FILM OF THE WEEK

IN FLAMES

Zarrar Kahn’s remarkable film is this year’s JOYLAND – last year’s multi-award-winning film from Pakistan. Canadian-Pakistani writer/director Kahn effortlessly combines different genres here – social realism with a touch of magical realism before his deeply engaging film turns into a lyrical modern horror-thriller. He tells the story of Mariam (Ramasha Nawal), a young woman living in a small apartment in Karachi with her younger brother and their mother Fariha (Bakhtawar Mazhar). Their lives change almost overnight when Mariam’s maternal grandfather dies, and his corrupt brother tries to force them into signing their apartment to him. It is a common practice in Pakistan where women are striped away from their rights when a male presence suddenly disappears from their lives. Meanwhile, Mariam begins a secret romance with a fellow student Asad (Omar Javaid) but after an unexpected event, she begins to experience nightmares that begin to haunt her not only during the night but also during the day…
It is an assured piece of filmmaking told with imagination and style, especially from a first-time director. It is utterly gripping, unpredictable and tense. Kahn draws naturalistic performances from his cast particularly from newcomer Nawal, who acts here for the first time. She is a luminous presence and is destined for a bright future.
An important film that demands to be seen!

CATCHING FIRE: THE ANITA PALLENBERG STORY

This tremendous documentary highlights the impact that the iconic Anita Pallenberg, had not only on the Rolling Stones but also on the sixties fashion scene. The mesmerising Anita was half German half Italian and moved to London as a young woman seeking adventure and that’s when she met Brian Jones from the Stones, who fell madly in love with her. They were inseparable but his hard drugs habit let to their split and her subsequent affair with another Stones band member, Keith Richards, with whom she had three children.
Their oldest son Marlon is one of the film’s producers and he provides some of the rare archive material of the time when the children were still small, and life was good and carefree. Marlon and his sister Angela tell their stories along with Marianne Faithfull and Kate Moss, who also talk about their friendship with the incomparable icon.
This must-see film is also perfectly complimented with clips from her films including BARBARELLA and PERFORMANCE in which she acted opposite Mick Jagger. Scarlett Johansson gets under Anita’s skin with her magnetic narration. All in all, a treat not just for film and music lovers!

SCOOP

This is a fascinating reconstruction of the notorious BBC interview with Prince Andrew. The set up of this controversial event first started ten years earlier when Prince Andrew (Rufus Sewell) was captured consorting with Epstein in New York’s Central Park. The prince’s meeting with this accused sex offender caused an uproar across the world especially with the British press. The film is based on BBC producer Sam McAllister’s (Billie Piper) memoir which gives an inside account of the interview…
The casting is spot on – Gillian Anderson is terrific as Emily Maitlis, Newsnight’s former lead presenter and so is Billie Piper as McAllister, the producer who worked around the clock to secure the interview from the Palace. Rufus Sewell is also brilliant and portrays the prince as a vulnerable yet arrogant individual under Philip Martin’s efficiently sharp direction. (Netflix)

STRANGE WAY OF LIFE

Pedro Almodovar’s latest gem is an exercise in economy and skill. It is his second film in the English language and like the modern classic BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, he celebrates the love and friendship between two cowboys.
Silva (Pedro Pascal) rides across the desert to meet his old friend and fellow hired gunman Jake (Ethan Hawke), who is now the Sheriff of Bitter Creek. They haven’t seen each other for twenty-five years but the bond between the two men is as strong as ever, until the Sherrif realises that there is something else on Silva’s agenda…
It is superbly filmed in the Tabernas desert in Almeria and is perfectly complimented by Alberto Iglesias’ pulsating music and sounds. A splendid film from the Spanish master who elicits remarkable performances from his leading actors, who share a winning chemistry. Do not miss! (MUBI)

THE RELUCTANT TRAVELLER

This is the second series featuring the brilliant Canadian comedian Eugene Levy, whose reluctant traveller continues his journey across Europe. His first stop is Sweden during Midsomer before he visits his Mother Country Scotland. A fascinating episode and quite moving as Levy sets you to trace his family roots.
In episode 3 he arrives in France’s St Tropez and has lunch with Joan Collins, one of its glamorous residents before he steps into Germany’s Health Resort in Sylt. Next stop is Italy where Levy tastes La Dolce Vita, but it is in Greece during his island Hopping in the Aegean, and on the island of Milos, that he learns a thing or two about family values.
This beautiful travelogue is told with fun, laughs and above all with joie de vivre before it finally concludes in Portugal. (Apple tv+)

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