The Essential Film reviews. Current reviews posted elsewhere.



I’ve covered some of the current films showing over at The Essential, so I thought I’d give all my lovely readers a heads up.

Palo Alto

A film I greatly enjoyed, even if it seemed as though Sophia Copola played it a little too safe:

“Events shaping us are as meaningless as those we pass by, but while Coppola avoids any political correctness she also avoids taking the individual narratives to striking conclusions that give us a chance to think. The audience is left with several budding story and philosophical arcs, which despite the “events” of the film tend to wander off into nowhere. Particularly when dealing with the political football of teen girl/women, their changing bodies, the men these bodies attract, the semblance of power that attraction gives to girls, and the tragedies of powerlessness that accompany these realities; all powerfully presented in circular voiceover, soft focus and a muted haze that hint at a seething jeopardy, that remains a little too safe. In side-stepping her judegment, Coppola buries her point leaving the audience floundering around in the dark for something to grasp.”

Check out my review here.

20,000 Day’s on Earth

Fantastic, interesting approach to a documentary – I film I liked more and more the further I got away from it.

“In this way, 20,000 Days On Earth is the only authentic way to film a documentary about Nick Cave, as a contrived collection of anecdotes, impressions, words, songs and histories all combining and colliding to create something before the viewers’ eyes, who is welcome to take whatever they want away with them at the end, as if they were ever going to do anything else. There is no “real Nick Cave” – finally, he might say. All that’s there is what he tries to portray to us and himself and what we see through into.”

Check out my review here.

The World At War – Closely Watched Trains

I’ve written about Closely Watched Trains before on this blog, but at The Essential they have an interesting monthly feature where a writer discusses a film as response to war-time experience. I chose this masterpiece for myself.

“In Closely Watched Trains Jiří Menzel speaks of a world liberated, where vulnerability gets men laid by sexy revolutionaries, and morality is the fault of church-addled males. Democracy represents the right to refuse to work, and the supreme accomplishment of life is to find a way to drink your days away in excess and marry a woman who will make love to you at least once a day. If these are your aims, how can the periodic invasion of an alien culture become a problem for you? Surely the heroes made on the battlefield are fighting for something they have no chance to experience, should they miraculously escape death? They will go home, find solace in drink and if they are lucky, enjoy comfort in a devoted lovers’ arms.”

Check out the rest of the review here.