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Archive for November 7th, 2010

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, UK, 1962, dir. Tony Richardson

Starring Tom Courtenay, Michael Redgrave

Story: Colin has been sent up for robbing a bakery, but to his surprise he finds himself being handed advantages and privileges at the reform school. As it turns out, he’s a talented runner and the school director hopes he will help defeat a prestigious public school in an upcoming race.

First things first, the timing of this entry is no accident. This morning the New York Marathon kicks off – so good luck to all the runners, particularly my friends Patrick and Morgan. Secondly, tributes aside, it should be noted that this is in many respects an anti-sports film, both in the sense that it thumbs its nose at “sports film” conventions, and because it views competitive athleticism itself with severe antipathy. But more on that by the by. When we are introduced to Colin, he’s pulling double duty, running and narrating just like Fabrizio at the start of last week’s entry, Before the Revolution. There the similarities more or less end. Whereas Fabrizio was politicized in theory but distanced from any sense of class struggle, Colin – without necessarily articulating it in explicitly political terms (save for a few somewhat clumsy “consciousness-raising” lines of dialogue) – views his entire life as one long struggle against authorities and class constrictions. “Running’s always been a big thing in our family,” he tells us in the opening narration (during which, unlike Fabrizio, he runs away from the camera rather than towards it). “Especially running away from the police. It’s hard to understand. All I know is that you’ve got to run. Run without knowing why, through fields and woods, and the winning post’s no end even though barmy crowds might be cheering themselves daft. That’s what the loneliness of the long distance runner feels like.”

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(South Korea 2003 86 min) aka Wonderful Days


Director Kim Moon-Saeng

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

From the seductive introduction, led off the barren plains and under the city’s arches on the back of a motorbike, “terrible toxic rain” coursing down the windows, Sky Blue is intoxicating.

A typical dystopian, post-apocalyptic story: the haves who live safely in organic city Ecoban, the have nots who scrabble for an existence in the slums, mining the fields to feed the privileged few’s mother world. A typical story of love across the divide: one the handsome rebel fighting for the ‘diggers’ (made ill by Ecoban’s ‘by-products’) and for a world which cannot heal itself; the other the pretty beloved, reluctantly loyal to the punctiliously polished status quo.

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