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My streaming gem: why you should watch Atlantics | Drama films

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When Mati Diop’s Atlantics was released on Netflix last November, I added it to my watchlist and bided my time, saving it for best – like a nice dress hanging in the wardrobe for a special occasion. I was waiting for that magical do-nothing evening when the baby went to bed early and I didn’t feel knackered enough to fall asleep brushing my teeth. The night never came – lockdown did instead – and it wasn’t till one morning in June that I pressed play and was completely undone by Diop’s film, a ghostly love story, whodunnit and Greek tragedy rolled into one, with a spontaneously combusting wedding bed and beautiful zombie women (“Dig our graves. Dig with your hands till they bleed”). It’s haunting, powerful and so female.

Atlantics opens as an immigration love story. Diop, who is 38, half French and half Senegalese, said in an interview last year that she hadn’t seen a film with black characters who were up there with Romeo and Juliet. Her couple are head over heels in me-and-you-against-the-world impossible first love; it will never work. Mama Sane plays Ada, a young woman in Dakar who is soon to be married off by her parents to a rich older guy. But she is in love with Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré), a labourer who works on a building site on the edge of the city. His boss, a venal property developer, hasn’t paid anyone in three months. After a confrontation about money, Souleiman and his friends drive home in the back of a pickup. Their mood is edgy and elated. But Souleiman runs his hand through his hair, desperate, despairing. You assume he’s worrying about money.

Actually, it turns out that Souleiman is thinking about leaving. Without telling a soul, he and his friends have made a pact to set sail to Spain – 2,000km across the Atlantic for a better life, or death, if things go badly. There’s a stunning strange scene on the night they go, when their girlfriends arrive at a beachfront bar to party and realise what’s happened – a room full of women without men, the left behind. It brought to mind stories of women after the first world war dancing in pairs at tea dances, their dreams shattered. The characters in Atlantics all talk about “crossing the sea”. No one ever says: “He sailed to Spain.” I wonder if that’s because so few make it. Claire Mathon, director of photography, hauntingly shoots the ocean as vast and fathomless. It’s not calming or magnificent; it’s a graveyard.

If Diop’s ambition stopped here, she would have made an authentic, moving drama. But then a kind of fever takes hold of the film. Ten days after Souleiman’s disappearance, on the night of her arranged marriage, Ada’s wedding bed bursts into flames. The young police detective (Amadou Mbow) called in to investigate arson suspects Souleiman is behind the incident – maybe he didn’t leave town after all. Then Ada gets a text from an unknown mobile number claiming to be from Souleiman, asking her to meet him in the dead of night.

And something is happening to the left-behind girlfriends. By the light of the moon they sleepwalk, barefoot in their nightdresses, eyes milky white like zombies, to the house of the property developer, demanding the unpaid wages. Is this a case of supernatural possession or mass hysteria?

Diop clearly has a knack for working with first-time actors. She found Traoré on a construction site. She walked up to Mama Sane, a trainee seamstress, on the street in Dakar. Both inhabit their characters beautifully. Souleiman does not have much screen time, but Diop and Traoré make him real, a sensitive but resilient young man – he doesn’t walk away from conflict. It’s important that he’s believable, a person, not a statistic or headline (as I type this, the body of a 16-year-old teenage Sudanese boy washes up on a beach near Calais).

And what a debut for Diop, an actor best known for appearing in Claire Denis’s 35 Shots of Rum. Atlantics is the first film directed by a black woman to screen in competition at Cannes, where it won the grand prix. Earlier this year it was shortlisted for the Academy Award for best international feature film. Diop has said she’s not in a hurry to make another film. Let’s hope she changes her mind.

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Scientists Think These Are The 10 Scariest Movies

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I’m already hyperventilating.

It’s the scariest time of the year—Halloween, of course—and for many thrill-seekers that means binging on the most frightening horror films out there.

UK broadband company broadbandchoices recently conducted a scientific study tracking the heart rates of 50 people watching over 120 hours of beloved horror films in 5.1 surround sound.

You can check out the results of the entire study here. For now, here’s the top ten films that triggered the highest average heart rate in the participants.

10. The Visit (2015) – 79 BPM

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Universal / YouTube

M. Night Shyamalan’s unsettling fright-fest about two children visiting their grandparents for the first time is packed with enough jump-scares to keep you up at night.

9. The Descent (2005) – 79 BPM

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Pathé / YouTube

Not gonna lie: I recently saw this nightmarish tale of six women trapped in a cave system, and it still keeps me up at night.

8. The Babadook (2014) – 80 BPM

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Entertainment One / YouTube

Australian director Jennifer Kent’s debut feature is one of the scariest films in recent memory, as well as a devastating look at the trials of parenthood.

7. The Conjuring 2 (2016) – 80 BPM

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Warner Bros. / YouTube

But wait—where’s the first one? Oh, we’ll get to it.

6. It Follows (2015) – 81 BPM

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RADiUS-TWC

David Robert Mitchell’s first feature became an instant horror classic off the sheer strength of its premise. It’s all in the title, really: It follows. And it never stops! How terrifying.

5. Paranormal Activity (2009) – 82 BPM

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Paramount / YouTube

Pro tip: If the trailer for your movie mostly consists of people freaking out while watching your movie, you’ve made a pretty scary movie.

4. Hereditary (2018) – 83 BPM

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A24 / YouTube

What’s scarier than family? That’s the question that Ari Aster’s terrifying debut feature posed—and, trust me, you’re gonna want to sleep with the lights on after this one.

3. The Conjuring (2013) – 84 BPM

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Warner Bros. / YouTube

Remember when I said we’d get to this one? James Wan’s first entry in The Conjuring franchise packed more jump-scares than a thousand haunted houses.

2. Insidious (2010) – 85 BPM

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FilmDistrict / YouTube

Another one from James Wan, with a script written by Leigh Whannell (who directed this year’s incredible and frightening The Invisible Man). Strong Poltergeist vibes from this one, to the point where it’ll have you hiding under your bedsheets.

1. Sinister (2012) – 86 BPM

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Summit Entertainment / YouTube

I mean—how could Sinister not be at the top? Have you seen it? I’m getting chills just thinking about it. (But if you haven’t yet and you like scary movies—go see it and have a scary good time.)

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Iconic Halloween Movie Checklist

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“One, two – Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four – better lock your door.”

  1. Check off all the horror movies you’ve seen:

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Taylor Swift Presented Gabby Barrett With A CMT Award For A Category She Won In 2007

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She’s come full circle.


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