MAN OF IRON

1981; directed by Andrzej Wajda; written by Aleksander Scibor-Rylski; 147 mins

[Sorry, couldn’t find a suitable English language clip or trailer]

With the passing, late last year, of director Andrzej Wajda, and with Cannes 2017 well underway, I thought it time to check out Palme d’Or winner Man of Iron – interestingly, the only sequel ever to win the prize. Previously, I had only seen Wajda’s 1958 masterpiece, Ashes and Diamonds and beyond that, my knowledge of Polish cinema is pretty poor, so let’s delve in… Continue reading

THE GREAT SILENCE

1968; directed by Sergio Corbucci; written by Mario Amendola, Bruno Corbucci, Sergio Corbucci and Vittoriano Petrilli; 101 mins

[SPOILERO!]

Bleak is the word! In Sergio Corbucci‘s atypically snowbound Spaghetti Western, the faces are scarred and severe and the landscapes are endless and lonely. Filmed in the Italian Dolomites, watching it on a bitterly cold evening was perhaps not the wisest option as Silvano Ippoliti‘s bitingly beautiful cinematography is matched by Corbucci’s ice-cold outlook. Continue reading

POOR COW

1967; directed by Kenneth Loach; adapted by Nell Dunn and Kenneth Loach; 101 mins

As we walked out of the screening of this film, my Mum and I were talking about the menu board outside the seaside cafe with all it’s offerings of offal and we started talking about the various accompaniments for chips such as curry sauce or gravy or cheese and then moved to the best meal of all time: faggots, chips and mushy peas! Continue reading

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

2014; directed by Matt Reeves; adapted by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver; 124 mins

An ape on horseback brandishing a machine gun has got to be one of the most striking images ever projected onto a cinema screen. In 1968, Franklin J. Schaffner presented us with a crash-zoom of said image and 46 years later, the effect remains undiminished. This, in part, is as much down to Matt Reeves‘ fastidiously intelligent approach to making us understand the anger of the apes as it is the seamless motion-capture performances by Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, [et al] exuding a real sense of physical threat. Is this the best of all the apes films? I think it has a very strong case to put forward because, whilst not without it’s flaws, it is the film that puts the most in and gives the most back. Continue reading

COMING HOME

1978; directed by Hal Ashby; written by Robert C. Jones and Waldo Salt; 126 mins

It’s funny how this film looks so much like the prototype “worthy” Oscarbait film: topical message, politically engaged stars tackling ISSUES, low-key filmmaking and an able-bodied actor in the main role of a disabled person. It lost the top award that year to Michael Cimino’s right wing and – if not actually racist then massively, blindly misjudged – The Deer Hunter. It’s a real shame cos this is way better! Continue reading

THE WHITE DIAMOND

2004; directed by Werner Herzog; 87 mins

[Sorry the trailer’s in German, that is the only trailer I could find]

In lieu of There Will Be Blood (because my DVD was shagged), the 100th review on Reading Films will be of my second favourite Herzog film – after 1972’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God. A neglected documentary, released thirteen years ago and never mentioned except in passing in any retrospective of the director. This, I think, is his most positive, heartwarming and emotionally fulfilling film. Continue reading

THE UNKNOWN GIRL

2016; written and directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne; 106 mins

Receiving what was, for the Dardennes, an uncharacteristically unfavourable response at last year’s Cannes film festival and hot off their Oscar-nominated 2014 effort, Two Days, One Night, it seems that The Unknown Girl has dropped off the radar both commercially and critically. That in the background, I was prepared for disappointment… Continue reading