In 1814 Francisco Goya, who was almost 70 years old, was commanded to paint the portrait of the restored king of Spain, Ferdinand VII. Ferdinand’s father, Charles IV, had appointed him first court painter to the king 15 years earlier.
Since then there had been a furious battle in Spanish society over the direction of the state. Goya was in a perfect position to record these tumultuous shifts.
There were few secure career paths open to a painter at that time. Goya had been an ambitious provincial artist and he moved to the capital, Madrid, at the first opportunity.
This short film documents the demolition of a south London housing estate and its impact on the residents. Seen through the eyes of one working class couple who were forced from their home after 30 years on the Heygate Estate, its underlying message is about social cleansing and in the words of co-director Patrick Steel, “the human cost of big regeneration projects and the decline in social housing”.
The opening credits of Tangerine — curly script on a pink paper backdrop — suggest an old-fashioned romantic screwball comedy. Although the film is ultra-modern in its themes and techniques, that is exactly what we get.
Tangerine is a hilarious, frantically-paced day in the life of two black trans women who work as prostitutes in West Hollywood, Los Angeles.
It manages to be both laugh out loud funny and extremely poignant as it follows the interactions between these women, their pimp, the men who pay for sex, and other neighbourhood characters.
If anybody should have a film made about them, it should be Malala Yousafzai. Still only seventeen years old, she has a huge story to tell — she survived a bullet to her head, she is the youngest ever Nobel prize laureate and she stood up to the most dangerous force in her home town — the Taliban.
He Named Me Malala is a touching film which really shows what a strong, confident and intelligent young woman Malala is and why she has inspired so many other girls and women, young and old, to challenge the status quo and fight for better lives and more respect.
By the time of his death in 2011 a set of fans saw Steve Jobs as a prophet of the future and the most important person on the planet. Jobs was head of Apple — which created the Macintosh computer, the iPod and the iPhone — and he appears to have shared this opinion.
Much of the rest of the planet thought he was an arrogant egotist who sold overpriced designer goods to the gullible. Such people should not turn up their noses at this biopic. Here he is presented as a visionary, but also as a complete “asshole”.
The Black Panther Party for Self Defense represents the high point of the struggle for black liberation in the US. The story of the party’s founding by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in Oakland California in 1966, and its subsequent rise and fall, is rich with lessons for the struggle today. This is especially true in light of the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality and racism.
Having watched Dogtooth a few years ago I was pretty excited to see what Yorgos Lanthimos did next. The Lobster proves to be just as strange, brutal and confusing.
The film is a brilliant satire of society’s expectations of relationships. In this world they are founded upon one common characteristic two people share rather than anything more meaningful.
Maud (Carey Mulligan) is leading an impoverished life in the East End of London in 1912. She works in an industrial laundry where noxious fumes and scalding water ensure daily accidents. Her boss harasses the young girls and the pay is a pittance. She’s married to fellow worker Sonny and they have a son George, named after the king.
When Maud is sent out to deliver a parcel in the West End she is shocked to witness suffragettes smashing the windows of department stores and even more so when she spots her colleague Violet among them.
Here is a film made by Abel Ferrara, the enfant terrible of New York cinema (the auteur behind Driller Killer and Bad Lieutenant), about Pier-Paolo Pasolini, the enfant terrible of 60s and 70s Italian cinema (whose genitalia-fest Salo is still banned throughout most of the world). When enfants get it together like this the results are usually both infantile and terrible. Yet against all expectations this is a rich and masterly movie.