Stories We Tell Directed by: Sarah Polley Written by: Sarah Polley
Hopefully you go into Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell knowing nothing about what happens. In the interest of preserving that for you, do not read past this sentence unless you’ve seen this beguiling meta-documentary.
Stories We Tell is filmmaking of a very personal nature while also being a relentless interrogation of the documentary form. Polley interviews her friends and family about her deceased mother, filming her process as part of the process. Along the way she acknowledges the impossibility of objectivity while attempting to achieve it, and throws in some aesthetic twists too.
1. Beasts of the Southern Wild– No matter how skilled a filmmaker is, rarely does a movie come along that creates a cinematic world that is seething with a new kind of life, a world or vision that movies haven’t seen before. Director Benh Zeitlin, working with a do-it-yourself low budget commune of filmmaking talent and some extraordinary “non-professional” performers, does that with Beasts of the Southern Wild. The ferocious story of Hushpuppy (the amazingly talented child actress Quvenzhané Wallis) and her small, increasingly hopeless village on the other side of a Louisiana levee is filled with fantastical, visually stunning sequences as well as low budget narrative economy. It is this year’s biggest contradiction, and its biggest success.
2. Amour– Michael Haneke’s second movie in a row to win the Cannes Film Festival’s highest honor (the Palme D’or) is the director’s most empathetic and devastating work to date. As the camera lingers in the apartment of Georges and Anne (legendary French performers Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emanuelle Riva in devastatingly good form), we become privy to the elderly Parisian couple’s tender, haunting final moments together. It is a slow crawl toward death, absent plot twists or Haneke’s sadism. Watching it yields no pleasure, but everything from the incredible performances to the wonderfully precise camera movement lingers long after the movie ends.
Take This Waltz Directed by: Sarah Polley Written by: Sarah Polley (screenplay) Starring: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman
One of the first things we see Margot (Michelle Williams) do in Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz is gently flog an adulterer while visiting an old fashioned theme park. Waves of anxiety and embarrassment wash over her face as the other people in the crowd laugh at both her and the obnoxiously over-the-top characters performing the ritual.
This scene sets up a convenient Meet Cute for Margot and Daniel (Luke Kirby), but it also brings to light the stigma attached to adulterers, though in modern times the flogging is more verbal. The dual purposes of this scene are important because Margot is married, and even loves Lou (Seth Rogen), her husband of five years.