FILM OF THE WEEK

 

THE DUKE

This delicious British comedy proved to be the last by Roger Michell, who sadly died last year – the talented director of such delights as NOTTING HILL and LE WEEK-END. The story is based on true events and takes place in 1961, in Newcastle and follows the story of Kempton Bunton (Jim Broadbent), a 60 year-old taxi driver determined to do anything in his power in order to turn the world into a more humane place. At first he fights the government for a free television licence to pensioners but when his actions fall into deaf ears, he goes for bigger fish. He steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London and instead of ransom money he demands more care for the elderly…

The superb screenplay, written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, shines with originality and wit and offers Jim Broadbent one of his most wonderfully eccentric roles in years. He is brilliant and delivers a mischievous performance with a childlike enthusiasm. He is well supported by Helen Mirren as his no nonsense wife Dorothy, fed up with her husband’s master plans and shenanigans. There is also a lovely performance from rising star Finn Whitehead as their decent, loyal son Jackie and a scene stealing performance from Matthew Good as Jeremy Hutchinson QC. A real treat!

 

PETITE MAMAN

Celine Sciamma’s name is rapidly becoming synonymous with strong female led movies like PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, GIRLHOOD and TOMBOY. The action here is seen through the eyes of Nelly, an eight-year-old girl, who after her grandmother’s death she befriends Marion, a mysterious girl in the woods. Marion is the same age as Nelly with whom she bears an uncanny resemblance and the two new friends embark on a journey of discovery as well as of healing…

It is a deceptively simple story, it is economical and mystical told with eloquence and style. It is superbly directed by the great Sciamma and is assuredly played by Josephine Sanz and Gabrielle Sanz, two of the best child actors I have seen in a very long time. (MUBI)

 

LA MIF

The title of this new film is the French slang word for family and the action takes place in a residential care home in Geneva, where a group of teenage girls share this community with social workers. Writer/director Fred Bailiff is a former social worker and spent two years developing this compelling film which is performed by non-professional actors.

Bailiff’s powerful film is divided into different sections which focus on a particular girl before it moves into the life of a care worker and that of the group as a whole. It is a clever device where we get to know each one individually, learn about their stories and empathise with their predicament.

It is a powerful, perfectly structured film, realistic and authentic like a Ken Loach at its finest!

 

RURANGI

I first saw this touching film from New Zealand at last year’s BFI Flare London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival and enjoyed it even more on a recent second viewing. It is based on a successful TV mini-series and follows the story of Caz (Elz Davis), a transgender man who returns home to the farming community of Rurangi after almost a decade and the first time since his tradition.

Max Currie directs with sensitivity this moving story of Caz, a man still haunted by past memories and now struggling to reconnect with friends especially with his estranged father. Davis’ committed performance is a true labour of love and it shows!

 

CRY MACHO


A new film from veteran actor/ director Clint Eastwood is always an eagerly awaited event and his latest certainly doesn’t disappoint. The action takes place in 1979 and follows the story of Mike Milo (Clint Eastwood), a past rodeo star, who has fallen from grace and now he reluctantly agrees to take a job from his ex-boss (Dwight Yoakam). His assignment is to go to Mexico and bring this man’s estranged son Rafo (Eduardo Minett) back home to Texas…

It is evident from the opening shots of this modern day western that we are in the safe hands of a master. It is sensitively directed and beautifully photographed. Eastwood is as generous to his actors as ever- not only as a director but also as an actor. (Now on DVD)

 

F@CK THIS JOB

Vera Krichevskaya’s fascinating documentary opens with a quote by Jim Morrison “Whoever controls the media controls our mind” before she tells the story of Natasha Sindeeva, an ambitious, confident woman determined to build Dozhd TV ( also known as TV Rain) thanks to her husband’s wealth back in 2008. At first it is all very amateurish – the reporters are inexperienced but as the time goes by and after its journalists start to comment on Putin’s rule and greed for power their ratings begin to soar…

An ambiguous film that spans until the present day with a provocative tittle and an opening which at first suggests satire but finally this is one woman’s struggle and determination to keep her beloved TV station afloat in a corrupt and dangerous status quo which sadly gets worse by the day!

 

THE FILMS OF PATRICK WANG: Following last week’s amazing A BREAD FACTORY which was released in two parts here are two of Patrick Wang’s earlier features:. IN THE FAMILY is his debut feature in which he also plays a leading role. Two gay men adore their six year-old son but when one of them dies his partner then faces massive opposition from the diseased man’s family. It is an epic story of love written and directed with great dignity and sensitivity. In his second film THE GRIEF OF OTHERS Wang examines a family’s struggle with a tragic loss and its consequences when an outsider enter their lives. Both are mature, assured pieces of filmmaking!

 

LOOKING FOR VENERA: A confident directorial debut from Norika Sefa, who sets the action of her engaging film on a remote Kosovan village. Venera is a teenage girl living under strict rule by her conservative father until she befriends the free spirited Dorina…Superbly photographed in a beautiful yet harsh landscape that reflects the claustrophobic world of these two young women. (MUBI)

 

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