The Top World Cinema Releases Of 2011, 30-26
The fifth part sees us countdown from 30-26, and includes Javier Bardem’s towering, Oscar-nominated performance in Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu’s (Amores Perros, 21 Grams) draining drama Biutiful. The film tells the story of a man who struggles to reconcile fatherhood, love, spirituality, crime, guilt and mortality amidst the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona.
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu | Released: 16th May 2011 (DVD/Blu-ray)
“It’s a bleak picture, stirring and emotional, whilst carrying a fantastical, supernatural element. Javier Bardem is sensational in what is arguably the finest performance of his career.” (Stefan Pape)
What the PR said: Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a man with a bright side and a dark side. On the one hand, a caring father, strong but affectionate towards his two children, he struggles to maintain a healthy relationship with their mother, Marambra (Maricel Álvarez), despite her problems with alcohol and instability. But Uxbal is also a criminal who oversees a small underground empire alongside his impulsive brother Tito (Eduard Fernández) and fellow crime boss Hai. Uxbal’s dealings range from drugs to construction, but unlike his partners, he tries to treat those around him with dignity, even as he trades in human misery.
Uxbal’s precarious world begins to collapse when he’s diagnosed with a serious illness and told he has only a few weeks left to live; he comes to consider what his life will mean for the legacy he leaves his children, and sets about trying to make a better life for them before he departs.
What we said: Even though the notion of all-pervasive misery that dominates the film is, at times, hard to watch, Biutiful manages to evade the stigma of melodrama as it excels in its performances, stunning cinematography and well-developed characters.
Director: Jason Eisener | Released: 1st August 2011 (DVD/Blu-ray)
“It is brash, it is relentless, it is valiantly reminiscent of old B-movie horror flicks, and it is stylistically adapted to pay homage to the genre. Hobo With A Shotgun is not for everyone, but those who ‘get it’ will see that its cringe-worthy humour, embarrassingly awful scenarios and exceptionally bright gore splatterings are all part of the package.” (Natalie Meziani)
What the PR said: It began as an award-winning ‘fake’ Grindhouse trailer that embodied the genre far more successfully than anything produced by Quentin Tarantino (Death Proof) and Robert Rodriguez (Planet Terror) and became an internet sensation via YouTube. Now, Hobo With A Shotgun, director Jason Eisener’s affectionate and remarkably authentic tribute to the exploitation movies of the 1970s and ‘80s, is a full-on, no-holds-barred, kick-ass movie.
When an ageing Hobo (Rutger Hauer) jumps from a freight car in a new city hoping for a fresh start in life, he soon realises he has well and truly reached the end of the line. He finds himself trapped in an urban hell, an anarchic world overrun by murderers, rapists, paedophiles, petty crooks, prostitutes and corrupt cops. Reigning supreme over them all is the city’s crime boss, Drake (Brian Downey), and his two insanely sadistic sons, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman).
All the Hobo wants is to be able to afford to buy a second-hand lawn mower from the local pawnshop, start his own small business and make the city a more beautiful place. But a run-in with Slick and Ivan, while trying to rescue pretty hooker-in-distress Abby (Molly Dunsworth), changes all that. Pushed beyond his limits, he decides to arm himself and go about changing things in an entirely different way to mowing lawns.
An unmissable tour-de-force of gratuitous violence, gore and bloody mayhem.
What we said: As long as you’re fully aware that the film’s brilliance lies within its vulgar mockery, it will be clear that there is a glittering success of a production going on here. From each cringe-worthy one-liner to each blood-spattered stretch of pavement, this is one impeccable replica brimming with sadistic energy and non-stop dark humour.
Director: Mamoru Hosada | Released: 28th March 2011 (DVD/Blu-ray)
“Madhouse had a task ahead of them to make something as good as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, but, somehow, they managed it. Summer Wars isn’t just an imaginative take on cyberspace filled with unique and interesting characters, it’s also a heart-warming tale of family bonds and an interesting commentary on how technology dependant the world has become.” (Alex Jones)
What the PR said: From Mamoru Hosoda, the visionary director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time comes a brand new, award-winning animated feature, Summer Wars – the story of an ordinary family forced to go to extraordinary lengths to avert an impending cyber-apocalypse.
Summer Wars was the winner of the 2010 Japan Academy Prize for Animation Of The Year, the 2010 Japan Media Arts Festival’s Animation Division Grand Prize, the Anaheim International Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for the prestigious Golden Leopard award at the Locarno International Film Festival.
Kenji Koiso is your typical teenage misfit. He’s good at maths, bad with girls, and spends most of his time hanging out in the all-powerful, online community known as OZ. His second life is the only life he has until the hottest girl at school, Natsuki Shinhara, hijacks him for a starring role as a fake fiancé at a family reunion to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday.
Things only get stranger from there. A late-night email containing a cryptic mathematical riddle leads to the unleashing of a rogue Artificial Intelligence agent intent on using the virtual word of OZ to destroy the real world.
As true Armageddon looms on the horizon, Kenji and Natsuki’s family must set aside their differences and band together to save the worlds they inhabit, both real and virtual.
What we said: With unparalleled imagination, visuals that are almost second to none and a powerful and heart-warming story, Summer Wars is a spectacle that truly has to be seen to be believed. With the potential to rival even Studio Ghibli’s masterworks, it is surely to be a film that will go down as one of anime’s modern greats.
Director: Luc Cote & Patricio Henriquez | Released: 7th November 2011 (DVD)
“Luce Cote and Patricio Henriquez’s hard-hitting documentary delivers a searing indictment of what has gone on behind closed doors inside the Guantanamo Bay detention centre… Regardless of Omar Khadr’s innocence or guilt, the psychological cruelty that was inflicted on him is shocking to watch.” (James Garner)
What the PR said: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo is a documentary based on security camera footage from the Guantánamo Bay prison. This encounter between a team of Canadian intelligence agents and a child detainee in Guantánamo has never before been seen.
Based on seven hours of video footage recently declassified by the Canadian courts, this documentary delves into the unfolding high-stakes game of cat and mouse between captor and captive over a four day period. Maintaining the surveillance camera style, this film analyzes the political, legal and scientific aspects of a forced dialogue.
What we said: 4 Days Inside Guantanamo is a documentary that demands to be seen by anybody who claims to be interested in world affairs. Through the story of one child, it offers a glimpse of the depths that powerful political elites will go to in order to maintain dominance.
Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun | Released: 5th September 2011 (DVD)
“Not only is A Screaming Man my favourite Chadian film of the year, but also my favourite in world cinema. It’s a terribly gritty and desolate feature. The lead performance is fantastic, as it that of Adam’s son Abdel. It’s minimalist and thought-provoking, as this sombre production is one of the more affecting and distressing of the year, and one that isn’t easy to forget or shrug off after having seen it. In fact, six months on and I’m still struggling.” (Stefan Pape)
What the PR said: Drama set in modern-day Chad.
Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) is a one-time swimming champion who now, in his mid-fifties, works as swimming pool manager at a hotel. His life is turned upside down when the hotel is taken over by new owners who make Adam redundant and give the job to his son Abdel (Dioucounda Koma). Meanwhile, the country is gripped by civil war as the government comes under attack from rebel forces and all civilians are expected to contribute to the war effort.
Humiliated, resentful and penniless, Adam makes a deal with the leader of the local resistance movement that he will live to regret.
What we said: A Screaming Man is captivating and contemplative film, thanks largely to the dignified performance of its protagonist. Despite its shortcomings, it manages to capture the inner struggles of one man in relation to the wider of context of Chad as a whole in a way that is impressive.
Check back with us tomorrow when we will be counting down from 25-21, and you can check out every part of this year’s countdown here.
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