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Showing posts with label #CameraCatalonia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #CameraCatalonia. Show all posts

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

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)

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)

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Scheherazade reads Tolstoy - to some effect : A Festival preview [work in progress] of La vida sense la Sara Amat (Life without Sara Amat) (2019)

This is a preview of Life without Sara Amat (2019) (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 (work in progress) of La vida sense la Sara Amat
Life without Sara Amat) (2019) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2019)

Director Laura Jou is to be the guest of Ramon Lamarca, the programmer of the Camera Catalonia strand at Cambridge Film Festival, for a Q&A following the film

The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here, and it screens on Wednesday 23 October [in Screen 2 at APH (Festival Central)] at 6.00 p.m.

Principal themes (alphabetical order) :

* Deception
* Desire
* Family
* Friendship
* Loss

[...] Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would',
Like the poor cat i' th' adage ?

Macbeth (Act I, Scene 7)

If one were to mention other film-adaptations, such as My cousin Rachel (2017) [adapting Daphne du Maurier], Oscar and Lucinda (1997) [Peter Carey] or The Go-Between (1971) [L. P. Hartley], they are illustrative only, in cinematic terms, of a certain type of trajectory - in no way do they limit or define Laura Jou's playfully colourful La vida sense la Sara Amat (2019). Quite the opposite, because the allusive qualities of the script and the film-making, the use of the diurnal rhythm of scenes at night and by day, and the liveliness and crispness of the cinematographic image - they all make what is a sort of twist on Scheherazade, and what Scheherazade's situation and story-telling might fully signify*, wholly fresh.

Therefore, a film-reference such as The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018), itself quite different from Sara Amat (please also see below), is just as relevant. For here, too, there is a sense of a time, and (in our twenty-first-century terms) both of its limitations and yet also permissions, and an (equally constructed**) sense of place - it might likewise usefully put one in mind of the locale envisaged by James Ivory, in his script for Call me by your Name (2017). But, as Sara Amat itself might be seen to do (depending how one 'reads' it), one is here making suggestions, not giving exact Reasons to Watch, whereas, just in a few jottings (after a first viewing for this preview), some of them certainly are :

* Very strong trio of Pep, Sara and Pep's grandma !

* Easy to recommend to those who saw Jean-François i el sentit de la vida (2018) last year (2018)

* One also realizes the connections with other previous Camera Catalonia choices, such as La vida lliure (2017) (also last year), Fill de Caín (2013) [Camera Catalonia 2014] or La propera pell (2015) [Camera Catalonia 2017]

* Other references : The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) and Todos lo saben (2018)

* Tightly edited, with neat use of jumps of perspective within a scene, as well as cutting-away to external shots - we do not ever stay with a scene or shot longer than we need to

* Mirrors and making use of light

* Atmospheric score [Pau Vallvé]

This film dwells with what it is like to keep a secret, and what it is like when one learns that others have been keeping secrets ; not unconnectedly, its stuff is the things that have been left behind (whether a book, or pairs of shoes), and the question what purpose it serves, and for whom, to continue with something when one is tired of it.

Others, such as Henrik Ibsen or Mike Leigh, have made secrecy about the past, and especially the destructive potential when it is discovered, prominent themes in their work, but Sara Amat’s protagonists*** face it with pragmatism, as something verifiable that simplifies the need to perpetuate pretence : albeit the content and context are definitely more adult, this is a strong point of connection with The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) (and with director Desiree Akhavan's work in her earlier film Appropriate Behaviour (2014)).


At the centre of this film is what, typically, in a slow movement in a Sonata or Concerto (or even some intimate central section of it), might feel like its emotional heart : taking the example of J. S. Bach's so-called Italian Concerto (in F Major) [played, in that YouTube link, by Glenn Gould], BWV 971, the inner, tender movement - amongst all that one beautifully listens to in the composition (if one likes Gould) - may be what seems to matter most to the composer (or performer).

Not that Life without Sara Amat (2019) cannot be seen, more obviously, to engage with other topics - the literal and other distance that there is (and which Pep desires to maintain), between his unseen parents and how and where his grandmother lives, or, connectedly, of growing into or occupying a different place there in one's circle of friends or in their esteem.


End-notes :

* Time, and the passing (or implied passing) of Time, is sometimes embedded into the stuff of stories, dreams, and the best of cinema - for example Orphée (1950) (or, not unrelatedly, La belle et la bête (1946)).

** Since film-making has an almost innate need to mix and 'mash up' separate locations to create a new reality - in a film as pleasingly made as Colette (2018), locations such as parts of Kecskemét, Budapest, can be passed off as France (or a farm in Witney, Oxon., used for the library / study scenes). (Let alone in one like Bel Ami (2012), where it is, often enough, too obviously London, not Paris...)

*** #UCFF does not subscribe to the belief that there can never be more than one protagonist.

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

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Fearful of shadows - and phantoms : A Festival preview [work in progress] of La filla d'algú (Somebody’s Daughter*) (2019)

This is a Festival preview of La filla d'algú (2019) (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)

25 September

This is a Festival preview (work in progress) of La filla d'algú (Somebody’s Daughter*) (2019) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2019)

Aina Clotet as Eli, who 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
7 Raons de Fugir (de la societat) (2019) on the same night

The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here, and it screens on Friday 18 October [in Screen 1 at APH (Festival Central)] at 12.00 p.m.,
and again on Tuesday 22 October [in Screen 3 at APH (Festival Central)] at 6.00 p.m.

Principal themes (alphabetical order) :

* Anxiety
* Confusion
* Danger
* Family
* Suspicion

Now we're busy making all our busy plans
On foundations built to last
But nothing fades as fast as the future

From 'More than This' ~ Peter Gabriel (on the album Up (2002), Real World Records)

A recent screening at Festival Central (APH) of the 4K restoration of Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949), complete with pre-show and a guide by zither to the film’s thematic material, as introduced by Matthew Sweet (who also hosted a Q&A), reminded one of two things :

Both how quickly Holly Martins is met with the fact that Harry Lime, the man whom he flew to Austria to meet, is no longer around to greet him**, and how, almost from the start (when faced by what he cannot grasp or understand), Martins cannot but pick away at what he has been told, collating and questioning all its inconsistencies. Several times called Harry (instead of Holly), Martins (Joseph Cotten), and this story about him, are one whose genesis in Vienna, in voice-over, is given by a narrator who then 'vanishes' – leaving us and Martins alike with the enigma of working out who Lime (Orson Welles***) is - and who, in relation to Lime, that then makes Martins.

Arguably, Martins might have been happier, if he had not had a desire that impelled him to keep uncovering things : in common with Eli in La filla d'algú (Someone’s Daughter) (2019) – wonderfully played by Aina Clotet in a performance that deserved a win at Málaga Spanish Film Festival 2019 [Zonacine - Best Actress (Mejor Actriz)] – he loses the everyday certainties of person and place on which, in such experiences, we find that we have put so much reliance (and have needed to do so).

Though not wishing to press these incidental parallels too far, the disembodied opening voice that tells us about the work with and for Lime, which (as well as wanting to renew their friendship) brought Martins to Vienna, yet it is a phone-call over the opening credits for La filla that suggests to us various things : high-profile legal practice, involving the pressures of travel to another city (and having to perform court-work there), but with the expectation of returning to familiar surroundings, and, with her interlocutor, of a plan of action for important proceedings back in Barcelona.

From the point when Eli is, again, in Barcelona, we seem no more to stray from her side than we do from that of Martins, but, in Eli's case, all that is familiar and expected seems to have strayed into some other domain, and the certainties seem to start to desert her...


End-notes :

* So the title La filla d'algú has been rendered, but perhaps Someone’s Daughter would have had more richly resonant connotations… ?

** Hammered home by our next being in the all-important cemetery – though the word Friedhof captures the atmosphere so much more, despite the edgy glances of those whom we will meet fully later, and (starting with when one asks Wer ist das ?) with no quarter given to non-speakers of German.

*** As for Welles, he was the man who was often enough not in Vienna when he was needed for the shoot (so stand-ins had to be used), and who, in contradiction to the opening credits, claimed that he, and not Reed, had directed it.

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

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Cambridge Film Festival 2018 : Seen by #UCFF at #CamFF

Cambridge Film Festival 2018 : Seen by #UCFF at #CamFF

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

2 November

Cambridge Film Festival 2018 : Seen by #UCFF at #CamFF

Day 1 ~ Thursday 25 October

(1) 4.45 - Cargo (2017) : Emmanuel (91 mins) - Catch one film before...

(2) 8.30 - Opening Film : The Man who killed Don Quixote : Screen 1 (132 mins + Q&A)

Day 2 ~ Friday 26 October
(Voi1 2*) 1.30 Fortuna (2018??) Arriving too late for the start, instead...

(3) 1.45 - For the Birds (2018) : Screen 2 (90 mins)

(4) 4.00 - Searching for Ingmar Bergman (Vermächtnis eines Jahrhundertgenies (2018) : Screen 1 (95 mins)

(5) 6.00 - Letter from Masanjia (2018) : Screen 2 (75 mins)

(6) 8.00 - Jean-François i el sentit de la vida (Jean-François and The Meaning of Life) (2018) : Screen 2 (90 mins + Q&A)

(7) 10.15 - The Seventh Seal (1957) : Screen 2 (96 mins)

Day 3 ~ Saturday 27 October

(Extracurricular 1) Punting with Leon ‘Letter from Masanjia’ Lee [who took to it like the duck of the simile, and quickly took the pole]

(8) 2.00 - Miss Dalí (2018) : Screen 1 (165 mins + Q&A)

(Void 2*) 5.15 - Marquis de Wavrin : From the Manor to the Jungle (Marquis de Wavrin : Du manoir à la jungle) (2017) : Screen 3 (85 mins)

(9 ?) 8.30 - The Blot (1921) : Emmanuel (93 mins)

Day 4 ~ Sunday 28 October

(Extracurricular 2) Punting with Ventura ‘Miss Dalí’ Pons [who took to the Cam straightaway - taking it in, visually and photographically]

(10) 2.0 - If…. (1968) : Screen 1 (111 mins + Q&A)

(11) 5.45 - Júlia ist (2017) : Screen 2 (96 mins)

(12) 9.15 - Nancy (2014) : Screen 3 (86 mins)

Day 5 ~ Monday 29 October

(12½) 12.45 - 3 Days in Quiberon (2013) : Screen 1 (115 mins)

Then, as it falters, instead...

(13½) 2.30 - Roobha (2018) : Screen 3 (91 mins + Q&A)

(14½) 7.15 - The Free Life (La vida lliure / A Life of Freedom) (2017) : Screen 2 (90 mins)

(15½) 8.45 - Gentlemen prefer Blondes (1953) : Screen 3 (91 mins)

Day 6 ~ Tuesday 30 October

(16) 12.00 - Visionary Landscapes : Snow (1963) + A Year along The Abandoned Road (1991) : Screen 1 (8 + 12 mins)

(16½) 1.00 - Burning (2014) : Screen 2 (148 mins)

Insufficiently interested, despite (extra) wine, to stay the course for so long,
so abandoned in favour of lunch, then…

(17½) 4.00 - The Archive (2018) + Feline (2018) : Screen 2 (12 + 78 mins + Q&A)

(18½) 6.20 - Rafiki (2018) : Screen 2 (82 mins)

(19½) 10.00 - More Human than Human (2018) : Screen 3 (79 mins)

Day 7 ~ Wednesday 31 October

(20½) 12.45 - The Silence of Others (2018) : Screen 1 (96 mins)

(21) 3.00 - Birds of Passage (2018) : Screen 1 (125 mins)

Too fatigued to continue with this one, so a break before re-watching…

(22) 6.00 - Roobha (2018) : Screen 2 (91 mins)

Missing the Q&A to catch the last hour of...

(22½) 7.30 - From Cairo to The Cloud : The World of Cairo Geniza (2018) : Screen 3 (92 mins)

(Void 3*) 9.45 - Gwendolyn (2017) : Screen 3 (85 mins)

Day 8 ~ Thursday 1 November

(23½) 10.30 - Malcolm is a Little Unwell : Screen 3 (introduction + 80 mins)

(24) 12.45 - From Cairo to The Cloud : The World of Cairo Geniza : Screen 1 (92 mins + Q&A)

Seeing the first thirty minutes, and then coming back for the Q&A...

(25) 3.00 - The Image Book : Screen 1 (84 mins)

(26) 5.00 - Colette : Screen 1 (111 mins)

(27) 8.00 - Closing Film : Monsters and Men (2018) : Screen 1 (96 mins)

(28) 10.00 - Surprise Film : Roma (2018) : Screen 1 (135 mins)

End-notes :

* I.e., by 'Void', there was no realistic prospect of watching the film, or of continuing to watch it to the end, with the resources of energy available...

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

Sunday, 7 October 2018

What is seen – or maybe not quite seen – in the half-light ?

This is a Festival preview of La vida lliure (The Free Life¹) (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)

7 September

This is a Festival preview of La vida lliure (The Free Life¹) (2017) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2018)

The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here,
and it screens on Monday 29 October [in Screen 2 at Festival Central] at 7.15 p.m.

We are thoughtfully introduced to a beautiful setting on Menorca (which, however, we do not see that often in full sunshine - please see the comments below) by footage of what appears to be the sinking of a vessel by a U-boat, and so we are partly located in time : as with everything in this film, right through to when, starting with a jazzy title-sequence, the end-credits roll² (and which one therefore cannot afford to miss), there is a significance to it all, but probably only the avid readers of certain types of fiction would be alive to them all.

For, when reading Joyce in Ulysses (or even Finnegans Wake), it is not as if we need to be able to know all the different languages that he uses, or follow the references that he makes to Dublin (current as at 16 June 1904), to take in the novel's sweep³.

Here, Marc Recha's La vida lliure (2017) is a similar, but direct, immersion of the senses, which just asks us to see and hear as much as possible, and absorb it : a gorgeous sound-scape complements cinematography that, at least, apparently feasts itself on the effects that can be achieved by using available light (in what seems to have been a shoot of only 15 days) – and they will blossom wonderfully in a darkened auditorium where a film like this belongs, projected on a cinema-screen and evoking aspect of the penumbral, crepuscular and nocturnal :

If we can think of how Marc (Michel Quer) looked at Venice in La redempció dels peixos (The Redemption of the Fish) (2013), and what director Jordi Torrent showed us through his visitor’s eyes [here is a link to the trailer (on the industry film-sharing platform Vimeo)], or of Agustí Villaronga and his co-writers, in setting Incerta glòria (Uncertain Glory) (2017) in Aragón in 1937, we will have suitable film-references from previous seasons of Camera Catalonia in mind.

Four stills : from La redempció dels peixos (above), and Incerta glòria (below)

What we essentially have here is a boy (Biel) (who noticeably gets an interest in his name above that in that of Tina, his older sister), and both of whom are now with their uncle on Menorca (Minorca), because their mother could not take them with her to Algeria. (We do not know where they came from, but might guess that it is not one of the other Balearic Islands, but the mainland territory of Catalunya [Catalonia], far from here ? [Incidentally, the Catalan director Villaronga was born in Palma, on Mallorca (Majorca).])

A physical geographical map of Islas Baleares (The Balearic Islands) - from Wikipedia

In a residence by the harbour, a man calling himself Rom, from whom – without much force or effect – their uncle tells them to stay away. Yet, other than their uncle lovingly spending time with them when he rests, and their doing jobs around the farm that he tenants, there is little to occupy them.

Biel (Macià Arguimbau), Rom (Sergi López), and Tina (Mariona Gomila)

Time on their hands does not exactly lead to mischief, but we will find – amongst other things, if we are observant – that Rom fixes up a swing that their uncle did not find time to do (and which he had forbad Tina attempting, when she suggested it). For, part of the purpose and intent of the film is to acclimatize us to the sounds and rhythms of this simple place and the way of living there, and to get used to what stays the same (or to what changes) - as if, ourselves, we become Tina and Biel... ? :

Although Núria Prims is credited for a very minor part in the film, Ramon Lamarca (who programmes Camera Catalonia at #CamFF) stressed that she also carried out the important role of coaching Biel (Macià Arguimbau) and Tina (Mariona Gomila). (Prims strikingly played La Carlana last year in Incerta glòria, and one suspects that she may have done the same office for, as well as being the mother of, her murdered husband’s supposedly illegitimate children⁴ in the film.)

Núria Prims (as La Carlana) on set in Incerta glòria

As in Guillermo del Toro’s superb Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno) (2006), La vida lliure’s success depends on their performances, and therefore on our being engaged with whether - and, if so, the extent to which - they should trust Rom, of whom their uncle seems to disapprove strongly (and whom, with mistrust, he even confronts).

We may recognize Miquel Gelabert from El cafè de la marina (which these pages prefer to translate as The Harbour Café¹) (2014) - Libori, the inn-keeper father to Caterina (Marina Salas). Likewise, from last year in Camera Catalonia, Sergi López as Rom - from when he played a cynically unwelcoming uncle Enric to Gabriel (Àlex Monner) in La propera pell (The Next Skin) (2016).

Miquel Gelabert (and Marina Salas) ; below, Sergi López (R) (with Àlex Monner (L))

Those are simply observations, in case anyone is wondering why the face of Rom or the uncle might be familiar, but they are not given to suggest that, unlike Sílvia Munt [adopting Josep María de Sagarra, adopting Pagnol] in The Harbour Café, La vida lliure is likewise observational cinema per se, or essentially driven by the characters and their more-or-less known (or guessed-at) motivations.

In a sense, though, the film will come to us, if we come to it and treat it on its own terms, and, as with Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno), we should bear in mind how it opened, what we have noted in between in that light, and how it closes :

Stills from El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth) (2006) [Doug Jones and Ivana Baquero]

Until which point, the gift of the use of light in Hélène Louvart's cinematography (please see the stills above), and in the beauty of the sound-design [on the film's web-page on IMDb, three individuals and a mixing studio are credited for the Foley], has similarly been a lesson in creating atmosphere, which furthers our mental uncertainty about a town or port that we have not seen, or about the influenza, which we similarly cannot see, but of whose results we hear.

The images are exact - it's our understanding that lacks precision

They are the ‘big things’ of life that penetrate - as in Michael Frayn’s powerful war-time novel Spies ? - into the consciousness of Tina and Biel, but from which they are expected to remain at a distance : as much as from why their mother had to travel without them (even though she is able to write to them) and leave them in this place⁵ ?

Tina (Mariona Gomila), their uncle (Miquel Gelabert), and Biel (Macià Arguimbau)

The #CamFF synopsis, duration and other details for the film can be found here,
and it screens on Monday 29 October [in Screen 2 at Festival Central] at 7.15 p.m.

End-notes :

¹ Without being a speaker of Catalan, one always hesitates about how / whether one should translate the definite article. (Thus, #UCFF has argued that Immense Beauty is nearer to what La grande bellezza (2013) conveys than the word-for-word English title.)

Galatea Ranzi and Toni Servillo in La grande bellezza (2013)

In some languages, the article must be there with a noun, i.e. one cannot just say Dolce vita - it has to be La dolce vita. Here, vita and vida are clear cognates, and so a less literal title in English might be A Life of Freedom ?

² At BAFTA (@BAFTA), they decently require that members and those whom they invite as their guests stay in their seats until the last line of the closing credits and the house-lights have gone up. (One forgets, from a solitary visit in 2015, but the curtain may go across as well.)

³ That date in June was that of his first date with Norah Barnacle, the woman whom he married. For such and much, much else, we have illustrated and / or foot-noted editions of Joyce (as for The Bible), such as Ulysses Annotated ! :

As to 'sweep', Joyce opens the Wake with riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs

⁴ Much hung on La Carlana's assertion of their illegitimacy, and, in this (and elsewhere), she may have deceived the local Republicans – who would have killed them, and her, too. Whereas they allow her to become stronger, almost unchallenged, until the battle for the soul and heart of Catalunya (Catalonia), against the will and weapons of fascism, erupts at the end of the film - with her sons and she retiring together under the covers : the significance of how Incerta glòria finishes, as if she has fomented this display of war-like action, will hardly have been lost on a Catalan audience.

La Carlana (Núria Prims) in Incerta glòria

⁵ As to what writer / director Marc Recha has done with what is in and amongst the credits, presenting the film’s title is deliberately ‘held back’ until just beforehand. As, perhaps, with Debussy’s titles to the works in his two Books of Préludes : only shown to us when relevant ?

Thus, the foot of the close of 'La cathédrale engloutie' (tenth in the first Book of Préludes) (taken from

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

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Subtle resonances with Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (2006) (work in progress)

This is a Festival preview of Incerta glòria (Uncertain Glory) (2017) (for CamFF 2017)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

16 October

This is a Festival preview (work in progress) of Incerta glòria (Uncertain Glory) (2017) (for Cambridge Film Festival 2017)

It is truly sad that, with a budget estimated (by IMDb (@IMDb)) at €12,000,000, Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti) (2015) gave us – in Toby Jones – a man in love with a flea... (And content, so it goes, to marry his daughter to whomsoever might identify, for what it is, the flea's skin.)

Though IMDb does not estimate the budget for Incerta glòria (Uncertain Glory) (2017), it gives the revenues for the opening weekend (in Spain – 81 screens) as €153,159 : it does not exactly spell out what total return there was on that €12,000,000, but one film had a seven-week shoot, whereas one shot for rather longer, from 15 May to 2 August 2014.

It would be very poor scripting, if it were not obvious that this preview values Incerta glòria much more highly than any figures from box office (or budget) – let alone any notion that Tale of Tales ‘must be’ better, because it has the said Toby Jones, and even Salma Hayek, on its cast. What it did have is a relevant portrayal of monstrosity and / or evil, and what Incerta glòria has is a much more nuanced one – one that even blurs the lines between parable, prophecy and the past (as was conceivably even implied by the very title Tale of Tales).

By contrast (whatever turns Tale of Tales may take to seek to surprise), the attitude that Incerta glòria (2017) adopts is not a binary one, of knowing / choosing good from evil, and with that being that – even though that dichotomy, if not simply on its own, is at the root of Guillermo del Toro's excellent Pan's Labyrinth (2006) : if Ofelia (in Pan's Labyrinth, set in the Spain of 1944) knew for sure how to do it (which is the point of the story), the film locates itself - through her - in opposition to her step-father Captain Vidal and his hunts for the anti-Francoist Maquis. (As with C.S. Lewis and his seven Narnia novels, it is on its supernatural - allegorical – level(s) that is made powerful.)

Not for the first time, Lewis’ all-embracing world of Narnia [in childhood, his brother Warren (‘Warnie’) and he co-created such a world (Boxen)] shows us a character, in Jadis (The White Witch - the name is French for 'formerly' ?), with sociopathic behaviour : Edmund is seduced, by the warmth of her sleigh / furs (all highly sexually suggestive, just as Meret Oppenheim’s famous fur-covered saucer, cup and spoon), but seduced into what ? Into betraying his brother Peter and sisters Susan and Lucy to Jadis… (A connection here to Camera Catalonia from three (?) years ago, with Fill de caín (Son of Cain) (2013) – on (and on the way to) the river afterwards, #UCFF chatted to its director, Jesús Monllaó, about traits of ‘being successful’.)


It is not just because we have a longer treatment, in Incerta glòria, than in the other films of this year’s Camera Catalonia that it is likely to be the most affecting film in the strand, but because it very poignantly treats of the subject of The Spanish Civil War*, which is often near to Catalan hearts.

Left to right : Oriol Pla (as Juli), and Marcel Borràs (Lluís)

Initially, we may be reminded of Pa negre (Black Bread) (2010) for historical re-creation and verisimilitude : a film from the very first time that #CamFF programmer Ramon Lamarca brought Catalan cinema to Cambridge Film Festival, in 2012, and – as one recollects – so popular that a third screening was put on.


A very careful (i.e. non-obvious) use of colour-grading, and the textural quality of the set-design and / or chosen, built location, are just some other reasons to love the look of and enter into the world of this film (and watch it multiple times, to see it unfold differently, with a knowledge of the beginning from the end) ; as with Pa negre, one retains the underlying sense of a filmic presentation, but a very subdued one, which allows one to couple with that of falling more and more deeply into its Weltanschauung : except for films that desire to alienate, this just is a feature that tends to unite the best of cinema.


* So called, at any rate, as we heard from Professor Paul Preston, when he accompanied co-director Jordi Torrent (@nycjordi) for the Q&A after Héroes Invisibles (Invisible Heroes) (2015) (subtitled Afroamericanos en la Guerra de España, which #UCFF interpretatively rendered as ‘The part played by Afro-Americans in The Spanish Civil War’, and so not decribed as a ‘civil’ war).

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