Aileen Wuornos: Life and Death of a Serial Killer

Director: Nick Bloomfield & Joan Churchill

2003

“A project that began ten years earlier with Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer  (1993), Broomfield and Churchill’s follow-up is a powerful and profound statement against the death penalty, and raises disturbing questions of about executing the mentality incapacitated.”(899, Jason Wood, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

Aileen WuornosAileen Wuornos is notorious for being one of America’s most infamous female serial killers, and has as such been subject of numerous film and television projects – most recently the inclusion of her character in American Horror Story: Hotel (2015, Brad Falchuck) Probably one of the most well-known portrayals of Wuornos is in Monster (2003, Patty Jenkins) which resulted in an Academy Award for Charlize Theron. I didn’t really know very much about Aileen Wuornos aside from the fact that she was a serial killer and I’d seen her ‘mug-shot’ but that was kind of all.

“Broomfield’s resulting film examines her wretched childhood, which was filled with unrelenting abuse and violence that continued into her years as a hitchhiking prostitute.” (899) Broomfield’s documentary opened up the story of Wuornos in a somewhat disturbing way. Now I don’t mean disturbing due to her crimes but more so because it shows a woman who is clearly in some sort of crisis, one that gets worse throughout the film. It does call into question the legal system of America and the death penalty, something that I have been increasingly interested in since watching Making a Murderer (2015, Moira Demos). Despite the fact that Wuornos’ mental health seems to be rapidly declining during the process of the filming there is something really quite compelling about the film. Her story fluctuates between protesting self-defence and cold-blooded murder with increasing inconsistencies so you are left with questions at the film’s conclusion. The film not only tackles the American justice system and the death penalty but also the subject of nature versus nurture. By examining her questionable childhood and all the travesties that were supposedly reaped upon her during her formative years Bloomfield is asking the audience to question whether Aileen would have ended up on death row if she had lived a different live – was she a product of her environment or was she always destined to become the woman she was at the end?

I did find the documentary became increasingly uncomfortable to watch as Wuornos becomes more and more unstable. By the final interview Bloomfield holds with her, Aileen is almost bug-eyed and accusing the prison guards of all sort of atrocities. It is difficult watching someone who is not quite in her right mind, especially when you know that not long after this she was executed. I was left asking questions about whether she should have been put to death when it is obvious that she is in crisis. Should she have been receiving treatment for a mental condition instead? It’s an interesting documentary even if it does leave an unpleasant taste in one’s mouth afterwards.

“A resolutely non-sensationalist work, Aileen Wuornos calls to account the travesties of the American justice system and provides a sympathetic insight into a deeply troubled soul.” (899)

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Snow White And The Huntsman

Director: Rupert Sanders

Nominated: Costume Design; Visual Effects

I’ve said it before but I’m going to say it again this is by far the superior of the two Snow White films to come out of 2012. It’s more grounded in reality than the more fantastical Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White (Tarsem Singh) and I much prefer it.

Snow White and the Huntsman Kristen StewartThe costumes utilize a much more natural palette consisting mainly of browns and greens. It’s a marked contrast to the vibrant, ridiculous, almost haute couture costumes in Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White. I especially love Snow’s costumes which have retained the classic elements associated with the character but adapted them to fit within this new world. Her main costume is beautiful – the classic period dress and yet at the same time practical. Again they fit perfectly within the new world. I have to confess that I was pleasantly surprised by Kristen Stewart as the eponymous Snow White. I’m not a fan of her, especially in the Twilight saga and cannot understand how it is as popular as it is, mainly because I never thought she could act before. Turns out it’s clearly only opposite Robert Pattinson that she cannot act. In this she is surprisingly good and compelling as the warrior Snow. And she didn’t annoy me once!

Charlize Theron Kristen Stewart Snow White and the HuntsmanThe costumes for Ravenna, the evil Queen, are sumptuous and again have a continuing motif of feathers. Her costumes while being rich and certainly striking avoid being outrageous. The craftsmanship is exquisite. And they are a natural extension of Ravenna’s personality. Charlize Theron is stunning as Ravenna. Not only is she starkly beautiful a must for someone being obsessed with being the ‘fairest of them all’, she is also wonderfully crazy. There is an insanity inside her that she barely keeps in check. She comes across as a much more dangerous than Julia Roberts‘ portrayal of the same character in Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White. A much darker Queen but then that fits perfectly with the darker, harsher and more muted world the story is situated in this time around. Her relationship with her brother is openly creepy, and not aided at all but his awful haircut!

Chris Hemsworth Snow White and the HuntsmanChris Hemsworth is solid as the flawed Huntsman giving another powerful performance both emotionally and physically. I love how conflicted he is about doing what he knows is right. And I found the twist on the pre-prescribed romance refreshing and think that it opens up the possibilities for how to continue the story in a multitude of interesting ways. I found Sam Claflin‘s William lack luster and rather annoying. He’s a constant reminder of the childhood and life Snow lost, which to me makes it almost impossible for them to have any relationship beyond friendship. It will always be tinged with that loss.

The dwarves are a brilliant collection of personalities, provided by some of the best British actors going including Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan and Ray Winstone. They form this kooky bunch of cockney geezers with a harsh facade that hides their tender hearts. It was a bold decision to go with the actors they did rather than using the multitude of talent found in the dwarf community. And it really shows off the excellent visual effects. They’ve seamlessly reduced the actors to the smaller stature needed to realistically play dwarves.Snow White and the Huntsman Dwarves

The visual effects are outstanding. The sanctuary is beautiful and vibrant and full of life, wonderful curiosities and oddities like mushrooms with eyes and fairies. Then there is the darkly disturbing hallucinogenic elements in the dark forest. By far the most terrifying visual effects surround the Queen and her various transformations, especially whenever she is surrounded by her multitude of ravens but then I have a thing about birds. I think that of all the categories Visual Effects has to be one of the most difficult to judge because almost every single film created today uses visual effects in some way. And they all use them in such different ways depending on the type of film.

I really enjoyed Snow White and the Huntsman – and a lot more than I thought I would if I’m honest and I’m intrigued to see how the story is going to progress in future films.

Prometheus

Director: Ridley Scott

Nominated: Visual Effects

Although I am a sci-fi fan I am not a fan of the Alien movies. I found them dull and boring rather than intriguing or even scary so I don’t hold out much hope of me liking Prometheus. On a side note I did a Secret Cinema event surrounding this film, which was majorly awesome, and such a unique experience!Prometheus

Scott filled the cast with well-known actors such as Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce, who is almost unrecognizable as Wayland. And new up and coming actors like Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Logan Marshall Green, Noomi Rapace and of course Michael Fassbender. Creates for an interesting mix of characters forming the crew of the Prometheus.

Michael Fassbender PrometheusFassbender is again spectacular as David, the android. He’s also kind of creepy at times, just as you’d expect an android to be. There’s a curiosity to him similar to that of a child. He has a very precise way of moving and speaking. Due to his nature he is far less cautious of things that the human crew members naturally have to be wary of. There is the constant question as to whether David does actually have a soul or not. I find David to be the most intriguing of all the crew and I love his obvious fascination with everything, not just the new discoveries on the planet. He has an obsessive fascination with Shaw (Rapace)

Theron is seriously uptight as the leader of the mission, not to mention pretty paranoid what with living on a self-sustaining lifeboat attached to the main ship. Her costumes match the severity of her character, as does the way she carries herself.

It’s that age-old adage that you really shouldn’t mess with things you don’t understand because it always ends in disaster. It’s the core story of almost all sci-fi films and yet nobody ever learns.

Everybody seems to have their own different agendas that all conflict throwing the whole mission into chaos. And yet everyone has this irrepressible urge to touch things they have no knowledge of. They bring their own destruction down upon themselves.

The special effects are spectacular and so much more a key part of the story then in a regular film. The very nature of Prometheus and the fact that it’s set not only in space but also the future dictates the vast amount of special effects required to make this world believable. The suits however while being body forming come attached to a rather cumbersome helmet that makes them look like their heads are encased in an enormous transparent egg.

Prometheus Ridley ScottAs with Scott’s previous Alien films the crew begins to die in particularly gruesome manners. And his little aliens strongly resemble the face huggers from Alien (1979). The pace picks up rapidly once the infection begins to take hold.

I have to say that of all the films in the Alien franchise this is the one I have enjoyed the most. I was actually kept entertained and interested throughout, even if I was a little grossed out at times, especially during the caesarean scene! I think this is probably due to the fact that there are actually very few aliens in the film. The main alien doesn’t appear until right at the very end. And seeing the birth of the “alien” from the other films in the franchise is awesome … neatly ties to two strands of story, Shaw’s and Ripley’s, together. I have to confess that watching Prometheus has made me want to go back and try watching the preceding films again, certainly Alien.