Posts Tagged ken loach

Beyond The Hills ★★★★½ & Spirit Of ’45 ★★★★ Best Films Of March

beyond the hills

Back to our regular recap of what’s currently available in cinemas after a few weeks’ hiatus with a quick look at the best films released during that time. The month of March came unexpectedly full of interesting new releases that helped prevent or at least postpone the annual post-Oscar lull.

Our film of the month honour has to be shared by the latest offerings by two of favourite directors , Christian Mungiu and Ken Loach.

The Romanian auteur followed up his Palme D’Or Winner ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” with another superbly observed drama, “Beyond The Hills” ★★★★½, where he reaffirmed his penchant for tales of “damsels in distress”; this time against the backdrop of religious intolerance. Two orphan girls who had somehow forged a strong bond during their difficult past are at the centre. One of them has chosen life in a convent and tries to convince the other to join her, so they can be together sheltered from the hostilities of the world. But her friend’s rebellious ways soon crashes with the strict discipline of the order. Far less frantic than its predecessor, Mungiu slowly builds this escalating conflict towards a dramatic climax, masterly depicting life in the convent as completely stuck in time, aside the reality surrounding it. A skilful use of cinematography widely contributes to that purpose. As the action happens in recent times, we can see the extreme contrast between the scenes where the nuns step into the real world and the ones indoors. Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur, the film’s two brilliant young stars shared the best actress gong last year at Cannes.

The second standout film of the last month is Ken Loach heartfelt documentary ‘The Spirit Of ‘45” ★★★★, a superbly research look at the social and historical circumstances that after the second world war enabled an already organized population to build the welfare state as we know it, with public institutions as the NHS or the National Rail becoming the engines that pushed millions out of poverty and raised the bar of the rights to equality and dignity for all. Emotional interviews with surviving workers of the era; multiple activists and an impressive array of footage image, the film jumps all the way to the Thatcher years where the privatization process of everything public began. Loach’s ambitions behind this release, as revealed by himself during a Q&A launching session from the Ritzy, are to be a call to arms for all workers and militants of the very fragmented political left to join forces again and create a new strong political party that represents their interests, as Labour has long time lost his working class credentials, in the fight against the dismantling of the welfare state now speeded up by the shocking tactics used to “tackle” the financial crisis. You can find more information at the Left Unity website.

March also brought many other interesting films. Read the rest of this entry »

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2009 The Year In Movies: 2-Author, Author.

CHARLIE KAUFFMAN (Synecdoche, New York)

The Oscars are fairly accused of playing conservative. They don’t normally reward the adventurous and challenging, nor the works and directors who try and push the boundaries of the seventh art. That’s why many of the best films every year can be found outside the bandwidth of the Academy. With the independent sector shrinking, the hope for more rewarding filmmaking is in the hands of the so-called authors and their arthouse productions, and 2009 is full of well-established masters bringing their wit and wisdom to the big screen. Read the rest of this entry »

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