Lita On Film

Posts Tagged ‘She Monkeys’

Trivial Top Ten

In Film News, Film Reviews, Netflix Recommendations on December 27, 2011 at 12:05 am

As the year draws to a close, I feel the annual urge to post my own Trivial Top Ten–a list not exhaustive by any means, but more a private crib sheet of my personal favorites from the past 12 months.

My perpetual caveat: there are SO MANY films I haven’t yet seen, many of which would probably end up on a more professional, exhaustive list, so don’t hold that against me.  These are just the ten films I enjoyed the most/found the most interesting over the past year.  Notes as to how you can see each of them are included, as are links to my own reviews of each title, as applicable.  Enjoy!  🙂

  1. MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE – Read my review here!  See the official site for screening locations.
  2. WEEKEND – Read my review here!  Now available on NETFLIX streaming!
  3. SHE MONKEYS – Read my review here!  See the official site here…so far, no distribution in the USA, but keep your fingers crossed.  Whet your appetite with the trailer (here)!
  4. SHAME – Read my review here!  Visit the official site here to find where it’s playing near you!  Beware, its NC-17 rating has made it difficult to find outside of major cities and art houses.  You may have to make a pilgrimage for this one, but it’s worth it, I promise.
  5. INSIDIOUS – Read my review here!  Ok, I know it technically came out last year, but it made such an impression on me–and I was so late in finally seeing it–that I felt it was worth adding to this list.  Plus, genuinely good horror films are so few and far between these days that one practically has to reach back a year or two to be able to recommend anything good.  Available on NETFLIX streaming!
  6. LAST NIGHT – Another Tribeca premiere that still made it to this list about 9 months later.  A truly excellent romantic drama starring Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington as a couple who married too young and are struggling with the consequences.  Great acting, tight direction and a fast pace keep the tension crackling in this sexy ensemble drama.  Available on NETFLIX streaming!
  7. DRIVE – Ok, I got to this one late as well, but it was so worth it.  Check out Kevin Bowen’s review over on Screen Comment for a full rundown, and the official site for screening locations near you.
  8. BUCK – Read my review here!  Now available on NETFLIX streaming!
  9. ANGELS CREST – Read my review here!  See the official site for release dates and screening venues.
  10. TROLLHUNTER – Read my review here!  Now available on NETFLIX streaming!

What were your favorite (or least favorite) films of 2011?  What were some that should have been on my list?  Let me know!

She Monkeys (2010) Tribeca Film Festival 2011 WINNER * Best Narrative Feature *

In Film Reviews on May 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Danish director Lisa Aschan’s feature debut follows a teenage girl, Emma, as she becomes a member of a competitive vaulting (gymnastics on horseback) team.  She soon develops an unusual connection with Cassandra, a fellow team member, and the two begin a relationship of sorts; however, their friendship has a sinister undertone and soon their every interaction becomes a struggle for power.

“She Monkeys” is primarily about the tension between female sexuality and control, which exists not only in Emma and Cassandra, but even (in a stunning performance) in Emma’s 8 year old sister Sara.  However, far from being another tragic portrait of the “mean girl” phenomenon, Emma and Cassandra’s relationship is rendered in far more complex, nuanced terms.  Emma isn’t merely a hapless bystander or victim, and as the film progresses the balance of power gradually shifts between the girls, something that would never happen in a more conventional film.

Aschan focuses very closely on the girls’ natural surroundings in semi-rural Sweden, primarily as a metaphor for their budding sexuality—there are beautiful shots of woods and shores, frequently being buffeted by unpredictable winds.  Similarly, much attention is paid to the girls’ relationship to their animal companions: Emma’s obsession with control and perfection, which she can’t quite attain in the vaulting team, is expressed in her constant training of the family dog.

Many times in the course of the film, the girls’ physical vulnerability is highlighted—whether it’s vulnerability to the force of gravity or the presence of strange men—and this generates enormous suspense.  “She Monkeys” is best described as a psychological thriller, though it lacks the complete hysteria of some other recent girl-on-girl psychodramas.  Unlike, say, “Black Swan,” Aschan doesn’t have to rely on visual tricks or supernatural forces to bring her narrative full-circle.  Her actors perform so flawlessly that just a glance between Emma and Cassandra speaks volumes more than all the fever-dream frippery packed into your average American thriller.

Congratulations to Lisa Aschan and her cast and crew!  This was well deserved!!

This concludes my coverage of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival – thanks for reading, tune in next year!