Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)

TERENCE DAVIES Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.  United Kingdom/West Germany, 1988.  British Film Institute, Channel Four Films, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen.  Screenplay by Terence Davies.  Cinematography by William Diver, Patrick Duval.  Produced by Jennifer Howarth.  Production Design by Jocelyn James, Miki Van Zwanenberg.  Costume Design by Monica Howe.  Film Editing by William Diver.  Toronto International Film Festival 1988. Terence Davies follows three celebrated shorts that touched…

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Let’s Get Lost

BBB.5 (out of 5) Bruce Weber spent months following Chet Baker, one of the most successful and venerated trumpet players in the history of jazz music, throughout a number of performances around the world for this slow-moving but thoughtful documentary.  Shot beautifully in black and white (likely dictating the style for Madonna’s Truth or Dare three years…

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The Navigator: A Mediaeval Odyssey

BBBB (out of 5) Startling, unique science-fiction film has a terrific story and excellent direction by Vincent Ward. A community in fourteenth-century Scotland is the only village in the country to have been spared the ravages of the Black Plague thus far. Fearing that it is on its way to them as well, the villagers decide to…

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Earth Girls Are Easy

BB.5 (out of 5) The candy-coloured future of Julien Temple’s film is a strange cross between 1950s drive-in heaven and funky eighties pop vibrancy.  Geena Davis plays a manicurist who is about to marry a doctor whom she doesn’t know has been knocking knees with another woman. Luckily, three aliens have just crash-landed in her backyard…

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Georgia (1988)

BB.5 (out of 5) Judy Davis is excellent in a double role as a straight-laced attorney investigating the years-old accidental drowning of her wilder, photographer mother (also Davis). Her snooping around into her mother’s personal life leads to finding out things she never knew out about her, including things she’s not sure she ever wanted to…

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Madame Sousatzka

BBB (out of 5) An overdone performance by Shirley MacLaine almost ruins this intimate little drama, but it’s still worth enjoying. She plays an eccentric piano teacher living in London whose star pupil (Navin Chowdhry) is a prodigy in the making. The boy’s single mother (Shabana Azmi) wants him to immediately hit the concert world and…

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The Lair Of The White Worm

B (out of 5) An English village that celebrates the mythical slaying of a dragon gets the surprise of its life when it turns out that the beast still lives among its inhabitants. Landed gentry-man Hugh Grant and visiting archaeologist Peter Capaldi team up with two farm girls (Catherine Oxenberg, Sammi Davis) after it becomes…

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The Last Of England

BBBBB (out of 5) In the oeuvre of Derek Jarman’s experimental works, this fine work of art stands out as a masterpiece. It has no discernible plot, but is a collection of visually poetic images that describe Jarman’s take on Thatcherism and what it has done to England. Using home movie footage, homoerotic imagery and,…

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Apartment Zero

BB.5 (out of 5) Colin Firth plays the owner of a failing movie theatre in Buenos Aires who decides that it would be economically wise to take in a roommate. What he gets is handsome and charming Hart Bochner, a devilishly smooth man who wins over other residents in Firth’s building while arousing suspicion in…

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Chocolat (1988)

BBBB (out of 5) The opening chapter of Claire Denis’ fascinating film career is this excellent drama that examines French colonialism in Africa through a young woman’s memory. France Dalens (Mireille Perrier) travels to Cameroon to revisit the place where she grew up, flashing back to her childhood when she lived with her colonial officer…

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Dead Ringers

BBBB (out of 5) The best example of David Cronenberg’s combination of kinky visual style and psychological exploration is this fascinating drama based on Bari Wood’s fact-based novel Twins (which was the film’s original title until producers heard about the upcoming Danny DeVito/Arnold Schwarzenegger project). Two identical twin brothers (both played to creepy perfection by…

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The Cry Of Reason: Beyers Naude – An Afrikaner Speaks Out

BBBB (out of 5) Born in 1915 into relative privilege in a white-supremacist South Africa, Beyers Naudé was the son of an Afrikaner cleric who went on to become a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. He was also a member of the Broederbund, the male secret society that was a key force behind the…

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