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

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

CRISIS: Behind a Presidential Commitment

1963; by Robert Drew; 52 mins

A bolder, much more confidently made documentary from Drew Associates with better sync-sound and more clarity and accuracy with the cameras of Richard Leacock, James Lipscomb, D.A. Pennebaker and Hope Ryden. Perhaps because they were given unprecedented access to the inner workings of the White House, they naturally upped their game. However, they had also not really stopped working since their 1960 experiment, Primary, thus, the quality of this film and it’s makers is far superior. Continue reading

THE SORROW AND THE PITY

1969; directed by Marcel Ophüls; written by André Harris and Marcel Ophüls; 251 mins

Part One – The Collapse (l’effondrement): A look at the French experience during WWII, singling out the town of Clermont-Ferrand which was, temporarily after the Nazi invasion, the seat of government for Petaín and the Vichy government. The first half of the film concerns itself with the downfall of France from 1940 to 1942, the attitudes of the people and British betrayal* that led to the split and the rise of the resistance. Continue reading

THE DEAD ZONE

1983; directed by David Cronenberg; adapted by Jeffrey Boam; 103 mins

[Sorry for the clip but the trailer gives away loads of plot details!]

No zombies! Ah, shame. Still! We’re jumping past Fast Company, The Brood and Scanners to this 80s Stephen King adaptation about an ordinary, headache suffering teacher called Johnny Smith who is involved in a car crash and wakes up from a coma five years later to discover that he has psychic powers! By touching other peoples’* hands, he can see into their past and their future! Continue reading