The DCH Blog
The Falling - a pre-screening review - Wednesday 2nd September 2015
This queasy, claustrophobic movie is an intriguing, ambiguous exploration of how a young girl (played assuredly by Maisie Williams) is troubled by her relationships - with her mother, her brother and her best friend – and how this affects, and infects, not only her life, but those around her.
Making great use of a strong supporting cast that includes Maxine Peake and Greta Scacchi, director Carol Morley perfectly captures life in provincial England in the late sixties – a time and a place divorced from the swinging decade of myth and legend – using the stratified hierarchies of a girls’ school as a metaphor for a nation uneasily coping with a time of transition. Cineastes will delight in its filmic reference points. Morley has already acknowledged A Picnic on Hanging Rock, though this most British examination of salad days is surely closer to John Mackenzie’s Unman, Wittering and Zigo. Its narrative is clearly influenced by The Crucible, there’s a nod to the Wicker Man in Tracey Thorn’s soundtrack, and to Nicholas Roeg in Chris Wyatt’s editing. Whether all this amounts to a singular talent, or merely a derivative one, it makes for an arresting and immersive experience.
Although notionally a mystery – why are these girls fainting? - the film quickly shifts to more challenging territory, offering up a kaleidoscopic mediation on love, guilt, jealousy and peer pressure, in a thought-provoking and unsettling way that your mind will return to long after the movie has ended.
By David Vass
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence - a pre-screening review - Monday 31st August 2015
Winner of the Venice Golden Lion, Roy Andersson’s utterly bonkers film resolutely defies categorisation, other than within his own canon of work, as the third part of a blackly comic absurdist trilogy.
Closer to conceptual art than cinema, the performances of Holger Andersson and Nils Westblom (who sort of fulfil the role of protagonists) are reminiscent of Gilbert and George’s living statues, while the meticulous design of this Beckettian movie owes a clear debt to the paintings of Edward Hopper and Michael Sowa. Imagine David Lynch without a narrative, or Monty Python without the jokes and you are getting somewhere closer to the nightmarish vignettes on show here. Though this is a film that rejoices in the beige-green purgatory of ordinary life, there are some startling set pieces to wake you from the hallucinatory slumber sometimes induced – images that will haunt your imagination long after they have left the screen.
Whether such a heady cocktail of the banal and the bizarre is liberating in its free association, or maddening in its incoherence, will be largely down to the inclination of the viewer, but there is no denying that Andersson is ploughing his own furrow here with a drive and determination rarely seen in contemporary cinema. It truly has to be seen to be believed.
By David Vass
Force Majeure - a pre-screening review - Friday 14th August 2015
A brilliant film. As outstanding as it is uncomfortable.
As befits a drama set in the snow-laden mountains of France, Swedish director/writer Ruben Östlund’s deceptively simple story of a family dealing with the fallout from a momentary lapse of judgement is ice-cold in its delivery and in its conclusions.
Stunning cinematography from Fredrik Wenzel, offset by a jittery soundtrack from Vivaldi, creates an uneasy mood from the start, so that when the big event comes, it’s something of a relief. It’s relief that is short lived though, as events take an entirely unexpected turn.
Johannes Bah Kuhnke is outstanding as Tomas, a father that disappoints not just his wife and children, but ultimately himself in a way that is shocking yet completely believable. As Tomas refuses to acknowledge what he has done, his denial starts to corrode the foundations of family life, and his wife Ebba (heartbreakingly played by Lisa Loven Kongsli) starts to question everything she thought she knew about her husband, and by extension their life together.
Östlund has been likened to everyone from Bergman to Mike Leigh, and he’s certainly adept at showing the Swedish to be as screwed up as the rest of us. The bold, ambiguous final act will have you re-examining all you thought you learned about the characters, and yourself, but it won’t make you feel any more comfortable.
By David Vass