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Sunday, 25 October 2020

'Magic Eye' rides again ?

'Magic Eye' rides again ?

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

26 October

'Magic Eye' rides again ?





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

Sunday, 18 October 2020

#UCFF's reactions, by Tweet, to I Am Greta (2020)

#UCFF's reactions, by Tweet, to I Am Greta (2020)

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

18 October

#UCFF's reactions, by Tweet, to I Am Greta (2020)









Postlude :








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

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

The Lies and The Mockery : The Cheaters (1930) at BFI London Film Festival

This is a first-blush response (work in progress) to The Cheaters (1930), streamed during London Film Festival 2020, on BFI Player

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

14 October

This is a first-blush response (work in progress) to The Cheaters (1930),
streamed during London Film Festival 2020, in a new digital restoration, on BFI Player






[...]



In common with not being able to fathom what those who commit deeds in Chess of The Wind (1976) meant them, even if their plans proceeded uninterrupted, to achieve, The Cheaters (1930) left one wondering what could have benefited Richard Marsh in what he last required Paula to do. (To some, this will not matter, but, when the real unfolding of the escapade with 'Lady Worth' was visible a mile off*, one cannot even look back and say what Marsh envisaged, if his intentions had been fulfilled.)

Apparently (?), Paula's meeting Lee Travers at Hotel Plaza had been accidental, rather than plotted**, but why did it matter to Marsh to have her do one last job, when everything suggested that anyone could have attempted it, and what was its purpose*** that would actually have make it 'the last job', not, as for Prospero and Ariel, just some further postponement ? :

At any rate, if Marsh previously resembles Prospero (with Paula as much his Ariel as his Miranda ?), he becomes a more fallible figure, and blesses a union by breaking his staft, and drowning his book, in the form of his own person.


Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling
Of their afflictions, and shall not myself,
One of their kind, that relish all as sharply,
Passion as they, be kindlier moved than thou art ?

The Tempest, Act V, Scene 1


It is, in a way, better to try to take a broader sweep, in that the dialogue (i.e. the inter-titles, if lip-reading is not a strength) had already - after Paula returns to Marsh 'empty handed' - caused her to reflect on what she had been doing and then both of them on what they think that life is about :

Sometimes, Daddy, I wonder if it's all worthwhile

It was therefore an indication to us, in turn, to reflect on the moving tableau with which the film opened, which, although the account that it gave of The Fates (Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos) was not exactly orthodox, is being invoked when Marsh summons Travers, both in what he tells him and in what happens next. Life, and Marsh's fate, is seen to be beyond his control, except Travers generally has been seen to have no compunction about disputing others' motives (we may imagine how he treated Manion), and, learning what he does from Marsh, can benefit from it and yet is not lacking reasons to denounce Marsh.

Despite which, we must apparently assume that Marsh believes that no such thing will happen, yet the film is nonetheless given an unending that is untrammelled by him (and, as he evidently does, Travers, is perhaps more easily able to straighten things out, as a man of influence and wealth, than Marsh envisaged ?).


End-notes :

* Though director Paulette McDonagh tries to maintain the pretence, in the moment when Paula and Lady Worth 'return to base', it is one one that cannot work for anyone but the audience (if we had not rumbled it).

** At any rate, Paula returns to Marsh apologetic for not carrying out what he asked, which could only have been one of two things (although he does not ask - as if he knows ? - whose belief in her she did not wish to dash). (One concerned Mrs Hugh Nash and her intrigued daughter.)

*** Completed or not, Marsh's 'revenge' could only ever be in what he contrived twenty years earlier (how he did so, we cannot, and need not, imagine), not very obviously anything now, but the film's ending seems to have no alternative in mind to what we see : here, too, news of a disruption goes in a very different direction from the announcement 'our revels now are ended' in The Tempest.




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

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

A compendium of Tweets from the launch-event for The British Psychological Society's report Understanding Depression

Tweets from the launch-event for The British Psychological Society's report Understanding Depression


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

9 October

A compendium of Tweets from the launch-event for The British Psychological Society's report Understanding Depression (from its Division of Clinical Psychology)






Tweets to come...




End-notes :

* As the Society says, 'You will need to create an account / log in as a web-user to access it', but this is straightforward.



Light, glass, dust : Aesychlus meets Strindberg in Chess of The Wind* (1976) (work in progress)

This is a response (work in progress) to Chess of The Wind** (1976), streamed during London Film Festival 2020

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 first-blush response (work in progress) to Chess of The Wind (1976),
streamed during London Film Festival 2020**, in a 4K restoration, on BFI Player



Not, as one might have predicted from the title, a re-run of Victor Sjõstrõm, but equally not nearly as Bergmanesque as seeing people's comments in passing had led one to believe :


Yes, the finery was gorgeous, and the shots of the house*** are almost too exquisitely set up, but that is only to expose a contrasting brutality in self-interest and settling scores that smacks of ancient origins in works such as The Oresteia. Thematically, Bergman did employ such primal sources, but this film does not try to reproduce either his feel for doing so, or his look - if Bergman makes things appear staged and / or unrelaxed, he does so for other purposes.


Lady Aghdas, with her cat and acquired 'flail' (a miniature ball and chain), is perhaps a little too much like a Bond villain, and Shaban, one of her stepfather's adoptive sons, seems modelled on Marcel Proust (for looks), but this is a film where two or three major characters each have a held (i.e. deliberate) moment of looking straight to camera, so it would be unrealistic to try to construe the film-making as naturalism, or in any way an unknowing enterprise. Therefore, without explicitly saying that the figures depicted have archetypal qualities or might have populated Mt Olympus, there are folkloric or fairy-tale elements (such as of djinns or Bluebeard's castle), and Chess also has us flirt with the notion of Lady Macbeth's mental lability, or of Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov, cracking under investigative pressure from Porphyry.


For some, a film such as this, and the finding of the negatives and making a 4K restoration, will be wonderful in their own terms ; for others, who think it good, it may stand more as an artefact of history, not in seeming 'dated' as such, but in pointing to the work of others who may have seen it in some degraded form (or just heard tell of it) in between, and to other cinemas (The Handmaiden (2016), for example, shares ground with it - as did, before it, The Wicker Man (1973) ?)



[...]



End-notes :

* Or The Chess-Game of The Wind ?

** An artefact of the streaming, on #UCFF's set-up, was to introduce a hiccup at what seemed one-second intervals (built-in thinking time, or an involuntary Verfremdungseffekt, for a reviewer ?) :



*** Whose exterior we finally see properly at the end, before the camera lifts off, and pointedly surveys the sky-line, which is clearly contemporary to the film's being made. (Arguably, after a disappearance into the hinterground of a character in whose look A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) seems rooted, the shot could have been more effective with an elevation to take in the façade, but without the pan (less is more ?) ?)




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

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Pigfoot in Cambridge : A strippers' band ? (work in progress)

This is a review (work in progress) of Pigfoot's gig in Cambridge, hosted by Listen!

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

10 October

This is a review (by Tweet) (work in progress) of Pigfoot's gig in Cambridge on Saturday 10 October 2020 at The Unitarian Church, Emmanuel Road, hosted by Listen!


Some people have said that we sound like a strippers' band ~ Chris Batchelor




Batchelor and Allsopp are very different (musical) personalities, with dissimilar playing-styles. However, bass clarinet, breathed as finely and beautifully as the latter does the sax, is also a good tonal-match for Batchelor on flugelhorn or cornet*.



As well as with Noble's prominent and recurrent use of a 'toy piano' timbre (or that of a de- or differently tuned piano), along with many a Monk-like dissonance, and Clarvis' highly amenable and adaptive percussion (on what seemed, just physically, a 'cut down' kit**), there was, often enough, a sparseness in the texture that not unreasonably might connote the functional instruments of a small seedy house-band, accompanying the acts : just think, maybe, of Michael Winterbottom's The Look of Love (2013), a tune that Pigfoot gave us in the second (?) set ?




[...]


End-notes :

* Batchelor's trumpet and cornet both have a silver-band finish, and all three are shiny to behold on their stands. (Allsopp just lays his alternative instrument, when not in use, on the deck.)

** Chosen, again, to fit both the space and an acoustic affected by the reduced number of sound-absorbing bodies that would allow for a fuller dynamic (as well as being eminently portable) ?

*** Which sounds not a little Arts Council funded... ?





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