Film Club: 14-20 February
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From toxic female relationships to unlikely May-December romances, compelling docs and this year's BFI London Film Festival Best Film winner, there's some good stuff going on this week. So boycott the flowers and chocolates, save 50 Shades of Grey for a more desperate day, and get your tush to the cinematheque.
Persona is arguably Bergman's most compelling film - as the name would suggest, it's a multi-layered mindfuck of exploration of identities. The story follows an actress who, after suffering an anxiety attack, seems to swap personas with the nurse who's caring for her, though not in an obvious Freaky Friday or sinister Single White Female way (maybe something in between).
This will probably be one of those things where you suddenly wake up in a cold sweat six months from now having had some sort of epiphany about what it all means, so please share that with us when you do because we're still trying to wrap our heads around it.
In general, we have a bone to pick with the fact that there are so few depictions of close but healthy female friendships on screen. However, we're willing to overlook our disdain for the sake of Me Without You.
Marina and Hannah are best friends since childhood, who are so close that they go by the single moniker 'Harina'. The film follows them from angst-ridden teens in 1973 through to adulthood in 2001, and shows how their lives are moulded by the toxic codependence that has been the driving force beneath most of the bad decisions they've each made along the way.
Also showing on Tuesday 20th.
Imagine Waiting For Godot meets Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets Her - sounds like something from an A-level media course, sure, but hey, it's an apt comparison. Anyways, this melancholy, quirky sci-fi romance won over the hearts of all the judging panels at the LA Film Festival and if it's good enough for them it's probably good enough for you.
A young girl, stranded in the desert of some planet that is not Earth, is on a quest to find a mystical body of water. Lost and alone, she joins forces with a witty comic and his girlfriend, who is a dismembered robot head that he carries around. Also, we're in awe of the soft lighting and perfect white balance.
This might just be the ultimate onscreen May-December romance - sorry, Mrs Robinson, but you've been bested. Harold and Maude is the quirky, absurdist, nihilistic, totally weird and yet completely romantic story of Harold, a death-obsessed rich kid (literal kid) who falls for a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor, Maude. This isn't your typical rom-com, thank god - this is one love story that stays very far away from clichés, and that's why we can't get enough of it.
Amidst all your futile scrambling to see all the Best Picture nominees before Oscar night, why not set aside some time for the best things that came in smaller packages this year. These five documentary shorts deal with everything from the heroin epidemic in West Virginia, to America's race problem, to art as a way to treat mental illness, to a restaurant that employs former convicts. So basically, lots of hot button topics that'll make you feel super wise and engaged, in easily digestible 30-minute (ish) formats. Win-win.
The Leviathan director is back with an equally brutish and cold whiplash of a psychological thriller, this time dealing with the reality of a married couple in modern day Russia after their son mysteriously vanishes. Trapped in a loveless marriage, their son's disappearance serves as a catalyst for them to take a good hard look at themselves and their hedonistic, callous tendencies - traits which serve as a not-so-subtle mirror to Russian society. As one would expect from Zvyagintsev, this BFI Film Festival-winning gem plays out with stark suspense, and will leave you with a pit in your stomach.
Showing at Curzon Aldgate, Curzon Bloomsbury, Curzon Soho, Picturehouse Central, Hackney Picturehouse, Rich Mix, Arthouse Crouch End, and HMV Curzon.
Colin Firth is on a boat motherfuckers, check it and see. As always, Daddy F is stoic and charming as Donald Crowhurst, the ill-fated Brit who decided to sail the world in a boat he made himself. While definitely an adventure-hungry dreamer, Crowhurst's main impetus for entering the Golden Globe Race was to bring home money to his family, though as fate would have it, he didn't get home at all. With the formula of your classic strife-ridden sports movie, this isn't necessarily our pick of the year, but it's a slow week and Rachel Weisz and Colin Firth make it worthwhile, so deal.
Showing basically everywhere.
If there's one figure who stands prominently at the crossroads of race, gender, and infamy in African politics, it's Winnie Mandela. While Nelson Mandela would usually be the obvious choice for a documentary, Winnie's role in dismantling the apartheid regime is not one to be overlooked. Her husband may have been the great martyr for the cause, but she was, and is, a controversial figure and an activist, and it's interesting to finally hear her side of the story.
Showing at Curzon Bloomsbury.