Heavenly Creatures

Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey in Heavenly Creatures

They say the easiest way to make your first feature is to do a horror movie. They’re cheap and have an enormous audience, and even if you don’t hit big with it, there’s a chance for either a cult following or even just the benefit of having something under your belt, to show producers when developing your next project. What kind of movie is best to do second? It’s not scientific, but I have a theory that the coming-of-age genre is a good place to go for a follow-up. Maybe it doesn’t have to be your sophomore feature, but somewhere early on you can do well to come of age yourself, as a filmmaker, by delivering a story of kids or teens growing up. The career that inspired this idea is Peter Jackson‘s. He was doing okay with his splatter films and R-rated puppets before directing Heavenly Creatures, but that’s the one where he suddenly displayed great maturity as a filmmaker, and it’s the one that put him on the map critically and internationally. The movie, which turns 20 today (if born at its debut at the Venice Film Festival), was more a passion project for Jackson’s partner, Fran Walsh, which makes sense — it usually takes a woman to help us boys grow up. It also remains Jackson’s best movie yet, which is probably something to discuss for another time. For now, I thought we could see what other directors broke out best with a coming-of-age movie.

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Movies We Love

“We have decided how sad it is for others that they cannot appreciate our genius.” In 1954, a murder is committed by two girls who have formed a deadly friendship. The movie opens with the pair running for help while Pauline’s mother lies on a garden path, her head smashed in. Juliet Hume and Pauline Parker became each other’s entire world almost from the time they met when Juliet moved to Christchurch, New Zealand. The two girls, both outsiders, are obsessed with singer Mario Lanza and attracted to the dangerous Third Man character played by Orson Wells. Hollywood is their Mecca. They retreat into a fantasy called the Fourth World fueled by their stories of the mythical kingdom Borovnia. In Borovnia they are royalty, living with the figures in their imaginations. In the Fourth World their favorite movie actors are worshiped as saints.

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We don’t come to mourn Miramax, but to bury you in great films to add to your rental queue.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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