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Archive for the ‘Allan’s Contemporary Cinema’ Category

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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ws 1

by Allan Fish

(Turkey 2014 196m) DVD1/2

Aka. Kis Uykusu

Flowers of the Steppes

p  Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan  d  Nuri Bilge Ceylan  w  Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Ebru Ceylan  ph  Gökhan Tiryaki  ed  Böra Göksingöl, Nuri Bilge Ceylan  art  Gamze Kus

Haluk Bilginer (Aydin), Melisa Sözen (Nihal), Demet Akbag (Necla), Serhat Mustafa Kilic (Hamdi), Ayberk Pekcan (Hidayet), Nejat Isler (Ismail), Tamer Levent (Suavi), Emirhan Doruktutan (Ilyas), Rabia Özel (Fatma), Ekrem Ilhan (Ekrem), Mehmet Ali Nuroglu (Timur), Fatma Deniz Yildiz (Sevda),

Despite the efforts of Yilmaz Güney in the seventies and eighties, surely no director has so succeeded in putting Turkish cinema on the world map than Nuri Bilge Ceylan.  The Turkey we feel we complacently know in the west is a Turkey long gone, the heritage of Anatolia, Asia Minor and Byzantium, of the golden city of Constantinople, of the prized Hellespont and of the Troy brought back from myth by Heinrich Schliemann.  In Once Upon a Time in Anatolia Ceylan gave us a different Turkey, and he arguably goes further in this, perhaps his greatest film to date.  (more…)

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ida a

by Allan Fish

Ida (Poland 2013 80m) DVD2 (Poland only)

Travels With My Aunt

Piotr Dzieciol, Eva Puszczynska, Eric Abraham  d  Pawel Pawlikowski  w  Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Pawel Pawlikowski  ph  Ryszard Lenczewski, Lucasz Zal  ed  Jaroslaw Kaminski  m  Kristian Eidnes Andersen  art  Katarzyna Sobanska-Strzalkowska, Marcel Slawinski

Ageta Kulesza (Wanda Gruz), Agata Trzebuckowska (Ida Lebenstein), Dawid Ogrolnik (Lis), Jerzy Trela (Szymon), Joanna Kulig (singer), Adam Szyszkowski (Feliks), Halina Skoczynska (mother superior),

The critical and financial failure of Pawel Pawlikowski’s misjudged 2011 film The Woman in the Fifth, coming after seven years after his previous film (the much better received My Summer of Love) could have been enough to have some commentators wondering if he could recover from it.  So when Ida was announced for the London Film Festival in the autumn of 2013, I was trying to put his last misfire to the back of my mind.  Unable to attend the festival, it was on DVD that I was always likely to see it first.  But nothing could really prepare me for what I was about to see.

Ida is really several films in one; not narratively speaking, but thematically.  Set in 1962, it follows young Ida, an orphan at a convent who is informed that she must speak to her only living relative before she is able to take her vows.  This relative, her Aunt Wanda, is a former state prosecutor well respected inside the party but who has turned more and more to promiscuity and drink.  She tells Ida that her parents were actually Jewish and died during the war, murdered before they could even be sent to their deaths at the Nazis’ factories of death.  Ida and Wanda agree on a trip to see the primitive house where her family once resided and there come up against a wall of silence from those now living there.  They are sent on a wild goose chase, during which time Ida meets a young musician.  Finally they learn the truth about Ida’s parents’ death, but how will the two women react to this final act of closure? (more…)

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Nymphomaniac a

by Allan Fish

(Denmark 2013 241m) DVD1/2

Mea vulva, mea vulva, mea maxima vulva

p  Louise Vesth  d/w  Lars Von Trier  ph  Manuel Alberto Claro  ed  Morten Hojbjerg, Molly Marlene Stensgard  art  Simone Grau

Charlotte Gainsbourg (older Joe), Stacy Martin (young Joe), Stellan Skarsgard (Seligman), Shia LaBeouf (Jerome), Christian Slater (Joe’s father), Connie Nielsen (Joe’s mother), Jamie Bell (K), Willem Dafoe (L), Sophie Kennedy Clark (B), Hugo Speer (Mr H), Uma Thurman (Mrs H), Felicity Gilbert (Liz), Jesper Christensen (Jerome’s uncle), Saskia Reeves (nurse), Kate Ashfield (therapist), Mia Goth (P), Michael Pas (old Jerome), Jean-Marc Barr (debtor), Udo Kier (waiter), Laura Christensen (babysitter),

Agent provocateur, enfant terrible, just plain naughty boy, call him what you like, any Lars Von Trier film is an event.  In the case of Nymphomaniac it was anticipated more than perhaps any other.  Those expecting something sexually arousing, however, may find themselves disappointed.  After all, don’t forget that this is the concluding part of his trilogy about depression, and when I say that it’s more depressing than either Antichrist or Melancholia, you should take pause.

It follows Joe, the sex addict of the title, who is found in an alley by intellectual Seligman, who takes her back to his flat to recuperate when she refuses to have the police called.  There he presses her about why she didn’t want the emergency services to come, and she tells him it’s a long story.  He’s happy to listen, so she tells him the story of her life and why she is, in her own words, an awful human being.  She goes back to her childhood with a kindly doctor father and an ice-cold mother, and takes in the loss of her virginity and her various friendships and lovers over the years. (more…)

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Scarlett Johansson Under the Skin

by Allan Fish

(UK 2013 108m) DVD1/2

The girl who fell to earth

Nick Wechsler, James Wilson  d  Jonathan Glazer  w  Jonathan Glazer, Walter Campbell  novel  Michel Faber  ph  Daniel Landin  ed  Paul Watts  m  Mica Levi  art  Chris Oddy

Scarlett Johansson (Laura), Paul Brannigan (Andrew), Jessica Mance (alien), Krystof Hádek (swimmer), Scott Dymond, Michael Moreland,

After watching Under the Skin Mark Cousins tweeted “if movies hadn’t evolved out of other art forms, like the novel or theatre, what would they have looked like?  Like Under the Skin.”  Ne’er a truer word was tweeted, and yet it’s a statement that also gets to the heart of why the film was always going to be so divisive.  Many film writers, critics and commentators and the vast majority of audiences are set in their ways.  They like their films to have a linear narrative.  They can jump forward and back in time, so long as they explain everything by the end credits.  Under the Skin is a film that is happy to explain nothing.  It revels in its ambiguity.  To appreciate it one has to take a quantum leap, not to wonder what will happen next but to wonder what we will see next.  (more…)

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