped in a outdated lifestyle that prevents her from being her true authentic self. This is a story of a woman who just wanted to be loved. 

This is a great role for Stewart. And although I couldn’t help but watch her performance and feel like this is an actress pretending to be Princess Diana, she did do a fantastic job getting the mannerisms and portraying Di’s loneliness and despair. It’s a tough watch especially for those of us who hold the memory of Di close to our hearts. Timothy Spall is incredible as Major Alistair Gregory as is Sally Hawkins as Princess Di’s closest confidante Maggie.

Spencer is distributed by Neon. It’s currently playing in select theaters and available to rent on demand.

The Power of the Dog

Director Jane Campion is a force to be reckoned with. Her latest film, the sweeping Western The Power of the Dog, is simply put a masterpiece.

Set in 1920s Montana, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank, a troubled  rancher with a domineering streak. He runs a cattle drive with his brother George (Jesse Plemons) who is the polar opposite of him; a much more subdued and gentle soul. When George falls in love with widow Rose (Kirsten Dunst), Phil’s world seems to be turned upside down. He despises George’s new wife and her slender and effeminate teenage son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee).  Rose turns to alcohol to deal with the turbulent situation with Phil and Peter develops a strange bond with Phil that is ultimately volatile.

Stunningly shot, almost every frame of The Power of the Dog seems like it could be framed and hung up in a museum. There is a brutality to the setting that adds a sense of cruelty to the story and the characters. The landscape is unforgiving and so are the people who exist on it. I love how objects hold power in the story: a cowhide, a paper flower, a  memorial plate, a stack of magazines, etc. This film begs to be watched more than once. 

The characters are fascinating. Phil and Peter’s sexuality is explored in such a subtle yet powerful way.  I particularly enjoyed the performances by Benedict Cumberbatch who gives his role a natural intensity it deserves and Dunst whom we follow so anxiously as her character wallows in despair.

Jane Campion is one of my favorite directors. The Portrait of a Lady (1996), although not considered one of her best, is a personal favorite.  The Power of the Dog is a triumph and I hope we see more from her very soon.

The Power of the Dog is currently streaming on Netflix.

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