Auschwitz, Autumn, 1944. Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig) is a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner and member of the Sonderkommando, one of the cursed work gangs selected by the Nazi genocide machine to assist in the industrial slaughter of undesirables and perceived enemies of their genocidal regime.
THE 59TH BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FULL 2015 PROGRAMME …
The 1967 Cannes Grand Prix winner Blowup was prestigious director Michelangelo Antonioni’s first foray into English, thanks to a deal struck with MGM by producer Carlo Ponti, who contracted the director to do three of them: this one, Zabriskie Point, and The Passenger. While this is clearly the best of that trio (though The Passenger has some merit), in the great Antonioni’s career it feels like a tangential experiment more than a fully realized piece of art.
In 1853, Solomon Northup published his memoir 12 Years A Slave, a story of how a black man born free in New York was kidnapped, sold into slavery, and for a dozen years worked on various plantations around Louisiana just before the American Civil War. Acclaimed British artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen has now brought this extraordinary tale to the big screen, following his physically harrowing films Hunger and Shame, in what is more than a mere film but a cultural milestone in the representation of slavery, a major work that is spearing in its intensity, incandescent in its soul.
Poor Llewyn Davis is not at a good point in his life. In February of 1961, he is a struggling, bearded bohemian shivering through a frosty Greenwich Village, a folk musician seeking the next gig just to keep the wolf from the door. With few possessions other than the fraying clothes on his back and his trusty guitar, he relies on the charity of others to keep a temporary roof over his head, oscillating from staying with two wedded musical companions in the tight-knit folk scene, Jean (Carey Mulligan, deliciously spiteful) and Jim Berkey (Justin Timberlake, polished) and the middle-class Gorfiens , the wealthy, perky parents of Llewyn’s musical partner, revealed to have committed suicide a few months earlier. Davis is a man scorned, sneering at others and certain of his superior musical skills. He’s not the most likable sort, as his futile attempts to escape the confines of his self-imposed cage make for a colourfully arranged period crooner.
The Oscar-nominated director and writer of last year’s potent Wall Steet drama Margin Call has circumnavigated the perils of sophomore filmmaking with All Is Lost. This is J.C. Chandor’s remarkable nautical thriller, plunging its audience into a whirlpool nightmare scenario. In a solo role, Robert Redford is a nameless figure, a stoic seaman sailing through the Pacific roughly 1,700 miles from civilisation before being jolted awake after an abandoned cargo container ruptures a yawning gape in his modest single-berth schooner.
Venerable Woody Grant (a grizzled Bruce Dern) has a singular purpose in mind, to get from his adopted Montana home to neighbouring Nebraska to collect a million-dollar cheque that a suspiciously speculative postal disclaimer has promised to honour. Elderly and suffering with decaying mental functions, Woody clearly can’t see through the marketing scam, and his wife Kate (June Squibb) and son David (Will Forte) grow increasingly exasperated at his dangerous footbound expeditions before arriving at a mutual solution: