10 September 2008
The Singer (Quand j'étais chanteur) (15)
Witty, poignant story of Alain (Gerard Depardieu), a washed-up lounge singer working the casinos and rest-homes of the Auvergne. He becomes smitten with an attractive divorcée who is unimpressed by his charms. A beautifully judged drama
Dir: Xavier Giannoli, France 2006. 112 mins (subtitles)
Member rating 78% (A-13, B-10, C-5, D-2); Member comments:
Good start to the season, touching film. Thanks for a feel good film. Different, quaint. As always, French cinema is outstanding especially with Gerard. Gerard returns to form, his best since Jean de Florette. It was clever how the lyrics told the story. Depardieu on top form so too de France - a real show stopper - let's have more of Xavier Giannoli. Strange manipulations of people. Well acted, too long. Sensitively played but dragged towards the end. Gentle, subtle story, lovely camera shots. Only the French could make a film like this, delightful. Enjoyable and plausible. Warm and endearing. Good to see Depardieu but the film too long. thought provoking as always but didn't really get the relationship. Didn't connect. Too slow, good study of an ageing roue
In Bruges (18)
Two Irish hoods are sent by their boss to hide out in Bruges after a botched killing to await further orders. Life proves to be far less boring than they initially assumed. A clever, savvy and enjoyable film.
Dir: Martin McDonagh, GB 2008. 107 mins
Member rating 84% (A-14, B-11, C-2, D-1); Member comments:
Absolutely brilliant. Black humour par excellence! Typical little boys' behaviour. Very funny on the pathos of the situation. A classic - wonderful film. Great film, but sound quality not very good. Tragicomic but thoroughly entertaining. I want to go to Bruges now. Laugh out loud funny. Excellent script. Very droll and a good laugh. A delightful film but a bit gory at the end. Very funny in spite of language. Love Bruges, funny, sad film. Fabulous guided tour of Bruges. Very enjoyable, scary film with excellent amusing script. Very well acted. Bizarre but both funny and touching. Very entertaining, rather slow to begin with but a very entertaining ending. Yes, very good, lovely Bruges, but Oh, the long end. Satire at its best - good to see it in an English film. Bitter sweet. I didn't like it at all.
The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) (15)
In the late 30’s the Nazis evolved a plan to flood the British and American economies with fake currencies by ‘enlisting’ concentration camp inmates. Written by a camp survivor, the story is beautifully shot; a devastatingly effective thriller.
Dir: Stefan Ruzowitsky, Germany/Austria 2007. 99 mins (subtitles)
Member rating 86% (A-12, B-6, C-1, D-1); Member comments:
Superb performance of Sorowitsch by Karl Markovics - very thought provoking. Brilliant acting. Superbly acted and horrific. Chilling, excellent lead. An amazing film, but what a grim subject. Brilliant depiction of Nazi brutality and cunning. Superb film, lovely lighting and photography, story so very emotional. Utterly brilliant but horrifying. A strong film, excellent. Nasty but a superb film. A very powerful film acted to perfection. Good pace and atmosphere, but a weak ending. So sad, do we really think life is hard now? Very good but so harrowing and awful. Thought provoking but certainly grim in parts. Very dreary.
Harmony, Alabama 1950, and hard times have hit the Honeydripper saloon. Proprietor Tyrone has a plan but needs beer and money first. This bluesy ensemble piece is firmly grounded in time and place with a host of great performances.
Dir: John Sayles, USA 2007. 124 mins
Member rating 66% (A-3, B-14, C-7, D-2); Member comments:
Enjoyed but rather long: Lovely music - well paced, beautifully acted - nice balance between pathos and sentimentality and the music: Enjoyed the film but difficult to understand dialogue; Lovely film: Great acting and music: Great music very enjoyable film: Let's hope they elect Obama as well: Made me want to get up and dance in the aisle: Easy watching, a Little slow, accent hard to follow, nice ending: A good period piece with undertones of race relations in deep South, great musical sound track. Slightly tooo slow but good music. It promised a sad ending and delivered happy days: Great story but needed subtitles: Solid gone man! A long time to get where? Too long, too slow last 10 minutes excellent: nice film great music, alittle slow at times.
The Band's Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret) (12a)
An Egyptian police band get lost in Israel, miss the last bus back to Alexandria and wind up as the guests for the night of a local bar owner. A sweet-natured examination of strangers in a strange land, an entertaining debut by the director.
Dir: Eran Kolirin, Israel 2007. 89 mins (subtitles)
Member rating 75% (A-11, B-11, C-9, D-1); Member comments:
A charming film. What a lovely film - all that repressed emotion - lovely characterisations. Nice and gentle, poignant, sad and amusing. Touching film with nice gentle humour. A lovely insight into two different cultures - there is hope! Endearing and with such warmth and energy. Excellently paced film that shows that despite our differences we are all the same. Very satisfying, understated but delightful. Just what I want of a film. Really enjoyable on several levels - not sure when it was set, but Arab/Isrel tensions were not apparent. Beautifully observed study of loneliness and insecurity. Lovely film, very atmospheric, excellent performances. A bit slow but a rather sweet film about people communicating guardedly. Low key, nicely observed - Dina superb. Amusing - good story etc. but why in slow motion? A minor delight, brilliantly played and nicely paced. Quirky, amusing, some good can come from taking a wrong turn! Quite enjoyable but it lacked a certain something. Nice idea but far too slow. A bit disappointing. A gentle, amusing film with clever observations on characters. Funny in a moving way. Extraordinary, when the leader takes out photo of wife, you know she is dead and not merely back at home. The whole film is transmitted from such tiny potentially ambiguous moments - brilliant. Haven't laughed so much for ages as I did with the roller-skating scene.
The Conformist (Il Conformista) (15)
A new print of this acclaimed classic 70’s film. An insecure man joins Italy’s fascist party, and is persuaded to become an assassin. The target is his former professor, but he dithers over the job. A beautiful idea-laden and thrilling film noir, Jean-Louis Trintignant is magnificent as ‘the conformist’.
Dir: Bernado Bertolucci, Italy 1970. 111 mins (subtitles)
Member rating 66% (A-5, B-5, C-8, D-2); Member comments:
I have been waiting to see this again for years - I was not disappointed. Bertolucci at his best - How about The Spider's Stratagem next year? Not at all dated in nearly 40 years. Probably needs to be seen again for the full impact. Not my kind of film - technically good, but storyline showing too much character weakness. Too enigmatic for my (current) taste. Good social comment on evils of fascism and how weak characters succumbed. Clever filming but nothing else. Complex, serious, but not lucid. An honourable failure? Beautifully filmed scenery and very enjoyable film. Certainly not linear and too confusing to be properly appreciated. A beautiful film to look at and interesting comments on the Italian fascist party.
7 January 2009
In the Valley of Elah (15)
A thoughtful and moving account of the search for a G.I. who disappears after his return home from Iraq. Based on a true story, the film is buttressed by excellent acting by Tommy Lee Jones, Susan Sarandon and Charlize Theron.
Dir: Paul Haggis, USA2007. 121 mins
Member rating 75% (A-7, B-10, C-3, D-2); Member comments:
Complex plot and thought provoking, an excellent film. So very moving - excellent acting from principals - shows how war destroys both sides! Harrowing film but so watchable and horrible. Wonderfully constructed and acted. Totally touching and sad - these young men become desensitized. Very good film - close to perfect. Sense of time and pace - superb performance from Tommy Lee Jones. Excellent acting, very harrowing. Gripping but worrying. Very well acted and thought. Well devised, but offensive ideologically. Good film up to the point of the ‘confession' - was a tad limp. Good symbolism at the end with flag flown upside down. Aren't you glad the Americans are on our side? Tommy Lee Jones excellent. Fine acting by Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon as you would expect, with a solid plot and savage message. Depressing to peal away the layers, one lie after another. Another damaged generation will be fit for nothing if/when they finally come home. The destructive force of war on human character, left one with feeling of hopelessness though. Not my kind of film. Jones acting brilliant. Acting and production may have been good but I didn't like the film.
Couscous (La Graine et le mulet) (PG)
Set in the Southern French port of Sète, a heart-warming story of one man’s struggle to save his immigrant family from poverty by opening a fish restaurant on an old boat. Mixing comedy and tragedy, this is a beautifully made film.
Dir: Abdel Kechiche, France/Tunisia 2007. 154 mins (subtitles)
Member rating 73% (A-10, B-5, C-8, D-2); Member comments:
Selfish family life with exhausting sad ending: Some terrific parts but seemed too long, (theatre too hot): As usual an excellent French film, most enjoyable: Was anyone working in the cutting room?: Over-long, this needed a good editor: Painfully empathetic, slow at first but we needed to know understand and identify the members of the family: Amazing and totally absorbing: What an exhausting affair, the meal en-famille was too much!: Much too long and the main character ineffectual for such a project: The cheating son's wife's unhappy monologue actually gave me a headache: Enjoyed it until everything went wrong, Too much arguing: not sure about the couscous, but I enjoyed the belly dancing. Love the family lunch gathering so typical of big families, and the filming of it feasted too: Felt exhausted after dancing/ running ending: Rapid camera shifts led to feeling of claustrophobia: Poor old superfluous Dad, he had the big idea, but the family came up trumps and made it happen: they say films are made in the editing suite, and this one could have been....
My Brother is an Only Child (Mio fratello è figlio unico) (15)
A powerful and subtle drama of two brothers who grow up in the 1960’s, and are complete opposites in every way. It is also a portrait of Italy at a particularly turbulent time in its history.
Dir: Daniele Luchetti, Italy, 2007. 104 mins (subtitles)
Member rating 65% (A-5, B-11, C-9, D-2, E-1); Member comments:
Political issues not clear, but strong concerns and conflicts with personal feelings came across very well. Excellent cinematography and well told story. Bring back Antonioni: great stuff nevertheless. Good pace, interesting storyline. A disturbing portrayal of Italy in the 60s: thankfully with a happy final outcome. Impressionistic but again needed a tighter edit. Interesting and much better than Hollywood blockbusters. A simple view of the politics of the time but a gentle film for all that. Realistically Italian noisy family orientated drama, sad but realistic ending. Family divided and then together. Quirky, fast paced and simpatico, but oh these 60s pullovers! An interesting film and a good insight into life in Italy in the 60s. Were the sixties really that political? Perhaps the film couldn't decide between caricature and serious message; essentially entertaining though.
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (15)
A riveting suspense thriller, about a robbery that turns into a colossal mess. Two brothers of a New York family attempt a heist on their parents’ family jewellery store. Philip Hoffmann and Albert Finney give the performances of their lives.
Dir: Sydney Lumet, USA, 2007. 123 mins
Member rating 58% (A-nil, B-11, C-6, D-3, E-1); Member comments:
Gripping stuff, and a family from hell. Captivating, but very disturbing, brilliant acting. Let's hope we have not got too many dysfunctional families in this country. A bit difficult to understand the dialogue but quite enjoyable - best not to get involved in drugs. Gripping but disturbing portrayal of people's life unravelling - very intense. Realistic acting - not easy viewing. A well made film, great performances, but not comfortable in any way. Good acting - bad film. Wicked and depressing story. Too much back and forward. Impressive, very moralistic, interesting to see Albert Finney on screen again, but not credible, to many flashbacks. Overlong, but gripping star performances, good study of greed and grief.
A Secret (Un Secret) (12a)
A complex and moving film, based on an autobiographical novel. The author searches for the long-hidden secrets of his family which struggled to survive during the French Occupation. A subtle, sophisticated and memorable movie.
Dir: Claude Miller, France, 2007. 106 mins (subtitles)
Member rating 89% (A-17, B-8, C-nil, D-1); Member comments:
Mesmerising - only the French can do films like that! A beautifully crafted film - spellbinding from start to finish, superbly acted. A beautiful film with a story which so many Jewish families could have told. Excellent but so sad on so many levels. Beautiful, touching and incredibly sad. Beautiful film - as always French films have a sense of timing and sensitivity with the subjects chosen to portrait that is enchanting. How do the French keep up such a high standard, superbly paced story that allowed the horror/emotion to be felt in equal measure? Paradoxically perhaps a very moving but gently presented film. Moving drama - tense and beautiful. Good sense of pace to the story but a little over-long. A sad but realistic story - excellent acting - we will not forget this terrible episode in France's history. Will war films still be made in 50 years time? Beautifully acted film - very good story told with subtlety and compassion. I'm not sure that it gained from the frequent time shifts but it was a powerful story well told. Rather disjointed and boring - typically French.
Fade to Black (15)
Whilst filming in Cinecitta Rome in 1948, Orson Welles got involved in investigating the death of a bit-player. Suspecting murder, he found himself dodging would-be assassins in conspiracy country. Danny Huston is completely convincing as the great actor.
Dir: Oliver Parker, USA, 2006. 99 mins
Member rating 61% (A-nil, B-13, C-14, D-1); Member comments:
An excellent performance from Danny Huston, but a bit let down generally. Danny Huston convincing as Orson Welles - fascinating story keeping you on edge of your seat. Interesting, attractive women, too perfectly made up: I lost track of the plot. Great story straightforwardly told and on the right timescale. I agree with the assessment of Danny Huston but maybe not fat enough. Danny Huston was excellent, great story, well acted. A few too many ‘third man' moments. Complex study of Italian politics - likeable performances. Great atmosphere. True or not it was very captivating. A gritting portrayal of Italy in the aftermath of World War II - politics is a dirty game - made with gripping viewing. Different but a bit over-theatrical and under-Wellesing for my taste. Liked the angles and narrative style, suspense and comedy. A long film with a small plot. I kept expecting Inspector Linley to work it out. Diverting, but nothing more. (Three members expressed difficulty in hearing the dialogue).
Eat Drink Man Woman (Yin shi nan nu) (PG)
Retired chef Chu lives in a large house in Taipei with his three lovely daughters. Life in the house revolves around the ritual of Sunday dinner lovingly cooked by Chu. The film is laugh out loud funny in its depiction of this contemporary family.
Dir: Ang Lee, Taiwan, 1994. 123 mins (subtitles)
Member rating 83% (A-13, B15, C-1, D-1): Member comments:
Loved it! A great insight into Chinese culture, beautifully filmed, wittily observed, poignant but satsfying. A lovely film of everyday life with hope. Love is food, food is love. A lovely film, you really cared about the people. A beautiful heart-warming film. What a feast, beautiful film with beautiful people. A charming film, full of life's complicated relationships and a gentle final twist. The charming filmwas easier to digest than most of the food. No laughs as promised but very nice and gentle. Sweet and subtle, wonderful foo scenes. Slow to begin with but expanded into a pleasing fillm. A pleasant enough evening.
The Comedy of Power (L'Ivresse du pouvoir) (PG)
A smooth perceptive political thriller, drawn from a real
life scandal. Isabelle Huppert is captivating as a crusading
magistrate exposing massive fraud and bribery carried out by French oil executives.
Dir: Claude Chabrol, France 2006. 110 mins (subtitles)
Member rating 66% (A-8, B-6, C-8, D-4, E-1); member comments:
Magnificent Huppert as ever. Excellent once again - a French film, always great. Superb direction and acting. Interesting plot. Quite an eye-opener, who can you trust? What a lovely cast of slippery characters, an excellent film. More power than comedy. Where was the comedy? Was this Chabrol's final film? Isabelle Huppert excellent, what an unsatisfactory outcome. Magnificent Huppert as ever - worrying film, especially ambiguous ending. Passed the time well but will not make a lasting impression. Overlong study of an obsessed ballbreaker who sacrificed her marriage. An unsatisfactory ending. Meandering and I couldn't follow it. Kept waiting for the film to become interesting. Dull characters - uninspiring plot - badly acted. Well acted - Huppert always fantastic. Overlong and a dull plot - dreadful background music. Oddly unsatisfying - perhaps too subtle but well acted and directed - too good for plot. Dreary, said to be based on real life, but could the accounting procedures really have been that feeble?
Annual General Meeting at 7pm
followed at 8pm by:
The owner of a computer company creates an imaginary boss to take the blame for unpopular decisions affecting the staff. When buyers want to meet the boss, the owner hires an actor to perform the role. A clever and hilarious screwball comedy.
Dir: Lars Von Trier, Denmark 2006. 99 mins (subtitles)
Member rating 65% (A-4, B-5, C-7, D-2); Member comments:
Brilliant!! Amusing. Hilarious and beautifully pitched. Comic, very original, lost a bit of the dialogue as subtitles often on white background. Subtitles difficult to read at times, film excellent. Obscure but enjoyable - a good end to the season. Great idea but I don't understand these Danes. Dry humour? - I did admire the cast for playing farce dead straight. Different, inconsequential and zany - all words you don't get to use too often. Not going to win the Palme d'Or but thoroughly amusing and caring. Subtitles too pale to always follow - glad I don't work any more (in an office). Couldn't read the subtitles quick enough - too much of the office interiors.