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Film review: Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda

Reviewed by April McIntyre

“The world is full of sounds” utters Ryuichi Sakamoto, as he sits, listening intently beneath a canopy of trees. The subject of Coda, an acclaimed actor and composer reveals not only his sound-making process but his own worldview and the influence of an ever-changing society on his work.

The documentary, five years in the making is as meditative and as emotional as its subject. We’re introduced to Sakamoto tinkering, almost child-like on a surviving piano of the 2011 Tsunami. Consumed with inquisitiveness, excited to hear the sound of something that he describes as being bent and tuned by nature.
Director, Stephen Schible creates a fascinating balance between the personal and the candid as the film follows the composer with limited interaction and only intermittent nods to the camera. Schible uses Sakamoto’s sound creation, stunning vistas and old footage to piece together everything that makes the subject one of the most imaginative and daring contemporary composers alive today.

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Film Review: In the Fade

Reviewed by Lee Hill

As clichés go, “revenge is a dish best served cold” ranks as one of the more vacuous. History is full of countless examples of eye for an eye retribution. Acts of vengeance may simmer. but are rarely far from boiling point. Much of the debate around how to deal with terrorism and its causes strives to get opponents to the negotiating table on the basis that endless retribution is futile. Yet the violence continues, and it is this all too human endgame that makes In the Fade such compelling viewing despite its missteps.

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Film Review: Studio 54

Reviewed by Lee Hill

In the mid-70s, reggae, punk and disco pushed and shoved a complacent rock scene into new musical frontiers. When two Syracuse University buddies, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, with the aid of $500k from silent partner, Jack Dushey, converted an old CBS TV studio in mid-town Manhattan into the legendary dance club, Studio 54, disco got a cocaine fueled boost into the mainstream. From 1977 to 1980, the club became mythic as a hedonistic living theater for celebrities, jet setters (or what was not so long ago called Eurotrash), bohemians, gays, die-hard eccentrics and people who just wanted to dance the night away.

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Film Review: Pandora’s Box BFI Reissue

Reviewed by Lee Hill

Film critics are known for superlatives with a shelf-life that makes the average fruit fly seem like one of the immortals. As newspapers and magazines became as quaint as brass rubbings, fewer critics make any money from what they do and being asked to contribute a blurb for a sub-adolescent comic book tie-in, paint-by-numbers rom com or earnest biopic now qualifies as a career high, I can appreciate the scepticism that some readers might have when I say Pandora’s Box should be an essential part of any film goer’s diet. This new digital reissue of GW Pabst’s 1929 masterpiece is not just one of the best films of 2018, but one of the greatest ever made.

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Film Review: The Racer and The Jailbird

Reviewed by Lee Hill

Flemish director Michael R Roskam is best known for his noirish debut, Bullhead (2011), a searing character study of a young farmer caught up in the black market for illegal beef products. Bullhead made Matthias Schoenaerts one of the latest stars of European arthouse cinema to cross over to a global audience. It also established Roskam as a director who could combine character driven drama with suspense. Roskam and Schoenaerts worked on James Gandofini’s last film, The Drop (2014), and have reunited for a third time on this thriller about two seemingly mismatched, but obsessive lovers.

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Film Review: Zama

Reviewed by Lee Hill

Zama is a sly historical anti-epic that deconstructs the expectations and assumptions viewers often bring to a certain kind of prestige film. Writer/director Lucrecia Martel’s first feature since The Headless Woman in 2008, follows the tragicomic efforts of a loyal colonial magistrate to maintain dignity as his superiors and those he rules treat him with contempt or indifference.

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Screenwords Meets The Makers Of Mansfield 66/67

Interviewed by Linda Marric

We speak to P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes, the married couple behind the intriguing new documentary about Hollywood camp legend Jayne Mansfield.

One of the most talked about stars of the classical Hollywood era, Mansfield was at one time as famous and as sought after as Marilyn Monroe. Regarded by many as one of the most recognisable sex symbols of the studio era, Mansfield had it all, fame, money and a solid Twentieth Century Fox contract, but it was her dealings with infamous Church Of Satan leader Anton LaVey and her consequent violent death in a car accident which has turned the former starlet into the stuff of legend. In their film Mansfield 66/67, directors  P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes attempt to get behind the legend  and the legacy she left behind.

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Film Review: Filmworker

Reviewed by Lee Hill

When Stanley Kubrick was alive, little was known about his working methods due to his unwillingness to participate in publicity beyond the release date. As the gaps between films  grew, Kubrick’s reclusiveness added to the mystique that his canon was created in near perfect, seemingly infinite and almost magic conditions of freedom and possibility. Since Kubrick died in 1999, the mythic aura around Kubrick remains, but we now know more about how his films were made. His archives are accessible to students and scholars at the University of London for the Arts and in coffee table book form via Taschen. An exhibition on Kubrick has traveled the world and new DVD releases abound with lavish extras, the most famous of which is Jan Harlan’s A Life in Pictures.

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Film Review: A Cambodian Spring

Reviewed by Lee Hill

On paper, a two hour plus account of a land dispute in Cambodia sounds like a worthy documentary subject, but also like being forced to eat all your vegetables. The reality is that A Cambodian Spring works on the senses like a sly thriller with close to the bone reminders of how many developers flaunt the law and human rights in collaboration with governments ducking responsibility (see also Grenfell Tower Fire). Chris Kelly’s film is a heart-breaking look at how those with the least are driven to super heroic feats of activism. It is also a sobering study of how an unchecked free market drains the souls of local communities and corrupts the legal protections a civil society should never treat lightly.

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Film Review: Revenge

Reviewed by Luke Channell

The rape-revenge genre is a challenging place to start for any new director, yet Coralie Fargeat knocks it out of the park with her super-stylish, blood-splattered debut feature Revenge. It’s scarcely believable that this is Fargeat’s first film, such is the assurance and distinctiveness of her direction. Fargeat’s confidently approaches the often-maligned rape-revenge genre, making subtle but invigorating changes to its tropes. The result is a taut, visceral experience with a refreshingly feminist perspective.

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