Make sure you head to The 405's Green Man hub for all the latest previews, reviews and features from this year's event.

I should probably qualify this article by saying that I'm not really sure you should see any films at the Green Man Festival (August 14th - 17th). Personally, after spending all that money to attend a music festival, the last thing I'd want to do is sit in a dark tent and watch a film. And that's coming from a guy who's getting himself into hideous debt by studying film at university

But then again, considering that the wonderful folks at Little White Lies are curating this year's cinema tent, now renamed The Cinedrome, I'm probably being a bit too quick to judge. I mean, the programme of films they have lined up is so varied, so interesting and impressive that my job of recommending only five is incredibly hard (and yeah, I did kind of cheat at the end). So, ultimately, I chose the films I thought would be most suited to the festival in one way or another. Thus, we have two films involving bands to get you in the mood for music, two delightful comedies to revitalise a broken mind, and a film with stick-men that will make you feel more human. Omitting films like How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and the Studio Ghibli double-bill of My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and The Wind Rises (2013) was heartbreaking, but, hey why not see those too? I mean, it could be raining, or you bought your children with you and you need a decent babysitter, or maybe you just need to escape from the outside world for a bit. There are plenty of excuses.

Anyway, enough preamble. The full list of screenings and other events happening at the Cinedrome be found here, but here are the five films that we think you should check out above the rest.


Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949, Robert Hamer)

The weird generalisation that Ealing Studios were quaint and inoffensive purveyors of nostalgic English values, whatever that means, is totally undermined by their comedy films, many of which were incredibly bleak and cynical. Kind Hearts and Coronets stands out especially in this regard, as it's a scathing and macabre dark comedy centred on a man murdering his way up the aristocratic ladder. It may not be the most obviously hilarious of Ealing's comedies, but it's a delight to see this morbid subject matter treated in such an understated, dry and characteristically English manner. I mean, Ealing's way with words was often brilliant, but Kind Hearts' script, written by Hamer and John Dighton, is a particularly magnificent piece of work that uses gallows humour and a precise, well-mannered detachment to chastise the insidious English class-system. It's a great film to get drawn into, especially when you're feeling tender from the night before; and, hey, you're probably going to come across stuffy rich posh at some point during Green Man, in which case this film may prove to be a necessary cathartic experience.


A Hard Day's Night (1964, Richard Lester)

There's an exuberance to A Hard Day's Night that's hard to deny. An immediate and ramshackle felling is established by the celebrated opening shots of rabid fans swarming after the band through the streets of Liverpool, and it never really lets up from there. Because, really, the film is about The Beatles running, trying to grasp at any sense of freedom and joy with their new-found overbearing fame. So, though it's structured like a jukebox musical, with everything seemingly in place to service the classic Beatles numbers (that are regrettably mimed by the band, but shot magnificently by director of photography Gilbert Taylor, and even more incredible in this fiftieth-anniversary restoration), it's the incidental details that make the film so wonderful. It's the band goofing around, the quiet contempt of the older generation, the dumb gags. You'll enter the tent a bleary-eyed mess and leave with the biggest grin on your face, ready to shove more music in your ears. It's that sort of film, and they're invaluable.


It's Such A Beautiful Day (2012, Don Hertzfeldt)

First, you should watch It's Such a Beautiful Day even if you're not attending Green Man. It's available to rent on Vimeo for $3/£1.76 and it will only take up sixty minutes of your time. You have no excuse. Because, honestly, and I know this will probably make me sound like an arse, it's probably one of the most profound experiences I've had with a film. Yes, it's a stick-figure animation, but it shook me to my core and made the world seem brighter after. Not only is it an example of the astonishing malleability of cinema itself, but a marvel of storytelling that, through a stream-of-consciousness, manages to be about Everything (especially memory and death) without seeming pompous or overbearing. This is a film that will leave you dazed, especially after its ecstatic ending, but you'll exit the tent more appreciative of whatever the weather is doing outside, of the grass and the scenery and all the people and the music It's outstanding.


Mistaken For Strangers (2013, Tom Berninger)

Despite its slight 75 minute duration, I've probably spent more time watching Mistaken for Strangers than listening to The National, the band it ostensibly takes as its subject. But I haven't only picked this film because I assume that the majority of Green Man attendees actually like the band, but because I really enjoyed this film, and that's some achievement. Don't get me wrong, self-indulgent band documentaries are great if you like the band, but they can get tiresome if you're not that familiar with them. But Mistaken for Strangers succeeds in my mind because it's not about The National at all. Well, it begins that way, as the band's frontman Matt Berninger invites his slacker bother Tom to join the crew on their 2010 world tour. Tom films his experience in order to make a documentary, but he only ends up making a nuisance of himself and wallowing in the shadow of his successful older brother. It's initially quite strange to see the director portraying himself in this self-deprecating and goofy way, but it soon becomes clear that, rather than another rote, self-aggrandising music documentary, we're actually watching a touching portrayal of Tom's artistic frustration, his lack of confidence and the relationship he has with his brother, who's made a living from art. The transformation is quite remarkable, and elevates this film well beyond The National: The Movie.


The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, Wes Anderson)

I get that Wes Anderson is a divisive director, that people interpret his films as exercises in eccentricity that never reach any higher purpose beyond looking nice. But fuck that. The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson's at his most mannered, whimsical and meticulous. This is his most Wes Anderson-y film to date, but it's just so textually rich that it has a swimming pool in its swimming pool, and has the power to convert even the most ardent of Anderson-sceptics. I mean, on the surface, it's a frenetic comedy, an old-fashioned farce that's hilarious and elevated by both Anderson's control of the mise-en-scène and Ralph Fiennes' rapturous performance. It's gleeful and easy to fall deeply in love with. But there's a fog of melancholy constantly hanging over the film because, above all, this film is about a man desperately trying to cling onto the last vestiges of civility in a war-torn continent that was constantly trying to suppress it. He cultivates and sustains this beautiful alternate reality that's completely at odds with the ugliness around him, his own little rebellion in the form of a pink hotel perched on top of a giant fuck-off mountain. There's something breathtakingly beautiful in that, yet it's ultimately tragic. It's just an utterly enchanting film, so nuanced and charming and absurd that it's not only one of my favourite films of this year, but one of my favourite Wes Anderson films full-stop.


Bonus Round: Taffin (1988, Francis Megahy)

As a former Pod Cat myself, I feel obliged to alert former members of Black Squadron, Phantom Squadron and other Pod Cats to the screening of Bronhon's defining moment, Taffin. Honestly, the film is kind of garbage, but it'll be worth sitting through to experience a tent, that I expect will be exclusively populated by Adam and Joe fans, screaming "WELL MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T BE LIVING HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE!"


Bonus Round Two: The Muppet Movie (1979, James Frawley)

This is a bonus recommendation because I don't need to dignify it with an explanation. It's The Muppets. See it.


Bonus Round Three: Two Days, One Night (2014, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)

Okay, I haven't actually seen this yet, so you can take this recommendation with a pinch of salt if you want. My excuse is good, to be fair: it's not out, and won't be released in the UK until August 22nd, the week after Green Man. But it showed at the Cannes Film Festival in May and was released in France shortly after to an overwhelmingly positive response. It's a film by the Dardenne brothers (The Kid with a Bike, The Child, Rosetta) so there's a good chance it will be excellent and well worth checking out. If you're interested, you can read Little White Lies' review here.

Make sure you head to The 405's Green Man hub for all the latest previews, reviews and features from this year's event.