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Showing posts with label Toby Jones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toby Jones. Show all posts

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)

Monday, 8 August 2016

Tale of Tales (2015) [Il racconto dei racconti] : A few Tweets from Saffron Screen...

Tale of Tales (2015) [Il racconto dei racconti] : A few Tweets from Saffron Screen...

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2016 (20 to 27 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

8 August

Tale of Tales (2015) [Il racconto dei racconti] :
A few Tweets from Saffron Screen (@Saffronscreen)...

Salma Hayek as The Queen of Longtrellis [an unnecessarily literal translation, from her title in Basile's Neapolitan text ? - which we never hear]

Post-script :

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

Friday, 7 September 2012

The film is Ten (not 10)

This is a review of Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

7 September

* Contains spoilers *

This is a review of Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

Sounds familiar ? :

A film project unlikely to be completed because of the effect of the director's erotic impulses and of psychological disintegration

No, this is Berberian Sound Studio* (2012), but you could be forgiven for thinking that it is meets Vincent Price with Black Swan (2010) in the room.

Apart from when we follow, in a disjunctive way that immediately suggests disassociation, Gilderoy (Toby Jones) to his unspecified lodgings - which seem more like his room at his mother's house than the building in which they are supposed to be located - we are trapped in the world of studio 4 at Berberian Sound Studios somewhere in an Italian city, where, for unknown reasons, he has been engaged to oversee the re-recording and foley work on a film whose scenes we only hear described (or their dialogue performed from a sound-booth, significantly well by Elena (Tonia Sotiropoulou)), but of which the title sequence has been suggestive.

The only connection with the outside world (for us, as we never see Gilderoy between his lodgings and the studio) is three or four seemingly inconsequential letters from his mother about the progress of 'chiff-chaffs' in her garden, and which we rather edgily have to read as they move down the screen (because there is no voice-over). We see him only in and on his arrival at the studios, where we might have the sinister realization that no one else seems to have any business, and he is instantly insulted by the film's producer (Francesco**) for having English manners and not the ones that he thinks proper.

So begins a struggle to get Gildeoroy's flight paid, a matter about which he is overly concerned, and everyone at the studios - as if paying people does not rate highly, since they eventually claim that the flight did not exist - is overly concerned not to deal with. Gilderoy is a mystery, but his work, as is the sadistic story, set at an equestrian school and involving priests, alleged witches and secrets, appears to have a grubby nature, because he shruggingly justifies it by saying, referring to his medium, 'quarter of an inch is quarter of an inch'.

Unless that professional background and his evident expertise (he is asked, when the power cuts again, to do a party-piece and make the sound of a UFO) justify him for the task, there seems no reason why he was flown in (seemingly at his own expense) to do it. That said, perhaps not unlike the film world of its time, Francesco conveniently talks to him like a menial, with that same way of putting the faults of his own attitude onto that of others seen at the opening and which hints at menace.

A melting-point for Gilderoy to crack up and for us to see that disintegration - there is no other word for what the visuals present - in, for example, the sound-schedule for a film at Box Hill that we know that he worked on where we are expecting to see the familiar one for the present project: as is so often the case, given as what we factually appear to see, whereas it reflects Gilderoy's disassociating mind.

In a way much, and in a way nothing, hangs on Gilderoy's engagement with the film: I have already said that is not apparent why he was engaged to do the work (and why those who had worked on other distasteful projects with inappropriate insertions of a red-hot poker, which Santini wheedlingly does his best to try to justify, are not available), and we see others replaced, when choosing to renounce the project (which Gilderoy does not have the apparent confidence - or, maybe, the cash for an air-fare back - to do).

If, however, he were replaced, no more Berberian Sound Studio, of course, and no more following the state of his tortured psyche. I say 'tortured', because what he is being demanded to do is a torment to this Brit, and it is bound to go one way or the other (if not both) of lashing out (such as in the destruction of part of the sound-recordings) or impacting on Gilderoy.

Toby Jones does an excellent job of embodying this nervous expert, and writer / director Peter Strickland has created an incestuous and self-focused universe, which the title neatly suggests (as also the unique talent of Cathy Berberian). It is a rough ride, but interesting, and one which I found that I engaged with more richly by relating to the world of Fellini's work about a non-film: the fact that, even when we think that we might, we never see what Gilderoy has to marshal the sound for making it not only more piquant, but even also hints at this antecedent.


* Why, as if it is like The Ministry of Sound, do I want to call this film Berberian Sound System?

** Played by Cosimo Fusco, who, like Gilderoy, has no surname (according to
IMDb), whereas the director, Santini (Antonio Mancino) has no Christian name.