|13 September 2019: |
Happy as LazzaroItaly 2018 128 mins
Directed by Alice Rochwacher
This mesmerising tale of peasant life in southern Italy could be set at any time in the last ten centuries, so timeless are the customs and working lives of the sharecropping farmers. The title suggests that some Biblical allegories are at play. Can we expect some miracles?
20 September 2019:
ShopliftersJapan 2018 121 mins
Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
Cinema has had its share of plucky outsiders living by their wits on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Cape Town...but Tokyo? Koreeda's film displays a side of Japan that's barely acknowledged, let alone portrayed. Can a motley 'family' of petty thieves survive the arrest of one of their youngest?
11 October 2019:
LuckyUSA 2017 88 mins
Directed by John Carroll Lynch
Lucky (Harry Dean Stanton's last role) is a 90-year-old looking for enlightenment in his dusty desert town. Lynch draws fine performances from a quirky cast, including another familiar Lynch (David). Echoes of the latter Lynch's work abound, but it's Stanton's desert-dry performance that lingers in the mind.
Society AGM to be held at this meeting.
25 October 2019:
WajibPalestine 2017 96 mins
Directed by Annemarie Jacir
Bethlehem-born Jacir manages the impossible - finding warmth and even humour in a tale set in modern Palestine. Father and son Abu and Shadi hand-deliver hundreds of invitations to a family wedding, exposing some domestic rifts that seem to shove Hamas and the Israelis to the sidelines.
8 November 2019:
The GuardiansFrance 2017 138 mins
Directed by Xavier Beauvois
Here is a counterpoint to the Great War tales of trenches and vain advances. We've entered the world of the French women ("les gardiennes") left behind to farm while husbands, brothers and sons are away on Flanders' fields. Matriarch Hortense, daughter Solange and local orphan Francine cope with the farm - but will this success survive the men's return?
22 November 2019:
Under the TreeIceland 2017 89 mins
Directed by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurösson
Sigurösson was inspired by Iceland's "Neighbour Rage" when planning the screenplay of this hard-to-pin-down film that's part rom com, part thriller, part "this could only be Icelandic, it's so bleakly comic". As with so many multi-layered films, the premise is surprisingly simple: unfaithful spouse holes up with his parents. And they, in turn, are at daggers drawn with a neighbour. Happy ending? Hmm, this is Iceland.
29 November 2019:
Faces PlacesFrance 2017 94 mins
Directed by JR, Agnès Varda
This engaging, quirky documentary is a fitting tribute to (and touching swansong for) the great Belgian-French director and photographer Agnès Varda, who died in March 2019 at the age of 91. The film pairs Varda with JR, a French guerrilla photographer in the Banksy mould. Despite a five-decade difference in age, the pair revel in each other's company, plastering huge versions of JR's photos on walls across France. It's a delight to go along for the ride.
|13 December 2019: |
God WillingItaly 2015 87 mins
Directed by Edoardo Maria Falcone
There was a time when a God-fearing Italian family would give thanks if one of the sons entered the priesthood. Not any more - or at least not in any family that has Tomasso at its helm. He's a successful cardiac surgeon and avowed atheist who learns that his son Andrea is considering taking the vows. Cue panic and a plan to discredit the charismatic priest who "brainwashed" the impressionable young man. Will faith triumph over reason? We'll soon find out...God willing.
17 January 2020:
Lift to the ScaffoldFrance 1958 91 mins
Directed by Louis Malle
Malle's thriller has been seen as a Film Noir par excellence as well as an embodiment of all that was groundbreaking in French New Wave cinema. At its heart is a tense story of a perfect crime that unravels. But Malle takes this potentially hackneyed plot and shakes it up with narrative zig-zags and probing camera work. The icing on the cake for many is the improvised soundtrack by Miles Davis, described by one critic as "the loneliest trumpet sound you will ever hear."
31 January 2020:
The KillingUSA 1956 85 mins
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
The recent BFI retrospective detailed Kubrick's genius and perfectionism, heedless of cost and studio alarm bells. Here's a chance to see how the great director could use a $320,000 budget (peanuts, even counting for inflation) to produce a tense, driven heist film that engages right to the final shocking frame. Sterling Hayden exudes steely menace throughout.
14 February 2020:
Cold WarPoland 2018 89 mins
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
"A Star Is Born meets Stalin" isn't the sort of pitch to sway Hollywood execs, but we can thank a consortium of European film studios (including Film 4 and the BFI) for nurturing Pawlikowski's story of star-crossed love spanning decades and East-West borders. It involves Paris jazz clubs and Soviet work camps, but at its heart lies a personal love story.
NEXT FILM 28 February 2020:
ZamaSpain 2017 115 mins
Directed by Lucrecia Martel
Martel weaves a sensual, mysterious tale from seemingly unpromising material. Zama is a haughty colonial bureaucrat languishing in a South American backwater, awaiting news from Spain that will release him from this half life. Lyrical cinematography (calling to mind Mallick and Herzog) and an arresting use of sound magnify a sense of loss and decay.
13 March 2020:
CapernaumLebanon 2018 126 mins
Directed by Nadine Labaki
The highest-grossing Arabic film of all time plunges headlong into the chaos (the translation of the title) of Zain, a feisty Beirut street child. His world of prison visits, exploitation and refugees evokes the best of De Sica and Chaplin.
27 March 2020:
Bad EducationSpain 2004 106 mins
Directed by Pedro Almodovar
Fasten your seat belts, because you'll be in for a bumpy ride...to paraphrase one of Almodovar's Hollywood idols. Here he takes us on a dizzying voyage that touches on sexual identity, abuse, violence, love...and the magic of cinema. It's a masterwork of a director reaching his mature best.