Felix van Groeningen, the Belgian director of THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN makes a remarkable Hollywood debut with this compelling drama co-written with Luke Davies.
This true story is based on two memoirs, “Beautiful Boy” from journalist David Sheff (played here by Steve Carell) and “Tweak” from his son Nic Sheff (Timothee Chalamet). It is a compelling film not only because it is all true but it is also one of the best films about drug addiction centred on a father and relationship.
David adores his beautiful boy but when Nic, at the age of eighteen, begins his long descent into hell, David does everything in his power to rescue him. “Relapse is part of recovery” one of the trained doctors advises him “Are you telling me that crashing is part of a pilot’s training?” David snaps back at her in despair.
It is a deeply moving film but despite its bleak nature, it is finally a cathartic and hopeful experience.
The title is taken from John Lennon’s song written specially for his son with Yoko Ono, Sean, and here David sings it like a lullaby to Nic when he was a small child.
The acting is also of the highest order – Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet share tremendous screen chemistry and a strong likeness that makes them very believable as father and son. Chalamet following last year’s highly acclaimed CALL ME BY YOUR NAME proves that he is not a one trick pony and is destined for a bright future.
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
The story of Mary Stuart was brought to the stage and screen on numerous occasions most memorably in Charles Jarrott’s 1971 film with Vanessa Redgrave as MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS opposite Glenda Jackson’s Elizabeth I. Now theatre director Josie Rourke makes her cinema debut with Saoirse Ronan as the eponymous heroine who became Queen of France at the age of 15 in 1558. But three years later the Catholic Queen returns to her native Scotland in order to reclaim her throne following her husband’s sudden death.
Meanwhile the protestant Queen of England Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) feels threatened by Mary’s return and decides to sacrifice her love for Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn) by sending him to Scotland for her rival’s attentions and a possible marriage…
It is an attractive film with strong production values but its overall execution curiously fails to touch the heart despite Saoirse Ronan’s powerful performance. She gets more screening time than Margot Robbie who is not as effective as Ronan until her very last scene when Robbie’s English Queen comes face to face with Mary. They are well supported by a generally strong cast including David Tennant’s scene stealing John Knox, the founder of the Presbyterian Church, who never misses an opportunity to spit vitriol and venom against his Scottish Queen.
HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING
RaMell Ross spent five years in filming this remarkable portrait of a small community in
Hale County, Alabama. His unobtrusive camera, like a fly on the wall, follows a charming black family at intimate moments, during church service or at a basketball game.
His filming style is quite unique – he never falls into a linear pattern – he is always original, unpredictable but most importantly he offers a voice to a mostly silent small black community not often represented by the media.
An important piece of filmmaking worth discovering at the ICA cinema in London!
An anthology of 10 short films by different directors from an original concept by Qi Zhang and David Cohen.
Nicholas Cohen’s EAST/WEST about a black female athlete running across London from Stratford to Kew Gardens via Brixton and the East End connects this diverse portmanteau of shorts.
George Taylor’s DOG DAYS features Ivanno Jeremiah and Melanie Gray as two lonely strangers who go swimming in the pond during the night, while Taylor’s FELINE tells the story of another solitary figure passionate about cats played eloquently by Juliet Stevenson.
Cohen’s UNCHOSEN is the plight of an a young Iranian woman (Dimitra Barla) seeking asylum while Michael Crawford’s brief animation CLUB DRUNK is highly imaginative.
Zhang’s MUDAN BLOSSOMS follows the story of another lonely soul in the big city – a Chines woman in desperate need for accommodation while Rosanne Lowe’s PICTURES centres on an unemployed singer passionate about playing Carmen.
Andrew Cryan’s LITTLE SARAH’S BIG ADVENTURE is a real charmer while Layke Anderson’s SHOPPING follows a nervous young man into a sex shop.
Andres Heger-Bratterud’s THE DOOR TO is as intriguing as it title suggests and finally Cohen’s KEW GARDENS concludes the anthology in Victorian style.
A diverse selection worth catching up!
ELECTRA, MY LOVE
Miklos Jancso is one of Hungary’s great visionary directors who became internationally celebrated with such titles as THE ROUND- UP and RED PSALM. Jancso is also well known for his long takes and his long association with his cinematographer Janos Kende was at its peak in 1974 when he made this version of Electra.
The film is shot in twelve ravishingly beautiful long takes which are cleverly combined with imaginative choreography (featuring over 500 dancers) complimenting perfectly the stylised action that takes place in a remote rural location.
Electra prepares the crowd against the tyrant Aegisthus, the man responsible for her father Agamemnon’s murder while she eagerly awaits for her brother Orestes’ return…
Electra’s radical ideas against oppression and tyranny are as relevant today as ever in Jancso hypnotic film.
THE MOURNING FOREST
Naomi Kawase won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2007 for her lyrical film which tells the story of Machiko, a young nurse still grieving for her son’s death. She works hard at a nursing home for the elderly where she forms an unlikely friendship with Shikegi, one of the patients suffering from dementia. One day after his birthday celebration, she decides to take him for a ride in the countryside but when their car breaks down, they find themselves sinking deeper into a forest…
Kawase’s assured direction enables her actors to deliver naturalistic performances especially in the beginning where the film feels more like a documentary. But once the action moves into the forest, the film changes gear and becomes more like a love poem to nature.
A mesmerising experience!