Thursday, 27 April 2017

April 27 2017:  
The Innocents
Things to Come
Spanish Film Festival - more

One of my rare five-star films releases this week - The Innocents. It is beautiful and horrifying at the same time. Isabel Huppert proves again in Things to Come why she's one of today's best actors. I catch a couple more from the Spanish Film Festival, one of them being unmissable for fans of flamenco.  

The Innocents
Director: Anne Fontaine
Length: 115 min

© Rialto - heartbreaking, beautiful, horrifying - 
a wonderful 5-star film
Yet another film based upon a true World War 2 story, this one is more shocking, and in ways beautiful, than most. Based upon the memoir of a young Red Cross nurse, it tells of Mathilde, who is helping repatriate French soldiers from Warsaw, when a nun, Maria, asks her to visit a local convent to give medical assistance. Upon arrival, Mathilde finds one nun about to give birth and several others in advanced stages of pregnancy, a result of multiple rapes by Russian soldiers. The Mother Superior is terrified that the convent will be shamed, and, sworn to secrecy, Mathilde becomes their only solace and help. This film left me sitting gob-smacked in my seat, desperately trying to process my conflicting thoughts and reactions: disgust at rape as a weapon of war (ongoing world-wide), the admiration for a brave doctor, the quiet and desperate faith of the nuns, the universality of motherhood and its associated emotions, and the absolute integrity and beauty in the way the film is written and directed, with not a hint of sensationalism, but much compassion. The cinematography is sublime, and, coupled with the holy chants and music, a deep spirituality suffuses the film, offset by the harsh realities of shame and fear. 
5 - unmissable!

Things to Come
Dir: Mia Hansen-Love
Length: 102 min
© Palace - Huppert gives get another 
sublime performance as a woman of a certain age 
grappling with life's changes
Nathalie (Isabel Huppert), a middle-aged professor of philosophy, finds her life going pear-shaped. Her husband has fallen for another woman, and her much-respected books are being withdrawn from further publication. How will she manage to find meaning in the rest of her life? Huppert, as she recently demonstrated in Elle, is one of today's finest actors. Here she again shows how truthfully she can inhabit a character - she balances Nathalie's intellectual world with the practicalities of adult children, a demanding mother, and her friendships with past students. This is a stunning, poignant and relevant portrayal of a woman at a turning point, able to have the self-respect and confidence to push on, and to discover her freedom, something she has never felt before.   
4 - wholeheartedly recommended!

Spanish Film Festival
Running until May 7 in Melbourne. Astor, Como, Westgarth, Kino
For session times visit the website:

A flamenco treat!
Last week I reviewed Summer 1993 (Director Carla Simon Pipo) featuring two of the best child performances in a long time. Since then I've caught a couple more. Now here's a grand statement: if you are a lover of flamenco dance you should NOT MISS Sara Baras, All Her Voices. (A special screening is on this Sunday 30 April at Cinema Como). It is one of the most energising and beautiful flamenco films I've seen, and believe me I've seen a lot! For a tense and wonderfully directed but understated revenge film, check out Fury of a Patient Man. It feels a bit like a western, and features great cinematography, plot and performances. For lovers of the culinary travelling shenanigans of Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, they star in the closing night film The Trip to Spain, directed by Michael Winterbottom.

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