Monday, 8 February 2016

Three On A Sunday. . .

I'm really glad Liverpool has an indie cinema.  Having spent countless hours in Toronto's cinematheque (later TIFF), and doing the mad dash from one film to another that is the Toronto Film Festival, I've missed the adrenaline and fun of movie marathons.

FACT in Liverpool is an arts centre that includes an indie theater. Members occasionally get free tickets to preview films and while these usually are all gone before I get around to booking, I was able to grab a freebie to see A Bigger Splash which screened yesterday at 11am.  Now I love seeing morning movies, not least because it allows you to see more matinees.  So I took the opportunity to book a 2:15 movie (Youth) and the 5;30 as well (Rams).  I can't remember the last time I saw three films in a row and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience (if not all the films).

I was so looking forward to A Bigger Splash.  It was directed by Luca Guadagnino who also directed Tilda Swinton in the film I Am Love, which I thought was a terrific, stylish melodrama.  I was not that keen on this film however.  It's a remake and while I've not seen the original, La Piscine, I have seen films that dealt with some of the same themes of jealousy and generational suspicion, such as The Swimming Pool, or even Bonjour Tristesse, that were much more enjoyable to watch. The hedonism and selfishness of the characters is set against the migrant crisis, but it's no less tedious a theme even with the juxtaposition.  I will say that Ralph Fiennes gives an energetic and compelling performance that is mesmerizing to watch, but when he wasn't on screen, I was quite bored.

My second film, Youth, directed by Paolo Sorrentino and starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz and Paul Dano was wonderful.  It was beautifully shot, full of arresting and thought-provoking images, tender and comic relationships between the characters, and meditations on art, the passing of time, friendship, and beauty that never felt twee or persistent.  It's easily my favourite movie of the year (yes, I know it's early) and I need to dig out that dvd I bought some months ago of Sorrentino's The Great Beauty and give that a watch.

Then there was Rams.  Iceland and sheep. I am amazed that I actually found time to read the subtitles in the midst of gazing in detail at every character's yoked sweater.  I've seen this film marketed as a comedy which I think is very misleading. It's definitely a drama with a few comic moments.  There's a family feud, two brothers who haven't spoken to each other for decades, and a disease that has hit their valley, forcing the authorities to order that all their sheep be killed. I don't want to give anything away, but there are lots of grim moments in this film, not least the weather.  Still, after a sluggish start, I really got absorbed in the lives of these two farmers and the last thirty minutes really gripped me.  Definitely worth seeing.  Just don't expect a comedy. 

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