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Thursday, 28 November 2019

Despite not liking what #UCFF heard, at least we know what Fauré Quartett's recording of Pictures at an Exhibition is

Fauré Quartett's recording of Pictures at an Exhibition

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


28 November


Despite not liking what #UCFF heard, at least we know what Fauré Quartett's recording
of
Pictures at an Exhibition is : it may all become clear here...






It may all become clear here...






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

Up here is where it really matters [?] ~ Amelia Wren*

Responses to The Aeronauts (2019) [as seen at The Light Cinema, Cambridge]

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


27 November

Responses to The Aeronauts (2019) [as seen at The Light Cinema, Cambridge]






End-notes :

* An amalgam of people, there was no Amelia Wren as such - to quote the IMDb entry for the film :

With [James Glaisher's] co-pilot aeronaut Henry Tracey Coxwell, they broke the world record for altitude on September 5, 1862. Coxwell is omitted from the film, and replaced with the fictional Amelia Wren.




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

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

#UCFF's favourite moments at Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019 (an accreting posting)

#UCFF's favourite moments (an accreting posting) at Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


24 November


#UCFF's favourite moments (an accreting posting) at Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019




Absolute certainty of composure : The Elliot Galvin Trio :
Darwin College on Tuesday 19 November 2019 (after Sam Leak Trio as support from 7.30 p.m.)


[...]



Other mentions :






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

Monday, 25 November 2019

Don't look - just go : Internally, Joker (2019) gives advice to those watching ?

Responses to Joker (2019) [as seen at The Light Cinema, Cambridge]

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


25 November

Responses to Joker (2019) [as seen at The Light Cinema, Cambridge]



The time is 11.10 - at the start / at Ha Has

Time on Murray Franklin show is c. 10.40

Don't look - just go, almost certainly a quotation from (or reference to) many a film (in a film that deliberately invokes Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver (1976)) and Norman Bates (Psycho (1960)) - yet does so with unimaginative cinemtography (deliberately)

There's something special about you ~ Murray Franklin to Arthur Fleck

P. Fleck (box 37 ?)
Penny / Arthur Fleck

Laboured and unsubtle as the solo** cello-line

** Doubling / electronics ?

Joker Light



Lynne Ramsay - You were Never Really Here (2017) - be angry at JP for taking all her best ideas and doing them over for Todd Phillips ?




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

Saturday, 23 November 2019

A de facto attempt at live Tweeting : Gods of Apollo at Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


23 November

Gods of Apollo at Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019

Well, at The University Centre wine-bar - the venue for this gig, and run by Cambridge Wine Merchants* - the race was on (as well as The Space Race evocation from Gods of Apollo) to set up the laptop and the phone to make some notes : they ended up, being made on the phone, e-mailed, opened on the laptop and copied and pasted into Twitter - at which point, the connection with real-time reporting had been lost...









Postlude :




End-notes :

* Also, no mean purveyors of Scotch, through their outlets on Bridge Street, Kings' Parade, etc.





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

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Riffing from the soul : Roller Trio at Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019 (rough gig-notes)

Fairly unadulerated gig-notes for a review of Roller Trio at Cambridge International Jazz Festival

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


21 November

For those who want to try #UCFF gig-notes, fairly pure and unadulterated by further editing than decipherment, let alone turning them into would-be fluent prose, here are what should become this review :

This is a review of Roller Trio at Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019 on Thursday 21 November 2019 at 9.30 p.m. (with support from Noya Rao)



Personnel :

* James Mainwaring ~ sax(es) / electronics
* Luke Reddin-Williams ~ drums
* Chris Sharkey ~ electric bass-guitar / electronics


Transcribed raw notes (more or less, as is) :

(1) Giant noise to open
Left-handed guitar
Wa)iling, full of energy and passionate life
Repetitions / iterations and effects
Modular
Riffing from the soul
Bass-and-drum iterations under
Free-flying sax
Slight decrescendo and fragments of melody
Slowed to the rate of a heart-beat, with floral and statementful sax
Always moving
Shimmering and exuding light, as if a live aqueous stream
An unanswered phone-call ?
Bass and drums in a jamming duo – pulsing, energetic
Metallic, howly sounds from effects-pedals
Sampling the horn + growls and mumble
DJing the audio
Really spacey, aquatic, submarine – expansive sax
-> flares and distortions as of a whale, dying
-> opening up, texturing
-> spectacularly large sound with attractive, gaelic-themed chord-sequences and mood
Falling, doubled-note bass-line + clear and evanescent sax-sound
Gtr solo – sounding clavichord or prepared piano
Interrupted statement – more and more like weaponry, strikes it down (small-arms fire)
Dulcimer (or mandolin ?)
-> genre-defying drum-solo (sounds like an ambush or incursion
Now it’s palpations and patting
-> Effect warbles and waves
Ground-bass of satellites or machine-language –
Into danceable rhythms and sax-overlay
- understated sax coments
- slight flare / blare
Sanitizig, good feel
-> segue into a danceable, Latin-style theme that mutates to North-African timbres and runs and repeats
- highly danceable, driven by whines and howls
Up, to intense
Applaud tune
- boppy??, then missed / re-arranged beat-patterns
2nd drum-solo + whoops


* * * * *


Wholly improvised [Reddin-Williams introduced Roller Trio, and told us that they were doing something unusual for them]


(2) Tenderness and insistent and / or staggered rhythms
- threads or filaments of material on which the sequence continues, as its seed or base
– or not


* * * * *


(3) Bluesy sax riff – laid-down ostinato with effects on sax to extend or broaden / coarsen the element of horn / tempo switch (dim.) and, with it, a change of guitar-line -> a more-usual free-sax style with rock gtr / drums -> multi-divided note-lengths, accelerating and with staccato sax-puffs or pouts – down into lower register – danceable again and compelling


* * * * *


(4) [encore] Bonkers cow-bells & electronic bubbles & tapping of cymbals – aerial bass + JB vocalize = keening / pleading – slow decrescendo and a heart-beat slowing





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

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Those two were real class, at the end : Responses by Tweet (and not) to La belle époque (2019)

Responses by Tweet (and not) [an accreting list] to La belle époque (2019)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


20 November

Responses by Tweet (and not) [an accreting list] to La belle époque (2019)





Key film-references (in order of significance) :

* The Game (1997)
* Midnight in Paris (2011)
* Westworld (1973)
* The Truman Show (1998)
* Les Beaux Jours (Bright Days Ahead) (2013)
* A Fish called Wanda (1988)
* Nathalie (2001)
* Souvenir (2016)


A film whose (unexplained**) opening, which we may have forgotten by the time of its descent into romantic comedy (which are usually either 'ardour cooled' [Le Week-End (2013)], or 'hate at first sight' [You've Got Mail (1998)]), promised more interesting fare, as if a significant riff on The Game (1982) and others (as just listed) :

In its own terms, it got us to where it wanted, but its ideas could probably have done with being thinned out, so that - some adept pacing and editing apart, which certainly kept the story's tick-over going in the important moments - it did not feel as if some strands had been mimetic of the possibility of something more, but essentially thrown out (but kept in) as misleading pointers (rather than feeling like 'true' misdirections) and / or ideas that had been sent down a dead end :


For a film, itself shot on a set, that is largely set on a set, it is necessarily likely to get quite a bit Sunset Blvd. (1950) [not to say Mulholland Drive (2001)].



[...]


Other references :

* Hope Springs (2012)
* Les émotifs anonymes (Romantics Anonymous) (2010)
* The Pornographer (2001)
* Le Week-End (2013)
* Absolute Beginners (1986)


[...]




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

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Absolute certainty of composure : The Elliot Galvin Trio at Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019 (work in progress)

A review (uncorrected proof) of The Elliot Galvin Trio at Cambridge International Jazz Festival

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


19 November

This is a review (uncorrected proof) of a gig by The Elliot Galvin Trio, who played during Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019 at Darwin College, Cambridge,
on Tuesday 19 November 2019 (after Sam Leak Trio as support from 7.30 p.m.)


A gig by The Elliot Galvin Trio, as one very rapidly recalled from Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2018, is an immersion in nigh-flawless technique, and a wildness that, although studied (with, for example, Elliot Galvin’s palpable care in the use of discords or in the exact effect and execution of a placed, different dynamic), is nevertheless evidently and wholly authentic and spontaneous.



Personnel (alphabetically) :

* Corrie Dick ~ perc
* Elliot Galvin ~ pf
* Tom McCredie ~ db


First 'set of tunes'* :

It was also to turn out that the trio was giving us, in around 25 minutes, a seamless mélange of what constitutes the A side of a direct-to-vinyl recording that it made earlier this year in Haarlem**, in The Netherlands : nothing about the brilliance of the playing or the interplay between the performers required us, in the manner of applauding solos, to recognize it until after they decided upon an end-point, which we preferred as much as they did, and then the appreciation was widespread and full.

There is not a dead or redundant moment here, but pure power in creation

Meanwhile, another affect had come in this EP of a set within a set, with the in-the-moment bells, chimes and peals as – which was our experience, whatever they played – a fusion of the constituent instruments, which yet leaves distinct their special characteristics, and with riffs, patterns, and variations in delivery to match the Zeitgeist and mould the mood, from swinging to extrovert syncopation, but all with energy, commitment and self-belief.

The members of the trio were playing and toying - all at once - with the material, the physicality of the instruments, each other and us. As the matter had now become wholly pattern, after an almost-right-inside-the-piano seque, we heard the fluidity of movement as blocks of sound, and then it shifted again, into a witty, ironically trotting number, with synergy and symbiosis between Galvin and Dick :

Surprise me again, with your high-octane brilliance !, we probably all thought

Then, when we could have imagined no such thing (and we probably wished that the bursar wasn't listening), a massive explosion of bass-sound from Galvin - again, that employment of stunning technique in the service of the moment - followed by what can only be described as a hammering and leathering of the piano. In time, a decrescendo and diminuendo, and a repeat of that explosive bass-effect, brought to a close around twenty-five minutes without a break - keenly met by the audience with applause.


Second set of tunes :

In continuing with tracks from Modern Times***, after Galvin had re-introduced the trio and the concept of both the album and its direct-to-vinyl recording**, the opening piece, at least, was a whole other side to poise and feel. With wistfulness (and a slight intimation of personal tristesse ?), Galvin had remarked that, fittingly for playing in a college named after Charles Darwin [as an example, mebbe, of the non-survival of the fittest ?], it centred around the captured cry or call of of a member of a species (a male), of which no other exemplars by then existed to heed (if not hear) it.

When that number was over (and, not having expected the bird-notation of Olivier Messiaen (e.g. Catalogue d'oiseaux), one did not spot the debt to ornithology), the group waited in silence for just the right moment : not, as we might have expected, unti the nearby sound of girls' voices had gone, but when Corrie Dick loudly proceeded. Other material in the first set of tunes had also lounged a little, but Galvin now gave us a very louche statement of a theme, on whose cue there was an instant improvisatory pick-up by McCredie and Dick, and 'riding with it', into beats, off-beats, transient time-signatures, and generally swinging / rocking the theme.

Energy, excitement and ebb and flow hook us willingly in - and keep us there

As the title of this gig-review says, in bringing back the ‘lounging’ tone, and pausing or pacing it, there was an absolute certainty of composure, of sensing the direction to go and / or be led in. (The contrast is with when a presenter of a (sometimes live) t.v. or radio programme claims (to be about) to 'explore' what has been determined, and thus even the listener's own exploration is at best by dubious proxy.) That precision, again, from Galvin in what – in the moment – is aimed at, and in making each and any gesture be heard all of a piece.

Again, such precision in what - in the moment - is aimed at, and in making each gesture wholly of a piece : against a drone on bowed double-bass, Dick set up a groove for Elliot to join, all with looks of engagement and enjoyment exchanged, and then laid back on the beat in easeful expressiveness, before note-values, tempi, accents and dynamics were all delightfully a-shift once more.

As if in a kind of classical ternary form, this section of the second set of tunes moved between being energetic and full, and spare, tender and light, and with McCredie sliding tones and pulling the tonality. Keeping it fresh, and with no one with a nose in a score, the trio worked up a bluesy number, which they stretched out and beefed up, until that drone recurred, now with unreal touches worthy of Surrealist artist Yves Tanguy, what sounded like a Scottish tune, and a 'Philip Glass' riff on bowed bass to close.


Galvin announced the encore as 'Red and Yellow', and proceeded to play with the vigour of a Conlon Nancarrow composition for Player Piano (for example, Study for Player Piano, Op. 37). As ever, form and content were inseparable, pleasing in such a way that one was smiling to hear this music, and with an irresistible want to tap one's foot, nod along, and play the drums with one's reviewing-pen !

Sheer magic, in one intense set, and, although one can be reminded of 'the tunes' on CD, etc., in the album Modern Times, this is music that one will want to hear live - more than once.


End-notes :

* As 'folkies' would typically say (if not 'jazzers' ?)...

** For more information, attend a gig, or read what Edition Records says here about this process :



*** In conversation afterwards, Gavin agreed that the allusion to Chaplin is intended (he is on the cover, indeed).




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

Monday, 18 November 2019

Report from Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019 : Ant Law Quartet* at Caius

Report from Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019 : Ant Law Quartet* at Caius

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


18 November


Report from Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019 : Ant Law Quartet* at Caius

Versus attempting a full gig-review (as for Julia Hülsmann Quartet* at the same venue on Friday), the unavailability of light to make detailed review-notes largely precludes it, so what follows the personnel- and set-lists is some impressions of the gig


Other personnel (alphabetical) :

* Mike Chillingworth ~ tnr
* Tom Farmer ~ db
* James Maddren ~ perc
* Ivo Neame ~ pf


First set :

1. Two Bridges
2. Harvest
3. ? ?
4. Laurvin Glaslowe
5. Pure Imagination
6. Aquilinus


Second set :

7. Entanglement
8. Our Church
9. A to Z
10. Waltz
11. Credit


Probably as a put-down to what he felt was a put-down, Antonin Dvořák is said to have diverted attention from praise for his skill in writing thematic material to that of what he then did with such themes : even if we are not one of the most famous Czech composers, we want to be valued for what we value, and one can intuit that the emphasis of comments on the material might have been experienced as a variety of ‘damning with faint praise’.


[...]



End-notes :

* At the same Festival venue, clearly a difference of opinion whether the leader stands apart (Ant Law + quartet) or is included in the nominal head-count of players (e.g. Julia Hülsmann Quartet = Hülsmann (pf) + 3 [Uli Kempendorff (tnr), Heinrich Köbberling (perc), Marc Muellbauer (db)] = 4). Other debates are available ! :






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

Friday, 15 November 2019

Julia Hülsmann Quartet at Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019 : A collective with its own convictions


More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


15 November

This is a review of Julia Hülsmann Quartet, who played at The Bateman Auditorium at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, as part of Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019, on Friday 15 November 2019 at 8.30 p.m.

This performance, on the third day of Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2019 and at the start of its first weekend (as it runs from Wednesday 13 to Sunday 24 November 2019 - this was #UCFF's first gig in the 2019 Festival), was part of a celebration of 50 years of ECM Records (for whom Julia Hülsmann records) - and ahead of her quartet's appearing at EFG London Jazz Festival 2019 :

The Purcell Room in The Southbank Centre
on Sunday 17 November 2019 at 2.30 p.m.


Personnel (alphabetically) :

* Julia Hülsmann ~ pf
* Uli Kempendorff ~ tnr
* Heinrich Köbberling ~ perc
* Marc Muellbauer ~ db


First set :

The set began with a (1) laid-back samba¹ (?), after Julia Hülsmann (on piano) had syncopated and sub-divided the rhythmic-pattern of the opening material, and we had accommodated to the discord of its note-sequences. Although Hülsmann is nominally the leader of the quartet, this collective of player / composers dispenses largely with the notion of someone who determines tempi, the order of solos*, and whether and when they shall be cut short.

So we were arguably to hear as much from Uli Kempendorff during the evening, which we first did as he played a floaty and gently breathy tenor over a firm bass-line, and then moved into one characteristic of, especially, the opening set : runs of a somewhat nervy (not to say Angst-ridden) character. With the return of the initial statement, and its disrupted format, this opening number concluded.


Hülsmann introduced the members of the ensemble, and also (2) ‘Streiflicht’, the next piece (its origins in light, coming from varying directions on a speeding train), but generally not interrupting the playing with an announcement every time – which seemed to work well for everyone in The Bateman Auditorium's near-capacity audience. ‘Streiflicht’, once started, was not to be alone in feeling to evoke an atmosphere that was haunted by the spirit of film noir. By now, one had already realized that these were going to be ensemble works², perhaps seeming sometimes fairly pre-composed (with performers quite attentive to their charts), and therefore not always with such an emphasis on an individual voice and / or individuality, but on timbres and textures.

A segue with (3) some phlegmatic piano material (‘If I had a heart’, whose chord-sequences and their progression might have resembled those of a spiritual ?) led to the first moment when, in (4) ‘Mistral’, Kempendorff ‘broke free’ on sax, and into further restless figurations. (5) Next came ‘Open up’, where the tenor runs were more free and more vigorous, and there was a long solo (still, with no applause) : again, one contrasted the approach with that of many a trio, quartet, etc., where a leader might pass over to a side player for that person to count in a composition or arrangement, but control would mainly rest in one person.


One concession to the usual was ‘a closer’, to leave the set finishing with a climax (though not in the very final bars) : (6) Bowie and Metheny’s ‘This is not America’, which only emerged, first as the melody-line from Muellbauer (on bass), after some tangential harmonizations³. Hülsmann had alluded to the fact that there might be political aspects to the relevance of the song’s title, and Kempendorff’s edgy tones became a very direct and hard-edged assertion, raucous and riotous at times, before the item slipped away into quiet again.


Second set :

This set began with (7) 'The art of failing' – a dreamy sea-scape (as #UCFF reckoned), and then a sort of stasis evoked by the piano. All of which was as a contrast, with Kempendorff to the fore, to the piece’s first tumbling over itself, and then becoming wacky (as well as seeming to resemble at least the nonchalance of Mancini's classic theme for The Pink Panther). The one small peril (except for a reviewer) of ‘two pieces for the price of one’ is that, at some indeterminate point, we had also started hearing (8) 'No gain' : it may not have been as late on as what sounded largely like an Étude for piano, with Shostakovian⁴ turns, but, in any event, we were to end this pair of numbers with tumbling, again, and the spirit of Mancini.

Hülsmann announced two more pieces, by Kempendorff, which were 'You don't have to win me over', and 'Einschub'⁴ : reduced initially to sax and drums, (9) this first piece sounded much more experimental and free, but then changed so that one became aware of another South- or Latin-American¹ influence. Kempendorff’s sax became driving and energetic, and then, at the end, resided in playing a repeated motif. Another repeated motif then opened (10) 'Einschub', with Hülsmann tremulous and obsessive with a tremolo, until turning to laying down a funky groove for the quartet to work with.

Next came (11) 'Wrong song', with a sort of inward type of tenor-tone (such as that with which he had opened the gig) - and as if scoring another unprojected noir (perhaps the stuff of suspicion and confusion ?) : after a build, in volume, and in the vigorous and intense nature of repeated sequences, it eventually culminated.


In the first set, when Köbberling found that he did not have, out front, the chart for the next number, and – pleading eyesight – declined the offer of Kempendorff’s, he went back stage to get his own : to inter-band banter about the regularity of such happenings… When Hülsmann told us that the final number in the set, (12) 'Kolibri 65', was a composition of Köbberling’s, he light-heartedly sought to object to her anecdote why it was named so (Kolibri is German for ‘hummingbird’) :

It had been after Köbberling’s mis-reading (ahem !) the label that gave the make and model of the espresso-machine at the recording-venue for the new album (which had, apparently, been a life-saver (caffeine ?) !). A name as good as any, since the world of music (and track-listings for recordings) probably accommodates less well the name ‘Untitled [and, maybe, a date]’, by which so many an art-work has deliberately been allowed to go, for more than a century ? [Maybe mistakenly, but one imagines nightmarish scenarios for curators, and how they can be sure of safely procuring the loan of the right Untitled by the time when their exhibitions have to be set up ! ?]


This was an up-beat number, with a high crotchet-rate, and also the very rare exception (which proved the rule) where a glance was shared and returned about where a solo might be going, and for how long, but, with a shrug, was accepted. An enjoyable Friday night of jazz ended with one encore (taking us to the blessed number of 13 items⁵), which was 'The Water', by Canadian singer / songwriter Leslie Feist - its treatment echoed the maybe languorous tones with which it had all begun – full circle ?


End-notes

¹ It may not have been a samba-beat as such, but just to denote a dance rhythm of that kind : please see the comment for 'You don't have to win me over', in the second set (at 9, below).

² This was a gig with neither of the obligatory drum or bass solos, and where the respectful Cambridge audience did not applaud distinct solos on piano and tenor – although there were no run-on into the succeeding matter to preclude it, as is the case with those groups [one thinks of Phronesis last year at Cambridge International Jazz Festival 2018] who might wish to play two or three songs into one piece, and not have applause intervene.

³ Of the kind where, in a conventional gig, there might have been a hint at what came next, and such an emergence would be applauded – as if both to greet it and to demonstrate one’s recognition or approval ?

⁴ As we have 'Shavian', for matters that relate to GBS (or his œuvre), we do not see why not... (Whilst on word creation or conjuring, which – obeying a few rules – the German language famously allows with exceptional facility, we had had another example in the first set, with the compound noun ‘Streiflicht’, which is formed from a combination of ‘Licht’ (‘light’) plus ‘Streif’ (‘roaming’), as described by Hülsmann for 2 (above).)

⁵ A feature of gigs that those who do not try to note, in review-notes, the constituent elements of set-lists may not have had apt occasion to remark upon...




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

Monday, 28 October 2019

The Shining (1980) : The #UCFF Tweets

The Shining (1980) : The #UCFF Tweets

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


28 October


The Shining (1980) : The #UCFF Tweets









Post-script :







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

Thursday, 17 October 2019

In around three initial Tweets (and then a little more), a #UCFF reaction to Rocks (2019)

In around three Tweets, a #UCFF reaction to Rocks (2019)


More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


17 October

In around three Tweets, a #UCFF reaction to Rocks (2019)





Other (non-spoilery) comments :

* The set-up is that what happens, early in the film, has happened before ; yet, the film seems to want ‘to have its cake and eat it’, because the other things that follow it appear as if new (and, given that the starting circumstance has happened before, some of them (or the idea of them), or some of the means of finding out where someone might be, would not be new)

* The occluding of the view, when Rocks and her friends are all together (somewhere), and when we know what looms in the background even as it is talked of, establishes that group, but promises other things about the story-telling that are not given to us

* For, although it is understandable that a new person at her school would ask Rocks why that is her name, we indistinctly hear what is said so do we feel that we need never have heard her ask for the explanation – when, by then in the film, we were quite happy not to know ? (Unless, perhaps, it was an act of telling, but we were not intended to understand what she said ?)

* A film can, of course, end without an ending – Rocks does not appear to end as it does, i.e. to subvert the story-telling that brought us into these lives, or to provide a resolution that is not a resolution, and yet it does seem (unlike that in, say, Abgebrannt (2011)) to serve to take us casually away from the conundrums with which we have seen Rocks wrestle




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

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Infinite series : A Festival preview (work in progress) of 7 Raons per Fugir (de la societat) (7 Reasons to Run Away (from society)) (2019)

This is a Festival preview of 7 Raons per Fugir (2019) (for Cambridge Film Festival)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


13 October

This is a Festival preview (work in progress) of 7 Raons per Fugir (de la societat) (7 Reasons to Run Away (from society)) (2019) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2019)


One of the cast, Aina Clotet, is expected as a Festival guest of Ramon Lamarca, programmer of Camera Catalonia, for a Q&A following the screening on Tuesday 22 October (please see below) - and also that of La filla d'algú (2019), earlier that evening


The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here,
and it screens on Sunday 20 October [in Screen 2 at APH (Festival Central)] at 6.30 p.m., and again on Tuesday 22 October [in Screen 1 at APH (Festival Central)] at 10.30 p.m.


Principal themes (alphabetical order) :

* Callous behaviour
* Inconvenient reminders
* Money
* Opportunism
* Self-preserving pragmatism


Just as reactionary politics, or the corporate and fiscal push for so-called neo-liberal values (a term itself an insult to the real notion of 'liberality' ?), might promote policies in the name of, and by invoking, such seemingly positive things as order, progress or commitment, but hypocritically mean the opposite (and challenge others to say so), so Esteve Soler flips those words (and four others) on their head in this film, in an open, but ironic and creative, critique of our subversive attitudes towards each other nowadays.

7 Raons per Fugir (de la societat) is of a highly Swiftian, satirical nature, and, where there is most humour, it is often of an audacious nature – our laughing despite ourselves, in surprise, or at the working-out of a scenario to a logical but grim conclusion (or, again, at its casually working-through to an end that we had not envisaged) : we might know (or think that we know ?) Jonathan Swift from Gulliver’s Travels*, but it was he, after all, who gave the world that sustained but succinct killer essay that we know as ‘A Modest Proposal’…



Not uniquely in Camera Catalonia 2019, as it so happens, 7 Raons per Fugir (de la societat) (7 Reasons to Run Away (from society)) (2019) is a multi-stranded film. Yet it is more obviously so (as if it were New York Stories (1989) - or, more relevantly (though not a film), David Eagleman's Sum : Forty Tales from the Afterlives), and it is most likely to appeal to those who rejoiced in the film-making of Marc Crehuet's El rei borni (The One-Eyed King) (2016) and / or Rudy Gnutti's In the Same Boat (2016), which were both screened during #CameraCatalonia 2017 at Cambridge Film Festival (@camfilmfest).




As some will recognize, pairs of images from, respectively, The Wachowskis' The Matrix** (1999), Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), and François Ozon's Dans la maison (In the House) (2012) - all at the intersection of individual behaviour or drives and of the societal force(s) that [we let] govern us (and give us those drives and behaviour ?), but, of which, Germain Germain (Fabrice Luchni), as manipulated by Claude Garcia (Ernst Umhauer) (and Jeanne Germain (Kristin Scott Thomas)), is most cynically 'on the nail' for 7 Raons per Fugir.


[...]


End-notes :

* So we may know Swift's most famous title, but do we as little know it, from a children’s or other heavily edited version, as the true work of this Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin as if we do not know that it was actually published as Travels into Several remote Nations of the World. In four parts. By Lemuel Gulliver (1726) ?

** The latter is now proving highly relevant to the greater prominence and recognition of the causes that Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion are promoting.

*** Somewhat arbitrarily, these are likely to be the most famous ones from what, with The Animatrix (2003), are the four connected films (five, if The Matrix 4 does get released in 2022), because there are likewise multitudinous possibilities, in The Matrix Reloaded (2003), when Neo meets The Architect, and, in Matrix Revolutions (2003), the possibilities – witnessed by a score of other Agents Smith – reduce to 1, then 0, when Smith and he fight :


(But the many serving-girls cum sex-slaves in Cloud Atlas (2012), of whom Sonmi-451 is the one who ‘got away’ (once she had undeniably been shown her future), and the fate(s) of many, at the hands - and whims - of the warring Abrasax siblings, in Jupiter Ascending (2015), are all pertinent additional examples of Crowds and Power.)




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

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Back in Berlin¹, the silence(s) behind the chatter : A Festival preview of Les distàncies (Distances) (2018)

This is a Preview of Les distàncies (2018) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2019)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2019 (17 to 24 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


19 September

This is a Festival preview (uncorrected proof) of Les distàncies (Distances) (2018) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2019)


The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here,
and it screens on Friday 19 October [in Screen 2 at APH (Festival Central)] at 5.45 p.m.


Principal themes (alphabetical order) :

* Fears
* Friendship
* Jealousy
* Possessiveness
* Surprises


If it makes you happy
It can't be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad ?


'If It Makes You Happy' ~ Sheryl Crow (from her album If It Makes You Happy)


Those who recall the films Barcelona Summer Night (2013) or Barcelona Christmas Night (2015), during #CameraCatalonia² at Cambridge Film Festival 2016 (@camfilmfest), will find themselves recollecting another side of meeting to party : which is when the heart, and its affections, and the mind, and its afflictions, will not necessarily co-operate with such aims.

Les distàncies (Distances) (2018) is not a million miles away, in mood, from texts by Milton, and how Handel sets them, in L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, HWV 55 - or even from the Pixar film Inside Out (2015) ?

Hence loathed Melancholy,
Of Cerberus, and blackest Midnight born,
In Stygian cave forlorn,
'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy;
Find out some uncouth cell,
Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings,
And the night-raven sings;
There under ebon shades, and low-brow'd rocks,
As ragged as thy locks,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell



'L'Allegro'³ ~ John Milton

For, whereas the Barcelona films arguably took up the frailties of our relations with each other, be they ineptly saying the wrong thing, vying for another's attentions, or (nearly) making the same mistake again, two factors mitigated against those elements being treated 'heavily', and so risking over-balancing the lighter feeling of the film(s) overall⁴ (than that of Les distàncies) :

First, those films were in strands⁵, which meant that one did not (or could not ?) easily follow the film as a whole, and yet leave one's thoughts for long, say, in over-analysing, in Barcelona nit d'estiu (2013), the stages of interaction / attraction between Albert and Roser. Or, in both films, with the plight of Miki Esparbé - who is also in Les distàncies (Distances) - as the hapless prospective, or actual, father (as the case might be).


In addition, some of the strands were, in themselves, intended to be lighter in mood, such as Miki Esparbé, barely knowing how to react to fatherhood, let alone the fact that it becomes known to others when he only just knew of it, or the two friends, chasing after the same girl in a way that did not preclude a ruthless mistranslation from English by the one who speaks it.



In Les distàncies (Distances), we see writ large how a difficult situation for the entire cast of five, albeit one of their own making or choosing, so quickly puts finer feeling beyond easy reach, and thereby exemplifying our tendencies to sleuthing, sabotage (and self-sabotage), and side-lining or side-stepping others : for example, we see someone, who has no more right to be in a building than the person who comes to call, pull out all the stops to be deflective and intrusive of that other’s feelings, and then to find and be very disrespectful to that person’s possessions afterwards.

As we will find out, almost no one has a good reason to be in Berlin – at least, not one that, behind the pretext, was known to the others – and the hurts and the expectations, the unspoken attitudes and the assumptions, soon become exposed and raw. As with the double-doors between the parts of the flat in Michael Haneke's Amour (2012), we those in the one that Comas / Alex has acquired being used to partition and barricade the space.


Except that it was a pair of principals, the great Nora Navas (Natàlia) and Francesc Garrido (Daniel) in L’adopció (Awaiting) (2015) (during Camera Catalonia in 2016) showed how a stressful situation and having to be in another country did not merely double their difficulties, but magnified the uncertainties within the relationship, and, in Júlia ist, the new experiences and opportunities in Berlin are tempered by ambivalences that arise from being there.


In a very effective touch at the close of the film, all the lack of communication comes out all at once, and some things that we thought that we understood at the time have assumed a different meaning.


End-notes :

¹ During #CameraCatalonia 2018, we were also in Berlin (most of the time) for Elena Martín's brilliant Júlia ist (2017) : Martín played Júlia, and directed and co-wrote the film. (As well as the preview (by #UCFF), Sarah Henkel wrote this review for TAKE ONE.)

² Plus Q&As afterwards, with guests from the cast(s) in conversation with the Catalan programmer, Ramon Lamarca : always a feature of Camera Catalonia, for guests to come from Catalunya to talk about their work, with Ventura Pons and Claire Bloom last year (2018), talking about Miss Dalí (2018).

³ 'Il Penseroso' embraces Melancholy, as the opening of 'L'Allegro' (as quoted) rejects it / him, but - for the purposes of Handel's libretto, in setting them for L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato - James Harris arranged and interleaved Milton's orginal antithetical poems, and Charles Jennens originated the text of a third voice, in 'Il Moderato'.

⁴ Though not just the darker nights around Epiphany (6 January), which is when, in Catalunya (as in Spain as a whole), gifts are given (not the UK's wonted 25 December), perhaps made for a slightly more sombre (reflective ?) feel to Christmas Night ?

⁵ However, these were not strands in the discrete, but interlocking, sense of a unity, which is what Esteve Soler gives us, for this year’s #CameraCatalonia, in 7 Raons de Fugir (de la societat) (2019). (The film is Soler's adaptation, for cinema, of portions from his dramatic work, and which (with David Torras and Gerard Quinto) he co-directed.)




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