1917 (Entertainment One). Sam Mendes directs one of the best World War I films. 1,600 British soldiers are about to walk into a German trap and certain massacre. Can they be stopped? Telephone lines are down. Two lance-corporals are on a mission to deliver a letter from HQ to stop the advance. The young lads go on an extraordinary journey which is both real and surreal. There are dramatic incidents and encounters. The tension is high. Roger Deakins’ camera work is amazing, absolutely stunning. He got an Oscar. There are incredibly long, single continuous takes; so long you will wonder if they will ever end. Deakins follows the lads though the trenches and out into No Man’s Land, a bleak Paul Nash landscape, and through ruined farms houses and burning buildings, into a river full of corpses and up to the front line. George McKay and Dean Charles Chapman are the soldiers.
BOMBSHELL (Lionsgate). Sexual harassment in the workplace: a film with a feminist agenda is aimed at the #MeToo Movement. “You wanna play with the big boys then you gotta lay with the big boys. If you want to be on Fox News you have to sleep with the boss.” Director Jay Roach takes a docudrama approach to the way two Fox News reporters (played by Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron) brought down the obnoxious CEO Roger Ailes (obnoxiously played by John Lithgow), a strong Donald Trump supporter, who insists his women newsreaders sit at glass tables which show off their legs. Interviewing women for the job, he asks them to raise their skirts higher and higher and higher. Margot Robbie plays a composite victim and she has one of the best scenes when she manages to ward him off without actually losing her job.
END OF THE CENTURY (Peccadillo). It’s a very long time before anybody speaks. Two strangers, a poet and a TV director, meet in Barcelona. It is only after they have had sex that they remember they had met and had sex 20 years ago. Long static shots of the men chatting away alternate with robust sex. Argentine director Lucio Castro plays around with time and place. It’s not always clear whether we are in the present or past which can be disconcerting. The actors look exactly the same in both eras. They do not play younger. One way of checking which era you are in is to see whether the fridge is empty or full. However, it is the ambiguity which gives the film its time-remembered feeling and makes it special. The acting of Juan Barberia and Ramon Pujol is real and touching.
THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR MABUSE (Eureka Blu-Ray). Fritz Lang’s last film was made in Germany and released in 1960. An American millionaire (Peter van Eyck) saves a young woman (Dawn Addams) from committing suicide. She is on the ledge of a window in the Luxor Hotel which was built by the Nazis during World War 2. Every room and every corridor is fitted with hidden microphones and cameras. Dr Mabuse, a diabolical criminal who wants to rule the world, is a famous figure created in the silent film era and resurrected. Gert Frobe is the detective. It feels like a B-feature made on the cheap; but it has its moments.