The theme for this month – Girls on Fire
Leave No Trace (2018)
Directed by Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone, Stray Dog (2014))
Written by Granik and Anne Rosselini (Winter’s Bone)
Starring: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey, Dana Millican, Alyssa Lynn, Ryan Joiner and Ayanna Berkshire.
“Leave No Trace paints a heartbreaking portrait of a father-daughter duo who live off the grid in an urban Portland forest. The father, Will (Foster), suffers from PTSD and a fundamental lack of trust in civil society; he has raised his daughter, Thom (McKenzie) to feel the same. Their woodland routine is idyllic: they forage for mushrooms, gather water in a tarp, and play chess under the eaves of canvas. But when a moment’s mistake brings them into contact with the real world—a world of church obligations, social workers, and mandatory schooling—the pair struggle to stay together as their identities begin to diverge.” Victoria Albert, Bust
“It is a strange answer, and yet she nods quietly, eschewing material things in a way that is atypical of a teenager. Only when the film gets into its central conflict—whether Will has their best interests at heart—does Tom become an independent thinker, and yet it is not a stretch when she quietly, patiently makes her case.
“With its Pacific Northwest setting, Granik evokes the same feeling and aesthetic as Kelly Reichardt. In films like Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy, Reichardt presents the region as a place where life is tough and the people persist in a quiet, gentle way.” Alan Zilberman, Washington City Paper
“Winter’s Bone featured Jennifer Lawrence in a breakout performance as the oldest of three siblings attempting to track down her drug-dealing father in the backwoods of Missouri. Granik’s most recent film was the 2014 documentary Stray Dog, also too-little-seen, about a burly, gregarious Vietnam veteran and biker, Ronnie ‘Stray Dog’ Hall, who regularly congregates with other vets, many of them with PTSD, and has a fondness for small pooches.
“In its probingness and choice of subject, Leave No Trace comes across like a compendium of Granik’s work to date. It’s very difficult to present scripted material as if it were caught on the fly, documentary-style, and her success here is a tribute to her uncoercive honesty as a filmmaker. It’s clear from watching Leave No Trace that these are people, and this is a story, that Granik cares deeply about. It’s rarer than you think to watch a movie in which this is the case.
“Much of the movie, especially in the early, woodsy section, is essentially wordless.” Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
Eighth Grade (2018)
Directed by Bo Burnham (Bo Burnham: Make Happy)
Written by Burnham.
Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Daniel Zolghadri, Frank Deal, Greg Crowe, Emily Robinson and Phoebe Amirault.
“Grownup audiences are flocking to movies with sweetness in them this summer, and you won’t find a sweeter, more adorable heroine than Kayla, the archetypal middle schooler in Eighth Grade. She’s played by Fisher (who voiced unicorn-obsessed little Agnes in Despicable Me), just out of eighth grade herself. She’s not as deep as Meryl Streep, but just as precise, rendering each halting, self-doubting yet stubbornly, awkwardly self-actualizing syllable Kayla utters (or mutters) with such authenticity that it seems like a kid’s real life unfolding moment to moment.
“Kayla is an aspiring YouTube star whose weekly videos give helpful ‘Life Tips for People Like Me.'” Tim Appelo, AARP
“Kayla goes to a pool party hosted by the class’s coolest girl, Kennedy. She shadows a high school student named Olivia (Robinson) through an entire school day and panics over what to wear when she’s invited to go to the mall with Olivia’s friends. She thirsts mightily after her class’s heartthrob, Aiden (Prael). And she tries, with all her might, to feel like the thing she’s always wanted to be: the ‘coolest girl in the world.’
“All these things seem trivial from an adult perspective, but when you’re 13 they matter so, so very much. Eighth Grade gets that. It’s a very funny movie, but the audience laughs are more laughs of painful recognition than derision. Of course it’s funny that Aiden is, in reality, a scrawny and not particularly interesting kid, but who doesn’t look back at their teenaged crush with a raised eyebrow? Yes, watching Kayla step reluctantly onto the pool deck in her one-piece bathing suit, surrounded by a sea of girls in bikinis, is cringe-inducing, but it’s also bound to provoke a chuckle from anyone who remembers what it felt like to feel that different from everyone else.” Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
“Burnham avoids most of the Mean Girls-style tropes in favor of a more gently humorous and nuanced approach.” Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
“Eighth Grade offers no sense of the world that Kayla lives in, observes, or imagines. She may not have any close friends, but she has, at least, acquaintances, classmates. What does she talk quietly about with her non-friends? Or, for that matter, with her father? Mark, whose wife, Kayla’s mother, he says, left the family, seemingly has no social life. What does Kayla know, or think, about her father, about her parents’ lives?” Richard Brody, New Yorker
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Directed by Carl Th. Dreyer (Ordet, Day of Wrath)
Shot by Rudolph Mate (To Be or Not To Be, Vampyr)
Starring: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Maurice Schutz, Antonin Artaud, Michel Simon and Jean d’Yd.
“The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Dreyer, is often cited as one of the greatest films of the silent era. Featuring stage actress Falconetti in the title role, Dreyer’s film is particularly notable for her performance and for the film’s cinematography and production: it is constructed largely of close-ups and was filmed on a single concrete set representing the prison where Joan of Arc was imprisoned before her execution.” Sarah Boslaugh, Playback StL
Leave No Trace is at The Grand Cinema.
Eighth Grade will start at The Grand Cinema on Friday, August 3.
The Passion of Joan of Arc will screen at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, August 10 in the Center for Spiritual Living (206 N. J St).
The TFC Discussion Night for these three films is Wednesday, August 15 in the CSL.
*We are watching two films at the Grand this month. It is hot inside the CSL.