45/52 ALWAYS SHINE
I don’t know if this is true, but I feel like female directors are better able to understand the complexity of a female character without needing to explain everything, and without needing to make the character “likable.” Likability to me is such a frustrating thing. I think there’s more awareness around this now, but in general, male characters can be so flawed, but if a woman is mildly annoying, “She’s not likable!” It mirrors this box of femininity in the real world, too, where you have to be this one narrow, certain way, and if you’re not, you’re intolerable. ~ Sophia Takal
Sophia Takal is another inspiring example of an actor/director who separated herself from the pack by creating her own work. ALWAYS SHINE, a psychological thriller, is her third feature as a director.
Two friends, both actresses (Halt and Catch Fire’s Mackenzie Davis and Masters of Sex’s Caitlin FitzGerald), leave Los Angeles for Big Sur embarking on a weekend getaway to reconnect. Once alone, however, the two women’s suppressed jealousies and deep-seated resentments bubble to the surface, causing them to lose grasp not just of the true nature of their relationship, but also of their own identities.
There’s a lot to love about this film which, as an actor in L.A., rang incredibly true to me. The two leads are actresses I adore and it’s great to watch them carry this story with such complicated characters. Most of all, I loved the ambiguous nature of the film, which can be interpreted in several different ways and left me contemplating the ending long after the movie was over. ALWAYS SHINE is available on demand.
27/52 THE PIG CHILD
I’ve never been able to stomach graphic or violent horror movies but, once in a while, a film comes comes along that is pure horror and I have a great appreciation for that. Pure horror taps into the dark and scary places of our human psyche–exploring them through story and metaphor so that we can safely look into the face of our fears and desires.
Directed by Lucy Campbell, THE PIG CHILD follows a female scientist who, driven by her experiments with human/animal DNA, decides to surrogate an illegal pig-human embryo using her own body. This short film follows the consequences of that heedless decision.
Campbell is currently in development on her feature re-imagining of the Frankenstein story and this short was the result of some of that research. It’s garnered a great deal of festival play and award nominations and wins. Campbell’s work reminds me of Hitchcock’s films combined with the original Twilight Zone series…both of which terrified and fascinated me as a child. After seeing this short, I’m so looking forward to what she does with Frankenstein.