Monday, September 05, 2011

August Film Highlights

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Bobby Fischer Against the World (2011) Dir: Liz Garbus.

Fischer beat the Russian champion at chess during the height of the cold war, but began to lose his mind. A very disturbing documentary about a boy who turned to chess to escape his troubled upbringing, only for it to consume. Genius, it seems, really can have a terrible cost.


Gilda(1946) Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready, Joseph Calleia, Steven Geray. Dir: Charles Vidor.

A gambler's luck changes when he's hired by a casino owner, but then Gilda shows up. An odd mix of noir, psycho drama, romance and spy story - with music numbers. Feels like too many script cooks, but gets by on style, sexual chemistry and by being genuinely quite racy.


A Town Called Panic (2009) Jeanne Balibar ,Nicolas Buysse, Véronique Dumont, Bruce Ellison. Dir: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar.

Cowboy and Indian forget Horse’s birthday and accidentally order 50 million bricks before unleashing havoc. A bonkers stop-motion delight, one that takes you on a surreal and imaginative journey at startingly frenetic speed. There’s no logic to it, just enjoy the ride. Though not in English, the voices are hilarious.


King Kong (1933) Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong, Frank Reicher. Dir: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack.

A filmmaker travels to a lost island in hope of filming a legendary beast. Easy to see why this was a knockout in its day. Its sheer scale and the skill of its executed - the terrific animation and staggering sound, along with its sheer relentless brutality, are still breath-taking.


The Navigator (1924) Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Noble Johnson, Frederick Vroom. Dir: Buster Keaton, Donald Crisp.

A serious of unlikely events stands Buster and the women he loves are set adrift on board a cruise ship. Buster is a fop out of water in another typically charming comic caper, featuring some of his most ingeniously silly and surreal gags. The diving sequence is a particular delight.


Safety Last (1923) Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davies, Bill Strother, Noah Young. Dir: Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor.

A shop assistant’s publicity stunt goes array, and he ends up having to climb the store building himself. Influential silent, the one that introduced dramatic thrills into the comedy mix, and thanks to clever shooting, is still pretty hair-raising today. Crammed full of great gags, there's rarely a dull moment.


Whisper of the Heart(1995) Brittany Snow, David Gallagher, Ashley Tisdale, Martin Spanjers, Cary Elwes. Dir: Yoshifumi Kondo.

A young girl experiences the first stirrings of romance and discovers her creative calling. A lovely film about growing up and making life changing decisions. It uses the fantastical with such a light touch, it perfectly evokes a feeling of childhood imagination just on the cusp of adolescence. Very touching.


Arrietty (2011) Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland, Mark Strong, Olivia Colman. Dir: Hiromasa Yonebayashi.

Studio Ghibli does The Borrowers – a tiny girl and her family’s lives are threatened when she’s seen by a boy moving into the house above their hair. Ghibli’s most endearing heroine yet? Their attention to detail beautifully brings the vast, and sometimes hostile, miniature world to life. Another animated classic.