7:30 PM, 7th November, 2014
My Sweet Pepper Land is a lively film, and a fascinating exercise in the use of genre to explore modern issues; drawing on tropes of the spaghetti westerns to cast the Iraqi frontier in a new light.
Set during a period of reconstruction for Kurdistan – an autonomous region of northern Iraq – in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the film quickly leaves most of the trappings of modernity behind as we follow our hero, Baran, to a remote village where he is to serve as a quasi-sheriff of the wild frontier.
The film draws parallels between regional Iraq and the old American West. It is shot like a western; emphasising sweeping vistas of Iraqi countryside, as well as tight close ups and reaction shots as heroes and villains face off. Baran is a stubborn man-of-honour, who can’t help but pick a righteous fight with the local warlord, Aziz Aga. There’s a defiant young schoolteacher named Govend, who falls in with him, and much of the conflict revolves around her place as an unmarried woman in the town.
The film is a melting pot of international influence: a German-French co-production directed by a Kurdish-born resident of France, shot on location at the intersection of Iraq, Iran and Turkey, in the style of Italian-American genre filmmakers such as Sergio Leone. The film is extremely self-aware, and draws on humour as well as its multinational roots to weave a wholly original film more than worth the price of admission.
9:10 PM, 7th November, 2014
It’s a black and white, modern day adaptation of a Shakespearean classic! What more incentive do you need?
Just kidding, that description is usually more of a deterrent, but this is one of the better ones. Joss Whedon (yes, that Joss Whedon, AKA director of The Avengers and creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) gathers an assortment of his friends and common collaborators in this low-key adaptation of one of the Bard’s best-known plays, with a few modern twists.
In case you don’t know the story: as the title states, it’s the tale of a few big misunderstandings. A prince comes to stay at the estate of a nobleman, bringing along in his entourage his close companions Claudio and Benedick. Young Claudio almost immediately falls for Hero, the nobleman’s beautiful and virtuous daughter, while his feisty niece Beatrice and Benedick have a long-standing mutual animosity (which this version provides some interesting back story to in its opening scenes). Meanwhile, the Duke’s malicious brother contrives some mischief for his own amusement…
This is a charming adaptation with some outstanding performances, particularly by Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker as Benedick and Beatrice. The play is one of the greatest comedies ever written and this latest adaptation truly holds its own. Come and enjoy the newest version of one of the original and best romantic comedies.