This week’s highlights kicks off with a dose of economics; Freakanomics (Thursday 10th May, 8.30pm) is a surprising documentary based on the book of the same name, written by economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner.
Released in 2005, the book spent two years on the New York Times Bestsellers list and was translated into 35 languages; it also inspired a follow-up book, Superfreakanomics.
For an economist Levitt tackles an interesting range of topics, which are all used as examples of how in their view economics is essentially the study of incentives. These include parenting, the impact a name has on a child, cheating, crime levels and incentives themselves.
In adapting this book to film, producer Chad Troutwine had the idea of inviting 6 filmmakers to document one idea each from the book: Alex Gibney, the team of Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, Seth Gordon, Eugene Jarecki and Morgan Spurlock signed on.
The mini-documentaries each have their own style and are stylishly well presented, so while collectively they may feel a little disjointed they succeed in making economics entertaining and easily understood.
Two other films caught my attention this week, both beautifully shot sagas that draw you in through their remarkable cinematography,
In the case of The Fall (Saturday 12th May, 8.30pm) it’s not just stunning cinematography that brings director Tarsem Singh’s fantasy fairytale to life, but also his imaginative storytelling and beautiful production design and costumes. The film boasts of having no computer generated imagery, so keep this in mind as you watch a remarkable piece of cinema.
Released in 2006 The Fall tells the story of an injured young stunt man in Los Angeles in the 20s who befriends a young girl with a broken arm recovering in the same hospital. As he begins to tell her a fantastical story about 5 mythical heroes the line between fiction and reality starts to blur.
The Fall quickly garnered a reputation for being a “vanity project” as described by Variety magazine. Film critic Roger Ebert described it as “a mad folly, an extravagant visual orgy, a free-fall from reality into uncharted realms. Surely it is one of the wildest indulgences a director has ever granted himself”. It took Tarsem four years to film across 28 countries and he pitched in millions of his own money. Indulgent? Oh yes. But also audacious, highly original and daring.
Romantic drama The Last Flight screens on Rialto Channel’s World Cinema series on Tuesday evening at 8.30pm. Based on the novel by Sylvain Estibal, it is a combination of fiction and non-fiction and takes you into the depths of the Sahara desert as Marie (Marion Cotillard) goes in search of her lover; pioneer aviator Bill Lancaster who vanished in the Sahara during a flight from England to Cape Town. Once again, the scenery shines here.
This is just one of several French films screening on Tuesday evenings in May as Rialto Channel’s World Cinema series celebrates French cinema with a collection of enjoyable romances, comedies and dramas.