PETERLOO

Mike Leigh’s epic political drama arrives at cinemas straight from advance screenings across the country including the London Film Festival which came to a close last week. This project about the brutal 1819 Peterloo Massacre is close to Mike Leigh’s heart and he wanted to bring it to the screen for many years now.

The war with Napoleon is over and many soldiers return to the homes in the North where life is difficult especially for the working classes who struggle to make ends meet. There is a feeling of unrest and a pro-democracy rally is organised at St Peter’s Filed in Manchester where a crowd of over 60.000 people gathers in order to express their dissatisfaction with the government. But their peaceful rally turns into a dreadful bloody path…

Mike Leigh enters Ken Loach’s territory with his angry, passionate film about injustice and the violence of the British government against its own people. Leigh wisely takes his time in developing his many characters and sets up the action magnificently before the horrible conclusion.

Maxine Peake is strong as a hard working matriarch struggling to provide for her family while Rory Kinnear’s oratory skills are put to great effect as Henry Hunt the celebrated public speaker.

An intelligent, enlightening film about a notorious part of British history very much worth discovering!

 

MIRAI

Another film from the London Film Festival selected as the Family Gala is Mamoru Hosoda’s delightful animation feature from Studio Chizu. He tells the seemingly simple story of Kun, a four-year-old boy who becomes unbearably jealous when his baby sister Mirai is born. He tries everything in his power to steal his parents’ attention from his sister but to no avail until he begins to encounter family members from the past and future…

It is a charming film superbly animated and economically scripted by Hosoda, who unfolds the action most effectively. It is a touching but also very funny film for people of all ages.

The Japanese voice work is also excellent so try and see this in its original language if there is a choice.

 

NAE PASARAN

This compelling documentary by Felipe Bustos Sierra demands attention from its very first sequence of the devastating coup in Chile led by the CIA in order to get rid of President Allende.

These awful events on 9/11 in 1973 have a particular resonance to the tragedy of Cyprus that began a year later. But the story of NAE PASARAN is also inspiring as a group of Scottish engineers working for Rolls-Royce in East Kilbride refused to provide any service to the Chilean Air Force engines in protest to the dictatorship of General Pinochet and in solidarity to the imprisoned workers in Chile.

It is a deeply moving film and a worthy celebration of the immense impact that this defiant action of these honourable people had on the fate of many political prisoners. Essential viewing!

 

THE FOG

John Carpenter followed his HALLOWEEN success with THE FOG in 1980 which returns to the big screen in a sparkling new 4K restoration print via the London Film Festival.

The small coast town of Antonio Bay is celebrating 100 years but at midnight a thick fog begins to cover the town from where strange men with hooks from an old shipwreck appear…

It is suitably atmospheric and provides a few jumps but overall it is not that scary. The use of sound is great and Carpenter has also composed the music like he did in HALLOWEEN but not as effectively here.

It is good to see mother and daughter Janet Leigh and Jamie Leigh Curtis acting in the same film but not necessarily in the same scenes. Studio Canal is re-realising most of John Carpenter’s films from the eighties in brand new prints and that is certainly a good thing!

 

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