The Big Issue : Edition 540
FILM 40 THE BIG ISSUE 30 JUN – 13 JUL 2017 If you missed the final act of Lady Macbeth, you’d presume this tale of female oppression on windswept moors is the spiritual sequel to Andrea Arnold’s stunning Wuthering Heights (2011). But in contrast to Arnold’s handheld camera and focus on the natural world, debut director William Oldroyd articulates domestic suffocation through symmetrical shots and a colour palette of muted blues. Katherine (Florence Pugh) is trapped in an arranged marriage to a sadistic and impotent older aristocrat, who absconds suddenly. Her affair with hired help Sebastian (Cosmo Jar vis) violates not only marriage mores but also those of class. Yet by the final act Katherine has become a kind of femme fatale worthy of her Shakespearian mantle, whose actions move beyond rebellion to something darker and more unsettling. Whether Katherine has internalised her own inhuman treatment or manifests some deeper feminine monstrosity is something this taciturn and uncannily static film refuses to pin down. REBECCA HARKINS-CROSS FIRST GIRL I LOVED Comedy and tragedy prove a timeless double-act in this evocative biopic from French director Roschdy Zem. At the turn of the 20th century, former Afro-Cuban slave Rafael (Omar Sy) – aka Chocolat – hams it up as a cannibal at a rural circus. There, consummate clown George Footit (James Thierrée) spots Chocolat’s potential as a partner in pantomime. Their routine soon has crowds at Paris’ Nouveau Cirque in stitches, as they expand the bounds of clowning...to a point: Chocolat must decide whether his success is worth sacrificing his personhood. Extravagant but melancholy, Monsieur Chocolat shows how La Belle Époque wasn’t necessarily so for those displaced by colonialism. Riotous physical comedy (buoyed by Thierrée, Charlie Chaplin’s grandson) collides with systemic racism. While slavery and hate crimes are integral to the narrative, the film is also reverent, enlightening – not to mention timely. As a centuries-old story that’s still palpably relevant, Monsieur Chocolat is bittersweet. AIMEE KNIGHT MONSIEUR CHOCOLAT LADY MACBETH BEFORE TRAVELLING TO Iceland this month, my impressions were mostly gleaned from Grímur Hákonarson’s Un Certain Regard-winning black comedy Rams (2015). The chilled hues and rocky plains that I’d presumed were aesthetic choices (reflecting the strained relationship between two warring brothers on neighbouring sheep farms), are actually everyday vistas in a country where glaciers and active volcanoes exist side by side. Iceland’s topography is at once otherworldly and uncannily familiar, and not just because Ben Stiller longboarded down the face of the ice-covered volcano Eyjafjallajökull in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013). Many blockbusters whose settings are unearthly or end-of-days have filmed here. The black beaches and sheer cliffs of the town of Vik are where Darren Aronofsky shot his batshit biblical epic Noah (2014). Here its dramatic scenery is refigured as sites of biblical ruin, its sea breeze mussing the luscious locks of Russell Crowe as the titular saviour. The similarly deranged post-apocalyptic sci-fi Oblivion (2013), where hell is figured as endlessly multiplying Tom Cruises, made use of the remote glacier Langjökull, and the eerie summer light where the country enters a kind of gloaming for four hours a night. Iceland also became the alien worlds of Prometheus (2012), the storm-stricken Eadu and planet Lah’mu in Rogue One (2016), and the lands beyond the wall in Game of Thrones. Next time you see a charging waterfall or an expansive glacier onscreen, chances are it’s the land of fire and ice, where winter is always coming. REBECCA HARKINS-CROSS > Film Editor Seventeen-year-old Anne (Dylan Gelula from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) has fallen completely in love with her school’s star softball player Sasha (Brianna Hildebrand from Deadpool). While Sasha is a driven athlete, Anne spends her days drinking cheap wine and hanging out with her BFF Clifton (Mateo Arias); but the girls’ connection is immediate. Unfortunately, Clifton thought his relationship with Anne was heading in another direction entirely. Writer-director Kerem Sanga often cuts away from a scene at a natural end point, only to return later to reveal what happened next. This staggered release of information adds important nuance to what is otherwise a fairly straightforward story of young love and the many ways it can go wrong. The performances are this film’s real strength, and the relationships come across as convincing and natural. Hurtful things are said and done, but there are no bad guys here; this depiction of young people trying to find their way is both tragic and triumphant. ANTHONY MORRIS CINEMA RELEASE STREAMING ICELAND: END-OF-DAYS CHIC.