What I’ve been watching: September films

OK I know it’s a bit late but the 33rd Cambridge Film Festival provided a real movie-going treat and I’ve only just caught up with it all. Here’s my round up of September films, all except three watched at CFF:

The Apartment (Billy Wilder, USA, 1960). I know it’s a classic but I found it very sleazy. And I’m never going to like Jack Lemmon. Sorry.

Gold (Thomas Arslan, Germany, 2013). Searching for gold on the Klondike in a German language Western set in late 1800s Canada, starring Nina Hoss; sounds curious, was interesting, looked beautiful, but didn’t quite live up to its potential.

Project Wild Thing (David Bond, UK, 2013). I reviewed this odd doc for Take One www.takeonecff.com/2013/project-wild-thing Apparently it was the editor’s favourite review of the entire festival!

Mushrooming (Toomas Hussar, Estonia, 2012). Power, corruption and a chase through the desolate forests in Estonia. Sardonic genius: funny, tense, sharp. If you can, go see!

Pieces Of Me (Nolwenn Lemesle, France, 2012) Interesting teenage angst, well made, but a bit weak. Even so, an impressive debut in feature length films for the director. Adéle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Colour) stars. Joe De-Vine reviews it here: http://www.takeonecff.com/2013/pieces-of-me

Hannah Arendt (Margarethe von Trotta, Germany, 2012). Biopic about a remarkably focused philosopher, student of Heidegger in 1930s Germany,  who formulated her controversial thoughts about the Holocaust during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1960. Gripping story but could have done with being more objective.

Ludwig II (Marie Noelle, Peter Sehr, Germany, 2012). Sumptuous biopic about the extravagant and fragile King of Bavaria, a talented musician who was obsessed with Wagner. Ludwig is played by two actors; Sabin Tambrea playing young Ludwig was especially impressive.

Blackbird (Jamie Chambers, UK, 2013). Very interesting story set in a Scottish fishing village. Blackbird explores modern connections to traditional culture. Music is the thread that connects generations, but that thread is becoming more fragile as time passes. Well worth a watch.

Natan (David Cairns, Ireland, 2013). Strange and ultimately unsatisfying documentary about Bernard Natan, legendary figure in the interwar French film industry; he is now largely forgotten, apparently due to his early career in silent porn films.

Freefall (Stephan Lacant, Germany, 2012). Tender, sensitive, unsentimental story about a young  German police officer, soon to be a father for the first time, who falls in love with another man. Whether it’s called going into freefall or even fall-out,  his choices have a dramatic effect on his family.

Dead Cat (Stefan Georgiou, UK, 2013). Much more than the rom-com its tag line suggests, it’s a thoughtful and very funny coming of age film for 30-somethings. I chatted to the director and reviewed DC for Take One and there’s an extended version on the blog, https://paperpenaction.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/cambridge-film-festival-2013-reviewing-dead-cat-uk-directed-by-stefan-georgiou/

Honour (Shan Khan, UK, 2013). I was hugely disappointed in this clunky, mess of a film about a deeply disturbing and important issue – honour killing among some Asian families living in Britain. Paddy Considine needn’t have bothered. All that said, I reckon Khan is a director to watch.

Nosferatu (F W Murnau, Germany, 1926). Terrific to see this genuinely unsettling film on a big screen, and accompanied by Neil Brand – what more could anyone want?

The Trials Of Mohammed Ali (Bill Seigel, USA, 2013). Highly entertaining, nostalgic and informative documentary about Ali’s political life, which is rarely touched on elsewhere. One of Tony Jones’ surprise films, perfect for the job.

The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology (Sophie Fiennes, USA, 2012). ‘Starring’ Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek. Oh no I agree with The Daily Telegraph critic, David Gritten. I too was exhausted by this philosophical battering ram.

A Story Of Children And Film (Mark Cousins, UK, 2013). 90 minutes of movie bliss. Mark Cousins turns his unique thought process to how kids have been portrayed in cinema from every place you can think of. Makes for an enormous must-see list. I reviewed it for Take One, http://www.takeonecff.com/2013/a-story-of-children-and-film.

The Yellow Balloon (J Lee Thompson, UK, 1953). The first one off my list from the Mark Cousins’ film above. Atmospheric tale set in bomb damaged London. A boy is exploited by a gang of ruthless crooks after an accident in which one of his young friends dies.

Ten Minutes Older (Herz Frank, Latvia, 1978). Found on YouTube, http://youtu.be/BesHd0TN3Ok, another one from the Mark Cousins list. Deeply affecting short film that closely focuses on the face of a little boy as he watches a play that we never see. There are tears, gasps and smiles, and I don’t mean just him.

And my three top films are:

Dead Cat

Dead Cat

A Story Of Children And Film

A Story Of Children And Film

Mushrooming

Mushrooming

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