THE GREAT BEAUTY (Artificial Eye). Paul Sorrentino’s virtuoso film (on many people’s list for best foreign film) is from the same stable as Fellini and Antonioni: nostalgic and anti-Roman Catholic, it irritatingly goes nowhere and yet it is fascinating.
A 65-year-old rich socialite (Toni Servillo) wanders around Rome savouring its decadent whirlpool of high life. (Rome, he admits, makes you waste a lot of time.
The grand settings and lush images are richly composed and beautifully framed. The verbal high spot is the socialite telling a smug woman exactly what he thinks of her.
CAESAR MUST DIE (New Wave). Directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, two elderly brothers, filmed their adaptation of Shakespeare’s play in a Roman maximum security prison and cast all the roles from the inmates, who, drawing on their own criminal experiences, easily identified with a classic account of betrayal and murder.
We watch them rehearse in the cells, corridors and prison yard.
They act in their natural dialects and so the parallels between them and the historical characters they are playing are occasionally blurred. Salvatori Striano is a dynamic Brutus. Giovanni Arcuri is perfect casting for Caesar.
The film works so much better than the all-female production of Julius Caesar which was seen at the Donmar Theatre in London in 2012 and also set in a prison.
BROKEN (StudioCanal) is bruising drama, filmed on a small budget and offering a grim and violent portrait of suburban England: a fragile, vulnerable, grieving, broken society is devastated by the daily conflicts and confrontations which come from living in a cul-de-sac with neighbours from hell.
Eloise Laurence, who plays a 11-year-old diabetic tomboy, has never acted before. Her remarkable and naturalistic performance is the centre piece of theatre director Rufus Norris’s disturbing film debut.
PAPADOPOULOS & SONS (Dynamis) is a Greek fable by Marcus Markou about riches versus happiness and is set in London. A highly successful businessman (Stephen Dillane, miscast) loses all his money in the recession. His only asset is a 1970’s fish and chips shop.
With the help of his family and his wayward brother (Georges Corraface, well cast) he re-opens it and finds happiness. Who on earth is going to believe this poorly scripted and poorly acted sentimental nonsense?