‘The Lotus Gun’ is a critically acclaimed short, independent student film co-written and directed by Amanda Milius. The film is a beautifully rendered post-apocalyptic story with a Western aesthetic that features a queer relationship between its two female leads.
A student of journalism and political science at Syracuse University, Deren was politically engaged. Her master’s, however, in English and symbolist poetry, point to her contrasting impulses towards abstraction and the poetic. Touring and performing across the USA with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, Deren met the Czechoslovakian filmmaker Alexander Hammid in Los Angeles, and produced her first and best-known experimental film in collaboration with him: ‘Meshes of the Afternoon.’
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That separation is reinforced by much of the film’s comedy, but Margaret isn’t positioned as an object of ridicule or disgust, as is often the case with fat and/or gender non-conforming characters. She is naive, gauche, and in over her head, but she is also the character with whom the audience empathizes most.
The Future Is Behind You: David Robert Mitchell and Maika Monroe on the Chilling, Thoughtful ‘It Follows’
The fact that ‘It Follows’ is a horror film, and a surprisingly effective one, is almost secondary to the respectful way it develops its characters, particularly its protagonist, Jay, portrayed in a breakout performance by Maika Monroe.
The film is a huge sleeper hit, by low-budget indie standards. This week, it expanded to an astonishing 1,655 theaters nationwide. I spoke with Monroe and Mitchell recently by phone about how the film was made and what makes it so unique.
If I were to give any advice to indie filmmakers, and especially women in this industry it would be this: It’s going to be hard. Really, really hard. You must be unrelenting. But practice tact, learn how to read people, know when to to keep pushing and when to let go. You’re going to need to hustle. Grow a thick skin. Learn to take rejection gracefully, because it’s going to happen. A lot.
There is a lot said in this film without dialogue, and without anything spoken within the first few minutes of the film. Most of the African American characters have an unspoken sense of solidarity, one which Will eventually learns to hear. The film explores how Black families are often torn apart and turned against each other by the pressures of a white patriarchal society.
There are plenty of movies about making a movie, to the point where it’s arguably a little passé, and ‘Benny Loves Killing’ is careful not to ever be heavy-handed or obnoxious in its extra layer, addressing it obliquely – by which I absolutely don’t mean obscure or pretentious, but subtle and thought-provoking. This is one of those films where the more you think about it the better it gets.
In my experience, people who have seen this film often mistake Sophie’s actions as abandoning Frances for her boyfriend, Patch. The fact that it happens differently is a breath of fresh air. Rather, it represents an early point in which audiences experience the divide between Frances and Sophie in physical and emotional aspects. Sophie sees the opportunity to move on and fulfill her dreams, while Frances’ dream is fractured. The story of “us” that precedes this action becomes their separate, respective stories: “the story of Frances” and “the story of Sophie.”
For ‘Frances Ha’ is not a film where “boy-meets-girl,” and there is definitely no diamond ring. The love story of ‘Frances Ha’ is between the titular character, Frances (Greta Gerwig) and her best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner), and it is precisely this friendship between two women which questions, resists, and challenges the definition of love posed by the (primarily) heterosexual and (almost always) heteronormative romcom genre.
But what if I spent my time, instead, helping another female filmmaker make her movie involving female friendship? Wouldn’t that be just as meaningful? And could it perhaps be making an even bigger statement—promoting the “cause,” so to speak?
As the writer, my voice defines each character. Just as male writers paint masculine (or, worse, stereotypical) versions of the female characters they create, my characters each have a decidedly feminine spin. These are not gun-toting, one-dimensional he-men, but rather strong, masculine, flawed characters with quirks and cracks in their armor. They have no need for the mask of locker-room grandstanding. And a woman is telling their story. Unlike other dark comedies/psychological thrillers, this is a character-based story told from a female perspective.