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Archive for October 18th, 2008

by Kaleem Hasan

A truly magnificent work from Terence Malick and really one of the very extraordinary films of recent times. The extended cut (which is really the director’s favored one) is a revelation in every sense. One gets the true rhythm and notes of the film and with this particular director these features become especially important.

I have long considered Malick to be truly important in world terms and though he has made just four films I rate three of these (Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, The New World) as absolute masterpieces. The New World has a claim to be considered the director’s greatest. It possibly complements The Thin Red Line thematically but certainly stylistically.

Much could be written on Malick’s visuals, his sense of time, his ‘transcendental filmmaking’, his ellipses. Perhaps he is ultimately a director of das Mystische as Wittgenstein would phrase (though Malick probably comes to this a different way as an amateur translator of Heidegger) it. His work is always a little mysterious, a little about the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of language.

I do not intend to write anything remotely comprehensive on The New World here much less on the director’s oeuvre but there is one particular element of his visual grammar that I find fascinating. From Badlands to this most recent film Malick seems to have moved away from the notion of the earth as that which ultimately ‘grounds’ the human or the site of final ‘solidity’ towards a view where increasingly the earth is fragile because it is often as ‘liquid’ as water. From this perspective Malick’s evolution in terms of his visual choices could be considered an ever greater exercise in ‘liquidity’. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

The first in a series of pieces devoted to my choices for the top 25 films of the 1930s begins, in reverse order, with no 25…

(UK 1937 84m) DVD2 

Next train’s gone!

p  Edward Black  d  Marcel Varnel  w  Marriott Edgar, Val Guest, J.O.C.Orton  story  Frank Launder  ph  Arthur Crabtree  ed  R.E.Dearing, Alfred Roome  md  Louis Levy  art  Alex Vetchinsky 

Will Hay (William Porter), Graham Moffatt (Albert), Moore Marriott (Jeremiah Harbottle), Dave O’Toole (Postman), Dennis Wyndham, Frederick Piper, Sebastian Smith, Agnes Laughlan, Percy Walsh,

There never was another like Stockton’s favourite son, Will Hay.  Anyone who isn’t British who may be reading this may think “Will Hay, wasn’t he that killjoy who took the sex out of the movies in the thirties.”  He’s barely mentioned in US film guides, his films only available there through special order through internet sites like Movies Unlimited.  Yet to the British film-viewing masses he’s part of the furniture, a comic genius in the pantheon, as essential and as relevant to his nation in as Jacques Tati in France.  Like Tati’s Monsieur Hulot, Hay is a bumbler, an incompetent, but with a tendency towards the dishonest, who is put into places of responsibility, abuses that responsibility, but somehow comes up smelling of roses.  In an age when so many think British comedy began with Monty Python, it’s nice to be able to remind certain folks that that’s only a later flowering of the tree.  The earliest saw many other comic highpoints, from the anarchy of the Crazy Gang to the less cinematic style of Sid Field.  Yet it’s Hay who worked best on film and who produced a string of minor British comedy classics, from which great things can be found in nearly all of them.  Many will cite his later The Ghost of St Michael’s and My Learned Friend, the latter of which is great in itself, but somehow Hay without his original cohorts, Graham Moffatt and Moore Marriott, is even more unthinkable than the Carry Ons without Kenneth Williams and Sid James.  Though Ask a Policeman, Convict 99 and Where’s That Fire? are all hilarious, Oh Mr Porter! is his and the team’s masterpiece. (more…)

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