Tharlo (dir: Pema Tseden, 2016, cert PG)
Whilst the plot may not be breaking any new ground, an innocent shepherd out of step with the modern world and unexpectedly plunged right into it, Tseden’s monochrome film is a majestically shot delight. The Tibetan landscape is breathtaking and Tharlo’s sweet naivete as he journeys from the mountains to the city to obtain an ID card he can’t see the point of is drawn with a lazily poetic charm. There is an oblique stillness as time slows and our gaze lingers on the mundane as Tharlo’s human frailty is gradually exposed. A beautiful film that recalls Murnau’s Sunrise.
Tue 25 Oct and Wed 26 Oct various times at mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH £8 macbirmingham.co.uk/
Baden Baden (dir: Rachel Lang, 2016, cert 15)
It’s not just the middle aged that have crises you know, the young are just as adept at existential breakdowns. Join Ana as she endures a quarter life meltdown and returns to her home town of Strasbourg to put her life in order. Salomé Richard is wonderful as the boyish Ana creating chaos whilst seeking order. Lang’s breezy film contains some genuine laugh out loud moments and is touched with a charming eccentricity.
Fri 28 Oct to Wed 2 Nov various times at mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH £8 macbirmingham.co.uk/
My Scientology Movie (dir: John Dower, 2016, cert 15)
Louis Theroux’s disarming, almost bumbling charm, has always disguised a razer sharp investigative mind and unlocked access into some of the world’s weirdest places. Well now, in his first big screen documentary, he focuses that finally honed wit on the rapacious cult of Scientology. The paranoid church, and its celebrity worshippers of the galactic overlord Xenu, have rarely been forthcoming regarding their religion. Well no matter, because Theroux subverts this masterfully and brings the aggressive lenses of the Scientology cult to him in a curious cat and mouse film off. If you’re an OT-III level operating Thetan then you probably won’t like this film. For the rest of us it shines a light on the dark insanity of a powerful cult. Fri 28 Oct to Thu 3 Nov at mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH £8 macbirmingham.co.uk/ Mon 24 Oct to Sat 29 Oct various times at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 www.theelectric.co.uk/
Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997, cert 15)
In which Tarantino’s poplar culture riffing machine reached Blaxploitation. Not meant as a criticism, no one can pull together so many disparate genre threads as eloquently and knowledgeably as Quentin. A master stroke from the director was casting Foxy Brown herself, Pam Grier, as the eponymous hero. The opening scene as a knowing Grier paces confidently through Los Angeles Airport to Bobby Womack’s ‘Across 110th Street’ is cinematic perfection. There’s lots of cool walking in Tarantino movies. An incredible cast with the ubiquitous Samuel L Jackson, an off the charts sexy Bridget Fonda and a shambling Robert De Niro. “When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.” Oh yes. Screened as part of the Black Star season.
Sat 29 Oct 5pm at mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH £8 macbirmingham.co.uk/
Halloween (dir: John Carpenter, 1978, cert 18)
It’s that time of year again and the relentless killing machine Michael Myers is once more dispatching teenagers in grizzly fashion. The granddaddy of the slasher genre it laid the blue print that all slasher films subsequently followed. Don’t want to get murdered by the evil bad guy? Then don’t be promiscuous kids. There is very little actual on screen violence in Halloween but there are copious unsettling scares. It maliciously pricks away at the proverbial fear of the dark and the unknown in all of us. Was that a cat outside? Or was it a lumbering vengeful psychopath with a machete? John Carpenter’s simple score effectively grates on the psyche and sticks in the imagination. We especially love Donald Pleasence’s dogged you’re all doomed psychiatrist. A perfect horror with the mac screening the digitally restored and remastered version replete with John Carpenter interview. Trick or treat anyone?
Sat 29 Oct 8.15pm at mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH £8 macbirmingham.co.uk/
I, Daniel Blake (dir: Ken Loach, 2016, cert 15)
It seems an age since Ken Loach picked up the Palme D’or at Cannes for I, Daniel Blake and it has rarely been out of the headlines since, well now you can see this timely polemic on the benefits system for yourselves. Loach is angry and so will you be after viewing the tribulations of the titular Daniel as he strives to negotiate the bureaucratic behemoth of state welfare. No sitting on the fence here and the message is certainly hammered home but when the rhetoric of the right wing press is likewise hammered into popular consciousness maybe it’s the only way. An important antidote to the vile class stereotyping so beloved of the Daily Mail and its ilk and the most relevant film you will see this year. You have been told.
Mon 24 Oct to Thu 27 Oct various times at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 www.theelectric.co.uk/
Frankenstein (dir: James Whale, 1931, cert PG)
It’s always a source of great pride for us that the director of the most iconic screen monster ever created is from Dudley. You really should go and see the statue in his honour at Castle Gate. Flatpack brought us the sequel Bride of Frankenstein in the grounds of Dudley Castle during the summer and now those lovely people at the Electric continue their Universal Monsters season with the bold original. The unforgettable sight of Boris Karloff as the monster stomping around in murderously heartbreaking confusion is one of cinema’s most renown visions. An essential part of film history. It’s Alive.
Tue 25 Oct 6pm at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 www.theelectric.co.uk/
The Mummy (dir: Karl Freund, 1932, cert PG)
The Electric’s Universal Monsters season continues with more Boris Karloff as the reanimated Mummy of Imhotep, who is inadvertently brought back to life when an archaeologist reads aloud from an ancient scroll. Ain’t that always the way? Karloff had to spend eight hours having his make up applied and claimed it was “the most trying ordeal I [had] ever endured”. It was worth it though. He is terrifying as he shuffles relentlessly around Cairo searching for his lost love. Dubbed the national bogeyman by the New York Times in 1933 Karloff’s presence lends any film an austere terror, his expression as he is buried alive lives long in the memory. ‘Maybe he got too gay with the vestal virgins in the temple.’
Sat 29 Oct 12pm at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 www.theelectric.co.uk/
Trash Film Night presents Hollywood Cop (dir: Amir Shervan, 1987, cert 18)
The Trash Film Night boys bring you another classic in the cinematic canon of Iraninan auteur Amir Shervan. Follow detective ‘Turkey’ as he pursues a gang of ruthless gangsters who have kidnapped a child and demanded a six million dollar ransom. This ain’t no six million dollar movie though and you just know that any film that has the tag line ‘Raping, Robbing, Kidnapping, Killing… The Action Never Stops’ is going to be south of good taste. Hollywood Cop doesn’t disappoint. Hilariously inept and possessed of a comically charming incompetence. Your hosts Luke and David will be providing their usual live commentary. Great fun and don’t forget to wash the goat.
Thu 27 Oct 8.45pm at Electric, Station Street, Birmingham B5 4DY £8.70 www.theelectric.co.uk/
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.
Mon 24 Oct to Thu 27 Oct various times at Lighthouse, Chubb Buildings, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT £8 light-house.co.uk/
The Girl With All The Gifts ( dir: Colm McCarthy, 2016, cert 15)
‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ joins an expanding list of apocalyptic movies made in Birmingham that has culminated with Steven Spielberg’s current redressing of Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter as dystopian doubles of the future. Don’t quite know what that says about our city. Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine are our heroes trying to protect mankind’s only hope of survival, the infected child genius Melanie. To do this they must escape Glenn Close’s child dissecting evil doctor and hoards of infected “hungries”. A bit like negotiating Broad Street on a Saturday night then.
Fri 28 Oct to Thu 3 Nov various times at Lighthouse, Chubb Buildings, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT £8 light-house.co.uk/
The Sun In A Net (dir: Štefan Uher, 1962, cert 12)
We’re so excited by this. A public screening of the first film in the Czech New Wave. The Czech New Wave was a unique period in the sixties when Czech cinema produced an astonishing array of quality films as the communist regime entered a phase of liberalisation. Until 1968 when Brezhnev sent Russia’s tanks in to spoil the fun. The Sun In A Net is a beautifully cool film and possibly the most important Czech film ever made. Fajolo and Bela wait on their rooftop under a blistering sun for an impending eclipse. They exchange existential chat as their budding romance unfolds. As a set up it doesn’t promise much, as a film it delivers in spades. Screening organised by Brum Cinema Addicts and the Czech Club of Birmingham.
Sat 29 Oct 8pm at Gunmakers Arms, Bath Street, Birmingham B4 6HG FREE www.facebook.com/
Another bumper week of cinema in Birmingham with some cool screenings in addition to all the recommendations above, a definite Halloween flavour going on fright fans. The Lighthouse has Hannibal Lector over on Friday for some fava beans and a nice chianti probably, The Silence of the Lambs screening is followed by a Halloween party. The Electric has the original Blair Witch Project and Rob Zombie’s new film 31. The Mockingbird has its own Hallowscream festival with an incredible seven films including Shaun of the Dead and The Exorcist. Us scared? No chance.*
*Actual response is sheer terror
PS: Don’t miss Monday’s silent movie Halloween spectacular at the Town Hall The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari a vision of madness, mystery and the macabre from the shadowy underbelly of Weimar Berlin. With an eerie, atmospheric score performed live on the Town Hall organ? Fancy dress encouraged – with THSH prizes. Limited tickets. www.thsh.co.uk/event/halloween-silent-movie
Mon 31 Oct 7.30pm at The Town Hall, Birmingham, B3 3DQ £18
Published on: Sun 2 Oct 2016