Cinema: Celluloid gems and classics to come

Teyonah Parris in Chi-Raq, from director Spike Lee
Teyonah Parris in Chi-Raq, from director Spike Lee

The new film from Belgium’s venerable filmmaking sibling duo, the Dardenne Brothers, Unknown Girl once again poses a moral question to the viewer and the characters on screen.

In their last film, Two Days, One Night, Marion Cotillard’s Sandra is forced to beg her colleagues to refuse their bonuses to keep her job.

Unknown Girl’s dilemma is how one simple choice can make the world of difference for all concerned. As a doctor works late in a closed surgery, a young woman knocks on her door. After refusing her entry the doctor is filled with guilt when the young woman is later found dead.

She sets out to discover the mystery caller’s identity and to find out how she came to die. Frequently the doctor is challenged by her guilt and, although her investigations threaten her job, and potentially her life, she cannot leave the case alone. The film encourages the viewer to question when and how they too may have brushed people off when perhaps an intervention could have made the difference. Never one for black and white moral stories, this isn’t simply a good Samaritan tale, it is about shared human responsibility; the grey area between right and wrong, guilt by chance and innocence through ignorance.

With a brilliant performance by French rising star Adèle Haenel, Unknown Girl is a gripping story with much going on beneath the surface.

From gritty, realist drama to the stylised music-video satirical world of Chi-Raq.

From acclaimed director Spike Lee, this is a feast for the eyes and ears as a group of women use their bodies and attentions to campaign for an end to gang violence in a city plagued by gun crime.

It stars Teyonah Parris, who has been making waves in the US since her break out role in Dear White People, and features hilarious turns from John Cusack and super-fly Samuel L. Jackson as the narrator.

Looking into film history,1927’s Napoleon, the seminal work of Abel Gance, also returns to the cinema this weekend.

At an epic five-and-a-half hours, this ground-breaking piece of cinema history is restored in all its glory including astounding use of tinting and the final impressive chapter in triptych.

One for all cinephiles, this is a rare chance to experience the full story of Bonaparte’s rise and to see how silent film had reached astounding levels of sophistication. There will be intervals.