FILM OF THE WEEK

SISU

This cross between MAD MAX and Sergio Leone’s westerns is a thrilling adventure and one of the most exciting films of the year. SISU is a Finnish word, and it basically translates into tenacity, grit, resilience, and hardiness. These are all adjectives describing the valour and madness of its protagonist – Aatami Korpi (Jorma Tommila) a retired commando, who lives alone with his horse and loyal dog in the remote wilderness of Lapland. He spends his time searching for gold until a German SS platoon approaches his territory. The time is 1944 and the Finns make a treaty with the Soviet Union to remove their former German allies from Finland. But the ruthless SS officer Bruno Helldorf (Aksel Hennie) and his Nazi soldiers begin to destroy everything as they retreat and taking several Finnish women as their captive…
Writer/ director Jalmari Helnader has created the perfect action movie of the year, if not the decade. His fearless protagonist is a man of no words and shares the madness and determination of MAD MAX and RAMBO. Helnader had previously an international success with RARE EXPORTS but surely by now his passport to Hollywood is safely stamped and sealed. It is superbly photographed by Kjell Lagerroos, whose widescreen cinematography captured the vast Finnish landscape most magnificently. Forget the plethora of Marvel comics and go and see this spectacular big screen entertainment instead!

THE LITTLE MERMAID in IMAX

Disney continues to remake its popular animation features into live action films and now it is Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved mermaid’s turn. Haile Bailey is perfectly cast as Ariel, in Rob Marshall’s musical fantasy, a mermaid fascinated by the human world. She is free spirited and likes to swim far away from her father King Triton’s (Javier Bardem) kingdom, despite his numerous warnings about the dangers. One day, during a thunderstorm, she saves Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer King) from a shipwreck and immediately falls in love with him…
It is a great romantic story, well executed and with jaw dropping underwater special effects. The two lovers share a strong chemistry and it’s good to see Melissa McCarthy as the villainous Ursula, but it is the cleverly animated crab Sebastian (voiced by Daveed Diggs) who steals the show especially with his song “Under the Sea”. See it in glorious IMAX if you can!

FAST X

As the time goes by, the premise and execution of every new FAST & FURIOUS film becomes louder and even more preposterous than before. The prologue here revisits a climactic sequence from FAST AND FURIOUS 5 where notorious drug kingpin Reyes meets a violent death. Now his son Dante (Jason Momoa) seeks his revenge and this joyous, camp villain steals the movie from its po faced regulars. Louis Leterrier, the director of the first two TRANSPORTER films, delivers the goods in grand fashion. The fans won’t be disappointed with its mind-blowing set pieces of the extreme kind, where cars can fly across the sky and race down reservoirs leaving the occupants totally unscathed.

BOONIE BEARS GUARDIAN CODE

This is the 9th instalment of the popular Chinese animated series and following last year’s success with BOUNIE BEAR BACK TO EARTH. The film opens when the lovable bears Briar and Bramble are still cubs and are living a happy existence with their mother until one day, she sadly perishes in a fire. Years later, the bears, while visiting their friend Vick in a robot research institute, unexpectedly receive some news that their mother may be still alive…
It is a colourful adventure with endearing characters and it occasionally may lean towards sentimentality, but finally it is no bother. Ideal family entertainment!

THE FIVE DEVILS

Adele Exarchopoulos received international acclaim with her award-winning BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR. She now delivers another daring performance in Lea Mysius’ highly atmospheric film and under her assured direction, she plays Joanne, a gymnast and a swim instructor at a sports centre called “The Five Devils”. She spends a lot of time with her mixed-race daughter Vicky (Sally Drame), an eight-year-old with extraordinary skills, who can create any scent she desires. Things are going well at their rural, mountainous village until her estranged Senegalese sister-in-law arrives…
It is a passionate film superbly directed and acted. The young Drame delivers the best performance by a child actor since probably Quvenshane Wallis’ tremendous turn in BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. Unmissable! (MUBI)

A CRACK IN THE MOUNTAIN

Alistair Evans travels deep in the jungle of Central Vietnam and explores with his camera Son Doong, one of the world’s most beautiful and largest caves in the world. It is a mountain river cave and in recent years, even though it is still one of the best kept secrets, is rapidly becoming a popular destination for those who happen to hear about its striking beauty. This magnificent landscape was also the backdrop of the recent Hollywood blockbuster KONG-SKULL ISLAND. Inevitably many locals worry that a massive arrival of tourists may damage the ecosystem. An intelligent documentary worth seeing!

A PLACE CALLED HOME (TO DENTRO KAI H KOUNIA)

Maria Douza’s powerful drama follows the story of Eleni (Mirto Alikaki) a cardiac professor living and working in London. When her English husband gets a job in China, she decides to travel back to Greece with her young daughter and reconnect with her estranged father Kyriakos (Ilias Logothetis), whom she hasn’t seen in years. When Kyriakos was a boy, like thousands of Greek children, he was taken abroad and Serbia became Kyriakos’ home until 1963 when he was repatriated. Now it is time for Eleni to uncover some dark secrets from the past…
It is a terrific film beautifully photographed on location in Northern Greece and is illuminated by Alikaki’s striking presence. An important film with a strong message worth catching! (Netflix)

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