‘Inxeba’ – Distilled

Bergman-esque in its intensity, the South African film Inxeba – The Wound – has rightly won praise and awards around the world, along with the usual quota, for a film that speaks openly, and painfully, about homosexuality, masculinity, homophobia and ‘traditional culture’ in an African community, of threats and vitriol. In Cape Town, supposedly a bastion of the arts and enlightenment, the film was withdrawn by distributors Ster Kinekor, in an act of cowardice and betrayal.

All of which is to say, there is a moral imperative to see it, and a duty to support the actors and director. But over and above all this – the politics and cultural warfare – it is the film as a work of art, as a flawless exercise in controlled and yet passionate direction, acting by Nakane Toure, Bongile Mantsai and Niza Jay that is utterly invisible, and a story that transcends both its South African setting and its ‘gay’ narrative, that demands attention.

Inxeba represents the coming to maturity of South African cinema.

Director: John Trengrove

Verdict: Like the initiation into manhood which carries the narrative, Inxeba is painful to watch but a necessary rite of passage.

Five tipples. A half-jack of brandy is probably the most appropriate, with a quart of Castle to follow.

‘Loving’ – Distilled

Richard marries Mildred, and that – in another place and era – would be an end of it. But not in Virginia, in the fifties, not when Richard Loving is white and his beloved is African American.

Miscegenation – in the pejorative language of the time (a language I remember all too well as a South African more or less of that epoch) – is verboten, and the Lovings are drummed out of town and out of Virginia. Until, that is, their case is taken by civil rights lawyers, all the way to the Supreme Court, and the miscegenation laws are struck down.

Moving at a slow country lick, this is not, as you might think – at least not overtly – a political movie, nor is it a court-house drama. It’s ‘just’ the story of the Lovings – two very ordinary, simple people, who love each other. It’s not politics, man, it’s humanity – a corrective, perhaps, to a time when the personal was always political. Remember that?

Though in the time of Trump, that is one wheel that may be about to come full circle.

Director: Jeff Nichols

Verdict: See it, but not when you’re in a hurry.

Whisky sour – what else? Budweiser?

’45 Years’ – distilled

Time strips us bare. In ’45 Years,’ the truths and assumptions that underpin a relationship are called into question when the ground – quite literally – crumbles beneath the feet of a long-married couple.

The past is always with us, Faulkner told us – it isn’t even past.

Director: Andrew Haigh. Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay.

Verdict: Flawless; mesmerising. A good Bordeaux – several glasses.

‘Brooklyn’ distilled

It’s the ‘fifties again, folks – like ‘Carol’ which I’ve just reviewed, a nostalgic look in the rearview mirror. Irish girl leaves poverty and the Old Country to find a new life and love in America – after a suitable quantum of struggle, of course. Beautifully shot – but whereas the visuals in ‘Carol’ are psychological as well as broodingly romantic, here the visuals are just props for a sentimental journey.

Director: John Crowley. Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen

Verdict: Consumer-friendly, enjoyable. Tea and biscuits.