FILM OF THE WEEK

 

3 DAYS IN QUIBERON

Marie Baumer delivers a phenomenal performance as Romy Schneider in Emily Aterf’s remarkable film set in 1981 one year before Europe’s beloved star’s untimely death at the age of 43 following her son’s tragic accident.

Romy Schneider’s retreat in a small village on the coast of Brittany in France is interrupted when journalist Michael Jurgs (Robert Gwistek) and photographer Robert Lebeck (Charly Hubner) arrive in order to conduct an interview for the German magazine Stern. Luckily for Schneider her old friend Hilde Fritsch (Birgit Minichmayer) also turns up at this spa hotel and provides solid support to the fragile star…

It is superbly photographed in black and white with superb production values that convey the period most effectively. But it is Baumer’s outstanding performance that provides the heart and soul of this compelling film. She bears an uncanny resemblance to the vulnerable actress but most importantly she inhabits the role so truthfully that the whole film feels like a documentary. A remarkable achievement for both director Atef and leading lady Baumer!

 

THE WORKSHOP

Laurent Cantet, the director of THE CLASS and RETURN TO ITHACA, delivers another intelligent film, co-written by him with Robin Campillo, the director of last year’s 120 BPM.

The action takes place in La Ciotat, in the South of France and follows the story of Antoine (Matthieu Lucci), a young man part of a summer writing workshop selected to write a crime thriller. In charge of the workshop is famous novelist Olivia (Marina Fois) who encourages the group of seven to examine the town’s industrial past and use it as a backdrop to their story. Antoine begins to become increasingly provocative and volatile especially when he develop his story from a cold blooded killer’s point of view…

It is a fascinating premise, well-acted and intelligently directed. It stimulates the mind but curiously not the soul!

 

SUSPIRIA

This is an odd choice for Luca Guadagnino as a follow up to his multi-award CALL ME BY YOUR NAME – a remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 giallo classic with Jessica Harper as an American student in a Berlin dance school. Now Dakota Johnson steps into her dance shoes in this spooky tale about witches in Germany. In the streets there is political unrest caused by the Baader – Meinhof Group while the school is facing its own demons…

The original was bright and colourful with a stunning soundtrack and had an amazing use of sound. This is clearly a labour of love for Guadagnino who purposely goes against the tide and curiously delivers an overlong, arty film which looks very dark and appears to be photographed in natural light. The result is a totally different experience.

Try and see the original before you see this which is currently playing at the Prince Charles Cinema in a sparkling 4K restoration.

 

DEAD IN A WEEK (OR YOUR MONEY BACK)

This likable British film tells the story of William (Aneurin Barnard) a suicidal young man who fails to kill himself more than seven times. But he believes his luck is about to change when he meets a professional contract killer called Leslie (Tom Wilkinson) who is very happy to accommodate William’s wishes for the sum of £2.000…

This is an impressive feature film debut from Tom Edmunds who wisely underplays the dark comedy in a naturistic style and draws realistic performances from his accomplished cast.

 

THE GRINCH

This animation feature tells the same story as Jim Carrey’s HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS made in 2000, also based on Dr. Seuss’ famous children’s book. Now Benedict Cumberbatch provides the voice for the grumpy, Scrooge like, Grinch determined to spoil Christmas for everyone in his village. The endless Christmas songs and preparations are enough to drive anyone crazy especially Grinch who devises a plan in order to put a stop to Christmas once and for all in Whoville…

The bright and colourful designs are cleverly drawn cleverly but unfortunately the script lacks the wit and sophistication to match a Pixar animation feature. Thankfully there is a MINIONS’ short called YELLOW IS THE NEW BLACK before the film, which is fun and hugely enjoyable which makes the whole experience worthwhile.

 

HELL FEST

Another film that takes place during Halloween is Gregory Plotkin’s routine horror inspired by the eighties slasher movies.

A group of friends are eager to spend the night at the touring show of Hell Fest which arrives in town just in time for Halloween. The spooky rides and dark labyrinths are suitably designed to scare the pants out of the visitors until things get seriously scary when a masked stranger begins his own countdown…

It is a fun premise decently acted by a young, enthusiastic cast led by Amy Forsyth as Natalie, the vulnerable protagonist, whom no one believes after she witnesses the real murders. It is hardly ground-breaking and not that scary but still it is left open for a sequel.

 

OUTLAW KING

David McKenzie’s ambitious historical epic was recently given a Headline Gala at the London Film Festival despite the fact that this is a Netflix movie straight for television. The story picks up more or less after the end of BRAVEHEART. Edward I (Stephen Dillane from PAPADOPOULOS & SONS) of England is till occupying medieval Scotland with an iron fist which prompts Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) to seize the Scottish crown and begin a long battle against the megalomaniac King.

This is definitely a labour of love for McKenzie who directs with integrity and style. However, it is difficult to get involved in this long and brutal story despite strong acting especially from Dillane and impressive production values.

George Savvides

 

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