What’s on at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse: The Killer – and Killers of the Flower Moon – lead line-up of legends
Two legendary directors have new films – and there are screenings of movies by two more legends at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse this month, as our critic Mark Walsh explains in this column, sponsored by the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse.
David Fincher has been not only one of the most distinctive and innovative visual directors of the past quarter of a century, but has also shown an incredible ability to tap into, and some cases define, the zeitgeist, with films including Fight Club, The Social Network and Gone Girl. He’s now reteamed with the writer of his seminal first feature - the inexplicably titled Se7en - for an adaptation of a French graphic novel series about an ice-cold hitman.
Andrew Kevin Walker has reteamed with Fincher to adapt Alexis “Matz” Nolent’s story of the titular assassin who’s given jobs by his handler (Charles Parnell) that have a zero tolerance for failure. Michael Fassbender talks us through his modus operandi in extensive detail, his need to blend in (German tourist is the fashion choice apparently most suited to this), his occasional yoga to help his heart rate down to the point where his hand won’t shake on the fatal shot. But for all his preparation on a job in Paris, a millimetre off sends the operation awry and The Killer is soon scrabbling to save his own life and that of those he cares about.
If you’ve ever wondered what a Fincher Bond movie would look like, then this could be it, with a series of globetrotting locations and a resourcefulness that makes Fassbender 007 and Q rolled into one (there’s also a series of entertaining pseudonyms to look out for on his various fake IDs.)
While Walker’s script nails the ice-cold steel and focus needed to carry out the job, the highlights are Fassbender’s battles with the two rivals sent to eliminate him: a bone-crunching fight with The Brute (Sala Baker) that makes recent Mission: Impossible fights look like a mild slap around in the playground, and a wonderful tete-a-tete with The Expert (Tilda Swinton) while she knocks back a flight of whiskies and contemplates her fate.
The Killer opens on Friday, October 27.
Killers of the Flower Moon
There is only one actor – if you discount the director’s own mother Catherine – that has appeared in more Martin Scorsese films than Leonardo DiCaprio, and that’s Robert De Niro.
The great American director’s two most frequent muses, who have delivered some of the defining performances of Scorsese’s career, are two of the key players in Scorsese’s latest masterpiece; his take on the injustices meted out to the Osage Native American tribe is as good as anything in his career, which is no small achievement given that his last three films – The Wolf Of Wall Street, Silence and The Irishman – are possibly as strong as any consecutive run by any director.
But while De Niro, as the cattle rancher William King Hale who prefers people to address him by his middle name, and DiCaprio – cast against type as King’s weaselly nephew, his internal conflict etched onto his permanently furrowed brow – are the big names and put in performances of the usual high standard, the standout in the film is Lily Gladstone, as the Osage wife who gradually sees her family die in mysterious circumstances.
As she gradually inherits the oil wealth granted to her and her relatives, the likelihood of her being next seems to grow by the day.
Scorsese has made another American epic, with regular cinematographer Rodrigo Pietro helping him to craft breathtaking visuals and editor Themla Schoonmaker again editing crime to distinct, brutal rhythms.
Scorsese offers up the guilt that he perceives should be carried by the American nation for these crimes and, while there’s been criticism the story doesn’t reflect the Osage perspective more directly, it is difficult to imagine a better crafted, more compelling take on one of the darker chapters of American history.
Killers Of The Flower Moon is showing from Friday, October 27.
Sight & Sound Top 10 - Citizen Kane
We are reaching the business end of this monthly countdown through the films deemed by critics to be the greatest of all time in Sight & Sound magazine’s most recent poll of the decade, and it’s difficult to look back with fresh eyes now to see just how innovative Orson Welles’ first and most enduring film was at the time. But there’s so much creativity and so many memorable moments, that Citizen Kane continues to stand the test of time, having placed at number three on the poll from the end of last year.
As well as directing, Welles co-wrote the screenplay (with Herman J Mankiewicz), produced and starred as newspaper publisher Charles Foster Kane. On his deathbed, he utters a mysterious final word, “rosebud”, but dies before revealing its meaning. Reporter Jerry Thompson (William Alland) is tasked with finding out the significance of the word, and begins interviewing those who knew Kane to attempt to get to the truth.
Welles delivers firsts in everything from cinematography and editing to story style (with flashbacks and narration) that have come to define so much of the cinema that has followed. The chance to see his masterpiece on the big screen and to wallow in is even more unmissable given that the Arts Picturehouse will be showing it on film.
Citizen Kane is showing in 35 mm on Sunday, October 29.
Culture Shock: The Shining (Original Cut)
It’s still remarkable, given how much Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick disagreed over the approach the director took to adapting the famed horror writer’s work, that The Shining has become one of the most iconic horror movies of all time. What better way to mark Halloween than to treat yourself to a showing of Kubrick’s horror classic?
Jack Nicolson is Jack Torrance, the caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, closed for the winter season, but while keeping watch there his son Danny (Danny Lloyd) begins to have terrifying visions, and is warned to stay away from room 237. Danny and the hotel share a telepathic connection and soon he, as well as his mother Wendy (Shelly Duval) are in danger.
Kubrick’s traditionally intense production process may have taken its toll on the actors but his innovations, such as his use of Steadicam tracking shots to heighten the sense of unease, helped to craft an enduring horror legend that’s been imitated and referenced ever since. Initially it wasn’t a box office success in the States but, as with so many films, time has reflected positively on it, and now the Arts Picturehouse gives you the chance to do the same.
The Shining is showing on Tuesday, October 31.