Kit Steinkellner
November 21, 2014 12:32 pm

Yes, of course, Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 is the big ticket item this weekend, but if you’re looking for some alternative programming for your weekend moviegoing (or if you’re in the mood for a Saturday movie AND a Sunday movie), we are all kinds of excited for A Girl Walks Home Alone At Nightthe feminist minded Iranian vampire western opening this weekend in New York and Los Angeles.

“Whoa, I didn’t know the Feminist Iranian Vampire Western, was, like, a genre,” you admit. That’s the great thing about this movie, the Feminist Iranian Vampire Western WASN’T a preexisting thing, director Ana Lily Amirpour invented her own subgenre for her debut feature film. It’s thrilling enough to be celebrating a breakout female film director, it’s thrilling times a gazillion that Amirpour is innovating and revolutionizing her medium to boot.

The film takes place in the fictional Iranian community of Bad City, Amirpour’s indie-film answer to Gotham and Metropolis. Our unlikely crime fighter, The Girl (Sheila Vand) is a skateboard-riding, chador-wearing vampire, who roams the streets of Bad City in search of thieves and thugs who’ve wrong women to take out, bloodsucker style.

“For me, [this movie] is about loneliness, Amirpour told Gawker. “I’m very much into [being] lonely. It’s not a sad, losery thing. It’s like an arty, romantic thing. I love my loneliness. I feel like solitude is one of the places where you can really find yourself. . .Vampires are the loneliest. It’s, like, so romantic.”

In addition to basically inventing its own genre, the film is also shot in black and white and the only language spoken is Farsi, a combination of bold choices that fly in the face of conventional American filmmaking. And that’s exactly what we want in a film. Yes, of course, we have our pet genre preferences (who ISN’T excited to see Pixar turn inanimate objects into unlikely heroes who have to embark on epic journeys) but we want to see innovation and imagination. We slide our credit cards through the window of the box office, not because we want to spend some money and kill some time, but because we want to be blown away by work that is straight-up extraordinary.

And that is apparently what we’ll get with this film. So far, reviews have been mind-blowingly flattering. “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a strange and gorgeous and haunting film that brings the indie aesthetic of the mid-1980s into a context that feels both timeless and highly contemporary,” writes Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir.

The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis writes, “even as Ms. Amirpour draws heavily from various bodies of work with vampirelike hunger, she gives her influences new life by channeling them through other cultural forms.” Dargis also hails the movie’s “humor and feminism.”

“Dear lord is this movie gorgeous,” notes Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri. In fact, the film’s aesthetic and narrative structure have been compared to the work of greats like David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch and Abbas Kiarostami.

Full disclosure, I know both writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour and star Sheila Vand, I did my undergrad work in theater with Sheila and my grad work in film with Lily, and this is, of course, a thrilling weekend for them, but it’s a thrilling weekend for me too. I so love seeing my female filmmaking peers not only succeed, but flat-out trailblaze on the big screen.

There is nothing better than watching women you know aim for the moon and hit their target dead-on. I absolutely can’t wait to see “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” and my fingers are tightly crossed that this film expands like crazy to other cities so we all get a chance to see some cinematic innovation from some awesome ladies.

(Images via)

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