Friday, 21 April 2017

April 22 part B 2017:  
Their Finest
Berlin Syndrome
Certain Women
Spanish Film Festival

Here we go with the (large) second part of this week's blog - the mainstream releases for this week.  And once again, they are all really fine films! Remember, the Young at Heart Festival reviewed earlier this week is showing in Melbourne until 26 April. 

Their Finest
Director: Lone Scherfig
Length: 117 min
© Transmission - a totally entertaining 
British wartime story with a big heart
Take a setting of wartime London, some of Britain's finest acting talent, and a script that interweaves humour, tragedy and romance into a story about film itself, and you have a winner! Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton), falls into a job with a film production company needing a "woman's touch" for their propaganda films. There she meets fellow writer Buckley, and arrogant actor Ambrose Hilliard, played brilliantly by the scintillating Bill Nighy. The film balances perfectly the on-screen drama of the patriotic film they are making, with the real-life dramas they are all experiencing during the London Blitz, which the Brits manage to portray so well on film. All the characters are terrifically appealing, the era is beautifully portrayed, and the musings that crop up as to what film itself means to its creators and audiences is inspiring. Jack Huston and Tom Claflin are strong as the love interests, and there are small star turns from the likes of Jeremy Irons, Richard E Grant  and Eddie Marsan. With wonderfully strong female characters to boot, this film has lots going for it.   
4 - wholeheartedly recommended!
For a longer review from Bernard Hemingway visit:

Berlin Syndrome
Director: Cate Shortland
Length: 116 min

© Entertainment One - just remember:
don't pick up strange men!

A young Brisbane woman's dream of travel, adventure and romance turns into a nightmare when she goes to Berlin alone. Clare (Teresa Palmer) meets handsome school teacher Andi (Max Riemelt) and the chemistry between them is immediate. Somewhat naively she goes back to his apartment, in a deserted part of town, for a night of hot sex, and next morning finds that Andi has left for work, accidentally locking her in. Well, maybe NOT accidentally! People seem to be criticising this film for its length; I found myself captive to the tension, and the escalating fear for Clare's fate. This film is indeed a salutary lesson about not talking to strange men, and about the power some men like to wield over women. Possibly Andi's motivations are not explored sufficiently, but as a straight thriller, with some kinky/erotic bits overlaid, two wonderful lead performances, and some good scenes of Berlin this works pretty well. 
4 - wholeheartedly recommended!
For a longer review from Chris Thompson visit:

Director: Julia Ducourneau
Length: 99 min
© Monster - a coming of age film with a difference!
Here's a French film to get your teeth stuck into! Normally I don't go for this genre of psychological horror, but Raw is so smartly made and deliciously sickening, it has a certain appeal. Justine comes from a vegan family, but during her initiation week at veterinary college she is forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney. This experience sets off a craving for meat - but not just any meat! Cannibalism is probably one of the last human taboos, and this film certainly pushes the boundaries, while tackling other intriguing issues such as brutal hazing rituals (a form of bullying at universities), and the strength of family and sisterly bonds. The film won big-time with the critics at Cannes, and while I acknowledge this ain't everyone's plate of meat, it is stylishly done, always feels authentic, and has a wonderful final twist!  
3.5 - highly recommended - if you can stomach it! 

Certain Women
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Length: 107 min

Certain Women features in a season of Reichardt films, Kelly Reichardt's America, at ACMI until May 9th. 
© ACMI - quiet studied film-making highlights the lives of 
these Montana women
The four women in the collage feature in this slow moving, absorbing snapshot of lives under the big sky of rural Montana. Laura Dern is a small town lawyer, involved in an affair, and representing an angry man who has a work injury; Michelle Williams is a malcontented wife and mother dreaming of a house she hopes to build; Kristen Stewart is a lawyer who travels hours to teach nights for more cash, while Lily Gladstone tends horses on a ranch and stumbles into the night classes, only to fall in love with the teacher. Virtually nothing happens in the three separate tales which are loosely linked. Yet such is the skill of Reichardt's direction that she manages to capture something so sad and poignant about these women's lives - their loneliness, their frustration and perhaps their hope.  This quiet gem of a film is for those who enjoy paying careful attention to the minute details, rather like the way people who are emotionally savvy can read others without spoken words.
4 - highly recommended ! 

Spanish Film Festival
Running until May 7 in Melbourne. 
For other states see the website: 
I can't tell you much yet, due to not getting screeners in time. 
I'll let you know about any films I manage to catch from here in, but I have seen the nominated centrepiece film. 
Summer 1993 (Director Carla Simon Pipo) won the Best first Feature at the Berlin Film Festival. It's the story of a six year old who, after her parents' death, is sent from the city of Barcelona to live with her aunt, uncle and little cousin in the countryside. Though the film is intense, and takes its time, it is beautiful, and the story is told with simplicity and realism. I doubt you'll ever see such stunning child performances in any film. 
PS. For lover of flamenco, there are four films featuring the iconic Spanish art form. 

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