Browse films by title with CW new film archive.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

The omission of Amis

Money, BBC television, May 2010

This adaptation fails to engage with the nature of the novel; where insight and dramatic irony are necessary, jokes and feelings are watered down by what must be a thorough misunderstanding of the entire project.

Thursday 20 May 2010

You can’t topple Kopple

Harlan County, USA - Criterion Collection, by Barbara Kopple (1976)

The film melds history and drama with pathos and even humour. The scene where strikers go to New York City, and one gets schooled in how poorly they have it by a New York flatfoot, is priceless.

Exploring the multi-racial laboratory

Katrina, by Jans Rautenbach (1969)

The film poses two views on prejudice and identity: the liberal but ultimately unconvincing view of the priest who protests it should make no difference; and the conservative view of Katrina’s brother, who like the producer Emil Nofal, believes one should be proud of one’s identity and not betray it. ‘You are born what you are, and for your lifespan that is what you are going to be.’

Shifting identities

Saturday Night at the Palace, written by and starring Paul Slaboslepsz (1987)

He is looking forward to returning laden with presents to his wife and two daughters back home in Newcastle for the first time in two years, and is closing up at the end of the night when two white men, punch drunk after a boisterous party, roar onto the forecourt of the diner on a bike.

Thursday 13 May 2010

A surfeit of moralising outrage

The Ghost Writer, directed by Roman Polanksi (2010)

Robin Cook’s ghost haunts the film, as the statesmanly Richard Rycart, valiantly fighting to bring the nefarious Lang to justice because, as every disappointed Labour loyalist knows, everything would have been fine if Robin Cook had stayed around government. It’s a wonder that Claire Short and Mo Mowlam don’t turn up in the film and thus complete the hagiographical halls of broken Labour dreams.

Murky Harry

Harry Brown, directed by Daniel Barber (2009)

In a sense Harry Brown is a postmodern moral fable. And it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the gritty ultra-violent and moralising revenge ethos of this film speaks to a significant number of people.

Thursday 15 April 2010

A therapeutic Odyssey

Up in the Air, directed by Jason Reitman (2009)

Ryan can go home to a sparse Omaha apartment but chooses not to. He lives in hotels 322 days a year spending only ‘43 miserable days at home.’ He doesn’t want a family, preferring one night stands in hotels to any relationship. His aim is the privileges that flow from becoming number seven on the list of people who have flown ten million air miles.

Thursday 8 April 2010

The theatre of the real

The Travelling Players (O Thiasos), directed by Theo Angelopoulos (1975)

The Travelling Players takes its sweet time before revealing its true nature. Nearly ninety minutes go by before a viewer will try to stop taking things on face value, and realise that the film’s drift through time (often veering back and forth in a single scene or dolly shot), and its blackout sketches, are not meant to be taken literally in any way

Thursday 18 March 2010

Tale and performance

Mouchette, directed by Robert Bresson (1967)

The camera always seems to look at its lead character’s life slightly askance, as if it was somehow recapitulating the clearly warped view of life Mouchette owns. In essence, the film called Mouchette recapitulates the point of view of its character Mouchette, which allows the viewer to both ‘feel’ a bit of the character’s warp, while also being able to step back and intellectually distance oneself and ‘understand’ the character’s warp.

Saturday 13 March 2010

A manifesto for the imagination

Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton (2010)

Naturally, the moral of Burton’s story is that freedom and imagination must triumph over conformism. As Alice’s father told her, all the best people are completely bonkers. But the moral is no less appealing for being predictable, and there are a few suprises and twists in the telling of the story.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Muslim Cinema: an introduction

With 101 must-see Muslim-themed films

An introduction to Muslim Cinema allows Muslims to take a critical reflection about their own beliefs and culture, as well as providing a window for those who are of other faiths to see who Muslims are. Where does one start?

Thursday 25 February 2010

Why can’t we all just get along?

My Name is Khan, directed by Karan Johar (2010)

While the love story is moving and there are some emotionally powerful scenes, the film’s central message is finally just banal. As a boy, Khan learns from his mother that the fighting between Hindu and Muslim is pointless and wrong since there are only two kinds of people in the world, ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people. The only result of hatred and intolerance is, we learn, many mothers’ tears.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Embracing the inner Madonna-whore

Women, directed by Vanessa Engle, beginning on the BBC 8 March 2010

Indeed, it’s this ambiguous legacy, seen most clearly in the superficial tension between choice and moral prescription, especially around the family, which points towards a deeper lack of direction that comes through in the present day – where it seems there’s been a return to more conservative gender roles albeit updated - the ‘yummy mummy’, the WAG, even Michelle Obama is considered a sort of fashion icon.

Hamlet rewritten for Mills and Boon

Letter from an unknown woman, directed by Max Ophüls (1948)

Theses have been written about how subversive she is as a character, how her refusal to adopt a conventional role as either seductress or respectable wife is a kind of revolt against social expectations. But if you had a friend who behaved as Lisa does, you would start with a serious talking-to and work your way towards having her sectioned.

Thursday 11 February 2010

A disarming perspective on war

The Burmese Harp , directed by Kon Ichikawa (1956)

This film, while political, is not a slice of realism. It has symbolism and allegory throughout. British racism, as example, towards natives and Indians, is never shown, but it existed. Ichikawa’s aim was to clearly demonstrate the quest for humanity, embodied in Mizushima, but aimed at the viewers.

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