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November Movies At Saigon’s Alternative Film Venues

If you believe that humanity is the essential aspect of cinematic endeavours, you will find plenty of it in this month programme from Saigon’s alternative film venues.

10th November @ 8 pm – The Cube

Big Night (USA 1996)

Winner of the Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 1996, Big Night sees actors turned directors, Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott, assemble an A list cast for this delicate and exquisite low budget film revolving around food. Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) are two Italian immigrant brothers that have decided to open an authentic Italian restaurant, Paradise, in New Jersey in the 50s. The struggle that the two brothers face in running what they initially thought would become the best Italian food establishment in town are a metaphor to represent the dichotomy between culinary art vs. commercialism, the old world vs. the new world, and mainstream Hollywood vs. independent films.

12th November @ 8 pm – deciBel Lounge

Short Term 12 (USA 2013)

A sincere and emotional account of the lives of troubled teenagers in an institution, Short Term 12 was first released in 2008 as a short film. Five years later, the then screenwriter Destin Daniel Cretton moved to the director’s chair to bring the story (based on his real experience in such institutions) into a feature-length film. Cretton has painted a moving investigation into the complexity of his characters (both the residents and the staff that help them), whose personalities unfold gradually as the narration takes the audience into this unique reality. The multi-award winning film has received raving reviews by critics especially for Brie Larson’s performance.

13th November @ 8 pm – Saigon Outcast

True Romance (USA 1993)

Ever imagine what a film with Quentin Tarantino, Tony Scott, Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Brad Pitt, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken and Samuel L. Jackson would be like? Like True Romance. Based on a Tarantino’s script (years before Pulp Fiction came out), Scott’s film left an indelible mark on audiences in the 90s with this visceral thriller where wild violence and black comedy live alongside each other.

17th November @ 8 pm - The Cube

Chocolat (USA 2000)

Swedish director, Lasse Hallström, is renowned for good casting and in his gastronomical fable, Chocolat (based on Joanne Harris’s novel), he brings together Johnny Depp, Juliet Binoche and Alfred Molina as his main protagonists. Hallström often uses food as an allegory for human conditions. In The Cider House Rules, the sour apples were the symbol for Toby Maguire’s journey of self-discovery into adulthood, in The One-Hundred-foot Journey, French and an Indian restaurateurs represent the cultural clash in contemporary societies, and in Chocolat, Binoche’s chocolaterie stands for the passion of the senses against the morally-suppressed parishioners in a small French village.

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19th November @ 8 pm – deciBel Lounge

A Most Wanted Man (USA 2014)

The last leading role by Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, A Most Wanted Man is a thriller by Dutch director Anton Corbijn (The American, Control). Based on John Le Carre’s novel, the story takes place in the post-9/11 world of espionage; Hoffman plays Günther Bachmann, an intelligence operative caught in the intricate and paranoid world of counter terrorism in Hamburg (Germany). A slow-burn thriller, devoid of its genre’s clichés, A Most Wanted Man succeeds thanks to its cast’s performances, including Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris, Sherlock Holmes) and Willem Dafoe (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nymphomaniac: Vol. II).

20th November @ 8 pm – Saigon Outcast

The Raid 2 (Indonesia/USA 2014)

Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, The Raid 2 is the second instalment of the trilogy by writer-director Gareth Evans. Rarely do we see sequels that live up to their predecessor, but The Raid 2 is not only an original and devastating cop-thriller-martial-art film, it is an excellent piece of filmmaking in its own right. Rama, played by Iko Uwais, goes undercover to infiltrate one of Jakarta’s most powerful criminal families. Evans delivers brutal and innovative action scenes, but he is also intelligent enough to know that a gripping plot cannot work properly without defining its protagonists’ motives and personalities.

23rd November @ 2 pm - deciBel Lounge

Star Wars Marathon - episodes IV: A New Hope, V: The Empire Strikes Back, VI: The Return of the Jedi  (USA 1977, 1980, 1983)

With the seventh installment of Star Wars coming out in the near future, it is time to re-live the original space adventures that had has stimulated the imagination of children and adults for the past 30 years. Whether you have seen it 100 times or you want to share the experience with your friends, this is your chance to watch George Lucas’s game-changing sci-fi epic films on a big screen. Screening will start at 2 pm and will end around 8:30 pm. An optional buffet menu is available and if you come dressed up as one of the Star Wars characters you will get a free Mimosa cocktail per screening.

24th November @ 8 pm – The Cube

The Hundred-foot Journey (USA 2014)

The Kadam family is forced to flee India due to political conflicts and after drifting around Europe they settle down in France where they open their own restaurant. The family’s fresh start in their new world soon faces hostility from the Michelin-star French restaurant located few metres away. Swedish director Lasse Hallström cleverly transforms the passion for food into a metaphor for cultural clashes with ethnic minorities. It is not surprising that the script is by Steven Knight, who previously wrote two major films depicting the gritty realities of immigrants – Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things. The Hundred-foot Journey does not carry the darkness of Knight’s usual works; it is a bittersweet comedy that relies on both Hallström’s passion for the material (and food) as well as the chemistry between the two rival restaurateurs – Helen Mirren and Om Puri.

26th November @ 8 pm – deciBel Lounge

Obvious Child (USA 2014)

First-time director Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child is a wildly funny romantic comedy that deals with the consequences of a one-night-stand. Jenny Slate plays Donna, an open-minded and free-spirited comedian who suddenly loses her job, finds herself in financial difficulties and finds herself pregnant. The strength of the plot is the non-preaching approach that Robespierre took; this is not a film about abortion or about the struggle of independent, single contemporary women. On the contrary, the narration uses comedy (and a few cutesy-moments) to portray a common human situation in the most honest way.

27th November @ 8 pm– Saigon Outcast

Africa United (USA 2010)

An upbeat story set in the backdrop of Rwanda’s desolation and the problems that afflict Africa (HIV, child prostitution and child soldiers), Africa United sees a group of energetic and passionate kids embarking on a journey to the football World Cup in South Africa, where they hope to meet their sports heroes and show them their own football skills. The powerful performances by the three young actors, the exuberant soundtrack and the astonishing African landscape make this film hard to resist.

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