FILM OF THE WEEK

PARALLEL MOTHERS

Penelope Cruz lights up the screen and delivers a career best performance in this stylish, elegant film, gracefully written and directed by the Spanish virtuoso Pedro Almodovar. A new film from the veteran director is always a highly anticipated event, especially when he is reunited with one of his favourite performers. He and Penelope worked together on numerous occasions including ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, BROKEN EMBRACES VOLVER and PAIN AND GLORY. Here she plays Janis, a successful photographer, who even though she gets pregnant by accident, she is excited about the prospect of becoming a mother. At the hospital she meets Ana (Milena Smit), a pregnant teenager, also accidentally impregnated, but not as happy as Janis about her predicament. These two women give birth on the same day and subsequently share a strong bond…
Almodovar’s screenplay is a real treat – it builds up slowly and develops fully fleshed characters before it gradually begins to reveal deep secrets buried deep under the surface. It is a real joy watching Cruz at the top of her game registering every emotion with just by her demeanour or by simply a glance. Newcomer Smit is also sensational and delivers a star making performance under the guidance of the maestro.
A beautiful film strikingly designed and masterfully directed!

SING 2

This eagerly awaited sequel is as much fun as the original. All the adorable characters are back singing their little hearts out in spectacular musical numbers. Garth Jennings returns as writer/director and repeats the winning formula that made the original animated feature such a huge success.
The lovable koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) has big dreams about his new thrilling stage production performed by his specially selected cast of animal performers. He is trying to impress a big music tycoon but first he needs to lure back from retirement a big reclusive star (played by Bono)…
Jennings makes great use of his music video expertise and creates wonderful musical set pieces. The dialogue sparkles with originality and wit – no wonder that his stellar cast is back for more. Reece Witherspoon’s Rosita is a genuine scene stealer and so is Nick Kroll’s Gunter.
Ideal family entertainment!

AMULET

This slow burning, low key, kind of feminist horror marks Romola Garai’s assured directorial debut. Her imaginative screenplay follows the story of Tomaz (Alec Secareanu), an Eastern European soldier who after guarding a remote part of a worn torn country finds himself in London some years later. But he is still haunted by his past memories and manages to find refuge in a dilapidated house inhabited by Magda (Carla Juri), a mysterious young woman and her ailing mother…
Garai elicits highly watchable performances and creates a suitably uneasy environment perfectly complimented by great use of sounds and eerie music which highlight the unrest of her protagonist.

FLAG DAY

Sean Penn directs with integrity and passion this true story based on reporter Jennifer Vogel’s own experiences with her father John Vogel, a notorious counterfeiter. From a young age Jennifer (Dylan Penn), has an uneasy relationship with her father (Sean Penn), but still she prefers to spend more time with him rather than with her volatile mother. They share hard times together, under the influence of drugs and alcohol, which probably makes their bond even stronger…
It is easy to see why Penn chose this project – probably as a loving gift to his own daughter Dylan and inevitably there is a strong connection and an effortless chemistry between father and daughter in this uncompromising film. Dylan is a promising talent and thankfully she shares her mother Robin Wright’s striking presence with whom she bears an uncanny resemblance.

MASS

This marks Fran Kranz’s remarkable directorial and writing debut, a truly cinematic event even though its single setting and multi-layered screenplay may suggest a great stage play. The action takes place in the vestry of a church where two sets of grieving parents (Reed Birney & Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs & Martha Plimpton) agree to meet following a devastating accident. A great ensemble of actors-all on tremendous form delivering deeply moving and complex performances. Must-see!

SOUTH

This remarkable 1921 documentary captures Shackleton’s epic journey to Antarctica from 1914-16 by official photographer Frank Hurley. The film boats amazing sequences with Shackleton, his crew and his magnificent ship “Endeavour” before and after they get stuck on ice. Towards the end when Shackleton travels to an island to seek help from civilization the film changes gear and becomes a document on the life of penguins and sea elephants. Hurley’s striking images are perfectly complimented by Neil Brand’s brand new score.
An epic adventure unlike any other!

TAMING THE GARDEN: This unusual, fascinating documentary takes place on the Georgian coast where a powerful, anonymous man buys old trees, uproots them and transplants them to his own private garden. It is very distressing especially for the local community, who has lived close by these majestic tress for generations, but I suppose money can buy anything these days.

COMETS: An assured debut from Tamar Shavguilidze, who sets the action on a hot summer’s day in a beautiful Georgian garden where two middle aged women are reunited following a lengthy separation. They used to be in love when they were young during the eighties but circumstances forced them apart…It is a gentle, lovely film strongly played by both pairs of leading ladies, young and old. (MUBI)

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