Western, Valeska Grisebach’s latest work, was met with significant critical acclaim when it screened at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard last May. It’s a memorable film. It digs deep without seeming to. Grisebach is based in Berlin, and we met there earlier this year, to discuss her work.
There’s something irresistibly alluring about this film’s title. It promises crime, glamour and intrigue. The Nile Hilton Incident delivers that in spades. A police procedural and a political thriller, a Cairo Confidential by way of Casablanca, it’s a homage to film noir and to the novels of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy. The film is heavily stylised, knowingly alluding to Polanski’s Chinatown. But then something cuts across that stylised world, sharply: a subplot featuring a hotel cleaner, Salwa (played by Mari Malek). It brings the story, vividly, into relevance, into the here and now.
The past brings up unexpected treasures in Ingmar Bergman’s 1971 The Touch. This delightful tale of a woman’s journey towards inner freedom was wildly underestimated by critics when it was originally released – and often wildly misinterpreted – perhaps because of the life it portrayed. This is our gain: a new Bergman to discover, another facet of his work, rediscovered pleasures.
Dark River presents an unflinching gaze at something unpalatable: the way a traumatised person can be fiercely attached to the very thing that harms them.
Lady Bird is as eager to propel herself out of Sacramento as she is to fling herself out of her mother’s moving car when they suddenly argue. That moment captures perfectly their relationship, and the restlessness of a young person just on the cusp of independence. The only way forward – and out – is propulsive.
A love affair ends dismally, in the elegantly wallpapered breakfast room of a grand London townhouse: a suggestive Belgian iced bun is spurned. Johanna (Camilla Rutherford), her fine features just starting to wilt, offers her lover, the celebrated and fastidious couturier Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a richly glazed, cherry-topped pastry. Johanna knows that her capricious lover’s appetite for food, and his amorous appetite, are one and the same. He tells her she is getting fat.
There is a particular glamour to party nights in cities like Beirut or Tel Aviv – the proximity of the sea, the dark starry nights, suntanned boys and girls dancing the night away at impromptu gatherings, smoking on balconies and rooftop terraces, sometimes encountering that unexpected spark of attraction.