BFC 2016 Movies Review Part 1

A roundup of the BFC screenings for 2016

16 mins

It's been quite a year for BFC, the screening schedule for 2016 even eclipsed the 2015 roster of fantastic features. In 2016 we have had the pleasure to view some of the best features from the best film directors old and new.

From Martin Scorsese to Andrei Tarkovsky, we have seen films from all over the world spanning some 87 years. Will we ever see such an eclectic mix of tastes in a single year again? I truly hope so.

Whilst we do focus on some of the best pictures of the last decade, we can’t ignore the young up and coming directors creating modern diverse and interesting pictures. These include Ben Wheatley (High Rise) and Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals). These directors have made their mark in a saturated market of torture porn horror flicks and comic book superhero movies. To do so is quite an achievement in itself. We look forward to seeing more of their work.

I strongly recommend that you view these titles, even though I didn’t like all of them. Some are so different to what you are used to, it requires you to rewrite your expectations of what cinema is about. It requires you to open your mind and allow the style of the director to influence your mood, to excite or revulse, to scare confuse and delight you the audience.

Right on with part one.

Screening list:

Performance (1970)

Inherent Vice (2016)


Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

Stalker (1979

Heaven's Gate (1980)

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

Mad Max Fury Road (2015)

Scum 1979

Enter The Void (2009)


Performance (1970) directed by Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell.

Starring Mick Jagger, James Fox

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

Chas (James Fox), a psychotic gangster from London needs to hideout from the fallout of a mistaken hit. He finds the guest house of Mr Turner (Mick Jagger) a faded rock star who is looking for inspiration for his comeback. 

Scant story and characterisation lets down this enjoyable romp, exploring the popular rock and roll drugged up culture of the early 70’s. Jagger’s performance doesn’t quite work and the confused script mixing east end clean cut gangsters with “far out” rock stars feels confused and flat.

The supporting cast including  Stones’ professional groupie Anita Pallenberg doesn’t help the story along much, but is a pleasure to look at at least. 

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Inherent Vice (2016) directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston.

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

Hugely enjoyable noir comedy perfectly suitable to Phoenix as the side burned stoner hippy, private eye Doc Sportello, oblivious of anything or anyone except himself.

Out of the blue, Shasta (Katherine Waterson) a former lover, pleads for help to stop property tycoon Mickey Wolfman from being sectioned into a loony bin by his wife.

Inherent Vice from novel by Thomas Pynchon, never takes itself too seriously and bumbles along bumping into a fine supporting cast including Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short and Josh Brolin playing a hard-ass cop. Destined to be a cult classic.

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Klute (1971) directed by Alan J. Pakula

Starring Starring Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Roy Scheider.

Nominated by Darren Street

Fonda is Bree Daniels, the sassy high class call girl mixed up in a missing persons case being investigated by freelance cop John Klute (Sutherland). Written by Andy and Dave Lewis, the plot is tight and just dark enough to remain intriguing, sleazy but never quite corrupt.

Sutherland puts up a fine performance as the cop trying to stay the right side of the law. But it is Fonda who steals the show that earned her Oscar for best actress.

Pakula is forgiven for the dirge Parallax View. Klute is Unmissable.

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Man with a movie camera (1929) directed by Dziga Vertov

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

This is a remarkable silent movie documentary, which has no actors or story. It documents the lives of ordinary Russian (Ukrainian now) people during one whole day, working in the factories, and fields, shopping and relaxing at the beach.  

The footage is centered around four main cities, Moscow, Odessa, Kharkov and Kiev. The film employs cutting edge processes (at the time), such as slow motion, tracking shots and double exposure to show ordinary people going about their daily lives. Its an amazing modern account of pre-war Russian society.

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Stalker (1979) directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Starring Alexander Kaidanov, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Alisa Freindlich

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

Two men (Professor & Writer) have heard there is a place (called The Room) where your deepest dreams can come true. However this room is located in a wasteland called The Zone, and they need to employ the services of the Stalker to get them there. 

This so called “High Art” cinema has all the trapping of a modern classic, troubled filming and reshooting, suggested consequential death of the director due to a Chemical plant near the shooting location, and a screenplay which is so ambiguous allowing you the viewer to determine the films scope and meaning. The Stalker is beautifully shot and definitely requires multiple viewings. The Stalker can be dark and allegorical, cold and suspenseful and definitely a challenge for any viewer.

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Heaven's Gate (1980) directed by Michael Chimino

Starring Kris Krstofferson, Christopher Walken, Isabelle Huppert

Nominated by Darren Street

Based on the story of Johnson County War, this is a wide screen monolith western. about the conflict between the land barons and the european immigrants set in the US, circa 1890. Chimino fresh from his multi-oscar winning success of The Dear Hunter was given a reported budget of $44 million to make his epic. Starring Kris Kristofferson and Christopher Walken, Heaven’s Gate suffers from a lack of purpose and wooden acting. The scenes are meandering and over long, characterisations flimsy and under developed. Some actors namely John Hurt are clearly wasted in roles that don’t seem to make any sense at all or have any impact.

Heaven’s Gate for all its faults has some stunning scenes especially the opening Harvard shots and the final shootout, which beautifully conveys the frustration and sheer determination of both parties. However this picture is no way as bad as the critics at the time portrayed, and is definitely worth a screening.

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Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) directed by Alain Resnais

Starring Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

A french film maker (Emmanuelle Riva) shooting an anti-war film (in Japan) has an affair with Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) and reflects on the horrors of the bombing of Hiroshima at the end of the second world war. It takes the form partly from a narrated conversation with her lover, discussing the effects of the bombing, the horrendous social cost, and its ultimate renewal physical and emotional.

Hiroshima Mon Amour is the story of two tragedies, one shocking the world, and one deeply private and emotional. Hiroshima Mon Amour is shocking and sensual, stark, elegant and uplifting.

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Mad Max Fury Road (2015) directed by George Miller

Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Nominated by Darren Street

Mad Max Fury Road is non-stop fuel induce screamer of a roller coaster to the heartbeat of a thrash metal track on steroids with knobs on. It doesn’t build to a crescendo or have subtle reflective moments. It is an all-out attack on the senses.

Tom Hardy reboots the Mad Mad franchise with a broody ambivalent performance of Max Rockatansky, teaming up with CGI’d armless Charlize Theron to find the “Green Place”. Aided by a juggernaut petrol tanker and a gaggle of gorgeous babe wives splitting from hubby (the Toecutter) who happens to be a post apocalytic murderous arsehole.

The action never gives up and is truly memorable for the sheer scale and audacity of the stunts. Leave your brain at the door. Wonderful stuff.

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Scum (1979) directed by Alan Clarke

Starring Ray Winstone, Mick Ford, Julian Firth

Nominated by Darren Street

Scum as a social commentary of the late 70’s young offenders institutions, still has impact to revolt and deplore. Carlin (Ray Winstone) is one of three new inmates trying to adjust to a new brutal regime, where rehabilitation is secondary. Archer (Mick Ford) tries to thwart the rules with petit protests and obstructionism.

Clarke directs this feature with documentary realism. There is no musical soundtrack. The cells are cold and bleak. Whilst the brutality is still shocking, Clarke manages to get the sense of futility and claustrophobia, where only the inmates that fight for survival succeed and the weak get preyed upon. Powerful and unmissable.

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Enter the Void (2009) directed by Gaspar Noe

Starring Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

Enter the Void is about as extreme a movie as it gets. Its titles are extreme, the soundtrack is extreme, the violence is extreme. Its extreme...wholesale. But is also very beautiful and clever. It's like nothing I had ever seen before, a completely new way of telling a story (which frankly is thin at best).

Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) a small-time American drug dealer living in Tokyo, gets killed during a police raid after being double crossed by a friend. What follows is a journey into Oscar’s soul, visiting the event just occurred and past events in flashbacks. Its narrative shot from an “angels” viewpoint looking down on the action, visiting any point in time and at any place. There is never any ambiguity, it's all sledgehammer visuals. We see an aborted fetus, a car crash, experience an acid trip and visit inside someone's brain to see the world from their perspective.

However the film is not without its faults, namely is too long. At 2 hours and 40 mins all these goodies start to get repetitive. Sure its excessive and shocking but it rewrites the rulebook for making immersive and inspirational cinema.

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Next... Part 2: BFC 2016 Movies Review

Last updated on: 24 Jan 2017 10:36 AM

Raging Bull 1980 Peformance 1970 Inhernet Vice 2015 Klute 1971 Cronos 1993 Enter the Void 2009 Mad Max Fury Road 2015 Man with a Movie Camera 1929 Heaven's Gate 1980 Stalker 1979 The Wild Bunch 1969 Requiem for a Dream 2000 Catch 22 1970 Cube 1997 Scum 1979 Hiroshima Mon Amour 1959 High Rise 2016 THX-1138 1971