As we watch the outgoing President of the United States hand out a series of pardons to his friends and allies, it feels important to give some time over to consider the many victims of the cruel and unusual American judicial system.
In 1999 Sibil 'Fox' Richardson and her husband Rob attempted, and failed, to rob a bank. Fox took a plea deal and served three and a half years, Rob’s lawyer advised him against the deal. He was sentenced to life without parole.
Garrett Bradley’s remarkable documentary, Time (2020), joins Fox 19 years on as she campaigns tirelessly for the release of her husband. Just as Bradley weaves together archive footage with contemporary material to build her film, so too must Fox knit together the competing demands of her situation; patience in the face of an inhumane system, fury and righteousness to spur on the fight for her husband and her children, and all the space in between to ensure that all the battles are ultimately worth the toll they must take.
Ultimately,Time is a deeply personal film, which speaks to the cruel and unjust nature of a for profit incarceration system.
After a successful run on the festival circuit Time is now available to watch on Amazon Prime. And if you want to learn more about the film check out this insightful Q&A with Bradley recorded as part of the New York Film Festival in September.
On weekends we like to recommend films the whole family can enjoy, and this week we'd like to fly the flag for A Cat in Paris (PG, 2012, 65min).
The magically detailed and inherently cool hand-drawn animation follows the escapades of Zoë and her cat as they inexplicably get drawn into the underworld of Parisian crime. The version available on both Amazon and MUBI has an English-language soundtrack, making it accessible for all ages – yet this does not distract from its rich and intricate nouveau style, along with a sublime soundtrack, a beautifully illustrated distinctive Parisian backdrop and an enthralling mysterious story from start to finish.
This animation does not hide away from difficult themes but uses imaginative imagery and innovative storytelling to express mature ideas concerning parental loss and conflict, in close tandem with more traditional child-friendly capers. A great introduction for young viewers into a more thought-provoking and rewarding style of storytelling and animation.
Whilst our Creatures of the Night series remains in its sinister, supernatural slumber, fans of fantasy-horror can get your Friday night fix with today's Hyde Park Pick: Murder Me, Monster (2020, 109mins, cert. 18).
Opening with a startlingly shocking scene, which sets the tone of this metaphysical murder mystery, Murder Me, Monster is a slow-burning police procedural, set in the remote rural region of Mendoza, Argentina.
Cruz, a stoic and taciturn police officer, investigates a series of gruesome crimes, which soon lead to David, the husband of his lover, becoming the prime suspect. After David is sent to a local mental hospital, he blames the murder on the inexplicable appearance of a creature which brutally beheads its victims, after they plead “Murder Me, Monster”.
Alejandro Fadel’s bold new film is both oblique and unsettling, but nonetheless incredibly atmospheric, in murky tones of greens and browns, split by a golden hue. It’s a graphic, visceral and cryptic tale of sad and soiled souls, obsessed with landscape, mirrors, arcane symbology and alliteration. Similar in tone to Twin Peaks (1990- 2017) and Post Tenebras Lux (2012), Murder Me, Monster is a unique vision lost within its own disturbing world. Forensics!
In partnership with Anti-Worlds, we're proud to be supporting the release of Murder Me, Monster as part of our Watch Online collection.
Head to the film's page on our website, where you can stream Murder Me, Monster for £4.99. By watching the film you'll also be directly supporting the Picture House, with 50% of your rental fee donated to the cinema.
Who’d have thought a conversation about lasagne would be a precursor to major political and civil rights change? You can discover why in the insightful documentary Crip Camp (2020, 107mins, PG), today’s Hyde Park Pick to mark International Day of People with Disabilities.
Whilst this may seem a flippant way of introducing such an important topic, it’s the good humour and humane normality that shines through the core of this film, that makes it so engaging.
With extensive 1971 footage from teenage summer camp Jened, situated in the Catskills, directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht wisely immerse us in the young camper’s lives. This brings us much closer to their personalities and personal stories, which we follow as many are inspired to go on to fight for equity in a world of discrimination and exclusion.
This connectivity with and between the participants is emblematic of the wider themes of seemingly disparate people and communities, joining together to act for their mutual benefit. As the film points out, it’s a fight that is sadly ongoing, however it consequently makes this passionate and persuasive journey essential, if not required viewing.
For additional discussion around the film, and putting people with disabilities front and centre of representing their stories, our lovely friends at Birds Eye View recently hosted a panel discussion with the filmmakers, which is available to view via Facebook.
Yesterday was World AIDS Day 2020. When the first World Aids Day took place in 1988 it was the first ever global health day. It was established to try and unite people globally in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illnesses.
To reflect on this important day we wanted to share with you Eros Erosion (UK/Italy, 1990, UK, 41mins) directed by Yorkshire born filmmaker Anne Thew. 30 years old this year, Thew’s beautiful and sorrowful essay film was funded by the British Film Institute and Channel 4 TV as part of the New Directors programme and can be found free to watch on the BFI Player.
Eros Erosion is an abstract exploration of transience and desire, and the silence and concealment surrounding sexuality, love, death, AIDS, and the fear of bereavement.
In Thew’s own words "Eros Erosion began as two words jotted over a drawing of a river. It grew from there. Words, jottings over drawings, another friend had AIDS, conversations, struggle, the futile pursuit of miracle treatments. The only thing I could do was film people fighting and arguing, film landscape, film the sea, and try and make some sense of that helplessness you feel."
Even now, while Covid-19 fills so many of our thoughts, it is still vital that we don’t lose sight of how important good sexual health and wellbeing are. To help support this locally we’re so lucky to have Yorkshire MESMAC, one of the oldest and largest sexual health organisations in the country, working tirelessly to deliver a wide range services from confidential testing and counselling services, to training and advocacy. If you are able to and would like to support their important work you can donate to them directly via their website.
A slasher movie wearing a very stylish stetson.
This blood curdling, splatter-house western is not for the faint hearted. It’s a hyper-violent trudge through the last days of The Old West, following a rag-tag group of moustachioed gunmen and concerned townsfolk as they attempt to rescue their kin, who’ve had the severe misfortune of being kidnapped by a group of subterranean, cannibal cave-dwellers. The film makes an effort to draw a clear distinction between these inhuman antagonists and the actual Native Americans of the period, but the almost cartoonishly monstrous “troglodytes” seem to be a clear extrapolation of the white settlers’ own notions of the “uncivilised savage”.
There’s a real attention to detail in the look and feel of the film; the beautiful costume design, ramshackle frontier sets, and bleak, wide open exteriors never fail to impress. But there’s little in the way of historical accuracy and the period’s stereotypes go by largely unchallenged. The dialogue between these stock western characters, though, is coarse, snappy and pleasantly pulpy, and their regular griping and frontier-philosophising help keep the film trucking along at a steady pace.
Things lead to a truly climactic third act where the sound design really comes into its own, hammering home the ultra-violence with bone-shattering thuds and sickly, wet crunches. Much like Cormac McCarthy’s seminal novel, Blood Meridian (a definite influence on film), Bone Tomahawk revels in bloody excess. The unrestrained violence ends up acting as a sort-of condemnation of itself, with the unflinching, visceral gore, the oppressive weight of brutality heaped upon brutality, working overtime to rid us of any notion that the horrors committed during this era of American history could ever be justified.
You can stream Bone Tomahawk for free on channel4.com until this Friday.
For today’s Feels Good Sunday Hyde Park Pick, we’ve selected the marvellous meme-based documentary Feels Good Man (2020).
Way back in 2005 – which already feels like a lifetime ago, and in internet time it definitely is – a cute cartoon character called Pepe the Frog hopped up on Myspace in a copy of American indie comic Boy’s Club. Created by San Franciscan artist Matt Furie, the innocent Pepe quickly became a huge internet meme, co-opted by a variety of forums and user groups with their own very different agendas.
Hijacked by anonymous users on community websites such as imageboard 4chan, Pepe became a symbol for the far-right, used for abuse, antagonism, misogyny and racism, and was eventually added to the Anti-Defamation League’s hate-symbol register. Powerless in the face of this monolith of hatred, how is an individual artist to respond, regain control and reclaim the rights and meaning of their work, both legally and creatively?
This fascinating and eye-opening feature debut by Arthur Jones is in part a salutary lesson on the speed of our increasingly digital world. It’s also a cautionary tale of the constantly shifting and expanding cultural meanings of images, the use of technology by extremism and how this intersects with society, politics and real life.
Feels Good Man is available on the BBC iPlayer for the next 11 months.