Lin Manuel Miranda is having himself a year. Now, that statement would be true in almost any year since he burst onto Broadway with In the Heights back in 2008, but it is especially so now. Just in 2021 alone Miranda has: produced a big screen adaptation of In the Heights, starred as a musically inclined kinkajou in Vivo, written original music for Disney’s Encanto and, most impressively of all, released one of the best movies of the year with tick... tick… BOOM, his directorial debut.
Expectations are always high for a well regarded auteur, but they were especially lofty for Celine Sciamma following her revelatory 2019 film Portrait of a Lady on Fire. From Water Lillies to Girlhood, the French director has always had a piercing vision, but Portrait brought her the largest audience and most fervent acclaim of her illustrious career. So how did she choose to follow it up? With Petite Maman, a 72 minute fable about a young girl meeting her mother as a child, of course.
For decades film has told the stories of young people finding their way in the world to dazzling effect. There is something so universally relatable about those late teenage years where you feel like you’ve figured it all out and seeing it with the gift of hindsight you realize that those answers wouldn’t come until much later. The hard truth is that coming of age doesn’t happen all at once and that next phase of life brings with it doubts, big decisions and so much more uncertainty. Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World posits that people don’t stop growing up, even when they’re grown.
A tale as old as time, how much can true love transcend? Is it simply an intertwining of attractions or is love something more, something so inherent to our very being that we’ll find our way back to it under even the most dire of circumstances? These are questions posed by Georgian filmmaker Alexandre Koberidze in What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?, a film that askes much but answers sparingly little.
The swinging sixties, it’s a decade we look back on for its neon glow, over the top style and cultural influences. In film, we remember it as a decade in which Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and Ingmar Bergman were at the peak of their powers, when the French New Wave was taking over. Gather together what box office information you can from the time and what got people out to the theaters was still Disney musicals (The Jungle Book), Eastwood’s spaghetti western trilogy and a handful of James Bond Movies.
The past is never just the parts we choose to remember from it. The best stuff survives and the rest gets swept under the rug. Today, in an era of film dominated by big franchise features, Edgar Wright — set aside that brief flirtation with directing Ant Man — is one of the handful of directors bucking the IP trend and taking swings on mid budgets and original ideas. He takes influence from the music, atmosphere and genre storytelling of the past to make something totally new.