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Film Round Up

Jeremy Clarke

The 1961 Polish film Mother Joan Of The Angels (DVD, cert PG; 105 mins, £12.99) explores the same historical source material as The Devils (reviewed in June) did a decade later, providing a fascinating comparison. Here, the focus is on the Mother Superior, the convent and the local community rather than wider political state/church machinations. The DVD extras help flesh out the cultural context.

Toby Jones plays a 1970s sound man in Berberian Sound Studio (cert 15; 92 mins). He is flown to Italy to work on a horror film, but is in for a shock. The violent, misogynist fare on which he's working isn't quite the equestrian English documatary material he's used to, and the Italians operate very differently from the Brits. This is a terrific, claustrophobic thriller.

The Imposter (cert 15; 98 mins) actually mixes the documentary and thriller forms to tell the tale of a vanished Texan teen whose reappearance seems almost too good to be true. Once various Texans start to doubt the boy's identity, it becomes quite gripping. John Hillcoat's Prohibition-era gangster movie Lawless (cert tbc; 110 mins) gets full marks for its unusual portrayal of gangsters as a rural phenomenon, and Hillcoat's characteristically gritty vision is compelling in places. But its story meanders and it needs a bit more focus.

The Dinosaur Project
(cert 12a; 82 mins) is a clever, British made, video diary story of an expedition looking for dinosaurs in the Congo forest. It's an object lesson in squeezing the most from a small budget: when the dinosaurs are onscreen, they are as impressive as anything in Jurassic Park. Or The Tree Of Life.

Smaller and cheaper still, the sci-fi film Love (cert tbc; 80 mins) began life as a vehicle promoting Angels & Airwaves' free to download album Love but quickly developed into something more impressive, a tale of an astronaut stranded on the International Space Station when his contact with Earth is severed. Owing much to the closing scenes of 2001, it's a meditative piece confronting big, metaphysical questions. Samsara (cert 12a; 102 mins), another non-narrative offering from the man behind Baraka, edits together amazing footage of traffic, food production, landscapes and more - much of it shot in time lapse - to deliver a pictorial essay on humanity's place in the environment. Some of the images are unforgettable.
Jeremy Clarke