From Thursday onward, the silver screen will dominate Brighton for a fortnight and a bit, as its time for the city's annual film festival. The Duke of York's, his little sister at Komedia in the town centre and a number of other venues will once again host to a variety of the best, most interesting and most unusual that the cinematic arts have to offer. The line-up for this year's edition looks fantastic once again and I can't wait to discover new cinematic gems from across the globe. Beginning with the extremely exciting Birdman, which sees Michael Keaton return to his superhero origins, on opening night, I will try to catch and review as many of the presented films as possible, so keep your eyes peeled for new content on cine-jambalaya.
I am particularly looking forward to catching up with two films I unfortunately missed out on at the London Film Festival: The Tribe, a film told entirely in sign language, and the Almodóvar-produced comedy Wild Tales from Argentina. I won't be in town for the screening of Céline Sciamma's Girlhood, which was also very well received in the capital. Another highlight will surely be a screening of Sergei Parajanov's The Colour of the Pomegranates with a live musical accompaniment from Brighton-based group Juno Reactor. For now, I can suggest a handful of films I have been fortunate enough to see during my travels through cinema. There should be something for everybody among my five recommendations. See you at the cinema.
Fahrenheit 451 - 28-30 Nov, 8 pm at Pop Up @ Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Dystopian visions of the future are more fashionable than ever at the moment. By the time the screenings of Fahrenheit 451 come around, the latest installment of The Hunger Games-Franchise will have made approximately two gazillions in its opening week. Cine-City gives you the opportunity to discover a classic of the genre, which has lost none of its fascination. Directed by French New Wave-er Fraçois Truffaut (this is his only English-language feature), is set in an oppressive futuristic society. Fireman Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) is tasked with burning all the books, when he falls in love with an outlaw bookworm played by Julie Christie. If you like films like V for Vendetta or Equilibrium, you have to see this classic.
The opening twenty minutes of Peter Strickland's new feature play like a voyeuristic, fetishised sexual fantasy with palpable erotic tension between a submissive maid (Chiara D'Anna) and her uppity mistress (Sidse Babett Knudsen) in a wonderful, isolated mansion in the English countryside. Then, before you even notice it, the director completely subverts the dynamics of the relationship and asks fascinating questions about power, sex and sacrifice within a relationship. It's an on screen relationship unlike any you will have seen before. After this and Berberian Sound Studio, Strickland is clearly one of the most interesting filmmakers working in British cinema today. He will come to Brighton for a Q&A after the screening which is bound to be brilliant.
Love is Strange - 30 November, 6:30 pm at DOY
The title of Ira Sachs' latest film must not be taken entirely at face value. Love isn't strange; love is completely natural. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina star as a devoted gay-couple in the latter stages of their lives. After finally getting married in the joyous opening sequence, Ben and George, a couple of over 40 years, find themselves priced out of their New York flat. The film is a incredibly sweet portrait of these two people, who cannot cope without each other. The tempo is quite slow and the story doesn't really go anywhere, but the company of these two charismatic actors is more than enough to keep our attention. Sachs' work feels honest and passionate, which fills the audience with a certain calmness and an affectionate, warm feeling in the stomach.
Timbuktu - 1 December, 6:30 pm at DOY
Director Abderrahmane Sissako paints a beautifully pessimistic picture of his titular hometown in Mali. The city is ruled in terror by religious fundamentalists whose beliefs are full of vileness and contradictions. Music, laughter, cigarettes, even football have been banned, while the Jihadists simply take whatever they want. When one of them fancies a local girl, she is forced to marry him, despite the objections of her mother and the local cleric. Timbuktu may be explicitly political, but it is also an extremely moving film. Sissako is clearly a master of his craft and there is purpose in every single image. His film will leave you truly depressed about the situation in Mali.
Wild - 6 December, 6:30 pm at DOY
Wild is a conventional, but smart and surprisingly deep character study about addiction (sex and heroin), grief and loneliness featuring Reese Witherspoon's best performance in years. The original use of (very good) music stands out in particular. Read my full review here.
Have a look at the full Cine-City programme on their website