This Week’s Films (15/06/14)

Best Intentions

Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself (2002)Wilbur

The chronically suicidal Wilbur and his good-hearted big brother Harbour are in their thirties, when their father dies, leaving them with nothing but a worn down second-hand bookshop in Glasgow. Wilbur survives yet another suicide attempt and goes to the hospital, where he meets Horst a cynical psychologist and his empathic head nurse, Moira. Like Harbour, they believe that Wilbur needs a girlfriend. But even though women fall for Wilbur all the time, they can’t get close to him. In fact, it is Harbour who falls in love when a shy and intense woman, Alice, enters the lives of the brothers. Alice lives a life in isolation with her little daughter, Mary. She supplements her job as a cleaning lady at the hospital’s surgical ward, selling books that the patients have left behind. Little by little, Wilbur, Harbour and Alice become inseparable. Wilbur starts regaining his lust for life, Alice starts to come out of her shell, and Mary starts reading the thousands of books in the second-hand bookshop. Harbour has never been happier, but he carries a deep secret that threatens to surface.

Verdict: 6/10

OverlordOverlord (1975)

Seamlessly interweaving archival war footage and a fictional narrative, this immersive account by Stuart Cooper of one twenty-year-old’s journey from basic training to the front lines of D-day brings to life all the terrors and isolation of war with jolting authenticity. Overlord, impressionistically shot by Stanley Kubrick’s longtime cinematographer John Alcott, is both a document of World War II and a dreamlike meditation on human smallness in a large, incomprehensible machine.

Verdict: 7/10

Outside Satan (2011)Outside Satan

Bruno Dumont’s latest film Hors Satan is beautifully shot in a protected area on the coast of Northern France, where the director has been living most of his life. Hors Satan engages in a unique way with the landscape to emphasize the inner life of the film’s characters, a world of sand dunes, woods and marshes. By the Channel, along the Côte d’Opale, near a hamlet with a river and a marshland, lives a unusual guy who struggles along, poaches, prays and builds fires. A girl from a local farm takes care of him and feeds him. They spend time together in the wide scenery of dunes and woods, mysteriously engaging in private prayer at the edge of the ponds, where the devil is prowling…

Verdict: 6/10

Tin DrumThe Tin Drum (1979)

Oskar is born in Germany in 1924 with an advanced intellect. Repulsed by the hypocrisy of adults and the irresponsibility of society, he refuses to grow older after his third birthday. While the chaotic world around him careers toward the madness and folly of World War II, Oskar pounds incessantly on his beloved tin drum and perfects his uncannily piercing shrieks. The Tin Drum, which earned the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Academy Award for best foreign-language film, is a visionary adaptation from Volker Schlöndorff (Young Törless) of Nobel laureate Günter Grass’s acclaimed novel, characterized by surreal imagery, arresting eroticism, and clear-eyed satire.

Verdict: 9/10

Mortified Nation (2013)Mortified Nation

Adults share their most embarrassing teenage writings and art in front of total strangers at Mortified stage shows across the country, as the filmmakers explore what the show’s popularity says about all of us.

Verdict: 7/10

The Thing Called LoveThe Thing Called Love (1993)

In Nashville, there are 10,000 singer-songwriters chasing success… with one chance in a million of getting it. For Miranda “no relation to Elvis” Presley (Samantha Mathis), that’s one chance worth taking. Fresh from New York City, Miranda befriends three fellow hopefuls: shy Connecticut cowboy Kyle Davidson (Dermot Mulroney); Southern belle Linda Lue Linden (Sandra Bullock); and James Wright (River Phoenix), a cocky Texan with brooding good looks and a honeyed voice. Together they begin a rocky ride down Music City’s well-worn highway, finding hope, heartbreak, happiness… and The Thing Called Love. Featuring songs and appearances by country music’s hottest stars, The Thing Called Love will grab you like a great melody.

Verdict: 6/10

The Best Intentions (1992)The Best Intentions

Bille August (Goodbye Bafana, The House of the Spirits) directs legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s The Best Intentions. A turbulent love story based on the lives of his own parents, which features long-time Bergman collaborator, Max Von Sydow (The Seventh Seal, Flash Gordon, Victory). 

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992, The Best Intentions tells the story of a family and a bygone era played out against a background of a Sweden stifled by a rigid class system and in the throes of a General Strike. Poverty stricken young Henrik meets a beautiful and vivacious upper-class girl, Anna, who is adored by all, especially her father, the affectionate but ailing Johan Akerblom (Von Sydow). The two fall in love and eventually wed despite Anna’s mother’s attempts to discourage the relationship. 

With love and not a little pain, Ingmar Bergman depicts his parents and their complex love story over a decade of upheaval – from 1909 when they first meet to the summer of 1918 when Bergman was in his mother’s womb, about to embark on his own journey through life. As the author writes, it is all a game but a game that nevertheless requires considerable effort.

Verdict: 10/10

Hungry for ChangeHungry for Change (2012)

From the creators of the best-selling documentary Food Matters comes another hard-hitting film certain to rock your world. HUNGRY FOR CHANGE exposes shocking secrets the diet, weight loss and food industry don’t want you to know about: deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more. Find out what’s keeping you from having the body and health you deserve and how to escape the diet trap forever. Featuring interviews with bestselling health authors and leading medical experts plus real-life transformational stories with people who know what it’s like to be sick and overweight.

Verdict: 8/10

Under the Sun of Satan (1987)Under the Sun of Satan

Positioned somewhere between Bresson’s immortal Journal d’un curé de campagne and Dieterle’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, Maurice Pialat’s staggering Sous le soleil de Satan [Under the Sun of Satan] addresses the torrent of spiritual and intellectual turmoil unloosed among the denizens of a little country parish. It is a film by turns calm and violent, buoyant upon the tears of mercy and gurgling with the blood of the Lamb. Gérard Depardieu (Loulou, Le Garçu) is the self-abasing curate tortured by questions about his role in God’s plan – before an encounter with a material Satan touches off a powerful revelation. At the crux of his vision is Sandrine Bonnaire (A nos amours., Police), the madly profligate brewer’s daughter whose fate ruptures in a blast of gunpowder and the slash of a razor. As events unfurl, Maurice Pialat himself provides witness as the seasoned cleric who pronounces the words: ‘God wears us down.’ One of the great films of faith made by a non-believer, Sous le soleil de Satan left an indelible mark on spectators from the very moment of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987 – where it won the Palme d’Or for Best Film.

Verdict: 4/10

The Thin Red LineThe Thin Red Line (1998)

Terrence Malick’s adaptation of James Jones’ autobiographical 1962 novel, focusing on the conflict at Guadalcanal during the second World War.

Verdict: 8/10

Padre Padrone (1977)Padre Padrone

The true story of the life of Gavino Ledda, the son of a Sardinian shepherd, and how he managed to escape his harsh, almost barbaric existence by slowly educating himself.

Verdict: 6/10

Cement GardenThe Cement Garden (1993)

When a family of four fatherless children hide their mother’s death to avoid going to an orphanage, the eldest two think they are capable of assuming the mature roles forced upon them. Parenthood and maturity, however, brings with it stronger urges–urges which brother Jack and sister Julie find hard to resist.

Verdict: 7/10

100 Years of Adolf Hitler (1989)100 Years of Adolf Hitler

100 JAHRE ADOLF HITLER (1989), shot inside 16 hours at minimal cost in a nuclear bunker near Mülheim, is a wild take on the demise of Hitler and his followers. It is a story of incest and intrigue, drugs, suicide and blasphemy. The only remaining insight, i.e. that Hitler is but one man among the rest of us, whose possession of power sees him mutate from a human catastrophe to a catastrophe for humanity, leaves critics and audiences baffled. While some observers see a ‘first-rate political and aesthetic goof’, or ‘absolutely appalling, juvenile slapstick’, others at least give it reasonable ratings. ‘Lectures, analysis, enlightenment – the film provides none of these. It nevertheless manages to work, in a strange sort of way. Christoph Schlingensief, a man of the new generation, a naïve man, a wild man, stages a dance of death of such a garish, tasteless, brutal nature that it soon wipes the smiles off our faces; the banality of evil becomes an event.

Verdict: 4/10

 

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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