Autumn is a great time to catch up on film; when the nights are drawing in and the rain is splattering against your windows there’s none of that FOMO that Summer brings about. Suddenly everyone is living their best Hygge-inspired lives firmly shut indoors with their pumpkin-spiced candles and knitted blankets. Binge-watching films on a Sunday becomes a ‘movie marathon day’ and not a sign of depression – just one of the many reasons the cold and cosy months are my favourite.
It being October it only feels appropriate that I share of list of horror films. Unfortunately I’m not a fan in the slightest so I’ll have to forgo that idea and share something a little different with you instead. Here’s my top three list of my favourite indie and arthouse films that I feel are well worth a watch this Autumn.
I first stumbled across Anomalisa on one of those ‘must-watch’ arthouse lists and from the synopsis was immediately intrigued. The story centres around Michael, a man who is suffering from a rare affliction; everyone he encounters looks and sounds the same. Life has become mundane for Michael who is married with a child and works in customer service. That is until he meets Lisa, a woman with a scarred face who looks and sounds utterly different to everyone else around him.
Little did I know that the protagonists of the film are actually puppets and the whole thing was shot in stop-motion. Whilst this isn’t a horror film (or even bordering on being a thriller) it definitely has plenty of potential to become nightmare fuel further down the line – those puppets are creepy after all! Within the first few seconds of watching I was doubtful that a character piece could be pulled off with puppets. That said the mise-en-scene is so captivating right from the offset; a plane drifting through a slate grey sky, clouds obscuring the view and creating a sense of dreariness, melancholic music overlaying the droning sound of passengers and a tired-looking man (Michael) emptying pills in to the palm of his hand. It all comes together beautifully to capture the sense of monotony the central character is feeling. This is a theme that continues throughout the film – right down to the hotel Michael stays at being cleverly called ‘The Fregoli’ (The Fregoli delusion being a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are a single person who change appearance or are in disguise.) Anomalisa is like no other film I have watched before and it left a lasting impression on me. It’s so layered that every time you watch it you will notice something new and come away with more insight in to what is a brilliantly introspective piece.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
It being my favourite film of all time I couldn’t possibly leave Eternal Sunshine off of the list, even though no description I could write would ever do it justice. The film centres around characters Joel (played by Jim Carrey) and the quirky Clementine (Kate Winslet.) The opening scene sees Joel waiting for a train in to work, when seemingly out of nowhere he has a change of heart and makes a dash for another train heading in the opposite direction and out to Montauk. This one, ‘random’ act unravels a chain of events in which he meets the flame-haired Clementine whom he quickly falls in love with. The pair have a tumultuous yet strangely endearing (and oftentimes very relatable) relationship together and the film examines this in flashback scenes and later re-examined through the filter of scepticism. When Joel and Clementine fall out of love Clementine makes a rash decision and opts to have a medical procedure whereby Joel is completely erased from her memory. Joel, grief-stricken and in disbelief, decides that the only way for him to move on with his life is if he opts to go through the same procedure. I really don’t want to give too much away but this film which is in parts hilarious and others painfully sad is in my opinion, such a beautiful look at love in all its glory; ugly and childish, life-preserving and precious.
Another film that graced some ‘must-watch’ arthouse list or another is The Lobster; a rather strange film starring Colin Farrell. Set in a dystopian society, single men and women are rounded up and taken to a hotel where they are encouraged to couple up within a specified time frame – if they do not they are transformed in to an animal of their choosing and are released in to the surrounding woods where they are often hunted. One could argue that this is a take on modern society and the pressures put on both men and women to find relationships, get married and make babies. After all, society as a whole tends to look at single women above a certain age as being left on the shelf or possessing of some major character-flaw. But whether this was the intended message or not is besides the point. The Lobster is a darkly comedic film with elements so absurd it makes for a brilliant and unpredictable watch.
Have you seen any of these films and if so, what did you think? Please feel free to leave your indie and arthouse film suggestions in the comments below!