Well that’s it folks. Silkscreen’s 2016-17 season is over. The most popular film this season was “Water”, by Indian director Deepa Mehta which we showed in November, with an audience rating of 87%. Film selection for 2017-18 will get underway very shortly. In the meantime we do have the dates for next season and these are …. Sept 20th, Oct 4th and 18th, Nov 1st, 15th and 29th, Dec 13th, Jan 3rd, 17th and 31st, Feb 14th and 28th, and March 14th. The Short Film Evening will be Oct 25th.
Programmes for the new season will be posted out in July when you will be able to renew your membership either by post or online.
In the meantime let us have any thoughts via the Comments page on this website.
Director: Naji Abu Nowar, Jordan
Young Theeb makes a perilous journey across a beautifully shot desert in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, as the way of life in the region is about to change. The tension builds as Theeb considers his choices and who he can trust. Called by some a Bedouin ‘western’.
(N.B. one showing at 7.00pm followed by AGM and drinks in the Whitaker Room)
Eye-searing landscapes and a fascinating historical setting turn this tale of innocence lost into a classic adventure film. First-time director, Naji Abu Nowar, calls it a ‘Bedouin western’, and the honour and hospitality which his nomadic tribespeople value above all else informs Theeb first to last. The largely non-professional cast are as authentic as the craggy, unforgiving surroundings, and the way the film balances the simplicity of its central rite of passage with a broader outlook on a people caught in the shifting sands of time is a tribute to the filmmakers’ clarity of vision. A truly memorable first feature.
Theeb is a jewel, deserving of its Orizzonti Award for Best Director prized to Naji Abu Nowar in Venice and more. It is a film about the vastness of a desert, strength of a child and the beauty of the culture of the Bedouins, who not only survive within their harsh environment, but thrive and continue to amaze. A film has to be good. No wait, it has to be great! And there is nothing worse than watching with big expectations, only to be disappointed. Thankfully, Theeb delivers, in every way, on every level, to every part. It is a spectacularly epic film with a wonderfully intimate human story.
Director: Christian Petzold, Germany
A gripping psychological drama of love, memory and betrayal in post-war Berlin which builds to a perfect ending. A haunting and unsettling human story, wonderfully acted. It is also a reflection on how an entire country deals with the tragedy of war.
Tense, complex, and drenched in atmosphere, Phoenix is a well-acted, smartly crafted war drama that finds writer-director Christian Petzold working at peak power.
Christian Petzold’s masterful Phoenix is a film that firmly cements its director as one of the most impressive working today. Petzold’s film resonates long after its perfect ending. This is a riveting piece of work that never loses sight of its human story while also serving as a commentary for how an entire country deals with tragedies like war. A film this satisfying on every level – one that can be enjoyed purely for its narrative while also providing material for hours of discussion on its themes – is truly rare.
Director: Ann Hui, Hong Kong
A film about the relationship between a Hong Kong businessman and a female servant who has worked for his family for 60 years. As the servant becomes frail their longstanding formal relationship changes. A tender film, beautifully acted, and filmed in a documentary style.
Andy Lau’s astute performance is rather like the film as a whole – at first you think it’s underdone, but it’s actually cannily judged to favour genuine feeling over pushy sentimentality. As indeed is Deannie Yip’s marvellous central turn as a woman who yearns to belong but whose inveterate submissiveness is shaped by decades of deference and class difference. An exquisite and wise moment of celluloid portraiture.
Deanie Yip won the best actress award at the Venice International Film Festival for her incredibly earnest performance in Ann Hui’s A Simple Life. Also starring Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau (Yip’s real-life Godson), Hui’s film is a breathtaking, yet uniquely uncomplicated, tale of domestic affection, which boasts an invigoratingly optimistic attitude towards life, love and the inevitability of death.
Director: Damien Chazelle, USA
This film shows the tense relationship between a talented and ambitious jazz drummer and his bullying and abusive teacher and bandleader at a music academy. This is a powerful film with impressive acting by the two male leads. Some good jazz that is really played by the actors too.
Superb performances from Miles Teller and Oscar nominee JK Simmons make this jazz drum drama a dazzling success To explain why would be to give away two brilliantly staged acts of triumph and counter-triumph, but the result is a payoff to match that of the Charlie Parker legend – a performance no one in the room, or the cinema, will easily forget. It’s in these final moments that the film itself starts to behave like jazz, with the earlier, meticulous cutting giving way to frenetic whip pans and hungry close-ups of sticks striking skin and metal. However genius may flourish, you know it when you see it, and Whiplash is it.
Whiplash is cinematic adrenalin. In an era when so many films feel more refined by focus groups or marketing managers, it is a deeply personal and vibrantly alive drama. It is captivating, to say the least, particularly in a climax that produces more tension than any action film or thriller this year. The title refers to a song played multiple times throughout Chazelle’s film. It could also refer to that sense of wowed exhaustion you’ll feel when it’s over.
In the Whitaker Room at 7.30pm .. an illustrated talk by the award-winning animator Barry Purves.
Barry will show many short films, including some of his own films and TV series, and will wonder why after nearly forty years, he still loves working with this very odd art form.
What is it about animation, especially stop motion animation with puppets, which still fascinates us.
Why is animation still important?
Come along for a thought provoking evening of films dark, mysterious, musical and wonderfully bizarre.
Director: Louis Malle, France
Set in a school in occupied France in World War Two. Julien and Jean are fellow boarders and their loyalty to each other contrasts sharply with what is happening in the adult world. The film examines how stressful times can bring out the best as well as the worst in us.
Louis Malle’s quasi-autobiographical masterpiece Au Revoir Les Enfants is breathtakingly good. There is a miraculous, unforced ease and naturalness in the acting and direction; it is classic movie storytelling in the service of important themes, including the farewell that we must bid to our childhood, and to our innocence – a farewell repeated all our lives in the act of memory. Every line, every scene, every shot, is composed with mastery. It has to be seen.
The movie was a project close to Louis Malle’s heart (he was in tears when the film premiered at a film festival in 1987) and it shows in the multi-layered treatment he gives the central setting, this fascinating boarding school with its broad cast of characters. French film is characteristically digressive, often to a fault, but here it works to splendid advantage. It also lends itself to repeat viewings. There is an unexpected sense of spirituality throughout this film, somewhat muted but there all the same. This may well stand as the cinematic masterpiece of a man who, at his best was to motion pictures what his countrymen Zola and Hugo were to novels: An artist who filled his canvas with the verve and breadth of human life.
Director: Anders Thomas Jensen, Denmark
This is a gentle black comedy that follows the rehabilitation of three ex-convicts working with (and sometimes against) a rural priest. It centres on the clash of standards between idealistic priest Ivan and neo-Nazi Adam. A modern fairytale of justice and redemption that is quietly humorous, quirky and provocative.
I went to see this film last night. I had no expectations going in to it, other than the fact that I really love Danish films and the actor Mads Mikkelsen. The movie really blew me away. The story is told in such a way that you find yourself laughing in the strangest places, you get really shocked in other places and the communication between the persons is extreme and wild! The acting from all of the actors is superb! You go out of the movie theatre with a smile on your face at the same time you find yourself reflecting on some of the key questions on life itself. Go out and watch it as soon as possible!
It is difficult to sum up the whole film with only a couple of words. Mixing biblical allegories with modern drama and dark comedy, Adam?s Apples does not fit into traditional categories. As a comedy, it doesn’t straightforwardly tell what to laugh at, but the humorous is intertwined with absolutely serious elements. Thus the movie examines the outskirts of comedy and humour: it encourages the viewer to ponder whether the events are humorous or not. Even the music doesn’t correspond with the comedy genre at all, but is constantly foreboding and solemn. It is a versatile film, but despite the exceptional blend, it succeeds in keeping the story together. And it’s a good story.
Director: Fernando Trueba, France
Set in rural France in World War II. A young woman becomes a nude life model for a famous but elderly artist. The two slowly share their understanding of life and art against a background of a wider world at war. A gentle film beautifully shot in black and white.
It’s perhaps easy to make too much of a film like The Artist and the Model. But it’s also easy to make too little of it and I’d rather run the prior risk. It’s minor, of course. But it’s also well made, well acted, intelligently written and more intricate emotionally than it first appears. It is, above all, likable – one of those quiet surprises that resonates more than you think it will.
This lovingly crafted drama from Fernando Trueba has the nature of life and love at its heart. These age-old themes are examined through the affect that a young, wild muse has on an elderly artist who has lost his inspiration, against the backdrop of a backwater of occupied France. More sedate than scintillating, it is nevertheless impressively shot by newcomer Daniel Vilar – a name to look out for – and beautifully acted.
(Eye For Film)
Director: Deepa Mehta (India)
An inspiring tale of a group of Indian widows, some very young, who are forced into poverty at a temple in Varanasi in the 1930s. How can they survive and gain dignity and a new life in a society that shuns them? The film is scenically captivating, also culturally challenging, and beautifully filmed.
It is a triumph that this film was made at all. When filming for Water started in India, Hindu chauvinist mobs destroyed the set and threw it into the Ganges. Due to the sheer determination of director Deepa Mehta, the film was eventually completed. It was worth her perseverance because she has made an absorbing, visually stunning and emotionally gripping film. Water is indeed damning of the attitudes and practices of some Hindus towards widows, but also hints at more complex debates about the nature of tradition, religious practices and economic compulsion.
Written and directed by Deepa Mehta, Water is an exquisite film about the institutionalized oppression of an entire class of women and the way patriarchal imperatives inform religious belief. Shifting between romantic melodrama and spiritual inquiry, Water flows with the simplicity of a fairy tale. The lovers’ struggle may be the heart of the film, but Shakuntula’s awakening is its soul. In the triumphant and moving final scene, her selfless act of bravery offers hope to Chuyia and India alike.
(The New York Times)