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Wednesday, 30 September 2015


More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

28 September

A (probably expanding) group of Tweets about The Martian (2015)

Some external links...

The AstroCritic: What 'The Martian' Gets Right About Astronauts

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Big River

This is a Festival review of May Allah bless France ! (2014)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

27 September

This is a Festival review of Qu’Allah bénisse la France ! (May Allah bless France !) (2014)

Some titles act as a puzzle, throughout a film, as to where they will fit in, whereas, with some others, one can acquiesce in and with them (as, say, with that of Frances Ha (2012)) : that of Qu’Allah bénisse la France ! (May Allah bless France !) (2014) is of the latter kind.

Sometimes reviewers are far less clear, than those who give films titles¹, by stating that such-and-such a film ‘is a(n) [adjective(s)] adaptation of [author’s] novel’ as to whether they have read the book, a précis, or just what some other reviewer / the press pack or release / even Wikipedia® had to say about it :

There really is no merit in this.

Reviewers should not pretend to have more knowledge about an adaptation, or its nature / quality, than they have² – for, if they do, why should we trust them as to what they made or thought of the film, because they have evasively wished to over-represent their smattering of understanding about the relation between the film and the novel / novella / stage-play, etc., in which its origins lie ?

(Those who know about etymologies will be aware that the words ‘truth’ and ‘trust’, and the feelings and beliefs that they both embody, are tightly bound up with each other.)

Back to the film…

Abd al Malik has made a present to us of this account of his life to the point where he had become established in hip-hop, and started to come to terms with what his ethos was : it is arguably not a feel-good film, he does not preach, it is not mawkish, but his film does - and rightly so – ask us, in the West, whether we are guilty for what colonial powers did in our name in post-colonial times / politics.

In this regard, although Malik shows a broader range of ages and a greater variety of experience, his film has sympathies with the story of Sixteen (2013), but he superbly carries off the balance between his own narrative and how it explicates the generality of growing up in ‘the projects’ on the outskirts of Strasbourg (a city that could stand for any with outlying settlements, however those places became repositories for despair, or no-go areas). One moment, where Malik’s life makes a major turn, brings out the essence of this existence strikingly.

but what do they do all day ?
what are they supposed to say ?

'Big River' ~ Jimmy Nail

This is a film that makes [the focus of] Trainspotting (1996) seem distinctly parochial, and - even if some seem to say that the collection of pieces that constitute the book is better - as aiming too much at effect and quirky / clever plot. By telling this story (as already told in the form of a novel), Malik avoids the likely pitfalls that can make many a so-called bio-pic unwatchable [it may be that the nature of such films to be so ?], i.e. that those who know the historical person are offended by the unnecessary inaccuracies / distortions , and that those who do not want to credit everything that they are shown. Net benefit = zero ?

Categorically, we do not need to know (or maybe even like) Malik’s music, or this style of music, to feel that it makes us part of the film : the way that sound, from the bass up, floods significant scenes colours them without our feeling that we are being manipulated, but gives us Malik’s emotional undertow. The honesty with which, directing the cinematography, he seems to show both youth blighted, and yet how he found both a mature approach to acquiring an Islamic faith and a measure of hope, allow one to believe that, as a film-maker, he should continue to impress with his screenwriting and direction.

So, momentary interludes, which reflect on the suburban environment, and dramatic ways of composing scenes and using variations in light and focus, make this a highly filmic work, which deserves to be seen on a large screen (as it was twice at Cambridge Film Festival, in Screen 1 at Festival Central³).


¹ Not only if the original title is in another language, and, even if by design, the title in English poorly or barely reflects it.

² Or whether they even watched all, or even most, of it ? Some ‘reviews’ make clear (when compared with others) that what one is reading is not their writers’ own evaluation / interpretation, because they offer the same questionably founded observations about an aspect of a film, sometimes using identical phrases or descriptions, and expect us to believe that they came upon them in their mind.

³ Screen 1 of The Arts Picturehouse (@CamPicturehouse) was the only place to conceive seeing this highly visual film, both for the integrity and inventiveness of its use of monochrome, and to hear the bass-effects in the sound-system.

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

The science of deliberately piercing a hole in a space-suit...

A (probably expanding) group of Tweets about The Martian (2015)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

28 September

A (probably expanding) group of Tweets about The Martian (2015)

Some external links...

The AstroCritic: What 'The Martian' Gets Right About Astronauts

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Thursday, 24 September 2015

HAMM : When you inspected my paupers. Always on foot ? / CLOV : Sometimes on horse.*

This is an account of Horse Money (2014) plus Q&A with director Pedro Costa

More views of or before Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

23 September

* May contain spoilers *

This is an account of a special screening of Horse Money (Cavalo Dinheiro) (2014) plus Q&A with director Pedro Costa at The Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge, on Tuesday 22 September 2015

Some people in the Q&A reported that they expected to have to re-watch the film to follow what was happening : they therefore seemed to assume that seeing Horse Money (2014) again would satisfy that ‘need’, not that it is overtly denying such attempts to do so, with its re-enactment of experiences that, because they are deemed not to be ‘normal’ (or even to be dangerous), are usually labelled as psychosis and lead to a diagnosis such as schizophrenia :

When members of Ventura’s family are en masse at the foot of his bed, and one even sits on it, it is likely that they are there for him, but not that they are otherwise present. And, when he is almost naked in subterranean depths of great and striking beauty, it is unlikely that he is literally there, but forever being brought back.

A Beautiful Mind (2001) had us credit John Nash’s world, even if it is perhaps shown to us a little fancifully, and ‒ because it is to make a Hollywood necessity of contrasting it with ‘the truth’ ‒ in such a way that we understand it to have been delusional. Horse Money does not make those concessions to our understanding, but it is implicit in what it does that to ask to follow what happened, on a second viewing, is to expect that Vitalina, in what she says to Ventura (or vice versa), is communicating solely on the ostensible level of her actual words, not that the meaning lies in the interplay, or that the exact interplay ‒ any more than the dialogue in a play by Pinter ‒ may never have happened.

Which is where a connection lies with the work of Jeff Wall, to whom, without disagreement (and with seeming acceptance), Pedro Costa was referred in the Q&A.

For those who had been at Cambridge Film Festival (@camfilmfest), and with Ventura’s experience, Horse Money could have made unpleasant and uncomfortable viewing, as a reminder of sadder days of constraint and forced compliance, and of the perfunctoriness ‒ here reduced to a dull formula ‒ of some psychiatric interviews.

Still, the film cannot well be taken literally (even if Pedro Costa wants to call his film a documentary ‒ so he replied to Loreta Gandolfi (@GandolfiLoreta), who was hosting the Q&A, and who had first, to her surprise, seen Horse Money at a documentary film festival), and that aspect, together with what is characterized in the following question (which was put to Costa), has the likely effect of achieving the worst of both worlds :

Is there a danger in having composed so many shots so beautifully that an already oblique set of experiences becomes over-stylized ?

In other words, for those who do not know this world, Horse Money may be impenetrable (and may just make them believe that they ‘missed something’, and will gain more on a second viewing), whereas, for those who do, it might seem at too much of a poetic remove to do more than remind them, in an artistic form, of their past, but without telling them anything that they did not know from their own hospitalization. This is what is suggested by asking whether it may achieve the worst of both worlds.

As to starting to watch the film at Cambridge, and then finding the emotion too painful (even after obtaining ‘a stiff drink’) to watch beyond around thirty-five minutes, obviously one was able to prepare oneself better for Horse Money, and then take it for what it was ‒ moving from [assertions of] the destruction of family life and livelihood** to wider perspectives of post-industrial decline, the earlier part of which theme was referenced in these #CamFF Tweets :

Pedro Costa clearly finds working with Ventura compelling (even seductive, for, in this connection, one is reminded of Calvet (2011)), and he told the audience how he talks to Ventura about his life and thoughts, but uses those conversations to ground his poetic approach to the text and, ultimately, to making the script with a film-crew of just three (of which he is one).

One has to agree that the ‘look’ of his film is, likewise, a clear reaction against so much film-making that is not cinematic ‒ and, of course, Costa is right in this (and in striving for a visual quality in his work), and that such films give scant regard to the history and early achievements of film. Whether, though, we find Ventura (despite all his perspective on life) a persuasive voice remains to be seen :

Some might find that distilling / channelling Ventura through Costa and back into Ventura may have made what we see and hear too rarefied ?***


* Endgame, Samuel Beckettt, p. 15 : Faber & Faber, London, 1964.

** In recognition of the content of the Tweets that follow, Costa was presented with a copy of the Calder edition of Beckettt’s trilogy (Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable).

*** Even if (because ?) Costa says that he prefers Spinoza to Wittgenstein (he also said that he had slept in the latter's bed at Trinity)... ?

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Monday, 21 September 2015

An engaging festival, which becomes ever more cinematic ! [under construction]

More views of or before Cambridge Film Festival 2014 (28 August to 7 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

21 September

Without scope, this year, for any of 2014's elaborate planning, this posting will end up recording what happened, and when, with links to reviews (to come, when Tweets do not suffice... [meanwhile, 2014's posting is, bit by bit, being cannibalized])

As ever, there is a code, which is :

A Abandoned Walked out partway through

AA Wished to abandon But, against better judgement, could not (or did not) leave partway through

B Blog There is a posting about the film on the blog, to which the link takes one (although it may not be a review)

C Catalan preview A film from the Camera Catalonia strand, reviewed ahead of and for the Festival

M Missed Planned (or had tickets) to see, but had to skip

O Take One Published on line as a guest review

P Partly watched A clash with an earlier (or later) film prevented seeing it as a whole

Q Q&A Hosted a Q&A after the screening

R Recorded Recorded the Q&A after the screening

S Seen The opposite of Missed

T Twitter Tweeted about the film
Thursday 3 September

(0) 3.30 C M El camí més llarg per tornar a casa (The Long Way Home) (2014) : Screen 3 (85 mins) Somehow, the slow, quiet opening was not best suited to Silver Screen viewers, asking if they were in the right film...

(1) 6.00 S T The Clearstream Affair (L'enquête) (2014) : Screen 2 (110 mins)

Then again (no endorsement, as the TAKE ONE exegesis is, as yet, unread) :

(2) 9.00 S T Irrational Man (2015) (96 mins)

Friday 4 September

(3) 3.30 S T Atomic : Living in dread and promise (2015) plus Q&A with Mark Cousins (@markcousinsfilm) : Screen 2 (72 mins)

(3½) 6.30 S One Night in Hell (2014) / Brian May 3-D Rarities) (2015) : Screen A (The Light) (7 / 94 mins)

(4½) 9.00 S T Pasolini (2014) : Screen 1 (85 mins)

(5½) 11.00 S T The Chelsea Hotel (1981) : Screen 2 (55 mins)

Saturday 5 September

(6½) 4.30 S T Neil Brand's Keaton for Kids : Steamboat Bill Jnr (1928) (plus Keaton excerpts) : Screen 1 (70 / 120 mins)

(7) 6.30 S A Confession (2015) (from Secrets programme) (ShortFusion) plus Q&A : Screen 3 (9 / 80 mins)

Interview conducted for TAKE ONE with director Petros Silvestros and producer Murray Woodfield

(8) 10.00 S T TridentFest : Screen 1 (allegedly 90 mins)

Interviews conducted for TAKE ONE with Project Trident (@ProjectTrident) film-makers Andrzej Sosnowski (@Dr_Zej) and Carl Peck (@UntilDayBreaks), Ryd Cook (@RydCook), Simon Panrucker (@spanrucker), Christian Lapidge (@CJLapidge), and Sammy Patterson

Sunday 6 September

(8½) 6.00 A The Wind (1928) (with accompaniment from Stephen Horne) (Sjöström) : Emmanuel (Queen's Building) (78 mins)

Sadly, despite a late start to the day's viewing, the preceding late night soon induced a headache that needed an urgent remedy one that could not remotely have withstood the tumult, such as was judged even from waiting outside the lecture-theatre, that multi-instrumentalist Stephen Horne whipped up

9.30 C R Born (2014) (Camera Catalonia) : Screen 3 (102 mins)

6.30 B S Under Milk Wood plus Q&A (1971) (Dylan Thomas 100) : Screen 1 (88 mins)

9.00 B S Before I Go to Sleep plus Q&A (2014) : Screen 1 (92 mins)

Tuesday 2 September

1.00 M M : Screen 1 (1931) (117 mins)

3.30 S Last Call (2013) : Screen 2 (91 mins)

6.00 S How I Came to Hate Maths (Comment j'ai détesté les maths) (2013) : Emmanuel (110 mins)

8.30 B S Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy (2013) : Emmanuel (127 mins)

Wednesday 3 September

1.30 B S Iranian (2014) : Screen 1 (105 mins)

4.00 AA Eastern Boys (2013) : Screen 1 (128 mins)

6.30 B x 2 S Stations of the Cross (and further thoughts on a second viewing) (Kreuzweg) (2014) (German) : Screen 2 (104 mins)

9.00 C S Tasting Menu (plus a riposte to TAKE ONE's reviewer) (2013) (Camera Catalonia) : Screen 2 (85 mins)

11.00 M Short Fusion : Life Lessons : Screen 2 (79 mins)

Thursday 4 September (a day for not sticking to the plan at all !)

11.00 M Night will Fall (2014) : Screen 1 (75 mins)

1.30 M Le Jour se Lève (Daybreak) (1939) : Screen 1 (93 mins)

As to be on general release, substituted by rewatching :
2.30 B x 2 S Stations of the Cross (and further thoughts on a second viewing) (Kreuzweg) (2014) (German) : Screen 2 (104 mins)

4.00 P German Short Films (German) : Screen 1 (~70 mins) (all 2013) Will have to miss the end to get to Still the Enemy Within (2014)...

6.00 M Still the Enemy Within (2014) : St Philip's Church (112 mins)
Instead rewatched :
6.00 B S Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy (2013) (Festival link) : Emmanuel (127 mins)

8.30 M Under the Lantern (1928) (Lamprecht) : St Philip's Church (129 mins)
Stay for this - or head to Festival Central for...
9.00 M We Are Many (2014) : Screen 1 (104 mins)

Friday 5 September

1.00 B C S We All Want What's Best for Her (Tots volem el millor per a ella) (2013) plus write-up of Q&A (now with photos) (Camera Catalonia) : Screen 1 (105 mins)

Just time to interview Mar Coll (director and co-writer of We All Want What's Best for Her- write-up to come...) before :
4.00 S People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag) (Lamprecht) : Emmanuel (73 mins)

5.00 P Energized : Screen 1 (91 mins) Sadly, needing to miss the start of which...

7.50 C S Son of Cain (Fill de Caín) (2013) (plus write-up of Q&A) (Camera Catalonia) : Screen 2 (90 mins)

10.30 M The Mad Magician (Retro 3-D) : Screen 2 (72 mins)

Saturday 6 September

1.00 M Berlin, Symphony of a Great City (Lamprecht) : Screen 3 (74 mins)

Missed to interview - and take punting - Jesús Monllaó, director of Son of Cain (Fill de Caín)

2.30 B S Fiction (Ficció) (Camera Catalonia) : Screen 3 (107 mins)

5.00 AA B Amour Fou : Screen 1 (96 mins)

7.30 B S Tony Benn : Will and Testament : Screen 1 (running-time not advised)

Not likely to finish in time for (as was indeed so)...

9.00 M West (Lagerfeuer) (German) : Screen 2 (102 mins)

Sunday 7 September

1.00 C S Othello (Otel.lo) (Camera Catalonia) : Screen 2 (69 mins)

The next film was missed, because of lunch and then completing an interview with Hammudi Al-Rahmoun Font, director of Otel.lo (with the kind assistance, as translator, of Cristina Roures)

4.00 M A Poem in Exile (Camera Catalonia) : Emmanuel (77 mins)

5.30 M Set Fire to the Stars (Dylan Thomas 100) : Screen 1 (90 mins)

For the sceptical, there is evidence of that punting-trip, with star pupil Hammudi

8.00 A The Grandmaster (which turned out to be Surprise Film 1) : Screen 1 (?? mins)

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Saturday, 19 September 2015

We were just overlapping circles*

More views of ‒ or before ‒ Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

19 September

We were just overlapping circles*

When I didn’t ‒ and you did ‒
It was
y minus x
A cancellation
(Not summation)
Of the good in us

When you didn’t, nor did I,
Residing ‘quite elsewhere’
In two diagrams :
Hidden discourse
Our universes


When I had to, you could not ‒
My cypher decoded
(And utterly plain)
In your fierce sight,
Shaming my spirit

When you felt as I did,
An unrushed moment ‒ as
Of tranquillity ‒
Settled upon us,
Mended all our hurt


Copyright © Belston Night Works 2015


* Quoting ‘Jigsaw Puzzle of Life’, Kate and Anna McGarrigle.

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Storm in a bath-tub

In memory of  Kate Waring, a short review of her chamber opera Porcelain and Pink

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

17 September

Posted in memory of composer Kate Waring, this is a short-form review of her setting of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s sketch / play Porcelain and Pink as a one-act chamber opera

Just as Cole Porter does (in Kiss Me, Kate, say), carefully using the device of the curtain-raiser to introduce us beforehand to (or remind us of) the themes of songs that follow in each half, so this Kate, Kate Waring, deliberately sets the musical scene with her overture to Porcelain and Pink, as well as giving us the scope of what is to follow :

Cellist Jon Fistein, clarinettist Sarah Bowden, and pianist Alex Reid are the same instrumental forces as a year ago, when they gave us Kate’s companion-piece, Are Women People ?. Together, they herald, and then accompany, returning vocalists Hazel Neighbour (soprano) and Jessica Lawrence-Hares (mezzo-soprano), with the only change from before being that James Proctor (bass-baritone) replaces having a role for a tenor.

As we already know, the timbre of the two female voices is nicely complementary, and we find the same to be true of those of Hazel and James (the latter is familiar, at and after his time at Clare, for skill in the art of the blended voice). And, as the overture hints at (even if the framing is, of course, essentially comic), there are a few darker strands : lyre-like, the strings of the piano are directly swept three times, maybe four, as if as a portent. Yet the manner of doing so in no way invokes John Cage’s work, but the approach of Orpheus – perhaps playing a song about eternal nature and destiny, because of, and through the operation of, The Fates ? Thus the repeated gesture can be heard as embodying the primaeval tensions that are casually evoked by Fitzgerald’s text : the ancient impulses to be naked, to sing, to dance !

Whereas, putting bathing in its historical context, the early twentieth century had safely established it, at least for public consumption (and whatever the truth behind the glitz of Gatsby’s functions, or that of The Diamond as Big as The Ritz), as a private, sacred, even penitential time, or practice – not, on any account, to be seen as a pursuit, pastime or pleasure (or not, at any rate, to be seen in that way by the masses ?)…

A state of moralistic affairs that may not seem not so distant from when Thoreau, living in – and off – Emerson’s woodland near Concord, gave an account of his way of life in Walden ? (Even if Hawthorne, as we would expect and even require of him, can be found playing some deliciously ironic chords, in The Blithedale Romance, about his own experience of that period…)

At root, though, Fitzgerald also wants us to show a young woman who is making, and then wholly enjoying, the chance to flirt quite inappropriately, play a part, and, needless to say, tease us, too, with her bath-time antics : Kate Waring clearly relishes what can be found in these scenes to ground a libretto, and so, having revisited them (as she did the perhaps overlooked writings of Alice Duer Miller, with Are Women People ?), bringing them to the musical stage.

From what might otherwise have seemed an inconsequential work by Fitzgerald (even though it did cause him notoriety), she has made a finer piece and brought out both its comic and deeper potential through her setting and her care.

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Friday, 4 September 2015

Rhode Island blues ? [posting under construction]

This is a Festival review of Irrational Man (2015)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

3 September

This is a Festival review of Irrational Man (2015)

There’s daggers in men’s smiles
Macbeth, Act II, Scene III

Woody Allen was not, one fears, in danger of ‘finding the meaningful act’ by making Irrational Man (2015), one more in the sequence of Dostoyevskian tributes that has never bettered where, with Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989), it seriously started* – although Cassandra’s Dream (2007) [barely released in the UK ?] immeasurably improved on quaintly popular Match Point (2005) (whose appreciative welcome was highly undeserved ?).

Flirting more closely than Crimes and Misdemeanours ever did with the premise of Strangers on a Train** (1951), Allen desires to mix in the idea of 'what is overheard' (familiar from Another Woman (1988) - and elsewhere [Everyone Says I Love You (1996) ?]). Yet he does so in a way that is, maybe, inadvisedly trying what Hitchcock could have made work, but, here, Alles does not even have very much of the energy or poise behind his own Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) : the motif seems badly, and unconvincingly, slipped into the centre of the film.

Its use fails (if that is Allen's aim) to create suspense, but, at best, is just an awkwardly persistent foot-note to the opening, and naggingly wants to weave in a strand on how societal life thrives on 'rumour factories'. (Yes, but - albeit in [Middle] English - we already had Chaucer, some seven centuries ago, on this topic, in The House of Fame...)

That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold
Act II, Scene II

We probably should not take this film literally, if only because it makes explicit its origins in existential thought

[...] I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.

Act III, Scene IV


* Phoenix (as Abe) lacks the interest of a character ‘blocked’ with his writing, such as Allen himself as Harry Block in Deconstructing Harry (1997), and Abe's ennui, for some reason**, lacks the emotional depth Theodore Twombly (Phoenix again) in Spike Jonze’s sensational Her (2013).

** Maybe the reason is that Irrational Man might properly be construed as epistolary, not so much between confiding lovers as between confiding lovers who, in terms of psyches, miss being able 'to see' each other, and have to write out [the meaning of] their encounter.

Or, more accurately, write off ? Which is what Allen does, in voice-overs, but not without a nod to a famous prestigious predecessor : we intuited early that there is no scope for Sonya here to help redeem a Raskolnikov, and so no rehabilitation in the frozen wastes. Rather, Abe*** resembles a character-type on the way to what, in Crimes, Martin Landau (Judah Rosenthal) has become.

*** Off the top of one’s head, one is tempted by the sound of - but knows that it is not - Abe Lincoln. However, as so often, IMDb does not [choose to] know what the credits do not tell…

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Domestic, without bliss : Dialogues with despair and distraction

This is a review of The Long Way Home (2014) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2015)

More views of or before Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

2 September

This is a pre-Festival review of El camí més llarg per tornar a casa (The Long Way Home) (2014) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2015)

For those who found Locke (2013) relatively pretentious (and unnecessarily grounded in and by its central conceit), El camí més llarg per tornar a casa (The Long Way Home) (2014) may cure (or else kill) : hardly limiting himself to the niceties of the grades of concrete, Tom Hardy’s paper-thin character on a mission as Locke can, as the embodiment of empirical thinking at the wheel, grate through his seemingly having an explanatory plaster for everything (if maybe not for those who esteem the contrary presentation of a grand, value-based gesture that uproots everything).

Important referents here are as follows :

* The Out of Towners (1970) not as a tour de force for Jack Lemmon (though the film is one), or for its comedy, but for its relentless reliance on What can go wrong, going wrong [it almost has the existential joy, in pessimism, of Beckettt’s two mimes called Act Without Words [I or II] (Acte sans paroles [I ou II])]

* From there, a little look back to George Bailey, in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

* Sprinkle some Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) in After Hours (1985), and some significant allusions to Paddy Considine’s re-working of Peter Mullan, in Ken Loach / Paul Laverty’s My Name is Joe (1998) in Tyrannosaur (2011) [but one need not do more than acknowledge what Miranda July was poorly trying to do with Paw-Paw [~3,800 page-views for this posting] in The Future (2011)…]

* Principally, however, what Borja Espinosa gives us (leading in the role of Joel Reguera) is a more nuanced take on what rock bottom is like than even Marion Cotillard’s very impressive performance in Two Days, One Night (Deux Jours, Une Nuit) (2014)

Unlike the Dardennes brothers’ film, this is one where little is explained (in Two Days, One Night, it is essential to the film that we understand what is facing Cotillard’s Sandra : as, also, witness how her character is urged Tu existes, Sandra !), and as if we are invisibly there, in the room, as Joel wakes, is in the car (whose music is our soundtrack), or in various locations such as a café, its toilet, or bits of waste or track-side land right from the opening, we are used to the camera tunnelling into the shot, and to blurrings [form as shape], or blackenings [darkness visible], which distort our perception, and then are reversed, or enhanced [light as pattern] :

In Locke, it is as if it is de rigueur for us to have the perception of everything as contingent packets of sense-data, thrust home by the pixellated, out-of-focus lamps, and the reflections, that we do not avoid seeing : is the distinction that El camí més llarg per tornar a casa (The Long Way Home) wants us to look at them, or into Joel’s beard (at fifty-seven minutes in), and just be with, and in, the camera-image ?

Another type of connection is, then, with the domesticity of a reflective, observational film such as Mohammad-Ali Talebi’s Bag of Rice (Kiseye Berendj) (1998) (or The White Balloon (Badkonake sefid) (1995), both promoted by Mark Cousins’ (@markcousinsfilm’s) A Story of Children and Film (2013)), except that, again, the nature of the film needs us to grasp ‘the story’ (even if those of Talebi's films are at a level that, to some, might appear artless, or inconsequential).

Unlike C. S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed (which, via Nigel Hawthorne on stage, became Anthony Hopkins and Debora Winger in Shadowlands (1993)), or our observing Cotillard’s Sandra, that observation is neither central to El camí, nor peripheral to it, it just is : if we were at an uncomfortable remove from Frances Ha, we would probably have related better to Blue Jasmine (2013) [the link is to 'Who is Woody Allen in Blue Jasmine ?' (with >7,200 page-views)], but El camí is located further still in a direction beyond Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s Frances, where we just need to be with Joel (Borja Espinosa), not pathologize his experience (or him) :

[Mainstream] cinema can, too often, want to sensationalize such experiences (as in the image above), but director Sergi Pérez* just wants us to be with Joel where he is**, and not judge him in relation to seeing him with Elvis*** (or ??)…


* As with Tots els camins de Déu (All The Ways of God) (2014), also in this year's Cambridge Film Festival’s Camera Catalonia.

** Those in the film seem not to be able to do so (or, maybe, do not wish to, or do not know how to), but typically make / repeat self-interested demands to know more, ‘out of concern’, which we can recognize as the express message behind saying, not without accusation, that it has been Four days without knowing anything about you.

*** The name also reminds us of Aureli in La Nit Que Va Morir L’Elvis (The Night Elvis Died) (2010) ?

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Pre-Festival reviews of films in Camera Catalonia II (for Cambridge Film Festival 2015)

Three more films in Camera Catalonia (for Cambridge Film Festival 2015)

More views of or before Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

2 September

Three more films (for one, The Agent cheats) in Camera Catalonia (for Cambridge Film Festival 2015)

For the fourth year, Ramon Lamarca has curated Camera Catalonia screenings (films with a connection in language, themes, directors or actors with the autonomous Catalan region within Spain*), and it is a pleasure to have worked with him and with the kind help of the producers of the films to prepare pre-Festival reviews this year : Ramon is thanked for his generous assistance and encouragement (as in 2014).

The titles are links to full-length previews of three further films from Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (@camfilmfest / #CamFF) (and the links to the first three reviews are here, in the first posting) [rather than re-invent the wheel, one has linked to the review by Nashwa Gowanlock for TAKE ONE (@takeonecinema /] :

* Héroes Invisibles (Invisible Heroes) (2015)

* The Long Way Home (El camí més llarg per tornar a casa) (2014)

* Traces of Sandalwood (Rastres de sàndal) (2014) [a link to Nashwa Gowanlock's TAKE ONE preview]

The films can be seen as follows, and the title, in each case, is a link to the booking-page for that screening**

NB Except for the first screening of Traces of Sandalwood, which is at The Light cinema (@lightcambridge), all screenings are at The Arts Picturehouse (@CamPicturehouse).

Thursday 3 September

3.30 p.m. The Long Way Home (El camí més llarg per tornar a casa) (Screen 3)

Wednesday 9 September

6.45 p.m. NB At The Light cinema Traces of Sandalwood (Rastres de sàndal) (Screen B)

Thursday 10 September

1.00 p.m. Traces of Sandalwood (Rastres de sàndal) (Screen 2)

6.00 p.m. The Long Way Home (El camí més llarg per tornar a casa) (Screen 2)

Friday 11 September

3.30 p.m. Héroes Invisibles (Invisible Heroes) (Screen 3)


* Please read further about the region and its cinematic style in What is Catalan cinema ? [with 1,800+ page-views, though now in need of being updated].

** Notes on screenings :

NB The allocation of films between the three screens at Festival Central (and elsewhere) can always change (as can, if one is coming from a distance for a specific film, the programme as a whole) : if the audience for a film scheduled for Screen 3 (the smallest screen, around half the capacity of the largest, Screen 1) proves greater than expected, it may end up being swapped, so there could be a change in the exact time of the screening, too.

In the programme (that is a link to the where the PDF file can be consulted / downloaded printed copies are available at Festival Central and all good local outlets), some slots are also kept blank, so that popular screenings can be repeated : announcements are on Cambridge Film Festival 2015's (@camfilmfest's) web-site, as are alterations to the programme (or the allocation between screens).

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)