Monday, 3 July 2017

July 4th 2017
Still catching up!!
Lady Macbeth
A Quiet Passion

The catch-up is going slower than I hoped for, but here are a couple of new offerings, and, although they will hold no appeal for the popcorn brigade, both are truly fine films, sporting amazing performances, and top-notch cinematography. 

Lady Macbeth
Director: William Oldroyd
Length: 89 min
© Sharmill - Florence Pugh is compelling in this
meticulously crafted period piece
Based upon a novel by Nikolai Leskov, this is not to be confused with the classic Shakespearean Macbeth, other than here is a woman with much blood on her hands. This remarkable film deserves to be seen by far more people than I imagine it will, being intense, superbly crafted and a tour-de-force of acting from Florence Pugh. The story is set in 1865, when teenage Katherine is bought by her father-in-law Boris as wife to Alexander, a cold and harsh man. When Alexander goes on a trip, Katherine invites stable-hand Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis) into her bed, and something primally wild within her is released. Eventually she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. As an audience our allegiances are initially with Katherine, virtual prisoner to the oppressive males, but it is interesting to feel the pendulum swing, as the tale progresses. With much seething (and overt) sexuality, and many uncomfortable moments, especially as concern the family maid Ana, this film is gripping plot wise, as well as looking meticulous in its careful use of minimalist settings. sparse dialogue, and even less music. This is film-making at the top of its game! 
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended! 

A Quiet Passion
Director: Terence Davies
Length: 126 min
© Palace - Cynthia Nixon brings poet Emily Dickinson
to life in another wonderful film
Yet another period piece, again about a strong woman, this is the story of American poet Emily Dickinson, writing in the 1830s, a time when women, mostly under male thumbs, were not well acknowledged in the literary world. I feared I would be bored by this confined tale, with a voice-over utilising much of Dickinson's poems, but I found myself surrendering totally to the sad and gentle story of a gifted woman greatly attached to her loving family, surrounded by people adept with words and ideas, but feeling insecure because of her self-perceived lack of beauty and suitors. This film, like Lady Macbeth, is meticulously crafted in its look. It has moments of almost unbearable sadness, bubbling joy, and plenty of verbal jousting, at times almost too clever for its own good!  Strong support comes from Jennifer Ehle as sister Vinnie, Duncan Duff as brother Austin and Keith Carradine as the loving patriarch.     
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended! 

For more interesting and in-depth analyses of both films from Bernard Hemingway, visit:

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