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7-Day Cinema Diet #17

7-Day Cinema Diet #17


Adam Marsh
QUAD Cinema Programmer

This week’s 7 Day Cinema Diet is not for the film viewer with no stamina. While there is 7 days worth of films here, one of those days is dedicated to Philippino director Lav Diaz, master of the long running time. Lav’s films alone account for over 21 hours of film this week. So cross your legs and get stuck in.

Alongside these epics we have classic Hitchcock, Ingrid Bergman, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, motor racing, crusading law suits, the most assassinated woman in the world and some Icelandic sheep.

Day 1 – MY5

The Kansan (1943)

Frontier drama about a drifter who stops off in a Kansa town, where he foils a raid by the notorious James gang and is subsequently made marshal. RKO leading man Richard Dix (noted for his appearance in the long running “Whistler” film series) heads up the production.

Churchill (2017)

Just six months before Gary Oldman portrayed the wartime leader in Darkest Hour, Brian Cox takes on the role. Ninety-six hours before the World War II invasion of Normandy, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill struggles with his severe reservations with Operation Overlord and his increasingly marginalized role in the war effort. With Miranda Richardson, John Slattery and James Purefoy as King George VI.

Elsa And Fred (2014)

After his daughter (Marcia Gay Harden) persuades him to move into a new apartment, aged widower Fred (Christopher Plummer) strikes up a friendship with his eccentric 74-year-old neighbour Elsa (Shirley MacLaine), who convinces him it's never too late to keep enjoying life. Although he seemed resigned to a miserable bedridden existence, Fred embraces Elsa's youthful enthusiasm as she introduces him to the path of life and entertains him with outlandish stories about her past life. But when he discovers Elsa's terminally ill, Fred decides to accompany her on the trip of her dreams to the eternal city of Rome to help her fulfil a lifelong ambition.

The Book Of Love (2014)

When Penny (Jessica Biel) the light of Henry’s (Jason Sudeikis) life, dies in a car crash, he puts everything on hold as he tries to come to terms with his loss. The New Orlean’s architect strikes up an unlikely relationship with teenage runaway Millie (Maisie Williams). With Mary Steenburgen and Paul Reiser.

Day 2 – BBC iPlayer

The 39 Steps (1935)

Classic Alfred Hitchcock mystery based on the novel by John Bucan. A man is pursued by the police for a murder he did not commit and by an international spy ring for information he does not possess. He finds himself fleeing across the desolate Scottish moors – handcuffed to a beautiful blonde.

Joan Of Arc (1948)

In the 15th century, France is a defeated and ruined nation after the Hundred Years’ War against England. 14 year old farm girl Joan Of Arc claims to hear voices from heaven asking her to lead God’s army against Orleans and crowning the weak Dauphin Charles VII as King of France. Ingrid Bergman stars in this historical epic.

Two Days, One Night (2014)

Liege, Belgium. Fragile Sandra (Marion Cotillard), urged on by her husband and a friend, has one weekend to reinstate her job by asking colleagues to forego a bonus and voter for her return instead. An acclaimed drama by the Dardennes built around a powerful lead performance.

The Ipcress File (1965)

Spy thriller in which intelligence agent Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) is plunged into the shabby and treacherous world of counter-espionage as he uncovers a bizarre brain drain among scientists. Based on the novel by Len Deighton.

Day 3 – BBC iPlayer

Mum’s List (2016)

The true story of Singe and Kate (Rafe Spall and Emilia Fox), a devoted married couple with two children whose lives are turned upside down when Kate becomes ill with terminal cancer. After Kate’s passing, Singe is left with a list she compiled for him during her final days – a list of important things to help her beloved husband create the best life possible for their two sons.

Storyville – United Skates (2018)

For years, roller-skating rinks have been a constant for African-American communities across the US, serving as a meeting ground, a place to have fun and an incubator of iconic hip-hop talents like Queen Latifah and N.W.A. When America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community of thousands battle in a racially changed environment to save an underground subculture – one that has remained undiscovered by the mainstream for generations, yet has given rise to some of the world’s greatest musical talent.

Storyville – The Underdog And The Battle For Kenya (2020)

Boniface “Softie” Meangi is determined to change Kenyan politics. Once an award-winning photographer specialising in raw shots of war and protest, he’s used to witnessing the violence that inevitably follows in the wake of yet another corrupt election, but now he’s in the middle of it: he’s a candidate, standing against state oppression and for a democracy that looks beyond tribal rivalries. This Storyville film relays what Mwangi is up against politically, while also showing us the cost of being that person who stands up and demands a fairer world. Boniface’s wife, Njeri, is unhappy with the sacrifice he’s making and the risks he takes. But if he doesn’t do it, who will?

Rush (2013)

The story of the rivalry between legendary F1 racing champions Niki Lauda and James Hunt, two charismatic drivers with entirely different approaches and personalities. Ron Howard (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13) directs Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth in this true life story.

Day 4 – All 4

She, A Chinese (2009)

Li Mei is a young Chinese woman, raised in a remote rural area, who longs for a new life. Her bold escape takes her first to urban Chongqing, China and a disastrous factory job. She soon heads out for London, and a marriage to an older man where her entrapment begins anew.

The Emperor’s New Clothes (2000)

The late Ian Holm plays both the exiled Napoleon, eager to return to glory, and the lowly sailor who takes his place in Jail, both of whose lives and ambitions take very unexpected turns. Director Alan Taylor (Palookaville) directs Holm, alongside Iben Hjejle (Mifune, High Fidelity), Tim McInnerny, Hugh Bonneville and Eddie Marsan.

Rams (2015)

In a secluded valley in Iceland, brothers Gummi and Kiddi live side by side, tending to their prized ancestral sheep. But a long-term grudge means that they haven’t spoken to each other for four decades, passing messages via the sheep dog. When a lethal ovine disease suddenly appears in the valley, the authorities move in to cull all of the livestock. But Gummi and Kiddi don’t give up easily and each brother tries to stave off the disasters in his own fashion: Kiddi by using his rifle and Gummi by using his wits. As the authorities close in the brothers will need to come together to save the special breed of sheep passed down for generations – and themselves – from extinction.

Sicilian Ghost Story (2017)

When her classmate vanishes and no adults seem bothered by his disappearance , a girl tries to find him. This fantasy-imbued drama blends the ghost story with echos of Italy’s Mafia past for a really effective film.

Day 5 – Mubi – Lav Diaz – Maestro of the Epic running time.

Melancholia (2008) – 450 mins

One for the marathon run time lovers out there. Lav Diaz, Philipino film director, who specialises in uber long running times. This 8 hour film won the Horizon’s award at the Venice Film Festival in 2008. It tells its story through three parts following a prostitute, a pimp and a nun who wander the countryside. It tells of the grief involved around the untold number of people who have disappeared in the Philippines over the years.

From What Is Before (2014) – 339 mins

The Philippines, 1972. Mysterious things are happening in a remote barrio. Wails are heard from the forest, cows are hacked to death, a man is found bleeding to death at the crossroad and houses are burned. Lav’s Golden Leopard winner in Locarno is an epic remembrance of a period of transition that marked the traumatic time of dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ rule. The films structure unfurls with slow power, growing increasingly complex, political and emotional over its five and a half hour story.

Storm Children, Book One (2014) – 143 mins

The Philippines is the most storm-battered country in the world. In 2013 Typhoon Yolanda, considered the strongest storm in history, struck the Philippines, leaving in its path apocalyptic destruction. A few months later, Lav Diaz visited Tacloban Island to film children’s lives in the aftermath. An infrequent documentary from Diaz is inbued with power and concentration with his trademark patient style.

Century Of Birthing (2011) – 359 mins

An artist struggles to finish his work. A storyline about a cult plays in his head: Fundamentalism will destroy the world. The artist’s muse is endangered by his process. Will he redeem her, in the end? Like some of the best 19th century novelists, Diaz is a genius at interweaving multiple stories to create a truly expanded canvas of characters, landscapes and social and political struggle. In this masterpiece, three strands oppose each other and then, in an impressive arc, fall into parallel.

Day 6 – Netflix

Monos (2019)

On a remote mountaintop, a rebel group of commandos perform military training exercises while watching over a prisoner (Julianne Nicholson) for a shadowy force known only as ‘The Organization’. After a series of unexpected events drives them deep into the jungle, fracturing their intricate bond, their mission slowly begins to collapse. Set against a stunningly beautiful but dangerous landscape, Alejandro Landes’ awe-inspiring film is a breathtakingly epic vision that will leave you both mesmerised and utterly gripped.

Atlantics (2019)

Arranged to marry a rich man, young Ada is crushed when her true love goes missing at sea during a migration attempt – until a miracle reunites them. Senegalese director Mati Diop rings this blend of romance, social commentary and ghost story to vibrant life.

Faces Places (2017)

The late French New Wave director Agnés Varda and muralist JR travel all across France, plastering giant portraits of people they encounter along the way. The penultimate film from masterfilmmaker Varda is shot through with her characteristic warmth and playfulness.

The Most Assassinated Woman In The World (2018)

In 1930s Paris. Paula Maxa is assassinated… every night on the stage of the Grand Guignol theatre. Famous for her gory death scenes on stage multiple times a day, real life actress Maxa is drawn into a mystery when a young journalist suspects the theatre is linked to a series of gruesome murders. After falling for Paula and learning of her painful past, he aims to save her from a mysterious killer.

Day 7 – Amazon Prime

The Kindergarten Teacher (2019)

Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as Lisa Spinelli, a kindergarten teacher and poet fed up with her career, her oblivious husband and teenage kids who largely ignore her. When she discovers that a five-year-old in her class my be a poetic prodigy, Lisa becomes fascinated and tries to protect him from neglectful parents. She soon finds herself risking her career and family to nurture his talent.

On The Basis Of Sex (2018)

The powerful and timely true story of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who led the fight against gender discrimination and blazed an unprecedented trail for equality. Felicity Jones (The Theory Of Everything) stars as Ginsburg alongside Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux and Kathy Bates.

Happy As Lazzaro (2018)

From Italian writer-director Alice Rohrwacher, Happy As Lazzaro follows a simple peasant whose sweet nature makes people mistake him for simple-minded, and his journey through an ever-changing modern world. Selected to compete for the Palme D’or at Cannes 2018 winning the best screenplay award.

Erin Brockovich (2001)

Erin Brockovich was never trained, or indeed meant to work in a lawyer’s office. Circumstances take this down-on-her-luck, twice-divorced mother of three into a legal practice. Here she discovers some legal files that don’t add up…On investigation she discovers an injustice, and decides, against the odds, to take on the bad guys on behalf of a poor and very ill community. The film nabbed Julia Robert her first and, so far, only Oscar.