Tag Archives: film

Random Review: Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby 1971)


An eighteen-year-old boy falls in love with a nearly eighty-year-old woman. It sounds like a particularly shock-courting premise for a dire gross-out comedy, but the triumph of classic independent film Harold and Maude is that, while embracing the oddness of such an unlikely relationship, it manages to make it convincing and tender.

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Random Review: The Vanishing (George Sluizer 1988)

The Vanishing

Rex (Gene Bervoets) and Saskia (Johanna ter Steege), a Dutch couple, are travelling in France when they stop at a service station and Saskia disappears. Dutch director George Sluizer’s adaptation of Tim Krabbé’s novel The Golden Egg is concerned with the aftermath of the disappearance, and focuses on Rex’ obsessive quest to find out what happened to Saskia, but also on uncovering the mind of her abductor.

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Review: Fill the Void (Rama Burshtein 2012)


In my last post (which, as usual, was too long ago!), I wrote about how the best fiction and discussions about marginalised groups are created by people in that group. Then I saw Fill the Void, which I think is a really good example of the kind of art from viewpoints we don’t often hear from, that should get out there more. Unlike 12 Years a Slave, it isn’t even distanced from its characters’ lives by history. Rama Burshtein’s debut feature Fill the Void is set in a contemporary world I knew nothing about – the Orthodox Hassidic community, where there’s a huge social focus on arranged marriages.

The film begins with its eighteen-year-old heroine Shira and her aunt spying on a potential match in the supermarket, and the theme of marriage – meeting prospective husbands, attending weddings, arrangements falling through – dominates almost every conversation, as the characters follow it with an intense interested designed to, perhaps, fill the existential void referred to in the title. This film fails the Bechdel Test, but on purpose – the female characters talk to each other about men and matrimony because it’s such an important part of the story and their lives. As an outsider, I can’t judge how accurately this film represents the community, but it feels authentic and I found it an eye-opening insight.

Shira seeks advice on her first meeting with her prospective husband from her pregnant sister, Esther. But Esther soon collapses at a family gathering, and is taken to hospital where she dies in childbirth. Her family and her husband Yochay mourn her loss and care for her newborn son, but soon the question arises of whether Yochay should remarry. Desperate to stay in contact with her grandchild, Shira’s mother suggests that she should become her brother-in-law’s second wife.

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Filed under Feminism, Film, Social Justice

Overcoming Huh: Running on Empty (Sidney Lumet 1988)

This will be the first in a series of semi-regular posts inspired by having had several versions of this conversation:

Me: Oh,  film/ book/ singer is great!

Friend: Huh? Never heard of it/ them.

Me: Uh, well, it’s… trust me, it’s great. You have to watch/ read/ listen to it/ them.

Friend (unconvinced): Sure.

These posts are going tobe the long and eloquent explanation I can’t think up on the spur of the moment of why X is so great, in the hope that if I  encourage more people to watch/ read/ listen to it, I’ll run into that disappointing ‘huh’ less often, because I won’t be alone in my love.

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Filed under Film, Overcoming Huh