Is there an actress still working today with as long, varied and distinguished career as Tilda Swinton? From working with Derek Jarman in her early career, through notable roles in Sally Potter's Orlando, the dark Young Adam, and recent successes in Michael Clayton and Burn After Reading, as well as the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia, Swinton's CV reads like a dream. Today, we screen two films shot in the space of a year, again from heavyweight directors; director Bela Tarr and Erick Zonca.
The Man From London is the latest film from the extraordinary Hungarian director Bela Tarr, who's previous films, Damnation, The Werckmeister Harmonies and the epic 7.5 hour Satantango established him as a leading European auteur, with a distinctive melancholy, existential tone and pace to his films. Despite a troubled production in which the Producer committed suicide leading to many financial problems, The Man From London still manages to amaze and intrigue in equal measure, with an extraordinary 12 minute opening shot leading into this unsettling and unashamedly strange film. Swinton is in fine form here, despite being dubbed into Hungarian, and then English and French! Truly one of the most original and yet often memorable films you're likely to see this year.
With a quick break to put in her award-winning performance in Michael Clayton, Swinton returned to film Julia the latest film from Erick Zonca, who's excellent first The Dream Life of Angels in 1998 was a big hit on the festival and arthouse circuit. Swinton takes the lead role here as Julia, a recently sacked LA executive and aging alcoholic who gets involved in a bungled kidnap plot that leaves her in charge of the millionaire's young son. Part character study, part kidnap thriller, this is another unusual movie, with another fearless performance from Swinton as the manic, on-the-edge, heavy drinking unpredictable, and largely unlikeable Julia. Like the character, the film veers along on the edge of falling into over-indulgence or implausibility - but it never falls, producing an unusual relentless, dangerous and exciting movie.