Film

Alone in Berlin

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Otto Quangel is the foreman in a coffin factory. A mechanic, he is a small cog in the apparatus of death that was the Third Reich. Quangel and his wife Anna get notification of the loss of their son at the front. Their feelings of disengagement with the regime harden into opposition. They embark on a low-level campaign of resistance, writing postcards with anti-Nazi messages and leaving them secretly in the stairwells of Berlin businesses and apartments.

My Life as a Courgette

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This lovingly made stop-motion animation tackles difficult realities in a straightforward way that can speak to adults and children alike. The brightly coloured models with huge heads and even huger eyes convey a remarkable range of emotion.

Dealing with trauma is not new in animations aimed at a family audience, but rarely is it done entirely without irony or metaphor or cute animals.

Destination Unknown

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This film is made up of the testimonies of 12 survivors. Each one is told in their old age, sometimes alongside pictures of them in their youths. For example, Roman Ferber recognises himself in footage of Auschwitz, a small boy in striped uniform looking through barbed wire. Others manage to recover photographs of their families.

These photos both haunt and, in a sense, orient them in their post-war lives. This is a film about the Holocaust, and about survival — how to live with such memories.

A Moving Image

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A Moving Image is an innovative account of the gentrification of Brixton. The film is a fictionalised account making use of documentary footage, photography and performance art. It begins with Nina, who is returning to the area after living in Shoreditch, east London.

The opening scenes feature the character Big Ben on a megaphone, a nod to the many political activists and religious evangelists who make the streets of Brixton so unique.

Lady Macbeth

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Our protagonist, Katherine, is trapped. In an arranged marriage to a weak and bitter man twice her age; in an isolated house out on the moors, where she is repeatedly advised to stay indoors; in the corseted dresses which her maid, Anna, straps her into each morning. Katherine, luminously played by Florence Pugh (who also lit up Carol Morley’s The Falling), is bored.

I Am Not Your Negro

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At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement's influence is showing in popular culture, such as hit horror film Get Out, Rhys Williams looks at the urgent relevance of black civil rights campaigner James Baldwin's words today, as presented in Raoul Peck's documentary, I Am Not Your Negro.

Raoul Peck’s new documentary film, I Am Not Your Negro, sets the words of author and civil rights activist James Baldwin’s unfinished book, Remember This House, against archive footage of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Sprawling and epic in scope — setting in its sights the whole of the black experience in America, from slavery to the Black Lives Matter movement — it is poetic and almost romantic, yet very angry. It arrives at a time when audiences are being enthused by the anti-racism of Get Out, a more mainstream and comic movie, but just as sharp.

Neruda

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Director Pablo Larraín’s acclaimed recent film Jackie starred Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy following the assassination of her husband, US president JFK. With Neruda it seems that Larraín — who also directed 2012’s powerful anti-Pinochet drama No — is on more familiar territory, focusing this time on quite a different political figure: the Chilean Nobel prize-winning poet and Communist senator Pablo Neruda.

Elle

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Elle is impeccably filmed and edited with stellar acting performances that grasp the attention of the audience. It intends to shock, infuriate and rile up the viewer.

However, it must come with a warning: this film could act as a serious trigger for anyone who has experienced domestic abuse or rape and as an insult to those of us who actively fight against women’s oppression.

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