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Wednesday, 31 October 2018

In three Tweets, a response to Nancy (2018)

In three Tweets, a response to Nancy (2018)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2018 (25 October to 1 November)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


31 October

In three Tweets, a response to Nancy (2018)








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

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

First-gig response [European premiere] to Roobha (2018*)

First-gig response [European premiere] to Roobha (2018)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2018 (25 October to 1 November)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


First-gig response [European premiere] to Roobha (2018)

Caveat : Not absolutely everything in this film might be how, on a first viewing, one thought that it might have worked best – but it has so much going for it that, as they could or should say, those reservations fade into irrelevance in the face of so much that is daring, and bold, and strong.

And one needs to be all such things when the commonality that we could and really should have, as human-beings, with one another can or does dissolve and decay into judgement, hatred, and ostracism : this film is political, in the sense of showing what we are missing when we separate ourselves from others and deem them Other.


Preaching apart for seeing others apart from the prejudices that one – if one had a family – imbibed under its eaves, because one almost instinctively and disruptively hears the parental responses that ring in one’s ears, Roobha (2017??) is beautifully inventive and visually alert. Asked in the Q&A after the European premiere about the scene that is witnessed through a car windscreen, director Lenin ?? credited it to ??, his cinematographer, when it came to the shoot : alongside, for example, the permeable and impermeable membranes, and reflections / doubled images, with which the film is populated one gets a sense of the known but unspoken that Henrik Ibsen gave us on the stage, the truths that we dare not confront or confess until we have to, and the hardnesses in our hearts in extremis that, in some other extremity, can soften into love and acceptance.

This is meant as an appreciative and totally unspoilery reaction to the film : if you want to know what ‘it is about’, there are other accounts that will provide that. In conclusion, what one suggests that one might better look out for in terms of cinematic qualities is given in the Tweets that follow.


[...]




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

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Just as if the present penetrated the future, leaving behind a trace of anxiety*

This is a Festival preview [uncorrected proof] of Miss Dalí (2018) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2018)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2018 (25 October to 1 November)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


14 October

This is a Festival preview [uncorrected proof] of Miss Dalí (2018) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2018)


The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here,
and it screens on Saturday 27 October [in Screen 1 at Festival Central] at 2.00 p.m.,
and also on Monday 29 October at 11.00 a.m. [in Screen 3 at Festival Central]


Salvador Dalí is not a trustworthy source of information about himself. From his adolescence he set out consciously to become a myth, and he continued to work at being Dalí even after he had achieved his goal. A vital stage in the process was his The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, written in French and published in English translation, for American consumption, in 1942, when he was thirty-eight.

Ian Gibson ~ The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí** [Introduction, opening sentences]


When, to a voice-over (from which the words that are used as a title to this preview have been quoted*), the film opens with a slide-show of unpeopled bays, cliffs, the sea and waves, it has a disembodied quality to it that speaks, inter alia, of lives beyond these vistas : perhaps they seem hyper-real in their intensity, as if in canvases of Salvador Dalí, where we might wonder what time soft watches would tell ?


Alice sighed wearily. 'I think you might do something better with the time,' she said, 'than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.'

'If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter, 'you wouldn't talk about wasting it. It's him.'***


The twentieth century was hardly the first time when big personalities were operating in the sphere of the creative media (since it had given us such towering egos as Benvenuto Cellini, Christopher Marlowe, Caravaggio, Samuel Johnson, Niccolò Pagannini, Richard Wagner, August Strindberg, Richard Strauss, etc., etc.), but how art was to develop then not only allowed, but also almost required, the person of the artist to be an important part of the art-work and its values : to be an artist called Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol, to name but three, made it de rigueur to venerate at The Shrine of The Personality Cult (or, rather, have others make votive offerings to approach one and / or on one's behalf).


In telling the story of Edie Sedgwick, Factory Girl (2006) may not, in search of a good premise for a film, be accurate with all of its claims about Warhol – which is not to say that he did not use / exploit people, but that it misrepresents what one can nowadays easily check :

Part of Ana María’s motivation, in 1949, in publishing Salvador Dalí vist per la seva germana was to correct assertions that would otherwise pass for truth. Imagine being Salvador Dalí's sister, and having happily posed for hours for your evidently highly talented brother, then, as his art developed (and Dalí, having learn to draw and paint figuratively, initially thought himself first an Impressionist, then a Cubist), finding that one has more in common with one’s father’s increasing sense of frustration with him - that is what Miss Dalí asks us to entertain.


Yet all the indications are that, although Ana María’s book also appeared in Spanish (and was translated into French), it has never appeared in an English-language edition, and Ian Gibson's seemingly unchallenged biography The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí (quoted above) only gives a few pages to it. (Gibson spends longer on considering the various and inconsistent accounts by Dalí and Buñuel of how the screenplay for Un chien andalou (1929)**** came to be written.) Perhaps Ventura Pons' film will change that... ?

He loved to sign thousands of blank sheets for lithographs ~ Ana María

Whatever the exact status may be now of Mr Allen or his reputation, his Midnight in Paris (2011) was unjustly fêted, and To Rome with Love (2012), the following year, no more justly neglected, though both treat of visiting the past, and of regret : Midnight's literal vehicle takes Gil (Owen Wilson) back to such remarkable times, with remarkable people, as Miss Dalí treats of. Yet – except excused as Gil's fantasy wish-fulfilment that sees a disaffected Inez (Rachel McAdams) and him in Paris (i.e. if it is in his dream, what does it matter ?) – too many ways in which these writers and artists they have been visualized and / or portrayed in Allen's film grates not a little, such as the portrayal of Luis Buñuel or Dalí himself, as well as how, anachronistically, some of the men are dressed so informally*****.


Director and co-writer Ventura Pons has already shown himself too savvy, with the multiple facets of how scenes play and re-play in El virus de la por (The Virus of Fear) (2015) [which screened during #CameraCatalonia in the following year], to be pegged solely to the view-point of Dalí’s sister Anna Maria [Ana María], who (later in life, and played by Siân Phillips) is the 'Miss Dalí' of the title. Which is to say that, although the ostensible work of the film is to tell it as she saw it (via the medium of her reminiscences when her friend Maggie visits, whom she knows from when she was at the University of Cambridge), it is not its purpose simply to endorse or validate Ana María Dalí’s account or perspective :

It's a good story, written by a cunning and brilliant man… - to distract curious fools ~ Maggie

It is Maggie (Claire Bloom) who is shown, as if in a very understanding confessional, to be validating how Ana María feels, and endorsing why she might have resentments that she does not feel able to forgive, for her sake - rather than for our benefit as such. As the film goes on to show us, it was the outrage of Ana María and her remaining family at Salvador's biased autobiography for his own selective purposes, The Secret Life (1942), that was sufficient reason for her to publish her riposte in Salvador Dalí vist per la seva germana (1949).

In other filmic terms, we might think how Mike Leigh, in Mr. Turner (2014), confounds the art-establishment tradition of nobilizing Turner as aristocratic (rather than demotic). In Miss Dalí, by contrast, we see Dalí becoming more haughty, as he cultivates strangeness, and cannot, as his family does not easily overlook distancing himself from his Catalan roots, and courting the Fascists against his Republican education...


When I die, I will be totally cured ~ Salvador Dalí


At root, Ventura Pons' film embodies a sister's abiding love and admiration for the brother with whom she had shared her early years :

But he is still Dalí. One of the greatest figures in twentieth-century painting. The art was greater than the man.


End-notes :

* As had been suspected, these words have been taken from Ana María Dalí’s writing, in Chapter IX of Salvador Dalí vist per la seva germana, where we read – in the French translation : Comme la proue coupe l’eau, le présent pénêtre dans l’avenir, en laissant une trace d’inquiétude.

Ana María Dalí ~ Salvador Dalí : vu par sa sœur, p. 99. Arthaud, France, 1961.


** Faber and Faber Limited, London, 1997.

*** This exchange, at The Mad Hatter's Tea-Party, is likewise quoted in the #UCFF preview for Jean-François i el sentit de la vida (Jean-François and The Meaning of Life) (2018) : ça va ici aussi !

**** When this image comes onto the screen, during footage from Un chien andalou (1929) that the film shows, some might want to turn away, for a few seconds, at this point…



***** In fact, one would far rather not be in Gil's company at all, but in that of the truly fantastical Drako Zarharzar (@DrakoZarharzar) in Toby Amies' highly effective personal portrait, The Man Whose Mind Exploded (2012), of a man who knew people such as Salvador Dalí, because he modelled for him.




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

Friday, 19 October 2018

It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards ~ Søren Kierkegaard

This is a Festival preview of Jean-François and The Meaning of Life (2018)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2018 (25 October to 1 November)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


21 September

This is a Festival preview of Jean-François i el sentit de la vida (Jean-François and The Meaning of Life) (2018) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2018)


The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here,
and it screens on Friday 26 October [in Screen 2 at Festival Central] at 8.00 p.m.,
and also on Sunday 28 October at 2.30 p.m. [at The Light Cinema]


It becomes an author generally to divide a book, as it does a butcher to joint his meat, for such assistance is of great help to both the reader and the carver
Henry Fielding ~ Joseph Andrews² (Book II, Chapter I)


The right book, at the right time, can change a life - and what makes it 'right' is the person whom it is trying to seek out (who could be thirteen - or thirty-three) :
Therefore, if (despite the fact that hearing Kafka's 'Die Verwandlung', read some years earlier, had made no impact) it was a reading aloud of his 'In der Strafkolonie' (from the same collection), then this Franz Kafka of Prague (as a book-title styles him) was to become an essential travelling-companion in life, along with his three novels (all unfinished), diaries, stories, fragments of ideas, even a play, and those highly curious letters written to Felice Bauer¹ (the woman whom he barely knew, but, although she was very different from him, to whom he was engaged to be married, until he withdrew from it)...


Containing many surprising adventures which Joseph Andrews met with on the road, scarce credible to those who have never travelled in a stage-coach
Henry Fielding – ibid. [title to Book I, Chapter XII]

It is this elasticity of Time's perspective (and there are further thoughts about Time below), in our living and travelling with (unknown to anyone else) the author whom we know that we - and only we - have discovered for the first time, that Jean-François i el sentit de la vida (Jean-François and The Meaning of Life) (2018) celebrates : in this sense, our experience tells us that no one else read this book before, and so we have a personal right of audience with the writer, from which we obtain direct communication and insight.
Alice sighed wearily. 'I think you might do something better with the time,' she said, 'than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.'

'If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter, 'you wouldn't talk about wasting it. It's him.'


It is natural, and not unhelpful, to think of Lea von Acken in the role of Maria in Kreuzweg (Stations of the Cross) (2014) when first watching Jean-François : to give Jean-François his birth-name, Francesc Rubió is not French, but now must attend a school in France, and - as Maria does - is facing difficulties in fitting in.


In Kreuzweg, director Dietrich Brüggemann and his co-writer Anna Brüggemann's screenplay is very knowing, but also, as here, sympathetic to their subject without laying the film open to the charge that it is manipulative. The 'chapter' titles in Jean-François i el sentit de la vida - just as Kreuzweg is divided by the names of the Roman Catholic Stations of the Cross [the title Kreuzweg translates as 'The Way of the Cross'] - assist in giving a level of detachment.

A scene of roasting, very nicely adapted to the present taste and times
Henry Fielding – ibid. [title to Book II, Chapter VII]

Almost like musical punctuation - or mile-stones (for this film is as Picaresque as Henry Fielding's novels, quotations from whose Joseph Andrews we have already read above²) ? - there is likewise the use of Neo-Baroque and other musical interludes in Gerard Pastor's fully-composed score, which, along with their individual tone, and how they have been positioned in editing the film, deny us the leisure to be able to dwell overlong always on what we have just seen. (We may, if mid-eighteenth century novels appeal to us, find them what some nowadays may call 'page-turners', but the art of the writing is in what Fielding tells us in 'Of divisions in authors' (as quoted above, and below), and pertinent to the art of film-making.)

The musical pastiche / parody has all the poise and self-awareness of the self-proclaimed Auto Mechanics, seen here re-creating The Anatomy Lesson (1632) by Rembrandt


As cited above (and towards the close of this preview), in Joseph Andrews² the novelist Henry Fielding (1707–1754) has self-referentially devoted ‘Of divisions in authors’ (the first chapter of Book II) to the question why authors divide their novels into chapters. (Fielding is probably better known as the author of the much longer and raunchier novel Tom Jones (which was published seven years later.)


In the conduct of this matter, I say, Molly so well played her part, that Jones attributed the conquest entirely to himself, and considered the young woman as one who had yielded to the violent attacks of his passion. He likewise imputed her yielding to the ungovernable force of her love towards him ; and this the reader will allow to have been a very natural and probable supposition, as we have more than once mentioned the uncommon comeliness of his person : and, indeed, he was one of the handsomest young fellows in the world.³


Henry Fielding also overlapped with the last half-century of Johann Sebastian Bach’s life (1685–1750), in whose musical world the older composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741) and Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767) were important figures : quite apart from anything else about the film, we hear in Gerard Pastor’s witty score pastiches of these and other composers of the time.


Since sundry details in the film, if we try to dwell on them, also defy us to be sure when exactly Portabella might have set his story, the musical dimension – along with the chapter-titles – would seem to be part of writer / director Sergi Portabella’s deliberate mechanism to evoke a multiplicity of other eras. All of these elements, maybe without our consciously realizing the fact, appear to have the disjunctive intent of adding an ironical or quizzical dimension to what we see⁴.

A very curious adventure, in which Mr. Adams gave a much greater instance of the honest simplicity of his heart, than of his experience in the ways of this world

Henry Fielding – ibid. [title to Book II, Chapter XVI]

Just as the disparate observations made in watching 'screeners' of these #CameraCatalonia films coalesce - one hopes - into a coherent whole in the process of writing previews such as this, so a film director's vision for how such elements as script, actors, hair and make-up, lighting, locations, cinematography, set-construction, etc., will come together is what causes Sergi Portabella to have Gerard Pastor write in the style of composers from the time of Fielding : one could swear, at one dramatic point, that one is hearing one of Bach's towering Orgelwerke.



Even if it is allegorically (though not just on the level of Golden Age thinking'), Midnight in Paris - as also referenced in the #UCFF preview for Miss Dali (2018) - suggests that one can be nostalgic about a time that was never one's own : Gil both desires to be a writer such as those whom he admires from Paris in the 1920s and so to have been there at that time (and accordingly - with no explanatory device⁵, and to this extent this is magical realism, finds himself able to be in Paris in the 1920s), where he meets and is captivated by Adriana (Marion Cotillard).

Which some readers will think too short and others too long
Henry Fielding – ibid. [title to Book III, Chapter VIII]

However, which is the film's thrust, it is ironic that Adriana ultimately no more wants to be in her era, the 1920s, than Gil in his... and just as he realizes that he insufficiently wishes to marry Inez, so he has to admit that he insufficiently wants to be with Adriana to go with her to the time of [Henri de] Toulouse-Lautrec. We may see that something of this order, though not reducible to or in these terms, is going on for and with our young hero in Jean-François, because of entering the orbit and world of Albert Camus.



One might also be put in mind of a number of other films, such as are referred to in this Tweet :



Thus, for example, one may discern that, as well as the closing scene of Kreuzweg, the very opening of this film somehow partly reminds of the early Woody Allen / Diane Keaton collaboration that is Love and Death (as does a note of whimsy in what turns out to be a score that comprises pastiches). In essence, the adventurous, implausible and unpredictable elements of Michel Gondry's Microbe et Gasoil (2015) [Surprise Film at Cambridge Film Festival (@camfilmfest) that year] are here turned into chapters, whose titles may prove not to be any less equivocal than some of Fielding's in Joseph Andrews (or Tom Jones).

Of which you are desired to read no more than you like
Fielding ~ ibid. [title to Book IV, Chapter VI]


And few things can be as misleading (not to say mischievous and wayward ?) as the man who called himself Laurence Sterne, and, after creating the character in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759-1767), called where he lived in North Yorkshire Shandy Hall (now a Sterne museum) - Sterne causes a black page to be printed, when his character Yorick dies, and leaves us a blank page so that we can conceive of our own description of a female character ! :


Arguably, Portabella imbues Jean-François and Jean-François with this spirit. And also with that of what Hemingway somewhere said (or wrote)⁶ :

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.



A volume without any such places of rest resembles the opening of wilds or seas, which tires the eye and fatigues the spirit when entered upon.
Henry Fielding ~ ibid. (Book II, Chapter I)



The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here,
and it screens on Friday 26 October [in Screen 2 at Festival Central] at 8.00 p.m.,
and also on Sunday 28 October at 2.30 p.m. [at The Light Cinema]


End-notes :

¹ Are Kafka’s Letters to Felice even real, we might ask – or is it an epistolary novel, written essentially as if only ‘his’ letters survive ? When we watch Miss Dalí (2018) [the #UCFF preview is under way], during this year’s Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival, There are highly equivalent matters on which we may find ourselves reflecting about, say, what did happen when Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí collaborated...

At any rate, they are certainly amongst those parts of The Kafka Myth that suggest that other people, especially Kafka’s father, did not ‘get’ him – whereas we do, So, Brief an den Vater [Letter to My Father] duly gets collected and published – almost certainly by Max Brod. (Maybe not wholly successfully, Alan Bennett seeks to examine some of these relations, and versions of them, in his ‘irreverent’ play Kafka’s Dick.)


² Joseph Andrews, as we call it, was published in 1742 : Fielding styles it 'The history of the adventures of Joseph Andrews, and his friend Mr. Abraham Adams. Written in imitation of the manner of Cervantes, author of Don Quixote'.

Or - as expansively published in its first part in 1605, more than a century before Fielding's birth - in El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha of Miguel de Cervantes ? For example (from the Penguin Classics translation by J. M. Cohen) :

In which is related the device Sancho adopted to enchant the Lady Dulcinea, and other incidents as comical as they are true
[Second Part, Chapter X]


³ Quoted from Tom Jones, Book IV, Chapter 6.

⁴ On one level, Sergi Portabella is quietly asking us how much we ‘buy into’ / ‘invest in’ the knowing illusion that is cinema – although, of course, do we not remember arriving at the cinema, and that we had a ticket to present (which is our only proof of a right to occupy this seat, and see these projected images that we call a film) ?

As we find in Joseph Andrews, a chapter-title such as 'Of which you are desired to read no more than you like' [Book IV, Chapter VI] gives us what impulse to carry on reading regardless ? !


⁵ Such as is imperfectly invoked by Richard Curtis in About Time (2013)...

⁶ On this, there seems to be a consensus - so, in many ways, it is immaterial whether he did.




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

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Angela Hewitt and BWV 870-893

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2018 (25 October to 1 November)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


14 October

Tweets, etc., in appreciation of Angela Hewitt's (@ ??)performance of the complete Book II of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, BWV 870-893, at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge, on Friday 12 October at 7.30 p.m.









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

Une maison est une machine à habiter [...] un fauteuil est une machine à s’asseoir ~ Le Corbusier¹

This is a Festival preview of Júlia ist (2017) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2018)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2018 (25 October to 1 November)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


21 August

This is a Festival preview of Júlia ist (2017) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2018)


The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here,
and it screens on Sunday 28 October [in Screen 2 at Festival Central] at 5.45 p.m.


As was said last year, about La propera pell (The Next Skin) (2015), Júlia ist (2017) is likely to leave one in need of time for reflection, and so is not likely to benefit from hurrying, Festival style, to the bar for coffee (or stronger) and then straight to one's next film² !



Immediate points of comparison may come to mind in the form of Jeune femme (2017) or Lady Bird (2017), but just using them (although they also defy the notion of fitting into a genre called ‘coming of age’ as such, and the former's protagonist [Paula Simonian, impressively brought to us by Laetitia Dosch] is anyway said to be thirty-one ?) would fail to reflect the fact that the film’s pre-occupations are not necessarily those of a young(er) person – any more than those of Gloria (2013) or Aquarius (2016) are of someone older – but ones that help define our humanity :


They are questions such as how do we want to live, in what relation to others – and in what way might the type of dwelling where we choose to live affect and shape our behaviour and, in consequence, us³ ?


The main thrust of [Tom Wolfe's] talk was to blame Americans for their servility to what he regarded as the socialist ideology of the Bauhaus :

[... It] meant, he said, that its highest goal was the creation of perfect worker housing, meaning housing which looked anti-bourgeois and remained resistant to the trappings of upward mobility. Such housing might be fine for pre-war German artisans, but it was out of place in America, especially in a century when 'the energies and idle pleasures of even the working classes became enormous, lurid, creamy, preposterous.'

Stephen Games ~ From 'Walter Gropius' crystal visions'
[chapter 7 of Behind the Façade⁶]


Looking back to Camera Catalonia in 2014, those are amongst questions that Geni (Nora Navas) asks herself in Mar Coll’s Tots volem il millor per a ella (We All Want What’s Best for Her) (2013) : the expectations - partly from Geni herself, but mainly from others (and thus the ‘Tots volem’ of the title) - are that, with help and over time, she will be able to rehabilitate herself, physically and mentally, after the change in her life that has been brought about by a road-traffic accident. However, as discussed with Mar Coll at the start of an interview (as appended to Rebecca Naghten's review of the film for TAKE ONE), although Geni is seen to put a brave face on things in a medical appointment at the start of the film, she is beginning to realize otherwise : here is a link to the longer version of the trailer for the film.

In Berlin, with Júlia (director and co-writer Elena Martín)

In Júlia ist (2017), and with no more mise-en-scène to paint the background for us than is essential, the change in life is not at all of this magnitude, but of going to Berlin as an Erasmus student as part of Júlia's architecture course (maybe with not good enough German ?) : it seems to have been Júlia’s choice to be in Berlin, but we will ask whose expectations were they of this profession or of coming there to study (and also whether they are wholly realistic). There are certainly numerous hints that we will pick up, amongst the distinctive and stylish presentation of the vibrancy of Berlin⁵, and they should be allowed to speak to us in an intuitive way that connects us to Júlia as a person, irrespective of her age, but not of her qualities of emotional intelligence, in this role in which Elena Martín directs herself.

Gloria (2013) and Aquarius (2016) raised issues of their
principal characters’ personal and emotional qualities :
Paulina García and Sônia Braga are pictured (upper two images and lower, respectively)


Early on, for example, Júlia goes to buy some beer in a shop, and, having picked a couple of bottles out, then seems to play safe by buying ones, instead, with a gold-coloured star on a red cap (the familiar trademark of Catalunya’s own Estrella Damm). (She may not realize it herself, but, when she is asked questions, one of the answers that we will hear her give most often is ‘I don’t know’.) On Júlia’s return to the flat, it is evident that the others with whom she is staying do not share her attitudes or interests, and it then also becomes more so that, from home (via Skype®), there is parental disapproval of her finding somewhere with a friend, with whom she thinks that she will find it more congenial to live.


In terms of Júlia's participation in the group that is devising an entry for a prize-competition, where they debate what dwellings are and the related question how they should be designed, we are probably not much meant to follow the ideas and the discussion about them in literal or specific terms (or just to go to the other extreme, and see that their taking place concerning such themes is a necessary means of structuring the film). Rather, we will almost certainly find - on account of how each scene has been edited, and the cut-together of the film as a whole - a meaningful juxtaposition between how, in ideal and non-personal terms, living with others might be viewed and yet how it relates to Júlia's everyday domestic arrangements and / or as an individual in a social circle.


In the best traditions of Camera Catalonia, Júlia ist (2017) has – as Tots volem does – significant elements of a character-study, although the character may also be a place or city (e.g. L’adopció (Awaiting) (2015)), rather than a person (Tots els camins de Déu (All the Ways of God (2014)). (Or the effect of one on the other, as in La propera pell, or El camí més llarg per tornar a casa (The Long Way Home) (2014), but none of these films absolutely has to be looked at in one way rather than in one of the other two.)

He envied Miss Barrace at any rate her power of not being. She seemed, with little cries and protests and quick recognitions, movements like the darts of some fine high-feathered free-pecking bird, to stand before life as before some full shop-window. You could fairly hear, as she selected and pointed, the tap of her tortoise-shell against the glass.
The Ambassadors ~ Henry James

When the character is a place and its differing mores, sometimes one is reminded of the clash of cultures in Henry James that is experienced by visitors to Europe from the States, such as in The Ambassadors or The Golden Bowl, and of which a vivid example would be of the shock to Marc (Miquel Quer) of Venice, as an innocent abroad, in Jordi Torrent’s La redempció dels peixos (The Redemption of the Fish) (2013) [which screened in Camera Catalonia in 2013].

A production-shot from La redempció dels peixos (2013)


If we think of Barcelona as A City that does not Sleep, which is what is presented by the opening to what is the tragic unfolding of Stockholm (2013) or the setting, from Camera Catalonia in 2016, of Barcelona nit d’estiu (Barcelona Summer Night) (2013) [images from both of which are shown below], we may forget that whether one is used to night-life may be partly a matter of class (as we can tell from hearing and seeing Júlia's family, and also the fact that she is an Erasmus student), and may also be determined by whether Júlia has attended her university studies from home in Catalunya (Catalonia). (In Stockholm, ‘Ella’ (Aura Garrido) lives with her mother [Javier Pereira plays ‘Él’].)


Trailers are linked to for Stockholm (upper two images) and Barcelona nit d'estiu (below)

Earlier, Geni was talked about, as a woman facing a very significant change (in Tots volem), and the film L’adopció (2015) was mentioned, in which the great Nora Navas likewise stars, as an example of where a place acts as a character-study in Catalan cinema : leaving aside how that film riffs on The Christmas Story⁶, Natàlia and her partner Daniel (feelingly played by Francesc Garrido) find themselves called to make all sorts of unenvisaged financial, moral and familial compromises - or else abandon the purpose, i.e. international adoption, that brought them to another country.


Clearly, Júlia does not have the extreme experience of either character played by Navas, but she does need to find her own way of being and of living : done with initially seeking out links from home, it proves to be in a meeting with lifestyles that are Bohemian, not to say 'alternative', that Júlia acclimatizes herself to Berlin, and to its various joys and pains.



By the time of the brief scene with a friend on the bank of the River Spree, Júlia understands both herself, and also the significance of her time in Berlin, much better : we, similarly, find with her that it is at this moment when we understand the reason for the title of the film.


Gropius retained the mysterious ability to see in the ugliness of the modern environment a still-shining crystal symbol of his faith in the future. It may have jeopardised his reason and his art, but that was the German disease.

Stephen Games ~ The last paragraph (adapted) of 'Walter Gropius' crystal visions'
[chapter 7 of Behind the Façade⁴]


Amidst the reviews for Pere Portabella’s Pont de Varsòvia (Warsaw Bridge) (1989), on the IMDb web-page, is written what is apt to cite here for Elena Martín's film :

There are ambitious and elaborate shots, serious attention is paid to colour and palette,
and the camera is put to work, no laziness in this film whatsoever.



The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here,
and it screens on Sunday 28 October [in Screen 2 at Festival Central] at 5.45 p.m.

For those who have Catalan, there is a short interview with Elena Martín


End-notes :

¹ We may not consider this matter at all, but, if we know this proposition Une maison est une machine-à-habiter [as sometimes rendered], we think of it as having been made by Le Corbusier :

However, his given name was Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, not Le Corbusier, and – as with many assertions that are so pithy that they seem to declaim themselves as utterances ? – this one of his, both highly celebrated and controversial (please see below), is often quoted on its own, without the context that he gave it in his writings (not even in a full sentence (or paragraph)).

Yet, in searching for la formule si célèbre et si controversée, as Sylvette Denèfle, Sabrina Bresson, Annie Dussuet et al. - the authors of Habiter Le Corbusier - call it, one can curiously find these words cited both as ‘Le Corbusier, Vers une architecture, Arthaud, Paris, 1977, p. 73’ [the text dates to 1923, so this appears to be the edition that they have used], and, in an article by Thibaud Zippinger called ‘Humanisme et urbanisme‘ (on the web-site implications philosophiques), as ‘Le Corbusier, Urbanisme, Paris, Crès, 1925, p. 219’.


² During Camera Catalonia in 2016, one would certainly have missed much of the point and import of Ventura Pons' El virus de la por (The Virus of Fear) (2015) by thinking no more than that it was 'about a leisure centre', but - because it wouldn't happen like that in one - dismissing it (for not plausibly being what it only superficially ever was...).





³ As to 'habitat', the Catalan film Sobre la Marxa (The Creator of the Jungle) (2013) also has some questions to ask.

⁴ Stephen Games ~ Behind the Façade, pp. 134-153. Ariel Books / BBC, London, 1985.

At the beginning of the chapter, before the text that is quoted (p. 136, in edited form), Stephen Games humorously describes (as he does throughout (p. 134)) how, when in New York and when attempting ‘to break through the stubborn resistance of [Wolfe’s] answering service’, he tried to obtain a synopsis of the keynote address that Tom Wolfe was to give to the Royal Institute of British Architects in London [at that year's (1979's) joint RIBA and Society of Industrial Artists and Designers annual conference, entitled Frontiers of Design] :

No, Mr Wolfe was not available. No, he was out of town. No, I could not speak to him direct. Yes, they would leave a message. Yes, they would have him call me.


⁵ Pere Portabella’s Warsaw Bridge (Pont de Varsòvia) (1989), which screened, in 2012, in the first Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival (@camfilmfest / #CamFF), also mixes the Berlin of its title with Barcelona, and the more reflective part of Futuro Beach (2014) takes place there, after starting in the director's native Brazil.





⁶ Which, as the end-notes to the Camera Catalonia preview in these pages make clear, are also apparent in not using a direct translation for the English title, but invoking Advent by calling it Awaiting.




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