The Impossible Love of David Lean’s Brief Encounter

The Impossible Love of David Lean’s Brief Encounter

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28) Given that David Lean’s Brief Encounter (1945) is about...
Neorealism’s Closed Gates: The Women of Rome, Open City

Neorealism’s Closed Gates: The Women of Rome, Open City

It was shortly after the Toronto International Film Festival this year when Kiva Reardon asked me if I had anything to contribute to this issue of cléo. I had just screened Sicario by Denis Villeneuve, a director with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working. There has...
“The prettiest prettiest girl”: Complex Beauty in Gia

“The prettiest prettiest girl”: Complex Beauty in Gia

Michael Cristofer’s Gia (1998) opens with a tight shot of makeup brushes accentuating an impossibly beautiful face. The features are those of Angelina Jolie in the role of 1980s supermodel Gia Carangi. The face is unnaturally still, perhaps foreshadowing the well...
Tripping Out of the Bromance: The Female Pothead in Smiley Face

Tripping Out of the Bromance: The Female Pothead in Smiley Face

Celebrating awkward, inept slackers and goofy hedonism, the genre of stoner comedy is an outright rebuff of grace. Ever since Cheech and Chong launched their self-titled movies in the 1970s, the genre dedicated itself to chaotic, bong-wielding men-children trying to...
“It can be like grace”: Enlightened Political Possibility

“It can be like grace”: Enlightened Political Possibility

Amy: I don’t want the same old sad story. I want a new story. Levi: It will be new. It’ll be brand new. You know? That’s the beauty of it. It can be like grace. Amy: Grace? Levi: Yeah, life is beautiful. In her essay “In Praise of Vulgar Feminism,” Agata Pyzik...
Women to Watch: Cecile Emeke

Women to Watch: Cecile Emeke

Cecile Emeke could be nothing other than a creator. The British-Jamaican poet and multimedia artist has been working with film for little more than two years, but she has expertly constructed whole worlds of possibility within her small but stirring body of moving...