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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

All kinds of cats - because (amongst others) Max Reinhardt [@imaxreinhardt] is such a #LateJunction cool cat

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)



31 January







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

Monday, 29 January 2018

A pretty amazing life, living out one's dream of working in Africa with animals... (work in progress)

This is a short review of Jane (2017)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


29 January

This is a short review of Jane (2017)




For once, no more Tweets in this review – as they actually lengthen the process – and even a vague attempt at a nod in @everyfilmneil's style of reviewing in the approach here...

* Disambiguated by IMDb (@IMDb) as Jane (II) (2017), the film is first and foremost about Jane Goodall's work (and life).

* A little in the way, say, that Iris (2015) treats of Iris Apfel* (though she is very much less likeable, quite apart from the question what she has to offer the world), Jane gives us Jane Goodall as a woman who made her way in the world - in her own words (however chosen - please see below), it is she who narrates her own path to the chimpanzees of Gombe (in Tanzania).

* There is much to value here, but, from the perspective of what a documentary that depends so heavily on archival material can and should do (i.e. given the standards of the work of the best of such film-makers*), there must be some caveats.

* Primarily, the film unnecessarily was allowed to show us so much of the rediscovered historical footage far ahead of our knowing how it came into existence [Jane's future husband, Hugo van Lawick, shot it]. As a result, because of questions of its quality, content and how it was even in being**, it ran in such a way that thoughts of gratuitously and highly posed reconstruction kept distractingly presenting themselves as to how it had come into being - which, of course and on one level, it is, but filmed with the patent fondness of a marital partner(-to-be).

* Yet, for those in the know about Jane Goodall (and maybe less bothered about how a film is made and / or a cinematic story told), this would not have been a problem... except that, particularly in the case of a documentary that goes back and, as the opening titles say, re-establishes someone's credentials (and also presents an idea of the sexist reporting that was used to undermine them), a documentary needs to stand on its own two feet, not what one is assumed to know ?

* Unfortunately, the use of high-speed animated note-books, survey-sheets and graphical presentation of data really does the significance of Goodall's work a disservice - by tokenistically demonstrating the volume of what was being done, but only really for no better reason than as a visual interlude - and so, contrary to the message, tending to appear to trivialize*** the research, with which the film (except as mediated by Jane's words, and so about her in relation to her studies) has no intention of engaging with at any real level / depth (despite The National Geographic name on the film).

* One should have guessed that, of The Rhymicisists (as these pages call practitioners in and of 'minimalism'), the irritatingly restless arpeggiation had to be that of Philip Glass - not his fault that, being too high in the mix, his score tended to drown the voice-over in the central part of Jane, but his, in not his best film-score, for sounding too often like Michael Nyman, writing indifferently, and not like himself on form. (Again, it did not help that one was on such high alert about what one was being shown that it affected how one received what was heard.)

* In various set-ups, seemingly contrived for the purposes of this film, Jane Goodall appeared and answered questions to camera. However, they did not seem to be the best questions, or, if these were the best answers so elicited, a different approach should have been taken.

* Some material (however selected – that could not be established, as each screen of the credits flicked by, but it was said to be from her writings) was read by [someone who sounded like]


[...]


End-notes :

* Or Mavis ! (2015), rather conventionally, of the career of Mavis Staples : just compare with Jeanie Finlay’s (@JeanieFinlay's) Orion : The Man Who Would Be King (2015), or Janis : Little Girl Blue (2015).

** In addition, other footage - as things such as picture-quality and style of filming indicated - originated from other sources.

*** Does it seem to send a patronizingly wrong message, i.e. 'Look, a woman doing all this !'




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

Saturday, 27 January 2018

A thread about the films that start with The Matrix (1999)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


27 January





[...]




Meanwhile, there is Jimmy Brians's review, as posted on YouTube...








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

Friday, 26 January 2018

Looks like we've got a war on our hands ~ William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


26 January

This is a response to Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)


Wes Anderson simply directs us in such a way that he has no need to show us the territory of Moonrise Kingdom (2012) on a map for us to know that it is representational, rather than actual - whereas, in a film that is not without other relevance, it is unhelpfully obvious to any attempt to read The Dressmaker (2015) literally that what is shown has scant sense of being a real place* [though this, for some clear reasons, is also not Dogville (2003)].



However, one believes that there are better grounds for abandoning any pretence that Kate Winslet (Tilly Dunnage), returning to her mother Molly (Judy Davis), is not just a revenge-romp (if one that is dusted down with touches of fairy tale and cod psychology). In Billboards, invoking such fictions as 'When they diverted the highway' causes one to think of Psycho (1960), rather - excellently entertaining though it is – than of Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent : Travels in Small-Town America, but perhaps writer / director Martin McDonagh desires to operate on both levels ?

All this anger begets anger ~ Penelope (Samara Weaving)

If it were actually the premise of the film, it was pretty obvious from the title what the billboards would be doing. Even in terms of believing in the film and / or being asked to believe in what the film shows, likewise pinning too much (pun intended) on them cannot be done in literal terms** : people misquote what Hitchcock meant when talking about a MacGuffin, but, in that extended sense, the billboards certainly are one.

Or, rather, they patently are one, but McDonagh will have it that they are not one...








Some film-references :

* Calvary (2014)

* The Dressmaker (2015)

* The Hairdresser's Husband (Le mari de la coiffeuse) (1990)




End-notes :

* According to Wikipedia®, the closest that we get with Billboards is Ebb, ‘an extinct town in St. Clair County, in the U. S. state of Missouri’.

** For example, as if although (and because) not rented out for the lengthy period of time found in the records of Ebbing Advertising Co. (and despite the obvious dilapidation [if one can have it, of something made of wood, not stone...] of the billboards themselves), the cogency of the installation is not going to need checking and repair before the resumption of an electrical supply. The conceit simply will not bear thinking of thus in those terms, if one had to imagine what would be an appropriate rental (rather than a figure and cash on the desk).




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

Monday, 15 January 2018

The trouble about these Hollywood dames ~ Dix Steele (Humphrey Bogart) (work in progress)

A response (work in progress) to In a Lonely Place (1950) ~ Bogart and Grahame

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


15 January


On first viewing Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame in In a Lonely Place (1950) (work in progress), as screened at Saffron Screen, on Monday 15 January 2018 at 8.00 p.m. (in the restored form from 1977)



Multiply, despite a police Captain who [says that he] has a microphone that is set up to record interviews, the film treats contamination of evidence (or even whether the matter is relevant) as if it is no part of its remit, or within its purview. Whereas it is sufficiently clear that even an innocent person, suspected of a crime (let alone one with a sizeable dossier at police HQ), will not, for the moment, want to act in a way that openly calls into question the independence of someone who claims to be a witness. (No more so than the police themselves will want there to be such an opportunity for embellishment of the evidence and / or for another witness 'to be found' ?)

If Peter Bradshaw (@PeterBradshaw1) is right that it falls to consider In a Lonely Place in the category of noir, then maybe such a flavour of the inauthentic that pervades everything is apt – or, contrariwise, maybe it is a reaction to a film that seems to aim at being plausible, but where so much remarkably does not succeed in giving that impression, that, as its saving grace, we invoke the concept of film noir ?




Attribute to Grahame’s character Laurel that she has seen it all before (with Mr Baker)*, or that Humphrey Bogart is a case, before the diagnosis existed (or before Taxi Driver (1976)), of post-traumatic stress disorder, but :

* Roger O. Thornhill (Cary again, with Hitchcock in North by NorthWest (1959)) is far more alarmed, though wildly drunk, by having been set behind the wheel of a car than Grahame as passenger – we see the vehicle objectively career, and also from the driver / passenger point of view - on one heck of a ride (we should either not have been shown that at all, or, if we are not intended to withdraw our belief, Grahame has not to react as if this is quite usual driving)

* As Adam Feinstein made a very case for, at Cambridge Film Festival 2016, Michael Curtiz did some unjustly neglected work with The Breaking Point (1950), and not just in Casablanca (1942) (with this film’s male lead and Bergman) :



* This film just shows why Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur (2011) was really so conventional (it felt as if, without acknowledging it, it was importing Peter Mullan from Ken Loach / Paul Laverty’s My Name is Joe (1998) ?)


All of which is calling out for some other film-references (assembling here, in alphabetical order) :

* The Artist (2011)

* Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (2017)

* Mulholland Drive [Dr.] (2001)

* […]


End-notes :

* But Laurel doesn’t seem to have the signs of having seen it all before even of Audrey Hepburn, as Holly Golightly, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) (even though, obviously, the oral sex in the gents is mightily toned down from what Truman Capote wrote – fancifully, although collected with three other stories in a slim volume, IMDb calls it ‘a novel’…)




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

We ? Who the hell are we to think that we're suddenly special ? (work in progress)!

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


This accreting load of twaddle is Our mistaken notions, in twenty-first-century Western so-called society, that we are all individuals – rather than just another batch of conformists














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

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Some comments on Molly’s Game (2017)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


14 January


Some comments on Molly’s Game (2017) (watched at The Light Cinema, Cambridge, on Wednesday 10 January 2018)






When not supposedly being both therapist and self-critical father, Larry Bloom is otherwise shown as a beastly father, ignoring his wife’s pleas for Molly, and invoking the word weak as an alleged synonym for tired : perfectly psychologically reasonable, then, that both Player X (Michael Cera) and, before him, Dean Keith (Jeremy Strong), prove dangerously attractive as the types of character who like to crush others (even if it can also be personally costly to know them).


[...]


Post-script :








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

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Two laundromats near Staines, formerly Middlesex (in production)

Some premonitions, prognostications and precautions about the promise of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


11 January


Some premonitions, prognostications and precautions about the promise of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)



It is almost cunning that we are reminded that it is the writer and director of In Bruges (2008), and not - for some reason - of Seven Psychopaths (2012)








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

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Three Tweets about Bound (1996) [by The Wachowskis]

Three Tweets about Bound (1996) [by The Wachowskis]

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


9 January

Three Tweets about Bound (1996) [by The Wachowskis]








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

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Three Tweets about Alexander Korda's The Four Feathers (1939) (and some images)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


2 January


Three Tweets about Alexander Korda's The Four Feathers (1939) (and some images)
















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

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Film hype decoded : A Dictionary of Tweets

Film hype decoded : A Dictionary of Tweets (#FilmHypeDecoded)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


2 January

Film hype decoded : A Dictionary of Tweets (#FilmHypeDecoded)


Inspired by the extraordinary true story





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

Monday, 1 January 2018

Some thoughts on being reacquainted with Suspicion (1941)

Some thoughts on being reacquainted with Suspicion (1941)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


1 January (Tweets added to the third end-note, 25 August)

Some thoughts on being reacquainted with Suspicion (1941)







Ingrid Bergman (Dr. Constance Petersen) and Gregory Peck (John Ballantyne), then joined by Michael Chekhov (Dr. Michael Brülov) for more dream-work, in Spellbound (1945)¹




Leo G. Carroll (Dr. Murchison) - joined by Ingrid Bergman (Dr. Constance Petersen) here in a link to the near-dénouement



The surges in Franz Waxman's score² for Suspicion (1941) go from emotional peaks, as when Lina overhears herself effectively described (by her mother, within) as dull and so impulsively kisses Johnnie, to ones - reverting to form ? - of terror, at what he might have done, or be³.


We scarcely see the exterior design of Lina and Johnnie's matrimonial property, when they return from honeymoon⁴, but we soon become acquainted with the fact that what we must assume is some sort of large cupola, at all sorts of times of day, has the shadow of its struts cast onto the living area and stairs.


Just as those surges, as part of Hitchcock's vision, help overwhelm with terror what is reasonable in us, too, likewise, more and more – without our doing much more than taking it for granted – does it turn from a benign compass to an imperious clock to an alarming web... ? :


Maybe, in this famous scene, we credit it - if we think of its plausible origins at all - as cast by the full moon, but, then, with all that it traditionally implies about sanity (Johnnie's ? Lina's ?)...



End-notes :

¹ Seemingly titled, in Italy, io ti salverò ('I will save you') :


² Waxman, under the category 'Music (Music score for a dramatic picture)', was nominated for an Academy Award (in 1942).

³ In 'Murder - With English on it' [originally published in The New York Times Magazine (3 March 1957 ; 17, 42)], Hitchcock chooses to say In Suspicion, the story of a wife who suspects her husband of being a homicidal maniac, I had to make [my emphasis] the suspicion ultimately [my emphasis] a figment of her imagination. The consensus was [my emphasis] that audiences would not want to be told in the last few frames of film that as popular a personality as Cary Grant was a murderer, doomed to exposure. (The article is collected as part of Faber & Faber's film series on directors, in Hitchcock on Hitchcock (London, 1995), pp. 133-137.)

However, although the article does not cite this reference, hitchcockmaster finds ample evidence that, after principal shooting, Hitchcock found that the film had been cut down to 55 minutes, out of the fear mentioned (which arose from preview screenings at RKO, and after changes of personnel made by the studio, that lost Hitchcock the support of the two men most closely involved with the film). The article also shows that few people liked the ending of the film, as duly completed in post-production and released.



In full, the caption in Cary Grant : A Life in Pictures reads :

Grant accepted the role of John Aynsgar on the condition that the part be softened from that of a murderer to one who only appears to be a murderer. The ambiguous nature of Aynsgar presented a unique challenge to Grant. He was required to appear both guilty and innocent at all times. The air of mystery he'd brought to earlier roles served him well in Suspicion. He was both playful and menacing, often within the same scene, and made these mood shifts so smoothly that no one really noticed he was doing some of his best work. Based on the novel Before the Fact, the film's name was changed to Suspicion so that the audience wouldn't know whether or not Grant's character was a killer until the last scene. Hitchcock wrote and filmed two separate endings to the film, hoping to do it his way with Aynsgar as his killer and his wife the willing victim. But early preview audiences preferred the soft ending, in which Joan Fontaine's character is so paranoid that she only imagines her husband is trying to kill her.


⁴ Our best chance to see this hallway, and how especially it is lit from above, comes from at 28 : 43 (in the colour version), whereas, when Lina comes in from riding and meets ‘Beaky’ (Nigel Bruce) for the first time (at 38 : 30), the property appears to have a perfectly flat façade (which gives little away what is supposed to be behind it).

One reviewer (quoted by hitchcockmaster³) somewhat disapproved of the use of the image cast by the putative cupola, calling it, in The Times, an effective, if a little crude, use of shadow (4 December 1941).

Post-script : Since the above was written, this still has been found, which appears to show the exterior (from an angle) :





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