Lets not quibble on the definition of Arthouse or Independent film. This is a list of some of the more unusual films released this year, and all were shown in our local Arthouse cinemas. There are some gems within!
15. Embrace of the Serpent – Beautifully shot, this is a film best seen in the cinema for the landscapes and visions of another world. Robert Dooley reviewed it in June.
“It is fitting that the film is based off of the real life diaries of German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg, as I was completely immersed in the gorgeous and striking visuals and compelling performances, forgetting at times I was sitting in a cinema seat and not plonked in the middle of the monochromatic jungle. This is a film that truly gets under your skin. Whether it’s colonialism, loneliness or the abandonment of one’s culture there is a real depth to the themes that flow naturally throughout. Embrace of the Serpent is an unforgettable cinematic journey.”
14. Men & Chicken – Quite possibly the oddest film on the list, this is a Danish film that tells the story of two brothers and their search for the real family. Fran Winston reviewed it in July.
“That aside this is a solid movie with a lot of heart, humour and gravitas. Director Jensen also wrote this and despite the rather heavy moralistic message near the end, on the whole he keeps it just the right side of heavy. I did feel that a few of the pivotal moments got lost in translation but I can live with that. If you fancy something a bit deeper than a CGI blockbuster you could do worse than check this out.”
13. A Bigger Splash – The story of what ageing rock stars do in their time off. It’s worth seeing for Ralph Fiennes alone! David Turpin reviewed it in February.
“Apart from the central quartet, the ever-lovely Aurore Clément makes the most of a small role, while Corrado Guzzanti leans all the way into parody as the local Carabinieri. An attempt to draw the plight of illegal migrants into the story promises a sliver of harsh realism, but it hovers around the periphery, leaving the film’s glamorously soapy bubble largely un-pricked. Perhaps this is for the best – like his characters, Guadagnino deals mainly in ravishing surfaces, and is content to leave the story’s depths implicit, and tantalisingly unexplored. The title, in that respect, is entirely apt – the film is a big splash, rather than a deep dive. The best approach is simply to enjoy.”
12. Life, Animated – A beautiful documentary about a young boy with Autism whose only connection to the world is through Disney films. Lisa Jewell reviewed it earlier this month (Dec 2016)
It’s an emotionally affecting film, without being mawkish, because it wears its heart on its sleeve and doesn’t gloss over the realities of autism and dependency. Life isn’t easy for Owen or his family but by the end of the film, you realise that the dreams and hopes for him were never crushed – they just had to change to new ones.
11. A War – A film largely ignored this year, but one we really liked. Another Danish film, this is a tale of War and its affects on the soldiers and their families back home. Frank L reviewed it in January.
“Lindholm has created a film which without finger wagging or jingoism highlights some of the consequences of war on a soldier and his family. Claus is a professional soldier who, as a civilian, is a good father. There are rules which apply to conflicts which need to be followed and if they are not followed it is possible that the consequences for an upright soldier like Claus can be life changing. Politicians and all citizens advocating intervention in foreign wars would be well advised to watch this intelligent film. There are no swashbuckling heroes. Claus is a regular guy. He has a fine wife in Maria. Lindholm places Claus and his family in the reality of war in a foreign land with calmness, judgement and concern.”