To distinguish between possible coincidence and genuinely discovering cinematic kinship is important, as the nature of festival viewing makes the critical mind eager to notice thematic through line. For instance, on my last day at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, three films back-to-back-to-back featured scenes centered on urination, two of which saw said streams make contact with other people than the originator. I’ve yet to work out whether they’re joining a surging cinematic pee party, but it’s likely that all three screened separately , outside of the festival and any sort of succession, I’d put less emphasis on the piss.
Breaking out of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Ana Lily Amirpour’s A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT (pictured, above) found much deserved acclaim as a swooning, lush story in which a vampire in a fictional Iranian city of bad men alternately stalks her prey and finds true connection and affection in a young rebel. Sadly, Tamae Garateguy’s Buenos Aires-based SHE WOLF found comparatively little fanfare out of its major U.S. showing at Austin’s Fantastic Fest in September 2013. The former may be decidedly more romantic in its hangout structure, hypnotic style and fuzzy tone, but the all together rougher experience of SHE WOLF is no less thrilling. Similarly, it finds a titular female stalker seducing and murdering her way through through a dangerous city while juggling infatuation with a young rebel. Both films are united in their monochrome exploration of marginalized women perceived as monstrous, and both are remarkable in doing so.
SHE WOLF, while aligning its lead with the concept of a fantastical creature, bases itself in Buenos Aires and a rawer depiction of life. The two films have their women degraded and devalued by a slate of shitty men, but Garateguy’s picture is a more graphic one. Garateguy employs handheld, punk rock visuals and an aggressive, erotic, violent atmosphere. It’s also quite sly. There’s little that’s identifiably monstrous about the being at the center of SHE WOLF. She transforms, yes, but merely alters her physicality and personality so that it appears three separate women reside in one. By using the convention of a stalker or a beast, the viewer quickly classifies the She Wolf as something difficult to decipher; Again, something “other.” Really, she’s simply a woman, a whole person who can all at once be sultry and overtly sexual and aggressive and gentle and sweet and jealous and a bitch.
Where we talk about goth under the Stasi and the greatest goth fest today. House searches could be conducted without a warrant (often when the…