FILM THE WEEK

 

RED ROCKET

Sean Baker, the writer/director of THE FLORIDA PROJECT and TANGERINE, brings to the screen one of the year’s most original and enjoyable films. He tells the story of Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), a free spirited individual, who returns to his small Texas hometown hoping to stay at his estranged wife and mother-in law’s house. But they want nothing to do with this hustler until he promises to pay rent and help fix the house. He applies for many local jobs but when he is interviewed, it is revealed that he hasn’t worked for 17 years, even though he claims he was part of Hollywood’s movie industry. Eventually he confesses that he used to be a porn star which makes everybody even more uncomfortable…

The joy of watching this utterly appealing, daring film is Simon Rex, a magnetic presence, who is in practically every scene and carries the whole project singlehandedly and most valiantly. He shares a winning chemistry with striking newcomer Suzanna Son as the 18-year-old Strawberry, who works at the local donut shop. Baker, as he proved in his previous films, is a master in creating highly original settings as well as engaging characters not often represented on screen. A real treat from one of the most original talents working in Hollywood today!

 

GREAT FREEDOM

Sebastian Meise’s compelling film takes place in post-war Germany and follows the story of Hans (Franz Rogowski), a gay man, who spends time in prison thanks to Paragraph 175, an inhuman law which persecutes homosexuals. Like in the play BENT, Hans is taken to a concentration camp during the war but after the country’s liberation by the allies, Hans still remains in prison by the authorities. The story spans through the fifties and the sixties as Hans returns time and time again to prison, but despite this brutal environment he manages to find love and develop an unlikely bond with his cellmate Viktor (Georg Friedrich), a convicted murderer…

It is a passionate film of great dignity and defiance and like the best Jean Genet’s work also very sensual and tender. The performances especially from Rogowski are magnificent. An instant classic!

 

MASTER CHENG

Master Cheng is a real charmer – a deeply engaging film from Finland full of humanity and warmth. A mysterious stranger (Pak Hon Chu) arrives with his young son at a small café in a remote Finnish village searching for something or someone but nobody understands what he means. Sirkka (Anna-Malja Tuokko), the café’s owner finds him a place where he can temporarily stay with his son until he finds what he is looking for. Meanwhile, Master Cheng offers his services as a cook at the cafe in order to pay back the favour …

Delightful performances in a genuine crowd pleaser that will put a smile on your face. Ideal for our times!

 

MIDNIGHT

A nail biting thriller from Korea which tells the story of Do-Sik (Wi Ha-Jun), a psychotic killer who kills violently and brutally during the night as if he was playing a mindless game. But he never expected to find his match when his path crosses with Kyung-mi (Ki-joo Jin), a hearing impaired young woman…

It is slick and stylish and is superbly directed by Kwon Oh-seung, who elicits terrific performances from his cast. Ha-Jun plays the psychopath with effortless charm but it is Ha-jun as the resourceful heroine that steals the show, who like Audrey Hepburn’s blind protagonist in WAIT UNTIL DARK gives the nasty killer more than he bargains for. (Eureka)

 

BALLAD OF A WHITE COW

This powerful film from Iran is co-directed by Behtash Sanaeeha and Maryam Mogdadam, who also plays the leading role, of a tragic woman struggling to make ends meet following her husband’s unjust execution. But when soon after he is declared innocent by the authorities she embarks on a long journey in order to clear his name in a hostile, heartless society…

The strength of this sad film is that it never sinks into sentimentality but benefits tremendously from Magdadam’s luminous presence and sensitive co-direction. (MUBI)

 

SIDESHOW

This amiable film marks the feature film debut of writer/director Adam Oldroyd, who tells the story of a washed up psychic (Les Dennis), whose lame stage performances in the provinces are losing their popularity. And to make matters even worse two criminals break into his home in search of a fortune…

The setup is promising but the scenario and the lame dialogue fail to raise even a smile, while the over orchestrated score belongs to another movie altogether.

 

FOR LUCIO

An enjoyable film from the MARTIN EDEN director Pietro Marcelle, who returns here to his documentary roots. His subject is Lucio Dalla, the iconic singer from Bologna who found fame in Rome during the sixties. Lucio started singing from a young age and always stayed close to his inspirational mother before he became the voice of Italy’s and a popular icon for the working man’s struggle. His story is told candidly by his loyal manager and friend Tobia Righi and is perfectly complimented by rare archive material. (MUBI)

 

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