Film

Best Supporting Actress - Agata Kulesza in 'Ida'

When Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) leaves the convent to meet her only living relative, nothing she has learned from the nuns has prepared her to meet her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), a woman who represents everything she has been taught not to be. In fact, there is so much about Wanda’s worldly ways that Anna is ignorant of, that at first we can’t help but feel as if writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski has created her just for the sake of being a plot device. With her chain-smoking, constant drinking and promiscuity, Wanda seems to be in the story just to show Anna that the world is full of sin and she should stay away from it. But the more we come to know of her, the more complex she becomes and the more we understand that she’s not simply a “lesson” for Anna, but in fact the key to unlocking her whole existence.

As played by Kulesza, Wanda is a mystery we can’t wait to uncover. Lit as if she was a femme fatale in a classic noir, we realize that Wanda has much more in common with Philip Marlowe than with any of his damsels in distress; once a powerful woman, she has been reduced to a walking cliché, as she tries to find meaning to her own life in a damaged Poland. Kulesza gives the character layers that allow her to be maternal, selfish and erotic all at once. As she takes her niece on one twisted road trip to teach her who she was, we understand why Anna would come not to be repelled by her aunt’s lifestyle, but actually come to aspire to it.

Kulesza also allows her character’s flaws to show in heartbreaking ways, especially when we least expect it to. Watch the way she reacts to Trzebuchowska’s subtle horror upon realizing her parent’s fate, it’s a moment where we see the actress hold back out of what we will come to understand as love, or at least the only kind of love she knows how to provide. Where Ida could’ve simply been a film about the effects of WWII in Poland, the characters at its center make it so much more than that, and Kulesza in particular will prove to haunt you for weeks after you’ve seen the film.

Ida is now playing in limited release.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image