Six Of The Best: Chris J. Allan & Jonny Tull | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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If you’re a fan of independent cinema or just don’t want to spend 40 minutes looking through the vast number of on-demand films with Rotten Tomatoes open on your phone, then you’ll be pleased to know that filmmaker/lecturer Chris J. Allan and cinema distribution & exhibition consultant, Jonny Tull (aka the pair behind the Filmhouse Sunderland project) are here to help you find some hidden movie gems. Drawn from films available on free platforms such as BBC IPlayer and All4, as well as Netflix and Amazon Prime, Chris & Jonny’s Film (in the) House Watchlist will offer up four films a week (one from each platform) in time for the weekend to give you all you need to make you the household film aficionado. You can even establish yourself as the region’s new Mark Kermode by commenting/leaving a review on the new list via the Filmhouse Sunderland Facebook page.

Wanting to expand our movie knowledge further, the pair tell us about six foreign language films that have impacted on their lives.

Three Colours White (Switzerland/France/Poland 1994)
The influence of this film on my life has been staggering.  In summer 1994, I walked sheepishly through the front doors of the Tyneside Cinema to begin a three-week work placement for my business HND. I was a 20-year-old lad from a poor family and hadn’t visited there since I’d been taken on a school trip to watch Doctor Who episodes about fifteen years earlier. I was plonked into a cinema to do some ushering and was immediately transported. Krzysztof Kieslowski’s trilogy of films (Blue, White and Red) looks at the ideals of the French flag: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, told through three loosely linked stories.  Bittersweet and entertaining, White is the most whimsical of the three, but it was the perfect entry point for me.  I went on to spend 22 years at the Tyneside and it shaped my entire career and mission in life: to introduce a wider world of film to people and replicate the experience I was lucky to have for others. (Jonny Tull)

Three Colours White is available to rent on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.

La Haine (France 1995)
Mathieu Kassovitz’s blistering French drama stirred up a wave of controversy when it premiered at Cannes in 1995. Released amidst simmering racial tensions which threatened to tear the country apart, La Haine (Hate) is the story of three friends: Hubert, Vinz and Said. When a young Arab is beaten in custody by the police, their violent community erupts in riot.  The film picks up following that, with the three wandering the streets of Paris in the aftermath of the violence.  La Haine is everything I came to love about cinema: it transported me fully, it made me angry and mesmerised me at the same time, and its searing social commentary resonated all the way to the streets of Newcastle. Technically brilliant, beautifully shot in black and white, it’s a snapshot of raw fury delivered with maturity, intelligence and anarchy. (Jonny Tull)

La Haine is available to rent on the Microsoft Store.

101 Reykjavik (Iceland 2000)
This little-seen quirky slacker comedy from Iceland comes from director Baltasar Kormákur (Everest) and tells the story of Hylnur, an unemployed layabout who lives with his mum and spends his days and nights partying in snow-bound Reykjavik, drinking and watching porn.  When fiery Spanish flamenco teacher Lola (Pedro Almodóvar regular Victoria Abril) comes to stay the pair have a one night stand – only for Hylnur to then discover the true nature of the relationship between Lola and his mum… 

With a score co-written by Damon Albarn and a beautifully offbeat tone, this was the stepping off point for my falling in love with Icelandic culture.  The film has a really palpable sense of place, which feeds into my ongoing need to have the films I watch transport me. Watching 101 Reykjavik led to my wife and I spending our honeymoon in Reykjavik, exploring the locations featured for real… (Jonny Tull)

101 Reykjavik is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

Chungking Express (Hong Kong 1994)
When I started studying my film A-levels at South Tyneside College, in what seems like a lifetime ago now, Chungking Express was one of the first films not in the English language I remember being shown, and it’s beauty, power and impact is something that has stuck with me since and grown on me with every re-watch. A film originally conceived as a break for director Wong Kar-wai to take his mind of editing his wuxia epic Ashes of Time, it tells the stories of two Hong Kong policemen at a pivotal time of change in the country’s history, their love and loss playing out alongside the nations own identity crisis. Genre hopping from kooky-comedy to a film noir thriller, its kinetic and kaleidoscopic energy is an absolute joy to behold. If you love cinema, you’ll love Chungking Express. Plus you’ll never be able to hear The Mamas & the Papas “California Dreamin'” in the same way again. (Chris J. Allan)

The Marriage of Maria Braun (West Germany 1978)
New German Cinema of the 1960’s to 80’s is equally a time when filmmakers contended with their own national identities. The Marriage of Maria Braun, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, won the director international acclaim.  It follows Maria, her ill-fated marriage to a German soldier sent to the front lines in WWII,  and the aftermath of being a young woman surviving and flourishing following the war. A melodramatic mix of grit and poetry, exploring the contradictions of guilt and self-preservation wrapped up in a skilfully modern and emotionally complex lead performance from Hanna Schygulla. (Chris J. Allan)

The Marriage Of Maria Braun is available to watch via BFI Player and is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

The 400 Blows (France 1959)
There’s a universality about many coming-of-age films that makes the concept such a rich well to draw from, though few are more beautifully realised than François Truffaut’s feature debut The 400 Blows. Its French title originally derives from the expression “to live a wild life”, a phrase which sums up the young teen Antoine Doinel.  He can’t manage to fit in at home or school, and decides to take his problems into his own hands. The semi-autobiographical take on social outcasts turned social delinquents is told with deep and sympathetic realism, and perhaps most importantly of all compared to other films about the young learning their place in the world, the resolution doesn’t have an easy answer, choosing to look into the future with some uncertainty and disillusionment of the system he finds himself in. (Chris J. Allan)

The 400 Blows is available to rent on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.

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