Film

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Friday 17 June 2011

A matter of style

Broken Embraces, directed by Pedro Almodóvar (2009)

As in all Almodóvar films this world is populated with the beautifully deranged. Emotionally damaged characters dance with the devil and pay the consequences. It tells the story of Lena (Penélope Cruz), a vampish secretary and on-off call girl who is mistress to suave and wealthy businessman Ernesto (José Luis Gómez).

Documenting lives

Martial Arts Master: The Life Of Bruce Lee, directed by Guy Scutter (1994)The Case For Christ, directed by Michael and Timothy Eaton (2007) and Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work, directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (2010)

Of the three films, the Lee film was a solid, paint by numbers bio-documentary, the Christ film was not only wrong on virtually every historical claim, featured ‘experts’ who are nothing but apologists, but was shoddily made on almost every cinematic level, but the film on the 75-year-old Rivers was shockingly good, detailing her highs, lows, good and bad points, and with a depth and profundity that is rarely seen in such films.

Saturday 5 March 2011

Good to a lesser degree

The Graduate, directed by Mike Nichols (1967)

The film’s ending, while a narrative failure, considering the film’s beginning, is an interesting commentary on the shallowness of American life (then and now), as it celebrates the shallow, the idea that mere persistence ends up with reward, and that other people’s desires are meaningless. And, at film’s end, Ben is in no better emotional and psychological shape than he was at film’s start, save that he now has a mate to share in his anomie.

Monday 31 January 2011

Exploring the Concrete Jungle

Interview with film-maker Katerina Cizek

While Out My Window seems to affirm the postmodern rhetoric of alienation and isolation we are all familiar with, it is worth asking if Cizek’s account of postmodern life actually fits this description. By visually uniting these social realms in the webdoc’s physical presentation she has cleverly interrogated the reality of the perceived split. For the most part, she reminds us that we do participate in the two worlds simultaneously most of the time.

Sunday 30 January 2011

Barking mad in Paddington

The Battle for Barking, Frontline Club, London, 13 January 2011

In their minds, what did the demonstrators achieve by blocking his entry, thereby preventing him from questioned by us? Did it in fact stop the chance at devastating the BNP as an idea, through interrogation and by publicising the absurd, childish, thick, nonsense of its message?

Thursday 13 January 2011

Skimming the buildings

Antonio Gaudi, directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara (1984)

The best part of the package, though, is Visions Of Space: God’s Architect, an hour-long BBC documentary on Gaudi, hosted by art critic Robert Hughes. As with many of the writings and documentaries of his, Hughes adds little to our knowledge of Gaudi, but this film does a great deal more of explaining and showing Gaudi’s work to its best advantage.

From under Tuscan skies

Certified Copy, directed by Abbas Kiarostami (2010)

From a conversation on the theme of his book - whether an artistic copy can be as worthy of praise as its original - a most intriguing and evocative tale of intertwining falsehoods and realities unfolds. The narrative, a fable and a comedy, has Shimell and Binoche playing a child-like game of Mr and Mrs.

An intense cloud of emotion

Undertow, directed by Javier Fuentes-León (2010)

Cardona and Mercado must be credited in particular with conveying, with immense believability, the simple joys of lovers, such as the experience of a warm embrace, a stolen kiss or a touch of the hand, which continues on when Miguel’s Earthly body is no more. Also

Thursday 16 December 2010

‘A mook. What’s a mook?’

Mean Streets, directed by Martin Scorsese (1973)

Scorsese, as an artist, NEEDS to go back to working with low budgets, so that his creativity is hungry, not sated. Mean Streets is an example of an artist with a growling belly. His last decade of DiCaprio-starred films, by contrast, is a surfeited maw.

Thursday 14 October 2010

A Phoenix from the Ashes

Beauty on the big screen

With a shift towards aesthetic quality in the art world, is the world of cinema now rekindling its love affair with aesthetics too?

Friday 24 September 2010

Eye-level realism

The Red And The White [Csillagosok, Katonák], directed by Miklos Jancso (1967)

Jancso’s camera is a husking cleanser of all poesy and symbolism- even the acts of courage and kindness toward captured prisoners or civilians are seen as utterly random, and not ennobled in the least by Jancso’s camera’s eye.

Thursday 2 September 2010

‘Commie kitsch’

I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba), directed by Mikhail Kalatozov (1964)

The film was a joint Soviet-Cuban production, meant as blatant propaganda for the Communist cause, but Kalatozov’s film so rhapsodised Cuban sexuality and reveled so in its visuals, that even its backers as Mosfilms, the Soviet State film company, pulled it after a short distribution period. It was critically denounced both in Cuba and the Soviet Union.

A face like clay

I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, directed by Mervyn Leroy (1932)

The film has many good moments, such as when Allen tries to pawn his Medal Of Honor, only to have the shop owner show him many other such medals that no one wants. Another is in a barbershop, after his first escape, when Allen narrowly escapes recognition by a dimwit cop who describes him to the barber, as neither recognise he fits the description.

Monday 19 July 2010

Transformative dance

Destino – A Contemporary Dance Story. Film screening and panel debate at the Royal Society of Arts, Monday 12 July 2010

The cities of London and Addis Ababa were shown to be so similar yet contrasting.  Interviews revealed similar levels of background traffic, low-rent rehearsal spaces and prestigious performance venues.  Yet, children face death everyday on the streets of Addis.

Thursday 24 June 2010

Stasi surveillance

The Lives of Others, dir. Von Donnersmarck (2006)

He is amazed to see not only that information was omitted, but that this operative fabricated the details of a whole play Dreyman and his cohorts were supposed to have written for the 40th anniversary of East Germany’s founding.

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