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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The road to wherever

This is a review of Lore (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

28 February

This is a review of Lore (2012)

* Contains spoilers *

Lore (2012) is a film that, along the way of the journeys that we see made, shares beliefs current at the time of the fall of The Third Reich. In the case of Lore's family, neither parent is an ordinary German citizen, because he is a high-ranking SS officer and she appears implicated in unethical medical experimentation, and Lore is in the Hitlerjugend: occasional near-religious fervency for Hitler, and a disbelief in the American reports and evidence of atrocity, are the stuff of utterance in these times, when the idea that Holocaust denial could be legislated against seems impossible.

The film is not those beliefs or utterances, but they are an integral part of the travel that is encompassed from the Schwarzwald, in the far south-west, to the Baltic north of Hamburg to an island akin to, but not, Föhr, where we leave Lore. (Not before, as elsewhere, a tactile quality in the rich mud has been experienced, and the otherness of crossing by causeway to this island has vividly been shown.)

Lore, as the eldest of five, has been put in charge of getting her brothers and sisters up to the North because her mother, having denounced her husband to him as a Feigling (coward) proudly strides off to deliver herself to the forces of occupation - one of the first striking moments for Lore is when, having raced after her mother and caught her up, she finds her mother already so resigned to what she is doing that she appears to have nothing to spare for Lore and the family after those parting instructions.

What follows is the journey, the confrontation with death, brutality and violence, and it is almost all the time just the passage of the five siblings, plus Thomas when he joins their number and (and as long as) makes himself useful. Director / co-screenwriter Cate Shortland and Saskia Rosendahl as Lore brilliantly show her teetering at the edge of whether she should associate with Thomas, as an assumed Jew, or feel sexually excited by him and his touch, just as, in her fascination for the various corpses, she challenges upbringing that she should not have curiosity, and should not harm others or steal.

This fractured sense of belonging in and relating to a world that is no longer the same Germany, but even split into three zones that they have to negotiate, is there in the cinematography of the characters, with part of a face here, maybe not in focus, a focus that varies through the shot to lead to a disjunction, or a conflict between the scene and the figure in it. By contrast, the sensual, even visceral, quality of nature is fed into every frame in which it alone features, in panorama and in close detail, touches reminiscent of great masters such as Tarkovsky, but with more of a sense of urgency, though none less of integration into the narrative.

The film shows a quest, and we have to decide - as does Lore - why, for what, and what matters, because all that she knew before and trusted now seems unreliable. What does happen next matters less than that Lore has made this journey and unlearnt much in the process. Getting to where we must leave her, having been allowed to be part of that transformation (although we always knew that we stood outside it), we leave her as herself, as Lore

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Confusions and confabulations

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

27 February 2013

Are you up Ship Creek without a handle, or otherwise struck with the word-blindness of such as Dogberry and Mrs Malaprop ?

After I had bothered to buy myself a nice copy, Joyce put me off reading Finnegans Wake (famously lacking an apostrophe) by the appalling pun egg and beacon, and I resolved to read no more and sold it again. However, in common with those as distant in time as Laurence Sterne and John Lennon (his Spaniard in the Works and In His Own Write), I have an interest in how words are power, words can urge and rouse (the famous example in Julius Caesar, but also give the game away that some who profess things are little better than parrots, in the vein of Harry Enfield's series of sketches about what the bloke down the pub said.

Some writers (the likes of Russell Hoban in Riddley Walker and Anthony Burgess in A Clockwork Orange, with his Russian argot) have imagined the language of a future age, and, with a public heading to lower levels of literacy, it is quite conceivable that an aural understanding of language will lead people more astray, as with the example that I gave previously on these pages of I can't be asked. But can we predict them... ?

Can we set computers to work out what will sound so like something else that people will, at least, be uncertain, as with It was off my own back / bat (where the latter is more likely to be right)? Or, with a tone-deaf sense that says that Adele's Skyfall song (and its execution - it's well and truly dead, but, sadly, a zombie), will it be somewhat contrary, so that people think that x is the right course of action in the last risotto ?

Whatever happens, whilst there is life in me, I will fight that panino is the singular, and that adding a second plural ending - I would have had us do as we do with cappuccino, and treat it as an ordinary anglicized word that I order more than one of by adding the ending -es, so I would want And two ham-and-cheese paninoes, toasted, rather than the smart dick who confused everyone with the unnecessary introduction of panini. I wait, a hope as yet unsatisfied, for coffe-houses to be offering me tramezzini...

Monday, 25 February 2013

Argofuckyourself - Best Film at the BAFTAs and the Academy Awards

This is a review, and commentary on the reception, of Argo (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

25 February

This is a review, and commentary on the reception, of Argo (2012)

After the awards last night, Mark Cousins has followed up that Tweet to-day with a host, giving names of Iranian films :

All well and good from Cousins, though few are likely to have the time to explore this area in as much detail. But I want to go back to the criticism that he has levelled at Argo, and see how his very specific experience of the Iranian country and people have a bearing on what he has written.

As far as I recall, the three main ways in which Iranian people are portrayed are :

1. At the US embassy, which, I believe, included some original footage from the Carter years

2. The scenes leading to and at the bazaar

3. The laughable (and invented) attempts of the Revolutionary Guard to foil the escape

I simply do not know of what relevance to these portrayals 'In 2001, [...] I stayed for three weeks in Iran, mostly in villages and in the hills, but in the big cities as well. Though it is often in our news media, I found myself in a terra incognita. Where were the crowds punching the air?' or 'Several years later [...], I went back to Iran, and I went back again, for much longer, to make a series for Channel 4 on the history and poetics of Iranian film. On these trips I made friends in Iran, smoked the sheesha, walked the streets, spent hours in Tehran’s traffic, went to the Jewish cafes, saw how ardent and brave many of the young people were, saw how most didn’t identify with their current government, how Iran is not its government or Mullahs, saw how restless and urgent for reform the country is. Mostly, though, I felt the welcome of the people.'

The film is set in 1980, and it is historical fact that the US embassay was stormed and hostages taken and escaped. The fact that the people whom Cousins met, 21 years later, did not behave in that way cannot belie what did happen. The bazaar business was almost certainly invented, but it is still an invention about 1980 - is it a plausible one, given making a thriller about the escape plan, that people on the streets would behave as shown ?

As to the risk of being caught, in fact, no one knew that the six who had been hiding out, thanks to the Canadian ambassador, had ever been in Iran, and the film fictionalizes the reassembly of shredded photos of staff, so none of what is shown, with the possible exception of the scrutiny of the apparent Candian film group's credentials, happened at all. It is meant to make what happens exciting, but chasing the plane down the runway is clearly the stuff of fiction - as if a commercial pilot would not have stopped !

Does the film claim to depict the Iranian people, or some of them at the time of real events when feelings were running high, or is it, as Cousins says, a Great Escape ? He seems to be the one with the conflict :

The film gripped me and moved me and I hated it for this. Affleck is talented, liberal and a nice guy – I met him recently. And yet he has made a film which chronically under-imagines, or mis-imagines Iran. I looked into its whirring thriller machine to try to glimpse even moments of truth about Iran, its people, subjectivities, lives and street scenes, but saw none.

Affleck is 'a nice guy' - how could he have made a film like this ? Where I have greater issue with the menace of those on the look-out for people getting out and make a muck-up up of what the film shows as evidence of conspiracy, because, for all their cunning (with the patching together of the photos), they are disorganized and bumbling : as a stereotype, one would have every reason to find that offensive.

And Cousins does not seem to acknowledge that faking a Hollywood production to help some people get away is such a preposterous <i>true story</i> that it cries out for making into a film, not some other film set some other time to put Iran across in a less negative way than suits 1980, and, if it is set then, then it will have to be against the background of what happened then...

And, for good measure, you can find out how Kevin B. Lee demolished the film, with much emphasis on Iranian buffoonery and American superiority.


Friday, 8 February 2013

'She's a heffer': Katie Price slams Kelly (according to Yahoo!®)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

8 February (updated 21 February)

Interesting that :

Kelly is just Kelly, but there may be other Katies

Simon Heffer is a writer, and Heffer's a bookshop

If one can accurately use a word that, according to Wikipedia®, may mean A young cow before she has had her first calf, one cannot then spell it

What does one judge of Ms Kelly Ann Parsons (now that Jordan / Price insists on us looking at her) ?

And what about the story... ? How many weeks were their agents and they in negotiation :

1. To find, in principle, the person to agree to slight Kelly B. ?

2. To fix a price for full participation, i.e. putting one's name to anything ?

3. To determine where the story would be placed, and what the opening gambit and subsequent developments of the story would be ?

I don't know why, but I find these details much more interesting than the initial slam !

Yesterday, although with a bit of a delay, Huffington Post reported that Kelly replied by calling Katie 'rude' and 'sad', so there's probably more to come...