Film

Black 47

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“This is going to be harrowing”, I said to myself as I set out to see Black 47, the newly released film about the Irish Famine. In the event it was much less harrowing than I expected. Indeed parts of it were almost fun. But this is hardly to the film’s credit.

Of course it is very good that there is now a film about the famine — amazingly for the first time ever.

Matangi/Maya/M.I.A

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Celebrities often talk about themselves as if they’re among the most important people in the world. Rapper M.I.A is different. She has spent her career talking about some of the most marginalised people on the planet, including victims of war and in particular, refugees. Now she has an opportunity to tell her story without being ignored. If anyone deserves to make a film about themselves it is M.I.A.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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A study published by the Williams Institute this year estimates that in the US almost 700,000 LGBT adults aged 18-59 have received “conversion therapy” in an attempt to “cure” them of homosexuality. Half of them went through it while they were adolescents. Over a third received the treatment from registered health care professionals, the rest from religious advisors.

The Little Stranger

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Part gothic ghost story, part social commentary on post-Second World War Britain, Lenny Abrahamson’s film is a tense psychological (or is it supernatural?) study of class and the change wrought by war.

Adapted from Sarah Waters’s 2009 novel, it stars Domhnall Gleeson as Faraday, a youngish doctor in a Warwickshire village just before the National Health Service. He lives alone and spends his working hours tending to the rural poor. Then one day he is summoned to Hundreds Hall, the stately home his mother had worked at as a maid a generation before.

Generation Wealth

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Lauren Greenfield is an American photographer and filmmaker who documents culture on a global scale. Her previous films include The Queen of Versailles, about a billionaire’s scheme to create a vast mansion in Florida styled after the French palace; and Thin — following four young women being treated in a specialist eating disorders centre, again in Florida.

In the Fade

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Set in contemporary Germany and Greece, In the Fade, the latest film from Hamburg-born filmmaker Fatih Akin, is a chilling exploration of European neo-Nazism as seen through one woman’s insufferable bereavement.

Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger), who is white and German, marries her Kurdish-German husband Nuri (Numan Acar) while he is in prison for drug dealing. Following his release, Nuri becomes a model of rehabilitation, setting up his own small business in Hamburg providing translation and travel services to the Turkish and Kurdish communities.

The subversive movies of May ’68

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Fifty years ago this month the world was convulsed by the astonishing “evenements” that exploded on the streets of Paris in May 1968. What started as a student protest detonated the biggest general strike in history.

To commemorate the epic events there is a series of interesting screenings, exhibitions and talks planned throughout May organised by the Institut Francais and the British Film Institute. Inevitably these are mainly in London, but the BFI is touring to other cities with at least some of these movies.

New Town Utopia

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In 1948 the Central Office of Information produced a short animated film selling the idea of the New Town. It shows city-dwellers crammed into inadequate housing, facing the hellish daily commute on overcrowded public transport, choking on fumes from traffic and from factories at the end of every street.

Beast

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Film thrillers have stiff competition these days. When you can watch really great box sets with ten or 15 episodes on All 4 or Netflix, trying to cram a convincing story into an hour and a half is a tough commission.

It’s a bit like that advert on TV where a couple meet, get married, split up and divvy up their CD collection in 30 seconds flat. Not too much scope for nuance.

That said, Beast has much to recommend it. The central character Moll, played by Jessie Buckley, is completely engaging and you want to find out more about her.

Jean-Luc Godard + Jean Pierre Gorin: Five Films, 1968-1971

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In this age of multimedia saturation, the history of revolutionary cinema still has many secrets left to be unearthed. Among them are the series of films made by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean Pierre Gorin under the collective name Dziga-Vertov Group.

Greatly influenced by Maoist politics in the immediate aftermath of the May 1968 uprisings, Godard, Gorin and company sought not just to make “political films” but to make films politically.

And this collection of radical cinema spectacles still makes for startling and confrontational viewing half a century on.

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