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.
Walk With Me carries within its heart a quiet note of brotherly love. When filmmaker Max Pugh’s brother became a Buddhist monk, over ten years ago, Pugh attended the ordination. It left a profound impression on him. Years later, Pugh and fellow filmmaker Marc J. Francis were invited to make a documentary about the community his brother had joined, Plum Village. The village is a Zen Buddhist community and meditation centre, founded by the Vietnamese poet and spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh, and his monastic disciple Sister Chan Khong.
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.
Mayhem reigns wherever Moonee (Brooklyn Prince), an irrepressible six year old, leads her friends. She is a little tornado of mischief, and has an answer for everything. Whatever trouble she concocts, her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) stands up for her.
Pull back, and the reality of their home is revealed. Moonee and Halley live in poverty in a cheap motel in Florida, just off a busy highway. The motel is called the Magic Castle. A lure for unsuspecting tourists, and a long-term dormitory for the dispossessed. In the distance, Disney World – the Florida Project.
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 better way to start the New Year than with a bracing dose of existential fear and trembling?
The BFI kicks off its Ingmar Bergman centenary celebrations with the revival of Bergman’s 1966 film, Persona. Deeply absorbing, it is another of the director’s lavishly symbolic films, playing with the ideas of artifice, the self, and imbalances of power.
A treasure chest of fun, originality and brilliant music – so much directing talent too: get to see early work by Lynne Ramsay, Jonathan Glazer, Sam Taylor-Wood. See my review for Cinemazine: British Music Videos 1966-2016
There is a severe beauty to the drone shots in Ai Weiwei’s new documentary film, Human Flow. The […]
A lyrical, bittersweet tale, Youth is set against an epic background. It starts in the dying days of the Cultural Revolution, continues on the frontline of the Sino-Vietnamese War in the late 1970s, and ends sometime in the 1990s, in a China transformed by Deng Xiaoping’s market reforms.
A wild night in New York starts calmly enough. In a psychiatrist’s office, a young man, Nick (Benny Safdie), speaks haltingly. He is being assessed for cognitive function. It becomes obvious, that his capacity for understanding the complexities of the world is limited.
The big camera close-ups on his face amplify his discomfort. He is about to explain something about himself, something that maybe he shouldn’t, when peace is abruptly shattered. A young man, rough, wild, angry, erupts into the room and drags him out. His brother, Connie (Robert Pattinson, almost unrecognisable). He is agitated. Frenetic. The two brothers rush out – and go rob a bank.
John Scheinfeld’s new documentary, on legendary saxophonist and composer John Coltrane, is out now on Netflix. See my review, up on Cinemazine.co.uk: Chasing Trane
A provocative, hard-hitting film. See my review @Cinemazine
Like all the most accomplished fairy tales, Guillermo del Toro’s latest world of wonders, The Shape of Water, opens with a sense of promise, of magical things to come, and inevitably, with an undertone of darkness.
Through a door, ajar, the camera slips into a dark, blueish, watery home. The sound of creaking wood, a low rumble, a swoosh, as if one were at sea in an ancient sailboat. A sunken sailboat: everything is underwater, floating dreamily in a tranquil space cluttered with old fashioned furniture – a Victorian side-table, an old lamp glowing in the gloom, a chaise-longue, and on the chaise-longue, a blissfully sleeping woman. ‘If I told you about her, the Princess without voice’ the unseen narrator begins to tells us, with a warm kind voice…
Utterly charming and bucolic, a meandering story of a summer idyll unexpectedly builds up into something deeply moving and memorable.
Summer 1983, somewhere near Crema, Lombardy. A landscape of sleepy village squares baking in the afternoon sun, of lazy rivers to bathe in, grass to roll in, of gardens with trees bearing luscious fruit.
See my review of Molly Haskell’s 2017 biography at Book review: Steven Spielberg – A Life in Films, by Molly Haskell
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.