Enchantment takes many forms. A Cannes Film Festival favourite, Alice Rohrwacher’s latest film is a deliciously subtle tragi-comic fable, told with the lightest of touches.
A cheerfully iconoclastic film, Michel Hazanavicius’s Redoubtable has provoked both ire and delight. Jean-Luc Godard is considered such a key figure in both European culture and political history that to treat him with levity is outrageous to some, and just deserts to others. Hazanavicius has said that critical responses have, at times, been as if he’d peed on the Sistine Chapel.
A deliciously funny romantic comedy, I Got Life is a reminder that with love and determination, there’s always hope. In the picturesque seaside town of La Rochelle, Aurore (Agnès Jaoui) is having a bad day. Pre-menopausal hot flushes, a husband who’s decamped to have babies with a young woman, a sleazy boss, and a newly pregnant daughter – everything is conspiring to overwhelm her. This could go all Ken Loach and pear-shaped.
The re-release of The Magic Flute, part of the BFI’s Ingmar Bergman centenary celebrations, is a joy and a delight. Filmed for Swedish television in 1975, the film soon gained international critical acclaim. Since then, it has become regular festive television fare. It is wonderful to see it again on the big screen.
Mozart’s opera is probably best remembered for its duets, repeated motif of a chirrupping flute, and cascading peals of glockenspiel. There’s love, in its many guises: romantic, lustful, embittered and disenchanted. In counterpoint, high drama, darkness and treachery wreak havoc. Steadfast love eventually triumphs. It’s a gorgeous story. The music is ineffably delightful.
In a series of elaborate set-pieces, Cate Blanchett speaks glorious, declamatory words, fragments of manifestos.
It starts with a spark, in darkness. A fuse burns elegantly out of focus to the words of Marx, Tzara and Soupault. Who is Soupault, one might ask. Well – a Dadaist turned Surrealist; 1920s. And so starts a daisy chain of intellectual and artistic movements, in no particular date order.
What’s James Bond doing here as a blond-white beefcake, and redneck to boot? It takes a gulp and a little intake of breath to calm that sense of dissonance. And so the fun starts. Nothing in this film is at it seems.
That moment in Ocean’s Twelve when Matt Damon is picked up from a jail by an FBI agent and you realise the ‘FBI agent’ is his mom? Logan Lucky is a succession of those neat surprises. Eventually. Logan Lucky is a slow burner, and Soderbergh directs magisterially – setting up the story at his own pace. It starts as a bit of a shaggy dog story then speeds up towards the end, picking up multiple strands into a rather satisfying conclusion. It all pays off.
It’s all in the eyes. When Queen Victoria meets Mohammed Abdul Karim in June 1887, he quickly makes a strong impression. The Queen writes about him in her diary, that same day, mentioning that he is tall, with ‘fine serious countenance’, and is lighter skinned than his compatriot and fellow servant, Mohammed Buksh. It’s a droll story, as the film tells it; the pomp and formality of Court is displayed with quite some irony.
Edie is a surprising film. It sets out in a quietly unassuming way and then develops into something moving and powerful. It tells the story of a widow in her early eighties, Edie (Sheila Hancock), who did not marry well. She quietly mourns; not her husband, who had been unkind and had stifled her, but her dreams. One day, clearing her attic, she finds the remnants of an old, unrealised wish. Old hiking gear, and a postcard.
You’re on a barrel roll, on a wild plane ride with a pilot playing fast and loose. American Made is that plane ride, and Tom Cruise is the pilot. That engaging and somewhat reckless Tom Cruise we know from his early film, Risky Business – wide-eyed grin, ever so slightly amoral, and irrepressibly charming. He’s back.