|Les SILENCES DU PALAIS
|Le Gamin au vélo
|Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
|The Lives of Others
|Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
|Where Is the Friend's House?
|Withnail & I
|Sherman's March A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love in the South during an Era of Nuclear Weapons Prolifer
|Much Ado About Dying
Les SILENCES DU PALAIS
My friend Hanan Al-Shaykh invited me to see this film with her at the London Film Festival. Even though it’s a melancholy tale, it’s very beautiful and we felt strangely exhilarated after we’d seen it. We sat talking for hours after it ended, just wanting to hold on to the experience.
This is such a generous, loving film but also very funny. I loved the relationship between the two main characters. Apparently the Amal authorities didn’t like the film when it came out, but now there is a sign outside the town saying. “Welcome to Fucking Amal”. I hope to visit one day. When I visited Malmö, I felt very happy to be in the place where Moodysson is from.
Le Gamin au vélo
I went to see this film with my lovely housemate Colin. We had such an argument afterwards because he thought the scene when the boy visits his father at the restaurant and the father doesn’t want to see him was unrealistic. But I thought the scene was important and truthful. Then we watched 'Notting Hill' together and we argued again. This time, I said the film was bland and unrealistic and Colin got angry and called me a curmudgeon.
I’ve seen all Panahi’s fabulous films but this one even surpassed the others for me. I remember sitting in my cinema chair when the credits were rolling and just crying. I felt a mix of many emotions: gratitude to Panahi, anger and a kind of solidarity which is so comforting when you feel it.
The Lives of Others
I remember sitting on a bench outside the Screen on the Green after the film just wanting to stay in it. I loved the understated ending which was all the more powerful for its restraint. As I was sitting, I thought about how the power of film is that it can take you right into the lives of others and change your life because you are really experiencing something through another person. I wished that an angry, bitter person like my father could have watched this open-hearted film.
Where Is the Friend's House?
This film felt like a kind of meditation on true morality and how adults get bound up in dogma and the expectations of society. I would have loved to have seen this wise and subtle film when I was a child. It would have been a huge support. There is a shot where you just look out of a door into the darkness outside; it really expressed the loneliness of living as a child among remote adults who can’t really see you.
This is such a sweet, deceptively simple film. I admired the filmmaker’s intrepid spirit so much. The filmmaker is trying to achieve the seemingly impossible: a woman wanting to make a film in Saudi Arabia. She is like the girl in the film who wants to ride a bicycle. al Mansour had to direct all the outdoor scenes hiding in a van so that she wouldn’t be seen by the authorities. I was so pleased that the characters weren’t punished at the end of the film, which is normally what happens when women dare to transgress.
Withnail & I
I adore this wonderful romp of a film. When I first saw it, I laughed so much. It was a laugh of recognition and deep pleasure. I treasure most of the scenes. When I’m in the countryside, in stuffy places, sometimes I imagine that Withnail is with me. (I love the tea-shop scene: “We want the finest wines available to humanity and we want them here and we want them now!”) I watched it for the third time a few weeks ago and was struck by the sadness that underlies the whole film which I hadn’t picked up on so much before. For example, it hints at the end of an era of gentle marijuana and the beginning of the encroachment of hard drugs. It’s a deeply humane comedy.
Sherman's March A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love in the South during an Era of Nuclear Weapons Prolifer
I watched this film again a couple of years ago with my friend Simon. It was a hot day at the Quadrangle Film Festival [now Otherfield Film Festival] and we were all watching it in a tent. It’s a really long film so we thought we’d only watch the beginning but we were all transfixed and the film still felt fresh, funny and truthful. It was a groundbreaking film; the filmmaker got the money to make a film about General Sherman and ended up making a film about his doomed relationships.
Much Ado About Dying
This is a film about the filmmaker’s uncle’s last days. It’s a unique film because it’s unusually clear-sighted about death and ageing. It manages to balance tragedy and comedy because it’s made with great affection. All the festivals turned it down but the brave IDFA [International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam] loved it; it screened at their festival in November 2022.
These are films that have made a huge impression on me and that I remember vividly.