It’s June, apparently, which means near-constant rain over here in the south of England. Ideal weather for the cinema, you might think, although conversely I’ve not been for over a week. Still, I saw a few new releases at the pictures in May, and thought I’d revisit them in this monthly recap. Without further ado my film of the month is Mustang, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s excellent and inspiring drama about five young sisters growing up in a conservative Turkish village. If you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend it, and it’s currently my third favourite film of 2016, though even as I’m typing this I’m thinking it could be my second favourite. I was also very impressed by Lucile Hadžihalilović’s weird and wonderful Evolution, an unsettling and memorable tale that’s part body horror and part weird, folky, minimalist sci-fi. Actually it was a pretty good month all around; in addition to those two I enjoyed crowdpleasers Everybody Wants Some!! and Sing Street a lot, while I thought Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or-snaffling Dheepan was better than many critics had suggested. The rest were a mixed bag: Jaco Van Dormael’s The Brand New Testament was occasionally very funny indeed, Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead had its moments, and both Our Kind Of Traitor and Florence Foster Jenkins were passably entertaining. I was less enamoured with X-Men: Apocalypse, but whatever.
At home I finally saw my first Tarkovsky film, Andrei Rublev, as well as Kurosawa’s late masterpiece Ran. I also gave the 1960s heist movie Rififi a go, and thoroughly enjoyed it, partly because of its brutal edge and partly because of its long, silent heist sequence. Talking of which, I also decided I’d go back to the early days of film and watch a few shorts that I’d seen recommended, such as The Great Train Robbery, the Fantômas serial and L’Arroseur Arrosé. That has been fun, and I’ll continue in June if time allows.
I’ve been catching up with some 2014 and 2015 releases – still! – including the documentaries Hillsborough and Palio; the former a thorough examination of the 1989 disaster and the aftermath, the latter an intriguing film about the annual horse races that take place in the town square in Siena. I also finally got round to seeing Peter Bogdanovich’s She’s Funny That Way, Thomas Vinterberg’s Far From The Madding Crowd, The Two Faces Of January and We Are Your Friends; a couple of those were pretty good, but the last one was probably the worst film I watched all month, although it’s not like it’s terrible. Last, but by no means least, my May ‘blind spot’ was Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, which I liked but didn’t love. I seem to be the only person who feels indifferent towards it, but hey ho. Anyway, that’s my month in film, pretty much. As I said earlier Mustang is the new release that I’d strongly recommend, though if you have the inclination Evolution‘s also worth a look. Cheers!