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Archive for the ‘Allan’s Contemporary Cinema’ Category

heimat 1

by Allan Fish

(Germany 2013 225m) DVD2

Aka. Die Andere Heimat: Chronik einer Sehnsucht; Home from Home: Chronicle of a Vision

Where the sun goes when it sets here

p  Christian Reitz  d  Edgar Reitz  w  Edgar Reitz, Gert Heidenreich  ph  Gernot Roll  ed  Uwe Klimmeck  m  Michael Riessler  art  Anton Gerg, Hucky Horngerger

Jan Dieter Schneider (Jakob Simon), Antonio Bill (Henriette Niem), Maximilian Scheidt (Gustav Simon), Marita Breuer (Margarethe Simon), Rüdiger Kriese (Johann Simon), Philine Lembeck (Florine), Mélanie Fouché (Lena Seitz), Eva Zeidler (grandmother), Reinhar Paulus (uncle), Martin Habersheidt (Fürchtegott Niem), Christoph Luser (Franz Olm), Barbara Phillip (Mrs Niem), Andreas Külzer (Pastor Wiegand), Werner Herzog (Alexander von Humboldt),

After making the greatest trilogy of the German screen Edgar Reitz could be forgiven for considering his life’s work done.  There had been Heimat: Fragments, but that had been no more than a retrospective highlights package, adding nothing to the work that had gone before.  In 2013 the BBC unveiled the first series of Peter Moffat’s The Village, a series he intended to be a British Heimat.  What he probably didn’t know in writing it was that Reitz was penning a new chapter himself, not a continuation, but a prologue, a prequel to the original work.

The location, the village of Schabbach, is the same, except that it’s the early 1840s not 1918.  The village itself is barely a village, little more than a hamlet with a kirche, but with many other such villages in the vicinity.  It’s the period before the revolutions of 1848, a time when Schabbach was still a part of the Rhineland state in western Germany, with its capital in Mainz.  The Holy Roman Empire was no more and it was essentially under Prussian overlordship, but a bigger influence was coming from Emperor Pedro II of Portugal, who was campaigning for Europeans, and especially Germans, to up sticks and emigrate to the plains of South America.  Here we find Jakob Simon, a dreamer who has learnt the native language of Cayacachua and dreams of escaping.  Sadly, like another dreamer in Bedford Falls, his dreams are put on hold by familial devotion and essentially stolen by his brother Gustav, who first takes his girl Henriette when Jakob is imprisoned for a minor misdemeanour, and then later announces his intention to quit Germany and go to Brazil himself, leaving Jakob home with his otherwise helpless consumptive mother and blacksmith father.  (more…)

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em 3

by Allan Fish

(UK 2015 108m) DVD1/2

Mary in a black and white world

p  Andrew MacDonald, Allon Reich  d/w  Alex Garland  ph  Rob Hardy  ed  Mark Day  m  Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury  art  Mark Digby, Katrina Mackay

Domhnall Gleeson (Caleb), Oscar Isaac (Nathan), Alicia Vikander (Ava), Sonoyo Mizuno (Kyoko),

Early in Alex Garland’s directorial debut a reference is made to Lewis Carroll which, at the time, seems an apt one.  Yet in hindsight it seems a deliberately misleading one, like a trail of crumbs to lead one not out of the maze but into its heart.  It’s a film that jumps straight into its plot without any real set up, a sci-fi film which treats its protagonist – hero would be slightly misleading – like Charlie Bucket.  He’s found the golden ticket, won a competition.  He’s going to Willy Wonka’s factory, or in this case, to the remote mountain estate of a billionaire genius scientist who made his fortune from creating the world’s premier search engine.  So Caleb arrives to be met by the reclusive Nathan who wastes little time in informing him that he’s completed his search into creating an A.I. prototype, which he calls Ava.  Caleb is here to act as examiner of said prototype, to ask the necessary questions to see whether she is genuine artificial intelligence or merely simulating her emotions.  (more…)

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mom 1

by Allan Fish

(Canada 2014 138m) DVD1/

Selfie on a square screen

p  Nancy Grant, Xavier Dolan  d/w  Xavier Dolan  ph  André Turpin  ed  Xavier Dolan  m  Noia  art  Colombe Raby

Anne Dorval (Diana Després), Antoine-Olivier Pilon (Steve Després), Suzanne Clément (Kyla), Patrick Huard (Paul), Alexandre Goyette (Patrick), Michéle Lituac (director of centre), Viviane Pascal (Marthe), Natalie Hamel-Roy (Natacha),

Back in 2008, an Irish film was released that got little attention outside of the Emerald Isle, but which comes flooding back to memory upon watching Xavier Dolan’s Cannes Prix Jury winner.  On the surface they have little in common, except in a single artistic decision made by the director.  The film was Lance Daly’s Kisses, a tale of two kids, boy and girl, living in the slums on the outskirts of Dublin – who run away from their respective domestic hells to the city centre.  It begins in steely monochrome, but no sooner have they mounted a canal barge to make their journey to the Emerald City, their world slowly – and I mean slowly – begins to discover its colour, until by the time they reach the city centre, the monochrome has entirely been dispelled.  (more…)

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burg 3

by Allan Fish

(UK 2014 104m) DVD1/2

Let’s see if you’ve done your job properly

p  Andrew Starke  d/w  Peter Strickland  ph  Nic Knowland  ed  Mathias Fekete  m  Cat’s Eyes  art  Pater Sparrow, Renato Cseh, Zsuzsa Mihalek  cos  Andrea Flesch  sound  Martin Pavey, Rob Entwistle

Sidse Babett Knudsen (Cynthia), Chiara d’Anna (Evelyn), Monica Swinn (Lorna), Fatma Mohamed (the carpenter), Kata Bartsch (Dr Lurida), Eugeni Caruso (Dr Fraxini),

Upon the release of his Berberian Sound Studio a few years ago, Peter Strickland was feted in many circles, especially by critics with a solid grounding in Italian horror and giallo.  Sound really was the key character in that film, and yet, while Toby Jones’ typically committed performance deserved all the praise levelled at it, the film itself tended to fade from memory even as one was watching it.  Intriguing, yes, but not yet visionary. (more…)

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mr turner 2

by Allan Fish

(UK 2014 150m) DVD1/2

Mr Mallord Goes to Margate

p  Georgina Lowe  d/w  Mike Leigh  ph  Dick Pope  ed  Jon Gregory  m  Gary Yershon  art  Suzie Davies  cos  Jacqueline Durran

Timothy Spall (J.M.W.Turner), Paul Jesson (William Turner) Dorothy Atkinson (Hannah Danby), Marion Bailey (Sophia Booth), Karl Johnson (Mr Booth), Ruth Sheen (Sarah Danby), Lesley Manville (Mary Somerville), Martin Savage (Benjamin Haydon), James Fleet (Constable),

During the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony I was engaged in a discussion on Twitter and remember asking what would the ceremony have been like if, instead of Danny Boyle, it had been directed by Mike Leigh.  One of the replies stated that it would have just been a few hundred people milling around (you can see it, can’t you?).  At that time Leigh hadn’t made a film for a couple of years but he was already considering his next project, an unconventional biopic of the greatest of British artists, J.M.W.Turner.  Timothy Spall seemed a natural choice, but Leigh insisted that his old partner-in-crime spend two years learning how to sketch and paint.  When one sees the film one may wonder why when considering that we don’t see much of Spall in the act of creating his art.  What Leigh wanted, however, was for Spall to act like a painter, to act like someone with a painter’s eye; in short, to look, feel and live the part. (more…)

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jinx 2

by Allan Fish

(USA 2015 280m) DVD1

Be careful what you step in

p  Marc Smerling, Andrew Jarecki  d  Andrew Jarecki  w  Andrew Jarecki, Marc Sterling, Zachary Stuart-Pontier  ph  Marc Smerling  ed  Zachary Stuart-Pontier  m  West Dylan Thordson, John Kusiak

Captain Blackadder, arraigned for the murder of a delicious, plump-breasted pigeon called Speckled Jim, sends a message with a plea for help from one Bob Massingbird QC, the greatest lawyer in all England.  The Captain recalled Massingbird’s most famous case, the Case of the Bloody Knife; “a man was found next to a murdered body.  He had the knife in his hand. Thirteen witnesses had seen him stab the victim. And when the police arrived, he said ‘I’m glad I killed the bastard!’  Massingbird not only got him off, he got him knighted in the New Year’s Honours List and the relatives of the victim had to pay to wash the blood out of his jacket.” (more…)

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is2

by Allan Fish

(USA 2014 169m) DVD1/2

Worrying about our place in the dirt

p  Lynda Obst, Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan  d  Christopher Nolan  w  Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan  ph  Hoyte van Hoytema  ed  Lee Smith  m  Hans Zimmer  art  Nathan Crowley  cos  Mary Zophres  spc  John Kelso, Michael Clarke

Matthew McConaughey (Cooper), Anne Hathaway (Brand), Michael Caine (Prof.Brand), Jessica Chastain (Murph), David Gyasi (Romilly), Matt Damon (Mann), Mackenzie Foy (Murph, aged 10), Casey Affleck (Tom), David Oyelowo (principal), Ellen Burstyn (old Murph), John Lithgow (Donald), Wes Bentley (Doyle), Bill Irwin (voice of TARS),

In retrospect, Interstellar was always coming, and it’s with some irony that I say that.  Christopher Nolan has always been bending and readjusting cinematic dimensions.  In Memento he made a backwards movie, playing with narrative convention.  In The Prestige he played with perception, how our eyes and minds play tricks with us and allow ourselves to be fooled.  In Inception he played with the dimension walls within dreams, fitting them inside each other like Russian dolls.  After all that, what else is there but to try and bend the actual space-time continuum itself?  And what better year to do it than in the same year that a more traditional cinematic statue was being put up to Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything, which could even be the title of Nolan’s sci-fi opus.  (more…)

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