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Archive for April, 2013

singing-detective-4_420

by Allan Fish

(UK 1986 415m) DVD1/2

Ten cents a dance, fella

p  John Harris, Kenith Trodd  d  Jon Amiel  w  Dennis Potter  ph  Ken Westbury  ed  Bill Wright, Sue Wyatt  m  Stanley Myers  art  Jim Clay

Michael Gambon (Philip Marlow), Patrick Malahide (Mark Binney), Alison Steadman (Lili), Joanne Whalley (Nurse Mills), David Ryall (Mr Hall), Ron Cook (1st mysterious man), George Rossi (2nd mysterious man), Janet Suzman (Nicola), Leslie French (“Noddy” Tomkey), Bill Paterson (Dr Gibbon), Ken Stott (Uncle John), Jim Carter (Mr Marlow), Gerald Horan (Reginald Gibbs), Sharon Clarke (night nurse), Imelda Staunton (Nurse White), Badi Uzzaman (Ali), Janet Henfrey (schoolteacher), Lyndon Davies (Philip, aged 10), David Thewlis (soldier),

Following the transmission of the first episodes of Dennis Potter’s magnum opus on BBC1, their viewer response show Points of View was bombarded with complaints from the Mary Whitehouse brigade, including a mirthfully Pythonesque response from Colonel R.S.Vine, BSc, MRCS, LRCP, FRC Path, who called it “this extraordinarily obscene production.”  It still amazes me how truly shatteringly narrow-minded the average person is – and was – in the so-called modern age, and I’m sure it left Potter equally aghast.  It was as if sex was the only thing that The Singing Detective was about, when in actual fact it was but one layer of many.  Rather than showcase Potter as having a filthy mind, they were actually uncovering their own shortcomings. (more…)

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Saudi Arabian gem ‘Wadjda’ is a groundbreaker in more ways than one.

Documentary masterwork ‘Kiss the Water’ focuses on salmon fishing in Scotland. Eric Steel’s beautifully-crafted film is one of the best films at Tribeca.

 

by Sam Juliano

The Tribeca Film Festival concluded on Sunday night, and all told it was quite an event, and a real boost to the NYC cultural scene.  The festival jury handed on their awards on Thursday, naming the popular Australian film set in Laos, The Rocket, top narrative film, while documentary honors were bestowed upon The Kill Team.  Kim Mordaunt’s largely Lao-language The Rocket focuses on a 10-year-old tribal boy in Laos’ mountains who hopes both to build a rocket and find a new home for his family. It features a host of nonprofessional actors, including Sitthiphon Disamoe, who won the festival’s Best Actor prize.  I managed to see the film on Sunday afternoon and found it utterly charming, though it will probably finish a bit lower on my own Ten-Best list of the festival to be published in a few days.  The remarkable popularity of the film was confirmed on Saturday night when it also won first place in Heinecken’s audience award contest which means a $25,000 prize both to the top narrative film and documentary by exiting moviegoers who are asked to rip through the number of a 1 through 5 rating grid on the corresponding ballot given out by ushers at the film’s start.  Rarely does the same film win both the audience and jury prizes, but this feat bodes quite well for the Australian film’s chances for a distribution in the major cities at least for starters. (more…)

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1988

by Allan Fish

Best Picture Cinema Paradiso (Special Edition), Italy (6 votes)

Best Director Krzysztof Kieslowski, Dekalog (8 votes)

Best Actor Jeremy Irons, Dead Ringers (14 votes)

Best Actress Isabelle Adjani, Camille Claudel (4 votes)

Best Supp Actor Philippe Noiret, Cinema Paradiso (Special Edition) (12 votes)

Best Supp Actress Lena Olin, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (7 votes)

Best Cinematography Giorgos Arvanitis, Landscape in the Mist & Sven Nykvist, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (4 votes each, TIE!)

Best Score Ennio Morricone, Cinema Paradiso (Special Edition) (7 votes)

Best Short The Cat Came Back, Canada, Cornell Barker (4 votes)

On to the seventh inner circle of Dante’s hell, otherwise known as 1989.

(more…)

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By Bob Clark

In this past month, the Blu Ray of Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo saw its release in Japan, continuing the burgeoning Rebuild cycle of Hideaki Anno’s magnum opus in a manner that has already won droves of accolades and hypertensive horror, based on little more than happening to exist. That’s par for the course with all things Eva, naturally, but it’s something even more underlined for fans of the series who live outside of Japan, as there’s always something of a prolonged waiting period for any given release to reach our shores, in an official capacity or otherwise. It seemed to take forever for even the shoddiest of pirate camrip footage to leak its way out onto the net, and even longer for that material to be paired with semi-coherent subtitles forged by fans attempting to translate the poor audio found on the tapes smuggled in from moviegoers willing to risk the sanctity of their cell-phones for the cause of international fandom. I’ve never been a fan of pirating material myself, even though it’s become almost a necessary evil in the anime world, as most of the best modern releases barely see the light of day over here, and are now only beginning to be given even online streaming distributions worth a damn on sites like Crunchyroll.

Still, given the poor quality of the camrips I never really considered looking at them to begin with, but now with the advent of the movie’s Blu Ray release, the situation is a little more difficult. Not only does this HD release mean an exponentially higher quality of torrents will soon be flooding the web, if not already, but it means there’s now a completely legit official way to watch the film by purchasing the disc itself, given that Japan and the United States share a Blu Ray region. Granted, you’d probably want to wait until the inevitable release of a disc from Hong Kong, both for the fact that it would include English subtitles and be a great deal cheaper (I did the same thing myself when purchasing a copy of Miyazaki’s classic Castle in the Sky when I got too fed up with the poorly scripted “dubtitles” on the current Disney discs), but even without a translation it’s terribly tempting to be able to watch the movie at long last. After all, it’s not like comprehending the dialogue is necessary to enjoying the Eva experience, or even understanding the largescale plot convulsions or intimate character hysterics– all the emotions are right up there on the screen already, etched into the faces and myriad battles. I’m feeling that temptation, but trying to keep from giving in. Because no matter how convenient it would be to purchase and watch Eva 3.0 in the comfort of my own home, that’s not where it was meant to be seen, and no matter how long it takes, I’m determined to witness it for the first time on the big screen.

(more…)

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in-a-land-of-plenty-1

by Allan Fish

(UK 2001 487m) not on DVD

The writing on the wall

p  Claire Hirsch  d  David Moore, Hettie MacDonald  w  Kevin Hood, Neil Biswas  novel  Tim Pears  ph  Alwin Kuchler  ed  Bill Diver  m  Jocelyn Pook, Harvey Brough  art  Mark Stevenson  cos  Pam Tait, Dinah Collin

Robert Pugh (Charles Freeman), Helen McCrory (Mary Freeman), Shaun Dingwall (James Freeman), Kaye Wragg (Laura), Hazel Monaghan (Mina), Susannah Wise (Alice Freeman), Tony Maudsley (Simon Freeman), James Bradshaw (young James), Charlotte Salt (young Laura), Ravi Kapoor, Shirley Henderson, Kathleen Byron,

The BBC’s still baffling decision to only release to VHS despite the year of release hasn’t helped this masterpiece.  Nor did their decision to try and sneak it into the early year schedule like a wedding crasher.  One would be forgiven for thinking they were ashamed of it.  Yet let us make one thing perfectly clear, to say this is one of the great small screen achievements of the 21st century, despite being first shown only weeks into said century, does it a disservice.  It’s one of the great works of either screen of the modern era.

At its centre we have the Freeman family, headed by engineering industrialist Charles, and covers their lives from around 1952 to the mid 1990s.  Personal loves, hates and tragedies come and go, including a suicide and brutal murder, and continue to haunt not only the family but the fringe, in the shape of the housekeeper’s daughter. (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

Note: this was originally going to be written to appear on monday morning, but flights and internet problems delayed it, excuse any inconcistencies in terms of dates and other stuff. Enjoy!

I recall saying that I would make it in more installments, with a new edition last thursday, but the machine that is the seeing and writing about films just caught up, and since the festival ended yesterday I supposed I could just do the final round-up here on monday and call it a job well done. Besides, if I indeed had done the thing where I feature what I had seen since thursday til sunday, it wouldn’t have been spectacular, because I’ve seen fewer films those days because of my recent outings to different parts of Buenos Aires, I couldn’t escape the chance to actually visit and enjoy the city while I was there. Of course the priority was the watching of movies, but the organization for those who were on press missions, as well as the public transportation in Buenos Aires really played against me and my watching of different films in different places, but yes, to some extent I can say that I did enjoy Buenos Aires and its festival, I’m departing back to Chile today at night so I hope you guys enjoy this second part of my roundup of films seen at the 15th edition of the BAFICI.

For those new, you can check out the first part of this BAFICI revission here. So, let’s get to it, what did I watch?

Day 5 -April 15th

This was one of the hardest days of the festival, mainly because I was writing for last monday’s post on Wonders in the Dark until very late and I was a bit sleepy, thus, don’t trust me on many of the apreciations that I may do in this day of festival, just a small warning. So, I saw 4 movies, some are waited for, some are classics, all of them kinda interesting, so let’s see what this day held for me. (more…)

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boys-from-the-blackstuff-2-copy

by Allan Fish

(UK 1982 301m) DVD2

Gizzajob!

p  Michael Wearing  d  Philip Saville  w  Alan Bleasdale  ph  Keith Salmon, Brian Cave, Paul Woolston, John Kenway (and others)  ed  Mike Bloore, Greg Miller  m  Ilona Sekacz  art  David Attwood, Andrew Smith

Bernard Hill (“Yosser” Hughes), Michael Angelis (“Chrissie” Todd), Tom Georgeson (“Dixie” Dean), Julie Walters (Angie Todd), Alan Igbon (Loggo Logmond), Peter Kerrigan (George Malone), Gary Bleasdale (Kevin Dean), Tony Haygarth (Aitch), Paul Barber (Scotty), Jean Boht (Miss Sutcliffe), David Ross (Donald Moss), Chris Darwin (Snowy Malone), Clive Russell, Andrew Schofield, Ricky Tomlinson,

Oh, you can talk about the concrete and the boys who work the train, and the fellas in the hopper in the sun and wind and rain, but the boys who work the black stuff, sure they’re really rough and tough, when they’re working on the highway laying the old black stuff.”  The words of the opening song to the 1978 play The Black Stuff introduced us to the characters who, four years later, would really grow into the public consciousness in the serial masterpiece, Boys from the Blackstuff.

The original play documented how they lost their jobs in the first place, trying to organise a get rich foreigner while on a job laying tarmac in Middlesbrough for their boss.  The series took up a couple of years later, with the protagonists all claiming dole and/or social benefits due to being still out of work.  The action takes place over the course of five episodes, each dealing with a different character or plotline, yet running chronologically.  ‘Jobs for the Boys’ sees the boys get foreigners on a building site for a shifty Irish contractor who refuses to pay them as actual jobs.  ‘Moonlighter’ sees Dixie employed as a security guard on the docks but coerced into allowing a robbery to take place.  ‘Shop thy Neighbour’ showcases Chrissie’s marriage conflict as his wife grows impatient at his passivity and retreating into himself.  ‘Yosser’s Story’ showcases the nervous breakdown and complete emotional devastation of the eponymous Yosser.  Finally, ‘George’s Last Ride’ details the last days in the life of the elderly George, looking back on what has been a fighting, but possibly futile existence. (more…)

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Norwegian gem ‘Before Snowfall’ competes in Best Narrative competition at Tribeca Film Festival

Screen cap from extraordinary Kazakh film ‘Harmony Lessons’

by Sam Juliano

The 12th Tribeca Film Festival launched on Thursday and for Lucille and I it was quite a hectic four day weekend mainly spent watching fifteen (15) feature films at the Claridge Chelsea Cinemas and the SVA on 23rd Street and at the AMV Village 7 on 11st Street and Third Avenue.  The annual event will continue through Sunday, guaranteeing in the neighborhood of 18 to 20 more films before all is said and done, if current projections pan out.  Seeing such a formidable number of films in a relatively limited time window requires a good deal of stamina and the ability to choose the films that in the end are the right ones.  There is some luck involved of course, but advance research and a familiarity with the kind of films that make Tribeca such a unique venue will increase the chances for a favorable outcome.

While I plan to post a comprehensive and film-specific round-up after the festival’s conclusion next week, I would still like to size up the first batch of movies seen over the event’s opening days.  As it is now two films from abroad, the Norwegian Before Snowfall and the Kazakh-German Harmony Lessons, both stark and harrowing films that are strangely beautiful and wrenching emotional works are the finest I have seen to this point.  The latter film, driven by a fascinating surreal context and ravishing visuals, is helmed by the young director Emir Raigazin, and came close to winning the prestigious Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival last year, while.  Similarly the strong narrative underpinning of  the strangest of ‘road’ movies, Before Snowfall, garnered the oft-arresting film a major Scandinavian award for it’s Kazakh-Norwegian director Hisham Zaman, who followed up the Sunday afternoon screening with a most engaging Q & A at the CCC. (more…)

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1987

by Allan Fish

Best Picture The Dead, UK, John Huston (4 votes)

Best Director Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire (5 votes)

Best Actor Bruno Ganz, Wings of Desire (4 votes)

Best Actress Stéphane Audran, Babette’s Feast (4 votes)

Best Supp Actor R.Lee Ermey, Full Metal Jacket (10 votes)

Best Supp Actress Anjelica Huston, The Dead (6 votes)

Best Cinematography Henri Alekan, Wings of Desire & Vittorio Storaro, The Last Emperor (6 votes each, TIE!!!)

Best Score Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne, Cong Su, The Last Emperor (7 votes)

Best Short The Man Who Planted Trees, Canada, Frederic Back (5 votes)

(more…)

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By Bob Clark

For the past thirty-odd years or so, we’ve seen a great many directors rise to feature filmmaking through the gruelling creative workshops of making commercials and music-videos, and a couple of these directors have even been good. The obvious examples that spring to mind are Ridley Scott and David Fincher, guys who cut their teeth on television and special-effects in background roles before rising to the lead position on ads for computers and luxury cars and shorts for MTV, the necessary quick editing and flashy imagery of those bite-sized units of visual information becoming vital instruments in their gradual assimilation into theatrical cinema, both of them becoming pioneering figures of world-building and digital filmmaking. As directors, they benefited greatly from the periods they rose up in– Scott coming to prominence in the 70’s and 80’s when so many of the polished production genre and period pictures he gravitated to were still fairly novel and open to interpretation (Alien and Blade Runner have both proven at least as influential to the longstanding trends in science-fiction as any big or small-screen franchise with the word “star” in its title), and Fincher coming of cinematic age in the strange confluence of independent and studio-driven hard-R sensationalism of the 90’s (it’s hard to imagine as willfully antagonistic of audience expectations as Se7en even being conceived of, let alone greenlit, in the gore-drenched, but thematically rote horror cinema of today).

We’ve seen more migrate from the short forms on the small screen since then, the ones with the highest profiles mostly coming up with middling results– in many cases it’s sad to observe that oftentimes a director’s best work might be a mere commercial (Michael Bay’s Got Milk? ad) or music-video (Madonna’s Bedtime Stories, courtesy of Mark Romaneck). And though most of these directors have climbed into the major leagues during the same era as Fincher, they’ve achieved more of their successes during subsequent periods in which studios have shown less and less courage and imagination in the projects they push through the system– it’s truly depressing when you can look at projects as creatively barren and philosophically offensive as Armageddon or Bad Boys and see them as relative high-water marks in the overall career of a filmmaker which includes The Island and three Transformers movies (and counting). A sad truth for any director looking to work in high end productions is that much of their output is not truly going to be representative of their talent or personal choices as a whole, but instead will also at least partly be reflective of the commercial landscape that they come to bear in (one of the reasons the Movie Brats were able to get away with as much as they did in the 70’s is thanks to studios being bought by corporate types who didn’t yet know how movies really got made, and therefore didn’t know to get in the way). As such, it’s necessary to look at a director like Joseph Kosinski and be mindful of his position as a filmmaker in the second decade of the 21st century, especially when looking at his sophomore effort, Oblivion.

(more…)

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