The Blue & Gold

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The Blue & Gold

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The Blue & Gold

    Bring Back Weird Movies

    And Beau Is Afraid Is a Good Start
    Theatrical poster for Beau is Afraid. Courtesy of A24
    Theatrical poster for Beau is Afraid. Courtesy of A24

    This summer, most of Chamblee’s student body likely spent some time at the movies. The internationally viral “Barebenheimer” phenomenon occurred in late July, and more than a few moviegoers participated in the Gerwig-Nolan double feature. The films have since racked in hundreds of millions of dollars each in global box office sales, with Barbie projected to pass Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows – Part 2 as Warner Brother’s all-time highest grossing film at the domestic box office. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Asteroid City also pulled massive crowds to theaters over the summer.

    I saw all but two of the previously listed films in the theater over the summer, and I have one overarching complaint: none of them are weird enough. I thought Kate McKinnon’s “Weird Barbie” was pretty funny, and Cillian Murphy had his fair share of surreal, introspective moments in Oppenheimer, and while I enjoyed them, I found both of those films to be entirely too normal. I’m always on the lookout for the unusual, the unorthodox, and the unsettling in media, and it’s increasingly rare to find those aspects in mainstream cinema nowadays. For those who share a similar sentiment, Beau Is Afraid is the new-ish release for you. 

    The film was released in late April of this year, just before the start of summer break. I saw it after school one day with my dad and sister. The theater was empty, save the three of us and one other person. It was clearly no blockbuster. I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Actually, I had no idea what to expect, because I’d avoided all trailers and news related to the film; I was eager to see the film with no expectations or specific opinions. I’d seen director Ari Aster’s other two feature-length releases, Hereditary and Midsommar, and enjoyed them both immensely. If any working director were to single-handedly bring weird movies back into the mainstream, it would be Aster, given his uniquely disturbing sensibilities and ties to indie-turned-Oscar-nominated production company A24. I’d also seen several of his short films, including Beau, his first ever short film and the apparent basis for Beau Is Afraid

    The short film is predictably bizarre and deranged given Aster’s filmography, but it’s as straightforward as an economics textbook compared to the descent into madness that is the nearly three-hour-long odyssey of Beau Is Afraid. With influences from all forms of media and artistic expression (everything from old English epics to modern musical theater), the film portrays all that is terrifying and uncomfortable about the world we live in. It’s just as emotionally exhausting and anxiety-inducing as it is hilarious in the darkest way possible. 

    The plot (and I use that term loosely) is divided into several chapters, each containing a different setting, tone, and cast of characters — apart from Beau, who is the unfortunate victim of all proceedings in the story. Academy-award winning actor Joaquin Phoenix earns his keep as the film’s titular role; he brings the dejected, deeply antisocial man-child of a character that is Beau Wasserman to life like no other actor could’ve. Supporting performances from Broadway legends Nathan Lane and Patti LuPone compliment Phoenix in perfectly nightmarish and confusing harmony. 

    The film exceeded any expectations that I could’ve had. It was the weird movie that I so desperately needed. What I love most about Beau Is Afraid has little to do with the film itself; it’s the fact that it was made with exactly one person in mind: Ari Aster, a certified madman. In the past few years, mainstream cinema has been dominated by insultingly obvious, relatable, and formulaic films. As sarcastic as it sounds, it was refreshing to see a work as selfish as Beau Is Afraid. It wasn’t made for purposes of entertainment or marketability. It’s completely unappealing to audiences, but, in my opinion, it’s the truest and most personal form of cinematic expression of the decade thus far. This isn’t to say that entertaining movies are bad; in fact, they’re extremely necessary. What’s also necessary is the balance that films like Beau Is Afraid provide.

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    About the Contributor
    Sydney Grove, Staff Writer
    Sydney Grove (‘24) is a staff writer for the Blue & Gold. This is her first year writing for the publication. In five years, she hopes to still be continuing her insatiable pursuit of the bag. Sydney’s three favorite things are surreal horror movies, her Doc Marten Mary Janes, and Snoopy.

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