Vague Visages Writers' Room

Vague Visages Writers’ Room: Weekend Vibes 6.1.18

Weekend Vibes is a Friday column about streaming recommendations, new release hype and entertainment events. 

Stefen Styrsky (@Stefen_Styrsky)

It’s the start of June and that means FilmStruck’s “Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger” collection expires in a mere two weeks. So, it’s time to get watching if you haven’t yet explored these landmarks of world cinema (or if you have always loved their films the way I do). Martin Scorsese said he believed he’d seen all the cinematic masterpieces there were to see until he came upon I Know Where I’m Going. It’s a romantic comedy set in the remote Hebrides with stunning outdoor photography. And I’d bet the female lead Joan Webster (played by Wendy Hiller) was at least an inspiration for Alma in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2018 film Phantom Thread. Both protagonists display the same determination and pluck. Actually, I’d wager the earlier movie itself contributed to Phantom Thread’s genesis. Then there are the Technicolor masterpieces: Black Narcissus, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and The Red Shoes. Not merely visually impressive, Powelll and Pressburger’s films also present deep characterization, innovative plotting and warm humanity, but also slyly subversive themes that mark them as ahead of many of their peers, especially for work so commercially popular. The extended dance sequence of The Red Shoes (a color film noir if there ever was one) is a mini-masterpiece of choreography, special effects and compressed storytelling. And speaking of film noir, attached to the Powell and Pressburger collection is Michael Powell’s solo 1960 crime thriller Peeping Tom that would make a fascinating double bill with fellow Englishman Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho of the same year. You have until June 15!

Ciara Pitts (@CiaraNPitts)

After falling in love with Joachim Trier’s Norwegian thriller Thelma, it was only natural to look into the musical project of Kaya Wilkins, who plays the titular character’s love interest. Under the moniker Okay Kaya, the self-described “smut pop” artist released her long-awaited debut album Both on June 1 for Heavy Body Records. Developed and recorded in her New York City bedroom over the past three years, these songs are a meditative reflection of identity, love, sexuality and mental health. Opening with “Vampire,” which is brilliant in its near two-minute run time, the record continues at an easy, calming pace. The previously released singles, “IUD” and “Dance Like U,” are filled with haunting melodies, and both evoke a unique sensuality.

Aside from featuring gorgeous soundscapes, what also stands out are the liberating, playful-but-classy lyrics. While many artists rely on implications or metaphors to communicate ideas about sex and desire, Wilkins does so with a refreshing openness. Both is everything I hoped for and more, and it’s clear that Okay Kaya has a bright career ahead of her.

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough)

After a 12-day stay in Arizona, I’m headed back home to Fargo on Sunday and will return to my regular streaming schedule. There’s so much on FilmStruck to dive into, and I always mix in some Fandor selections from month to month. However, it’s now time for a proper Shudder binge, whether it’s the recent additions or addictive collections. At the moment, I’m eyeing Night School, Sequence Break and something called Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope (!), but the streaming Shudder Gods are screaming out “Get Rad,” so you know what I need to do.

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