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Film Club March 22, 2020January 4th, 2023

Film Club 14 – Robin Pailler

In these times where most of us have plenty of time on our hands, cinema is a major source of escapism.

If you’re a WT regular, you should know that there is nobody else we trust more with film recommendations than the creator of Film Club himself: our very own editor Robin Pailler.

Before curating our website and creating some of our most successful short films such as Weekend, Last Tango In Venice and Serene, Robin studied film & television studies and was a self-proclaimed cineaste from the age of 5. So with us being locked inside for we-don’t-know-how-long, we thought it was time to ask him what his favourite films were, but before we do, we recommend you check out the following – YT

“Upon compiling this list I came to realise that all my choices tackle incredibly depressing themes perhaps not warranted in the current climate we’re experiencing. And whilst many will wish for a more upbeat list during these dark times I’ve decided to refrain. For all these films explore common themes increasingly prevalent today. Isolation, love, loss, greed, the fragility of civilisation and the limits to mankind’s endurance. So although the following list may not offer much escapism or reassurances right now, it may help us in confronting the darkest realms of both our individual psyche and the social structures we inhabit. At times like these we need enlightenment and sometimes cinema has the power to do just that.

Stay home. Stay safe. We’re all in it together.” – RP

1) Pierrot Le Fou, Jean-Luc Godard, 1965

Arguably Godard’s masterpiece, this might well be my favourite film of all-time. Although it’s hard to describe why. The plot is loose and somewhat unimportant, Godard instead prioritising tone and texture by focusing on the mechanics of execution and technique. It’s a film that’s certainly guilty of style over substance and all the better for it.  The real highlight is Raoul Coutard’s stunning cinematography, a magical palette of pastel blue and blood red dripping in colour symbolisms. A lot of my youth was spent in France watching Belmondo films with my Dad, so Jean-Paul was always the coolest sixties icon in my eyes. I also believe every frame with Anna Karina is perhaps the most beautiful image to ever grace celluloid.

2) Dr Strangelove, Or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, Stanley Kubrick, 1962

It’s hard to choose which Kubrick film to include and whilst 2001 A Space Odyssey is undoubtedly his masterpiece, comedy is vital at times like these. Kubrick succeeded in perhaps making the funniest political satire of all time here. It also involves an absolute masterclass in acting from Peter Sellers. Its humour is timeless, no matter how many times you watch it, There’s no doubt that without Strangelove, we wouldn’t have modern classics such as The Thick Of It (2005-2012), In The Loop (2009) and The Death of Stalin (2017).

3) There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007

There will be greed. There will be vengeance. There will be blood. Rarely does a motion picture define perfection but There Will Be Blood comes close. An immensely captivating portrayal on the nature of greed ingrained in humanity. Daniel Day-Lewis’ powerhouse performance, one which justifiably lead to his second of three Oscars, is a Shakespearean masterclass in acting. Framed within Robert Elswit’s award-winning cinematography and Jonny Greenwood’s chilling score adding an overbearing sense of dread to proceedings, Paul Thomas Anderson may never make a better movie (The Master is a close second). Quite possibly the most flawless work of 21st century cinema.

4) Andrei Rublev, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966

To be fair you could replace this with any other Tarkovsky title and it wouldn’t matter. Heck, you could make this entire list Tarkovsky films. But having been fortunate enough to witness the original cut on a big screen last summer, Andrei Rublev takes the throne, for now at least. The fact Rublev was made in sixties Russia and was only Tarkovsky’s second feature at 34 years of age, is quite simply mind-blowing. Clocking in at 3h25, Tarkovsky’s expansive look at the world of medieval Russia, divided loosely across ten chapters, is both a poetic and powerfully visceral experience. It’s an astonishing meditation on art, faith and the limits of human endurance.

*Available to watch for free in full HD with english subs! Part one here. Part two here.

5) Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarón, 2006

Before Cuarón won best director for Gravity, and best foreign film for Roma, the latter being his chef-d’oeuvre of course, he directed the 2006 post apocalyptic drama Children of Men. Depicting a future where women are no longer fertile, Cuarón paints a chaotic world where humanity is at a last stand. Emmanuel Lubezki demonstrates a masterclass in cinematography as always, cementing his platform to go on and win three back-to-back oscars for Gravity, Birdman and The Revenant respectively. Clive Owen -an actor I sometimes struggle to warm to – gives a never better performance and Julianne Moore once more showcases why she might just be the best actress working in Hollywood today with a nuanced – albeit brief – performance. It’s a profound look at the fragility of human morality and how entire civilisations can crumble.

6) Monos, Alejandro Landes, 2019

I was fortunate enough to see this at last year’s Berlin Film Festival and despite being February, declared it my favourite film of 2019. One year on and I stand by it. The less you know going into it, the more rewarding the experience. Don’t even watch the trailer below. Just envisage Lord of the Flies meets Apocalypse Now with a haunting soundtrack by Mica Levi. A modern masterpiece.

7) Ne Croyez Surtout Pas Que Je Hurle (Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream), Frank Beauvais, 2019

One of the greatest experimental achievements in cinema I’ve seen in recent years. Ne Croyez Surtout Pas Que Je Hurle is an autobiographic documentary by Frank Beauvais charting a year of experiences with depression and isolation in 2016. During this year, Frank watches four to five films a day and thus cuts 2-3 second clips from every film to narrate his story. It’s an overwhelming personal essay built through a concoction of cinematic imagery that left me dizzy, mesmerised and deeply moved.

8) Under The Skin, Jonathan Glazer, 2013

One of the most visually striking and deeply disturbing films I’ve seen in the last decade. Under The Skin follows Scarlett Johansson – in an incredibly restrained performance – as a seductive alien species roaming the streets of Glasgow picking up random men at her will. It’s an atmospheric masterclass by Glazer, accompanied, once again, by a quite remarkable score by Mica Levi. Perhaps the greatest piece of sci-fi horror in the 21st century.

9) Incendies, Denis Villeneuve, 2010

A lot of people rave about Villeneuve and rightly so, but so often many seem to have missed Incendies, his Canadian masterpiece and the film that launched him into the Hollywood mainstream following a 2011 Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. It’s the story of twins in search of their family history across the Middle East. Powerful, enthralling, brutal and emotionally devastating, Incendies is the blueprint for Villeneuve’s career traits ever since.

10) Zeitgeist The Movie, Peter Joseph, 2007

A controversial choice and one which I’ll no doubt get criticism for, but before you condemn me, let me explain. I was 20 years old when a friend sat me down to watch this on a pirated DVD he’d bought from eBay. Social media and the spread of information wasn’t as prevalent back then. Mainstream news was our only real source of info. Now this movie is pure propaganda don’t get me wrong. It’s extreme left wing bias clearly advocates transition from the global money-based economic system to a post-scarcity economy or resourced-based economy, which many arguably deem is necessary for both mankind and the planet. Told in the three parts, Zeitgeist individually tackles religion, 9/11 and the Federal Reserve System before connecting all three to form its argument for change. It’s no doubt flawed and open to interpretation but what Zeitgeist succeeded in doing was opening my eyes into questioning how the world works.. Observing how those in power control the masses. Understanding who profits from war. Analysing how globalisation affects humanity and who benefits the most within our capitalist economy. Whatever your thoughts on religion, 9/11 and the plutocratic nature of the modern world, I would still encourage everyone to watch this once. Go into it with an open mind. Don’t believe all of it. Hell don’t believe any of it. Just observe and make your own judgements.

*Bonus Feel Good Choice

11) Little Miss Sunshine, Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, 2006

Because if this doesn’t give you joy I don’t know what else to suggest.

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