Probably the most radical and powerful film you will experience this year, The Act of Killing is a searing expose of political amnesia and impunity in Indonesia, where the gangsters and thugs behind the murders of millions are celebrated as champions of free enterprise. It is also a surreal, provocative exploration of the psyches of these men - killers who proudly re-enact their atrocities for the camera, willing collaborators in their own cinematic bonfire of the vanities.
"I have not seen a film as surreal, and frightening in at least a decade… Unprecedented in the history of cinema." Werner Herzog
This portrait of deaf-blind Korean poet and essayist Young-chan is one of the most life-affirming films you will see - it’s a film about the communication of the senses, and the magical symbiosis of a loving marriage.
"Planet of Snail is simple, direct and magical. The warm, intimate story of a singular couple, it won the top prize at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, and it will win you over as well if you give it the chance." Kenneth Turan, LA Times
"A love story of uncommon loveliness and simplicity." Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com
"A perfect date movie." Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
Paris, 1911: When a pterodactyl hatches in a museum and begins terrorising the town, clueless detective Caponi (Lellouche) seeks the connection between the prehistoric menace, a mad old professor (Nercessian) conducting resurrection experiments and intrepid reporter Adèle Blanc-Sec (Bourgoin), whose pursuit of ancient artefacts is a desperate personal mission…
A whimsical, madcap action adventure romp in the spirit of Indiana Jones from the director of The Fifth Element, Nikita and Leon: The Professional.
"This is utterly delightful from start to finish, thanks to a witty script, gorgeous production design, enjoyably pacey direction and a wonderful performance from Louise Bourgoin. Highly recommended and one of the best films of the year. Don’t leave before the end credits." Matthew Turner, This Is London
Jean Pierre Jeunet, the wizard who gave us Amelie and Delicatessen conjures another buoyant medley of slapstick, whimsy and satire in this infinitely inventive contemporary fantasy. Dany Boon is the Chaplinesque hero with a bullet in his brain who falls in with a band of urban outsiders and takes revenge on the weapons manufacturers who put it there.
"A fun-house of mirrors that is lovely to get lost in." Betsy Sharkey, LA Times
"Micmacs is like a Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd movie where everybody is Buster or Harold, yet they all work in harmony." Peter Howell, Toronto Star
Agnès Varda’s tribute to her late husband Jacques Demy is a loving look at his brilliant vision and techniques. Included are clips from Demy’s films, along with interviews of those who worked with him and knew him best: Catherine Deneuve, Anouk Aimée, Michel Piccoli, composer Michel Legrand, Demy’s children, and fans.
“Of all the New Wave directors who once professed their joy in cinema, Demy remained most faithful to the delights of sight and sound and to the romance of movie iconography. With loving attention to those Atlantic coast towns — Nantes, Rochefort, and Cherbourg — where he grew up, Demy invented a world of benign and enchanting imagination.”
– David Thomson
Lola, a cabaret dancer, is raising a boy whose father, Michel, left seven years ago. She is waiting for him. She sings, dances and occasionally dallies with passing sailors. Roland Cassard, a childhood friend whom she meets by chance, falls deeply in love with her. But she is waiting for Michel…
"Magical… Lola is imbued with a poignant awareness of the transcience of happiness and the difficulties and unlikelihood of love." Geoff Andrew, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
"Taps deep into a dreamy and wistful romantic spirit." Blake Lucas, Defining Moments in Movies
The queen dies. Before her last breath, she makes her husband promise that he will only marry a woman more beautiful than herself. The king finds only one person that meets these conditions: the princess, his own daughter. Based on the fairy tale Peau d’Ane by Charles Perrault.
"Like Demy’s other movies it’s one of a kind, at once monstrously Oedipal and charmingly infantile; Deneuve manages to be both hilarious and touching in her donkey drag." J Hoberman
Demy’s first fully-fledged musical is a simple love story in which a shop girl (Catherine Deneuve, in her first major role) pledges herself to a mechanic, but marries another after he goes off to the Algerian war, leaving her pregnant. The script is entirely sung – you could even call it a soap opera. And like the best opera, it’s absolutely overwhelming.
"Surely one of the most romantic films ever made." AO Scott, New York Times
"With this most rapturous of melodramas Demy incorporates song and dance in the service not of escape but of realism. The effect is as riveting as it is profoundly moving." Joshua Klein, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Jean (Claude Mann) arrives in Nice (the "bay of angels") for a holiday. He discovers gambling and meets platinum-blonde Jackie (Jeanne Moreau), a high roller at the casino. Sparks fly between them and passion grows. But is it for one another, or for the game? Jean, still naive, begins his education.
"So existential, so romantic … The great beauty of [Bay] is the way the croupier’s spiraling wheel becomes a metaphor not for life’s randomness, but for its lack of permanence, its riskiness[:] [a] hardened demimondaine can bet on a number and suddenly abandon it to dash after her beloved — an ecstatic ending a few films later revealed as the cause of another heroine’s melancholy" (Fernando F. Croce).
From its opening images of a young woman in high heels and nothing else walking through the streets of Paris at night, this hypnotic revenge thriller from master filmmaker Claire Denis is equal parts stark and voluptuous, brutal and sensual, raw and sophisticated.
"It is the darkest movie - visually, psychologically and spiritually - that Denis has made. It’s also one of the rarest of cinematic objects - a completely contemporary, disturbingly relevant film noir." Amy Taubin, Sigh & Sound
"As black and sticky and inescapable as a tar pit - a movie whose darkness swallows its characters and the audience whole." **** Adam Nayman, Globe & Mail
Emboldened by the success of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Demy determines to repeat the trick, on a grander scale, but in a lighter, more joyful vein, with virtually non-stop dancing, sisters Deneuve and Dorleac, George Chakiris, and even Gene Kelly himself. Miraculously, The Young Girls of Rochefort transcends its elaborate design to surprise and entrance. It’s one of the most sublime musicals you will ever see.
"Masterpiece. My favourite musical." Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Nothing rivals the musical in its ability to externalise emotions like love, longing and ecstatic joie de vivre… for Demy’s lovers, there really is heaven on earth." Geoff Andrew, Defining Moments in Movies
"The movie equivalent of finest vintage Champagne." Trevor Johnston, 1000 Films to Change Your Life
Business is booming at the Suicide Shop - a discreet boutique for the terminally-inclined. Then, disaster: Madame Tuvanche gets a surprise bundle of joy – a new baby boy so relentlessly cheerful he threatens to ruin the family business. The first animated film from celebrated live action director Patrice Leconte (Ridicule; The Man on the Train) turns out to be a whimsical black comedy worthy of Tim Burton himself, and a musical to boot.
"A mordantly macabre musical." Lisa Nesselson, Screen
During a workers’ strike in Nantes in 1955, steel worker François Guilbaud rents a room from a sympathetic widow. He has a pregnant girlfriend but falls out of love with her when he meets Edith Leroyer, a beautiful, working class girl who is unhappily married to a rich but impotent and neurotic merchant. Edith likes to walk around town naked with only a fur coat on, as a tarot card reader told her she would find love with a passing sailor. Every line of dialogue is sung.
"This unheralded latter-day masterpiece has been infuriatingly hard to see since its fleeting theatrical release in France. [Michel Colombier’ contributes a wall to wall score often staggering in its intensity and romantic longing." Mondo Digital
"A masterly effort to understand what is profound, what lies beneath, life’s melody." Armond White, New York Film Critics Choice
"Une chambre en ville is unquestionably a daring experiment in cinematic form, and possibly the most honest and revealing of all Demy’s films." Jamie Travers, French Film Guide
When Celestine - a mouse - persuades Ernest (a bear) not to eat her it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship. He’s a busker by trade. She’s also something of a bohemian, and soon they’re inseparable. - much to the consternation of family, rodents and other animals.
"A delightfully old-fashioned kid’s flick with a meaningful message… The screenplay by bestselling French novelist Daniel Pennac keeps things on a believable plain (for a fairy tale), and it’s easy enough to invest in the plights of the duo… Ernest et Célestine gradually becomes a cautionary fable where friendship tries to stand the test of bigotry and intolerance…" Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter
"A delightful melding of visual style and narrative pirouettes, Ernest And Célestine is a just-about-perfect hand drawn animated feature. The unlikely but eventually rock solid alliance between gruff bear Ernest and artistically inclined orphan mouse Célestine is loaded with charm and adventure." Lisa Nesselson, Screen Daily
In French with English subtitiles
In one of her most profound performances Juliette Binoche plays sculptress Camille Claudel some years after she has been committed to an asylum by her family. Pinning her hopes on a longed-for visit from her brother, Camille enjoys a degree of trust and respect from the nuns, but her composure is fragile, and she remains bitter and paranoid when the subject of her old lover Auguste Rodin comes up. Most tragically of all, she refuses to return to her work. Dumont’s film is restrained, sometimes harrowing, but singularly authentic and deeply felt - an experience you will not soon forget.
“I wait for each new film by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Abbas Kiarostami, Claire Denis and Bruno Dumont. I enjoy all sorts of films, but those are the people that really interest me. I admire the Dardenne brothers tremendously, but I feel closest, in my work, to Dumont. Dumont’s films are basically existential works, philosophical films, not political ones. I think of my own films that way.” Michael Haneke (Amour).
"A mesmerizingly intense yet controlled lead by Juliette Binoche." Jonathan Romney, Screen International
"Heartbreaking." Guy Lodge, Variety
Trust the French to come up with the best bebop movie. Sax legend Dexter Gordon is mesmerizing as American horn player, Dale Turner (a thinly veiled amalgam of Bud Powell and Lester Young) trying to shake his demons in 1959 Paris, with loving help from a local fan and his young daughter. Plagued by years of alcoholism and drug use, knowing the end is near; he plays every note of his memories and battles with dignity and wisdom, and then returns home to New York. The forlorn music includes early work of Monk and Bird, the standards of Gershwin and Porter. Gordon’s contribution aside, Herbie Hancock is on piano and others such as Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Ron Carter and Billy Higgins all figure, with Lonette McKee on vocals. Hancock, who a star attraction at this year’s TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, also composed the film’s beautiful score.
"This movie teaches you everything about jazz that you really need to know… It is about a few months in a man’s life, and about his music. It has more jazz in it than any other fiction film ever made, and it is probably better jazz; it makes its best points with music, not words.." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Japan, France, Iran
The latest from master director Abbas Kiarostami (Certified Copy; Close Up; A Taste of Cherry) is a strange, seductive and beguiling love story set in modern Tokyo. Akiko is a beautiful student who moonlights as a prostitute, unbeknownst to her boyfriend. A liaison with an elderly academic brings all manner of complication to all their lives…
"Every shot — everything you see, and everything you don’t — imparts a disturbing and thrilling sense of discovery." AO Scott, New York Times
"A sly, teasing riff on the heart’s irrational stirrings… You emerge elated and slightly dazed…. But the movie’s sense of immutable desire resonates well after the lights have come up." Scott Foundas, Village Voice
Earlier this year, London’s Royal Academy of Arts mounted the first ever retrospective devoted to the portraiture of Edouard Manet. Spanning this enigmatic and, at times, controversial artist’s entire career Manet: Portraying Life brought together works from across Europe, Asia and the USA. Documentarian Phil Grabsky was granted exclusive access to explore the exhibition with the kind of intensive scrutiny (and learned insight) most art-lovers can only dream of.
"Once again the film proves that seeing an exhibition through a camera (especially an HD one) is far better than not seeing it at all." Roberta Smith, New York Times
Based on a notorious historical incident in which the sixteenth century French town of Loudun was swept up in tide of witch-hunting mania, Ken Russell’s searing movie kept censors busy all over the world with its shocking imagery and no-holds-barred assault on ecclesiastical hypocrisy. Forty years on it retains its power, not least for the astounding, career-best performances from Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, Derek Jarman’s bold production design, and the electrifying score by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
"The pinnacle of Russell’s astonishing career, blending the exuberant visuals and musical underpinning of his most most exotic fantasies wieh a serious undercurrent of outraged political intent… a fearsome, breathtaking masterwork." Mark Kermode, BBC
"A garish glossary of sado-masochism… a taste for visual sensation that makes scene after scene look like the masturbatory fantasies of a Roman Catholic boyhood." Alexander Walker, Evening Standard
Matinee screening Aug 24 (only) All Ages Show, Under-19s welcome.
Evening shows introduced by Bond expert Murray Gillespie
Released in North America in May 1963 - 50 years ago - the very first James Bond movie was an adaptation of Ian Fleming’s sixth Bond novel..Set for the most part in Jamaica, the story involves the assassination of a British MI6 officer. Bond’s investigation draws him ever closer to the mysterious Dr No. Not just the first but one of the best Bond films, this establishes the key ingredients which have made the series so popular for so long.