Elevate Difference

Reviews by Caitlin Graham

Caitlin Graham

Caitlin Graham was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to being a member of Elevate Difference's editorial board, she is an in-house film and theatre critic for Stage & Cinema. She has also written pieces for GirlFuture, The Independent, and The Wig Journal of Experimental Scholarship and maintains her own film & TV blog. She holds an MFA in Film Studies and is one of the founders of The Wellesley Project. Caitlin lives, writes, and acts in New York.

Peep World

Lately it seems as if forced quirkiness has become an unavoidable symptom of our indie films, with the family of characters being perhaps the most common and convenient setup (see Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, et al). So despite certain bright lights in Peep World's cast, I was wary of it from the start.

I Spit On Your Grave

There's very little chance of spoiling anyone with this review. The original I Spit On Your Grave is notorious, if not for its legend then for its lingering controversy, especially amongst feminists. Meir Zarchi, writer and director of the 1978 film, apparently based his simple rape-revenge story on his own experience finding a woman who had been brutally beaten and raped near a park in New York City.

I Am Love

The story is simple—and familiar, at least to feminists: years after being plucked from her home, stripped of her individuality, and thrust into a loveless marriage, a woman is shocked back to life and inspired to flee. But from A Doll's House to Titanic, it's not so much about the story itself as it is about how it's told.

Women Without Men

The story of director Shirin Neshat is almost as compelling as her first feature. Born in religiously conservative Qazvin, Iran, Neshat has been using visual art to explore gender relations under Islam for nearly two decades, traveling back and forth between the States and Iran to enrich her perspective. But because her work has been so politically outspoken, Neshat has been exiled from her native country since 1996.

Behind the Burly Q

We can't deny that we're in the midst of a Burlesque Renaissance, at least in New York City—go to any club downtown and see for yourself.

Waking Sleeping Beauty

We all know the Disney Renaissance well.

Off and Running

Considering the number of children in need of adoption—and the number of children who are actually adopted each year—it's surprising there aren't more adoption stories being told. Aside from The Locator, we've had especially limited access to stories about adopted children reaching out to their birth parents. The delicate, vulnerable position of someone sending a letter out into the world, waiting and hoping to hear back about where they come from, is still a bit of a mystery, and more than worthwhile.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

It's always a relief when the author of a novel decides to take its film adaptation into her own hands, especially if the author also happens to be a fairly seasoned writer-director for the screen.

The House of the Devil

When I realized that tongue-in-cheek horror writer-director Ti West's latest was produced by the same company that brought us last year's delightful horror comedy I Sell the Dead, I'll admit my own personal bar was raised ten-fold.

An Education

From the moment the film started, the audience of An Education had a collective understanding that what we were about to see no longer applied. Based on the memoir of British journalist Lynn Barber, the film opens with a nostalgically ridiculous montage of ‘60s-era schoolgirls learning their daily lessons: cooking, ballroom dancing, and walking with proper posture (books-on-heads and all).

Lizzie Borden (09/10/2009)

How do you spin a nursery rhyme into a full-length musical? In this case, the uber-creepy poem in question is, thankfully, based in reality: the eponymous Lizzie Borden who reputedly “took an axe” and “gave her father forty whacks” was a real life New England girl accused—and acquitted—of murdering both her parents in the late nineteenth century, so there’s more than enough material to mine.

La Americana

This review will probably be a bit dated, as Nicholas Bruckman’s 2008 documentary appealing for more welcoming U.S. immigration policy has been superseded by our new president’s openly liberal views on the issue.


Some say the mark of a great film is that it defies our expectations. If that's the case, then Oldboy director Park Chan-wook's latest should be considered one of the best. Thirst is the story of a Catholic priest who becomes a vampire, and has thus earned the label of a horror flick, but the film itself is virtually genre-proof.

Easy Virtue

To say that Stephan Elliott was taken aback when approached to direct Easy Virtue would be an understatement. Asking the man behind the beloved drag queen road movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to adapt a Noel Coward play didn’t exactly seem logical. But the producers of the film insisted there was a method to their madness.


How much of filmmaking is documentary? Even when an actor is performing onscreen, we can sometimes still see traces of the real person underneath the character. And when a camera is turned on us—at a wedding reception or for a home video—we instantly become performers ourselves. If a small city is constructed for a film set, does that make it any less real than a city that already exists? Though most certainly a narrative film, Tao Ruspoli’s Fix blends fiction with reality to such a degree that at the end, I was left wondering what I had just seen.

Nerdcore Rising

The disclaimer at the beginning of the Nerdcore Rising DVD reads: "This film has been modified from its original version. It has been made more awesome to fit this screen." Needless to say, I was immediately prepared to not take the film too seriously.

She Said, She Said (3/18/2009)

As a Wellesley alum, I am probably the perfect person to review Kathryn Chetkovich’s She Said, She Said, an intimate portrait of a group of friends who met at a women’s college and are now, years later, forced to contend with many of the sociopolitical issues they faced in the seventies. The triad of feminists, now in varying degrees, is shaken to the core when one of their own, Jamie (Shelley McPherson) reveals that her recent ex-husband Ross (Mark Hofmaier) has raped her.

This is Burlesque

To go to a burlesque show is to indulge in somewhat of a lost form of entertainment. It’s as much about the experience as it is about the actual show. Sure, a line of beautiful women can strut around on stage in their skivvies, but if the nostalgia factor isn’t there, then it’s just another striptease.