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Thursday, 12 March 2020

Two Tweets on trying to watch James Ivory's The Europeans (1979)

Two Tweets on trying to watch James Ivory's The Europeans (1979)

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


13 March

Two Tweets on trying to watch James Ivory's The Europeans (1979)






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

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

The Verb, the haiku, The McMillan ?

You're buying doublers ? Gotta be The Macmillan !

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


11 March

You're buying doublers ? Gotta be The Macmillan !





Slàinte !


Post-script :







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

Saturday, 29 February 2020

What a treat, what a surprise ! : Pembroke Festival of Voice, with Ruby Hughes and Joseph Middleton (work in progress)

This is a review of Pembroke Festival of Voice, with Ruby Hughes and Joseph Middleton

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


29 February

This is a review (work in progress) of Pembroke Festival of Voice,
with Ruby Hughes and Joseph Middleton, in a recital given in The Old Library, Pembroke College, Cambridge, on Friday 29 February 2020 at 8.00 p.m.

When one had paid on the door, expecting Kitty Whately (accompanied by Joseph Middleton), but put right by known others there who were in the know, how could one possibly not be delighted - with no disrespect whatever to Whately ! - to find that Ruby Hughes was performing in her stead (with Middleton) ? !

Love them or loathe them, but the wonted place - though there is also The Cambridge Concert Calendar for every term - to find a music-event is 'the railings : Middleton and Whately, with Mahler's Rückertlieder (in The Old Library at Pembroke), had fitted the bill, so Middleton with Hughes was certainly no disappointment.


The directness of Ruby Hughes, and the concomitant sincerity that it expresses, is palpable - it is through the former that we feel and read the latter


[...]


With Frauenliebe und -leben (i.e. Frauenliebe und Frauenleben), Schumann's Opus 47 song-cycle on the bill of fare, however, who could be dissatisfied at the thoughtful arc with which Hughes and Middleton traversed these eight numbers, from the - very much as it were - infatuation of 'Seit ich ihn gesehen' to the stark realizations of 'Nun hast du mir den ersten Schmerz getan' : not in any way even needing (as some do) to be apologetic for the milieu and import of Chamisso's poems, let alone limit them by or to their time. As the Purcell texts should have shown us, human-beings are and have been over the centuries, for all their differing trappings, creatures with and moulded by the same needs, desires and weaknesses as the heroines of Shakespearean drama, or the novels of The Brontës.

[...]





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

Friday, 28 February 2020

Pixiedust joins Good Rain : Solveig Slettahjell and The Slow Motion Quintet

A first-blush mini-review of Solveig Slettahjell and The Slow Motion Quintet in Pixiedust

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


28 February

A first-blush mini-review by Tweet of Solveig Slettahjell and The Slow Motion Quintet in Pixiedust









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

Monday, 24 February 2020

The 13 Rules, perhaps, of Making Documentary Films* (work in progress)

The 13 Rules*, perhaps, of Making Documentary Films (work in progress)

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


24 February

The 13 Rules*, perhaps, of Making Documentary Films (work in progress)

1. If some fact or experience is extraneous to the film, but the audience is expected to know it, it should have been in the film itself (not a Q&A, DVD extras, etc.)
2. Picking and choosing to whom to give a name (using a caption), when that person starts speaking from archive material or in interview, need not be defensible as such, but a discernible rationale might be beneficial

3. By all means let some viewers believe that all the ills of the world (or all its goodness) are located in some place, practice or person, but you could ‘nod’, a little, to others who will watch more sceptically (please see Rule 5 (below) et seq.)?

4. Equally, some viewers will - surreptitiously - drown under an undifferentiated mix of : (illustrative) clips from feature films of the time ; home ciné and / or video ; generic archival footage ; date-specific footage and / or capture of t.v., etc., broadcasts ; other documentary material ; any re-enactments / re-creations, etc., etc.

5. Again, those viewers who happily absorb a message such as hinted at in Rule 3 (above) will not notice, but, even if you are determined just to tell a story that ‘enough’ people will buy wholesale (especially if only adding detail to an accepted narrative), watch out for ‘flak’, from some who expect more

6. Such flak will necessarily come from those who ask what similarities there are to other countries in the territory in which the film (if only in a specific edit or version) is targeted, and which your film largely serves some viewers as a convenient emotional and / or intellectual distraction from acknowledging (or maybe as little more than self-satisying entertainment that such things happen elsewhere ?)

7. Art can hold up the mirror to life, but it can also do us a dis-service, if it does not truthfully answer the Snow White Question asked by those who could, and should, see all that the mirror reflects

8. Some see film as having a pedagogic purpose, whereas some see documentary - when it more closely resembles 'an essay**' - as more free :

Well, there are those who teach who claim that they should tell their students what they are going to teach them, teach it, and tell them that they were taught it, and, although cinema really does not need to be that ‘heavy-handed’, film-makers might pay regard, when they have somehow decided on an intended story (or one of its 'strands'), and know it so well, that – in the edit, etc. – the film omits to tell all of its essential parts


More to come...


End-notes :

* So, for #UCFF (at least), it 'does it', if adherence is made to more than seven or eight of them…

** Though who says where, say, Tarkovsky’s Mirror (Zerkalo [Зеркало]) (1975) begins and Godard’s The Image Book (Le Livre d'image) (2018) ends ?




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

Friday, 31 January 2020

Blake at Tate : Some musings

Blake at Tate : Some musings

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


1 February

Blake at Tate : Some musings






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

For 31 January* : Collecting the #OneLovelyThingToDay Tweets

For 31 January* ~ Collecting** the #OneLovelyThingToDay Tweets

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


31 January 2020


For 31 January* ~

Collecting** the
#OneLovelyThingToDay Tweets







[...]




End-notes :

* Also artist Philip Hartigan's natal day.

** Started on, as an assemblage, at any rate.




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

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Breathed-through sounds, blended with Style, Smooch, Swing... (review in progress)

At Cambridge Modern Jazz : Breathed-through sounds, blended with Style, Smooch, Swing...

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


30 January


Report from Cambridge Modern Jazz (at Cambridge University Centre Wine Bar)
on Thursday 30 January 2020 at 7.30 p.m. :

The Clovis Nicolas / Steve Fishwick Quartet brought breathed-through sounds,
blended with
Style, Smooch, Swing...



Personnel (alphabetical order) :

* Dmitry Baevsky (tnr)

* Matt Fishwick* (drs)

* Steve Fishwick (tpt)

* Clovis Nicolas (db)


All of these things ! They are not exactly those 'Three Little Words' - 'the closer' to Clovis Nicolas / Steve Fishwick Quartet's second set - and yet they begin as a list of, or a sort of touchstone for, their funk and flair : though that would be naming but a few very desirable qualities of to-night's gig.

Inarguably, and without any notion of our feeling resistance, kept us 'in there', warmed in both heart and mind. Just as, for example, the closing nod to Satchmo and 'The Sunny Side of the Street' is something that always brings out - and across - a smile to those that love Armstrong and all that he and the best of jazzers brought.

If, also, so often to too many a benighted soul, or an endeavour in which players poured out their soul, and thereby lit a flame to the actual lives that escaped them.


End-notes :

* As CMJ's David Gower has kindly pointed out, Steve Fishwick's brther Matt was 'a dep' (as they say) for Greg Hutchinson. (Search #UCFF, and Steve has been heard before, also.)




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

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

'Notched' 9.5mm at Kennington Bioscope - always something to learn at The Cinema Museum !

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


29 January

Some Tweets about a 9.5mm programme, introduced by Kevin Brownlow for Kennington Bioscope, at The Cinema Museum




Being open to inter-titled / sur-titled / sub-titled cinema :






The main matter :







[...]


'We have the technology' :






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

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

In media res, the pleasure of finding Alice Coote and Julius Drake in Winterreise (uncorrected proof)

A full canvas and an unlimited palette : the pleasure of finding Alice Coote and Julius Drake in Winterreise

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


28 January

A full canvas and an unlimited palette : the pleasure of finding Alice Coote and Julius Drake
in
Winterreise, D. 911 (uncorrected proof)



Hearing barely the latter sixteen* numbers, one could :

(a) not only at first not place it - was it necessarily even Schubert, and not actually Dichterliebe, or Frauenlieben und Leben ? - but, as the libretto, once more, unfolded, that unease / dis-ease to be longer than one needed in those Straßen in den Städten [oder in den Dörfern ?] ; but also

(b) 'caught' how supremely sensitive to the text and its affective pulls and hesitations, doubts and despairs, these players were :

With freedom used both for vocalist to float or extend lines, and for Julius Drake, as pianist, also to sing, in many ways - fully resonantly ; sometimes as an almost metrically resigned hymnal, acting as a kind of 'foregrounded background' commentary ; in defiant / strident tones, usw.


From mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, free and sure use of collatura, slurred notes, selective vibrato, and - equally with the pianistic ones - variations in dynamic force, note-duration and stress.

At times, in the closing numbers, we had the sighs or deep breaths of weariness, lost hope and love, and of abandonment, all of which - ultimately, with the inevitability of as much the Dona nobis pacem of Bach's h-moll Messe, BWV 232, as Totentanz - preparing us for and taking us to dem Leiermann, so folkloric, haunting, öd und leer, and einfach da :

Beethoven's Muß es sein ?, answered by Es muß sei. It 'just is' so.


This disintegration in and of the hurdy-gurdy man is essentially one with the inexorable, slow transformation of the Singer-Poet into a degenerated form - witnessing no longer in a glass, darkly, but [...] face to face, and - having been thrust out of some Eden - der Welt abgekommen ?

Moving music**, movingly and beautfully brought to us from a Wigmore Hall that, clearly, hesitated to stir in the moments at the end !


End-notes :

* From memory, are there 32, 24 or maybe 26 texts in this Liederkreis ?

** Even without knowing what proofs / fair copies Schubert was checking in his final illness...




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

Monday, 27 January 2020

'The Planets' (Holst) - unfamiliarly brought to us by Andrew Manze (not surprisingly)

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


27 January

'The Planets' (Holst) - unfamiliarly brought to us by Andrew Manze (not surprisingly)





To close :






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

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

At Lunch Two (2019 / 2020 season) : With Britten Sinfonia at West Road Concert Hall (work in progress)

At Lunch Two (2019 / 2020 season) : Britten Sinfonia at West Road Concert Hall (work in progress)

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


21 January

At Lunch Two (2019 / 2020 season) : With Britten Sinfonia at West Road Concert Hall
(work in progress)


Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 2, No. 8 (1728) ~ Jean-Marie Leclair (1697 – 1764)

1. Adagio
2. Allegro
3. Sarabande
4. Allegro assai


The initial theme of the Adagio, and its gestures, wholly attract our attention – to the extent that it almost sounds as if the movement (or, therefore, the work as a whole) has opened near the end (or, at least, in the middle of what might be expected of such a work). We soon notice that the violin and viola are echoic – the latter, certainly, repeats the former (though does not mimic it per se), if not vice versa, and the writing is in an especially expressive tone, which one could, of course, rely on cellist Caroline Dearnley to bring out beautifully from her wonted instrument.

In the Allegro, again an element of the catch or round, if not of antiphony. However, now with the piano* more obviously joining in, and with a 'frisky' overall ambience, which, as the psychology of music tells us (though perhaps not consciously), operates by way of preparation for what follows within the composition as a whole : the succeeding Sarabande - as so often with the Bach Suites for Solo Cello (or the keyboard or violin Partitas, whose dates of 1685 to 1750 virtually mirror those of Leclair) – is the heart of the piece.

Here, there is a melding of the string-sounds of all three instruments - maybe we forget to our cost that, though some might encourage us to think of the piano as percussive, there are strings (just not bowed (or - in this repertoire - plucked)). The balance that John Lenehan achieves with his fellow...


* * * * *



[...]






[...]


Bukoliki (1952, 1962 (arr. comp.)) ~ Witold Lutosławski (1913 - 1994)

1. Allegro vivace
2. Allegro sostenuto
3. Allegro molto
4. Andantino
5. Allegro marciale


To begin, 'an intensity' of very vigorous writing for cello in the Allegro vivace, but which is, as the movement plays out, a contrast to the succeeding section's more meditative or musing nature – and which, as the set of pieces plays out, is part of a pattern of juxtaposition. And then, Lutoslawski has Clare Finnimore (viola) and Caroline Dearnley (cello) jump back, at least to Tempo I and to the initial variety of affect, but not to a note-for-note reprise, but another re-working of the material. Then, more or less betokening the close, a re-working of Tempo II follows – which is a sort of ABAB that we might associate with, or recognize from, Bartók ?

In the Allegro sostenuto, there is – more evidently (or as one adjusts to this set of pieces ?) – a juxtaposition, at the start, of a deft pizzicato cello and a languidly legato viola – another alternation of an ABAB kind ? – whereas, in the third piece, maybe Lutosławski has sufficiently stated his folk-music credentials to pass the work off as that, but then sneaks in some illicit jazz chord-progressions or intervals**, and, as if he is a covering-up naughty school-boy, behaves as if they were never there... ?

Of the set, the wildly atmospheric Andantino had open sounds and spaces, which spoke of yearning and tenderness, and which also provided yet another point of contact (as well as of contrast), this time with the rhythmicity of the final Allegro marciale : its emphasis is on metrical stress, as the material is first presented us, but then on employing it teasingly – leading us on, and holding us off from, our expectations.



No surprise at all that these accomplished musicians***, so used to each other (and to us) from their time with Britten Sinfonia, and to each other’s playing, should play the Lutoslawski so compellingly, but - as is the norm rather than the exception with the Sinfonia programming - rather how this beacon of composition shone in its setting in this hall and in this selection of At Lunch works !


[...]


End-notes :

* Surely, in 1728, not written for even an early forte piano ?

** In Ida (2013), Pawel Pawlikowski seeks to use his authorial / directorial position to allude to the Polish underground jazz-scene, but only as part of a tale with a would-be ‘conversation’ between the secular and sacred (or, rather, the sacred and profane), which was probably better left to Hermann Hesse ?


Joanna Kulig - who ‘migrated to’ Cold War (2018) - as ‘Singer’ in Ida (2013)


*** Both the composition / arrangement and the accomplishment reminded of when Thomas Gould and Clare Finnimore had played a selection of Béla Bartók’s Duos), in At Lunch 4 (2015 / 2016 season).




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

When is 'watching a film' not watching a film ?

When is 'watching a film' not watching a film ?

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


22 January

When is 'watching a film' not watching a film ?



(and then missed 'em all)




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

Saturday, 18 January 2020

From the (pre-#UCFF) archive : A review of Kosmos (2009)

From the (pre-#UCFF) archive : A review of Kosmos (2009)

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


Cambridge Film Festival 2010


From the (pre-#UCFF) archive : A review of Kosmos (2009)

* Contains spoilers *

Kosmos is what he calls himself, when he is asked his name. He has previously saved the young woman’s brother, and he is delighted to hear her baying at him like a wolf, inviting him to follow her, to chase her. When he says that he is Kosmos, she says that she is Neptün, and I find myself thinking more of the seas, than of the planet. (Meeting the girl’s father, he gives a different name, but he is credited as Kosmos (Sermet Yesil), and she as Neptün (Türkü Turan).)

What we see is his visit to this indeterminate Muslim town in the snow, from when he arrives to when he leaves. All that we really know, as a foreign audience, is that he strays into areas where he should not be, that there are sounds of explosions, and that there is a border closed, which some would like opened, but which others say is just for their profit.

If we are trying to judge him, to see whether the words that he speaks when asked questions and which have a ring of teaching such as from the Koran or the book of Ecclesiastes, then we will find that he does things to disapprove of. (But don’t we all. He does not claim to be a great holy man, but answers people’s questions, and seems to seek to help.)

Ultimately, it is the disapproval, and the reliance that others have put upon him to cure as if it is without cost to himself (when we see at the start how he gives of himself to give life back to the boy whom he has rescued from the river), which cut short his time there. Some see him for who he is, but even the teacher, who sleeps with him, seeks to put her guilt on him – what he is looking for, he says, is love.

With Neptün, whether or not they sleep together, there is an unbridled energy and exuberance, a dance as of elemental forces such as their names suggest. Even his acts of healing, and what happens with natural phenomena (reminiscent of what Tarkovksy does in Mirror), suggest that he has a connection that others have forgotten about or overlooked, and which the girl sees in him more fully. The woman who places reliance in the medication Tralin ® , an anti-depressant, seems at the opposite extreme, but he is nonetheless distressed for her.

The crash-landing of some sort of lunar module, which the authorities want hushed up, but which he has already seen, seem to herald a time when judgement turns against him, and he has to leave, although not without showing his care for those who are hurting. He leaves as he arrived, and, except when he is with Neptün, there is always an ambiguous quality about his anguish and about his joy, as if their being two sides of the same coin is very close to him.

This is a remarkable piece of cinema, and would invite me to see it again. What I would have to be clear about is not to do so to find out more about who Kosmos is, since we know only the time when he is with the people in this town and often have to guess at his motives or motivations, but to see how he is valued, to see what people see in him.




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

Friday, 10 January 2020

Story-telling : By juxtaposition - or free association ?

Some responses to watching Little Women (2019) (twice) (work in progress)

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


10 January


Some responses to watching Little Women (2019) (twice) (work in progress)







More magnificent still, on a re-watch :





[...]







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