Escaping the domestic claustrophobia of a cramped apartment in After Love, Joachim Lafosse’s The White Knights may take place across the vast plains of Africa but is no less tense, restrictive and naturalistic filmmaking from one of the most prominent rising stars of European cinema.
‘Magestical’ isn’t necessarily a real word but it perfectly sums up Kiwi director Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Invented by Sam Neill’s gruff, illiterate grouch of an old codger, Hector, to describe a breathtaking mountain-top vista above New Zealand’s wilderness, in the company of hip-hop loving, fast-talking and lovable troublemaker Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison, who is a revelation), one can’t argue against it. With something for the big kid in all of us, Hunt for the Wilderpeople pours a dose of the mystery and wonderment of Beasts of the Southern Wild, the sense of loss and troubled childhoods of Son of Rambow and the reckless, carefree abandonment of outlaws on the run in Thelma & Louise.
The now infamous Brussels municipality of Molenbeek provides the polemical backdrop to Black, a brutal modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet by directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. A place name tragically familiar, the urban area has become synonymous with ISIS and Europe’s struggle with terrorism. There is no allusion to fundamentalism here but from its opening frames the headline-grabbing setting bears witness to virulent, violent conflicts that are no less pertinent: immigration, integration, the denigration of women, and gang violence.
“I am Ingrid. This is my story.” Without any air of superiority these straightforward intentions rather understate the life less ordinary laid bare during Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words. They do reflect, however, the sincere humility and honesty of a subject who is equally as captivating in a biographical documentary charting her own life as she was over the course of a glittering career.
Six men, a captain and two chefs on a boat. A competition of points both positive and negative on each and every aspect of their being and conduct. The winner crowned ‘The Best in General’. With Chevalier, Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari exposes the deeply rooted competitiveness of male kind and the unspoken anxieties buried just as deep. She spoke with CineVue’s Matthew Anderson to discuss her latest project, winner of the Best Film prize at last year’s BFI London Film Festival.
During one of A Patch of Fog‘s increasingly sinister exchanges between unhinged cat and desperate mouse, Stephen Graham’s devilishly dubious security guard, Robert, threatens his quarry with disconcerting rhetoric: “Am I a sad little man?” Though voiced by a veritable oddball, the sentiment could equally be applied to his prey, Sandy Duffy, a renowned novelist played by Conleth Hill – who will be familiar to many as Lord Varys in Game of Thrones. Through the titular blanket of low-hanging precipitation, secrets, lies and long-buried anxieties blur in and out of focus in an assuredly composed psychological thriller.
A Poem is a Naked Person is pretty far out, man. In the very loosest sense of the term a documentary biopic of Oklahoma musician Leon Russell, Les Blank’s long-lost film orbits the hirsute, enigmatic singer-songwriter onstage, in the studio and relaxing at home. However, in eschewing effusive talking heads and hagiography this is in no way an inspection of fame, riches and musical stardom. Instead Russell is the magnetic epicentre of a much broader contemplation on the nature of being, creation and self-truth at a time of peace and love.
It’s hard to find the words to adequately describe the breathtaking magnitude and harrowing brilliance of Son of Saul. More than seventy years have passed since the liberation of the death camps but in that time cinema has struggled to ascertain how the worst atrocities of the Holocaust be portrayed on the big screen. The works of Spielberg and Lanzmann are now joined by one of the most impressive debut features of all time.
European middleweights Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl and Michael Nygvist form a strong foundation on which to build a semi-political historical thriller. Though Florian Gallenberger’s The Colony aims for the likes of Munich and Argo, it falls some distance short, an early warning sign coming in the form of an ‘Inspired by real events’ fast and loose disclaimer. Set in early 1970s Chile, and prefaced with archival footage of the final days of Salvador Allende’s presidency, The Colony paddles indecisively in the unspeakable ills of the Pinochet era without ever really taking the plunge.
Just as John Henry Clayton thought he was out, they pull him back in. Directed by Jon Cassar, Forsaken is a humdrum Western which never demonstrates even the suggestion of a trick up its sleeve. Kiefer Sutherland tops the bill as a reformed gunslinger, a prodigal son returning home from the Civil War to a town under the leather boot of no good rootin’ tootin’ bad guys.