In The Picture

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Discussing everything that isn't Hollywood (and a little that is)
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Blackthorn ( Spain-France-Bolivia-UK 2011)

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 16:53
I missed this in cinemas but caught it through my HDD Recorder on (very) late night TV. Blackthorn is an excellent Western with an interesting background. Shot entirely in Bolivia with Spanish, French and UK inputs, the film was directed by Mateo Gil, best known perhaps as the writer of four films for Alejandro Amenábar (including Mar Adentro […]
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Neruda (Chile-Argentina-France-Spain-US 2016)

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 22:54
Neruda is the latest of several films by Chilean director Pablo Larrain to focus on moments during Chile’s turbulent political struggles between the 1940s and the death of the former dictator Augusto Pinochet in 2006. Larrain’s approach is through a focus on certain characters, either closely involved in the events of the period or perhaps engaged […]
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Britain on Film: Rural Life

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 14:51
This is a compilation of short films shot in the British countryside (and in the north of Eire) between 1904 and 1981. It is part of the Britain on Film series which has already offered Railways and has a forthcoming compilation Black Britain. This is an archive project to ‘digitise’ thousands of films, originating on […]
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Get Out (US 2017)

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 14:24
Blumhouse has a reputation for low-budget horror productions, such as the very successful Paranormal Activity (2009-15) and The Purge (2013-) series. Get Out has beaten them and parlayed a $5m budget into, to date, $184m worldwide box office. In order to attain such numbers it’s clearly broken out of its teen core audience and shows what can be done when genre […]
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Graduation (Bacalaureat, Romania-France-Belgium 2016)

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 16:18
After the all too common long wait, the UK finally got this 2016 Cannes prizewinner (shared Best Director for Cristian Mungiu) at the end of March 2017. It was worth the wait. I have only a fleeting acquaintance with Mungiu and the rest of the ‘Romanian New Wave’ of the last ten years or so, […]
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The Olive Tree (El olivo, Spain-Germany-France-Canada 2016)

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 14:50
I was going to start this post with another moan about Peter Bradshaw, but in this case his review wasn’t that bad, just not enthusiastic enough for me. Instead it was Wendy Ide, now reviewing for the Observer, who was the real culprit. In a paragraph of clichés she sneers at the film for its […]
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Ilo Ilo (Singapore-Taiwan-Japan-France 2013)

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:50
Might be the conjunction of the planets but there’s been a few interesting films on free-to-air UK TV recently. Ilo Ilo (the title, the Guardian’s reviewer says, is a “Mandarin phrase meaning “mum and dad not at home” – but the director says it’s title comes from the name of the province in the Philippines) is a family melodrama focusing on the impact of […]
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¡Viva! 23 #9: Santa y Andrés (Cuba-Colombia-France 2016)

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 11:11
This Cuban offering during ¡Viva! is an example of the sometimes confounding nature of Cuban art and culture. I looked in vain in the end credits for any mention of the Cuban state film agency ICAIC, but it didn’t appear. I learned afterwards that although the script for the film was accepted in 2014 (and […]
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¡Viva! 23 #8: El Mundo sigue (Life Goes On, Spain 1965)

Sun, 04/16/2017 - 09:58
One of the highlights of ¡Viva! this year, El Mundo sigue is a film made in the early 1960s and then suppressed, only re-emerging in a restoration in 2015. As such, it serves as a form of commentary on the censorship under Franco and therefore as a useful indicator of what La transición had to achieve […]
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¡Viva! 23 #7: María (y los demás) (Spain 2016)

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 12:16
This was perhaps the most enjoyable film I saw at ¡Viva!. A comedy drama with a terrific central character, strong supporting cast and a solid story with plenty of laughs – what’s not to like? Having the opportunity to hear the director Nely Reguera talk about the film in the Q&A after the screening was […]
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Selma on UK Television

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 10:57
This film was among my top titles for the year and I would thoroughly recommend it. It is a widescreen film so it will lose significantly on television but if that is the only way to see it then it is worth watching. Unfortunately whilst it is screening tonight [April 14th] on BBC 2 [including […]
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¡Viva! 23 #6: El Soñador (The Dreamer, Peru 2016)

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 21:24
I’m not sure if this is just coincidence, but this was the fourth film that I saw at ¡Viva! focusing on a young person and their problems. This time the protagonist is a young man living on his own on the waterfront in Lima. Sebastian (nicknamed ‘Chaplin’ – I’m not sure why) is seemingly a ‘nice young […]
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¡Viva! 23 #5: La Novia (Spain-Germany-Turkey 2015)

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 10:59
La Novia or The Bride is an adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding. It screened at ¡Viva! at the end of a day of films directed by women plus a panel on ‘Female filmmakers in Contemporary Spanish Cinema’. The screening was introduced by Dr Abigail Loxham of the University of Manchester who was also […]
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¡Viva! 23 #4: Rara (Chile-Argentina 2016)

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 15:12
Another first feature by a female filmmaker from South America, Rara followed Alba and offered ¡Viva! audiences a third young teenager’s struggles in a family group. In this case the family group is intact, but following a divorce, lawyer Paula (Mariana Loyola) is living with Lia (Agustina Muñoz), a vet. The central character is Sara (Julia […]
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¡Viva! 23 #3: Alba (Ecuador-Mexico-Greece 2016)

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 11:18
Alba was the second of three films at ¡Viva!, to present young teenagers in complicated family situations. 11 year-old Alba lives with her mother who is bedridden and dangerously ill. Alba is reliant on her own company and struggles to make friends at school. When her mother is hospitalised Alba is sent to live with her father […]
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¡Viva! 23 #2: 7 dias de enero (Seven Days in January, Spain-France 1979)

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 13:18
(Images from the Spanish language blog at http://bachilleratocinefilo.blogspot.nl/2015/03/7-dias-de-enero-1979-alejandro-berna.html) This screening was part of this year’s ¡Viva! Festival’s focus on La transición – the period in which Spain struggled to move from fascism to multi-party democracy in the second half of the 1970s. Advertised as 170 minutes long, I did fear that the film itself might […]
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¡Viva! 23 #1: La Madre (Spain-France-Romania 2016)

Fri, 04/07/2017 - 23:37
La Madre was a challenging start to my ¡Viva! viewing, both in terms of its uncompromising aesthetic and barebones story. The title is slightly misleading in that the protagonist is 14 year-old Miguel. His mother is largely absent and when she is present she doesn’t contribute a great deal. This explains why Miguel has attracted the […]
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Pork Pie (New Zealand 2017)

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 21:37
The release of Pork Pie on February 2nd 2017 was a significant moment for the New Zealand film industry. In 1981 Goodbye Pork Pie, co-written and directed by Geoff Murphy, became the first homegrown smash hit for the NZ film industry. Thirty-six years later, Geoff’s son Matt Murphy has directed what may be the first […]
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Sergeant Rutledge (US 1960)

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 10:12
Given that John Ford was the most lauded director of the studio era with four Academy Awards and one of the most critically appraised filmmakers during the development of contemporary film studies in the 1960s and 1970s, it’s perhaps surprising that some of his films have not been given more attention. Ford was prolific and […]
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Caravaggio (UK 1986)

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 14:20
This is a biopic of the famous C17th painter Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio. It was written (with  Nicholas Ward Jackson) and directed by Derek Jarman. One can see why the gay sensibilities, homoeroticism and fine colour and design of the paintings would appeal to Jarman. As you might expect from this avant-garde artist this is […]
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