Genre movies can be used to smuggle social critiques in front of the audience. This Weekend at the Movies features three films that exploit their respective genres to give us a feminist fairytale, a horror about racism, and a drama about middle class complicity.
After successful live-action recreations of some of their animated classics, Disney hopes Beauty and the Beast with continue the trend. However, as the first animated film nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, and one of the studio’s most beloved animations, it seems untouchable. Director Bill Condon dares to meddle with a classic, and he has constructed an ideal cast. Emma Watson is perfectly cast as Belle, and a supporting cast featuring Luke Evans, Dan Stevens, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson and Ewan McGregor props up the magic.
If the tale as old as time is too saccharine for you, another ancient holdover is being dissected this week: racism. With comedy horror Get Out, Jordan Peele deconstructs the myth of Obama’s America and becomes the first debut African-American writer-director to gross more than $100 million at the US box office. Peele potently explores social themes using genre tropes. With a great cast headlined by Daniel Kaluuya (Black Mirror, Johnny English Reborn), the director has made a film for the ages.
The Salesman has become a film of protest. When it won the Academy Ward for Best Foreign Language Film, director Asghar Farhadi refused to accept it in person, saying through a proxy (Iran’s first astronaut Anousheh Ansari): “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country, and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US.” His domestic drama is about a couple who are forced to relocate to a new apartment. Their new home has a troubled history, and comes with an unwelcome visit.
Out on digital now (and on DVD and blu-ray from Monday 20 March) is Arrival. Amy Adams was snubbed by the Academy, and she is brilliant as the linguist who races against the clock to understand if aliens are trying to kill us.