2018: film review (old and new)

This year the list is pretty short. I took a lot in, but I think my highlights say something about the changes happening in cinema right now. Old giants are falling, new giants are rising. I also list two works from the past which I discovered in the last twelve months.  

Phantom Thread (PT Anderson)

maxresdefaultThis film was nominated for Best Film at the Oscars, but I think it went beyond its own category. The story kept haunting me over this past year. Everything from the set design to the costumes (garments are a key character in Phantom Thread) and the sound design were exquisite. The two central performances, especially when together, were disturbingly fun to watch. I particularly remember the moment Reynolds proposes to Alma and the following nervous silence. You can almost see the thread of electricity between them.  

A Star is Born (Bradley Cooper)

Now this is going to win a lot. The fact that this picture is attracting a wide audience despite its uncomfortable themes of substance abuse and the effects of fame makes it really special. The character arcs also make it very timely.  

Widows (Steve McQueen)screen-shot-2018-06-04-at-9-01-14-am

The detail of McQueen’s filmmaking makes him one of the greats of our time. Not only is this a heist thriller, it brings up political and social themes. In addition, it’s led by a great variety of fabulous actors and puts people opposite each other who we are not used to seeing together on screen.

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)

Ok, it’s great that Netflix is showing this film all around the world, but I really hope people aren’t watching this on their phones. At least a computer screen, come on. Roma is full of surprising and poetic moments, but I’d like to mention the moment when, at a new year’s eve party, Cleo’s friend expresses her high hopes for Cleo and her baby-to-be. Suddenly, someone pushes past and Cleo’s raised glass drops and smashes on the floor. This movement is so unexpected that it feels violent. This film is full of these intimate and shocking moments.

Me Without You (2001, Sandra Goldbacher)

This is a beautiful film about a friendship between two girls in the UK, led by Michelle Williams and Anna Friel. Throughout school, university and adult life, Marina and Holly live through betrayal, self-doubt and a whole bunch of relationships, and never give up on their love for each other. 

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)

I must end with this one, 50 years after its release. This film must be watched on a big screen, in the dark, without distractions or popcorn. It’s timeless, intense and reminds us how we, the human species, think we control so much, but are in fact so small in this universe. While some will accuse it of being too slow, every second is necessary to take us deeper into the unknown. “I’m sorry Dave…”

That is all for today! Please comment below if you agree or disagree with my choices. Happy new year 2019! 





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The Guilty (Den skyldige, 2018)

The GuiltyThis was one of the rare times when someone took me to a film I knew nothing about. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I did know from the poster that it was a thriller, and was afraid I was going to go through a gory Danish crime thriller that would be difficult to get over. In the end, the film was not gory, but possibly one of the best thrillers I’ve ever seen, shot entirely in a police station and with the camera focused on one single character. Continue reading

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The Wild Pear Tree (Ahlat Ağacı, 2018)

WildPearTree1It’s been three weeks already since I saw Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest film and I have been itching to write my thoughts on it.

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Clara: One-woman show

Clara_ElenaMazzonWhen hearing the name Schumann, many will first think of Robert. But what about the other Schumann whose music can transport us just as much? In Clara, we get to know the woman who tried to pursue her prolific music career after marrying Robert Schumann and despite getting increasingly lost behind her husband’s shadow – and name.

Elena Mazzon presents her one-woman show which has just premiered in London at From the Forest Festival. In the play, she plays Clara Schumann (1819-1896) who is preparing for a date with Johannes Brahms while sharing her memories about what led her to this date in the first place.

She married Robert right before her 21st birthday against her father’s will, who would have preferred her to become an independent musician. This relationship between father and daughter is described movingly by Mazzon, certainly touching soft spots of many in the audience. In addition, one can’t help but note the importance of putting a woman in the spotlight who had to fight to be respected by the many men in her field, starting with her husband who gave her ultimatums and worried about being overshadowed by his wife’s talent.

Directed by Catriona Kerridge, Mazzon supports her speech with piano music, composed either by Clara herself, Robert or Brahms. It is amusing to notice how when she leans on her piano, Clara feels secure. However, as soon as she walks away from her piano, she starts panicking, losing some her control. Music was everything for Clara, and always in first place, even in front of her many children.

This is a show that I hope will tour the world, giving a new voice to this maestro who herself visited and graced many cities with her music in the Romantic era. I also hope that with time it will contain even more played piano, as it adds such a beautiful element to the play. Stay tuned by following https://www.elenamazzon.com/clara-a-show-for-an-actress-and-a-piano/


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Tully (2018)

Mom, what’s wrong with your body?

Tully filmThis month, I discovered what dry brushing is. Don’t you find that sometimes you read about something, and soon enough, it enters your life in some other way too? The film Tully by Jason Reitman, the acclaimed director of Juno, Up in the Air and Young Adult, opens with Marlo (Charlize Theron) brushing her son Jonah’s body (Asher Miles Fallica). She does this every night before bed time, as it helps him release anxiety.

When we meet her, Marlo is nine months pregnant, about to give birth any day. She has two children and lives with her husband Drew (Ron Livingston), who has a complicated auditing job, in upstate New York. One could confidently say that Marlo’s home life and life situation in general are a cause for depression: she can’t be bothered to cook for her children and heats up frozen food for them every day, she watches a pornographic reality show called “Gigolo” every night and can’t seem to find joy in anything. One evening, her brother Craig (Mark Duplass) recommends she hire a night nanny to prevent her from collapsing after the new baby comes. While she is cynical about a stranger taking care of her baby at first, after one of Jonah’s many tantrums, she takes the plunge and calls the nanny called Tully (Mackenzie Davis).

Tully becomes the guardian angel that Marlo needed, cleaning the house and most importantly taking care of newly born Mia. As the nights progress, Marlo catches up on her much-missed sleep, starts enjoying her new daughter’s presence and reconnects with her family and community. Furthermore, she bonds with Tully and finds a new friend in this carefree, charming and spontaneous person.

However, this spontaneity will prove dangerous on the night Tully pushes Marlo to leave her house and party in New York City.

I will not give too much away here, but writer Diablo Cody and director Reitman show us a unique view of motherhood and honour the difficulties mothers face without admitting to them. Like in many of his previous films, Reitman observes what happens behind closed doors, honouring family and respecting those who lurk in the shadows. Tully ultimately represents a nostalgia for Marlo’s carefree past, but is also a reminder of what she’s achieved and how proud she can be of that.

Charlize Theron excels as a principled yet messy woman who has been burying her feelings for too long. Her motherhood of three children has ripped her of her sleep and of any desires outside of it. A lethargic quality overwhelms the actress’s whole body which means she just needs to fully be in that state to form her character. It’s wonderful to watch Theron with Duplass. Brother-sister relationships on screen are special, and here, few words create an entire backstory for the two of them.

Livingston is a strong supporting character as Marlo’s husband, realising quite late how much he’s been taking her for granted. Finally, Davis is an intriguing, slightly alien-like presence who keeps surprising us but also quickly smells of danger.

I highly recommend this film for the twists in the story and the delightful central performances.

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2017: film review (old and new)

Everyone’s story is worth telling. Some stories are grand and meant to spark a conversation, as Ava DuVernay beautifully showed us this week with Jay Z’s latest “Family Feud”. Others are quieter, take place behind closed doors and insist on what is extraordinary within the ordinary (“Certain Women”). Thank you for looking back at this year in film with me, as I go into my personal highlights, which will include discoveries from previous years as well. 


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London Film Festival: I am not a witch

I am not a witch by Rungano Nyoni.

I am not a witch.

Part of the First Feature Competition, I am not a witch is a moving, funny and vivid film that will hopefully be spoken about for a long time after its release. It is the kind of film that should be shown to viewers of all ages in all countries, as its themes resonate with people everywhere despite a story that is very local.

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