DVD Review: Ida

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Writers: Pawel Pawlikowski, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Starring: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik
Producers: Eric Abraham, Piotr Dzieciol, Ewa Puszczynska
Country: Poland/Denmark/France/UK
Running Time: 81 min
Year: 2013
BBFC Certificate: 12


Although born in Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski began his career making documentaries for British television, then made a name for himself directing a couple of highly regarded British films, Last Resort in 2000 and My Summer of Love in 2004. For his fifth feature, Ida, he chose to head back home to co-write and direct a film in Poland which delves into the country’s dark and turbulent past.

Ida is a drama set in the 1960’s which follows 18-year old Anna on a journey of self-discovery. An orphan who has lived in a convent for as long as she can remember, she is preparing to take her vows to become a nun and is advised to speak to her one known relative, her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), before making this huge decision. Wanda opens Anna’s eyes to the truth of her past, revealing that she is in fact called Ida and her Jewish parents were killed during the Nazi occupation. Following this discovery, Anna/Ida travels with Wanda to try to find her parents’ bodies and finally lay them to rest. Along the way, Wanda, a bitter yet modern woman, tries to break out Anna’s repressed desires. Wanda herself is filled with pain though and the journey they take may cleanse her soul too.

Would you like to know more…?

Friday One Sheet: Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella

This is how you get a teaser poster for an existing brand exactly right. Now coy images of pumpkins or mice sewing in the attic. This is marketing that cuts right to the heart of the story, get the princess in her sky-blue dress a bit of a rush to/from the ball with the iconic shoe right beside the title text. The only think that not perfect here is the lazy-typesetting, but you can’t always have everything.

By the way, this is the first I’m hearing about Kenneth Branagh directing a live action Cinderella movie for Disney. It’s a long way from Thor, but on second thought, not that long a way.

Mike Nichols – 1931 – 2014

Comedian, stage director, and one of Hollywood’s great film directors, Mike Nichols has passed away at 83. Blasting onto the movie scene with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in the mid 1960s, a film that was nominated for nearly all the major Oscars that year (it won for actress, best supporting actress and cinematography), and closing his career with the quite underrated Charlie Wilson’s War, Nicols made accessible satire a specialty, a feat that is not easy to do. Along with Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl, Closer, Biloxi Blues and the pure paycheck flick Day of the Dolphin, his career made fine use of movie stars, while always finding a way to the take ‘celebrity vehicle’ out of the equation.

Along with Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch, before him, Nicols’ voice is already missed as one of the most intelligent human-comedy directors Hollywood has ever employed.

The Guardian has more.

Soundtrack Of Your Life #7: Singles

If you’re done “making popcorn” with half the city, then maybe you have time for Episode 7.

Each episode, Corey Pierce welcomes a guest onto the show who has chosen a compilation or soundtrack that speaks to a memorable era of their life. The soundtrack will play underneath and serves as a springboard to discussion about the music itself, how it works within the film, and what was going on with their life at the time of its release.

“Where are the anthems for our youth? What happened to music that meant something? The Who at the Kingdome, or Kiss at the Coliseum… Where is the “Misty Mountain Hop,” where is the, is the “Smoke on the Water”… Where is the “Iron Man” of today?” For episode 7 Corey welcomes Row Three’s own Andrew James to propose that perhaps the answer to Cliff Poncier’s question is within his own film, the soundtrack to 1992’s Singles, a film whose music had more influence and legacy than the Cameron Crowe vehicle that made it possible. We reflect on the rise and fall of grunge and the highs and lows of being single in itself.

Follow Corey Pierce on Twitter at – @coreypierceart
Follow Andrew James on Twitter at @Andrew_James
Follow Soundtrack of Your Life on Twitter at @thisisyourOST

Blu-Ray Review: The Thief of Bagdad

Director: Raoul Walsh
Screenplay: Lotta Woods, Douglas Fairbanks, Achmed Abdullah (uncredited), James T. O’Donohoe (uncredited)
Starring: Douglas Fairbanks, Julanne Johnston, Snitz Edwards, Sôjin Kamiyama, Anna May Wong
Producer: Douglas Fairbanks
Country: USA
Running Time: 149 min
Year: 1924
BBFC Certificate: U


Douglas Fairbanks and his wife Mary Pickford were thought of as the king and queen of Hollywood back in the 1920’s. As well as finding great success as two of the earliest true movie stars (Pickford in particular is often thought as one of the very first), they set up United Artists (UA) alongside Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith in a bid to have more control over film production, away from the powerful commercial studios. Through UA they were able to create the films they wanted, hiring the best collaborators available to make the finest films they could. Indeed, UA were responsible for many of the most famous films of the era and beyond. The company in fact still produces films now, although they’ve been a bit thin on the ground during the last few years and the company is now in the hands of MGM.

Anyway, I won’t delve into the complicated history of UA, but with this pivotal move, Fairbanks showed he was clearly more than just an actor. He was passionate about film and would go to great lengths to produce work which met his high standards. A lot of his work, as with a disturbingly large number of films from the silent era, has been lost or forgotten. Even his most famous films such as Robin Hood, The Black Pirate and The Mark of Zorro haven’t been given a decent upgrade to modern home video formats (in the UK at least), only showing up on ropey independent releases from companies that have capitalised on their public domain status and plonked any old print onto a disc. Possibly Fairbanks’ most critically successful film (it didn’t totally win over audiences at the time), The Thief of Bagdad has finally been given the release it deserves in the UK though, with Eureka releasing it on dual format Blu-Ray and DVD as part of their prestigious Masters of Cinema series. I must admit, largely due to the poor distribution of his work in this country, I’ve never seen a Douglas Fairbanks film before, so I was very excited about checking this one out.

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: Selma

mlk

2012’s excellent Middle of Nowhere was made on a $200,000 budget and snagged director Ava DuVernay a Best Director Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Flash forward two years and with her latest feature Selma, she now she has a bigger budget ($22 million) and bigger star power backing her project (Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt) and, who knows, there may even be some more awards in her future.

Selma, fortunately, doesn’t go the traditional biopic route of following a historical figure from birth to death. Instead, as the title suggests, the film focuses on Martin Luther King, Jr. during a three-month stretch in 1965, with a focus on the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, climaxing with the singing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

It looks like DuVernay has lived up to the high expectations of her producers. The film looks stylish, the acting looks superb (a guaranteed Oscar nod for David Oyelowo who, by the looks of the trailer, has nailed the performance), and oh yeah… it’s a really fucking important story in the history of the United States that, upon inspection of the trailer, seems to have really captured the essence of the era.

The rest of the cast includes DCarmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Lorraine Toussaint, Common, Giovanni Ribisi, Omar Dorsey, Andre Holland, Colman Domingo, Wendell Pierce, Keith Stanfield, Stephan James, Alessandro Nivola, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tom Wilkinson, and Oprah Winfrey. Selma hits theaters on Christmas Day.

Check out the trailer. Leave your thoughts below.