By Anne Brodie
Three Thousand Years of Longing, an ambitious fable based on Persian myths stars Tilda Swinton as Alithea, a prim, self-sufficient, and intellectual seeker, a narratologist who studies “all the stories in human history”. She heads to Istanbul to speak at a story conference when a strangely out-of-focus small man in robes attempts to grab her luggage and then disappears. Her hosts take her to the hotel, joking that the little man was a Djin (In the Koran and Muslim tradition, a spirit capable of assuming human or animal form and exercising supernatural influence over people.) Alithea buys a small glass bottle at the market, takes it to the hotel to clean when it explodes into a giant Djinn (Idris Elba). He’s BIG, and demands that she make three wishes, so he can be free from the bottle, but she knows as a studier of stories, that wish-making never ends well and refuses. She speaks one of his ancient languages and he learns English (just like THAT) and they begin a philosophical journey on the merits and pitfalls of their lives, and he regales her with stories of Kings, Giantesses, wicked rulers, a female inventor who once freed him as they become closer. She takes him home to London in his bottle and their attraction grows, but she’s still not ready to free him. A fascinating story from, of all people, George Miller (three Mad Maxes and there’s another one coming!!!, Happy Feet, Babe: Pig in the City). There is a lot of talk, much of it interesting, vignettes of ancient myths, and fun special effects but the greatest special effect is the chemistry between the two “giants” of the screen Swinton and Elba. In theatres.
Javier Bardem skillfully brings to life a rich, complex, and maddeningly elusive character in The Good Boss scales manufacturer Blanco. He’s the benign dictator of his staff, keeping track of their lives and challenges in what seems a good-spirited manner. If someone’s in trouble, he takes them to a meal and listens, his brain click, click, clicking away, squirrelling away info that might be useful to him later on. If someone needs to be fired- twice in the course of the film – his fatherly poet-philosopher emerges as he soothes them into leaving. One (Óscar de la Fuente) sees through him and sets up a protest camp across the street from the factory and bellows abuse from his mega horn just as judges are expected from the local Best Business competition. Blanco’s not above having enemies beaten by loyal employees; this handsome, charming thug in a well-cut suit, is beloved by all and he puts the moves on a well-connected intern (Almudena Amor) whom his wife mentors, and they have an affair; he dumps her, and she turns on him. Bardem’s extraordinary performance allows us to understand his character by degrees – we are as charmed as anyone else initially. And Bardem keeps us in the palm of his hand as he crosses moral, racist and sexist lines again and again. And yet. Miraculous work, Mr. B! Writer-director Fernando León de Aranoa’s incredible character study has won 30 awards, and no wonder. In theatres.
Arden Cho plays Ingrid (named after Bergman)in Netflix series Partner Track is a first-generation Korean American and the first lawyer in her family. Her ambition knows no bounds. Unfortunately, no one else in her office’s ambition has bounds either, so it’s a dog-eat-dog, by any means necessary kind of workplace. Ingrid sleeps as law courses play on her phone, strangely, it works and she absorbs the info, at all times, she is “in motion” to build force as she competes with obnoxious colleagues for a junior partner title. She absorbs endless microaggressions each day, taken as a secretary, not invited to certain meetings between the men, and theft of her ideas, but with measured force stands up to prove herself. A new and attractive competitor arrives from London who gets her attention. He starts easy but soon he’s revealed as an enemy and besides, who has time to date with all-night sessions on the Sun Co. account? Ingrid thinks fast on her feet, for work, but not for herself so she’s alone with little hope of romance. A nice guy – a non-lawyer – takes her to a ball at Plaza Hotel and its magic until she’s called for an all-night work session. She knew going in it would be a difficult, demanding life but wasn’t prepared for its misogynist indignities. It’s upsetting that sexism and racism are alive today in the workplace we can’t look away. Look at the case of Bell firing Lisa LaFlamme. You’ll want to see if Ingrid makes it to the upper echelons, if her antagonists get theirs, if she can find someone to love, and find better office mates.
A creepy tale that sounds ripped from the headlines on Disney+ The Patient. Steve Carell plays psychiatrist Alan and Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson is Sam, a patient with very specific needs he feels aren’t being met. His problem? He’s a serial killer. He comes to therapy to deal with the issues he says stem from his father’s abuse and lays out what he’s trying to achieve. Alan senses that he is not being truthful and of course, he isn’t and informs him that he can’t continue to treat him if he isn’t willing to put his cards on the table. Cut to Alan waking up in a basement, chained to the floor. He can’t move to the bathroom, or the patio doors that are invitingly unlocked. In comes Sam with food and coffee for him, insisting they continue their sessions in this anonymous basement. Alan refuses, stating the danger he’s in makes it impossible, but Sam forces it. Sam’s mother, who knows exactly what’s going on, doesn’t approve but does nothing, comes to see Alan, and Sam drags a bound, screaming man into another basement room. Alan writes goodbye notes to his parents. Toldja this was creepy. Ten episodes, intriguingly only 25 – 30 minutes each, giving us small but powerful doses of this weirdo situation.
Amartya Bhattacharyya’s wonderfully imaginative and mostly black and white comedy Adieu, Godard now on TVOD is “our humble tribute to the master”. A remote Indian village that follows traditional rules is stuck. The married women are depressed, the children have few choices and the men have nothing to do but watch American porn together in Ananda’s (Choudhury Bikash Das) home. The local DVD store threatens to cut him off as he owes $30; he argues with the owner, grabs a double DVD, and runs home. One of the films is Jean-Luc Godard’s iconic black and white New Wave classic Breathless; he and the usuals watch and they’re totally annoyed because it’s not porn. But Ananda falls under its spell and challenges the men to use their brains and watch something different and learn something. “Thirty minutes in and all clothes are on!”, they cry. Meanwhile, Ananda’s educated daughter is seen kissing a young man in a haystack, and the story quickly grows as it passes through the village. And in technicolour flash forwards she tells his story to a disbelieving cinephile. Meanwhile, Ananda distracts from his daughter’s misconduct by initiating a film festival, five films by Godard. The entire village turns out and their reaction is completely off the charts. All plot and character elements pay tribute to Godard, and the ending, well, I’m speechless, but it fits. Co-stars Sudhashri Madhusmita, Dipanwit Dashmohapatra, and Abhishek Giri. In Odia with English Subtitles.
Kino Now celebrates Alfred Hitchcock‘s 123rd birthday with the release of eleven films by the Master of Suspense. Included are nine early classics, restored versions of Blackmail (1929), Hitchcock’s — and Britain’s — first sound film; the courtroom mystery Murder! (1930); the silent comedies Champagne and The Farmer’s Wife (1928); the romantic melodramas The Ring (1927) and The Manxman (1929); a stirring drama about the class conflict between two British families, The Skin Game (1931); the mystery thriller Number Seventeen (1932); and the madcap romantic adventure Rich and Strange (1931). Also available are two rare short films made by Hitchcock during World War II: Bon Voyage and Aventure Malgache (1944). What a treasure chest. Hitchcock had a sophisticated eye from the get-go and mastered the new medium of film in ways few have equalled. Personally, I think his early films far outpace his late career, better-known films, while carrying on his excellent legacy. Treat yo’self. https://kinonow.com/series/alfred-hitchcock
The third and final season of See is now available on AppleTV+. Jason Momoa’s Baba Voss continues his quest to save the world and the people he lives in a primitive society crippled by hundreds of years of blindness. Set in a brutal future where the blind, troubled population has had to reinvent life to survive, including waging perpetual war, fighting tribalism, extreme politics and chaos (sound familiar?), Voss may emerge its saviour. He vanquished his brother Edo last season and now seeks a new life in the forest, leaving his family behind to fend for themselves. News reaches him that a Trivantian scientist has created the ultimate weapon – with sight, a clear threat to all humanity- and he must return home to Paya to fight yet another war.
And a reminder if you’re not watching Bad Sisters on Apple TV+ what are you waiting for – an engraved invitation?