Just a week after Moonlight graced UK cinema screens in all its feverish beauty, we’re treated to another hard-hitting US indie release that places black characters front and centre. However, though there are certainly parallels to be drawn between Barry Jenkins’ Oscar hopeful and Anna Rose Holmer’s narrative debut The Fits, neither should be defined by the race of their respective casts. Each feature questions universal issues of consciousness and sexuality, and tackles the hardships of growing up, peer pressure and belonging.
Documentary filmmaker Niall McCann’s Lost in France is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for a group of mid-1990s bands and musicians borne from the influential Glasgow record label Chemikal Underground. Both an ode to the industrial Scottish city from which they hail and a lament on the changing face and decline of musical creation in its purest form, the rather rambling journey on which we are taken is back to the Brittany countryside and tiny village of Mauron where the burgeoning groups assembled for a festival of sorts in 1997.
Given the times in which we live, making jokes about mail bombs to a postman could be seen as rather a poor show. Equally, telling your elderly mother you’ve taken on a new job moonlighting at an old people’s home, scaring residents to death (literally) for €50 a pop is borderline immoral. But such is the perceptive, compassionate, humanist skill and darkly comedic wit of German writer-director Maren Ade that her latest film, Toni Erdmann, is a deliciously morbid, frequently awkward, raucously funny critique of modern life’s senseless bullshit and a surprisingly affecting look at the love between a father and his daughter.
“She sees everything but is totally blind,” says Jacques Derrida crossing a New York City street as Kirsten Johnson tracks him with her camera walking backwards, half stumbling in the process. The French philosopher thinks himself frightfully clever with this witticism at the Big Apple-based filmmaker’s expense but a viewer of her latest work, Cameraperson, may take issue with a claim that she is anything but a true visionary.
Does a picture really paint a thousand words? When something is written down, does that make it true? With an increasingly spellbinding command of cinema’s visual language and capability, placing him firmly in the rarefied air of the most gifted filmmakers of our time, Chilean director Pablo Larraín muses upon these ideas in new offering Jackie, sifting them with an unwavering hand through one of the most horrific events of the 20th century.
Spanning thirty years, three continents and a myriad of lies and mistruths, the facts of the case in Karin Steinberger and Marcus Vetter’s absorbing true crime documentary The Promise are anything but clear. Speaking in its latter stages from a common room at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Virginia, Jens Söring – the film’s principal subject and a man convicted of double homicide – states: “I was terribly in love with this woman.”
As the ripples of Russian governmental intervention in the US elections crashed across the airwaves last week, chipping away at a stony-faced Putin and turning The Donald’s putrid mien a more embarrassed shade of orange, the faint sound of Alex Gibney’s hands wringing with polemical glee could be heard from the famed documentarian’s home.
Through a symbiosis of sound, image and storytelling, a film’s ability to transport a viewer to a time and place far removed from the comfort of a darkened theatre in just a matter of seconds is where the real magic of cinema lies. From it’s very opening frames, and the crash of a giant cymbal, Otto Bell’s The Eagle Huntress is a wondrously beautiful and beguiling journey into the unknown and a documentary of simultaneously mythic and very modern proportions.
Blood runs deep in The Ardennes. Here we have a fraternal tale of resentment and revenge which shifts gears from brutalist kitchen sink drama in Antwerp’s bleak, unforgiving suburbs to something of wholly demonic, biblical proportions in latter stages that take place under wintry skies, isolated in the film’s titular forest.
15 January 2009. Disbelieving eyes look skyward from apartments and offices in horror as US Airways flight 1549 careens dangerously close to Manhattan rooftops before pitching into the Hudson River. The key to Sully‘s edge-of-your-seat success – and successful it is – is veteran director Clint Eastwood’s ability to render the well-documented event and astonishing outcome as tense and immediate. He does so masterfully.