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Showing posts with label Ramon Lamarca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ramon Lamarca. Show all posts

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Threads from Twitter about this year's Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival 2017

#UCFF's 'insider' Tweets about this year's Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival

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

1 October

#UCFF's 'insider' Tweets (an aggregating collection) about this year's Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival

What is Catalan cinema? :




NB For trailers and descriptions that are more spoilery than #UCFF likes to be, see below...

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

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

What more is Catalan cinema ?¹

What more is Catalan cinema ?¹ :

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

4 September (revised 4 October)

What more is Catalan cinema ?¹ :

It's the inevitable filmic follow-up to What is Catalan cinema ?... !

Three years ago, leading up to the third season of Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival [then in its 34th season], the question was posed What is Catalan cinema ? - in answering which, some of the defining features seemed to be :

Yet, as well as all these things (which, along with the Catalan films from 2012 to that date, are considered in more detail in What is Catalan cinema ?), succeeding seasons of Camera Catalonia have shown that the autonomous region in Spain called Catalunya – which, as with Scotland, some would see have a greater, independent status [highly relevant at the time of revising this piece...] – gives us cinema that :

* Remembers its history, right back to when Spain took control of Catalunya, in Claudio Zulian's (claudiozulian1's) thoughtful Born (2014) (@Bornfilm), reconstructing a few connected lives at the time of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), with Vicky Luengo a most desirable mistress to Josep Julien and the sister of Marc Martínez (Julien’s wealthy debtor, until Julien proves to back the wrong side in the war…)

* In the Catalan people, presents ones as reserved as the British, who - in two films that star the radiant Nora Navas (Tots volem el millor per a ella (We All Want What’s Best for Her) (2013) and L’adopció (Awaiting) (2015)) – manage to avoid talking to each other, but try to make happen what they assume should happen. In doing so, do they seem to lose sight of who is getting hurt, and for what real reason... ?

* Looks to literature such as Shakespeare, either in the feel - in Barcelona Summer Night (Barcelona, nit d'estiu) (2013) - of A Midsummer Night's Dream...

Or, in Hammudi al-Rahmoun Font's shocking telling of a classic tragedy, in Otel.lo (Othello) (2012) : 'OTHELLO is a cinematographic essay about power, desire, jealousy and deceit ; a thought on the boundaries between fiction and real life' (from IMDb)

Hammudi (with The Agent) at Cambridge Film Festival 2014

* Films as diverse as Ficció (Fiction) (2006), Fill de Caín (Son of Cain) (2013), and Menú degustació (Tasting Menu) (2013) are, in their quite different ways, further evidence² of flexibility in, and of creative thinking about, employing conventional elements of story-telling - and of both the expectations to which their nature gives rise and what writers and / or directors do to subvert them

* Or they do not subvert them - but surprisingly please, in Traces of Sandalwood (Rastres de sàndal) (2014) [this link is to TAKE ONE’s (@ TakeOneCinema's) review], with its Bollywood-infused tale of the (in)credulity of a loved and lost young girl, who is adopted into a Catalan family, and cannot believe that an Indian film-star knew her as a child - because she is her sister !

Aina Clotet, as Paula (Sita) - meeting her sister Mina (Nandita Das), and, later, reflecting on herself, and her identity

* Those living at the extremes of experience, in both Tots els camins de Déu (All The Ways of God) (2014) and El camí més llarg per tornar a casa (The Long Way Home) (2014)

Upper : Marc Garcia Coté in Tots els camins de Déu (2014)
Lower : Borja Espinosa in El camí més llarg per tornar a casa (2014)

* Adapts stage-plays very cinematically, whether Sílvia Munt [interviewed here], making a film of Josep María Sagarra's classic work El Cafè de la Marina (2014), or Ventura Pons of a contemporary writer in El virus de la por (The Virus of Fear) (2015)

Marina Salas in El cafè de la Marina (2014)

(Upper) Rubén de Eguia and (Lower) Albert Ausellé and Diana Gómez in El virus de la por (2015)

* Finally, documentaries by Catalan directors - although now listed in the Festival's main sequence (alphabetically with the others and the feature films) - tend to explore identity and connections to Catalan history, whether telling of the band-leader Xavier Cugat's career in film and music, during which he introduced Latin orchestration and rhythms to dance-music and Hollywood films and t.v. (although, which was probably little known, Cugat had been born in Catalunya, but had been an emigrée to Cuba with his family when young), in Diego Mas Trelles' Sexo, maracas y Chihuahuas (Sex, Maracas & Chihuahuas) (2016)

Or - in another realm of translocation - telling of how much better treated and regarded Americans of Afro-Caribbean descent were during their time in Spain (fighting the fascist forces of General Franco) than in the States - especially after going there. So #CamFF 2015 guest Jordi Torrent (with his co-writer / director Alfonso Domingo) showed in Héroes invisibles : Afroamericanos en la guerra de España (Invisible Heroes) (2015) [for which #UCFF interprets the sub-title as ‘The part played by Afro-Americans in The Spanish Civil War’], to the extent even that records that proved their participation hardly (were meant to) be available / survive

Ramon Lamarca (left), with Festival guest Jesús Monllaó (before the poster for Monllaó's
Fill de Caín (2013)) - by and courtesy of David Riley

Catalan cinema - to judge by the films that Camera Catalonia programmer Ramon Lamarca (pictured above) brings to Cambridge (and also the ICA (@ICALondon)) - is high-quality work that values its audiences enough to respect them :

Join us for the sixth year of a Catalan strand at Cambridge Film Festival, Camera Catalonia, to see why he and #UCFF give it due regard

End-notes :

¹ A deliberate nod to the inelegance of following up Analyze This (1999) with Analyze That (2002) (fairly criminally unwatchable, unless being very kind - for their other, better work - to Crystal and De Niro ?)... [Cristina Roures, pictured, is the Festival's Operations and Hospitality Manager (and, of course, is Catalan).]

² Camera Catalonia in 2012 (its first appearance at #CamFF) had included V.O.S. (2009), which is also – along with Ficció (2006) - the work of director Cesc Gay.

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

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Pre-Festival reviews of films in Camera Catalonia I (for Cambridge Film Festival 2015)

Three films in Camera Catalonia (for Cambridge Film Festival 2015)

More views of or before Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

23 August

Three films in Camera Catalonia (for Cambridge Film Festival 2015)

For the fourth year, Ramon Lamarca has curated Camera Catalonia screenings (films with a connection in language, themes, directors or actors with the autonomous Catalan region within Spain*), and it is a pleasure to have worked with him and with the kind help of the producers of the films to prepare pre-Festival reviews this year : Ramon is thanked for his generous assistance and encouragement (as in 2014).

The titles are links to full-length, 'non-spoilery' previews of three films from Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (@camfilmfest / #CamFF) (the links to the others are here, in a second posting) :

* Born (2014)

* El Cafè de la Marina (The Harbour Bar**) (2015)

* Tots els camins de Déu (All The Ways of God) (2014)

The films can be seen as follows, and the title, in each case, is a link to the booking-page for that screening***

NB Except for the second screening of El Cafè de la Marina, which is at The Light cinema (@lightcambridge) and now at 1.15 p.m. (originally at 1.00 p.m.), all screenings are at The Arts Picturehouse (@CamPicturehouse).

The time of another screening has changed since the programme booklet was produced : the correct time for the screening of El Cafè de la Marina is now 9.00 p.m. (not 8.00 p.m.), in Screen 1 (not Screen 3).

Sunday 6 September

9.30 p.m. Born (Screen 3)

Monday 7 September

1.15 p.m. Born (Screen 2)

Tuesday 8 September

8.00 p.m. Tots els camins de Déu (All The Ways of God NB listed under the English title) (Screen 3)

Friday 11 September

9.00 p.m. El Cafè de la Marina (Screen 1)

Saturday 12 September

4.15 p.m. NB At The Light cinema El Cafè de la Marina (Screen A)


* Please read further about the region and its cinematic style in What is Catalan cinema ? [with 1,800+ page-views, though now in need of being updated].
** Since it is not a café, the title seems better translated thus than The Marina Café.

*** Notes on screenings :

NB The allocation of films between the three screens at Festival Central (and elsewhere) can always change (as can, if one is coming from a distance for a specific film, the programme as a whole) : if the audience for a film scheduled for Screen 3 (the smallest screen, around half the capacity of the largest, Screen 1) proves greater than expected, it may end up being swapped, so there could be a change in the exact time of the screening, too.

In the programme (that is a link to the where the PDF file can be consulted / downloaded printed copies are available at Festival Central and all good local outlets), some slots are also kept blank, so that popular screenings can be repeated : announcements are on Cambridge Film Festival 2015's (@camfilmfest's) web-site, as are alterations to the programme (or the allocation between screens).

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

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The ICA's #CatalanAvantGarde season : A brief interview with Sílvia Munt

This is a short interview with Sílvia Munt, director of El Cafè de la Marina (2014)

More views of or before Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

This is a brief, recollected* interview, from #CatalanAvantGarde at the ICA (@ICALondon), with Sílvia Munt, director of El Cafè de la Marina (2014), which had a screening on Tuesday 28 April 2015 at 8.50 p.m.

30 April

A very useful event, arranged for the audience, allowed one to ask director Sílvia Munt some questions before the screening (two young Catalan-speakers, one already familiar, kindly agreed to help with translating) : useful, since the exigencies of The Agent’s travel turned out to make lingering long in the Q&A itself inconvenient. So, over some Cava, one was able to establish that, as well as having a warm and welcoming presence and a willingness to engage with enquiry, Munt has directed herself in three of her eight feature films to date (though this one, as became clear (please see below), had been conceived for television).

In this case, though, Sílvia had just directed as well, that is, as having scripted the film (with Mercè Sàrrias). However, when suggested, she did agree that she is not with Woody Allen in how he is reported to direct himself, by being reportedly keen to quit at the end of the day to catch The World Series. Rather, she can fifteen takes to get what she wants from her own performance, and, when she writes, it takes her three months to develop a script. [Damn ! Could have asked her whether she also uses Allen’s method, when writing, of bashing it out on an old Olympia typewriter... (And, in like analogue vein, substituting text by stapling slips of paper in place over the old material.)]

That said, regarding how scripts develop during shooting, Munt said that hers remain malleable (because actors may find that the words do not sound right when they speak them), and then, as it were [not her words], she ‘reframes the utterances’. She went on to say that this approach fits the nature of her work, as dramatic comedy (rather than, say, permitting the cast to improvise replacement material) : therefore, she does re-writes, because any other approach would not (for her) be congruent with her material. [Another point of comparison (not made) with Allen, who tells us that, if his actors re-formulate his text on set, he can even go with that, seemingly irrespective of genre.]

As became apparent during the conversation, as it specifically turned to El Cafè de la Marina (2014), Munt has adapted what is regarded as a classic of Catalan literature : a stage-play of this name, in verse form (with lines of ten syllables), by Josep María Sagarra. Just from what she was saying, concerning difficulties of location-scouting an unspoilt shore, the film about to be watched** had to be a period piece. [As it is not a period film, though set on that coast, one had to refrain (as this was meant to be active listening [link to Wikipedia®]) from reflecting aloud on Menú degustació (Tasting Menu) (2013), from Camera Catalonia***.]

As Munt spoke, the likelihood arose (as mentioned to her, and realised in the seeing) that there would nigh inevitably be connections with the themes of actor / director Daniel Auteuil’s Marseilles-set trilogy in the making**** (but of which she said that she did not know). (The original films, apparently much loved, were derived from two stage-plays by Marcel Pagnol and then directly from his film-script, which he directed to conclude it, and later turned into a play : the first play had been directed as Marius (1931) by Alexander Korda, and then Fanny (1932) by Marc Allégret.)

As for El Cafè de la Marina itself on film, a confused account (on IMDb and elsewhere) suggests, with little detail, that one was made in 1933 (or was it in 1941 ?) : if so, contemporary with Pagnol on film. At the time of viewing Munt’s version, that had not been known, or that it had been conceived as a t.v. movie. However, when Munt was asked in the Q&A (before The Agent had to rush off) about the effect of using light indoors in the café, it appeared that there had been some issues in converting it to a DCP, and that the look that we had seen might have been different from what had been intended…

A little more (by way of a quick review) to come...


* I.e. not digitally recorded, but relying on neuronal techniques of capture...

** ‘From cold’, that is to say with no prior knowledge - on the basis that A film should speak for itself.

*** The six-film Catalan strand at Cambridge Film Festival in 2014 the third year of films at #CamFF from Catalunya, curated by Ramon Lamarca (who hosted this evening’s Q&A).

**** So far, we have had Marius (2013) and Fanny (2013) (at Cambridge Film Festival 2013 (#CamFF / @camfilmfest)), but César now seems ‘put back’ from having been, previously, noted as in pre-production on IMDb (@IMDb) :

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

Thursday, 5 March 2015

On the go¹

This is a review of Sobre La Marxa* (The Creator of the Jungle) (2013)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

5 March (Tweet and image added, 7 March)

This is a review of Sobre La Marxa* (The Creator of the Jungle) (2013) as screened in the series Catalan Avant-Garde (#CatalanAvantGarde) at the ICA (@ICALondon)

Sobre La Marxa¹ (The Creator of the Jungle) (2013) opened the season of films Catalan Avant-Garde, which screens at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (@ICALondon) in association with the Institut Ramon Llull (@IRLlull_London) and Reel Solutions (@ReelSolutions, whose Ramon Lamarca hosted the Q&A) :

The season opened with this film on 28 February 2015, and runs until Friday 18 December, the full programme being (all screenings at 8.50 p.m.) :

Saturday 28 February
Sobre La Marxa (The Creator of the Jungle) (2013) followed by a Q&A with director Jordi Morató

Tuesday 28 April
El Cafè de la Marina (The Marina Café) (2014) followed by a Q&A with director Sílvia Munt

Friday 26 June
Tots volem el millor per a ella (We All Want What's Best for Her) (2013)

Friday 28 August
Born (2014) followed by a Q&A with director Claudio Zulián

Tuesday 27 October
La Plaga (The Plague) (2013)

Friday 18 December
El cant dels Ocells (Birdsong) (2008) followed by a Q&A with director Albert Serra

General observations
For some, the subject-matter of a [documentary] film is what makes or breaks it (even if such may not be their general approach to film-watching) : one might feel this, say, with The Imitation Game (2014), on the assumption that a desire to celebrate Alan Turing’s achievements may have blinded them to the liberties taken both with history and with portraying him².

For others, taking the example of documentaries such as Blackfish (2013) [whose review has the implausibly high number of page-views, which exceeds 6,000] or The Armstrong Lie (2013), the subject-matter and the footage (both contemporaneous, and shot for purpose) may be as remarkable and worthy as one likes, but that does not make for a good film per se : for one can still wish that the construction of the narrative were tighter or more coherent in terms of the story told (and of organizing the elements employed to tell it), since it seems that it can be too much assumed (because the story is overfamiliar to the director ?) that what the film objectively presents actually tells it...

Thankfully, Sobre La Marxa (2013) has been put together with much care. Which is not to say that it does not still pose questions about how it was made (or even how the subject came to be chosen) – indeed, the Q&A, with director Jordi Morató (and hosted by Ramon Lamarca of Reel Solutions (@ReelSolutions)), at The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA, @ICALondon) was enthused by discussing it, and was lively and inquisitive.

Particular comments
Mainly employing footage from the early to mid-1990s and the director’s own, carefully scripted narration (with three script supervisors also credited), the film allows us to discern quite clearly what story is being given to us, whether or not we query (or even wish to reject) the interpretation that the latter contains (overlays the footage with, even), or doubt whether the former can be genuine (as Ramon Lamarca told us that he had done when first watching) : in fact, watching with that eager uncertainty is enriching, not destructive, and is conducive to feeling that one is a co-creator with the film-elements. The quality of the narrative voice is, it was suggested to Jordi Morató, hypnotic in delivering a highly poetic (as well as recursive) text, and he was asked whether it bore some relation, but by contrast, to the impulse in Werner Herzog that had him call his documentary³ (set in a not dissimilar landscape, with, as well as a cave, afforestation, water, and an arched bridge) Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010), but where its lyrically poetic content is narrated quite differently.

In fact, Herzog does so in such a way as to heighten our incredulity at what we are seeing, by seeming to have a tone that could perhaps be characterized as one of gentle mockery (or irony) – visually, it is his art to catch those who feature in his films in as fantastical a way as if he were actually directing Klaus Kinski in the title-role of Fitzcarraldo (1982) (even if it was originally to have been Mick Jagger), and it is the juxtaposition of caught sound and visuals with the narration that makes films of his such as Encounters at the End of the World (2007) so memorable. The mesmeric quality of Morató’s delivery of the text is partly accounted for by the fact that, in his answer, he called himself ‘dull’ in comparison with his subject, Garrell (one might be reminded a little of the admiration, at a suitable distance, in which the title-character of [Alan-Fournier’s novel] Le Grand Meaulnes is held ?) :

In a way, one senses that, unlike Herzog (where we are always quite clear whose vision we see in the film, even when Herzog has others before the camera), he does not wish to detract from Garrell, and so is restrained, because – perhaps if he were he not – the mythologizing nature of the words would be a competing force. For example, the language reverts, again and again, to motifs such as the historical precedence of water over fire – as if to reinforce truths at its heart, as might a passage from scripture (or a fairy-story). The narration, then, is Sobre La Marxa’s chosen bond for unifying disparate periods of footage (by the teenage Aleix, by a US academic researcher into outsider arts, and by Morató himself) :

Garrell, when not being himself, is nothing if not in character in his jungle⁴, but he needs Morató to put him in context – to be, as it were, the Laurel to his Hardy. This is what Morató has rightly divined in how he has put this documentary on the screen.

For, at the level of its hypnotic quality, we have to snap out of it, if we are to be at the sort of distance from his subject that Herzog is, rather than - alongside Garrell - integrated with and into his story. That we feel seduced by Morató’s almost flattened, almost expressionless voice [in the Q&A, he seemed to use and endorse such characterizations] means that we can give ourselves to the film, but that is not because (as averted to above in General observations) any film on this subject would be sufficient to convey what this one means, but because this one allows it to speak.

Put this documentary alongside other films, too, and there are useful distinctions (or parallels) to be drawn. So, in Calvet (2011), maybe Dominic Allan fails to put even this respectful distance between his artist, French-born Calvet, and him – we sense that, with the figure of Calvet (and who he is / what his experience means), Allan leaves it less open for us to decide for ourselves (richly inviting and persuasive as Morató’s voice-over may be). In Gerhard Richter : Painting (2011), director Corinna Belz’s desire to immortalize the artist at work is so great that the filming actually spoils him being able to do so – whatever persona Richter may have, it does not (in this respect, at least) thrive before the camera-lens as Garrell’s (and Garrell 'himself') appear to do (though we do question not a little where what seems to be a persecution fantasy, at the hands of the generalization of ‘civilized man’, stems from in Garrell’s fictional, on-screen psyche⁵…).

Where, perhaps, we find a fruitful point of contact is in regarding Timothy’s Spall’s hands, contorted behind his back in Mr. Turner, although Turner himself appears confidently aloof (when confronted by his daughter’s mother with bad personal news) (2014) : Garrell, maybe we sense, is no more really sharing himself with us, in relishing fire and destruction, than Turner is in this front to his estranged family, for (to begin with in the film) Turner only seems truly at ease in his relations with, and in relation to, his father ? Here, Morató’s informed choice is to show us Garrell only in the context of his created world within a world – we can see him treating the forest as a jungle, within which he places himself (as a child might imagine a doll’s hose, or a diorama, the world, and a figure him- or herself within it), and must guess at the rest of him.

Poignantly, in fact, a close similarity may be in Toby Amies' (@TobyAmies') detailed portrait of the man who theatrically calls himself - as he regarded himself as always on stage (and as performing) - Drako Zarharzar (@DrakoZarharzar), in the documentary The Man Whose Mind Exploded (2013). As Oliver Cromwell is said to have directed when he was to be painted, the film gives us Drako warts and all, and, when it was brought to Cambridge Film Festival in 2013 (@camfilmfest / #CamFF) with a Q&A, Toby Amies said to The Agent, when interviewed, that someone had told him that he had made the first mistake of documentary film-making, falling in love with his subject.

So Amies' film, though hiding nothing, is very affectionate, and immensely touching. In Morató’s film, he has a man fully as eccentric and even as whimsical as Drako (or, for that matter, Turner), but, despite showing obvious affection and regard for Garrell (actually, probably on account of having those feelings), he only has Garrell present his purely public face(s) - as if the striking figure of Drako, with his cape, waxed moustache and mauve make-up highlights, had paraded around Brighton for the whole film, never returning home.

Closing note : on forests
As Ramon Lamarca had brought El Bosc (The Forest) (2012) to Cambridge Film Festival (@camfilmfest / #CamFF) in 2013 [where the forest itself is both a physical and metaphysical escape from The Spanish Civil War], it seemed worth asking whether the idea or experience of the forest had some resonance in Catalan culture (since, in the convenient fiction of British history at least, the forests were cleared and the wolves made extinct in mediaeval times).

In fact, as we heard in contributions from Catalan-speaking members of the audience, making constructions in the forest – which sounded like something more than a tree-house, if not resembling Garrell’s Daedalian-style labyrinths (with all that they invoke) – was something that struck a chord in their past…


¹ This is how Ramon Lamarca translates the Catalan title, and Garrell, the film’s subject, is rendered in sub-titles as saying that his approach to creating, within his chosen environment of the forest / jungle, is always going on the go.

² However well Cumberbatch may play the part written, it is hardly faithful to every facet or trait of Turing, and so, as some agree in calling it (e.g. @MovieEvangelist), is caricature.

³ Although those interviewed in the documentary scarcely support Herzog’s interpretation, about the origin and meaning of the artefacts under study (i.e. that the ancient cave-paintings that it features (best viewed in 3D) recorded the makers’ dreams) he used this description as its title anyway : the cave itself has only lately been rediscovered, hence 'forgotten'.

⁴ However, in the Q&A, Morató tells us that Garrell (apparently, in real life, a mechanical engineer) went a year after the two men had been in close contact without mentioning the films that Aleix and he had elaborately put together over several years (because, Morató informed us when questioned, Garrell could not see the merit in them that Morató found, who said that he immersed himself in them for a very long time). (We do wonder, then, what they were for, e.g. in terms of who ever saw them (at the time) ?)

⁵ It is only the fictive ruffians (on quad-bikes, etc.), in some of the films made with Aleix, whom we ever witness as forces of destruction, and the only ‘real’ and gratuitous destruction that we see (rather than have vandalism, and even harm to creatures, reported to us), is when Garrell smashes up his own ground-level building on camera, doing so – as he counter-intuitively explains – to show that anyone can destroy, even he, and that he knows how to do it totally, and will. (The distinction is with times when, nigh gleefully, Garrell topples and torches his own creation [because ‘required to’].) As he says to camera at one point (via sub-title), In order to live decently, I have to complicate my life.

This fits in, in psychological terms, with Garrell’s over-arching, self-proclaimed fantasy as king of the jungle, but he, thus pictured, is unlike his original (who was orphaned in the jungle by chance, but ends up adopted and brought up there by nature – itself a sort of riff on Jean Jacques Rousseau’s ideas about the ‘noble savage’ in the ‘state of nature’ [e.g. in his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754)]). In comparison with that king of the jungle, Garrell’s king always seems to have been there – but (not unlike Wagner’s Wotan in Der Ring des Nibelungen ?) has temporal concerns that require a succession (and so Garrell’s real nephew, and a friend of Aleix’s, play his film-son, even a semi-Christ-like character ?).

Yet, as king, Garrell is more a sort of Adam (who maybe once had an Eve), and in whose story civilized man plays the role of seeking to enter Eden from outside to destroy it (a descent, both physical and moral, memorably dramatized in Paradise Lost [where the poet sees his task as ‘to justify God’s ways to man’]). At the same time, we may suspect that it could well amount to a paranoid projection of Adam’s own [internal] disobedience onto outside forces of evil, to distance himself from it [as in and from the world that is situated externally to Adam’s own])… (Something, again, about the nature of the artist’s vision / story of himself, in relation to his art, in Calvet (2011) ?)

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

Friday, 3 October 2014

Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival 2014 Part IV : Punting-lesson with Hammudi al-Rahmoun Pont*, director of Othello (Otel.lo) (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2014 (28 August to 7 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

3 October

Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival 2014 Part IV : Punting-lesson with Hammudi al-Rahmoun Pont*, director of Othello (Otel.lo) (2012)

* NB contains spoilers (but only about punting) *

Principles of punting

* Stand stably on the back-board of the punt – unfortunately, climbing up and down from there in the first place is one thing that makes the punt most unsteady (as does anyone moving position, unless they keep low)

Balance is crucial, but not difficult to achieve

* Be aware, at all times, of overhanging trees (however decorative)

This is where the Cam turns a literal corner between St John's and Trinity

* Likewise, have regard for people in the way, especially those who clearly have no idea how to punt, and steer out of harm’s way

The punt behind is the danger here - unless it changes course, the only way is down, or into, the left-hand side of ours

Adjustment of our position averts the likelihood of being knocked on the side

* Drop the pole, into the water by the side of the punt, as vertically and quickly as possible

To begin with, dropping the pole in its optimal position will feel awkward, and require care and concentration

* Push through the pole as straight as possible, using the side of the punt to push along – it is effective, even if it makes a rough-sounding noise

In this position, the vagaries of not pushing straight, and then ending up having to adjust, mean that bumping against the side-wall is not unlikely (unless a conscious move is made towards the centre of the river)

* Except when avoiding a hazard, steer once the pole has been dropped in and pushed through, using it like a rudder, which simply needs to become second nature – for a large adjustment, pulling the pole through the water from side to back steers it one way, whereas lifting it out from the side, dropping it at the back, and moving it around to the front brings it the other way

Being in a good position to begin with (nothing behind, ahead clear) make being able to push and make any adjustment afterwards much easier

* NB Be aware that, at some points, the river is very deep, so one will have almost no push once the pole comes in contact with the bottom

* At other points, the end of the pole will engage with mud – unless it comes free on a first pull, and with a twist, leave it, as going back for the pole is what the paddle is for

* Other than having a brilliant teacher (four pupils, no dunkings) and admiring the view (when safe to do so), there are no other rules of punting - except getting through a gap in the traffic safely when one can (rather than the niceties of being on one side of the river, not least when scenic willow boughs are less lovely to punt through, and some spots are always deep or muddy)

It's tough teaching - you just need to relax, amongst the detritus of someone else's enjoyment, and relish your pupil's moves

The Wren Library, Trinity College

One can testify that Cambridge's Pint Shop provided a very acceptable alternative to Guinness®, for our Catalan punter, as a reward for his studious efforts on the Cam !


* OK, the name is Hammudi al-Rahmoun Font, but it is fun for the Freudian slip to evoke 'bridge' and 'punt'...

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

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Camera Catalonia at Cambridge Film Festival 2014 Part II : Q&A with Jesús Monllaó, director of Son of Cain (Fill de Caín) (2013)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2014 (28 August to 7 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

1 October

* Contains spoilers *

Jesús Monllaó brought his first feature, Son of Cain (Fill de Caín) (2013), to Cambridge Film Festival (@Camfilmfest / #CamFF) on Day 9 (Friday 5 September 2014) as part of this year’s Camera Catalonia strand (curated by Ramon Lamarca, pictured left below in front of the film-poster, with Jesús on the right, in a shot taken by colleague David Riley)

Ramon Lamarca and Jesús Monllaó before the poster of Fill de Caín,
by and courtesy of David Riley

Opening gambit

Before the 34th Cambridge Film Festival’s screening of Son of Cain (Fill de Caín) (2013), Ramon Lamarca kindly introduced @THEAGENTAPSLEY to Jesús Monllaó that evening : if you have read the review, you will know that comparisons had been drawn with Good Will Hunting (1997), and with the suspenseful Alfred H., and not be surprised that they were pleasing to Jesús (who has since had a chance to read the review in full and liked it).

After a good-natured meeting of minds and sharing of humour at the busy hub that is Festival Central (in its home every year, for 11 consecutive days, at The Arts Picturehouse (@CamPicturhouse)), and before parting, the hope was expressed that the audience of Screen 2 at Festival Central would take the film well. So that proved, with a full house, and almost everyone both seeming engrossed, and then staying for the Q&A.

If you have watched such a vibrant film for review purposes on even a 15.6” laptop screen, you want to see it again projected to see what it looks and sounds like – as Jesús had said, knowing which City he was in and that he some people would have seen through his trickery with the plot, he hoped that they had enjoyed the journey :

Spot on, because it does not matter at all that you know what unfolds (but do not read much further on, if you have not already seen it – or do not mind spoilers), and, second time around, one could appreciate both the construction, and the full range and subtlety of Ethan Lewis Maltby’s score. (One says ‘appreciate the construction’, because (as the review envisaged) one could view Son of Cain with a murder-mystery mindset* first time through, or when watching again, to see how what happened had been set up.)

Jesús Monllaó answering audience questions with Ramon Lamarca,
by and courtesy of David Riley

Interviewed first by Ramon Lamarca with composer Ethan, Jesús was on fine form, engaging expansively with questions, and wanting others to have credit for their work (please see below). He told us that he had had some resistance, but had insisted on Ethan to write the score, their having met when Jesús was studying the art of film-making in Canterbury more than a decade ago.

And it turned out that choosing a Mahler adagio (the fourth-movement Adagietto* (in F Major, Sehr langsam) from the Symphony No. 5), for the night scene with the family in the car, not only coincidentally accorded with where Ethan’s interest in music had first been sparked (by hearing Mahler in live performance), but also with Ramon’s love for the composer’s works… As Jesús told us, he had originally wanted to use the Poco adagio, marked Ruhevoll, from the Symphony No. 4 in G Major, but the cost of using that track had been prohibitive (and led to using the Adagietto, as more affordable).

Love was in the air generally, indeed, because Jesús (as other directors have been keen to do this year) wanted to stress that 90% of what mattered most had been done by other people. Though, equally, he had found that, having acquired the rights to the original novel, he had to fall out with its writer, Ignacio García-Valiño, on account of the offensive e-mail that he wrote on being shown the first draft of the script (and which, Jesús told us, he still has).

Happily, though, he later related that contact was re-made with the novelist, who saw the film in April 2013 and loved it, publicly writing so. In the event, Ignacio died fourteen months later : the fact he saw his novel filmed and liked it, despite the former confrontation, gives us some comfort now that he’s gone.

Back with the music, we heard from Ramon’s questioning how the texture / density had been ‘stripped back’ for all but the last ten minutes, paring down instrumentation – sometimes, as Ethan told us, by removing an instrument during mixing that had originally been recorded as part of a larger ensemble recorded, but edited down in this way. In this connection, Ethan was asked about the use of harmonics, bell-like sounds and a high-pitched part that might have been a high soprano or an instrument (he told us that it had been a guitar-sound), and said that each film-project requires him to determine the palette that he is going to use at the outset.

Ethan Lewis Maltby, far right, during the Q&A,
by and courtesy of David Riley

Usefully, which we might not have otherwise aptly appreciated, Jesús said that he had taken away all the recorded sound for the last seven minutes, leaving just the score, where Ethan had had full rein to break through, as the closing scenes unfold – one’s lips are sealed, but there is chess at their heart…

Later, as there was a Festival dinner-date for Jesús to make, and a departure for Brighton in the afternoon, it was agreed to meet The Agent at Corpus Christi the following morning for a more formal interview.

Middle game

Just after the appointed hour, the two indeed met and then headed to the corner of Pembroke Street, where Jesús’ wife and young son were finishing coffee at Fitzbillies.

At mention at the table of the idea of taking a boat on the river, an offer was made of a punting-trip, and so began their adventure on the Cam…

Now continued here


* A curious word, mindset, and one which seems fitting for Nico… ?

** Afterwards, Jesús shared that he had wanted the Mahler not only because he liked it, but also as the kind of music that the character in the original novel listened to : I wanted to pay homage to the novel with little details that would connect both media.

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