Monday, 8 August 2011

A few more unmissables

A Separation, the excellent Iranian film which won several awards recently at the Berlin film festival, is just about faultless. It's an absolutely riveting narrative demonstrating just how an inflexible Law (whether based on religionist or state control) can wreck lives and relationships. Terrific stuff, with performances that seemed lived rather than 'acted'.

As regards recent British cinema, there are some exciting younger directors around. Try to see The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a clever, twisty indie threehander, written and directed by (30ish?) J. Blakeson, and starring Gemma Arterton – very gutsy and convincing. The film, an economical, well-paced and rather nasty kidnapping tale, seems more than timely too, given the ordeal only days ago of that wealthy young heiress in Australia!

Saw a dvd of Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, which, like her earlier films Red Road and the award-winning short, Wasp, are mightily impressive on second viewings. What strong performances she draws from her young casts, and what a bleak and brutal Britain she exposes! Far from entertaining stuff, but completely gripping and provocative in the best sense. Only Clio Barnard's grim biographical documentary The Arbor – which recounts, via family, friends and colleagues, the truly horrific success-and-disaster-story of the late Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar – can match Arnold's unflinching and ferocious vision. In these films are to be found a wild bunch of bright but underprivileged young women, struggling against a male-dominated society that uses, torments and rejects them. Not recommended for depressives of either sex, however!

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