Half a year’s viewing

‘An Elephant Sitting Still’

The following are the films that I most enjoyed and was most impressed by in the first six months of the year.

An Elephant Sitting Still / Da xiang xi di er zuo (China, 2018)

This is a four hour epic in ‘miserabilism’ but a powerful representation of life on the lowest rungs of society. It was the first and only feature directed by Bo Hu.

Ash Is Purest White / Jiang hu er nü (China, France, Japan 2018)

Another fine movie from director Zhangke Jia; he follows his muse Tao Zhao across regions and periods in the manner of the preceding Mountains May Depart / Shan he gu ren (China, France, Japan 2015, not seen in Leeds].

Happy as Lazzaro / Lazzaro felice (Italy, Switzerland, France. Germany 2018)

A ‘holy fool’ is found first in the countryside then in the run-down urban setting. Mixing myth and contemporary exploitation in a fascinating parable.

Rosie (Eire 2018)

This is a powerful drama taken from real life. The screening was also an event in which participants in the film talked about the work.

‘Rosie’

3 Faces / Se rokh (Iran 2018)

Film-maker Jafar Panahi produces another exploration of Iranian culture in typical quirky fashion.

And one archive film,

Rosa Luxemburg (West Germany, Czechoslovakia 1986)

Part of the programme of films directed by Margarethe von Trotta. Whilst the political representation is limited Barbara Sukowa is excellent as the revolutionary heroine.

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.

Bill’s Films of 2018 (so far)

What with the rain finally arriving, various ball game tournaments coming to an end and school terms drawing to a close, it must be the start of the great British summer. What better time to look back over all the films shown so far this year and pick out our favourites. Over the next few weeks our contributors will be posting their highlights, starting with Bill Walton:

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Human Flow
  • A Fantastic Woman
  • Distant Sky – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Live in Copenhagen
  • The Shape of Water.
  • The Yorkshire Silent Film Day including Another Fine Mess, The Unknown, and Hamlet

A good list? Feel free to share you feedback and your own highlights of the year so far in the comments below.

Our 2017 Highlights

We asked our blog contributors for their highlights of the year and this is what they came up with.

Bill

My highlights from the films shown at the Picture House are:

  • Elle, France 2016
  • I Am Not Your Negro, USA, 2016.
  • Lady Macbeth, UK, 2016
  • The HandmaidenSouth Korea, 2016
  • Lover For A Day, France
  • Kedi, Turkey, 2016
  • Thelma, Norway
  • Loving, USA, 2016
  • Detroit, USA
  • Human Flow, Germany

and from the film festival at different venues

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Showing at Hyde Park from January 12th), USA
  • Mutafukaz, France/Japan
  • The Teacher, Slovakia/Czech Republic, 2016

On a different day I could have included Neruda, Loveless, 20th Century Women or Human Flow.

Jake

My top 10 of 2017, sticking to films that got a general cinema release this year:

  1. Certain Women (USA, dir. Kelly Reichardt)
  2. Le Parc (France, dir. Damien Manivel)
  3. Toni Erdmann (Germany, dir. Maren Ade)
  4. Machines (India, dir. Rahul Jain)
  5. Cameraperson (USA, dir. Kirsten Johnson)
  6. Moonlight (USA, dir. Barry Jenkins)
  7. By the Time it gets Dark (Thailand, dir. Anocha Suwichakornpong)
  8. The Untamed (Mexico, dir. Amat Escalante)
  9. Dina (USA, dir. Antonio Santini & Dan Sickles)
  10.  A Ghost Story (USA, dir. David Lowery)

Keith

The new films that impressed me this year, in the order of when I saw them, are

A special mention for Casey Affleck in

And of the classics from the past,

  • Cloud-Capped Star / Meghe Dhaka, India 1960, really impressed me.

Stephen

I restricted this list to things I saw for the first time at the Picture House, otherwise the list could also have included Paddington 2, The Last Jedi, Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk.

  • Manchester by the Sea, USA, 2016
  • A Monster Calls, UK, 2016
  • 20th Century Women, USA, 2016
  • mother!, USA
  • The Florida Project, USA
  • Good Time, USA
  • A Ghost Story, USA
  • My Life As A Courgette, Switzerland/France, 2016
  • JackieUSA, 2016
  • Bad Genius, Thailand

I’m a bit disappointed that my list is mostly English language films but a lot of the ‘foreign language films’ released this year such as A Man Called Ove, The Handmaiden and Toni Erdmann I saw at LIFF30 so haven’t included here.

Films of The Year Catch Up

As the year comes to an end we’re starting to think about the cinematic highlights of 2017 and we’ll be posting some of our favourite films in a few weeks’ time. As I started to think about my own list I realised that I’ve missed a lot of films that are showing up in other end of year lists. So here, in no particular order, is a top ten list of (possibly) the best films I didn’t see this year:

  • In Between
  • The Beguiled
  • Elle
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • Lady Macbeth
  • Personal Shopper
  • A Quiet Passion
  • The Levelling
  • My Cousin Rachel
  • The Party

I’m going to try and catch up with some of these (Elle and A Quiet Passion are both on Netflix and I Am Not Your Negro and Lady Macbeth are included in Amazon Prime) which do you recommend I should see first? Also do let us know what your favourite films are and we can include them in our end of year round up. If you need a reminder of everything that has been shown at the Picture House this year, we have a list here.