I believe myself to be enchanted. I have certainly experienced cinema at its most effortlessly magical…
Studio Ghibli, that powerhouse of Japanese animation, stirred panic among certain cineastes back in 2014 when they announced that When Marnie Was Here would mark a temporary hiatus in production to coincide with the retirement of co-founder Hayao Miyazaki. Three years on, Miyazaki has thankfully resumed his position to direct one more feature – hoorah! In the meantime, to whet our appetites, Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle marks a excitingly potent co-production between Ghibli and European distributor Wild Bunch.
Of the five films to gain nomination in the category of Best Animated Feature in February’s Academy Awards, one only just gaining its UK release this week is Swiss-director Claude Barras’ My Life as a Courgette. An utterly delightful stop motion animation, with an older audience in mind, this is a micro-feature of mesmeric perfection. I left charmed, heartbroken and thoroughly alive.
Raw has in it the most terrifying scene you will see in 2017. A disturbing vignette in which shots disorientate, the soundtrack sickens and all captured in the camera’s frame represent a threat. Three words can describe the sequence and each one will indeed send a chill to the very root of your spine; be warned, they may even put you off from daring to enter your local screening at all: student house party. The nightmare is real and were these deafening drunken exploits not horrifying enough, the plot cascading around them concerns cannibalism. This is certainly an experience offering much to get your teeth into. Ahem.
Right from its establishing image, Elle shocks.
That the rape of the film’s protagonist, Michèle (Isabelle Huppert), is heard before seen – and in such a way that it could yet be consensual – addresses straight from the top the themes of complicity that will prove so directly challenging throughout the film. That this opening audio gasps over the name of its director, Paul Verhoeven, is equally telling.
The man who brought the world Basic Instinct is back after a decade’s hiatus with a bang.