2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY ★★★★
G, 149 minutes. Astor Theatre and Sun Cinema, now screening
Screening only as a 70-millimetre print – newly struck from the original negative but without any digital additions or alterations – overseen by filmmaker and admirer Christopher Nolan, this 50th anniversary edition of Stanley Kubrick's science-fiction classic is an immersive experience. The black of space is suitably deep, the practical effects reveal terrific detail, and the celluloid texture provides a breathing counterpoint to what is a story (complete with intermission) of disaffection and control beyond reason. The plot remains a slender thread, as humanity's progress follows the route markers of alien monoliths from the dawn of man to interplanetary space travel, but it perfectly cradles the fanfares and cosmic realisations engineered by Kubrick and his chief collaborator, author Arthur C. Clarke. Kubrick's identification with the HAL 9000 artificial intelligence shepherding astronauts to Jupiter is readily apparent, but the scale of 2001 in 70 millimetres reinforces its fragile humanity. Whether it's apes on the African plain fearful of a predator, or the breathing inside his suit of an astronaut fighting for survival, the film has a vital pulse.
M, 105 minutes. Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Friday, June 22, until Tuesday, July 3.
A timely reminder of how a child's education is crucially connected to their teacher, this French drama turns a primary school classroom into a kinetic learning space where the one adult, committed educator Florence (a terrific Sara Forestier), nurtures, encourages and above all believes in her two dozen or so 10-year-old charges. Co-writer and director Helene Angel (Forbidden House) frames Florence amidst a chaos she channels, but also reveals how the single mother's commitment distorts her own life and that of her son and pupil, Denis (Albert Cousil), especially after she takes on the challenge of a disruptive new study, Sacha (Ghillas Bendjoudi). Adding the boy to her list of commitments reveals his neglect at home, and a former father figure, Mathieu (Vincent Elbaz), who takes an interest in both Sacha and Florence. As with Laurent Cantet's The Class, Elementary captures the dynamics of a single school class, where turmoil can be helpful or destructive. It's a paean to the teachers who make a difference, but with few illusions.
MA, 123 minutes. Now screening
The action is the juice in this often feverish South Korean crime film, which is a loose but garishly effective remake of Johnnie To's 2012 Hong Kong thriller Drug War. Tasked with bringing down a narcotics cartel and revealing its secretive head, police detective Jo Won-ho (Cho Jin-woong) has been struggling to make ground, even losing an informer he'd grown close to. When he catches a break it's in the form of an underling willing to turn sides, Rak (Ryu Jun-yeol), who helps Jo by setting him up to go undercover and meet the syndicate's lieutenants. These gangsters prove, almost without fail, to be homicidal monsters, and director Lee Hae-young (The Silenced) is as likely to celebrate their excess as he is to frame it as a failing. His film is busier than To's, with action scenes that are overdriven instead of fluid. The structure doesn't hang together, but there are sequences that have a condemnatory charge of excitement.
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