Saturday, January 16, 2021

Home A & E Sundance Review: The Witch

Sundance Review: The Witch


Expelled by choice from a Puritan plantation for his hubristic insistence that his own preaching is the one right way to God, William and his family—wife Catherine, daughter Thomasin, son Caleb, twins Mercy and Jonas, and a suckling baby—go singing through the palisade’s gate and beyond the pale to establish their own farmstead in the New England wilderness, near to a stream and a dark and ancient wood. The wood, issuing ominous cracks, groans, and whooshes (and for our private pleasure a madly dissonant, crescendoing, Kubrickian chorus), may or may not be inhabited by a red-cloaked witch, a half-seen hag whose need for fresh baby’s blood initiates a season of bedevilment that drives the family to grief, near-starvation, and all manner of strife.

“We will conquer this wilderness,” William insists, meaning equally that, guided by their idiosyncratic, relentlessly self-punishing fundamentalism, they will conquer themselves and each other as their collective fortunes decline. Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), wide- and wet-eyed during The Witch‘s opening trial scene as she watches three male judges pass the family’s sentence, provides the first and lasting image of their collective fear of a lawgiving God. But this fear can’t hold off the realities of their human needs and desires, evidence, for them, of sin and witchery, though we understand them as the internal emotional conflicts essential to the human experience. Thomasin and Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) are old enough to understand the sensual attractions of other bodies, which become even more fraught because options for partners have dwindled to family. William (Ralph Ineson with an exquisitely sonorous, Old Testament voice) is prepared to dissemble for a time in order to get the family fed without upsetting his wife (Kate Dickie), and the twins (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson), too young to know better and too free-spirited to honor distinctions between their fictions and reality, can, as an instinctual team, turn any accusation of wrongdoing into truth for their paranoid audience. Are they witches in league with their favorite playmate, the family’s he-goat, Black Philip? Or is Thomasin the source of their ills, the teenager, the young woman, a potential sexual rival of her mother’s or a perfect mate for Old Scratch? Though her parents may be convinced her behavior is alien and evil, we recognize her response to this suffocating environment as perfectly natural.

Which is to say that The Witch of this stunning film’s title may be more an idea, more a suspicion, more an accusation than the actual figure we glimpse through the trees. But we can never be certain as director Robert Eggers expertly produces, through rich image and provocative editing, a frighteningly closed vision of 17th century America, a beautifully raw and insecure place in the eyes and ears of these desperate and isolated European immigrants (the family’s English accents mark them as still-recent arrivals). The Witch is a period film whose authenticity is one of mind, then, rather than objective fact, and these minds’ paranoia, faith in a punishing God, and inherent will to survive at any cost produce a deeply authentic, spellbinding, and rewarding experience.

Our Jan/Feb issue is out on stands now! This issue means so much to us. Made with lots of love and tears. We hope you’ll grab a copy and enjoy every moment of reading it. ❤️ ...

Here's one from our upcoming Jan/Feb issue out on stands in just a few days. We hope you’ll grab a copy and enjoy every moment of reading it.⁠

Mary photobombs Lisa Barlow at the premiere party for Real Housewives of Salt Lake. Below is a snippet from Mary's last editor's letter:⁠

"It’s all a little crazy.⁠
Sometime in 2020, the world stopped making sense for a lot of us. Between one of the ugliest election cycles the U.S. has ever been through and the most mysterious disease most of us have ever experienced, normal was canceled. We can’t get together with friends, hug our loved ones, be in the room with them when they die. But somehow we have to go on, right? Somehow we have to continue to work and love and laugh. This issue of Salt Lake magazine holds a lot of frivolity, the main one being an extremely silly TV show, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. There I am in a pink fur coat in a car with our cover housewife, Lisa Barlow and her boys."⁠

Pick up our Jan/Feb issue at your local grocer and read the full letter. ❤️

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We love you so much, Salt Lake ❤️⁠

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday. Be merry, be bright and be good for goodness sake! ✨

Skip the milk and cookies this holiday and leave out something that Santa really wants 🍺😉🎅⁠

Check out our local holiday beer round up for last minute gift ideas! Link in bio!

Mary's last-minute holiday gift ideas from last year are still as true and relevant today...⁠

"The planet we live with and the creatures on it need all kinds of things. Polar bears need presents, tree frogs in the Amazon need gifts, our Utah canyons and our national parks need help."⁠

Check the link in bio for full write up.

There was never a time there wasn’t Mary Malouf. Until now. Today, Mary died when a rogue wave swept her out to sea off the coast of Northern California. Only she – perhaps the world’s foremost lover of Bronte, BBC mysteries and, of course, Moby Dick – would appreciate such poetic drama.

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.” — Mary Brown Malouf. Ooops. Herman Mellville.