La La Land (dir: Damien Chazelle, 2016, cert 12A)
A film that’s probably going to clean up at the Oscars, this throwback to the heady days of the musical and its uplifting reanimation of what had cheerily been described as an ‘extinct genre’ in some quarters, is an unexpectedly thrilling delight. The world definitely needs more free form jazz musicals and more films featuring Ryan Gosling tap dancing for that matter. The saccharine overload might not be to everyone’s taste and the opening show tune is a bit cringe, but just let yourselves go and enjoy the dizzying thrill of blossoming love. You won’t regret it.
Mon 23 Jan to Thu 2 Feb various times at the mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH £8 macbirmingham Mon 23 Jan to Thu 26 Jan at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 www.theelectric.co.uk/ Mon 23 Jan to Thu 26 Jan various times at Lighthouse, Chubb Buildings, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT £8 light-house.co.uk/
Manchester By The Sea (dir: Kenneth Lonergan, 2017, cert 15)
It’s only January and we may have already seen the best movie of 2017. Kenneth Lonergan’s sharp study of loss and raging helplessness is an emotionally raw examination of the unsettlingly internal trauma of grief. Casey Affleck is astonishing and, most importantly, believable as a host of real world problems begin to crush the life of his character Lee. It’s a reality that the audience knows only too well and it’s this choking resonance that lends the film such awful power. Human experience laid bare. Beautifully scored, shot, acted and directed. In short, a masterpiece.
Fri 27 Jan to Thu 2 Feb various times at the mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH £8 macbirmingham Mon 21 Jan to Thu 26 Jan at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 www.theelectric.co.uk/ Fri 27 Jan to Thu 2 Feb at Lighthouse, Chubb Buildings, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT £8 light-house
Under The Shadow (dir: Babak Anvari, 2016, cert 15)
An Iranian made Farsi language feminist horror may not have been on many people’s movie wish lists but that will certainly change now. Anvari’s debut feature is a slow burning thriller exploring the isolation of a mother and daughter trapped indoors by the incessant shelling of the Iran-Iraq war of the eighties and the growing sense that they may not be alone. Subtly oppressive and guaranteed to give you the creeps.
Tue 24 Jan 6.30pm at Everyman, 116 The Mailbox, Birmingham B1 1RF £10 everymancinema
Ghost in the Shell (dir: Mamoru Oshii, 1995, cert 15)
In readiness for the live action reboot (oh no) one of the greatest and most influential anime films ever produced is being screened across the country for one night only, even the multiplexes are involved in what is effectively a cute marketing gimmick. Whatever the reasons for the screening, viewing Ghost in the Shell on a big screen should be high on your cinematic to do list. The beautifully rendered quest by Section 9 to locate the mysterious hacker the Puppet Master is an eye popping visual feast. Disconnect your consciousness and plug it into a shell, you won’t regret it. We also recommend avoiding the enormously negative brain augmentation that watching the remake will undoubtedly foster.
Wed 25 Jan 6.15pm at the Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 theelectric Wed 25 Jan 6pm and 8.20pm at the Mockingbird, Custard Factory, B9 4AA Birmingham £5.95 ticketing
Prevenge (dir: Alice Lowe, 2016, cert 15) + Q&A
For her debut feature Alice Lowe returns to the familiar territory of Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, the hilariously pitch black comedy of caravaning and killing she co wrote with Steve Oram. In Prevenge a heavily pregnant Ruth, played by Lowe herself, goes on a rampaging spree of murderous violence guided by the unborn foetus inside her. The humour is so sludge thick black that you may possibly feel guilty for laughing and throughout there is a nagging dread at just what is going to happen come birth time. Not for the faint hearted but a homicidal joy for the rest of us. The screening will be followed by a live onstage Q&A with Alice Lowe.
Fri 27 Jan 8.30pm at the Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 electric
The Fireman’s Ball (dir: Milos Forman, 1967, cert U)
Before Milos Forman left for Hollywood to direct such classics as ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘Amadeus’ he was an integral part of the Czech New Wave movement. One of the most fertile periods in cinematic history until it was crushed, like the rest of the country, by Russian tanks. After being sacked by his studio at the new regime’s behest Forman left for America. His legacy was ‘The Fireman’s Ball’, a classic of the Czech New Wave, on the surface a riotous comedy following the bumbling antics of a band of firemen as they attempt to organise the eponymous ball, but look a little deeper and you will find a razer sharp satire on the endemic corruption of Eastern communism. At one point ‘banned forever’ by the Czech authorities the film has lost none of its charm or power with the jokes coming thick and fast. Ridiculing authority has never been so much fun.
Sat Jan 28 8pm at Gunmaker’s Arms, Bath Street, B4 6HG Birmingham Free facebook
The Passion of Joan of Arc (dir: Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928, cert PG)
The definitive version of the life of Joan of Arc and one of the most incredible acting performances ever captured on film. Renée Jeanne Falconetti was driven to exhaustion and near mental collapse by the demands of the notoriously demanding Dreyer. The on screen result of this torment is remarkable, in every shot Falconetti portrays the beatific pain of Joan with a heart rending starkness. Using actual text from the trial of Joan lends an uneasy resonance to the events unfolding on screen, whilst Dreyer’s use of intense close up shots of Falconetti’s tortured expression creates a jarring sense of claustrophobia. There is no escape for Joan and her inevitably gruesome end is captured in surprisingly graphic detail. A superior film from a master filmmaker.
Sun 29 Jan 12pm at the Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 theelectric
Published on: Sun 1 Jan 2017