The Love Witch (2016)
April 18, 2017 2:19 PM - Subscribe

A modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her, in a tribute to 1960s pulp novels and Technicolor melodramas.

Currently streaming on Amazon Prime, and often cited as one of the best films of 2016.

"LA film-maker Anna Biller achieves an ecstasy of artificiality in this amazing retro fantasy horror, delivered with absolute conviction. It’s designed, produced, written, directed and generally auteured by Biller herself, and lit and photographed by M David Mullen – apparently without digital fabrication.

The Love Witch goes beyond camp, beyond pastiche; it ignites the pulpy surfaces of its tale and produces a smoke of bad-dream sexiness and scariness. It’s a B-movie with A-grade potency. But you have to stay with it, you have to understand its absolute seriousness before getting the comedy and the satire of the transactional politics in sex."

-The Guardian
posted by naju (13 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure what I can say about this movie that hasn't already been said, except that I loved every single second of it. It's gorgeous and weird and perfect. I absolutely understand it's not going to be everyone's thing but this movie is a masterpiece.
posted by darksong at 4:37 AM on April 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

I haven't read any pulp novels, but I've seen some Technicolor melodramas in my time. As such, The Love Witch occupied this weird space in between paying tribute to those movies, while also (lovingly) parodying parts of it? (If this makes sense.)

I loved the oddity of it all, how the tone of the movie switched sometimes within scenes, the eroticism and gender politics. Definitely one of the more remarkable movies I've seen this year and Anna Biller's dedication to moviemaking is downright amazing. (On the topic of costume design, I've read in an interview that the costumes used in the wedding scene took her a few months to make, and that's what, a few minutes of the movie?)
posted by bigendian at 8:59 AM on April 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Anna Biller also composed some of the music for Love Witch, designed the costumes, designed & arranged the sets, I believe she did the make up as well. Anyone who needs a definition of what an auteur is need only look to Anna Biller.

If you liked Love Witch, be sure to check out her other film Viva (trailer, sample).

Her shorts are worth a look too:Queen Bee section of Three Examples of Myself as Queen which are available here.

Anna talks about the apeshit (recommended) Donkey Skin.

I'm a little bit of a fan...
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:48 AM on April 20, 2017 [9 favorites]

I was lucky enough to see it in 35mm when it showed at the Roxie in SF. I'd seen Viva at the now-defunct Red Vic a few years ago. The Roxie also did a night of screenings of her 16mm films earlier this year which I went to (unfortunately there was some damage to some of the prints.)

Anna Biller is an honest-to-god Auteur with a capital A.

Here's a blog post called "The Death of Film" where she writes about what she went through editing Viva on film, and how many film processes and products have fallen into disuse even in the time between the two films. For instance, Kodak no longer makes black leader.
posted by larrybob at 5:29 PM on April 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

I haven't seen this yet, but I found this interview with Anna Biller to be interesting reading.
posted by whir at 9:58 PM on April 20, 2017

I watched it last night and it was gooooooood and then I looked at some reviews and got very depressed because if you are a woman, your jokes just cannot be anything but confusing and mysterious for some people no matter how simple and broad they are.

the bits with Gahan and Barbara were the funniest but also, the way Elaine has so much power in her very particular, restricted sphere but cannot do anything at all to get Gahan to back off or break him or subdue him, that part's not comedy. also, the part where they're all yelling Burn the witch and there's a quick shot to a few of the men undoing their belts as they charge at her. If there were much more than a few moments like that I wouldn't have been able to watch it, so I am thankful to BIller both for including them and for limiting them.

finally this from the AV club interview: But one of the things I liked about this film was how unabashedly feminine a lot of it is. It’s too bad people can’t look past that.

AT. AT AT AT, NOT PAST, AT. It's not too bad people can't look PAST it, it's too bad they can't look AT IT.

very good interview otherwise, though.

also I never laughed at a body fluid joke in a movie in my life until the part with the cops and the tampon.
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:39 PM on April 21, 2017 [15 favorites]

I was lucky enough to catch this at a festival with a q&a with Anna Biller afterwards. The questions were about what you'd expect (hey, at least when I saw Agnes Varda, the audience booed the guy who asked her to talk about Godard).

I spent half of the movie trying not to audibly squeal in delight at the fact this movie exists. I love it so. The tea room. The tampon. The costumes. The cars (I remember someone asking about the time period of the movie and Biller saying it was obviously contemporary and the asker Just. Couldn't. Get. It.).
posted by jeweled accumulation at 12:54 AM on April 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

I really loved this movie. I have only talked about it with men (somehow, I'm socially isolated at the moment) and all of them have said it felt unrealistic or unreal or some variation of that. I mean, exaggerated, yes, but not unreal! The most emotionally real film I've seen about being a woman in a long time.

I really love that she takes objectification and self-objectification seriously. It's rare you hear anyone say not just that objectification is real and uncomfortable, but that it ruins lives.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:50 AM on April 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

I also find it so unusual how people always ask if the lead is a narcissist. I just... I mean... what a deeply uninteresting way to understand the character.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:56 AM on April 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oh man I ADORED this, it's the patriarchy ruts everyone : the movie! and reclaiming the look and feel of exploitation films as to critique it, Yes. Adore.
posted by The Whelk at 11:15 AM on May 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm a little taken aback to read such unanimous praise for the film. When I finished watching it, I wondered whom I could sue to get those two hours of my life back.
posted by orange swan at 8:57 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really, really liked this movie. Some of it didn't quite land... but it's so good. And it's so extraordinarily DIFFERENT.

Perhaps a bit long, too. But we watched this based on the thumbnail alone, and my wife and I loved it.
posted by SoberHighland at 11:20 AM on February 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Perhaps a bit long, too. But we watched this based on the thumbnail alone, and my wife and I loved it.

Late to the party, but it's 2 hours, and if it really wanted to be true to the genre it would have been cut to 95 minutes, and they'd have saved that last reel of film and would have been a tighter flick.
posted by mikelieman at 6:03 AM on March 28, 2021

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