2 September 2022.
We’re slowly approaching autumn and good things are beginning to happen at the movies. Pick any of these three, or all of them – depending on your mood and taste. You’re in for a treat.
FLEE **** (vo Danish, Dari)
It’s amazing how animation has evolved from Walt Disney’s wonderfully entertaining concoctions for children begun in the 1920s, the brilliant delights of Pixar from the mid-90s, the quirkiness of the British Aardman Studios and the artistic Mangas from the Far East to today’s haunting, political tales that tell of human injustice and suffering.
The one that turned the tide may have been PERSEPOLIS in 2007, by Marjane Satrapi, who remembered her turbulent childhood in Iran before and around the Revolution. The very next year there was the innovative WALTZ WITH BASHIR by Israeli Ari Folman. These delved into important world issues, tackling problems of guilt and responsibility done in often austere animation.
Recently there have been quite a few fine animated films about Afghanistan, including THE BREADWINNER and SWALLOWS OF KABUL. But the most moving and impactful of all is FLEE, being released this week In Geneva. It has won multiple awards around the world, including best documentary and animated film at the European Awards and the Grand Jury prize at Sundance.
It’s the true story of Amin born in Afghanistan, but forced to flee as a boy with his family after his father is taken by the Mujaheddin. His terrible odyssey, through years of living in different countries, hidden and waiting in fear to be transported to Europe, is the story he is now telling to Jonas Rasmussen, the Danish director who is responsible for bringing to the screen this very personal confession.
It is both gripping and painful to watch as you actually live the appalling hurdles he has had to pass through and realise how it is to be a refugee, homeless in your heart.
In the meantime, Amin has been one of the lucky ones. After he landed in Denmark, being accepted as the gay man that he is now free to be, he has a loving partner. On the other hand, shamefully he has had to deny that he has a family, for fear of being sent back.
Do not miss this impressive testimony to what it is to be stateless. Beautifully animated, with incredible emotions, it is one of the most affecting and important films of the year.
THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING (Trois mille ans a t’attendre) ***
Just the title alone made me want to see this film, and I was not disappointed. Ah, but then it has the surprisingly seamless duo of Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. The talented and charismatic Elba (of TV’s “Luther”, “The Mountain Between Us” and “Suicide Squad”), and the always eccentric and often-unrecognisable Swinton, who Elba seems to have finally turned into a hot-blooded woman in this wild fable. But then he plays a Djinn or Genie in this fantastical film, an oversized Genie with thousand years of longing. For his greatest wish is to be finally released from his slavehood in that bottle and it seems only three complete wishes from any of his “owners” can release him. Are you following me…?
Anyway, this wonderfully absurd yarn is made up of tall tales that are the motor for this magical film by Australia’s George Miller, of “Mad Max” fame. In a sort of an inverse ‘Sheherezad” anecdote, the Genie recounts centuries of misadventures to his new mistress.
How has director Miller, of usually violent and destructive films, come around to this fanciful, romantic and sensual work? But then wonders do happen when Genies are around…
This is heart-stopping stuff! Seriously.
We’re in South Africa. Ruthless poachers have just wiped out a pride of lions in a game reserve, but have missed the big male, who has become enraged.
Idris Elba (aren’t we lucky?!) and his two teenage daughters have arrived the same day for a visit to his late wife’s birthplace near the reserve. Staying with an old friend who is the manager of the reserve, they go out for a day’s private safari. At one unlucky point, the enraged lion turns on them as his target of revenge.
And here is where it becomes heart-stopping. There is no other word to better describe the fury of a wild animal that has been unjustly attacked. This is not urban violence or a battle of super heroes. This is nature in its purest element – survival of the fittest. And it hits with an intensity that only nature can unleash – literally man against beast.
Renowned Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur, of such adventure films as “Contraband”, “The Deep” and “Everest”, has created here a thrilling, fierce portrait of a father trying to protect his old friend and his family in the wild. Go with a steady heart. There may be a few exaggerations here and there, but you may still not want to try a safari after this…
For more reviews click here.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.