The action of this charming remake easily transports from Iceland to Western Australia. Grimur Hakonarson’s original, made in 2015, was a huge international success and a multiple awards winner, while his most recent THE COUNTY was one of last year’s best films. The story is practically the same – two brothers live side by side in a remote part of the country but haven’t spoken to each other in four decades. They are both proud of their flock of sheep which they raise independently and every year they compete with one another at contests. This year’s winner judged by English born Kat (Miranda Richardson) is Les (Michael Caton) who is over the moon especially after beating his brother Colin ((Sam Neil), but his glory is short lived when his prize ram is diagnosed with a rare and deadly illness…
Director Jeremy Sims makes the film feel quite authentic especially in selecting a strong supporting cast and photographs the beautiful Australian landscape most magnificently. The leads are both terrific – moody, stubborn, and stuck in their old ways until necessity forces them to join forces together. A red-haired Richardson fits perfectly in the action and provides a touch of romance for the grumpy Colin. Sims has added half an hour to the original but still a highly watchable remake!
This terrific film, which is Georgia’s entry for this year’s Oscars, marks the remarkable directorial debut of Dea Kulumbegashvill, a genuine new talent and a worthy winner of many awards at recent Film Festivals including Toronto and San Sebastian. She sets the action in a small community at the foot of the Caucasus mountains and follows the story of Yanna (Ila Sukhitashvili), the devoted wife of a Jehovah’s Witness leader. The opening sequence sets up the tone most perfectly – the leader is preaching the bible to his followers until a petrol bomb sets fire to their place of worship. There is danger in the air and Yanna feels unprotected especially now that her husband is away searching for new premises…
Dea shoots her hypnotic film in long uninterrupted takes with a mostly static camera which makes it an utterly intense and mesmerising experience not to be missed! (MUBI)
As the title suggests this is a passionate affair. Helene (Laetitia Dosch) is a single mother and is always ecstatic to see her Russian lover Alexander (Sergei Polunin), whenever he is available. But their passionate sexual encounters become even more addictive as the time goes by, while the mysterious married Russian becomes even more elusive than ever… Danielle Arbid’s assured direction elicits amazing performances from her actors. The winning chemistry between Dosch and Polumin is priceless and their explicit sexual scenes are very realistic and genuinely erotic. Dosch is deeply persuasive while Russian ballet dancer Polunin continues his rising acting career most effectively!
The South African Special Forces Brigade are also known as the Recces especially during the war with Angola during the sixties, seventies, and the eighties. This dreadful war was South Africa’s Vietnam. The action here takes place in 1981 and follows the story of Henk Viljoen, a recce who has already done his military service but like THE HURT LOCKER is drawn back to the enemy line leaving behind his pregnant wife Nicola…
This project by writer/director Johannes Ferdinand Van Zyl is clearly close to his heart but overall, it lacks tension and is difficult to care much about the plight of the young protagonist after he is abandoned by his superiors in a hostile land.
A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX
Rodney Archer’s illuminating documentary sets out to explore peoples’ addiction with digital simulation and obsession in creating their own avatars. One of the pioneers of the field is Philip k. Dick, the writer of such cult classics as BLADE RUNNER, TOTAL RECALL and MINORITY REPORT and his famous speech in Paris in the late seventies, where he talks about science, philosophy and conspiracy theory is used here as a starting point to Archer’s analysis. But in the middle of it all is THE MATRIX with its famous line “Déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix”, which created a new reality and had a massive following. One man, obsessed with the film, uses as part of his defence in court that he was living in a Matrix kind of reality following the killing his father in cold blood. Intriguing stuff!
THE DON IS DEAD
Richard Fleischer was one of those rare directors that was able to switch genre with each film at a drop of a hat. His gangster thriller made in 1973 was originally released under the shadow of THE GODFATHER and was almost eclipsed. Anthony Queen is Don Angelo DiMorra, a gang leader in danger from a rival family clan. Meanwhile, Frank Regubulto’s (Robert Foster) loyalties are tested when he begins to suspect that Don Angelo is having an affair with his girlfriend…
A violent crime thriller with remarkable action set pieces and illuminating performances. Foster is striking and so is Frederick Forrest as one of the hitmen brothers hired by Frank. A neglected crime thriller worth re-discovering! (Eureka Blu-ray)
ARE WE LOST FOREVER
Sweden’s David Fardman started his career as a casting director before he began making shorts. One of his early short films is NO MORE WE (also included in this DVD) which begins as a gay couple splitting up. Fardman has now developed this short into a full-length feature by using all of his original material. He goes even further by expanding the early scenes of the separation and by exploring his characters’ predicament after they attempt to build up new relationships. It is an engaging love story expertly performed by Bjorn Elgerd and Jonathan Andersson. (DVD from Peccadillo)