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Film in Stock: A playlist of films for spring

There are so many summer, fall and winter-themed films out there that spring gets neglected altogether. Because the sun has once again graced Iowa with its presence, the newly-arrived season urges me to find spring’s cinematic complements, which are admittedly a bit of a stretch. But, nonetheless, these films summarize what spring represents: being in transition and living in the awkward time between winter and summer. Reflecting on this list, I strangely equate spring with animated films and coming-of-age stories. Nonetheless, below I’ve listed below some films that create a story arch for this season. The first and last films stand in for spring’s bookends, winter and summer, respectively.

“Certain Women” by Kelly Reichardt

“Certain Women,” which I briefly mentioned a few weeks ago, is based on episodic, unrelated short stories from Maile Meloy which follow four women in a small Montana town: a lawyer, a mother and wife, a teacher and a rancher. The cast complements the subtle script perfectly, including Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart and (please, someone, give her more work) Lily Gladstone. Reichardt’s 2016 film is, admittedly, not really a film about spring at all. It is set in the time span when it’s technically spring, but feels very much like winter. Even further, the film is set in Montana, so a Montana spring is really just everybody else’s winter. “Certain Women” offers a good place to start this list, because by the end of the film you can feel the turn towards spring.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” by Wes Anderson

If you’re interested in the newly- released “Isle of Dogs,” then I recommend you catch up on Anderson’s first stop-motion feature, “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The film traces the odyssey of foxes, badgers and more as they combat farmers trying to overtake their home. Apart from the Anderson’s iconic awkward atmosphere with built-in clever dialogue, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” has the most visually stunning shots from the world of stop-motion. I justify putting “Fantastic Mr. Fox” in the category of spring films, because it watches like the animals are coming out of hibernation, marking the end of winter.

“Boyhood” by Richard Linklater

While “Boyhood” has some problems, it has a unique voice and presence in the world of cinema. In case you missed its peak popularity back in 2014, “Boyhood” is the coming-of-age story of a boy living in Texas. While that description ultimately sounds dull, the most interesting part of the film is its production. In the first film to do so, Linklater cast the lead actor at the age of six and followed him through age 18, amounting to a three month shoot every year for 12 years. Significantly, neither the plot nor the characters carry the film, but instead the concept of time carries the viewer’s interest throughout the nearly three hour film. I think “Boyhood,” perhaps more so than any other film on this list, encapsulates the trope of spring as a time of growth and change.

“Loving Vincent” by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman

“Loving Vincent” explores how Vincent van Gogh’s death impacted those around him. Like “Boyhood,” the most interesting thing about the film is the way it was produced. The 2017 film offers something visually new and stunning: all the animations for the film were made from roughly 65,000 oil paintings, reflecting the artistic medium of the film’s subject. “Loving Vincent” is on this list because of its primary concern, the creation and destruction of life and art. Looking at shots directly derived from van Gogh’s beautiful landscapes in full-bloom, the primary tenet of spring comes through.

“Do The Right Thing” by Spike Lee

My favorite of Lee’s creations, this 1989 film follows a set of Brooklyn characters on a 100-degree summer day as racial tensions reach their apex. If you’re looking for an introduction to Lee’s films, look no further. “Do the Right Thing” has it all: dead-panned monologues to the camera, tight and witty back-and-forth dialogue and photography direction that keeps your eyes on the screen. So, then the question becomes, how can I justify putting this obviously summer-themed film in a spring film list? Apart from being a masterpiece in its own right, “Do the Right Thing” offers the natural conclusion to spring: summer.

— Martha Beliveau ’21

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