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Themed Feature - 22 December 2016

Tears and laughter

Woody Allen and three directors in their 40s prove that the courage to go your own way can lead to great films

Who prefers to play the clarinet in a New York jazz club than attend the Oscars? Here’s a hint: He wears black horn-rimmed glasses and on average makes a film every year. For decades, Woody Allen has been one of the world’s best directors and has won four Academy Awards – without receiving them personally. With films such as Annie Hall or Midnight in Paris, the former comedy writer from Brooklyn plays in a league of his own, being on a par with his idols Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini. He can do both slapstick and weighty dramas about life and death.

Now 81 years old, he continues to make movies. On board you can watch his latest film Café Society, a romantic comedy drama set in Los Angeles in the mid-1930s. With ample nostalgia, he revels in the city’s golden age. It is the time of Ginger Rogers, Gary Cooper, Fred Astaire. Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg), a young man from the Bronx, moves to his uncle’s house in Hollywood and immerses himself in the glittering world of glamour. As is often the case with Allen, Bobby soon finds himself tangled up in a love triangle.

 

 

A generation of directors who could almost be Allen’s grandchildren now follows in his footsteps: filmmakers going their own way, beyond the mainstream. They are in their early forties and have already made a name for themselves. From Derek Cianfrance comes the romantic drama The Light Between Oceans, based on the best seller by M.L. Stedman. In the early 1920s, war veteran Tom (Michael Fassbender) becomes a lighthouse keeper on an uninhabited island off the west coast of Australia, and falls in love with Isabel (Alicia Vikander). Then the sea washes something ashore that changes their lives forever. After his success with The Place Beyond the Pines and Blue Valentine, Cianfrance has again created a film that pulls at our heartstrings. Keep the handkerchiefs at the ready!

 

 

Like Allen, Taika Waititi also began as a comedian and has already made New Zealand’s most successful film at the age of 41. Hunt for the Wilderpeople tells a story that manages to both move the audience and make them laugh. As well as being director, Waititi is part of the cast, wrote the screenplay and produced this fabulous film. At its heart is 13-year-old Ricky (a true discovery: Julian Dennison), a hip-hop-loving foster child who calls his dog Tupac. Together with grumpy Uncle Hec (Sam Neill), Ricky flees into the New Zealand bush, where the bizarre adventures continue. A refreshingly unconventional film with lots of charm and a big heart.

 

 

Oscar-nominated animator Travis Knight has created a compelling story for the whole family with his directorial debut. Kubo and the Two Strings is a fascinating stop-motion animated movie, which consists of an incredible 145,000 individual shots. Kubo is a one-eyed boy who lives with his mother in feudal Japan. He masters the art of folding paper into shapes and loves to tell stories with them. A samurai beetle, a monkey and uncanny twin sisters from the moon are some of the characters in this breathtaking work of art. With this masterpiece, Knight proves that filmmakers can never have too much of two things: imagination and the courage to create their own style.

 

WATCH/LISTEN
Café Society
The Light Between Oceans
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Kubo and the Two Strings