Running time: 84 mins
Release Date: 30th September 2016
Director & Writer: Babak Anvari
Cast: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Ray Haratian, Hamidreza Djavdan and Soussan Farrokhnia
Tehran, 1988: the Iran-Iraq war rumbles into its eighth year. The bombing campaigns focused on the city, coupled with the country’s bloody revolution, slowly tear a mother and daughter apart. As they struggle to stay together in the midst of these modern terrors, a mysterious evil stalks through their apartment, threatening their grip on reality.
Under the Shadow is mainly set in a block of flats in Tehran during the Iran–Iraq War. The background is one of never-ending war, with Iraq having begun its ‘strategic bombing’ campaign of Iranian cities. It effectively depicts a beleaguered and tired civilian population, largely through a strained family relationship.
The film is subtle and restrained for its first hour. Its focus is on the character of Shideh, a woman forced to abandon her medical studies after the Cultural Revolution and now finding it impossible to take them up again in a country that has become deeply socially conservative. Constrained, frustrated and virtually confined to her flat at the start of the film, her physical isolation increases as the film progresses. She is nevertheless a determined, capable character.
Her daughter Dorsa is a strong-minded character too, and is ably portrayed in her childish single-mindedness. As the nexus of strange events start to coalesce around Dorsa, an atmosphere of strangeness and malevolence, nightmare and fever, starts to build. The scares are carefully rationed and instead Under the Shadow depends on mood. The film’s ‘monster’, built up by hints and allusions, is startling and original when it finally does appear.
The programme for the BFI London Film Festival is now available. I had a pow-wow with film critic EC Forde, and between us, we’ve come up with a list of the Afrocentric films you can see at this years London film Festival.
8-19 October 2014.
248 films. 17 venues. 12 days. One festival.
The festival opens on October 8th with The Imitation Game, a film on the life of British mathematician and cryptanalyst, Alan Turing. It closes on Sunday, 19th with Fury, about a World War Two American tank crew who find themselves behind enemy lines.
Of the films listed below EC’s personal highlights would be, in no particular order:
The programme for the BFI London Film Festival is now available. I had a pow-wow with film critic EC Forde, and between us, we’ve come up with this list of the Afrocentric films you can see at this years London film Festival.
8-19 October 2014. 248 films. 17 venues. 12 days. One festival.
Download our Schedule of these films over the festival.
African Metropolis An exciting journey across six African countries in six short films, highlighting the issues facing peoples seemingly worlds apart, yet with so much in common.
Oct 18, 2014 1:00 PM ~ Rich Mix Cinema, Screen 1
Oct 19, 2014 6:15 PM ~ BFI Southbank, NFT2
A sensual teen romance unfurls in a remote Brazilian village threatened by global warming in this haunting feature debut.
Oct 11, 2014 1:00 PM ~ Rich Mix Cinema, Screen 1
Oct 15, 2014 3:30 PM ~ BFI Southbank, NFT2
Beti and Amare
In 1930s Ethiopia, a young woman escapes Mussolini’s army and is almost attacked by bandits, were it not for the arrival of an otherworldly presence whom she befriends.
Oct 18, 2014 3:30 PM ~ ICA Cinema, Screen 1
Oct 19, 2014 6:15 PM ~ Ritzy Cinema, Screen 2
Dear White People
Channeling the early work of Spike Lee, this smart college campus comedy explores contemporary race issues in post-Obama America.
An account of life for young students in the Democratic Republic of Congo who face challenges beyond the curriculum.
Oct 11, 2014 8:30 PM ~ BFI Southbank, NFT2
Oct 15, 2014 1:00 PM ~ ICA Cinema, Screen 1
A family is shaken by an unexplained pregnancy in Debbie Tucker Green’s bold debut.
Oct 17, 2014 9:15 PM ~ Odeon West End, Screen 1
Oct 18, 2014 6:30 PM ~ Rich Mix Cinema, Screen 1
Oct 19, 2014 3:30 PM ~ Ritzy Cinema, Screen 2
Song From the Forest
An American musicologist’s life among the Bayaka pygmies is portrayed in this haunting documentary.
Oct 12, 2014 6:00 PM ~ BFI Southbank, NFT3
Oct 17, 2014 3:30 PM ~ ICA Cinema, Screen 1
Sunday Ball Campo de jogo The land of football, Brazil, and the love of this national sport is the subject of this passionate documentary, looking at the role it plays in the lives of ordinary Brazilians.
‘Edge of Tomorrow’ unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world.
Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop—forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again…and again. Facebook
Scene after scene is repeated, but don’t think too hard, and enjoy as Cage and Rita (Emily Blunt) unravel the clues in attempt, after attempt, after attempt to beat their enemy. It has: alien fighting, a hint of romance, Brendan Gleeson as General Brigham, scenes in London and France, and a wicked touch of humour running through it.
LIVE. DIE. REPEAT.
The film is based on, ‘All You Need Is Kill’, a novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Cage changes from smooth PR man to fearful, naïve rookie soldier, to hardened fighting man. I queried why a few things didn’t add up, and had the word ‘paradox’ thrown at me. I’ve taken this to mean, “It’s good enough to get away with it”, and it is! As I said, don’t think too hard, just enjoy and watch as Cage dies over and over again. I left, smiling and slightly revved! 😉 Rated: 4½ – ✩ ✯ ✰☆½
Director: Doug Liman Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Lara Pulver, Jeremy Piven, Charlotte Riley
A Million Ways To Die In The West (15)
After Albert backs out of a gunfight, his fickle girlfriend leaves him for another man. When a mysterious and beautiful woman rides into town, she helps him find his courage and they begin to fall in love. But when her husband, a notorious outlaw, arrives seeking revenge, the farmer must put his newfound courage to the test.
If you like a spoof-ish, slapstick, kinda movie, then this is the one for you. I don’t! The jokes were cheap, and silly. Some were worthy of a laugh, and I did laugh, but most of the time, in between my yawns, I was thinking, ‘Really?’ One particular scenes sticks in my mind, a man gets rammed and carried off on the horns of a bull – I looked to my left, I looked to my right, and then I laughed, a laugh of, ‘What the hell is this?’
Still, I’m sure it’s just my particular proclivities to dislike easy jokes and cheap shots – most of the rest of the audience were laughing, laughing at every joke!
I admit to being a bit slow sometimes, and it didn’t click until the next day that the lead actor (also Director, Producer, and co-writer) was the very same Seth MacFarlane who presented the 2013 Oscars… and the jokes haven’t got much better! I’ve knocked off half a point for the slave joke! Rated: 1½ – ✮½
Director: Seth MacFarlane Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris
Other films this week:Friday 30 May 2014
• For No Good Reason (showing in London only) – Johnny Depp explores, through interviews, the stories and images, the art and life, of British artist, Ralph Steadman. Director: Charlie Paul. Starring: Ralph Steadman, Johnny Depp
• Downhill (15) – Four old friends, 192 miles, what could possibly go wrong? Director: James Rouse. Starring: Richard Lumsden, Karl Theobald, Ned Dennehy, Jeremy Swift
• Jimmy’s Hall (12A) – Period-drama set in 1921 telling the true story of political activist Jimmy Gralton who was deported from Ireland after building a dance hall on a rural crossroad, where young people could come to learn, to argue, to dream… but above all to dance and have fun. Director: Ken Loach. Starring: Barry Ward, Simone Kirby, Andrew Scott
• Mariachi Gringo – A stifled, small-town man stuck in a dead end life, runs away to Mexico to be a mariachi singer. Director: Tom Gustafson. Starring: Shawn Ashmore, Martha Higareda, Lila Downs
• Mr. Jones – Mr. Jones is ‘Cabin in the Woods’ meets ‘Jacobs Ladder’; a terrifying nightmare that’s so real, even daylight brings no relief. Director: Karl Meuller. Starring: Jon Foster, Sarah Jones
• Omar (15) – A sensitive young baker who is accustomed to dodging surveillance bullets when he daily crosses the separation wall to visit Nadia, his secret love. But occupied Palestine knows neither simple love nor clear-cut war. To prove himself to Nadia’s family, Omar becomes a freedom fighter and must soon face painful choices about life and manhood. Director: Hany Abu-Assad. Starring: Adam Bakri, Leem Lubany, Iyad Hoorani, Samer Bisharat