9 items from 2011
The Guard Click here to read the review! He’s a lover of mothers and whores alike, and spends equal time in the company of both. He’s a man who, when he goes off-duty for the night, kicks back with a beer and flips on the telly not for the football or a little light viewing, but instead to watch Jerzy Skolimowski’s cryptic, terrifying psychodrama, ‘The Shout’. He’s warmhearted; he’s a prick. »
#10. Of Gods and Men - Xavier Beauvois (February 25th) Select sequences are almost worthy of comparison to Bresson, including head monk Lambert Wilson's conflicted hike into nature, or the monks' final, close-up filled suppertime farewell. The film needed a more ruthless editor, however -- many scenes come across as mundane and unnecessary. Could easily be an hour shorter, and better for it. #9. Le Quattro Volte - Michelangelo Frammartino (March 30th) A film that proves that the protagonist of a film need not be a human being, or even be animate. At times, however, its resistance to traditional storytelling fells more like a cop-out than a radicalism. The possibility of an inanimate object being a fully realized character is never fully explored. Still, an absorbing and unusual two hours in the movie theatre. #8. The Sleeping Beauty - Catherine Breillat (Rendez-Vous with French Cinema (Fslc) Perverse, bizarre, sexy, funny, provocative. In other words, »
It has been a while since the 72-year-old Jerzy Skolimowski, director of Deep End and The Shout, and screenwriter of Polanski's Knife in the Water, has commanded so much attention. His last film, Four Nights With Anna, with which he broke a 17-year movie-making silence, I found underpowered and redundant. But in case we made the mistake of thinking Skolimowski was an extinct volcano, there has been a sudden explosion of lava. Essential Killing is intriguing and disturbing, made with tremendous confidence and conviction.
Vincent Gallo stars as Mohammed, a Taliban insurgent who has been captured in Afghanistan, waterboarded and then placed on a rendition flight to central Europe for further interrogation. The sun-baked landscape of Asia is replaced, in a kind of surreal inversion, with sub-zero Polish forests through which »
- Peter Bradshaw
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
(Rob’s Venice review re-posted as film is released in the U.K. this week)
Three American contractors walk through the Afghanistan desert. They’re healthy-looking, tanned and wearing sunglasses. They engage in light-hearted banter as they investigate a system of caves, backed up by helicopter support. It could be an episode of Generation Kill, or The Hurt Locker. The camera is objective, even detached. Then we cut to a disorientated, breathless, first-person view of a man running. He’s running to avoid the soldiers we have seen. Soon, we are taken back to the soldiers: still laid back and cool. It is clear that, to them, this hunt is routine: a job. For the other guy it is survival, and killing is an essential part of life.
Alerted to his presence by a sudden noise, the Americans pursue the man into a small cave cut into the desert rock. »
- Robert Beames
At the 2010 Venice film festival, when Essential Killing won the special jury prize, its director Jerzy Skolimowski announced: "For those who like me – I'm back; and to those who don't like me – I'm back."
There's much of the man in that wry, pugnacious stance. But what does "back" mean for a Pole who will be 73 this May, and who took nearly 20 years out of a film-directing career to be a painter? How will "back" turn out for one of film's least compromising mavericks? As far as I can tell, Britain is only the second large market to give Essential Killing a release (after Poland) – with no takers in the Us. But a story about a Taliban fighter (Vincent Gallo) who kills Americans in the Afghan desert, is captured and tortured, then flown back to Europe and able to escape into the deep snow, will not compete easily with Adam Sandler. »
- David Thomson
Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, London
What a wonderful world it isn't. But despite the global sweep of conflict, oppression, torture and other abuses dealt with, this festival is never a depressing experience. Instead it's the power of information in action, a vivid picture of what's going on in the world and how to change it. There are hot-button topics like Arab democracy (The Green Wave, on Iran's 2009 elections) and the war on terror (You Don't Like The Truth – 4 Days Inside Guantánamo, The Oath), but there's also powerful drama, like family mystery Incendies or Belgian immigration saga Illégal, and even heartwarming stories like A Small Act, on the far-reaching consequences of a charitable donation.
Various venues, Wed to 1 Apr
Werner Herzog, London & Nationwide
You'd think the German veteran had seen it all, but he keeps finding new wondrous sights to show us. In recent years that has included cash »
- Steve Rose
Though York couldn't maintain the Christie-like success of her 60s peak, her unusual choices made for an interesting career
There was a rage for Susannah York in the 60s like there was for Julie Christie and Vanessa Redgrave, so it seemed odd when it ended in the mid-70s. All of a sudden, the rush of good parts stopped. This seemed odd, after her Oscar nomination as best supporting actress in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). But then, why did she let herself take such roles as that of the superfluous wife in The Battle of Britain in the same year?
In her early career, York had seemed a conventional English beauty: as Alec Guinness's daughter in 1960's Tunes of Glory (her actual debut) and a touching lead performance the following year in Lewis Gilbert's The Greengage Summer as a young woman in France coming to sexual maturity. »
- David Thomson
Susannah York in Robert Altman's Images Susannah York Dies Part I: Tom Jones, The Killing Of Sister George Susannah York faced complex family situations in Mark Robson's cult classic Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1971), co-starring Don Murray and Rod Steiger, and played opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Caine in Brian G. Hutton's messy — but fascinating – Zee and Co. / X, Y and Zee, in which jilted wife Taylor does whatever she can to destroy the love affair between husband Caine and York, even if that means seducing hubby's new girl. [Right: Susannah York and Marlon Brando in Richard Donner's Superman.] Also in the '70s, York could be seen in Christopher Miles' filmed play of Jean Genet's anti-bourgeois The Maids (1974), in which housemaids York and Glenda Jackson vent their anger against their employers; Michael Anderson's Conduct Unbecoming (1975), a court-martial drama-thriller set in colonial India; Jerzy Skolimowski's horror-drama The Shout [...] »
- Andre Soares
Actress Susannah York, perhaps best known to fantasy fans as the mother of Superman in Richard Donner's 1978 take on the comic-book hero, has died of cancer at the age of 72. Nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in the 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, York perhaps made her deepest mark on British movies as the ingenue lover of Beryl Reid in Robert Aldrich's The Killing of Sister George (1968), thought by many to be the first film ever to seriously examine the subject of lesbianism.
Coming to early fame in 1963's Tom Jones, York was one of the most familiar faces of the 1970s and early 1980s, most especially in her unexpectedly extended role as 'Lara', mother of Superman-to-be Kal-El in the Christopher Reeve Superman cycle of movies between 1978 and 1987. In the theatrical release of 1980's Superman II, producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind balked at paying »
9 items from 2011