Never Look Away

Tom Schilling paints

  The Lives of Others director atones for The Tourist with an era-straddling epic about about art and love   I was talking to a journalist friend of mine a couple of weeks ago, about Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s new film. He recalled interviewing the director around the time of his triumphant debut, The Lives of Others. Von Donnersmarck, he said, was almost hyperventilating with the excitement of having been approached to direct a Hollywood caper with big stars, budgets, etc.   That film turned out to be The Tourist, a vanity project for Angelina Jolie and (to a lesser extent) co-star Johnny Depp, written and re-written so many times (including by Downton … Read more

Black Book

Carice Van Houten in Black Book

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     23 May   Netherlands declares independence from Spain, 1568 On this day in 1568, the battle of Heligerlee was fought and won by the rebel army of William I of Orange, against the Duke of Alba, representative of the Hapsburg ruling dynasty. It marked the beginning of the 80 Years’ War for the independence of the Protestant Netherlands from Catholic Spanish rule. Though the rebels won the battle, they lost the campaign, due to lack of funds, and the rebellion sputtered out, only to flame up again in 1572. By 1581 the Netherlands were independent, though it took … Read more

Black Book

Sebastian Koch and Carice Van Houten in Black Book

    In some quarters the director Paul Verhoeven is now eternally infamous for Sharon Stone’s is she/isn’t she leg-crossing moment in Basic Instinct. But he came to prominence with a Second World War movie, Soldier Of Orange, in 1977. Black Book sees Verhoeven return to his native land, his native Dutch tongue and the 1939-45 war in an engrossing drama focusing on one young Jewish woman (played by the remarkable Carice van Houten), a member of the Dutch resistance who finds herself right at the heart of the Nazi war machine. It is a familiar genre but Verhoeven injects fresh elements into it – notably dark humour, lashings of nudity and a … Read more