Whilst the world is on pause and your Filmhouse Sunderland visits aren’t possible, we’re keeping the independent cinema flag flying with our new weekly watch lists from Chris & Jonny, the people behind the project.
Each Friday, we’ll post a list of four films that are currently available across BBC iPlayer, All4, Netflix and Amazon Prime that we think you should seek out.
This week’s selection is…
Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back (15) (1967) (BBC iPlayer)
It’s access all areas for D.A. Pennebaker’s legendary document of Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of the UK. Aged just 23, Dylan was already a genius and on the cusp of shifting from folk music to rock. One of the most intimate glimpses of any musician ever put to film, Pennebaker follows the normally private and frequently cantankerous songwriter through concert appearances, hotel room conversations, and downtime between gigs. Filmed on black-and-white 16mm film and shot handheld, Don’t Look Back pretty much invented the “rockumentary”, breaking cinematic convention and ensuring its status of one of the all-time great documentaries.
Blue Ruin (12) (2013) (Netflix)
Jeremy Saulnier’s smart, lean thriller is the story of Dwight (Macon Blair), a homeless drop-out scarred by past trauma and living in a beat-up Pontiac. When he learns that the man convicted of killing his parents is out of jail he heads back to his hometown to settle the score. All he needs to do is get the car running again, find a gun and do the deed… Blair proves a brilliant protagonist, and not your usual avenging angel. A shambling wreck stumbling towards retribution, Dwight has no plan and only a goal, with each step of the story wounding and taking something more from him. Do not miss!
Paris, Texas (12) (1984) (All 4)
Wim Wenders beautiful ode to americana starts with a dishevelled man wandering out of the desert: Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) has no recollection of who he is, having been missing for seven years. Reunited with his brother Walt (Dean Stockwell), he must try and relocate his memories and remember why he walked out on his wife Jane (Nastassja Kinski) and son Hunter (Hunter Carson). As Travis slowly joins the dots and reconnects with his family, Wenders camera lingers over the dusty highways with beauty and poise, delivering Sam Shepard’s sparse, precise and deeply moving screenplay. Paris, Texas is unlike any other film, a story of the haunted landscapes of the mind and of the desert.
War Witch (15) (2012) (Amazon Prime)
Oscar nominated in 2013, and winner of multiple awards at festivals around the world, War Witch, from filmmaker Kim Nguyen, is an intense drama set in an unnamed African country that tells the story of Komona (Rachel Mwanza), forced to kill her own parents and join a rebel army at a very young age. Partaking of ‘magic milk’, a drug given to the children by the adult soldiers to keep them subdued and compliant, Komona begins to have visions. When her visions attract the attentions of the rebel leader Great Tiger (Mizinga Mwinga) she becomes his war witch – charged with protecting his forces. Meanwhile, forward in time an older Komona considers the future that lies in store for her unborn child…. Fusing magic realism with mature and brutal drama is a brave move from Nguyen and it pays off, ensuring that War Witch is one of the most memorable and powerful films you’ll see.
We’d love to hear what you think of the films we recommend – let us know!
See you next week,
Chris & Jonny