Archive for the ‘author Allan Fish’ Category


by Allan Fish

(USSR 1974 106m) DVD1/2

Aka. Zerkalo

Andrei’s childhood

p  E.Waisberg  d  Andrei Tarkovsky  w  Andrei Tarkovsky, Alexsandr Misharin  ph  Georgy Rerberg  ed  L.Feiginova  m  Eduard Artemyev  art  Nikolai Dvigubsky

Margarita Terekhova (Alexei’s mother, Natalia), Philip Yankovsky (Alexei, aged 9), Ignat Daniltsev (Ignat/Alexei, aged 12), Oleg Yankovsky (Father), Alla Demidova (Lisa), Anatoli Solinitsin (doctor), Larissa Tarkovskaya (Nadezha), Innokenti Smoktunovsky (narrator), Arseny Tarkovsky (narrator poetry),

Tarkovsky’s most personal meditation, Mirror is undoubtedly one of the greatest cinematic poems put on celluloid, as well as one of the most beautiful.  It’s a film that undoubtedly will infuriate as many as it will captivate, but I guarantee that anyone who watches it once in a state of rapture will continue to do so in later life.  Like the dreams and remembrances of its protagonist, its memories haunt you for years to come.

A perfect example of this is in the first shot in which we see Terekhova.  She is sitting, back to the camera, atop a wooden fence looking out over a meadow at dusk.  In the distance we see a man approaching.  Then the camera cuts into Terekhova’s face as she smokes a cigarette.  Ever since I first saw that shot it has troubled me, haunting me every time I see it.  As if recalling a memory locked deep in the subconscious that I cannot summon to the conscious.  And the conscious and the subconscious play a large factor here, as there is undoubtedly a dreamlike quality to Mirror.  It’s a film that does not lend itself to a plot synopsis, but does lend itself to unprecedented interpretation.  Just as Terekhova on that fence to me represents that which is lost in time, she could signify something totally different to someone else.  It’s this dreamlike quality, intensified by Rerberg’s gorgeous photography (cutting back and forth from the golden bathed colour into which Terekhova’s hair seems to meld to sepia tinted monochrome) in the infamous magic hour that gives the film its soul.  But a soul in itself needs an expression and Tarkovsky is that mouthpiece.  Mingling together contrasting images of his own childhood and archival footage of the wars and revolutions of the 20th century, he manages to capture the very essence of his nation’s soul in its most turbulent century.  (more…)

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fwib 2

by Allan Fish

(Philippines 2014 336m) not on DVD

Aka. Mula sa kung ano ang noon

Bai rahmah will arrive in full moon

p Krzysztof Dabrowski, Lav Diaz d/w Lav Diaz ph Lav Diaz ed Lav Diaz art Liryc Paolo Dela Cruz, Kim Perez

Perry Dizon (Sito Almazan), Roeder Camanag (Tony), Hazel Orencio (Itang), Karenina Haniel (Joselina), Reynan Abcede (Hakob), Joel Saracho (Father Guido), Evelyn Vargas (Miss Acevedo), Miles Canapi (Heding), Ian Lomongo (Lt.Perdido), Bambi Beltran (Bai Rahmah), Dea Formacil (Tinang), Ching Valdes-Aran (Babu),

When Lav Diaz’s Norte, the End of History played in the English-speaking world, it was greeted with a sense akin to rapture. One recalls Peter Bradshaw’s referring to it as a Dosteyevskian saga, and he wasn’t far wrong, but you won’t find an entry for Norte here, because to these eyes Norte seemed conformist, diluted from Diaz’s real vision. I had the advantage of knowing Diaz’s work well prior to Norte, and it seemed phoney; it’s shot in colour for starters, and in ‘Scope, and was only barely four hours long; a marathon for western viewers, a mere prawn side salad for Lav. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1925 117m) DVD1

Aka. Faces of Children

Portrait of mama

p  Dimitri de Zoubaloff, François Porchet  d  Jacques Feyder  w  Jacques Feyder, Françoise Rosay  ph  Leonce-Henri Burel, Paul Parguel  ed/art  Jacques Feyder

Jean Forest (Jean Amsler), Victor Vina (Pierre Amsler), Rachel Devirys (Jeanne Dutois), Arlette Peyran (Arlette Dutois), Pierrette Houyez (Pierrette Amsler), Henri Duval (Curé of Vissoy), Suzy Vernon (Jean’s mother), Charles Barrois,

My first sighting of this celebrated but long unseen silent drama was, as with many other films of its era, in Brownlow and Gill’s all-encompassing Cinema Europe series back in 1995.  Like many of the films seen therein, I little expected to ever get to see them in their entirety, so it was with great pleasure that the announcement of a DVD release of this and other Jacques Feyder silents was greeted in 2006.  By some fluky coincidence, I watched it the same day I reviewed Jean Delannoy’s magisterial tragedy La Symphonie Pastorale, for both share one fundamental common factor; the location, namely the snow-covered peaks of the Swiss Alps.

Shot and set in the Upper Valois region of the Alps, the film takes place in the village of Saint-Luc, where we find a house in mourning for the loss of its matriarch.  Her widower and their two children witness her coffin bring brought down the stairs for burial, and father and son, Jean, follow the funeral cortege to the burial place.  There, Jean faints, overcome with the emotion of the tragic event, and he begins to retreat into a personal form of mourning.  His father, however, decides after a suitable bereavement period has passed to marry again, and chooses a woman who had also lost her spouse and in need of a father for her young daughter.  From the outset, Jean does not take kindly to his step-mother and especially his step-sister, between whom an animosity develops.  This finally comes to head when, after tossing away his step-sister’s favourite doll when on a sleigh journey, he sends her out into the wintry conditions to look for it, only for an avalanche to leave her stranded and Jean guilt-stricken.  (more…)

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mg 1

by Allan Fish

(USSR 1938 100m) DVD1

Aka. Maxim Gorki Trilogy: Part I; Detstvo Gorkogo

Ode to a grandmother

d  Mark Donskoi  w  Ilya Gruzdev, Mark Donskoi  ph  Pyotr Yermalov  ed  Mark Donskoi  m  Lev Schwartz  art  Ivan Stepanov

Alexei Lyarsky (Aleksei Peshkov), Yelizaveta Alekseyava (Varvara Kashirina Peshkova), Mikhail Troyanovski (Vasili Vasilyevich Kashirin), Valeria Massalitinova (Akulina Ivanva Kashirin), Daniil Sagaal (Ivan), Vasili Novikov (Uncle Yakov), Aleksandr Zhukov (Uncle Mikhail), S.Tokhonorov (The Lodger), K.Zubkov (Old Grigori), Igor Smirnov (Alexei), E.Marnaev (Sacha Kashirin),

Mark Donskoi’s famous Maxim Gorky trilogy holds a special place in the hearts of film-lovers everywhere.  It isn’t faultless, and certainly the first part is vastly superior to the second and third instalments, My Apprenticeship and My Universities, hence it being the only one included here.  It’s like getting into a DeLorean, cranking it up to 88mph and letting the flux capacitor do its thing, for we really are transported back in time.  As Gorky himself is quoted in the opening caption, “in bringing the past to life I myself find it difficult to believe that all this really happened, but truth is above compassion.” (more…)

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visit 3

by Allan Fish

(Italy 1964 108m) DVD2 (Italy only)

Aka. La Visita

Donald Duck the parrot

p  Moris Ergas  d  Antonio Pietrangeli  w  Antonio Pietrangeli, Ruggero Maccari  story  Ettore Scola, Ruggero Maccari, Gino de Santis  ph  Armando Nannuzzi  ed  Eraldo da Roma  m  Armando Trovajoli  art  Luigi Scaccianoce

Sandra Milo (Pina), François Périer (Adolfo di Palma), Mario Adorf (Cucaracha), Angela Minervini (Chiaretta), Gastone Mochine (Renato Gusso),

Coming as it did at the height of the Italian art-house flowering, it’s not surprising that films such as this slipped through the cracks.  With Fellini and Antonioni reinventing themselves and Italian cinema from their neo-realist roots, the Gothic horrors of Bava and co. at their peak and enfants terribles like Pasolini and Bertolucci making a name for themselves, there were always going to be directors who fells through the cracks.  One such director is surely Antonio Pietrangeli, a director sadly taken from us far too soon and perhaps best known for his 1960 Golden Lion nominee Adua e le Compagne, a decent film in its own right, but a precursor for things to come that few outside Italy would get chance to see.  In a landscape of Italian film we think we know so well, it’s a film to make us adjust our preconceptions. (more…)

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wc 2

by Allan Fish

(UK 2014 77m) DVD2

1827 days in hell…with Roy Wood

p  Barney Reisz  d  Carl Tibbetts  w  Charlie Brooker  ph  George Steel  m  John Opstad  art  Joel Collins

Jon Hamm (Matt), Rafe Spall (Potter), Oona Chaplin (Greta), Natalia Tena (Jennifer), Janet Montgomery (Beth), Rasmus Hardiker (Harry), Dan Li (Tim),

Think of Christmas specials on TV in 2014.  Easy to think of Doctor Who, especially as 2014’s Christmas special was the best yuletide adventure for the Timelord there has yet been, in its way a far from cosy piece, hinting at the nightmarish world of dreams.  Then there was Faye Marsay’s Shona, dancing through a sick bay to Slade, strumming her leg like a guitar.  Over on Channel 4, though, something very different was brewing, no Crimbo special with Santa saving the day with his reindeer.  No, kiddies, Jack Skellington has taken over Christmas with a very real nightmare.

As a whole Black Mirror has been a mixed bag, but you daredn’t miss an episode for fear of missing a corker.  The first season in particular had unforgettable moments with poor Rory Kinnear’s Prime Minister given a dilemma and a half and Rupert Everett essentially playing a Simon Cowell from a nightmarish future.  White Christmas is another nightmarish future, but one which leaves you feeling like Holmes after Moriarty takes his blood out pint by pint.  It’s against a golden rule of inclusion, taking out one episode from a series, but the fact is that White Christmas is just too good to leave behind, as much as a warning as entertainment.  (more…)

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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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