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Showing posts with label The Redemption of the Fish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Redemption of the Fish. Show all posts

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

These are some of my favourite things… (with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein – let alone John Coltrane)

An overview of favourite films from Cambridge Film Festival in 2011, 2012 and 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)


28 July

An overview of favourite films from Cambridge Film Festival in 2011, 2012 and 2013

A month before Cambridge Film Festival starts, and following last month’s survey of What is Catalan cinema ? (550 page-views), we take another dive for strings of pearls, linked by their preoccupations, this time into the archive that is Fifteen fine festival films (now, seemingly, with the improbable more than 19,000 page-views…).

Put another way, what follows is a teasing-apart of strands in the best of (largely) subtitled festival cinema, the pick of what has been seen at Cambridge Film Festival between 2011 and 2013. They are not themes, by any means, unique to these films, for we can find them in The Matrix (1999) and its trilogy, Good Will Hunting (1997), or The Truman Show (1998), or ones that reductively sum up the films in either case – since, of course, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – but, rather, they are touchstones to what may evoke a response in others.

And themes that, in any case, interlink (as the classic circles do, demonstrating colour-mixing, of red, green and blue) : finding the hidden truth is another aspect of being corrupted, yet of seeking renewal…


Our themes for this posting :

1. Innocence corrupted – and yet…

2. Knowing the beginning for the first time

3. Finding the truth behind the appearance




* * * * *



1. Innocence corrupted – and yet…



The selected films :

As if I am not There (2010) - from 2011

Premise : Samira, a newly started primary teacher, is caught up in the cruelty and selfishness of war, and used for sex, even if latterly with greater tenderness


Postcards from the Zoo (Kebun binatang) (2012) (Festival review) - from 2012

Premise : Threatened with expulsion from her paradisiacal life in the zoo, Lana leaves for a better life, but it vanishes, and she becomes prey


The Taste of Money (Do-nui mat) (2012) - from 2013

Premise : Lightly mocked for his gaucheness, Joo Young-Jak (‘Mr Joo’) seems immune to money’s attractions, but he sees how wealth changes status


In each film, a way back is offered or found, (which, using the language of money, we also symbolically call ‘changed fortunes’) – often both found and offered, for it is with and through the company chairman’s daughter’s changed perspective on her family in The Taste of Money that Joo Young-Jak (Kang-woo Kim) has the courage to act differently and selflessly at the close of the film, and, in Postcards from the Zoo, Lana (Ladya Cheryl ?) feels to be reaching out for her past life as a place that she loves, and where its inhabitants love her.

In between, we have Samira (Natasa Petrovic) in As if I am not There, who, rather as Lana also seems to do, disassociates from her oppressive present : when we first see Samira, she finds herself – unintentionally, in these terms – left to reflect on what went before. War has been unkind to her, and now she is in another country, with no home to which to return. She chooses to face what happened, just as we viewers in part live through it with her, and acts with kindness.

Engaging with her experience allows Samira a different perspective on what life in all its fullness can be for her now, just as Lana has lost what was maybe complacence about her home (and her place in the world), and can gratefully embrace what it offers. In the case of Joo Young-Jak, the film brings us to a more enigmatic close, but one where his companion and he have acted with thought and decency, to right the wrongs of the dynasty of which they have been part.

There is a fourth film that links with this theme, and which was shown at the opening of the Festival in 2012, when director Robert Guediguian took part in a Q&A : The Snows of Kilimanjaro (2011) (Festival review). There, Marie-Claire (Ariane Ascaride) and Michel (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) do not so much lose sight of their principles, as get enmeshed in a judicial process that pushes them in directions that cause them not to share their instincts for good. Nonetheless, they separately act on those instincts, and so reaffirm their beliefs in the meaning of life and in each other.



2. Knowing the beginning for the first time


The selected films :

The Idiot (Idioot) (2011) (Estonia) - from 2012

Premise : A stylized, but sympathetic, retelling of Dostoyevsky’s novel about the saintly ‘fool’ Prince Myshkin, who disarms others even as he harms himself


Kosmos (2010) - from 2011

Premise : Along with Myshkin, another man who, when not looked at in the round, is in danger of being misunderstood (by being over-praised)


Upstream Color (2013) (Young Americans) - from 2013
Premise : Most definitely another film not to be understood naturalistically, it shows the eye of faith seeing connections that their maker intended broken


Starting with the last of these, in the chance meeting and awkward understanding between Kris (Amy Seimetz) and Jeff (Shane Carruth, the writer and director of Upstream Color) we see evoked a feeling that would have one not only seek a sense of safety, snuggled with an unquestioning other in an unlikely confined space, but also, when no longer frightened, would break through into another reality.

No more so than The Taste of Money, this is not really a revenge tale, or about paranoia or conspiracy (though it entertains or employs these aspects), yet it shows / finds literal roots for what has happened. In a circularity that characterizes these narratives, it goes back to the place where those roots once grew freely, again – as with Postcards from the Zoo – with an Eden-like notion, in the vividness of the blooms, of the potential for beauty and for nurture gets subverted. Kosmos, too, has a highly spiritual dimension, which envisages, in its ending shot, a transcendent quality to life and to what we experience :

It embodies, through the unexplained character, power, and actions of a stranger come to town, a challenge to us as to the nature of generosity, a holy way of life, and ‘organized’ religion. Named Kosmos by the young woman whom he likewise describes by calling her Neptün (Türkü Turan), and played by the almost ceaselessly present Sermet Yesil, we do not know whether he is blessed or cursed by the attention that he receives for the act that he performs as soon as he arrives, of saving her brother, and which is inconveniently treated as heroism: for, even at the start, the expectations of – and upon – this Kosmos seem immense and crushing.

However, it is largely only in moments of quiet and isolation, often with Neptün (who both hides from and seeks him), that we see that Kosmos is truly not limited by human constraints. Yet not seeing himself in relation to them when they are in the form of mores, he makes us ask when and to whom the rules can / do apply – not least in relation to Dostoyevsky again, this time with Raskolinkov in the novel Crime and Punishment (from 1866). The Idiot was published soon after (by instalment, between 1868 and 1869), and, if we look at Myshkin alongside Kosmos, we more easily see how our conception of the good person, or of the life well lived, can enslave us to all-or-nothing perfectionist thinking about others (often enough), who may then be seen as capable of no wrongdoing, or, as the case may be, disappoint us.

By contrast, Reha Erdem (the writer / director of Kosmos) seems to want to shatter such a conception, which contrariwise puts the hypocrisy I could never do something dreadful like that ! onto our lips, and thereby creates (if only in our own denied image) the archetype of ‘the bad person’. We will have the same problems relating to Myshkin, but this time because what can be characterized as his extreme passivity, which Risto Kübar has the knack of making seem both irritatingly real and yet otherworldly.

Unlike Kosmos, who maybe finds some better resting-place (or might have to keep going), Myshkin is mentally delivered back to where he began. We must ask, and ask carefully – heeding any faint reply : In whose terms, though, does it make sense to ask whether either man failed – or succeeded ?

In both films, we see lives taken, which different actions might have prevented, and we see love having the power to intoxicate and destroy. Its usual emblem is symbolized to Myshkin by the display of a bleeding heart, gaudy and neon, which transfixes him, and we then see him proceed to be powerless to ignore it. Yet philosophy or religion aside, and just in terms of the making of this film, it creates moods within different ecclesiastical interiors in the Aleksandri kirik (Narva, Estonia), from this evocation of an ikon in a shrine, to a railway-carriage, to a garden, or lapping water…

By contrast, Upstream Color’s looping on itself seems a little different (with at least one hurtful cycle broken). Yet the film’s ending feels exemplary, if not in a didactic way, of the patterns in films such as Leviathan (as screened at last year’s Festival) or Samsara. Or, equally and in common with other of the Fifteen fine festival films, such as Dimensions (2011) (which premiered at the Festival in 2011) or Formentera (2012) (UK premiere, from 2012), of that sensation that Eliot describes in Four Quartets :

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

'Little Gidding', v, 26-29




3. Finding the truth behind the appearance


The selected films :

The Night Elvis Died (La nit que va morir Elvis) (2010) (Catalan) - from 2012

Premise : See the paragraph, in italics, quoted below from What is Catalan cinema ?


The Redemption of the Fish (La redempció dels peixos) (2013) (Catalan) – UK premiere, from 2013

Premise : Likewise, see the paragraph, in italics, quoted below from What is Catalan cinema ?


Tirza (2010) - from 2011

Premise : A university teacher who has recently lost his job waves his favourite daughter off on a flight to Namibia – then, when there is no news, goes off in search of her


To cut this longish posting a little shorter, we take a detour to What is Catalan cinema ?, from which we lift the following paragraph, where two of these films have been talked about before :

On another level, and in Venice, we again have finding the truth in The Redemption of The Fish (La redempció dels peixos) (2013), as Marc tracks down his past, and is seduced and misled by the shapes, shadows and reflections of La Serenissima : so many of these films revolve historical and familial disputes and allegiances in a rich and productive way. In V.O.S. (2009), we have that theme translated into the playful and malleable notion of relation and relationships, in and out of making a film that crosses the barrier between ‘life’ and ‘film’ in a way as inventive and thought-provoking as Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). And - but one might need to read further, with the links below to reviews on this blog - The Night Elvis Died (La Nit Que Va Morir L’Elvis) (2010) teases apart the layers of reality (not least with its quiet homage to Paris, Texas (1984))…


In The Night Elvis Died – whose title refers to when, during the production of the town’s passion-play, Aureli Mercader’s (Blai Llopis’) life unravelled, and what we now see is a man who has forgotten everything but the broad thrust of what happened – the amnesia is our link to Tirza. A feature of film construction that takes us back beyond Hitchcock’s famous use, when he collaborated with a self-celebrated master-of-dreams in Salvador Dalí for Spellbound (1945), we see another man, becoming as ragged, run down and lost as Aureli is, in Jörgen Hofmeester. He only finds out, as he voyages, what his own story is, travelling in the company of Kaisa, a young girl who works as a prostitute, far into the striking territories of Namibia.

With Jörgen (Gijs Scholten von Aschat) both confronting, yet at the same time avoiding, his attitudes to the country’s Dutch colonial past (and other matters) and what those global connections mean, Arnon Grunberg co-adapted his novel in such a way that Jörgen’s involuntary strings of revelation to Kaisa (Keitumetse Matlabo), sometimes drifting from English into Dutch, leads us to the heart of who he is – and the void within him that he has hidden from himself. His narration tips us over into the muddle of our emotions about the man whom he plays, and into the twisted mess of family that has been the genesis of so much torture, violence, degradation, and pain.

When, in The Night Elvis Died, Aureli finds out his truth, the film nigh on destructs with the intensity of the experience, almost fully as much for us as for him, and we are brought before staggering images and insights – which leave Dalí’s role, in dream-imagery, for Hitchcock far behind (albeit his were for the purposes of dream-interpretation). (One is reminded, though in a very different way, of the disintegration in, and the dislocations in the narration of, Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man ! (1973) (itself rescreened at a recent Festival).)

Much more quiet than this is the realization that steals upon Marc in the shimmering Venice of The Redemption of The Fish – perhaps attuned, in tribute, to the shifting sensations of David Lean’s seemingly personal favourite film Summertime (1955), with Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi, but, in parallel, to those of Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973). Yet it is not Marc (Miquel Quer) who is the one here with the tendencies to retelling / reformulating (if not to actual amnesia), but the one because of whom he has gone there to find out more :

One is curiously reminded of ‘the closing reveal’ in another Catalan film, the Festival favourite of 2012 that was Black Bread (Pa Negre) (2010). Yet, compared with the younger Andreu (and what he gains, which What is Catalan cinema ? characterizes roughly as ‘A naturalistic, but haunted, story of a child’s perspective on betrayal, sex and anger’), Marc experiences so many varied things during his short trip.

Not only a host of reactions and feelings (and – with them – a rush and self-realization of maturity), but : relaxed lunches by the canal-side, the Commedia dell’Arte, the under-surface sound made by the waters of the lagoon, moonlight on The Lido, and plumbing the loneliness and emptiness of the quiet corners of the city, as well as books and artefacts, and what they reveal. In closing, and acknowledging again that recognizing the beginning for what it is and penetrating to the truth are not always discrete descriptions, one last paragraph from Whatis Catalan cinema ?, which leads into talking about a film that links, in a profoundly moving way, a Dante scholar, graffiti-encrusted former gun-emplacements, a confused man in hospital, and the history of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War :

Directors such as Ken Loach, working with screenwriter Jim Allen in Land and Freedom (1995), have brought a British perspective on seeking to fight pro-fascist Nationalist forces, but Jesús Garay’s Eyes on the Sky (Mirant al Cel) (2008) delves less into the politics and the pointlessness of brother against brother, but rather, and very movingly, into the ‘visceralness’ of what it means to tick down to something that changes individual lives for ever : although Garay is from Santander, not Catalunya, again this is in the very North of Spain.


Closing note :

Since Cambridge Film Festival 2013, Eyes on the Sky has had a special screening (plus Q&A) at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (@ICA), as did another of its Catalan films, The Forest (El bosc), which What is Catalan cinema ? characterized by the key-words Magical realism – Twisted love – Collectivization – Other worlds – Symbolism – Unreal feast, and the short phrase An account of a civil war through how the hated better-off classes fared.

On 23 August 2014, the ICA screens a third one of these films, The Redemption of the Fish, with a Q&A…





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

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

What is Catalan cinema ?

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


9 June (updated 20 August)

What is Catalan cinema ?

[Now, in 2017, with its own sequel : What more is Catalan cinema ?]



Update : click here to go to outlines of three Catalan films
at Cambridge Film Festival 2014 and links to reviews


In advance of the 34th Cambridge Film Festival (#CamFF via @camfilmfest), and also of a screening at London’s ICA (@ICA) on 27 June of El bosc (The Forest) (2012) (a film that had its UK premiere when shown at last year’s Festival¹ as did three other Catalan films), here is a little look at where films like this come from geographically, temperamentally, and emotionally…



Some may know that Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain, is the capital city of Catalonia though it’s really, in Catalan, Catalunya but forget Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) for giving you any more than an architectural montage to emulate that of Manhattan (1979) (or be a precursor to Woody Allen’s love-smitten depiction of Paris at Midnight from 2011…)²


But it probably may help little more to think of the inevitable Gaudí, let alone Juan Gris’ connections or with the Catalan form of Gris’ adopted name and a birth-right to Barcelona Joan Miró. Maurice Ravel (French, but with a Basque-Spanish heritage of a birthplace in territory somewhat distant from Catalunya, but likewise where France adjoins Spain), may give us some feel of Spanishness at times, but perhaps the quirky figure who provides a way in to this cinematic tradition is Salvador Dalí.

This blog-posting began with five ‘S’ key-words, and Dalí truly, as the phrase has it, ticks the boxes for all of them and, with the infamous collaboration with Luis Buñuel in Un Chien Andalou (1928) (not forgetting L'âge d'or (1930)), is rooted in cinema. Dalí may have moved away from what Buñuel became a celebrated master of, but his showmanship and theatricality resembles aspects of film familiar, say, from the great Italian directors, and it is hard to believe that he has not been an inspiration in his home region.


Overview of Cambridge Film Festival's 'Catalan strand' in 2012 and 2013

Looking personally to the 2014 Festival (#CamFF), there is full confidence in Ramon Lamarca that he will have found and curated some powerful and challenging films, no doubt examining the nature of reality, or of the little-appreciated conflict that is The Spanish Civil War (Guerra Civil Española). As well as ending the life of poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, and providing the substance of Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, it not only tore Spain apart (with the help of General Franco’s allies in Germany and Italy), but has laid down a seam that underlies the history of Spain in our postmodern era, and which film-makers in Catalunya have been especially open to explore :

Directors such as Ken Loach, working with screenwriter Jim Allen in Land and Freedom (1995), have brought a British perspective on seeking to fight pro-fascist Nationalist forces, but Jesús Garay’s Eyes on the Sky (Mirant al Cel) (2008) delves less into the politics and the pointlessness of brother against brother, but rather, and very movingly, into the ‘visceralness’ of what it means to tick down to something that changes individual lives for ever : although Garay is from Santander, not Catalunya, again this is in the very North of Spain.

Set in the civil war like his film, but from the point of view of a landowner with pro-fascist leanings (or, probably more accurately, inherited anti-communist feelings ?), The Forest (El bosc) (2012), through its embodiment of place and with its vivid special effects, evokes another world, another dimension, from the perspective of which professed love and care can be examined, and in and through which a transformational and redemptive influence can operate. Similarly, in a way in the post-war period, and with packed Festival screenings, Black Bread (Pa negre) (2010) hits us right at its close with a boy’s realization of what his true position in life has been.

On another level, and in Venice, we again have finding the truth in The Redemption of The Fish (La redempció dels peixos) (2013), as Marc (Miquel Quer) tracks down his past, and is seduced and misled by the shapes, shadows and reflections of La Serenissima : so many of these films revolve historical and familial disputes and allegiances in a rich and productive way. In V.O.S. (2009), we have that theme translated into the playful and malleable notion of relation and relationships, in and out of making a film that crosses the barrier between ‘life’ and ‘film’ in a way as inventive and thought-provoking as Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). And, but one might need to read further with the links below to reviews on this blog, The Night Elvis Died (La Nit Que Va Morir L’Elvis) (2010) teases apart the layers of reality (not least with its quiet homage to Paris, Texas (1984))…


Here (out of the eleven films shown in 2012 and 2013 - UK denotes UK premiere) are links to this blog’s reviews of most of the films (with @THEAGENTAPSLEY's tag-lines, and additional key-words) :

2012 Black Bread (Pa Negre) (2010)

A naturalistic, but haunted, story of a child’s perspective on betrayal, sex and anger

Civil war Childhood Respect Reprisal Poverty Loyalty


2013 (UK) Eyes on the Sky (Mirant al Cel) (2008)

Movingly mixing documentary, acting, and faux-documentary to dig into past pain

Bombs Barcelona Dante Time Heights History


2012 The Body in the Woods (Un Cos Al Bosc) (1996)

An unfolding with turns, twists and unprincipled practices

Sexual orientation Investigation Murder Disguise Corruption Desire


2013 (UK) The Forest (El bosc) (2012)

An account of a civil war through how the hated better-off classes fared

Magical realism Twisted love Collectivization Other worlds Symbolism Unreal feast


2012 The Night Elvis Died (La Nit Que Va Morir L’Elvis) (2010)

Finding the truth, when it is well hidden, by intuition and insight

Mental-health stigma Friendship Corruption Blood Unreality Amnesia


2013 (UK) The Redemption of the Fish (La redempció dels peixos) (2013)

Connectedness and disconnection, reality and illusion, in Venice

Contact Closeness Deceit Truth Reflection Ripple


2012 V.O.S. (2009)

A film within a film or is one as real as the other ?

Acting Film-making Real time Couples Attraction Meta-textuality


2012 Warsaw Bridge (1990)

The whirl / ennui of yet another publishing event, and what it leads to

Connections Publishing Society Glamour Politics Water


End-notes

¹ It had two screenings, at the second of which the film’s director, Óscar Aibar, was in attendance and answered questions.


² For one thing, Penélope Cruz (easily the best part of the film, and whose deserving an Academy Award (for María Elena) was undeniable) and her now husband Javier Bardem (by no means the worst), although Spanish, are not from what (since 1978) has been an Autonomous Community or ’nationality’ within Spain.

For another, according to the trivia of Wikipedia’s web-page for VCB, Allen had funding for a film to be shot in Spain, and so adapted a script that he had written years before, which was set in San Francisco : judge for oneself what Catalan (or even properly Spanish) feel one has from the film and, more importantly, whether the character of Juan Antonio (Bardem) resembles a convenient stereotype of Mediterranean mores (to drive the plot in a rather Jamesian, ingénues-abroad way)…





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

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Fifteen fine festival films

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2013
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


17 December


Simply put, five favourite films from each of the last three Cambridge Film Festivals (in alphabetical order, ignoring 'The')...



That said, the list has now been enhanced by These are some of my favourite things..., which teases out some of the common themes for you



As if I am not There (2010) - from 2011


Black Butterflies (2011) - from 2011


Dimensions (2011) - from 2011


Eyes on the Sky (2008) (Catalan) - from 2013


Formentera (2012) (German) (Festival review) - from 2012


The Idiot (2011) (Estonia) - from 2012


Kosmos (2010) - from 2011


Marius (2013) (shown with Fanny (2013) - from 2013


The Night Elvis Died (2010) (Catalan) - from 2012


Postcards from the Zoo (2012) (Festival review) - from 2012


The Redemption of the Fish (2013) (Catalan) - from 2013


The Snows of Kilimanjaro (2011) (Opening film) Festival review - from 2012


The Taste of Money (2012) - from 2013


Tirza (2010) - from 2011


Upstream Color (2013) (Young Americans) - from 2013


That said, the list has now been enhanced by These are some of my favourite things..., which teases out some of the common themes for you

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Fruits of the forest

This is a Festival review of El bosc (The Forest) (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2013
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


13 October

This is a Festival review of El bosc (The Forest) (2012)

A film festival is one of those rare places where you can talk to the person who has programmed films that interest you*, and, in this case, as last year, it was Ramon Lamarca for his Catalan films, of which I saw three (and managed one of those twice, the beautifully filmed and constructed The Redemption of the Fish (2012)), and it, with another, Eyes on the Sky (2008), were in my Festival top five at Cambridge :

The Forest (El Bosc)) (2012) has kept me thinking since, not since I did not have a chance to try a review until now, when memories have faded, and reviews tend to be shorter... In this time, there are antipathies between church-goers and the non-chuch-goers who largely make up the Republican forces, and between those who support the Republic and, those assumed to be Fascists, because they question it (they are conservatives). There is one notable exception, in the form of the man, who turns out to have falsified orders to protect a lone woman and her baby at this dangerous time by keeping a unit based at her property.

Another man, Coixo (Pere Ponce), is in love with her, and has been since childhood, but seeks to win her love by such means as seeking to starve her, although he has, probably for similar reasons, protected her from the worst excesses of the Republican forces. He and her husband Ramon (Àlex Brendemühl) and Dora (Maria Molins), who said that he would stand firm (and then fled), are the main characters in this drama.

It really wants to imply that nothing is as it seems - we do not know why the anti-Fascist forces are delayed so long until later - and Ramon has experience of another time that leads him to see many things differently. Effectively, although we do no not know what it was exactly like for him, he tells us that there are other worlds where conflicts are going on, and he learns humanity from this : that he has, as Dora urges, solidarity with the beings who looked after him.

Whether the strange fruit or alien creatures that we see distort our vision, I do not know (I hope not), but they serve to make another world more real (as I elicited in the Q&A**), and they also question our notion that everything is so clear on either side of a conflict.


End-notes

* I was interested that one character, Coixo, resembled Trotsky (and Dustin Hoffman) : it turned out that one influence that the training from the USSR had had on the Republican forces was to make leaders resemble Trotsky, by giving him as an example.

** In The Q&A, I referenced Diane Keaton and Woody Allen gorging themselves on enormous fruit (in Sleeper (1973)), and asked whether the director had had great fun designing the fruit. He did not answer as such, but said that it had been on a low budget, and that he knew what he had he had been doing when ordering it.


Read here, a review (with spoilers) from a colleague at TAKE ONE, Robbie Griffiths




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

Monday, 7 October 2013

Eyes full of tears

This is a Festival review of Eyes on the Sky (Mirant al Cel) (2008)

More views of or before Cambridge Film Festival 2013
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


7 October

This is a Festival review of Eyes on the Sky (Mirant al Cel) (2008)

Eyes on the Sky (Mirant al Cel) (2008) is not an overtly flashy film, but deservedly it does make big claims on our attention, and on our hearts. As can be seen, it is being shown not because it was made in the last year, but it is a UK premiere, part of the Catalan strand, again curated by Ramon Lamarca after a successful first appearance at the Festival last year, which made many friends.

I have written elsewhere about another Catalan film at the Festival (also a UK premiere), The Redemption of the Fish, which I watched twice, and I would if possible gladly have done the same with this film, but it is quality that the films have in common, not their subject-matter.

This one concerns the Spanish Civil War and the power of memory what is best forgotten about when Italian air forces bombed Barcelona, and what should never be forgotten. One review that I have read (maybe this one) challenges how the film is put together, and its story and pace, but, for me, these are what most attracted me to it, for it uses acted scenes, documentary, and faux-documentary, e.g. to introduce the men who were in the anti-aircraft batteries that ringed the city on a number of eminences.

We see men and women, down in the shelters and tunnels that also served to wait out air-raids, interviewed by the same woman who challenges a visiting professor, apparently a Dante scholar and visiting for a conference, and pesters to get to speak to him what some mistake for the monotonous course of this film is actually provoking us to ask ourselves (if we have not just read up all about it beforehand*) what is real, what is not, and what remembered, what feigned forgetfulness.

In this, we are as much in a confused state as the main characters (Maria (Gabriela Flores) and Mario (Paolo Ferrari), played with great conviction), who think that they know what is right, and not preconception, until life throws them up in each other’s way. After all that we have seen and heard, the closing scenes, and the beautiful reading that the professor gives from the opening of the Inferno, are painfully touching, speaking for all who have been lost.

For the second time this Festival, I was moved to tears just by that simplicity.


End-notes

* My approach to a film is that it should, for good or ill, stand for itself : if I need to have read the book or play on which it is based, it has failed in its own terms, and, if it cannot speak for itself, it is just images.




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

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

What did you do during the Festival, Father... ?

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2013
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


1 October (updated 16 October)


Thursday 19 September
5.00 (1) My Beautiful Country (2012) (Eastern view) (A mini-review)
7.25 (2) Hawking (2013) (A mini-review)
10.15 (3) Blue Jasmine (2013) (A mini-review)
(NB This one is not quite a review, and contains spoilers)



Friday 20 September
6.30 (4) The Taste of Money (2012) (Top 5 Features)
9.00 (5) Unmade in China (2012) (Review by Rory Greener (plus Agent's comments), or there is the review-cum-interview (with director Gil Kofman) by Rosy Hunt, Editor-in-Chief of TAKE ONE)
11.00 (6) Exposed : Beyond Burlesque (2013) (33 1/3)


Saturday 21 September
3.30 (7) Google and The World Brain (2013)
5.30 (8) Pieces of Me (2012)
8.00 (9) The Redemption of the Fish (2013) (Catalan) (Top 5 Features)


Sunday 22 September
2.00 (10) Marius (2013)
(11) Shown with Fanny (2013) (Top 5 Features)
6.00 (12) Blackbird (2013)
(Reviewed with Only the Young (2012))
8.30 (13) Only the Young (2012) (Young Americans)
(Reviewed with Blackbird (2013))


Monday 23 September
12.45 (14) The Taste of Money (2012) (Top 5 Features)
3.45 (15) Prince Avalanche (2013) (Young Americans)
6.15 (16) Dust on our Hearts (2012) (German)
8.30 (17) Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure : John Otway the Movie (2013) (33 1/3)
(Reviewed with Sing me the Songs that Say I Love You (2012) (33 1/3))


Tuesday 24 September
4.00 (17.5) Estonian short films (Eastern view)
5.30 (18.5) Just Before Losing Everything (2013)
6.30 (19.5) Sing me the Songs that Say I Love You (2012) (33 1/3)
(Reviewed with Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure : John Otway the Movie (2013)
(33 1/3))
9.00 (20) Deadlock (1970)


Wednesday 25 September
11.30 (21) Upstream Color (2013) (Young Americans) (Top 5 Features)
3.45 (21.5) Absolute Beginners (1986)
6.00 (22.5) White Star (1981 - 1983) (Roland Klick)
9.00 (23.5) Thomas Dolby : The Invisible Lighthouse (2013) (33 1/3)


Thursday 26 September
2.00 (24.5) German short films (German)
4.00 (25.5) Eyes on the Sky (2008) (Catalan) (Top 5 Features)
8.30 (26.5) Paul Bowles : The Cage Door is Always Open (2012)


Friday 27 September
12.00 (27.5) Sieniawka (2013) (Eastern view)
3.45 (28) Black Africa, White Marble  (2011) (Too concentrated on the next film to watch more than 30 mins, but what was seen was very good : this won the audience award for documentaries)
6.45 (29) The Man whose Mind Exploded (2012) (Review by Hannah Clarkson, TAKE ONE*)
8.45 (29.5) My Sweet Pepper Land (2013)
11.00 (30.5) Tridentfest (2013) (Review by Mark Liversidge, TAKE ONE, plus Agent's comments, and the following Tweet)



Saturday 28 September
1.15 (31.5) Surprise Film 1 : Sunshine on Leith (2013)
4.00 (32.5) Cold (2013)
6.30 (33.5) Nosferatu (1922) (with Neil Brand)
9.00 (34.5) The Forest (2012) (Catalan)


Sunday 29 September
10.45 (35.5) The Redemption of the Fish (2013) (Catalan) (Top 5 Features)
6.15 (36.5) The Orchard (2013)
9.00 (37) Witchcraft Through the Ages (1968) + Towers Open Fire (1963) + The Cut-Ups (1967)


End-notes

* There is nothing to add to Hannah's review, except that my interview with director Toby Amies will appear soon for TAKE ONE, and, for those who missed this single screening, there is a clip from The Man Whose Mind Exploded on the page for Hannah's review.



NB All links to reviews are now active, and titles with struck-through text were not watched in full (also indicated by adding a nominal 0.5 to the tally)...





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

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Redemptive washing

This is a Festival review of La redempció dels peixos (The Redemption of the Fish) (2013)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2013
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


21 September

This is a Festival review of La redempció dels peixos (The Redemption of the Fish) (2013)




The Redemption of the Fish (La redempció dels peixos) (2013)* had its UK premiere at the Festival to-night. As we learnt afterwards, it was filmed on almost no budget and was really only achievable because director Jordi Torrent (who was with us for a Q&A, along with lead actor Miquel Quer) has friends in Venice, where all the filming took place : avoiding the popular locations, and unbelievably having a three-week shoot in August, it did what was needed, but with a change of wind-direction and temperature that adorned the very final scene.

The film is stunning, not just because Venice is a glorious city, but because Torrent gave it the space to breathe and be itself, without the picture-postcard mentality that others might have brought to making a film there. It does not matter whether one's view is that Venice was the actor at the heart of this film, it fed the action, and the action subsisted so naturally there. I say that, because Venice is one of my loves, but the heart of the film is how it shows contemporary relationships and communication in this centuries-old place.

Quer (Marc) has gone to Venice from Barcelona for reasons that only became apparent with time, and, as he tries to follow a man when he closes a bookshop and leaves, he loses him in the confusion that is this city (and which twice, on a first visit there, caused me to stray into the Naval Dockyards and meet men with guns). (Here, there are hints of Don't Look Now (1973).) They had last seen each other when Marc was nearly two, because Paco, the other man, is his father.

An inner core of others who are connected with Paco peoples Marc's time there, and he comes into association with them, thinking (or maybe wanting to think) that there is a meaningful link between each of them and him. One tells him to look at how The Grand Canal divides the city into two fish, one of which is trying to eat the other - he is reminded that he used to say the opposite, or that he said that the fish represent other things, but he says that the Fish of Science is gobbling up the Fish of Ethics. Beautiful shots of the water, with buildings coming in and out of flux, had prefaced all of this, and, as Venice is La Serenissima and married to the sea, it had been a delight to realize that this unattainable, unmasterable place was our setting.

Saying little more about what happens or why, the film is a cinematic joy for its acting and for how it has been made (all, we were told, with available light, and a light crew of five or six) - Paco seems not to trust Marc or his motives, and maybe we do not like the feeling that Marc is on a mission at the behest of his grandmother and reporting back to her and to his girlfriend, but we grow out of relying on one, and into what brings Marc to find his father.

This represents the present high-point this year, and I hope to make it to the repeat screening at 10.45 a.m. on Sunday 29th September (the closing day of the Festival).


End-notes

* As an English title, it feels cumbersome, because is the fish what is redeemed, or is it what carries out the redemption ? Maybe that ambiguity is fecund, but I wonder whether something else might do better :

The Fish Swallows Whole, or

Venice the Redeemer




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