BFI March Listings

Now that Moonlight has rightfully enjoyed it’s moment in the awards season spotlight, it seems highly appropriate that the BFI Southbank is bringing us a month jam packed with screenings and events celebrating diversity in cinema.

The first half of March sees the BFI saluting women in film, both on screen and behind the lens, in honour of  International Women’s Day. The presence of influential females can be felt throughout the majority of the BFI’s schedule, from this month’s previews, led by the peerless Isabelle Huppert starring in Paul Verhoeven’s much vaunted new film Elle (March 2nd), to the Audience Choice screening on March 12th, where Ripley’s Alien (The Director’s Cut) won the vote against Katniss and The Hunger Games in the battle of the cinematic heroines.

Image result for ripley alien

Spearheading the festival of femininity is a retrospective of Kelly Reichardt, one of America’s foremost independent film-makers, which sees screenings and discussions of her previous works, and also includes this month’s main new release, Reichardt’s latest film, Other Women. On general release from Friday 3rd with the first showing featuring an introduction by the director herself, the film stars the triumvirate of Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart and is already garnering serious praise.

Other highlights include a preview screening of Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper, which divided critics at Cannes but nevertheless won the the best director award; a Q&A session with highly respected news journalist Katie Adie; and Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, the first ever feature length documentary about the indomitable entertainer and activist.

For those looking for some slightly more testosterone led entertainment, the BFI also has a celebration of the career of the highly influential but largely unheralded French director Jacques Becker; screenings of  classic films such as Roman Polanski’s Chinatown and Michael Mann’s Heat; and, in a rare treat (unfortunately for members only), Simon Pegg introduces a showing of the Coen Brothers 1987 screwball caper Raising Arizona.

Image result for Raising arizona

The second half of March is dedicated to BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival, which runs from the 16th to 26th. Now in it’s 31st year, the festival showcases the best of LGBT cinema from around the globe, with a wide range of screenings, talks and events exhibiting the past, present and future of Queer Cinema.

The festival offers another chance to see the newly crowned Best Picture Winner Moonlight on the big screen, as well as other highlights including Oldboy and Stoker director Park Chan-wook’s new film The Handmaiden (based on Sarah Waters novel Fingersmith) and a glorious sing-a-long screening of Marilyn Monroe’s musical masterpiece Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on Monday the 20th.

 As ever, please consult the BFI Southbank website for more dates, time and further information on the vast array of events happening in March.

GLOW – Brand New Trailer & Clips!

When there are no more new ideas to think of, it is time to look back and plunder the past for whatever you can carry. Such is the case with Netflix and their revival of several TV series, which finished long before the streaming service was even born.

The latest show to attempt to rise from the ashes is the 1980’s series GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) starring Alison Brie and created by Jenji Kohan.

The trailer is a fantastic look at female wrestling with a hilarious acting by Brie.

Who knows how the series will turn out, but going by Netflix’s other reboots, there is a lot of promise for the show.

GLOW is available to stream on Netflix on June 23rd!

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Review

by Ren Zelen

Spoilers Ahead

Like the Greek myth that inspired the title, Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest feature, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, concerns itself with the consequences of transgression and the meting out of justice. The film is being touted as a darkly comedic thriller, it presents a scenario that becomes increasingly, insidiously unnerving.

The plot concerns Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) a respected cardiologist and surgeon. He has a stable, contented, successful life with an intelligent and attractive wife named Anna (Nicole Kidman), – a noted ophthalmologist. They have two children—15-year-old daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and 12-year-old son Bob (Sunny Suljic).

Image result for the killing of a sacred deer

Surgeon Steven has befriended a 16-year-old boy named Martin (Barry Keoghan) whom he meets at a local diner, or down by the river, apparently just for a chat. Yet there is something unnatural about their relationship. Martin begins to turn up at inappropriate times in the hospital where Steven works or appears to hang around the car-park watching his comings and goings. The weirdness isn’t entirely on Martin’s side – when he shows up at the hospital for no reason, Steven lies and passes him off to his surprised colleagues as a classmate of his daughter’s.

Steven gives Martin inappropriately expensive presents and then even invites him to his home in an affluent neighbourhood, so he can meet and socialize with his family. Martin becomes friends with Steven’s kids, and inveigles himself into the house by becoming a secret boyfriend to naïve teenager Kim.

Martin returns the favour by inviting the surgeon to his humble home to have dinner with his single mom (Alicia Silverstone) and presses him to stay for the evening, soon leaving the adults alone together. Despite having met Steven’s wife and children, Martin expresses his approval of his mother’s attempted seduction.

A dark undercurrent constantly runs alongside seemingly mundane events. Everyone is impeccably polite, although inappropriate questions or unsolicited confessions of personal details often puncture this veneer – it’s a discomforting method of establishing intimacy between characters and one which provokes awkward laughter. Lanthimos’s trademarks of deadpan dialogue and banal behaviour are utilized to create an atmosphere of mounting discomfort and oddly repressed sexual energy.

It is revealed that Martin is the son of a man who died on Steven’s operating table a few years ago and it becomes clear that their relationship is based on guilt. Exactly what happened in the operating theatre on that day remains unclear. Lanthimos keeps all motivations vague.

Then one day, Steven and Anna’s son Bob can’t get out of bed. His legs are paralyzed, and he is rushed to hospital by his panicked parents. Steven’s colleagues cannot find anything to explain the paralysis, physical and neurological test remain normal, but then Martin turns up in the hospital canteen and demands that Steven meet with him.

There, to Steven’s incredulity, Martin matter-of-factly explains that it is, “that critical moment we both knew would come” – Karma has caught up with the doctor, and because he did not do what was right regarding Martin’s father, an innocent person must now pay the price. Steven must sacrifice one of his family to make amends, or suffer an even more terrible retribution.

We have witnessed Martin’s disturbingly stalker-like behaviour and now we see Steven presented with a heart-breaking dilemma – we empathise with his tragic situation – but the truth is not so simple. We don’t yet have the whole story of Steven’s transgression. Along with Anna, we have to discover the full facts surrounding past mistakes.

What follows creates several shifts in perspective. Despite Steven’s outward show of authority, assurance and success, he is a coward, refusing to take responsibility for his past actions, just as he now refuses to make the inescapable decision. Instead he remains in angry denial and retreats into violence, until he has no choice but to accept that Martin’s accusations are justified and his predictions are coming true. The scales of justice must be balanced.

Image result for the killing of a sacred deer

As in his previous film, The Lobster, Lanthimos uses metaphor to illuminate human nature and its failings. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, working alongside his regular cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis and co-writer Efthimis Filippou, Lanthimos reveals his themes – Steven has played god, but the illusion of his patriarchal power is revealed as his wife makes alternate decisions and he is forced to pay for his hubris and denial. Within narrative twists Lanthimos plays with the conflict between science and the supernatural.

Farrell and Kidman convey the sense of a subtext hidden in mundane language and action, and of a gradually building tension as their well-regulated world collapses. As Farrell has distanced himself from his earlier alpha-male roles, his performances have become increasingly interesting. The most striking character however, is Barry Keoghan’s unruffled and subtly unsettling portrayal of Martin – victim and villain.

During the film we learn that one of the characters once wrote an essay on Iphigenia, the Greek myth that centres on the killing of a sacred deer by leader Agamemnon, and the terrible punishment for his transgression. Although Yorgos Lanthimos’s story takes place in a modern world of bright, clean hospitals and orderly, elegant homes, it has been pointed out that The Killing of a Sacred Deer might be seen as the latest film in a so-called ‘Greek Weird Wave’, which looks to the dramatic traditions of ancient Greece and tales of flawed characters confronted with impossible decisions and devastating choices.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is out on DVD & Blu-Ray!