Five films for the holidays - Monocolumn | Monocle


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1 January 2013


—Promised Land

Hitting cinemas from January, Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land finds Matt Damon in Pennsylvania as a natural gas salesman arriving to ensure locals that the controversial environmental practice of hydraulic fracturing to pull natural resources from the ground (or “fracking”) is the answer to years of economic malaise. Last time US environmental policy was held up to such scrutiny in cinemas was Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth. With an environmental activist and a high-school teacher as the foil of Damon in this work of fiction, this time the truth might be a little easier to swallow. But the real-world issue of fracking’s affect on allegedly poisoning water sources, is not.

In cinemas 4 January.


—Searching for Sugar Man

First released in Summer 2012, Malik Bendjelloul’s documentary film looks at the true story of would-be 1970s rockstar Sixto Rodriguez and two fans’ journey to find out what became of him. Having faced commercial obscurity in US, Rodriguez’s music found favour in apartheid South Africa inspiring the two friends from Cape Town to wonder about rumours of the entertainer’s demise. The film has since received critical acclaim including the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and the audience award at the Los Angeles and Durban international film festivals respectively.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray from 27 December.


—The Deadly Trap (La Maison Sous les Arbres)

René Clément’s Maison Sous les Arbres is an English-language mystery drama starring Faye Dunaway as the female protagonist Jill and Frank Langella as her husband Phillipe. This suspense thriller made its debut at the 1971 Cannes film festival with Clément’s directorial style compared to Alfred Hitchcock’s at the time, toying with the macabre and examining themes of espionage. Based on the novel The Children Are Gone by Arthur Cavanaugh, this DVD re-release is one of a series of four titles celebrating the centenary of Clément’s birth.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray from Studio Canal from 7 January.


—It Truly Pays: The Crime Film

Crime sells. That’s the idea behind the new exhibition on crime films at Zurich’s Museum of Design honouring this popular genre of the film world. Visitors can test their sleuthing ability in a film set designed like a detective’s office, join a mugshot line-up or simply enjoy watching excerpts of films ranging from the classic “whodunits” such as The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart or Touch of Evil by Orson Welles and gangster films such as The Godfather with Marlon Brando.

Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Ausstellungsstrasse 60. Until 2 June.


—Chasing Ice

Acclaimed nature and wildlife photographer James Balog’s film is the result of five years of passionate yet patient study into the workings of glaciers and global warming’s effects on the ice caps. Balog has travelled to glaciers in Iceland, Alaska, Greenland, Canada and the Himalayas, among other destinations, and painstakingly filmed them over the years to demonstrate the ice’s activity with time-lapse photography. The result is Chasing Ice, which itself is part of Balog’s larger Extreme Ice Survey. Cinema epics don’t come much bigger.

In cinemas across the UK, Canada and US from 14 December.


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