Directed by Olivier Assayas
Clouds of Sils Maria feels like a film that rewards multiple viewings. It constantly feels like it’s a few steps ahead of you, which may irritate depending on who you are, but for those who enjoy a bit of mental gymnastics, Clouds should prove a satisfying, Bergman-esque experience, if not becoming a bit too self-reflexive and insular on occasion. A voyeuristic look into the process of fading stardom within the film industry and the struggle to stay relevant within a system that thrives less on artistic skill as a commodity, but rather current trends and the celebrity zeitgeist. The lead performances are mesmerising, and rightfully so, as the pain their characters feel becomes more and more apparent as they slowly come to terms with how little control they ultimately have in deciding their fate.
Directed by Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland
Portraying mental illness in cinema is always a difficult challenge for filmmakers, as you always run the risk of showing the character as unnecessarily disadvantaged, or defining the character entirely based on their disability. Still Alice had a great chance of falling into overly-sentimental territory, but Julianne Moore’s mesmerising performance keeps the film afloat. We stay with her for essentially the entire duration of the film, and watch as she tries endlessly to maintain her identity for as long as she can. The film doesn’t approach the narrative from a particularly subjective point of view: as an audience we feel more like a family member, watching someone familiar to us slowly disappear. If Julianne Moore should ever disappear in real life, the world would surely become a much darker place.