‘The Colony’

War, climate change and pandemics made Earth uninhabitable. The wealthy escaped to settle on the distant planet of Kelper 209. But infertility has resulted in the need to explore whether a return is possible. Contact with the first mission was lost: Ulysses 2 is damaged but Blake (Nora Arnezeder – Safe House, The Words) finds herself having to make the decision that will impact on the future of the people living almost hand to mouth on Earth.

A wet, fog-enshrouded wasteland initially appears unwelcoming, confirmed by the basic instincts of the almost tribal inhabitants. Hunters and gatherers, they live in fear of another settlement whose raids see the kidnapping of female children. As Blake follows the trail, a few too many revelations are revealed.

A claustrophobic, environmental science fiction aesthetic bodes well for director Tim Fehlbaum (Hell). But the multiplicity of narratives and muddied visuals eventually prove to be as alienating as Blake is to the locals.

Rating: 44%


No – not the Swiss German spelling for alloys (a mixed element of metals). Aloys (Alois) is the name of the lonely, recently bereaved central character in writer/director Tobias Nölle’s strange 2016 feature debut.

A partner with his father in a small, localised private investigator business, Aloys (Georg Friedrich – The Piano Teacher, Bright Nights) must come to terms with his father’s death. Meeting Vera (Tilde von Overbeck) introduces him to the bizarre world of ‘telephone walking’ resulting in an interweaving of the everyday with dreams, imagination and psychological desires.

Gloomy, off-kilter with Aloys obsessing over his work and connecting with people only through his camcorder, the film is a strange hybrid of drab reality and surreal fantasy. It’s fundamentally dull and unengaging. (An addendum should be added that some think Aloys is a minor masterpiece).

Rating: 25%

‘Three Colours: Red’

Third and final chapter in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s trilogy following the tricoleur of the French flag and the concept of liberté (blue), egalité (white), fraternité (red). 

Having accidentally injured his dog, Valentine (Irène Jacob The Double Life of Veronique, Au revoir les enfants), living alone in Geneva, meets a retired judge. A successful model, she is shocked when she discovers the old man – Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amor, Un homme et une femme) – listens to his neighbours telephone calls. With Valentine herself restricted to a relationship by telephone (a man, possibly married, living in England), she understands the vulnerability and invasion of privacy by such an act. Yet a friendship and camaraderie evolves between the two.

Weaving numerous seemingly minor narratives and characters in the ‘ordinary’ and ‘everyday’ is a Kieslowski trademark as Red begins quietly and builds as the themes of liberté, egalité and fraternité are explored in the final film not only of the trilogy, but of the director himself who died a couple of years later at the tragically young age of fifty four.

Nominated for 3 Oscars in 1995 (best director, cinematography, screenplay).

Rating: 85%


youth-movie-posterFrustrating. At times, sublimely beautiful as the camera pans past half-submerged bathers perfectly lined up at the edge of the pool: other times completely art-house baffling – an airline stewardess standing in the middle of a Swiss Alpine meadow?

As with his Oscar-winning The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino explores the bizarre and surreal, reminiscent of Fellini, but without the masters’s wit or observational finesse.

In Youth, there’s lots of ‘moments’ but precious little depth with the likes of Michael Caine (Alfie, Cider With Rosie), Jane Fonda (Barbarella, Klute) and Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, The Favourite) totally under-utilised. But Sorrentino certainly knows how to use music both in his narrative and as pure artifice.

Nominated for 1 Oscar in 2016 – David Lang for best original song.

Rating: 48%

‘Clouds of Sils Maria’

poster_zoomThe latest from writer/director Olivier Assayas (Irma Vep, Apres Mai) is intelligent, thought-provoking and buoyed with fabulous, incredibly realistic performances from Juliette Binoche (The English Patient, Chocolat) and (surprisingly) Kristen Stewart (the Twilight trilogy).

The sparring of thoughts and opinions between the two women is riveting – as is the storyline itself of an ageing actress evaluating her career, forwards and backwards. And then there’s the beautiful location of the Swiss Alps and Sils Maria.

Rating: 69%