In this stellar documentary, Gianfranco Rosi contrasts the lives of the desperate thousands landing on the shores of a Sicilian island with the everyday existence of the locals.
An Academy Award® nominee for Best Documentary Feature and the first nonfiction film to ever win the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, Fire at Sea takes place in Lampedusa, a remote Mediterranean island that has become a major entry point for refugees into Europe.
There, we meet Samuele, a 12-year-old boy who lives simply, climbing rocks by the shore and playing with his slingshot. Nearby, we bear witness as thousands of men, women, and children risk their lives to make the brutal crossing from Africa.
Award-winning filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi masterfully juxtaposes these realities, jolting the audience into a new understanding of what is happening in the region, the heavy toll of the migrant crisis, and the price of freedom.
Forced to leave their apartment due to a dangerous construction project in a neighboring building, a young Iranian couple moves to the center of Tehran where they become embroiled in a life-altering situation involving the previous tenant.
The director Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar in a row for this film ( the first was for A Separation). As the review in the Guardian says: ‘ There is perhaps no director more adept at capturing the unfolding stories of ordinary people when the drama of their lives runs away with them.’
You can read the full review and watch the trailer here.
Moscow, 1953: when tyrannical dictator Joseph Stalin drops dead, his parasitic cronies square off in a frantic power struggle to be the next Soviet leader. Among the contenders are the dweeby Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), the wily Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), and the sadistic secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale). But as they bumble, brawl, and backstab their way to the top, just who is running the government? Combining palace intrigue with rapid-fire farce, this audacious comedy is a bitingly funny takedown of bureaucratic dysfunction performed to the hilt by a sparkling ensemble cast.
“Bicycle Thieves” is so well-entrenched as an official masterpiece that it is a little startling to visit it again after many years and realize that it is still alive and has strength and freshness.
Given an honorary Oscar in 1949, routinely voted one of the greatest films of all time, revered as one of the foundation stones of Italian neorealism, it is a simple, powerful film about a man who needs a job. Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com
“In these uncertain times, we need storytellers who can turn a tale of conflict and hardship into a symphony of love and friendship that endures through all the pain. I doubt that I will see a better film than ‘Moonlight’ this year.”
Our first film of 2018 is Moonlight
“A coming-of-age story about a young man from a hardscrabble Miami neighbourhood, this kaleidoscopic gem focuses on three periods of its subject’s life, chaptered by the different names and identities he assumes, or is given – “Little”, “Chiron” and “Black”. Lending heartfelt voice to characters who have previously been silenced or sidelined, Moonlight is an astonishingly accomplished work – rich, sensuous and tactile, by turns heartbreaking and uplifting. “ Mark Kermode / Guardian
“A genre-defying film. Its visual splendour belies its tough, surface-level subject matter, while the performances pull us deep below that surface with their soulful naturalism.”
This painful, complex, beautifully acted and inexpressibly sad drama from Ira Sachs is about something that looms large in real life, but never usually gets acknowledged in the movies in any but the vaguest way – banal, undignified embarrassment over money, and the deadly serious damage this causes.
This film is very different from the general run of ingratiating middlebrow indies that pop up on screen periodically, drenched with implausibility, sentimentality and lame bet-hedging humour. Like his previous film Love Is Strange, Sachs’s Little Men is composed with scrupulous observational intelligence and care. It is really engaging.
From Peter Bradshaw’s review in The Guardian. You can read the full review and watch the trailer here.
Little Men(PG) 2016, US, 85 mins
Friday 24th November
Doors and Bar 7.30
Film begins at 8.00
“Focusing on a mother and daughter besieged by forces both worldly and otherwise in a Tehran apartment block, Under the Shadow presents a gripping portrait of an independently spirited woman shackled by sharia law who becomes more scared of the demonic forces tormenting her daughter than of the lashes threatened by her rulers or of fire falling from the sky. A very impressive feature debut by Iran-born, London-based film-maker Babak Anvari, this is thoughtful, provocative and increasingly scary fare, which succeeds equally as feminist fable, fractured family drama and full-on fright-fest.”
Mark Kermode in The Guardian 2. 10. 16
You can read the full review (which also includes the trailer) here.
Under The Shadow(15) 2016 UK/Qatar 84 mins, Subtitles
Friday 27th October
Doors & Bar 7.30
Film starts at 8.00
This month’s film is Son of Saul. Rotten Tomatoes summed it up like this – Grimly intense yet thoroughly rewarding, Son of Saul offers an unforgettable viewing experience and establishes director László Nemes as a talent to watch.