Autumn film preview 2013: arthouse highlights

Arthouse Highlights: margin cal

Museum Hours

The Great Beauty, The Selfish Giant and Museum Hours among our hotly-tipped upcoming arthouse highlights

‘A huge mass of interlocked facts, characters and anecdotes, all gravitating around Rome’, is how Italian maestro Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo) has described his magnificent cinematic spectacle The Great Beauty (Fri 6 Sep). Toni Servillo’s ennui-laden sixty-something journalist Jep Gambardella, a man unexpectedly haunted by memories of a long-lost love, is our Flaubert-quoting guide through a sacred and profane Eternal City: think La Dolce Vita for the Berlusconi era.

Meanwhile British writer-director Clio Barnard follows up her acclaimed experimental documentary The Arbor with the tragic social realist fable The Selfish Giant (Fri 25 Oct), inspired by an Oscar Wilde short story. Two adolescents (newcomers Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas), who have been excluded from school, are drawn into the dangerous world of scrap metal collecting. Set amidst the housing estates of contemporary Bradford and the surrounding Yorkshire countryside, The Selfish Giant has already attracted favourable comparisons to the work of Andrea Arnold, Shane Meadows and Ken Loach.

Expectations are also high for Blue is the Warmest Colour (Fri 15 Nov), the Palme d’Or-winning lesbian love story directed by French-Tunisian filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche (Couscous). Based on a graphic novel, this intimate epic charts over its three-hour running time the intensely passionate relationship that develops in Lille between a 17-year-old working class schoolgirl (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and an art-school student (Lea Seydoux) from a wealthy bohemian background.

Intriguingly poised somewhere between documentary and fiction, Jem Cohen’s poignant US indie Museum Hours (Fri 6 Sep) has the slenderest of plots: a gentle, middle-aged attendant (Bobby Sommer) at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Art Museum befriends a Canadian woman (singer Mary Margaret O’Hara), who’s in town one winter to visit her hospitalized cousin. It’s an understated yet absorbing exploration of both a city and of how enduring art connects to our everyday experiences.

Another autumn highlight is The Crash Reel (Fri 4 Oct), the remarkable real-life story of champion American snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who in preparing for the Winter Olympics in 2010 suffered a life-changing brain injury. Drawing on a multiplicity of visual sources, British documentarian Lucy Walker (Countdown to Zero) combines dynamically edited action sequences with a compassionate examination of familial love in profoundly challenging circumstances.

Museum Hours

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • Austria / US
  • 1h 47min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Jem Cohen
  • Written by: Jem Cohen
  • Cast: Mary Margaret O'Hara, Bobby Sommer, Ela Piplits
  • UK release: 6 September 2013

When a Vienna museum guard befriends an enigmatic visitor, the grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum becomes a mysterious crossroads which sparks explorations of their lives, the city, and the ways artworks reflect and shape the world.

The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza)

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • Italy / France
  • 2h 22min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Paolo Sorrentino
  • Cast: Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli
  • UK release: 6 September 2013

The story of an aging writer who bitterly recollects his passionate, lost youth. A portrait of today's Rome.