OF AN AGE (2023)

February 16, 2023

Greetings again from the darkness. One of my (many) pet peeves involves movies where we are supposed to believe a couple finds eternal love after barely spending any time together. Now I fully understand some artistic license must be taken in love stories, as there are only a couple of hours to work with, but the challenge is making the audience believe it. For the films that do it right, it’s a thing of beauty.

Macedonian-Australian writer-director Goran Stolevski handles this expertly in his first film since the excellent (and much different) YOU WON’T BE ALONE (2022). A frenetic opening pace has 17 year old Kol (Elias Anton) panicking when his best friend Ebony (Hattie Hook in her first feature) phones after a wild night of partying. The two are supposed to be in the finals of an amateur ballroom dancing contest. Kol gets a ride from Ebony’s older brother Adam (Thom Green), and as the two search for Ebony, a natural bond begins as easy conversation covers numerous topics. When Adam matter-of-factly admits he’s gay, Kol’s nervous energy shifts into overdrive.

This bond only has a 24-hour window to blossom, as Adam is headed to South America for graduate studies. But what a 24-hour period it is. The two men continually cross paths, and so much is conveyed with very few spoken words. Glances, body language, and eye-contact are all that’s needed. That opening period takes place in 1999, and we then jump ahead to 2010. My, how time and age changes things … and yet, doesn’t.

We often see the fallout from unrequited love, but what of ‘partially’ requited love? Few films have better captured longing and emotional pain. We feel the aching and see it on Adam and Kol. Many scenes take place in a car, adding to the closeness and feeling of magnetic pull. For me, director Stolevski utilizes a few too many close-ups, although the approach does add to the intensity of some moments. The film may not be heavy on plot, but the emotions are strong enough to keep us invested.

Opens in theaters on February 10 and expands on February 17, 2023



April 1, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. Perhaps you are a normal movie lover and have never wondered what it might be like if director Terrence Malick delved into the horror genre. Well, the first feature film from writer-director Goran Stolevski gives every indication that he has spent entirely too much time with such thoughts. This arthouse folk horror film will likely frustrate many with its unconventional approach, odd narrative, and spiritual narration that hardly contributes to the characters in the story.

Opening in a remote mountain village in 19th century Macedonia, we witness a ‘Wolf-eatress” witch named ‘Old Maid Maria’ (Anamarie Marinca; 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS, 2007) visiting a mother (Kamka Tocinovski) and her newborn baby. It turns out Maria has a taste for newborn blood, but the mother negotiates a deal which would allow her to raise her daughter Nevena until Maria takes her in teen years. The child is then hidden away in a cave, isolated for years and mostly feral when Maria returns. Teenage Nevena (Sara Klimoska) knows nothing of the outside world and sets out on her journey of life lessons, guided by Maria, a witch who may or may not have her best interests at heart.

Shape-shifting, or assuming the form of their victims is a trait that Maria passes along to her protégé. This process is quick and brutal, and we see it played out along the way as Nevena takes over a local mother (Noomi Rapace), so as to get a taste of normalcy, a wolf (just because?), a man (Carlota Cota) so as to absorb power and experience sex, and a young woman (Alice Englert) in order to give birth to a child. This shape-shifting is referred in the movie as “dressed in corpse”, which is a spot-on description. The Wolf-eatress follows closely, but does give her new daughter the space to explore humans, though Maria does not share the appeal.

There are some excellent scenes in the film, but it leaves the impression of trying too hard to come across as Malick doing horror. Still, with some similarities to Robert Eggers’ horror gem, THE WITCH (2015), there is enough atmosphere of terror to keep us engaged and working through the often-confounding narration. As a bonus, it leaves us with the perfect final line, “And yet …”

Opening in theaters on April 1, 2022