The Angel’s Share (2012)
Maybe in some irritable cultural rebellion I’ve found myself resisting anything vaguely social realism. A lot of it I just won’t touch with a barge pole, it’s not my cup of tea and I object to the way the British Film Industry builds itself around it almost like another rebellion to the bowler hat stereo-type. Ironic considering one of our other biggest film exports is the old monarch biopic.
Regardless ‘The Angel’s Share’ is hard to resist. I tried to resist it but I couldn’t, I admit, it surprised me! Unlike a lot of British Social Realism it showed us the outcasts of society living up to their reputations completely before it broke them down into the complicated human beings they are. It didn’t have to change them to make us sympathise with them.
In the end they substantially broke the law and we were all routing for them, it was glorious!
Wonderfully cheering feel-good film. Classic Ken Loach. Out-standing performances, confirming again the power of the non-actor in realism, and many laugh out loud moments. Good for the soul.
Frances Ha (2013)
A gorgeous meandering film about best friends;.real best friends going through the real testing times of a real best friendship.Best friendships can be so important and loving and yet they are passed over in art in favour of the shallower more fleeting sexual relationships. Frances Ha is a beautiful counter which almost makes up for centuries of imbalanced representations of love that almost completely ignore love in the platonic sense.
It’s a film to surrender yourself to, not to impatiently chase a comfortable plot structure. It’s a film about life and in this capacity it is truthful and jarring. It’s painful because it hits home in so many places unused to taking a hit but it’s worth the ride for the moment at the end, watch and you’ll know the moment. I know you want to know now.
Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989)
Despite it’s it-we-put-sex-and-videotape-in-a-sentence-together-it’ll-definitely-sell title* this is a film that really seems to have something to say.
Ann and John’s surface-level suburban paradise starts to tear at the seams when mysterious collage pal Graham appears on the scene. John has lots of sex he likes to lie about, Graham has no sex and is a recovering compulsive liar, Ann’s sister Cynthia just has a lot of sex and Ann is mildly indifferent and philosophical to everything.
In this strange rock-paper-scissors like loop of sex and lies the four characters all try to figure each other out and learn something about themselves along the way in a manner that would be pretentious if it weren’t so damn good.
An exceptionally good first feature film from Steven Soderbergh, won the Palme d’Or at Canne that year and features stunning performances from the whole cast even, uncharacteristically, Andy MacDowell
*some Eastern European countries were disappointed to find they hadn’t actually gone to see western porn
Saudi Arabia is a country with no cinema and very little way of expressing itself, it’s a bit of a mystery to most of us. Wadjda is the first feature-length film to be made in Saudi Arabia and therefore is a pleasure to watch if only as an important piece of. what will one day be. cultural history.
It’s a beautiful film that perfectly demonstrates the power of the simple ‘here’s the character, here’s what she wants’ design. Wadjda wants a bicycle. That’s it. Except built on top of that is the argument of women’s place in society, presenting the comfort of tradition, showing us a full and homely picture of Arab culture and religion whilst countering it with a remarkably innocent story of teen-rebellion.
It’s intelligent, witty and humbling. It ticks all the good film boxes, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry and you walk away feeling, though you can’t consciously put your finger on it, like you’ve learnt something important.
Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves), 1948
I have to admit I was afraid this was going to be one of those films that everyone understands it a work of genius but doesn’t understand much else. ‘Italian neorealism’ that’s a scary phase. But you don’t need to get to caught up in big theory books and what the delicate significance are supposed to be because this is a film where it was very easy to just get immersed and follow the feelings. And when you did it was incredible.
I knew vaguely what the film was supposed to be this slow build up of desperation after a man’s bike is stolen, a bike he needs or he’ll lose his job, until he hits rock bottom and becomes the thief himself. But I had no idea how beautifully crafted that build up would be. Antonio stood in the rain with him son at the market while dozens of bikes cycle past and he realises finding his will be like looking for a needle in a haystack - worse actually like looking for a particular piece of hay in a haystack. Or the way in which you’re made the feel torn with him at the end of the film as you almost want him to take the bike because you can’t see any other way out for him either.
Beautiful film, deservedly a classic.
Jack Nicholson & Stanley Kubrick on the set of The Shining
La Pointe Courte (dir. Agnès Varda - 1955)
Persona (dir. Ingmar Bergman - 1966)
Love and Death (dir. Woody Allen - 1975)
Mulholland Dr. (dir. David Lynch - 2001)
In Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft’s first encounter in the hotel room, Bancroft did not know that Hoffman was going to grab her breast. Hoffman decided offscreen to do it, because it reminded him of schoolboys trying to nonchalantly grab girls’ breasts in the hall by pretending to put their jackets on. When Hoffman did it onscreen, director Mike Nichols began laughing loudly offscreen. Hoffman began to laugh as well, so rather than stop the scene, he turned away from the camera and walked to the wall. Hoffman banged his head on the wall, trying to stop laughing, and Nichols thought it was so funny, he left it in.
Good film, illustrates quite well the careful and witty film making of the Cohen brothers when working in perfect sync. Also demonstrates their cheeky side in pretending it was a true story which is probably the thing about it which will stick with me most.
Anyway it’s a nice twist on the standard crime thriller format. The highlight of the film for, as for everybody, is Frances McDormand.