Mother-daughter heartbreak in the colorful, tragic Pin Cushion

Coming of age stories are frequently awkward, often painful, but ultimately, usually, hopeful. Pin Cushion is one of those rare coming of age stories that is not really invested in perpetuating the myth that oddballs and weirdoes emerge from adolescence as interesting and functional adults. It is instead preoccupied with the ways that trauma passes between generations, and that no amount of parental love and acceptance can make up for a lack of same from peers. In Pin Cushion, bullying is not the métier of the playground, but is a cycle that perpetuates into adulthood, and bullies don’t always get their comeuppance (or, if they do, it’s just more trauma for the pile). Pin Cushion’s image of adolescence is a candy-colored darkness. Continue reading “Mother-daughter heartbreak in the colorful, tragic Pin Cushion”

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We NEED to laugh

I’ve been thinking about something since watching Nanette. Hannah Gadsby makes the point that laughter is not the medicine, that stories are the really important thing, the thing that creates empathy and invites understanding. She’s not wrong. Laughter doesn’t cure society’s ills. It won’t solve any problems or offer solutions. Jokes are simple, and laughter, however cathartic, is not understanding. This is all true.

But this is also true: We NEED to laugh. Continue reading “We NEED to laugh”

The Lodgers is creepy, low-key Gothic horror

A dilapidated estate in the Irish countryside is the setting for Brian O’Malley’s The Lodgers, a Gothic haunted house story set in the days following World War I. Any Gothic film set in a grand country estate immediately calls to mind Rebecca’s Manderley, and The Lodgers certainly has shared DNA with the Gothic films that have come before, including The Innocents and a little bit Picnic at Hanging Rock. It also calls to mind Guillermo Del Toro’s recent Gothic horror-romance, Crimson Peak, though where that film reaches for spectacle (and kind of face-plants in the garden of its own grandeur), The Lodgers is a quieter tale, atmospheric and creepy and full of decay.

The chandelier is an aesthetic choice.

Continue reading “The Lodgers is creepy, low-key Gothic horror”