This week, Rialto Channel is playing one of the most stunning films I’ve seen this year, although officially released late last year, Lars Von Trier’s psychological disaster movie Melancholia (Saturday 3rd November, 8.30pm).
This week Rialto Channel is playing one of the most stunning films I’ve seen this year, Lars Von Trier’s psychological disaster movie Melancholia (Saturday 3rd November, 8.30pm).
It’s an extraordinary film - a haunting, beautiful, and emotionally raw take on depression, and, well, our place in the universe. A film of two parts, it tells the story of sisters Justine (Kirsten Dunst), who suffers from manic depression, and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a typically anxious mother.
Initially we must endure Justine’s wedding reception, a drawn-out affair that introduces us to Justine and her dysfunctional family. It’s like a dark social commentary, although the humour takes you by surprise and helps lighten what is a rather sombre tone.
The second half is more about Claire and her concern that Melancholia, a planet scheduled to pass close by, will actually hit and destroy Earth. In stark contrast to her sister, who feared marriage more than she does the end of the world, Claire has a child and everything to live for.
Melancholia turns out to be a fascinating exploration of how two people deal with the same situation. It’s a film filled with characters either pushing their family, lovers and friends away, or desperately trying to draw them close.
Von Trier is the perfect person to explore depression as he has been haunted by anxiety and depression throughout his life. Interestingly, for all its apocalyptic gloom there is something quite beautiful about Melancholia, which goes beyond production design. It’s a bold, original, thought-provoking film, filled with as many devastating little moments as there are important big ones. Regardless of whether you love or just like Melancholia, it’s a hard film to shake off.
Rialto Channel is playing Melancholia this month, as Lars von Trier is the featured filmmaker in Rialto’s Directors' Showcase screening every Sunday at 8.30pm. The other films from this director we’re showing in November are Europa, Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark and Dogville – what a month! We also premiere the controversial Antichrist.
Life doesn’t get that much more upbeat in my next pick, the award-winning Of Gods and Men (Tuesday 30th October, 8.30pm).
This delicately paced drama is loosely based on the story of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine, in Algeria, from 1993 until their kidnapping in 1996 by Islamist fundamentalists. The film explores the relationship the eight French Christian monks have with the small poor community they assist. As the level of violence rises the monks face the impossible decision as to whether they stay and face the rebels, or leave. Directed by Xavier Beauvois, this delicately paced and moving film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and was the recipient of the Best Foreign Language Film by the National Board of Review.
Finally, you can start the week with a laugh – you may need one - with The Guard (Monday 29th October, 8.30pm). A delightfully naughty black comedy, it stars Brendan Gleeson as a small town Irish cop with a rather eccentric approach to his job. It’s an Irish version of a spaghetti western meets buddy-cop-movie meets classic fish out of water comedy – and it’s riotously good fun. It’s a touch violent and very unconventional but don’t let that put you off, Gleeson is very charming.