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Monday, 28 September 2020

Darkness at Noon : A review (work in progress, allegedly) of Rebuilding Paradise (2020)

Darkness at Noon : A review (work in progress, allegedly) of Rebuilding Paradise (2020)

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


Darkness at Noon : A review (work in progress, allegedly) of Rebuilding Paradise (2020)



We see the arch-heresiarch #Frump, and hear him saying (before declaring how terrible it is) We have just left Pleasure [sic], and one of his entourage swiftly correcting him, but - as throughout - there is no comment, no overlaid assertion from director Ron Howard, who has constructed ths film so that nothing is needed, only a chronology by inter-title [i.e. Three months after the fire, etc.].



As Howard well knows, given when and how we are presently watching, being able to choose to offer hugs rather than handshakes [on which Woody Culleton (or another ?) specifically remarks] is now a proximity and a possibility from which we are undesirably kept distant - we will even see people expressing their feelings, and, having been accustomed to these times, at least think that they are behaving rashly, if we do not, for that reason, shudder in recognition of what we have lost.




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

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

I'd give them all to you : #UCFF on Christopher Nolan in Tenet (2020) (work in progress)

I'd give them all to you : #UCFF on Christopher Nolan in Tenet (2020) (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 September

I'd give them all to you : #UCFF on Christopher Nolan in Tenet (2020) (work in progress)


Tenet. n. A belief by which one lives, or which guides one's thinking



Prelude :

If I can't have x, no one else will

Whether expressed in the proverbial form of Dog in the manger, or, from military tactics, Burning one's bridges [behind one], or even - back to proverbial language, if more colourfully - Cutting off one's nose to spite one's face, none of it is far removed from the stuff of legend, literature, or works for the opera-house or cinema, because it is, or can be, a human impulse.

Darren Aronofsky might thinly disguise rooting a film in such soil, whereas Christopher Nolan constructs yet another maze around it, so that we do not immediately perceive what is at its centre, and does so with enough brash stage-business of spectacle built around it (detonation, collision or combustion) that he broadly keeps our attention from wandering back to it.



The main event :

Christopher Nolan's Tenet could be seen as a mass of red herrings - or, if one prefers, a couple of diamonds (maybe more ?) in the dust :

What we least need to know, or to follow the ins and outs of it (as the general direction suffices), he gives us by darting around, from country to country, in the style of (early) Bond films (except that there is no (rigged) game of Vingt-et-un, poker or Baccarat in sight).


Lacking any other name than in the credits, The Protagonist (John David Washington) is principled, but he is not answerable to an M, or armed by a Q, etc., etc., and so has only the crudest notion overall what he is trying to do - such that he makes errors. [In this, he resembles a less humorous take on Frank Capra's earnest Clarence (Henry Travers)]. However, whether it be a Connery or a Moore, Washington has and employs the charm and bluff of a Bond, and also has the resourceful Neil (Robert Pattinson) as his running-mate* (as well as a few other assistants).




Even if Tenet were to feel as if it needs to re-watched for something that one missed, one is as likely to gain very little new (and only benefit the film's box-office figures) - or not to be able to concentrate sufficiently to glean whatever was thought important. Whether it is what happens here, or Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio), trying to change Fischer's (Cillian Murphy's) mind undetected in Inception (2010), the basic thrust can be easily enough perceived, although doing so is despite all the elements of distraction.

For example, neither Kat (Elizabeth Debicki), nor Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh), narrates an incident in their past without our being fed visual snippets, which, by being intermittent**, only serve to stop us weighing the truth of what they say. (Except that, although it is not obviously going to be so, we prove to have no reason to doubt what is said, and it seems that Nolan just wanted to embed the images ?)




[...]




[...]






[...]


By the end of the film proper [not the coda that deals with a couple of loose ends], we will have no more idea why (if we were to stop to think and ask) :

* Kat (Elizabeth Debicki), any more than any mother would (Aronofsky's entrée), obsesses about her son to the extent of enquiring, somewhat idiotically in context, Not even my son ?

* The Protagonist (John David Washington) cares about her and her son's freedom and survival, to an extent that is, very often, beyond the point of what we can judge reason dictates

* He is, for so long, so much on his own, and, with only some information, skills in bluffing and fight, he is out on a limb, albeit with trusted personnel, given what he is trying to do


Only on the level of the similar anonymity and agency of a Pertwee, where a Nicholas Courtney (Lethbridge-Stewart) provides the (usually meagre, but sufficient) fire-power towards the end, or of Baker, realizing, with clues from conveniently available allies, what is at stake, and, with their assistance, defeating The Master (or some other nemesis), does Tenet pretend to cohere : the answers to what, as set out, we do not know, and will only know extrinsically, may and should matter, but they have been subjugated to the overall arc, whose matters of import (hidden in all the pseudo-technical 'huff and puff') are themselves a tiny fraction of what we see in 150 minutes.

For a headlong dash into the stuff of an unseen world, the comparison of G. K. Chesterton's 'Nightmare' The Man who was Thursday (1908) is worth making.






Postlude (NB Spoiler alert) :



End-notes :

* Much as Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Arthur) is to Leonardo DiCaprio (Cobb) in Inception (2010).

** Versus pure narration, or PoV that takes us through the whole of what is told.




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

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Three Tweets about Moonstruck (1987)

Three Tweets about Moonstruck (1987)

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


16 September


Three Tweets about Moonstruck (1987)


Postlude :





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

Comments on Pinter : Landscape (1968 / 1969) (work in progress)

Comments on Pinter : Landscape (1968 / 1969) (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)


15 September

Comments on Pinter : Landscape (1968 / 1969) (work in progress)

1. A woman (Beth) is being reflective about both the past, and herself and her qualities, in relation to it.

2. Pinter may not have intended this play for radio, but it was first given there by the BBC¹. Has that earlier identity as - one might think of it - 'a play for voices' been subsumed since Peter Hall, within months of that first production, directed it (alongside Silence) at the RSC ?

3. Peggy Ashcroft played Beth in both productions, Dorothy Tutin in the BBC production directed by Kenneth Ives in 1983 (with Colin Blakely as Duff).

4. The title evokes :

(i) The outside, which the man (Duff) and she largely 'live in' while speaking ;

(ii) The 'landscape of their lives' as a terrain (minefield ?) that they physically, and mentally, occupy ; and

(iii) Who they are (or were) in relation to it - and, through it, to each other.


5. It is also a clue to the word 'rape', which is not at all far from the surface - here, in the short Night¹, or in The Collection (1961 / 1962²).

6. What Duff gives with one hand (That nice blue dress he [Mr Sykes] chose for you, for the house, that was very nice of him), he takes with the other³ (Of course it was in his own interests to see that you were attractively dressed about the house, to give a good impression to his guests) : in the latter, he is arguably as much trying to make facts suit him as needle Beth (again) about her worth.

7. Beth does not need, or does / can not benefit from, his version of encouragement (You should have a walk with me one day down to the pond, bring some bread. There's nothing to stop you.) or, more significantly, his of approbation :

Mr Sykes took to us from the very first interview, didn't he ?

Pause

He said I've got the feeling you'll make a very good team. Do you remember ? And that's what we proved to be. No question. [...]


8. [...]

9. When Beth sets out 'the basic principles of shadow and light' (Shadow is deprivation of light, etc.), we know, of course, that she means something else - as well as telling us, she is seeking comfort, by relating them to herself and to her past, to who she is :

But I always bore in mind the basic principles of drawing.

Pause

So that I never lost track. Or heart.

Pause



[...]



End-notes :

¹ On 25 April 1968 and 2 July 1969, according to the information in the Eyre Methuen edition Landscape and Silence (A Methuen Modern Play), which includes the text of Night, first performed on 9 April 1969.

² Another play that, again according to its Methuen edition, was first presented elsewhere than on the stage (on Associated Rediffusion Television on 11 May 1961).

³ Duff had done so, straightaway in the next sentence, with ?, but 'cannot let it lie' - he has to worry it, because, unspoken, it worries him.




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

Monday, 14 September 2020

Church of All Saints, Eyeworth, Diocese of St Albans : Field-notes

Church of All Saints, Eyeworth, Diocese of St Albans : Field-notes

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


13 September

Church of All Saints, Eyeworth, Diocese of St Albans : Field-notes



The north side of the chancel, and the priest's door






West end of the South aisle, and quatrefoil window




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

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Κυνόδοντας (Dogtooth) (2009) re-considered

Κυνόδοντας (Dogtooth) (2009) re-considered

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


8 September

Κυνόδοντας (Dogtooth) (2009) re-considered









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

Saturday, 5 September 2020

#AndyWarhol at Tate Modern

#AndyWarhol at Tate Modern

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


5 September

#AndyWarhol at Tate Modern

Andy Warhol produced art at a time of immense social, political and technological change.

This exhibition examines Warhol’s subject matter, his experiments in media
and the way he cultivated his public persona.

It draws attention to Warhol’s personal story and how his view of the world shaped his art.






One of the most significant wall-notes in the whole of the #Warhol show might not even be seen by many visitors (it is in Room 3, opposite the soup, and the Coke bottles)





Notes or observations on the dozen or so screen-tests (compiled and converted to video by ???, the Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, from around 150 in all) :

* Susan Sontag's weeping, and a tear falling down her face, and then from her chin

* From the lively intelligence, eyes twinkling and even cigar-smoking and smoke-blowing of Duchamp to the dullness of Dylan - in medium shot, and resolutely trying to rest his fingers on the right-hand side of his shades (as if even he thinks that he looks / will look good ?), and, all in all, an imposture of posture :

Using both arm-rests, right leg crossed over left, clothing dark (except light jacket), with the fingers of his left hand angled down to be partly hidden behind the base of his right thigh

left hand's * Little like Dylan (wooden, unregal, and as obedient as if 'looking into my light' at the opticians'), Duchamp is so animated that he leans both ways sideways, forwards, and can be seen actively looking, taking in what surrounds him

* Ginsberg is intense, and, but for blinking, a likeable living passport pose - he is shot almost full face, and lit mainly from his left (as the subject)

[...]




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

Friday, 4 September 2020

Live-Tweeting from The 2020 Proms : Anoushka Shankar with Gold Panda, Manu Delago, Jules Buckley and Britten Sinfonia

Live-Tweeting from The 2020 Proms : Anoushka Shankar, Gold Panda and others

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


4 September

Live-Tweeting from The 2020 Proms : Anoushka Shankar with Gold Panda,
Manu Delago, Jules Buckley and Britten Sinfonia































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

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Live-Tweeting from The 2020 Proms : London Sinfonietta in 'A programme of pulses'

Live-Tweeting from The 2020 Proms : London Sinfonietta in 'A programme of pulses'

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


1 September

Live-Tweeting from The 2020 Proms : London Sinfonietta in 'A programme of pulses'














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