the specific is universal, but not A24
January 16, 2023 11:15 AM   Subscribe

I have an idea for a themed movie series of films that are grounded in particular, preferably semi-autobiographical, settings that nonetheless feel universal. My current list is Moonlight, Everything Everywhere All At Once and Minashe. I realized these are all released by A24. What are some suggestions that expand this list?

I was planning on rewatching Moonlight and came across some interviews from Barry Jenkins where he uses the phrase 'the specific is universal' and I liked that idea as a guiding principle. But after thinking of three films I realized I was just grabbing films I liked from A24 and there must be more and better out there.

What is a movie that unerringly depicts life as you live it? Or a movie that captured you and drew you into a culture different from your own? I'd prefer to keep the list to films that are also written/directed/produced by someone close to that culture as well. I think I would like to keep the focus in the US for now, but feel free to pitch an amazing movie from a different place if you are called to.
posted by crossswords to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I’m Iranian-American but the Disney movie Encanto was uncanny, like it was written specifically for me. I’ve heard lots of people who are children of immigrants from all over the world feel the same way.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:36 AM on January 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

You should check out Minari, a recent movie about Korean immigrants living in rural Arkansas. I am neither an immigrant nor do I live in Arkansas, but I thought the movie did a good job showing all sorts of details about both the immigrant experience and rural life in the southern United States and still seemed to speak to me in a very real and universal way about growing up, navigating family conflict, and acknowledging the mismatch between expectations and reality. A lot of the movie is drawn from the writer/director Lee Isaac Chung's own experience growing up in the state. The movie was released in 2020 when most theaters were closed and it probably didn't get the attention in deserved.

(It's also another one released by A24 in the United States! A24 is a distribution company and not a studio, but they do seem to have an interest in acquiring these kinds of films).
posted by kingoftonga86 at 11:56 AM on January 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

A24 is a production company as well as a distributor.

You might find The Florida Project (also A24!) worth checking out. I know people who were homeless when they were kids who strongly related to the world depicted in the film.
posted by cakelite at 1:06 PM on January 16, 2023 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe Me You and Everyone We Know? The title is almost a rephrasing of “the specific is universal” and the film is mostly built up on odd, small moments that also seem very relatable. And it’s a great film! ))<>((
posted by snofoam at 2:06 PM on January 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I hold out Turning Red as a film that helped me see life as a girl. I'm a senior man, but Mei and her friends connected with me. I've never been a tween girl, but in an earlier life, I could have been Mei.
posted by SPrintF at 2:15 PM on January 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

8th grade and Lady Bird also hit this note for me - and both are also A24 films so I guess “specific is universal” is their niche. Also +1 to The Florida Project, it’s great!
posted by sleepingwithcats at 2:42 PM on January 16, 2023

Best answer: Never Rarely Sometimes Always reminded me a lot of Moonlight. It’s about a teen girl and her cousin who go to NYC from their blue collar PA town to get an abortion. It’s a small film about one moment in someone’s life, but I’ve thought about it so many times since I saw it. It really is the universal in the specific.
posted by lunasol at 5:44 PM on January 16, 2023

Best answer: A lot of Asian-Americans gave Raya a lot of flack for not being specific enough to one South East Asian culture, but as a child of immigrants who was born and raised in SEA in a very multicultural country with no real strong tie to any one culture specifically (especially not my parents' country of origin) I found Raya to be way more relatable than anything else that claimed to depict the SEAsian experience, even other "local" media (which wouldn't have people like me because I'm from a vilified "foreigner" race). The more eclectic nature of it pretty much reflects my experience growing up.
posted by creatrixtiara at 9:46 PM on January 16, 2023

Response by poster: Thanks for the recs so far, to clarify I have read through the list of films released by A24 and will be considering them. I'm hoping to get suggestions that are not listed in the link above.
posted by crossswords at 1:03 AM on January 17, 2023

Best answer: Boyhood by Richard Linklater is a great example of this.
posted by guessthis at 5:36 AM on January 17, 2023 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If one grew up in a turbulent mid-century American household, the Cassavetes films Woman Under the Influence and Faces felt very life-as-lived.
posted by bendybendy at 8:50 AM on January 17, 2023

Best answer: Just a point of order:

You should check out Minari, a recent movie about Korean immigrants living in rural Arkansas.

I believe that the "Minashe" mentioned in the body of the question actually is "Minari".

...From what I've seen of the trailer of Are you There God? It's Me, Margaret there are soon going to be a WHOLE lot of Gen-X women who will be nominating that for your list.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:25 PM on January 17, 2023

Response by poster: Minari and Minashe are two separate movies, both released by A24. They both look quite good.
posted by crossswords at 6:11 PM on January 17, 2023

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