FILM OF THE WEEK
Bryan Fogel, the Oscar winning director of ICARUS, delivers another tremendous documentary which cries to be seen. His powerful film examines the horrific murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul. Khashoggi was a highly intelligent journalist who worked for the Saudi status quo for years, but he committed the ultimate sin after he decided to leave his family behind to expose his country’s increasing corruption to the world. He was an insider, and his immense knowledge caused a threat to the Kingdom ruled by the sword by Mohammed bin Salman…
This terrific film develops like a nail-biting conspiracy thriller especially after Khashoggi enters the Saudi Embassy but fails to return. He just wanted a document so he could marry his beloved Hatice, who was left outside the building waiting for his return but in vain.
Fogel has unearthed some remarkable footage from the Turkish authorities’ investigation that will chill your blood. And the foundlings of UN and Human Rights expert Agnes Callamard with details and sound recordings of the execution are even more horrifying! Saudi activist Omar Abdulaziz, now living in fear for life in Canada, makes an invaluable contribution. He is determined to carry on his campaign even though his two brothers and many of his friends are still being held in captivity. Essential viewing!
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON
This spectacular Disney animation feature takes place in the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humas and dragons lived together for generations until an evil force destroys their precious co-existence. The dragons have no option but to sacrifice themselves and save the humans, but now, 500 years later this evil force returns. Humanity’s only hope is the fearless warrior Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) who sets out to find the last dragon …
It is a thrilling adventure with many breathtaking set pieces, superbly designed and animated. The voice work is also terrific, but it is the vocal delights and eccentric persona of Awkwafina, the steal the show. This wonderful comedy performer and rapper plays Sisu, the precious last dragon with great versality and gusto. Good family entertainment! (Disney +)
Jay Paul Deratany is a writer of great integrity and dignity with whom I had the pleasure of working in “Haram Iran”, one of his stage plays inspired by devastating true events. He now turns his attention to another true story which sets out to expose child abuse in foster care homes run by corrupt agencies. Jamal (Shane Paul McGhie) lived in 20 care homes through his childhood before he finds himself in court seeking justice following years of abuse…
It is a powerful film superbly acted by McGhie, as the damaged boy who finds it impossible to open his heart in court. Thankfully, he is represented by Michael (Mathew Modine) a high-powered lawyer also determined to punish Jamal’s abusers. Intense and satisfying!
MY DONKEY, MY LOVER & I
A delicious French comedy from Caroline Vignal, who tells the story of Antoinette (Laure Calamy), a free-spirited schoolteacher who has an affair with Vladimir, a married man and father to one of her pupils. She spontaneously books a trekking holiday in the French countryside so that she could be near her lover…
Calamy is adorable as the carefree woman who it totally unconventional and follows her instincts without much thought. And to her hearts delight it is with Patrick, her donkey that she begins to form a strong bond rather that with the other travellers. A real treat!
INTO THE DARKNESS
This epic film is set in Denmark during the German occupation and follows the story of a wealthy industrialist and his family. Karl (Jesper Christensen) continues to run his factory, but he also co-operates with the Germans. One of his sons goes to fight the Bolsheviks in Stalingrad while another joins the Resistance. Meanwhile their sister begins to date a German officer…
It is directed with intelligence and care with strong production values but overall, there is so much stuff here it is probably better suited for a television mini-series.
EYE OF THE STORM
Anthony Baxter, the director of YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED, turns his focus now on celebrated Scottish painter James Morrison. His fascinating film is beautifully complimented by Catriona Black animation, which gives life to Morrison’s exceptional work particularly when he was painting melting icebergs and polar bears in North West Greenland.
Baxter also tells of Harrison’s early years when he started painting the tenements of Glasgow before he became known for his spectacular landscape work. Sadly, in his later years Harrison begins to battle with blindness but he is still able to get truly excited after he hears about a new exhibition at the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh. A treat for art lovers!
JUSTINE: Jamie Patterson, the director of TUCKED, tells the story of Justine (Tallulah Haddon), an intelligent but fragile young woman on the precipice of self-destruction. Her life in Brighton is vague and purposeless until she meets Rachel (Sophie Reid) and a ray of hope suddenly appears on the horizon…It is a sensitive film beautifully acted especially by the leading ladies who share a strong chemistry.
POLY STYRENE I AM A CLICHÉ: A fascinating documentary on the life of Poly Styrene, the front woman of the punk group X-Ray Spex. An Anglo-Somali musician with a total unique style and outlook on life, who became a true inspiration to many especially to woman of colour. The film is seen through the eyes of her daughter Celeste Bell, who speaks openly about her mother’s legacy and her struggle to exorcise her demons of mental illness. The film boasts terrific archive material and a spot-on narration by Ruth Negga as the voice of Poly.
GATECRASH: A smart adaptation of Terry Hughes’ stage play which tells the story of a couple, whose life is turned upside down following a hit and run accident. They fight fiercely when they return home but things get even worse when they get a knock on their door in the middle of the night…It is dark, suitably claustrophobic, and suspenseful!
Any feedback is welcome: [email protected]