Inspiring films I’ve watched this Christmas

1 Jan

I’ve watched some fantastic films over Christmas, it’s been amazing! I wanted to leave some sort of record of them, even if it’s just a small paragraph, and hopefully it’ll inspire people to watch them as I’d definitely recommend them all. There are some films that I definitely haven’t done justice to and for this I apologise. If you’ve enjoyed these films too, please let me know your thoughts. Now I’m looking forward to the release of the Thatcher film, ‘The Iron Lady’, it should be interesting…

Goodbye Solo

A beautiful, funny, moving film, situated mostly in Solo’s car, in which the charismatic Solo befriends the withdrawn William who seems incredibly reluctant to be a part of this friendship. Solo’s relentless charisma is exemplified by the fact that, although I am a feminist, his numerous references to ‘big bootys’ somehow did not offend or grate on me. This is not to detract from the seriousness of the film which focuses on deep loneliness and, in the words of Blanche Dubios, ‘the kindness of strangers’, namely Solo, who shows such humanity to the lost soul William. A beautiful film of friendship and loss that is thought provoking (subtly encouraging us to think about how we treat each other in society?) and unforgettable.

Encounters at the End of the World

Director Werner Herzog camera and curiosity spans Antarctica showing the incredible forms of life – both human and non-human – that find themselves thriving on and below this incredible continent. Interviews with the quirky, impassioned people who find themselves living and working here complement breath taking footage of their weird and wonderful animal co-habitors. As one scientist points out – this is not a static and barren environment – but a dynamic one teaming with life – much of it yet still to be discovered. This place feels like another world, but it is firmly situated on planet earth – reminding us of a way of life beyond the concrete jungles we inhabit – challenging us to view ourselves and live our lives differently.

Reclaim the Streets – can be watched here

Tells the story of the street parties which happened up and down the UK in the 1990s in order to reclaim the public space which had been privatized by polluting cars. The footage from the time is exciting and inspiring to see and the commonalities with today’s protests, such as Occupy London, were somewhat surprising. Were the FIT team going then? There are definitely shots with the police filming protesters with old skool cameras. The diversity of the protesters – Liverpudlian dockers, ravers, and environmentalists was interesting to note too. An important and exciting movement of our recent history. I particularly liked the ‘Trees not MPs’ banner.

When the Levees Break – directed by Spike Lee

A fascinating documentary which uses interviews with a great diversity of people and footage of the event and its aftermath to tell the story of Hurricane Katrina’s (along with the US government) destruction of New Orleans. This documentary is absolutely compelling – and you come to love certain interviewees. New perspectives and insights to this terrible event are learnt from listening to the interviewees’ eloquent descriptions – many of these insights are deeply troubling, for example, learning how families were separated in the evacuation – but such an interrogation of what happened and what went wrong in the government’s response is absolutely vital. A very important film showing the neglect and disregard that the US government showed to its own people told by the people who experienced it.

The Wind that Shakes the Barely – directed by Ken Loach

A beautiful film with stunning shots of the Irish countryside. Hidden amongst the hills of the deceptive idyllic landscape are Irish freedom fighters and peasants living in poverty. It is 1920 and a group of young men are fighting for independence and socialism against the brutal British occupation. Damien, at first reluctant to take up arms at all, finds himself embroiled in this bloody conflict of which his conscience will not allow him to escape. A powerful and moving drama.

Land and Freedom – directed by Ken Loach

An unemployed Liverpudlian, David, who sees no future for himself there, leaves for Spain to fight the fascists and for a better future for all in the Spanish Civil War. He joins a militia of other international fighters and some Spanish – organised with everyone allowed a vote and with women fighting alongside their male companeros. This is, as David says, socialism in action. However, soon the different political visions clash furiously with each other within the militia reflecting the serious ruptures between the anti-fascist fighters across Spain. David is caught between these political stances and finds himself questioning his own beliefs. This is a gripping drama which vividly captures the hopes and desires of those fighting in the Spanish Civil War and their betrayal by those who claimed to be fighting for the same aims.


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