Illawarra Film Society – What We’ve Seen in 2017

I had every intention of blogging each week of the films on the Illawarra Film Society‘s programme, yet here we are half way through the year and I have only mentioned two, even though I am proud to say I haven’t missed seeing a movie yet.

So by way of catch up, I thought I would list what we have seen so far. Readers might like to skim the list to see what catches their eye:-

  1. Sing Street (2016) – a fabulous Irish film which I did manage to blog about, and you can read that post here.
  2. The Beatles: 8 Days a Week – The Touring Years (2016) – if you thought you already knew all there was to know about the Beatles, this compilation of footage from their 1963-1966 concerts will make you think again. Directed by Ron Howard, it includes 30 minutes of their 1966 concert at Shea Stadium, New York City. Read more here.
  3. Brief Encounter (1946) – only one of the greatest British romance movies of all time, filmed on Carnforth station during WWII, bombings and all. Noel Coward’s dialogue is as fascinating as ever, 1930s style.  Read more here.
  4. Between the Land and the Sea (2016) – not to be confused with an Irish surfing movie of the same/similar name.The original title of this Colombian film is La Ciénaga Entre el Mar y la Tierra. According to my Spanish-English dictionary Ciénaga is a “marsh, miry place, swamp”, and that is the haunting location of this film. Alberto, constrained to his oxygen supply by a debilitating neurological disorder, is a swamp dweller who dreams of seeing the ocean which is only metres away. If, like me, you enjoy seeing films set in places and cultures you have never encountered, this one will be an eye-opener, but it is a difficult film to watch. Read more here.
  5. Atlantic (2016) – This is a environmental documentary filmed in Ireland, Canada (Newfoundland) and Norway about big resources: fish and oil. A fascinating reminder of how these countries share/compete for the riches of the North Atlantic. Viewers will be enraged at the exploitation and political short-sightedness. Ultimately though, I left the cinema thinking, “yes, but … what’s the solution?” This film has its own website, click here.
  6. Road to La Paz (2015) – A quirky Argentinian film which is another that exposes the viewer to new experiences. A cross-cultural, cross-denominational, cross-generational road movie. It involves Sebastian, an unemployed newly married man who hustles his way into a taxi service, driving Jalil, elderly and ailing, from Buenos Aires to La Paz in Bolivia. It even showcases a Sufi dhikr – which is a religious ceremony of the whirling dervish fame. It was a half an hour after the film ended that I connected the dots on the closing scene, but it was heart-warming when I did. Read more here.
  7. I Daniel Blake (2016) – I cannot believe I didn’t blog about this film at the time. This is ‘must-see’ movie from director Ken Loach. Daniel Blake, unable to work due to genuine illness, battles the Orwellian welfare system in a Northern English town. I recommend you read the review written by Richard Alaba of CineMuseFilms. I really, really recommend you read it, and the comments.
  8. Wild Tales (2014) – Hilarious! An Argentine-Spanish black comedy. Just thinking about this movie makes me smile. Actually, it is six short stories, each an absurd exploration of human behaviour, warts and all. And there are serious warts, such as the rich man who co-erces his poor gardener into taking the wrap for his son who has caused a road fatality. Bad man! Yet who could not like the street-wise cook who puts rat poison into her customer’s dinner when she learns he was responsible for killing the father of her waitress? Or the two men whose road rage reaches such heights than when the police find their intertwined bodies in a burned-out vehicle they put it down to crime of passion? Oh, I could go on . . . Lots of places to read more about this one, here is Wikipedia as a start.
  9. Particle Fever (2014) – Well, you can’t love them all, and this US documentary about the Large Halldron Collider went way over my head. And it had been a long day. So, perhaps I missed a vital line or two. But if you love physics, and understand atoms, and black holes, then maybe this one is for you. Read more here.
  10. Swing (2002) – This is an uneven movie with some baffling scene switches and not much plot, and it doesn’t know if it wants to be a musical, or a love story, or a nature ramble – but it is worth seeing – and hearing. It’s from France, because that is where The Manouche (Gypsies) are. The music is the star of this film, and if you know of Django Reinhardt (who I didn’t before) then you will be in your element with this one. A close second star are the haunting eyes of the young ‘female’ protagonist Swing (she’s very tomboyish).  Read more here.
  11. Perfect Strangers (2016) – From Italy. I loved this one. Seven friends get together over dinner and decide to let their mobile phones rule the day. Chaos ensues, and not in a nice way. Relationships are exposed as shams and friendships put to a hard test. Remember Pandora’s Box in Greek mythology? Remember the evils that flew out when she opened the lid? It’s the same thing when you let the secrets out of that little black box called an iPhone.  Again, I hand you over to the review written by Richard Alaba of CineMuseFilms
  12. Das Boot (1982) – The only thing I didn’t like about this German film set in a U-Boat in WWII was that it didn’t screen. I went along prepared to happily sit through all 149 minutes because I really, really, really wanted to see it. Unfortunately the organisers had been sent the Directors Cut and felt that 209 minutes was a bridge too far for us mere mortals. So as a last-minute switch, we had:
    1. The Importance of Being Earnest. I have a soft spot for this comedic farce from Oscar Wilde, after all, it is no accident my name is Gwendoline. I’d never seen it as a movie before, and this was the 1952 English version, so it stays faithful to the script. Having just re-read The Picture of Dorian Gray, it was also easy to translate the dialogue and society I was seeing on the screen. And what legendary actors! Wikipedia has more
  13. La La Land (2016) – Well we all know about this film, right? US resurrection of the Hollywood Musical. I blogged about this previously, via the guest review by Richard Alaba. At that time, I was 50/50 on my enjoyment of the film, and I suggested that most of the group would not go to see it a second time. I was proved wrong (see my closing comment on the previous blog post). Four from my “gang” went along, and we all agreed we got a lot more out of it on the second viewing! I even wondered if the whispery voice of Emma Stone was a plot device, as she belted it out in the scene where she re-imagines her aunt’s trip to Paris. Watch this movie free of all the hype around Best Picture and it is an enjoyable couple of hours. I didn’t regret backing up.

Well that brings me up to date with what we have seen so far. Another seventeen movies to go and all for the fabulous subscription price of A$90/year. Great value huh?

12 thoughts on “Illawarra Film Society – What We’ve Seen in 2017

  1. I saw the movie ‘Das Boot’ some time ago, it did not leave any lasting impression upon me! Maybe I haven’t got a very good opinion of those murdering bastards who killed without any qualm or conscience;
    I remember a family by the name of Barton, who was aboard the MV Cheshire with us in ’51, He’d been a seaman aboard the ship San Demitrio, his story stuck with me; the only U-boat movie that would be of any interest to me would be one where all we see is the U-boats blowing up with no survivors.
    As you see I have no time or respect for Admiral Donitz and the men that served under him. Cold bloodied murders all!

    I have a faint recollection of seeing Brief Encounter in England, so long ago it was probably on it’s first run

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the interesting Wikipedia link. That’s a new piece of history to me. One of the fellows living here (passed a few months ago), joined the Merchant Navy as a 15yo, just in time for WWII. He ended up in the drink twice. No one could imagine the true horror of being in a sea of burning oil unless they had experienced it first hand. I also have a friend who was a submariner for a year or so. And that is a different kind of horror. There are no winners in war.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I understand the film is based on true-life characters, and the thought of being stuck underwater with such a motley crew is terrifying, even before depth charges are added in. Of course, as Lord Beari points out, U-boat crews were also responsible for so much carnage in the North Atlantic.


  2. Have see several of these films and SO MISS not being able to just run out to the cinema. There’s a small local cinema in Cape Town – Labia – that plays new releases and has many wonderful festivals. I will be heading there in July for a major movie fix. Haven’t found anything in English in Rome – there must be something somewhere??

    Liked by 1 person

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