Kees Kasander

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Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow Review


Good
A fascinating, offbeat portrait of a distinctive artist, this film offers very little commentary, merely observing the work as well as the creative process.

It's not a hugely engaging film, but it's an important, beautifully assembled document.

German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer has spent the last two decades building elaborate, oversized art at his studio, La Ribaute, in southern France. Previously a silk factory, the derelict buildings are now both a massive studio space and an elaborate network of underground tunnels and chambers. And above the surface there are astonishing tower blocks built from pre-fab concrete slabs. Some of the spaces feel like churches or secret hideouts, others like archaeological digs. Scattered throughout are Kiefer's distinctive sculptures and paintings. And watching him create them is almost like performance art.

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Nightwatching Review


Good
As visually fascinating as anything Greenaway has done, this film's narrative is so convoluted that it's virtually impossible to follow unless you know the life story of Rembrandt. And even then it's a challenge.

When he's commissioned to paint a local militia group in 1642 Amsterdam, Rembrandt (Freeman) has premonitions of trouble, but goes ahead and creates a fiercely untraditional painting that reveals rather too many secrets about the musketeers depicted in it. While painting it, his sparky wife (Birthistle) gives birth to his son, but becomes seriously ill in the process, eventually causing him to turn to the family nurses (Holmes and May) for company. And when complete, the portrait, The Night Watch, has drastic repercussions on his career.

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Fish Tank Review


Extraordinary
Andrea Arnold takes a confident step forward with the follow-up to her acclaimed debut Red Road. This is an almost unnervingly naturalistic look at a teen's life, anchored by a fierce central performance.

Mia (Jarvis) is 15 and lives in a council flat with her peroxide-blonde mum Joanne (Wareing) and her sharp-tongued little sister Tyler (Griffiths). Her only interest is in dance, and she's preparing for an audition that she hopes will get her out of her grim Essex life. In the meantime, she finds herself intrigued by Joanne's latest boyfriend, Connor (Fassbender), although she's not sure if it's as a father figure or something else entirely. And she also decides to free an old horse owned by a neighbour (Treadaway).

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8 1/2 Women Review


Unbearable
Peter Greenaway's latest foray into highbrow elitism will test the endurance of even his most fervent admirers. 8 1/2 Women indulges his fascination with the human body by allowing a father and son to fulfil their sexual fantasies by setting up a brothel comprised of the title characters, and systematically ogling each of the voluptuous and unusual female forms they encounter.

The compulsive listmaking and mathematical precision of Greenaway's earlier films is present and intact, but the center of 8 1/2 Women is ultimately hollow and painfully obvious. His very concept reduces women to childish fantasies such as the sexually repressed nun (Toni Collette), the pregnant woman (Natacha Amal), the nubile bombshell (Polly Walker), the prudish accountant who wears thick glasses (Vivian Wu, from The Pillow Book) and the woman who adores her pet horse and pig (Amanda Plummer). The "half-woman" has no legs, of course.

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The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover Review


Excellent
Helen Mirren's had enough of boorish husband/restaurateur Michael Gambon in this creepy and foul yet eminently watchable melodrama -- in fact, it remains Peter Greenaway's one and only great film. To be honest, it's his only good film at all, a shock considering its no more grotesque than some of his other work. The film's simple story has Mirren having an affair with a regular (Alan Howard) at hubby's restaurant -- at least until he catches wind of it (which is inevitable, since they never leave the restaurant to do the deed). I won't spoil what happens after that point, but the getting there (in which Greenaway concocts a color- and symbolism-feuled fantasy where costumes change as actors walk between rooms) is just as much fun.

Prospero's Books Review


Unbearable
Peter Greenaway is possibly best known for this inexplicable film, a fanciful, musical, nearly-all-nude recreation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. You have to wonder if the austere John Gielgud, who has played Prospero in the theater five times, knows if topless women are voguing behind him as he delivers his lines. Or that a child is projectile urinating in the background. The paycheck couldn't have been that great.

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Ken Park Review


OK
Admired by some, reviled by many, Larry Clark and his films range from frighteningly honest to quizzically gratuitous. With Kids, he shocked moviegoers (especially parents) with his group of smooth-skinned city teens humping like mad, partying to disgusting excess, and spreading death. In last year's explosive drama Bully, Clark adapted a true-life tale to illustrate a microcosm of violent peer pressure. With Ken Park, the movie Larry Clark has wanted to make since the late 1980s, the to-hell-with-it-all filmmaker gives us more screwed-up kids, equally deranged parents, and sexual acts teetering on the precipice of boring pornography. Ken Park has something to say -- it just doesn't say it too clearly.

Clark teams up with co-director Ed Lachman (lauded cinematographer of Far From Heaven) and his bad-boy Kids screenwriter Harmony Korine to tell us that young people are the most tension-filled, powder keg group in the country. Witness the film's opening credits: the title teen (red-haired Adam Chubbuck) skateboards through a suburban town, enters his local skate park, and puts a bullet through his own head. Roll movie.

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A Zed & Two Noughts Review


Grim
Peter Greenaway, with A Zed & Two Noughts, gives us what is undoubtedly the ultimate film with time-lapse shots of decomposing animals. Seeing them swell up with maggots and then explode, well, it's enough to make you want to go out for ice cream.

Lest you think I'm joking, consider Greenaway's body of work, which has included plenty of equally perverse nonsense. This time out he's giving us a story -- if you can call it that -- of a doctor whose wife dies in a freak car crash in front of the zoo (think about the title) where his twin brother is researching the aforementioned decaying of dead things. The distraught brothers end up in a love affair with a woman named Alba, who lost one leg in the car accident and later decides to lop off the other one for kicks.

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