Category: Film Reviews

Posts on The Global Film Book Blog

Just a reminder for followers of this blog that some of our postings are now appearing on The Global Film Book blog. In the main these concern films that relate in some way to the various chapters in the book but otherwise they take the same approach as postings here.

Recent postings include:

Ilo Ilo (Singapore 2013) 

The Past (le passé, France-Italy 2013) 

The Lunchbox (India/Germany/France/US 2013) 

Ringu (Ring, Japan 1998) 

Nick’s Favourites 2013

Bullock's star turn

Bullock’s star turn

Gravity (US/UK) – unlike Roy I wasn’t bothered by Ryan’s (Bullock) backstory, maybe I was busy being ‘blown away’ by the visuals. It has the best use of 3D I’ve seen, when the tears come into focus as they drift towards us was particularly effective. Clooney’s paternal voice, I think, worked brilliantly to emphasis Ryan’s task when she’s left alone to survive.

Before Midnight (US) – like Gravity, Richard Linklater excels in his use of long takes enabling us to wonder at Julie Delpy’s and Ethan Hawke’s embodiment of their characters. The only downside to anticipating the next film is I will be so much older.

Philomena (UK) – it was fascinating to see Steve Coogan’s persona inhabiting the Martin Sixsmith character adding real wit to what might have been ‘simply’ a grim indictment of the Catholic Church.

McCullin (UK) – an insight into one of the greatest war photographers. McCullin’s humanity is juxtaposed with the inhumanity of what he has photographed.

Lore (Aus-Ger-UK) – Cate Shortland’s brilliant ‘arty’ direction enhances this story about the fate of children of Nazis in the immediate aftermath of the war.

The Impossible (Spain) – a combination of gripping story-telling, the tsunami disaster of 2004, and fabulous special effects made this the roller coaster ride of 2013.

Keith’s favourites from 2013

Ceasar Must Die by the Taviani Brothers.

Ceasar Must Die by the Taviani Brothers.

This has been a pretty good year for movies though I thought that it was not as strong as 2012.

My favourites among the new releases in the order which I saw them:

I Wish / Kiseki, Japan 2011.

Director and writer Hirokazu Kore-Eda produces a magical portrait of the world of childhood.

Caesar Must Die / Cesare deve morire, Italy 2011. Written and directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. Brilliant, Shakespeare’s play produced and performed in the high-security Rome Prison of Rebibbia. One groans that these talented filmmakers’ work only occasionally makes it into the UK market.

Paradise: Love, Faith, Hope / Paradies: Liebe, Glaube, Hoffnung Austria, Germany, France 2012. This trilogy of films from Ulrich Seidl is impressive both in its formal rigour and in the moral rigour with which it treats is characters. At times I laughed at times I cried.

The Great Beauty / La grande bellezza, Italy / France 2013, directed by Paolo Sorrentino.

The most stylish film I have seen this year: the final track along the Tiber is magnificent.

The Artist and the Model / El artista y la modelo Spain 2012.

Its greatest virtues are the script by Jean-Claude Carrière and the director Fernando Trueba: the black and white ‘scope’ cinematography of Daniel Vilar: and the pairing of Jean Rochefort and Claudia Cardinale.

Best Documentary that I have seen:

McCullin UK 2012. Directed by Jacqui and David Morris.

This was a record of the work of Don McCullin, who has specialised in war photography. This is a powerful record of a portfolio of really fine work, and the moral dilemmas involved in covering war are clearly set out.

The most impressive performance that I have seen:

Barbara Sukowa in Hannah Arendt, though I found the film problematic.

My favourite canine performance:

Lutz in The Wall / Die Wand, despite the traumatic scene late in the film.

Silent films:

For me the best was The Self-Seeker / Shrurnyk, UkrSSR 1929 and directed by Mykola Shpykovskyi and featured in the Ukrainian programme at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto. The nominal hero of the film and title is Apollon; a petit bourgeois caught up in the Civil War between ‘reds’ [the good guys] and ‘whites’ [the bad guys]. But the real star is a camel that invariably saves the day.

The heroic camel in The Self-Seeker

The heroic camel in The Self-Seeker

The discovery of the year was the work of  Ol’ga Preobraženskaja, whose film were featured at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna. Among these gems was Kaštanka (USSR, 1926) which featured my favourite canine performance from early cinema, Jacky as the title character.

Most annoying film of the year:

It has to be Django Unchained USA 2012 from Quentin Tarantino.

The film clearly involves a wealth of talent, but ‘never has so much been expended to so little effect’’

The film I most disliked:

Only God Forgives Denmark, France, USA 2012.

I wonder if it is derogatory to David Lynch to suggest that this is a poor pastiche of one of his films.

The film I found most dubious:

Act of Killing various UK countries 2012.

Joshua Oppenheimer refers to cinema verité regarding his documentary revisiting the 1965 Indonesian genocide: actually it falls between fly-on-the-wall and Big Brother.

Finally, my nomination for Audience of the Year:

all those brave film buffs who came along to the Gothic Film Festival at Kirkstall Abbey in early November. One kind soul offered me a blanket to wrap in. I thought it was worth it.

1,000 posts and counting

(From An abacus is an ancient Chinese form of counting widely used in Asia.

(From An abacus is an ancient Chinese form of counting widely used in Asia.

With the flurry of postings last week, The Case for Global Film passed 1,000 individual postings. The 1,000th post was on Vicky Donor. Our stats tell us that we have a regular group of visitors that is steadily growing but that most of you visit us when you are looking for something specific on a film and on average you visit just under 2 separate postings on your visit. Perhaps you aren’t aware of the vast array of material (approaching 1 million words and thousands of images) that we hold?

The best way to get the most out of this blog is to have a quick look at the How to navigate this site page and discover how to search through the material.

We are moving forward onto the next 1,000 now, so watch this space! Suggestions for better ways of organising the material are always welcome.