Viewing recap September

71 (2014) (Yann Demange)
Very suspenseful, especially the second half. Jack O’Connell is excellent as the lead. Sure am happy I wasn’t living in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s. Such hatred and hostility, the film shows the brutal and meaningless side of war. People blindly looking after their own interests not thinking about the pain it is causing. The filmmakers don’t really take sides and are critical of both the British presence and the locals. I’m surprised anyone wanted to live in Belfast at all with the war zone environment. A time capsule, but also an ugly time capsule, so if you are sensitive to brutality, you may want to skip this one.
Rating 8/10

Straight Outta Compton (2015) (F. Gary Gray)
No wonder N.W.A wrote a song called F**k the police. In this film, the police harass and pin black people to the ground just for standing on the street minding their own business. Those scenes are the most powerful and memorable. Obviously the police misconduct is still happening in the 2010s which makes the film highly relevant.
The success of the band seems to be very instantaneous. One second they are composing the songs in the studio, the next moment the album is “taking the nation by storm”.
The concert with the police in the audience was the best scene, if only music could be as life changing as that today.
The second album by N.W.A. is famous for containing one of the first hip-hop beefs, when they dissed Ice Cube as a traitor. This aspect would become a marketing tool for other artists in years to follow. “We started out wit too much cargo. So I’m glad we got rid of Benedict Arnold”
Critics have a point that it’s a selective biopic, which means things such as female rap bands signed by the record producers, and Dr Dre’s alleged beating of women, are both omitted from the film. As Devin Faraci wrote in his review: “Of course by sanitizing the group, Straight Outta Compton sort of undermines the larger free speech issues surrounding them”.
Rating 7/10

The Tribe (2014) (Miroslav Slaboshpitsky)
Innovative Ukrainian drama. Takes place at a school for the deaf, and everything is in sign-language. At the start of the film we are informed there are no subtitles, Plays like a silent feature, so I got the gist of what’s happening. Those who can read sign-language obviously will understand more. Some parts are set in the seedy underworld of prostitution, and other scenes depict explicit violence, so it’s quite a harrowing experience. I’m surprised the girls agreed to be with the truckers, maybe they were threatened by the pimps. Group pressure and manipulation are key ingredients of the story. I don’t know if this is based on actual events. There is not much joy to be found, the only smile I remember is when the two girls are given T-shirts. Tough to shake the powerful images.
Rating 8/10

A War aka Krigen (2015) (Tobias Lindholm)
Denmark’s submission to run in the foreign language film Oscar race.
Realistic depiction of Danish soldiers in Afghanistan. You feel you are right there with them on patrol.
War is tough for all involved, and the film showcases how difficult it is to do a good job as a company commander when there is pressure and responsibility. The line between right and wrong is tricky to navigate.
We also follow the commander’s family in his absence. The scenes in Denmark with the mother and children go on too long, yet do humanize the characters, so we care about them later.
The film takes almost an hour to reach the main conflict, which frustrated me a bit. The last hour is gripping with things at stake.  It’s probably too meandering in the first hour to be classed a great film, but it’s very good. Leaves you with things to think about and discuss.
Rating 7.5/10

In the Heat of the Night (1967) (Norman Jewison)
Won 5 Oscars. Even though it’s a product of its time about racism in a hostile southern town, it still packs a punch and feels eerily relevant today. Shining a light on how dangerous it was to arrive as a black in that community. Memorable performances by Sidney Poiter and Rod Steiger and also a well-told murder mystery. A film that potentially could change your life and should be shown in schools and hopefully prevent kids from becoming racists.
Rating 8.5/10

White God (2014) (Kornél Mundruczó) (review)
Rating 8/10

Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) (Olivier Assayas) (review)
Rating 8/10

Mary Poppins (1964) (Robert Stevenson) (review)
Rating 7/10

Reviews of documentaries (part 3)

Reviews of documentaries (part 4)

Agree or disagree? Seen anything great during September? As always, comments are welcome

18 thoughts on “Viewing recap September

  1. Another good thing about In the Heat of the Night is the racism isn't just in one direction, either. Poitier's character isn't exactly walking around looking to become lifelong pals with the white people he meets.


  2. @Chip: Yes, on face value the film looks a bit one-dimensional, but there are subtleties to the characters. Poitier’s character is not a a flawless angel. he slaps someone for example.


  3. In the Heat of the Night is fantastic. Chip makes a great point about the racism working in both directions. It's great that Mr. Tibbs isn't perfect, though within the context of the film…and the era in which it was made, I'd hardly call the slap a flaw.


  4. @Wendell: Indeed, Chip made a good point about racism both ways. Whether Mr Tibbs should or should not have slapped him back is debatable. Let’s just say I find any form of violence unnecessary. In the heat of the moment of course anyone is capable of anger. With that amount of racism directed towards Mr Tibbs, I’m not surprised he would be a little racist towards whites. Agree it’s a great movie, and I’m tempted to watch the sequel They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970).


  5. You had a great month Chris! I love 'In the Heat of the Night.' What a wonderful film. Some of these I hadn't heard of before. I always love new discoveries.


  6. Great recap Chris! I skip doing one from Sept but I didn't see a lot of movies, maybe about 10-15, can't remember. But October will be a busy one w/ TCFF back. Straight Outta Compton is one I'm most curious to see from your list, no wonder that was a box office hit, it certainly hit the nerve w/ the American community given all the police brutality. I also love Clouds of Sils Maria, one of my fave from the MSPIFF last Spring.


  7. Thanks Ruth! Most of these films were good, although a couple of the documentaries I wouldn’t recommend.
    Straight Out of Compton sure did hit a nerve and a good piece of marketing releasing it now. I just ordered Compton which is Dr Dre’s soundtrack inspired by the movie.
    I also liked Clouds of Sils Maria, I was confused by her disappearance, but had a better appreciation after reading a bit afterwards. Have fun with TCFF.


  8. Looks like you saw some great films last month. I actually haven't seen any of them except for Mary Poppins, and that was many, many years ago. White God caught my eye when I saw the trailer a while back. Hopefully I can catch that soon.


  9. Eric @ The Warning Sign: It was a good month! White God is a hidden gem with a remarkable use of dogs in key scenes. Won a big award at Cannes but got overlooked for the Oscar foreign film category.


  10. I haven't seen any of your movies except Clouds of Sils Maria. I haven't seen Mary Poppins eventhough I already saw Saving Mr. Banks, I probably should already


  11. In the Heat of the Night is SO good. It's not a popular Best Picture-winner, but I think it's a fine choice, especially for that time period. Glad you liked '71. Based on his recent performances, Jack O'Connell is becoming one of my favorite young actors. Yeah, Straight Outta Compton is sanitized, but it's a very watchable biopic, which isn't always the case these days.


  12. @Josh: I watched In The Heat of The Night about 5 years ago. Wasn’t until the recent rewatch the greatness of the film revealed itself to me. I’m fine with it winning Best Picture and I think it’s a better movie than 12 Years a Slave.
    Jack O’Connell is a good actor, he has a bright future.
    I listened to Dr. Dre’s 2015 Compton album yesterday, which similar to the movie is entertaining yet sanitized.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s