June was a busy month for me, as I was away from home quite a bit, plus due to the fact the first fortnight of Euro 2016 contained three matches a day I didn’t see as many films as I would have liked during the month. But I can’t really complain; I love football and can’t pass up the opportunity to feast on it during an international tournament. Somehow I still managed to see 25 films in total, though, 22 of which I’ve reviewed here (the other three reviews will appear today and tomorrow).
In terms of recent new releases, the one that impressed me most was Embrace Of The Serpent, a magnificent Colombian film about the effects of colonialism on the indigenous people living in the Amazon rainforest. It’s beautifully-shot in black and white, and the acting is superb, so I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it already. Just missing out on film of the month – and also highly recommended – is Fire At Sea, a fascinating Italian documentary about the impact of the current European migrant crisis on the island of Lampedusa, on which more than 400,000 migrants have landed during the past 20 years. Also in cinemas or at home on demand last month I saw Jodie Foster’s Money Monster (OK, but nothing to shout about), Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship (which is really good and well worth your time), Shane Black’s The Nice Guys (enjoyable and throwaway despite some attempts to dress it up as something more than that), Eva Husson’s Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) (it looks good, but could have been better), Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery Of Splendour (peaceful but manages to get under your skin), Matteo Garrone’s Tale Of Tales (another film that is a joy to look at), Duncan Jones’ Warcraft: The Beginning (didn’t like it), Alex Proyas’ Gods Of Egypt (simultaneously the worst and the funniest film I’ve seen in 2016), Roland Emmerich’s Indpendence Day: Resurgence (review forthcoming) and Omer Fast’s Remainder (review also forthcoming). I seem to have been veering wildly from the arthouse to the mindless blockbuster throughout the month.
I also carried on my fledgling exploration into silent cinema, watching two Buster Keaton shorts (Convict 13 and Hard Luck), one Marie Dressler/Charlie Chaplin comedy (Tillie’s Punctured Romance) and the timeless classic Safety Last!, during which Harold Lloyd does his famous dangling-from-a-clock-on-the-outside-of-a-building stunt. I’ve watched that film several times since I was a kid and could happily watch that scene over and over again. I didn’t catch too many older films during the rest of June as I was trying to stay on top of new releases that I wanted to catch, but I did finally see Godard’s Breathless (I know, I know), which was my ‘blind spot’ pick for the month, and I also watched Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains for the first time, which is a flawed but heartfelt paean to punk rock and women in bands as well as being a fairly damning critique of the pop machine.
The rest of the films I saw in June were from the past couple of years. In terms of UK releases, London Road is an intriguing musical that addresses the effects of the Ipswich serial murders of 2006, Aaaaaaaah! is Steve Oram’s bizarre what-if-we-were-more-like-apes comedy drama and A Story Of Children And Film is an excellent Mark Cousins documentary from 2014. I caught up on a couple of American releases that I’d missed at the time of release, such as Ruben Fleischer’s predictable Gangster Squad and Anton Corbijn’s Dennis Stock/James Dean film Life (review forthcoming). On top of those I also decided to watch last year’s Brazilian film The Second Mother, which is really good and contains an excellent central performance by Regina Casé, and Pedro Costa’s critically-acclaimed Horse Money, which is certainly atmospheric even if it did leave me a little confused. And so that’s it until the start of August. My film of the month for June is Embrace Of The Serpent.