Films you may have missed.
Brief reviews of films that are subtle and thought provoking – in short, food for thought. By Bob Miller.
Never Let Me Go
Starring: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield
Directed by: Mark Romanek
Few films deal with “what if” in a controlled and accepting way. Too often in films the future is transformed into a dynamic flowing series of crises and disasters (most certainly with explosions!!) one after another.
Never Let Me Go, a film based relatively faithfully on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, succeeds in following a “what if” scenario in an “everyday” background. The “what if” film concerns a “medical breakthrough” that permits the human lifespan to be extended beyond 100 plus years.
The story unfolds with a narration by Kathy as she recalls her childhood at Hailsham, an apparently exclusive boarding school. We meet her classmates and friends, and revisit a disturbing incident when a teacher tells them of their fate. I won’t reveal that fate, though it is revealed early in the film. The ways in which each of the characters handles the revelation is the core of the film. It is well acted, but the subject and the subdued acting has made some critics love it and others find it less than stellar.
Never Let Me Go gives us all something to think about, because broadly speaking it is a “fate” that is close to home.
Starring: Toshiro Mifune
Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
What is true? Is a witness always completely objective? When we see something happen between two people what assumptions have we made “unconsciously”? What if we are directly involved, can we be counted on to be completely objective? Rashomon, a film by Akira Kurosawa, explores these questions through the eyes of several people. Simply told, the film recounts a bandit’s ambush of a couple in a forest from several contradictory perspectives. The film’s beautiful photography complements the story and is often stylized. Volumes have been written about this film, and if your interest has been peaked by this brief description, all the better. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Land and Freedom
Starring: Ian Hart and Rosana Pastor
Directed by: Ken Loach
Ken Loach, a renowned independent film director, has created an impressive number of socially and politically engaged movies. Land and Freedom revolves around with the Spanish Civil war (1930’s). Loach’s presentation of the tension between the coalition Republican forces fighting against Franco’s fascists is both compelling and tragic.
The story focuses on David (played by Ian Hart), who is inspired to join the Republican forces to fight against Franco’s attempt to overthrow the newly-elected Republican Spanish government. David quickly and deeply bonds with his comrades, especially Blanca (Rosana Pastor), but becomes more and more dismayed as political infighting and intrigue threatens to plunge the whole Republican movement into turmoil. The resulting dramatic consequences deeply impact David and ultimately the Spanish Republic. This film is in English.
Other notable films of Ken Loach’s that the library owns include The Wind That Shakes the Barley, dealing with the Irish rebellion and the beginning of the subsequent Irish civil war; and Kes, which focuses on a boy and the kestrel he takes on as a pet in the industrial north of England.
For those interested in the political background dealt with in “Land and Freedom” Wikipedia has an excellent brief overview.
Slow Film is a blog series by Bob Miller, assistant librarian at PPL: lover of film, music, fiction and non-fiction. If you have suggestions for something that should be included in a future blog post, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.