A I N F E A T U R E S
• Friday 3 February for 2 weeks
HIDDEN (Caché) (15)
(France/Austria/Germany/Italy 2005) dir.Michael Haneke 118m.
Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou, Annie Girardot, Lester Makedonsky, Bernard Le Coq, Walid Afkir, Daniel Duval, Nathalie Richard, Denis Podalydès, Aïssa Maïga, Caroline Baehr, Christian Benedetti, Philippe Besson, Loic Brabant.
“Georges (Daniel Auteuil) hosts a TV literary chat-show, and discovers the drawbacks to celebrity when he and his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) start receiving videotapes of their comings and goings filmed outside the house and wrapped in childlike drawings evocative of bloody violence. Even when the tapes’ contents suggest the anonymous sender has some intimate knowledge of – and murderous intent towards – Georges’s life, the police insist they can do nothing, and the tension begins to take its toll on his family, not to mention his sense of justice… Haneke uses this relatively straightforward story to explore a complex range of issues to do with contemporary life: celebrity and social inequality, the erosion of privacy, the fear of the Other, the weight of the past, the relationship between responsibility, repression and conscience, voyeurism and technology. It’s a spectacularly intelligent movie, but it also succeeds superbly as suspenseful, gripping and emotionally affecting drama, thanks in no small part to the uniformly excellent performances. A film of many splendid ambiguities; the final shot is just the icing on the cake.”
(Geoff Andrew, Time Out)
• Friday 10 February for 1 week
GRIZZLY MAN (15)
(US 2005) dir.Werner Herzog 104m. Documentary.
Timothy Treadwell, Jewel Palovak, Amie Huguenard, Werner Herzog.
“If MARCH OF THE PENGUINS was the cuddly side of natural history, GRIZZLY MAN is all teeth and claws – and that's just the conservationists. For 13 years, bear fan Timothy Treadwell spent the summer camping with grizzlies in the Alaskan wilderness until, with tragic inevitability, he and his girlfriend were slaughtered in a ferocious bear attack. German auteur Werner Herzog pieces together the remarkable footage Treadwell left behind into a superb portrait of a fractured obsessive living literally on the edge. David Attenborough he certainly wasn't. Flouting park regulations to get within touching distance of the bears, Treadwell was a controversial figure who many claimed actually endangered the bears he swore to protect. The loner on the outskirts of civilisation, both physically and mentally, is classic Herzog material and, although he doesn't always have sympathy for his subject, Treadwell is never portrayed as anything less than a unique and fascinating individual. Treadwell will haunt the nether reaches of your mind long after the credits have rolled.”
(Jamie Woolley, BBCi Films)
• Friday 17 February for 1 week
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (PG)
(US 2005) dir.George Clooney 93m.
David Strathairn, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Ray Wise, Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels, Tate Donovan, Thomas McCarthy.
“For his second film as director, Clooney takes a surprising sidestep into political drama with an astute, fascinating, entertaining true story about a journalist who took a stand against injustice. Edward R Murrow (David Strathairn) was the pride of CBS Television in 1953, so when he and producer Fred Friendly (George Clooney) decided to confront Senator Joe McCarthy over his communist witch-hunt methods, the network boss (Frank Langella) stood behind him. This was a daring report to make, because a climate of fear gripped the nation, allowing McCarthy to violate constitutional rights in the name of freedom. The entire pool of CBS newsmen (Robert Downey Jr, Patricia Clarkson, Tate Donovan, Thomas McCarthy, and more) put their necks on the line as well. This is fairly dense filmmaking, focussing on the power of words. And the script is a marvel of intelligent, provocative writing, blending Murrow's lacerating monologues with a jagged, cynical journalistic humour. It's rare to find a film that appeals so engagingly to our minds, and yet Clooney also manages to make us gasp with a few powerfully visceral sequences. And it looks gorgeous – beautifully lit and fluidly shot in black-and-white by veteran Robert Elswit, plus a gentle, pace-setting jazz score featuring vocalist Reeves. Meanwhile, the performances are so earthy and real that we feel like we're watching the actual events unfold, a tone that's enforced by the inclusion of extensive actual news film. Standout performances are from the astonishing Strathairn and Wise, as a tormented anchorman caught in a vice grip of suspicion. Clooney tells the story sparingly, never inflicting self-indulgent side-roads or gimmicky film styles. He keeps it cracking right along. This is a cry for proper responsibility in media that have sold their soul to advertisers and government manipulation. And in that sense, it's essential for everyone.
(Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall)
• Thursday 24 February for 2 weeks
CROSSING THE BRIDGE (12A)
(Germany/Turkey 2005) dir.Fatih Akin 90m. Documentary. Some Subtitles.
Alexander Hacke, Baba Zula, Orient Expressions, Duman, Replikas, Erkin Koray, Ceza, Istanbul Style Breakers, Mercan Dede, Selim Sesler, Brenna MacCrimmon, Siyasiyabend, Aynur, Orhan Gencebay, Muzeyyen Senar, Sezen Aksu.
“One of the world's great cities comes vibrantly alive through its music and musical denizens in this film. Documentary by Turkish-German director Fatih Akin (2004 Berlinale winner HEAD-ON) is a belated love letter to a metropolis which also reflects his own mixed-cultural make-up – poised between East and West, with influences from both Europe and Asia. Alexander Hacke, longtime member of German avant-garde band Einstuerzende Neubauten, unlocks some of Istanbul's cultural secrets. Hacke recorded a few songs for Akin's partly Istanbul-set HEAD-ON and the city has fascinated him ever since. Hacke first hooks up with Turkish ‘neo-psychedelic’ band Baba Zula and stands in for the band's absent bassist. He then starts a musical journey through Turkish rap, experimental music, street music, Kurdish laments and even a couple of modern Whirling Dervishes. Intercut with these encounters and jamming sessions is footage painting the city's bustling street life, both by day and by night, that avoids the normal tourist clichés. There's also some early discussion of Istanbul's unique location. But more importantly, as one observer points out, the city is also a living rebuttal of the old chestnut, ‘East is East, West is West, and never the twain shall meet’. The music does most of the talking, culminating in two emotionally powerful sessions by legends of popular Turkish music: former matinee idol-cum-composer Orhan Gencebay and legendary songstress Sezen Aksu.”
(Derek Elley, Variety)
• Friday 3 March for 1 week
(US 2005) dir.Stephen Gaghan 128m.
George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Mazhar Munir, Alexander Siddig, Amanda Peet, Christopher Plummer, Chris Cooper, William Hurt, Akbar Kurtha, Sonell Dadral, Tim Blake Nelson, William C Mitchell, Mark Strong, Max Minghella, Robert Foxworth.
“With a structure and tone exactly like his Oscar-winning TRAFFIC script, Gaghan shows an intelligent and stylish eye for directing with this multi-strand look at the oil industry. Four interlocking stories centre on the merger of two giant oil companies. A CIA operative (George Clooney) is trying to stop Arab Prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig) from signing oil contracts with the high-bidding Chinese. An economic analyst (Matt Damon) is advising Nasir on the situation, while in Washington the oil company's lawyer Bennett (Jeffrey Wright) looks for skeletons lurking in any closets. And a young Pakistani Muslim (Mazhar Munir), who lost his job due to the merger, is being groomed as a terrorist. The four strands examine just about every side of the issue. The overall statement that corruption makes the world go around isn't terribly revolutionary. But seeing it on the screen like this, in such an off-handed, almost documentary style is quite unsettling. The actors are equally raw and natural. Wright is the standout, while Amanda Peet shines in the thankless female role as Damon's wife. Gaghan's script wisely sticks to the human story as things twist and turn toward a series of explosive climaxes. Keeping everyone and everything straight is quite a challenge, although he gives us plenty of help. This is gritty, gripping, in-your-face filmmaking. The most striking thing about this film is the way it boldly strips away the veneer of our civilisation and reveals us as the greedy villains we are. This isn't anything new, but it does drive home the point that the horror of suicide terrorism isn't such a surprising result.”
(Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall)
• Friday 17 March for 2 weeks
(South Africa 2005) dir.Gavin Hood 94m. Subtitles.
Presley Chweneyagae, Mothusi Magano, Israel Makoe, Percy Matsemela, Jerry Mofokeng, Benny Moshe, Nambitha Mpumlwana, Zenzo Ngqobe, Kenneth Nkosi, Thembi Nyandeni.
“The third film by helmer Gavin Hood, contemporary-set TSOTSI tells of a township hoodlum (an ace debut for Presley Chweneyagae), who learns to care for an infant whose mother he shot. Powered by a pounding soundtrack of dance hall Kwaito music, the film has vital, urban energy similar to the Brazilian crossover CITY OF GOD and but with a tauter, more conventional storyline. The plot has been carved by writer-director Hood from a sprawling novel by Athol Fugard and transposed gracefully from the early '60s to the present. More than most recently exported South African-set films, TSOTSI gets across the ruthless violence in cities like Johannesburg, the setting here. Authenticity is enhanced by location use, while the main characters speak Tsotsi-Taal, a patois made up of English, Africaans and words from several tribal dialects that requires subtitles throughout. The title character Tsotsi's name means literally ‘thug’, a moniker he picked up on the streets after running away from a brutal father (Israel Makoe) and a mother (Sindi Shambule) dying of AIDS. The eventual revelation of Tsotsi's real name is cleverly used to signal his recovery of human values. Caring for the child gradually repairs Tsotsi's broken spirit, a trajectory that could have been mawkish or unbelievable in lesser hands, but which Hood and particularly Chweneyagae make utterly convincing. Overall, the film strikes nice balance between generic, gangster movie set-up and purely localised trappings.”
(Leslie Felperin, Variety)
· Friday 31 March for 2 weeks
THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA (15)
(US 2005) dir.Tommy Lee Jones 121m.
Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Dwight Yoakam, January Jones, Melissa Leo, Levon Helm, Mel Rodriguez, Cecilia Suárez, Ignacio Guadalupe, Vanessa Bauche, Irineo Alvarez, Guillermo Arriaga, Josh Berry, Rodger Boyce.
"Cut from the same bloody cloth as the recent THE PROPOSITION, Tommy Lee Jones's directing debut is a far superior, superbly performed and smartly written tale of companionship, male impotence and revenge in the face of institutional injustice. We find ourselves in frontier country, that parched and scrubby land where Texas meets Mexico. Jones's opening shot draws a broad portrait of a small, rural community. It's from this motley, sad crowd that Jones's story emerges at the deft, controlling hands of Mexican screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (AMORES PERROS, 21 GRAMS). In the first scene, a pair of huntsmen fire at a grazing coyote which was chomping on a rotting human body. The film then cuts sharply to a sterile mortuary and the rough face of ranch foreman Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones). The corpse is that of Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cesar Cedillo), Pete's Mexican friend. Promise me, Melquiades implores Pete, that if I die here in America, you'll take my body back to Mexico. Pete tracks down the culprit, Mike Norton (Barry Pepper), and forces him to dig up Estrada's stinking body. Together, this strange pair set out into the dark night. It's a journey of redemption for Mike, a journey of loyalty for Pete. A big-hearted, grand and noble study of broken men and broken dreams, THREE BURIALS is cruel and comic, exquisitely photographed by Chris Menges and pleasingly old-fashioned in its commitment to elemental, vital storytelling. Tommy Lee Jones has delivered a great American tale."
(Dave Calhoun, Time Out)
Kingsland High Street E8
(corner John Campbell Road)
Tel 020 7241 9410