Five 2018 highlights from Hyde Park Picture House

‘Rey’

Selected by Jake:

Rey

The year started really strong with this Chilean curio, a surrealist biography of self proclaimed King of Araucania and Patagonia, Orélie-Antoine de Tounens. Intriguingly, the film was shot on 16mm and the canisters were buried then edited in different stages of decomposition, which gave it a feeling of a past being (literally) unearthed. FFO Andrew Kötting and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

120 BPM

Possibly this year’s most affecting film, which follows AIDS activists in early 90s Paris. The rousing scenes of protest and then the nighttime raves which follow bleed into each other, set to an amazing soundtrack of hypnotic and strangely melancholic House music. I was left reeling.

Zama

Brilliant absurdist pitch-black comedy from celebrated Argentinian filmmaker, Lucrecia Martel. The story follows a colonial officer who’s life becomes a Kafkaesque nightmare as he tries to get a transfer from a desolate outpost somewhere on the Paraguay River.

Leave No Trace

Probably the most striking coming-of-age story I came across this year. A homeless father and daughter are found living illegally in a national park in Oregon, and the film shows them being reintegrated into society. As the narrative continues, we begin to see their paths diverging and it blindsides you with overwhelming poignancy.

Milford Graves: Full Mantis

A music documentary that truly honors its fascinating subject; the pioneering improvisational drummer and polymath, Milford Graves. Directors Jake Meginsky and Neil Young ingeniously mirror the intuitive outlook of a genuine eccentric in the textures and rhythms of their film.

 

2018 at the Hyde Park Picture House.

‘The Wild Pear Tree’

I thought this was a stronger year for new releases than 2017. Two of my favourites screened at the Leeds International Film Festival and then, subsequently, at the Picture House.

Shoplifters / Manbiki kazoku (Japan, 2018). This is a real cinematic treasure. The subject is welcome and a little subversive. The production is excellent in every aspect.

The Wild Pear Tree / Ahlat Agaci, (Turkey | Republic of Macedonia | France / Germany | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Sweden, 2018. An epic film, certainly in length, but immensely rewarding if you stayed the course.

Then the new titles on general or limited release;

Jupitor’s Moon / Jupiter holdja, (Hungary / Germany / France, 2017). This was a sort of ‘magic realism’ following an illegal migrant trying to survive in an unwelcoming environment.

Sweet Country, (Australia, 2017). A fine ‘outback film’ set in the 1920s. Apart from the excellent characters and plot we had a glimpse a ‘silent film’ screening.

Isle of Dogs, (Germany / USA, 2018). Fine animation and the canine performances of the year.

Zama, (Argentina / Brazil / Spain / Dominican Republic / France / Netherlands / Mexico / Switzerland / USA / Portugal / Lebanon, 2017). I enjoyed this so much that I must find time to read the novel from which it is sourced.

Wajib (Palestine / France / Colombia / Germany / United Arab Emirates / Qatar / Norway, 2017) A master-class in how to make a fascination story out of a drive and delivery of wedding invitations.

‘Wajib’

There were two fine documentaries this year:

The Rape of Recy Taylor, (USA, 2017) Set among African-American women exploited and oppressed in the pre-civil rights era. The use of archive material was so imaginative.

Faces Places / Visages villages (France, 2017) An in idiosyncratic delight.

We also had a lot of classics. The Ida Lupino programme was welcome and mainly on 35mm. High Sierra (USA 1941) and Outrage (USA 1950)stood out.

And we had a good 35mm print of Isaac Julien’s Young Soul Rebels (Britain 1991).

The one serious omission of the year was The Young Karl Marx / Le jeune Karl Marx (France / Belgium / Germany, 2017), a really well done drama of the early years and work of Marx and Friedrich Engels, and with Jenny Marx and Mary Burns.

Friedrich, Jenny, Karl, Mary and family

The best so far this year, …

at the Hyde Park Picture House, [January to June]. So the films that really impressed me were:

Jupiter’s Moon / Jupiter holdja , Hungary, Germany France 2017. A brilliant and subversive story done with panache.

The Rape of Recy Taylor, USA 2017. A tapestry of documentary, testimony and fiction that dramatises the struggle of African-American women.

Sweet County, Australia 2017. An ‘outback’ movie that includes the pleasure of a township screening of the early and seminal The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906).

The Third Murder / Sandome no satsujin, Japan 2017. Another in the series of penetrating family studies by film-maker Koreeda Hirokazu.

Zama, Argentina and seven other territories. A nine year wait for a new feature by Lucretia Martel was worth it.

And one film I am hoping to see soon,

The Young Karl Marx / Le jeune Karl Marx, France, Belgium, Germany 2017. The historic friendship between Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels together with Jenny Marx and Mary Burns.

Jake’s Top Films Of 2016

Following on from Keith’s Favourites from 2016 I commented and including my own list, here it is again in case you didn’t see it.

1. No Home Movie
Belgian artist and film maker, Chantal Akerman, revisits familiar themes here. A tough, yet beautiful piece of documentary self portraiture, that ranks with her greatest work.

2. The Assassin
A rigorous experiment with the themes of classical Chinese Wuxia films. Contemplative, with sparks of blunt aggression. The film Refn’s Drive (2011) wishes it could have been.

3. Fire at Sea
Verité document of Lampedusa (setting of this years La Piscine riff, A Bigger Splash, there couldn’t be a more different film). The cinematography and editing here is top notch, and highlights a fascinating microcosm reflecting larger global issues.

4. Court
I was completely knocked out by this Mumbai-set absurdist gem. An elderly dissent poet/singer is brought into court on trumped up charges of inciting a sewage worker to commit suicide. The resulting case, and the efforts of both the defence and prosecution to bring it to a conclusion, creates a film that brings to mind the films of Ruben Östlund or possibly Roy Andersson.

5. Cemetery of Splendour
An ex-nurse and young soldier suffering from a mysterious sleeping sickness become friends as he drifts through different states of consciousness. Another wistful and gently funny magical realist masterpiece from Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

… and the rest:
6. Little Men
7. Love and Friendship
8. American Honey
9. The Pearl Button
10. Louder than Bombs

Favourites from 2016

arrival-movie-still

So we enter the Award season and the moment when we reflect back on the previous year. I thought a good year, but not a great year for film: but there were some great movies. Of the new releases that I watched at the HPPH I was especially impressed with:

Arrival (USA but also Canada 2016). Denis Villeneuve has directed the most interesting sci-fi in years and Amy Adams offers a sterling performance.

The Pearl Button / El botón de nácar *France, Spain, Chile, Switzerland 2015). Patricio Guzmán provided a documentary that was moving, analytical and both looked and sounded great.

Son of Saul / Saul fia (Hungary 2015). László Nemes produced an intense and revelatory treatment of an often overworked subject.

Taxi / Taxi Teheran (Iran 2015). I prefer film to video but Jafar Panahi can make an impressive film with any sort of cinematic technology.

Our Little Sister / Umimachi Diary (Japan 2016). The latest film by Hirokazu Koreeda is a simple tale of four sisters: and goes into my list of the top films of the century so far.

still-ourlittlesister2

We also enjoyed a lot of classics from times gone by. The best in a competitive field for me was:

Eternity and a Day / Mia aioniotita kai mia mera (France, Italy, Greece, Germany 1998). Theo Angelopoulos’ rich and complex film was screened in a good quality 35mm print.

March Poll

We’ve put up a new poll to find out what you liked the most during the month of March. With the Young Film Festival taking place and a couple of big releases there weren’t many films that got multiple screenings so there are only three choices. You can always vote for other (we can see what you enter but can’t find a way of easily sharing this with everybody – perhaps clicking through and adding comments on the results page would be the best way). It’s interesting that all three of those films  Hail, Caesar!Anomolisa and High-Rise have proved to be divisive with both audiences and critics, which surely only make the films much more interesting. Mark Kermode discussed this and aggregated review scores in one of his recent video blogs.

January Poll

We’ve added a Poll section to the website, you’ll see it in the sidebar (or at the bottom of the page if you’re looking on your mobile). For the first question we’re asking you to look back at January and pick your highlight. Was it one of the award season contenders such as The RevenantRoom and Joy or catching up with Sunset Song or The Lady In The Van or the sold out screenings of Labyrinth made even more poignant by the sad death of Bowie. You can also vote “Other” for anything else such as one of the great Tuesday Wonders (Forbidden Room, Taxi Tehran, Güeros).