Fiction - Commercial - Corporate - Animation - Documentary
Our end of year viewing recommendation is, inevitably, about friendship and the passage of time, but celebrates the things that stubbornly remain the same. If you haven’t seen The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp before, you’re in for a real treat. It takes courage and skill to make such a poignant, thoughtful anti-war film right as World War II was raging on, but this masterpiece transcends its context and has something touching to say about any era. One of our favorites.
Our film of the week is one of the very best sci-fi fantasy films ever made, a visual spectacle that will make your mind and eyes melt. No, it’s not Star Wars, it’s Akira, the trojan horse through which anime entered Western theaters and consciousness, and the moment we realized animation could be sophisticated, intelligent, and very un-kid-friendly.
Our film of the week is the Alec Guinness-starring masterpiece « The Horse’s Mouth ». One of Obi Wan’s finest performances in the only film he ever wrote, it’s a beautiful examination of artist’s torments and insecurities, all memorably scored to Sergei Prokofiev’s Lt Kijé.
Here we have a film famously best enjoyed under the influence – and inspired by a book undoubtedly created under the influence. You’d be in for a trip, but also missing out on what a meticulously inventive rollercoaster Terry Gilliam and his fearless stars have crafted.
Happy Halloween! For those of you considering an evening indoor before a flickering screen, we strongly recommend Godzilla-creator Inoshiro Honda’s overlooked masterpiece Matango, aka « Fungus of Terror » or « Curse of the Mushroom People ». Like most Honda films, there’s a tense, eerie and effective nightmare hiding under the shlocky title and advertising, and you can’t help but think this one might have given David Cronenberg an idea or two.
If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s probably that time of year when things get really colorful outside. Here’s some classy black and white magic to sooth your eyeballs, our film of the week, Tabu. It’s a beautiful, playful and original little masterpiece that shows how cinema can still surprise you, even without 9-digit budgets and giant robots…
This week we’re turning East and focusing on a very brutal and powerful film: Chuan Lu’s City of Life and Death, a gritty, all-black-and-white depiction of the fall and occupation of Nanjing by Japanese troops. On a technical level, it is right up there with Spielberg’s WWII efforts while arguably showing a lesser known but more savage side of the war. It also dares to look deeper into the darker reaches of the human soul than those films, and the result is often painful to watch, and harder still to look away from. Unmissable!
How do you make a documentary about something as abstract and subjective as memory, particularly with as politically thorny a context as the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon? In the groundbreaking Waltz With Bashir, Ari Folman takes us through an animated journey through war trauma and the unreliability of memory in times of conflict, all to the haunted tune Max Richter’s mournful score. It’s a daring and rewarding work, and when, towards the end, real footage finally intrudes, uncommented and raw, it delivers a shocking, memorable payload. Unmissable!
The prospect of a single-actor, mono-location film about the last days of disgraced US president Richard Nixon might not scream « quality entertainment » to most viewers, but the result, Robert Altman’s 1984 film with virtuoso performer Philip Baker Hall, is truly amazing, and a must-see for any aspiring actor.
Unfairly overlooked by audiences and a large enough proportion of Academy voters upon release, Curtis Hanson’s razor-sharp adaptation of James Ellroy’s magnum opus was born a classic. This rarest of mainstream films demands every inch of your concentration and rewards it with a devilishly clever plot, wonderful sense of detail and a cast at the peak of its powers. If you ever find yourself wondering why the world was once in love with Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey or even Kim Basinger, look no further. And, as if that weren’t enough already, it looks and sounds amazing. Yes, we’re clearly smitten.