All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
In spite of being in black and white and with (to modern eyes) slightly hammy acting, this is nevertheless a very moving film. Having read the book I recognised many of the lines immediately. This is not surprising as the author (Erich Remarque) helped write the script. The butterfly ending is rightly legendary. (I thought the later 1979 version of the film was also very powerful)
Her starring Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johansson.
This is set in the near future and I found the locations (mainly Los Angeles) visually fascinating. The story concerns a lonely man who has trouble communicating his feelings to real people but once he begins talking to his sophisticated OS (an Operating System voiced by Scarlett Johansson) who swiftly adapts to his individual needs, he finds a new lease of life. He experiences joy through showing her his life and eventually falls in love with her disembodied voice. It’s a thought-provoking, unusual film that raises many questions. Very cleverly done, extrapolating into the future from our current interactions with phones and technology, I found this depiction of the future plausible, especially the scenes where everybody was walking around communing with their personal technology, not each other. The sterility of this future environment is well-evoked and there’s great acting from Joaquin and great voicing from Scarlett. Two criticisms, a bit too long and, although discreetly done, the ‘sex’ scene was embarrassing
The Lunch Box
Strictly speaking the lunch box that is delivered to the wrong desk in Mumbai is not ‘borrowed’, but for the sake of my format, it sort of fits. This is a simple, charming film about the notes that go between a sad, lonely housewife and a grumpy, grieving widower as they gradually get to know each other. I loved this film especially for its fascinating insight into life in the crowded bustling city and the amazing lunchbox delivery system that luckily for the two protagonists, goes wonderfully wrong.
Something Blue (i.e. sad not rude)
Calvary starring Brendan Gleeson
I watched this because I will watch anything with Brendan Gleeson in it. (I loved The Guard and In Bruges) He’s a mesmeric actor and his lived-in face is perfect for this role as a flawed priest trying to do the right thing in a complex world. He is a ‘good’ priest in a small Irish village reaping the whirlwind of past abuses by the Catholic Church. As a result of all these scandals, priests are no longer trusted or respected, and the main story centres round the knowledge that he is to be killed, in one week’s time, by a victim of past sexual abuse. Symbolically, the priest, like Christ, is to be punished for the sins of others. It’s a great cast, great scenery, and a powerfully gripping story with challenging ideas …but bleak.