21 Films I Saw This March (Film List 2021) – PART 2

Hello All,

I hope everyone is well and staying safe.

Sorry for being so late again!

I, like many come up with many new years resolutions, some I keep to and others I don’t. This may seem very strange to say for someone that has actively studied the craft of filmmaking, but I wanted to watch more films…

So the rules are that I need to pick films which I haven’t seen before, regardless of the era of cinema. So… the films. This month I have been very busy in terms of what I have been watching, some of these films have now become some of my favourite films ever now.

Lost in Translation – Date Viewed: 16/03/2021

Director: Sofia Coppola

Studio: American Zoetrope, Elemental Films

Release Date: 2003

Sophia Coppola’s sophomore effort is probably her most endearing film, Bill Murray shines as a fading movie star, who has briefly moved to Japan to promote a whiskey brand, while there he meets Scarlett Johannsson, a lonely woman, who is left behind by her partner. This is a gorgeous film to behold, a subtle, funny and often devastating look at two characters who come together in a time of need for one another. A really enjoyable watch and a demonstration of how good character design can inspire poignancy and emotion.

Available on Amazon Prime

A Monster Calls – Date Viewed: 17/03/2021

Director: J. A. Bayona

Studio: Participant Media, River Road Entertainment, Apaches Entertainment, Telecinco Cinema, Peliculas La Trini

Release Date: 2016

A touching film, centring on a young boy as his mother is struck with cancer. An ancient monster is summoned to tell him stories, conceding with his life as he grows up accustomed to looking after his mother. A visually potent film with standout performances from Lewis MacDougall and Felicity Jones, who direct the film in such a way that leads from one devastating outcome to the next as it evolves into something more emotionally potent and profound. A very accomplished film.

Available on BBCiPlayer

mid90s- Date Viewed: 19/02/2021

Director: Jonah Hill

Studio: A24, Waypoint Entertainment, Scott Rudin Productions

Release Date: 2018

Jonah Hill’s debut feature is an assured directorial effort, which has a real heart at its centre. Based on personal experience from Hill’s childhood, this film shows how it feels to be part of a community, to be part of a movement, as well as what it’s like to grow up, albeit too fast. The soundtrack to this film is brilliant, as it moves from era to era, perfectly blending to create a real sense of time and place. A vivid coming of age very well told.

Available on Netflix

Mowgul Mowgli – Date Viewed: 20/03/2021

Director: Bassam Tariq

Studio: Pulse Films, Left Handed Films, BBC Films, Cinereach, VICE Studios, RYOT Films, Silvertown Films

Release Date: 2020

Riz Ahmed steals every scene as a British-Pakistani Rapper ‘Z’. Just as his career is on the verge of blowing up, he is struck down by a muscle disease, which has compromised his body. A film which is extremely hard to describe in its relation to genre effortlessly combines the idea of identity and cultural pasts to create a beast of a film, which is impossible to pin down, but enthralling to watch, a real gem of a film by Bassam Tariq.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Bait – Date Viewed: 21/03/2021

Director: Mark Jenkin

Studio: Early Day Films

Release Date: 2019

Mark Jenkin’s masterpiece is a throwback to the early practices of cinema to tell a story, which is seemingly as old as time but is completely contemporary. A fisherman struggles to make ends meets as his hometown is flooded with tourist, who start to control the local area though property developments. His relationship is fractured by his brother using their late father’s vessel as a booze cruise for tourist. An incredibly made, deftly directed masterclass in filmmaking, which is so much more than its visual style as the film crashes towards its crescendo as the locals and the tourists come to a head.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

The Passion of Joan of Arc – Date Viewed: 21/03/2021

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer

Studio: Société Générale des Films

Release Date: 1928

One of the earliest examples of silent cinema, the story of the film is as legendary as the performance of one Renée Jeanne Falconetti, who delivers perhaps one of the most iconic, engrossing and masterful performance of all time. A film created by the Société Générale des Films who wanted a masterpiece to solidify France as a power in cinema, they got it here, but the original print of the film which had endless cuts, the original was then found in 1981 in a Norwegian mental institution. The film centres around Joan of Arc, who has been captured and put on trial by the French who have sided with the British. It’s a classic, which has stood for almost a century. 

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Eyes Without a Face- Date Viewed: 24/03/2021

Director: Georges Franju

Studio: Champs-Élysées Productions, Lux Film

Release Date: 1960

Another classic of French cinema, Georges Franju’s 1960 horror film revolves around a doctor who is trying to perform a successful face transplant for her daughter, who after an accident required constructive surgery. A horrifying insight into the spectre of madness, which hangs over the doctor as he kidnaps other women to carry out this horrific surgery. This has an adverse effect on his daughter, who slowly loses her mind after being isolated and experiments on for so long. A real classic of the genre and well worth a watch.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Under the Shadow – Date Viewed: 26/03/2021

Director: Babak Anvari

Studio: Wigwam Films

Release Date: 2016

A masterclass in suspense. Babak Anavari’s horror ‘Under the Shadow’ follows a young mother how during the Iran/Iraq war definitely stays in the city to be with her daughter, but after a bomb lands in the apartment building, a Djinn spirit seemingly invades the house, terrifying both the young mother and her daughter, who are desperate to expel the demon. A terrifying experience, which not only creates suspense in spades, by delivers with an expert score and excellent performances.

Bicycle Thieves – Date Viewed: 28/03/2021

Director: Vittorio De Sica

Studio: Produzioni De Sica

Release Date: 1948

Consistently heralded as one of the greatest films of all time, this film created a whole genre and inspired some of the most foremost filmmakers in history (Scorsese, Loach, Ray). Documenting an experience of post-WW2 Italy as unemployment and poverty rise exponentially. We follow a young father and his son, as they look for a stolen bicycle which enables him to work and provide a living for his family. Leading from one disaster to another this heartbreaking film is still one above many as it sits unrivalled in what it tries to say and how it says it.

Currently on BFI Player (At the time of writing)

Thankfully I’ve been really on it this month, it’s been a delight to watch these films. Some of these films have been the most visceral and philosophical experiences I’ve had in recent memory. I would recommend all of these films, but I want to single out Mogul Mowgli, Bait and Bicycle Thieves, these films are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Go watch these films now.

Hope you check these films out, I’ve watched them using a mix of Netflix, Amazon Prime, BFI Player and rental. Watching these films again helps get money back into the film industry, so it feels good to feel like I’m helping while enjoying these films.

Stay safe, be present, enjoy things that you like.

Adam

Stills courtesy of FILMGRAB / Kiss Them Goodbye / Bluscreens.net / anothermag.com / Elevation Pictures / Movieclips Classic Trailers / movienco.co.uk / screenmusings.com / Screen Goblin / commonsensemedia.org / NME / Joe’s Movie Blog / MIMI WINSOR / BFI / Wikipedia /

Published by Adam Shafi

Here's my work, ranging from films to essays. Hope you enjoy it!

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