FILM OF THE WEEK
Greek writer/director Georgis Grigorakis makes one of the most remarkable feature film debuts of recent years with this multi award winning film, which is also produced by Athina Rachel Tsangari, the director of ATTENBERG and CHEVALIER – another bright light from the emerging New Greek Wave.
Grigorakis sets the action of his compelling film deep into the forest of Northern Greece and follows the story of Nikitas (Vangellis Mourikis), a middle-aged man living all alone in his cabin. His daily struggle is to keep the mud away from his home as well as prevent the increasing number of developers who want to cut down the trees – he so lovingly planted throughout the years – for a new road. One day totally out of the blue his estranged son Jonny (Argiris Pandazaras), whom he had not seen since he was a baby, arrives on his motorbike.…
Grigorakis’ assured film demands attention from its very first sequence when a massive landslide of mud falls into Nikitas’ cabin and threatens to drown it.
It in intense, powerful film, like a modern-day western, and is splendidly photographed in perfectly framed compositions by Giorgos Karvelas. A celebration of the beauty of nature as well as an attack on the developers’ greed! Essential viewing! (MUBI)
The life and work of Frank Zappa is celebrated in this brilliant documentary by Alex Winter, who is better known as Bill from the popular BILL & TED franchise. The film opens with Zappa’s last concert in Prague in 1991 following the country’s liberation from the Soviet Union. “He was a symbol of freedom,” many admirers describe this immensely talented artist.
Zappa is international known for his rock creations but is also a composer of classical music and his concert at the Barbican was widely praised. “All I want is to get a good performance and a good recording of everything, so I can hear it and if anybody wants to hear it that’s great too! My desires are simple!”
Winter has unearthed some terrific archive material of Zappa, either performing or campaigning against music censorship, accompanied by a series of interviews with family members and colleagues. Do not miss! (Altitude)
I first saw Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo’s gripping film at last October’s London Film Festival and now on a second viewing I found it even more compelling. The action takes place during a long hot summer in a Rome suburb and is seen from the children’s point of view.
The story, which won Best Screenplay at last year’s Berlin Festival, is narrated by a man after he found a little girl’s diary, which highlights the children’s unhappiness towards their parents’ indifference and occasional cruelty. It is a dark world where the kids are always more mature than the superficial and irresponsible existence of their parents. Visually it is stunning, and the result is utterly hypnotic. (MUBI)
I WALK ON WATER
Khalik Allah’s previous film was the lyrical BLACK MOTHER which was original and visually impressive. Now he repeats the same technique but focuses his action on Harlem’s homeless junkies including Frenchie, a Haitian 60-year-old man also suffering from schizophrenia.
The scenes in the rough streets of Harlem are particularly strong but when Allah turns his camera on his mother asking her questions about religion and Jesus the film loses its momentum. Worse still the film becomes indulgent when he gives his attention on his Italian Belgian girlfriend and overall, at 3 hours and 19 minutes the whole experience becomes an endurance test. (Dogwoof)
THE LAST WARNING
The last film from the great silent film director Paul Leni was made in 1928 before his untimely death a year later. This German filmmaker brought his expertise on German Expressionism to Hollywood and made a series of innovative films including WAXWORKS and THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. This film is adapted from the 1922 Broadway play which is based on “The House of Fear” by Wadsworth Camp. The action takes place live on stage during a performance where a murder occurs. Years later a producer returns to the theatre to stage a new production of the doomed play despite the fact thar the murder is still unsolved…
Terrific set pieces that predate Agatha Christie’s whodunnits, where everyone is a suspect until the final twist. (Blu-ray from Eureka)
Writer/director Jennifer Harrington uses one claustrophobic location to great effect. Mia (Daisye Tutor), a social media celebrity, makes a rare home visit to look after her sister’s dog and needs to be extra careful as there is a dog killer on the loose. But as soon as she arrives, she becomes a victim of an online terror attack….
Most of the action follows Mia either on her mobile or laptop trying to make sense of what is happening to her. Harrington photographs Tutor’s terrifying face in giant close ups which allows the audience to enter her inner turmoil. A satisfying horror with a clever twist! (SHUDDER)
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: An impressive directorial debut from Mathew Rankin, who like fellow Canadian Guy Maddin, he is heavily influenced by grand imaginative designs and German Expressionism. His surrealistic take on W.L. Mackenzie King’s rise to power as Canada’s Prime Minister benefits tremendously from Dan Beine’s lead performance. It is an absurd, crazy world but thankfully the acting is real! (MUBI)
DEAD PIGS: I first saw Cathy Yan’s remarkable directorial debut at the 2018 London Film Festival and since then she hit the big time with BIRDS OF PREY. Her debut takes place in modern day Shanghai and follows several oddball characters whose stories seem at first unconnected. Meanwhile an increasing number of dead pigs begin to overflow in the river…Unpredictable, fun, and quite prolific! (MUBI)
HAPPY TIMES: An enjoyable horror comedy from Michael Mayer set in a smart mansion in Hollywood, where an Israeli American couple invite friends and family for a Shabbat dinner party. At first everyone struggles to keep up appearances before the knives are drawn…Strong characterization -imagine MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING with gore and buckets of blood! (Artsploitation Films)
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