Tuesday, June 20, 2017
This book is like a peek under the hood as to how dictionaries get made, with the additional bonus of a genuinely interesting human drama. Lots of period atmosphere, some of it of the implausible and unknowable detail kind; that would be fine as part of the scenario for a TV drama-doc...in fact, this could make a really nice one.
Pleased to discover that the author is really called Steven Harper Piziks, and that he has a website. I may be forced to write to him.
Relatively faithful to the book, from what I can understand, though I am not sure how ambiguous the ending is in that - here I was still left wondering whether Rachel was, or was not, a murderer who is trying to poison the central male character. Very dark, but good. I must read the book.
Watched at the Vue in Stroud, where the air conditioning was one of the main benefits.
A really good film with a strong story and good characters.
Watched in the middle floor at Springhill via laptop and projector.
Friday, June 16, 2017
Well, everyone loved this, but I was a bit bored. Maybe I was tired, but I kept falling asleep so I missed bits. I didn't see where the girl who the film's about had to deal with the hostility evoked by her contesting an age-old tradition that only men could hunt with eagles. Actually most people in Mongolia seemed really supportive, though there were a few funny expressions on the faces of the grand old men of eagle hunting. There didn't seem to be any resistance at all to her participating in the eagle hunting contest, even though no women had ever participated before (maybe I missed that while I was asleep).
None of her fellow schoolgirls are at all interested in learning to hunt, so this is more a plucky individual triumph than a feminist film. The men in her family, and her mum, are all really supportive.
Lots of beautiful shots of the Altai mountains, with great aerial photography. But it is about hunting foxes...funny how the audience is all rooting for the girl and the eagle, rather than the fox, whereas if it was being hunted by hounds in the English countryside we'd all be on the side of the fox.
Watched at Lansdowne film club.
Still, it was mainly a sweet film, with some beautiful shots of the frozen enchanted castle, and some good scary wolves in the forest scenes. I also quite liked it when the villagers, whipped up by the evil Gaston, prepared to storm the Beast's castle, but of course they are turned back by the brave servants/household objects. Funny how we are never meant to identify with castle-stormers in movies.
If anyone knows of any films where the peasants storming a castle are (a) the goodies and (b) successful then please let me know.
Watched in the Middle Floor at Springhill, obtained via informal distribution.
Sunday, June 11, 2017
There are several scenes of Norman in a synagogue, listening to a choir or talking the rabbi - about donations and benefactors, of course. There's something unattractive about this, though it's hard to put a finger on what it is. The film ends with Norman demonstrating that he has his own moral code of loyalty (to his friends, to Judaism and Israel) and remains true to it, even it's not the same as everyone else's. It's also made clear that he isn't motivated by personal gain or wealth for himself, which he seems not to have or want.
It's well acted and good to look at it, and interesting - but not what I could call enjoyable.
Watched at the Phoenix in East Finchley at what seems to have been a special showing - no ads, no trailers, and I don't think the film is on general release.
This is probably one of the best films that Terry Gilliam has ever made (probably Bruce Willis's best film ever too). The look of it is great (I noticed in the credits that the design of the interrogation room is based on the work of American architect Lebbeus Woods, who I had never heard of. There is a lot of 'ruin porn' - not only in the future-set scenes, which are supposed to be after an apocalyptic disaster, but also in the scenes set in the 1990s.
Unlike in some other Gilliam movies, there are proper characters, with proper relationships between them, and a well-developed story with pace that stays the length of the film. Surprising that it wasn't based on a book, but instead was a sort of homage to La Jetée, a short (28 minute) French film that miraculously manages to cover much of the same plot within the time constraint.
Watched in the middle floor at Springhill, via an informal streaming site rather than my usual informal distribution network.
Monday, June 05, 2017
The central character is voiced by David Thewlis, as an Englishman who has long lived in LA - he's an expert and motivational speaker in customer service, and is in Cincinnati to give a talk. The faux-glamour of the business hotel, the meaninglessness of his presentation, the depressing taxi ride from airport to hotel - it's all captured perfectly. There's also the most awkward, unbearable sex scene, and some horror nightmare scenes in the basement of the hotel.
Not everyone liked this film, but I thought it was really evocative and affecting.
Watched in the Middle Floor at Springhill via a laptop and informal distribution.
Friday, May 26, 2017
Watched at The Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley.
Tuesday, May 02, 2017
It's set in London during the blitz, and it feels very realistic. It can't do the smells of Underground shelters, but it does the texture and the sounds very well, recreating a world before synthetic textiles and materials. It rather connected me with the mindset of Brexit voters; for many people Europe must never entirely have lost the association with the place from which the BEF had to be rescued and from where the bombers came. The film does have a bit of a Brexit vibe - look at the poster.
Most of all it made me think a lot about how much trauma and anguish my mum must have gone through at this time. Her family stayed in London during the worst of the blitz - her parents didn't want the children to be evacuated because they believed it was more important for the family to keep together. Recently I've been directed to read this article about epigenetics, and I guess that part of my heritage - either genetic or psychological - is my mum's lived experience of the bombing of London. It struck me that the essence of the blitz experience was the randomness and meaningless of death - one character dies in his flat, another misses a bomb because she worked late that night. Isn't that a perfect description of the 'learned helplessness' model of depression? Has anyone else made the connection between this and the apparent epidemic of affective diseases in post-war Britain?
Normally I hate films about film-making...they strike me as over-indulgent. But I really liked this, even though a lot of the jokes and plot turn on the mechanics of making a film. Couldn't help thinking about what it must have been like to have watched a war film, about the evacuation at Dunkirk, with an audience full of people who had actually been there.
Watched in the Crouch End Arthouse Cinema at an early show on a Tuesday evening, with almost no-one in the audience.
It's the late 1960s and early 1970s, and I couldn't help thinking how much happier they'd have been if they'd left Wyoming/Texas and gone to San Francisco. But they can't - at least the Heath Ledger character can't, because though he's more or less disconnected from almost everyone, he is still connected to his kids and doesn't want to turn his back on them. I once had an email conversation with a secretly atheist hasid, about why he didn't leave the community that he clearly held in such contempt, and he answered in much the same terms.
Watched on the big screen at Springhill, via informal download.
It's a western with a lot of shooting and horse scenes, but it's not so bad - some interesting young/old dynamics, a bit about what happens to people who spend their whole life chasing something (Stephen Rea as the Irish Pinkerton who has never believed that Butch was dead), and a decent enough twist.
Watched on TV via Chromecast and BBC iPlayer.
Watched in the Middle Floor at Springhill via informal distribution.