FILM OF THE WEEK

THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE

This is a great film with a career best performance from Jessica Chastain as the eponymous heroine – a strong contender for this year’s Oscars. The film will also go down in history for its remarkable make up and total transformation of Chastain.
Tammy Faye grows up in the fifties by a deeply religious family of evangelists even though her mother Rachel (Cherry Jones) is divorced and considered to be a harlot amongst her local church community. The story spans through the sixties, seventies and eighties and highlights her relationship with fellow evangelist Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield) whom she meets at college and falls instantly in love with. Their spontaneous marriage forces them to drop out of college but prompts them to begin a spectacular career in televangelism…
The director of THE BIG SICK Michael Showalter coaches amazing performances from his strong cast and wisely focuses on building the relationship between his two protagonists before they begin to fall from grace. Chastain is unrecognisable as the ambitious evangelist with a heart of gold and a voice like Betty Boop. She shares a tremendous chemistry and childlike enthusiasm with Garfield as her soul mate and husband.
The designs are also terrific recreating suitably the period as well as the world of Tammy matching perfectly her kitsch make-up and dress code.

BELLE

Mamoru Hosoda’s spectacular anime was one of the highlights at last October’s London Film Festival. When Suzu, a lonely 17-year-old high school student, enters the virtual world of “U” her lonely existence suddenly changes. She becomes “Belle” a famous singer who sings like an angel and for the first time since her mother’s drowning accident Suzu’s life has meaning and purpose…
The multi-layered storyline has also elements of LA BELLE ET LA BETE but overall this is a tale of a sad young girl gaining confidence in the most unexpected places and gaining courage to face her inner demons.
A truly imaginative film with remarkable designs and thrilling set pieces worth catching!

THE SOUVENIR PART II

Joann Hogg’s assured sequel is as fascinating as the original. The story picks up exactly where the other one ended-Julie (Honor Swinton Bryne) is still grieving for the loss of her lover but finds solace in developing her graduation film. Her desire to be a professional filmmaker is supported by her middle class parents especially by her mother (Tilda Twinton), who never fails to provide a cheque at a moment’s notice.
It is an autobiographical project for Hogg of the time when she was a film student so inevitably the scenes in the studio are more effective than others. These two films have been universally praised but personally I found it difficult to get emotionally involved with her characters and still prefer her earlier films UNRELATED and ARCHIPELAGO.

IN THE STRANGE PURSUIT OF LAURA DURAND

This Greek road movie follows the story of Antonis (Makis Papadimitriou) and Christos (Michalis Sarantis), two friends struggling to make ends meet in a modern day Athens and still attracted by the prospect of meeting their object of desire – Laura Dumond, a porn star of the 90’s who disappeared mysteriously some time ago. They soon embark on a journey across the country in order to find their idol…
It is a fun premise for writer/director Dimitris Bavellas, who is clearly influenced by American road movies of the seventies and eighties. It is strong visually and his two protagonists work well together, but finally it is difficult to care much about their predicament as there is nothing much at stake.

JULES ET JIM

Louis Malle’s timeless 1962 ménage a trois, scripted by François Truffaut at the peak of the French New Wave, is now back in cinemas in a sparkling new print. The first film that celebrated a love triangle between two friends Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre) and the woman of their desires Catherine (Jeanne Moreau)…
It is superbly photographed in widescreen black and white and boasts striking performances particularly by Moreau in one of her most iconic roles. See it on the big screen where it belongs!

THE PARTY AND THE GUESTS

Jan Nemec’s masterful tale of an authoritarian state seen through the eyes of a group of friends enjoying a day out in the country was banned in Czechoslovakia when it was first released in 1966. It is allegorical film that brings to mind Louis Bunuel’s THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL also about a group of bourgeoisie guests trapped in a party where they are unable to leave. This ground breaking film from the Czechoslovak New Wave is a real collector’s item and a must for your library. (Blu-ray from Second Run)

BEHIND THE MONSTERS: This series is a real treat for horror fans – six episodes focusing on iconic monsters from the seventies and the eighties. First it is MICHAEL MYERS the psychotic killer who first appeared in HALLOWEEN in 1978 before a plethora of sequels and a recent reboot with Jamie Lee Curtis. CANDYMAN was Bernard Rose surprise hit in 1992 – the first horror film highlighting racism and a black anti-hero. CHUCKY was first introduced in CHILD’S PLAY in 1988. Ground-breaking special effects for this scary doll which also sprung several sequels including a recent reboot. The name of FREDDY KRUEGER is synonymous with THE NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise, while JASON VORHEES brought terror to the FRIDAY THE 13TH instalments. Finally, PINHEAD, the first British iconic monster from HELLRAISER becoming an international phenomenon. (SHUDDER)

THERE WILL BE NO MORE NIGHT: Eleonore Weber’s dark documentary uses video recordings of French and American pilot attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It is a hypnotic experience and is deeply distressing as this modern warfare highlights the heartless brutality of pilots and gunners killing faceless people in their daily activities as if they were playing video games. Horrific! (MUBI)

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