Maria Sødahl on HOPE, Survival and Filmmaking – Loren King interviews

With her stunning drama Hope, Norwegian writer/director Maria Sødahl artfully uses a woman’s cancer diagnosis as the portal though which she examines nothing less than life, loss, marriage and mortality. Hope is deeply personal: Sødahl’s own cancer diagnosis forced her to take a nine-year hiatus from filmmaking after her acclaimed debut, Limbo, set in 1970s Trinidad. About four years ago, as Sødahl found herself ready to write again, her life-altering experience was something she simply could not avoid exploring in a script.

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HOPE – Review by Loren King

It takes remarkable insight and confidence to create a devastating portrait of a marriage inside a film about a woman facing her own mortality. That’s what writer/director Maria Sødahl does with searing Hope, Norway’s entry for this year’s Best International Feature Film Oscar. The film is so specific in its truthfulness that it isn’t a surprise to learn that it’s based on Sødahl’s own experience of a terminal cancer diagnosis that led to a nine-year hiatus from filmmaking. Of course, personal experience doesn’t always translate into art but in this case, it does.

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SLALOM – Review by Loren King

Slalom is one of the best of many recent strong films — Promising Young Woman, The Assistant, Groomed and Athlete A among them — that fit under the #metoo umbrella as they examine young women and girls exploited and harassed by predatory men. With its assured tone and sharp visual style, Slalom is a realistic coming of age film with a contemporary bite. It is a remarkable debut feature from French director and co-writer Charlene Favier that unwinds like a tightly balled fist.

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ROSE PLAYS JULIE – Review by Loren King

After this year gutting and revelatory Promising Young Woman and Tape, I didn’t think I could take another rape revenge movie no matter how original and empowering. But Rose Plays Julie, directed by Irish filmmakers Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor, upends revenge tropes with unsettling and eerie imagery as it blends thriller, horror film and mother daughter bonding story, told via two female protagonists who flip the tables on victimhood.

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MOXIE – Review by Loren King

Amy Poehler is a comic genius so her move behind the camera is something to celebrate. But her second feature, Moxie, based on Jennifer Mathieu’s YA novel with a well-meaning but scattershot script from Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer, is likable but inconsequential, reducing #metoo and youthful activism to sitcom formula. It’s entertaining and certainly watchable but it seems diluted for mass consumption. The target audience of teenagers who, after all, are some of our most proactive and resourceful citizens, are likely well past its bland portrait of awakened anger and direct action.

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HOPE – Review by Loren King

It takes remarkable insight and confidence to create a devastating portrait of a marriage inside a film about a woman facing her own mortality. That’s what writer/director Maria Sødahl does with searing Hope, Norway’s entry for this year’s Best International Feature Film Oscar. The film is so specific in its truthfulness that it isn’t a surprise to learn that it’s based on Sødahl’s own experience of a terminal cancer diagnosis that led to a nine-year hiatus from filmmaking. Of course, personal experience doesn’t always translate into art but in this case, it does.

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MY ZOE – Review by Loren King

Julie Delpy’s intriguing My Zoe is an intimate and ambitious take on motherhood that mixes heart wrenching divorce drama, science fiction and thorny moral questions regarding reproduction. Delpy, who wrote, directed and stars in the film has, in her sophisticated seventh feature, taken on a complex, ultra modern subject. This is the kind of movie with a plot twist so crucial that one can’t divulge it.

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ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY – Review by Loren King

All In: The Fight for Democracy puts voter suppression and its attendant racism into historical context as the film traces its origins from Reconstruction to Jim Crow. The film cogently lays out, with fascinating historical footage and insightful interviews, how methods such as poll taxes, impassable “literacy” tests, gerrymandering and voter ID laws, right up to the gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 by the US Supreme Court, systematically disenfranchised vulnerable voters around the country but especially in the South.

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