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Theaters

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Rob Carraher
CONTRIBUTOR

Julia Docournau’s feature debut “Raw” has been the subject of film festival controversy despite being received as highly regarded cinema. The horror genre is known for making those with the strongest of stomachs a bit squeamish, but Docournau’s “Raw” takes the gore to a surprisingly new level.

It’s not that such gore hasn’t graced theaters before, but the way that Docournau presents it, allowing for eyes to feast on all its cannibalistic glory. But what separates “Raw” from past cannibal flicks is its desire to place storytelling at the forefront rather than relying simply on shocking images but nothing of substance.

“Raw” opens by introducing Justine (Garance Marillier), a vegetarian teen entering her first year of veterinarian school. The college lifestyle is a dramatic change for Justine as she becomes the target of “rookie” hazing. Her older sister, Alexia (Ella Rumpf), gladly takes part in breaking Justine into her new environment.

When Alexia pressures Justine into eating a rabbit liver as part of the hazing festivities, Justine’s life begins to change. The taste of liver awakens an overbearing satiation to consume even more meat–including human flesh. Justine juggles the responsibilities of being a college student, or lack thereof, with her new-found cravings.

Docournau not only directed but also wrote “Raw.” Her twist on the classic coming of age story and cannibal story creates a familiar yet original approach to the horror genre. Her craft is seasoned to the point where it seems almost impossible to believe this is her first feature film. Very few directors manage to capture the terror of the genre and still land on their feet by the film’s end. Docournau does just that. This is a sign of an aware filmmaker.

One of the high points of “Raw” is the way it handles the theme of lust. In a handful of scenes, Marillier brilliantly personifies lustful emotion. In the context of the film, lustful incorporates more than just sexual desire. In that sense, these scenes become ever more uncomfortable and awkward for viewers, but there is an allure that more than imprisons the mind.

The juxtaposition of this woman-coming out of her shell on a college campus and the engrossing, unexplainable realization of being a cannibal is a work of genius, and a creative way to deliver this sort of content. Neither situation could be very comfortable for the individu-al experiencing such extreme life changes, but once again Marillier brings her very best to the role. Rumpf’s more relaxed portrayal as Alexia helps to contrast the two sisters, and drives the urgency for Justine to understand her new life.

There is certainly an undercurrent being displayed about feminism in Docournau’s construction of “Raw.” As the film comes to a close, it becomes very apparent of such message. It’s not a “in your face” sort of message, and that is what makes it all the more effective. Docournau’s characters are female and strong, and they aren’t trying to be something they are not. It is very difficult to walk away and not be enamored with Justine and Alexia as rich characters in a thrilling tale, much to the credit of Docournau’s writing melding perfectly with Marillier and Rumpf’s performances.

As excellent as the storytelling and performances are in “Raw,” it would be a mistake to not talk about the gore. There are some simply stunning exhibits of the gnarly, bloody aftermath of cannibalized events. If an appetite was present prior to the film, it certainly goes missing before exiting the theater. Few films go as far as “Raw” does, and the design element is extraordinary. It makes one wonder if these visuals could possibly be fake, they look so real. Mix this with an intense and haunting soundtrack, and Docournau has constructed the complexities of the cannibal-horror genre that are often missing from many other films.

The gore may bring audiences to the theater, but Docournau’s craft will leave them witnesses of something special. “Raw” will likely finish as the year’s best horror film, and deservedly so. For a bunch of unknowns to come onto the cinema scene with such strong first effort is quite rare. Whether a fan of horror films, foreign films, or films with exquisite sense of construction and delivery, “Raw” will surely please.

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Jeff Turner
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

The movie scene in Omaha is underrated. I’ve always said this, especially when I was freelancing as a film critic. Although we often get a lot of movies later than say, LA or NY or Chicago, we do get most everything. If you’re paying attention to what’s coming out, you’re bound to discover a film or two that’s worth finding out about.

Aksarben Cinema is the closest theater to the UNO campus. Aksarben has a nice vibe to it, very friendly, like your local neighborhood theater. An employee there seconded the point about the vibe and the community of Aksarben as a theater.

The array of films is usually what you expect, but sometimes they will get a film that you might not have expected would even come to Omaha. Movies in the ACX room are experiences worth the extra dollar they charge. The theater is massive, unlike most anything else in Omaha. They don’t cover everything, but for the vibe and the convenience, they get more than you’d ever ask for. They offer $5 movies in the morning.

Now if you want a few more obscure, artsy films but still want to go to a big theater chain, you might want to check out the AMC at Oakview Plaza.

This theater is a ways away from UNO, so unless you’re living in West Omaha, this is going to eat up a lot of your gas, but there’s rarely a film that Oakview misses. The theaters are also pretty spacious, definitely comparable to the ACX room in Aksarben.

The employee I spoke to claimed one thing that made Oakview great was their diversity of amenities. That has some truth to it. You can play video games or have a drink at the bar. It is still a franchise, so if you want something more local you could try a few other theaters.

Film Streams is a locally funded nonprofit dedicated to bringing in movies that other theaters won’t or can’t screen. These are your foreign films, your extremely limited releases, and the occasional re-release of either a cinematic oddity or an old favorite.

Film Streams a much smaller theater than either Aksarben or Oakview, but it makes up for that in affordability. Students can get a free movie on the first Monday of every month by just simply showing their student ID (Mavcard) at the door. This offers a great opportunity for students to broaden their spectrums and change how they approach film as a medium.

There is also another theater film enthusiasts could look into, a recent addition, called the Alamo Drafthouse. The Drafthouse is a franchise that got started in Toronto (kidding, of course it got started in Texas) that focuses on re-releases of classic films, releases of films in specific formats (films at the Drafthouse can be screened in 60mm and 35mm, among others), and ensuring a perfect cinematic experience.

You pay a lot, and since it’s a dine-in theater most of what you pay will be in food, but for your money the seats are comfortable, people who disrupt the movie get asked to leave by staff, and the experience in general is wholly satisfying.

Pick what you may, but there are no shortage of choices for venues to go see a movie in Omaha.

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