www.list.co.uk/film DRAMA 1 DAY (15) 101min ●●●●●
Billed as ‘Britain’s first hip hop musical, on paper 1 Day sounds like a do-gooder Guardian-reader’s community play, dramatising social issues to a soundtrack of urban beats and songs delivered in a semi- operatic style. That the result plays so freshly is largely due to the efforts of writer/director Penny Woolcock, following in the tradition of the courageous realism of her television work (Macbeth on the Estate, Tina Goes Shopping).
Newcomer Dylan Duffus offers a fluent and likeable performance as Flash, a Birmingham wide boy with a string of lovers and children in tow, and just one day to pay off a debt to another dealer who’s just come out of jail. Despite its painstakingly observed argot and grim sense of realism, 1 Day’s action encompasses a number of hip hop numbers, ably performed by a non-professional but enthusiastic cast.
There’s plenty of contradictions inherent in the material; Woolcock shoots the action scenes so vividly that the film’s sobering message risks being drowned out by the artfully choreographed gunfire. But the same stylisation also makes the exuberant musical scenes flow. Despite its street-roughness, 1 Day scores points by giving a strong and sympathetic voice to a social group rarely represented in UK cinema. (Eddie Harrison) ■ Selected release from Fri 6 Nov. See profile, page 46.
SATIRE/COMEDY THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS (15) 95min ●●●●●
Grant Heslov’s trippy satire is a fun if inconsequential experience that boasts a stellar cast in good form. Inspired by Jon Ronson’s non-fiction
book, the film ‘lifts the lid’ on a US military experiment to create ‘psychic soldiers/Jedi warriors’ as part of a New Earth Army designed to preach love, not war.
Stumbling upon this truer-than-you- think scenario is journalist Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor), whose investigations bring him into contact with Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), an ex- soldier who insists he has been re- activated for a new mission in Iraq. En route, Cassady reveals more about his training under hippy commander Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) and the slow corruption of the New Earth ideology.
Heslov’s debut feature, while
considerably lighter than Ronson’s eye- popping novel and by no means as probing, is nevertheless a slickly directed, sharply written and wittily performed crowd-pleaser. Clooney shines, Bridges recalls the laidback cool of The Dude and Kevin Spacey offers a wickedly sardonic nemesis. Heslov, meanwhile, competently juggles shifting time- frames, multiple locations, humour and drama to ensure a keen mix of silliness and intelligence. (Rob Carnevale) ■ General release from Fri 6 Nov.
ALSO RELEASED Paper Heart (PG) 87min ●●●●● Michael Cera’s star continues to rise in this likeable mockumentary which follows young Charlyne Yi as she embarks on a quest across America to make a documentary looking for answers to the eternal question of love and what it is. She meets scientists, bikers, romance novelists, and children. But it is only after meeting Cera that she begins to see the point of it all. Selected release from Fri 6 Nov.
Amelia (PG) 111min ●●●●● Mira Monsoon Wedding Nair’s biopic of of legendary aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart starring Hilary Swank (pictured) as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Nair goes for a low-key approach to this extraordinary life, which occasionally grates but is for the most part quite measured. Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor provide the love interest. General release from Fri 13 Nov. We Live in Public (15) 89min ●●●●● Dig director Ondi Timoner’s fascinating documentary portrait of Josh Harris – Warholian web pioneer and all round crazy man who has spent the last decade using the internet to experiment with the public’s relationship with intense surveillance. Selected release from Fri 13 Nov.
Starsuckers (12A) 103min ●●●●● Writer, producer and director Chris Taking Liberties Atkins’ documentary diatribe about the modern malaise that is celebrity culture is a lot of fun. Out now on selected release.
5–19 Nov 2009 THE LIST 47
DRAMA THE WHITE RIBBON (DAS WEIßE BAND) (15) 143min ●●●●●
Writer/director Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher, Hidden) mainlines the sentiments of fellow Austrians Alfred Adler (the psychiatrist who first formulated ideas of the inferiority complex) and novelist Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach (who wrote of her country folk: ‘We are so vain that we even care for the opinion of those we don’t care for.’) to create a withering portrait by default of pre-World War I village life in protestant northern Germany. When an unusual series of cruel events unravel in a small village, the
feudalism, cruelty and religious fundamentalism that bind the community are threatened. The narrator and local schoolteacher (Christian Friedel) tries to make sense of it all by carrying out some ineffectual investigations, but the baron (Ulrich Tukur), the sadistic pastor (Burghart Klaußner) and the pederast doctor (Rainer Bock) have their own problems and agendas. Also, shadowing his feeble efforts is unsettling teenager Klara (Maria-Victoria Dragus) and members of the children’s choir. Working on a far bigger canvas than he has before, Haneke’s ensemble drama depicts a very unhappy and nasty little community. The point, one supposes, is that it was the children of these repressed idiots who went on to empower and procreate for the Third Reich (in looks and by dubious supposition Klara is almost a prototype of the Hitler youth).
Boosted by Haneke regular Christian Berger’s amazing black and white
cinematography, The White Ribbon is a remarkable, multilayered achievement; one that will reward repeated viewings and linger long in the mind. Film of the year without a doubt, just go and see it. Please. (Paul Dale) ■ Selected release from Fri 13 Nov. See feature, page 26.