The end of the year means end of the year lists! Now through January, the staff of Milwaukee Film will be providing you with some of their favorites of the year that was. Let's kick things off with our Festival Programming Director Kerstin's most feverish viewings of 2021!
Kerstin's Top 10 Fever Dream Movies For a Fever Dream Year
I can't believe 2021 is almost over. It was simultaneously the longest and shortest feeling year I have ever experienced. It was such a whirlwind that reflecting on it feels more like a fever dream than actual memories of things I did. And because of this, it is even more appropriate that many of the movies I watched during the year also had a strange nightmarish quality to them compared to your typical Hollywood fare. So let's get into it and sweat it out in anticipation of better days.
Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar
While the movie definitely transitions into some dreamlike magical realism later in the story, working at a store with your best friend where you just sit in fluffy lounge chairs all day really seems like a dream job if I've ever heard of one.
The Woman in the Window
Out of all the films I saw this year, this is the one that most makes me wonder, was that a movie or just a weird dream I had? As it would happen, it is a real movie and a forgettable one at that even though the cast is absolutely STACKED. Turns out Joe Wright, Tracey Letts, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, and Gary Oldman are not the dream team we might imagine they would be.
F9--keyboard function on my computer or blockbuster hit? This was my first film back in theatres and it was a lot. Justin Lin must have had a dream about sending Ludacris and Tyrese to space in a makeshift rocket ship created by the cast of Tokyo Drift and just decided to go for it. Right?? That's the only way this could've happened.
BENEDETTA was my most anticipated film of 2021 (and 2020, and 2019...) and for a film that inspired protests outside theatres across the country, it was honestly relatively tame by Verhoeven's standards? And while it's a pretty standard, yet well made historical drama, Benedetta's dreams/visions about Jesus are FANTASTIC. I won't get too far into the specifics so as to avoid spoilers, but I'll just say, we love sexy screensaver Jesus.
I'm a big fan of Julia Ducournau, but she really outdid herself with TITANE. TITANE is hands down the strangest film I watched this year, which is always a feat given my tastes. Once again, I won't spoil anything, but the film completely changes plot halfway through in a way that could only be described as dream logic.
Almost every movie in which Nicolas Cage stars could be described as a fever dream, but this one is dreamlike in another sense. The whole movie was very dim, not unlike when you're dreaming and you can't really see anything. It's a fairly quiet odyssey that kept me guessing around every corner. I highly recommend it, but don't read too much about the film before you watch it.
Fear Street: 1666
The fact that they forced Netflix caliber American actors to do pseudo-Irish old timey accents was a DREAM for me and I assume a NIGHTMARE for the cast.
In This House We Believe OLD (2021) Was A Pretty Fun Time And If You Didn't Like It, You Take Yourself Too Seriously. Out of all the films on this list, I think this movie was most intentionally going for a fever dream type feel and I think it was effective! And while the plot is nightmarish, Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps as a couple is a dream come true <3 <3
It doesn't always pay off when mainstream directors become so successful that they have carte blanche to make whatever film they want, but in this instance, I'm so happy that James Wan really Went For It. The film is full of dream sequences and nightmarish circumstances, but the plot twist is so, so wild that it had me running around the room waving my hands around, which is by far, my favorite type of movie.
DUNE (2021) is mostly just Timmy dreaming about things that will happen in the sequel, not unlike how SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 is mostly spent recounting the entire plot of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 1. In both instances, I declare LAZY FILMMAKING.