"After all those interchangeable gangster flicks with Ray Winstone putting the frighteners on folk in Thameside-Tarantino dialogue, all hail to SEXY BEAST, the best British crime pic in years. Following the promise of Paul McGuigan's 1999 GANGSTER NO 1 (by the same screenwriters, Louis Mellis and David Scinto), Jonathan Glazer's film isn't just about crime, it is about life, death, birth, love, pain and the whole damn thing..."
American Cinema Papers
"Showmen are people who must please the world. Artists are people who must please themselves. If they have a strong communicable vision, they will please other people in the process." -Harlan Kennedy FRSA
"And some veterans never grow old at all; for them death shall have no run at the Dominion. Jean-Luc Godard is still annoying us at age 70 and has a film in this year's fest, ELOGE DE L'AMOUR...The ageless Ermanno Olmi contributes THE PROFESSION OF ARMS. Japan's twice-palmed Shohei Imamuri is back with LUKEWARM WATERS UNDER A RED BRIDGE
("Er, Shohei, about this title, we at MGM/Miramax/Sony Classics think."). And how can we suppose there won't be a film from Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal's famous ninety-something, and Raul Ruiz, France's most famous Chilean."
"The great game at movie binges has always been to define the Big Idea underlying all the films. It could be feminism, or bank-robbing, or the influence of Bakunin on modern philosophy, or sex. Actually it is always sex. That is the constant, merely changing partners from year to year (sex and feminism, sex and bank-robbing, sex and Bakunin) ..."
"India is a land of beautiful, inspired madness: Edward Lear out of Rudyard Kipling. It is make-believe posing as reality, or vice versa. It is a sumptuous mythological theatre where foreign guests are granted a priceless privilege....Ah India, ah cinema. Its national industry has no equal in the world. It lures 12 million people daily to movie theatres. It makes 800 films a year, twice Hollywood's number."
"From Rob Roy, Braveheart, and the retro-whimsical Loch Ness it is a small but quantum leap to Danny Boyd's Shallow Grave successor, Trainspotting, and Gillies MacKinnon's Small Faces. Scotland's soul is being bared by her native helmers with increasing wit and mordancy..."
"The German soul: now there's a subject that could keep us up all night. The horrors of history were opened up on film like the contents of an infinitely capacious Pandora's Box at the 52nd Berlinale."
"As Gore Vidal quipped in Fellini Roma, some cities are better than others to watch the end of the world from. Or the beginning of a new world... Now 50, a movie event that used to be leftishly sectarian is becoming startlingly evenhanded with age and national unification."
"It's full of silence and poignancy of the time. Set during a famous 1970's garbage strike, when black bags blobbed the land from scotland to land's end and rats thought heaven had arrived early, the film all but equates detritus and disorder with life, and hope; order, cleanliness with death."
"Narrative cinema is going through convulsions at present, stretching sprinter's muscles to long-distance runner's (think Magnolia). And in many films the in-betweening the scenes or details that old producer-pressured auteurs might have left on the cutting-room floor are becoming the essence not the grace-notes."
Innocense, astonishment, questioning, doubt, these are the sacraments of life. Christ came to us in the form of an ordinary human being and thus made ordinary humanity divine. Camminacammina is a little chant you might use to a child. It means: Keep walking, keep walking!
The texture of Blade Runner is a densely figured kinetic tapestry. There are antiphonal layers of color and shading. The burnished gold skyscrapers glint above the the Stygian forlornness of the streets. Bulging Egyptian-style pillars stand amid the grime of sidewalks. There are tangy mixtures of race, color, and lingo out in the streets, as Hispanics Orientals, and WASPs jostle in an eternal film noir nighttown. And then there are the 'replicants'...
"Andrei Tarkovsky spent 30 years plowing up movie convention so that a new kind of cinema could grow. His imagery was one of reversal: opposites coexist or swap places. The world is renewed when seen inside-out or mirror-reversed."
The Arctic weather leaked through windows --my hotel, for instance, with its wall-sampler reading "Strength Through Cold" -- but the festival was red hot.
Context is a sobering thing. The big-bang 53rd Berlin Film Festival coincided exactly with the 12 billionth year of the universe's creation and the 4 ½ billionth year of the Earth's. Talk about timing....talk about movies....
Ah Cannes. Twenty filmmakers are invited to a spot isolated from the rest of civilization. A mysterious host has left mysterious instructions. Then, one by one, the films are shot dead - by critics and a gang of jurors - until only one is left alive and kicking. That film and its owner then claim the grand prize: the Golden Palm of the Cannes Film Festival. And the adventure's worth it!
"Everyone went crazy. Cheers rang out in the lush Palazzo del Cinema auditorium. Men stood up, women stood up. Ageing dignitaries in the balcony ratcheted themselves into an ovation position. From wall to wall swept the Venetian wave of movement, the sea-like surge of applause."
Tess is about regeneration and continuation... The author, Thomas Hardy, links her to the rhythm of nature, within a Victorian society at odds with everything spontaneous and natural. She is the first truly modern heroine.
A pinpricking plethora of puns. The Carry-On films deserve pride of place as the collective court jester in those movies where everyone is "on stage" and hunt the subtext becomes a truly underground activity.
During World War 2 the stiff upper lip became the all-defining heraldic emblem. That odd area of rigor vitae between an Englishman's nose and mouth was an advertisemant for the superglue of empire and Britain's flair for bloody battle and lofty prattle.
In Berlin, anniversaries rose up like Krakens from the deep. They flailed their tails and gnashed their scaly teeth; they roared, firebreathed and ravened; they woke us with a start in the morning and threw us into bed, exhausted by battle, at night. All in all. It was a fun time.
"Halfway through life I found myself in a dark forest" Dante said about Cannes. (No, he didn't ! - ed.) (Ah well, your're right - HK). What Dante meant to say was that the Cannes Film Festival is a movie hot spot filled with champagne light and luscious lollipops...
A poignant film, pitch-perfect in mood, tempo and atmosphere – won the top prize, the Venice Golden Lion, for Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev. Stop what you’re doing, drop everything, and go see it now!
An orange fog wrapped Venice in its’ cool fiery cloak – the result of Saharan sands blown high and far. That was Spring: the Mostra del Cinema was late Summer. No problemo.
He was an old dogface and proud of it. Chomping on an ever-present cigar he’d grab you with his intense eloquence and passion about movies, life and the hell of war. The movie battlefield that was Cannes 2004 honoured his memory with special screenings of THE BIG RED ONE; a soldiers view of war and killing, rage and humanity. Sam left his mark big time and he is missed.
There is no escaping the velvet claw of Venice, once the lion wakes, stretches itself, and sights you. There is blood before bedtime in this movie, you intuit it early in The Comfort of Strangers..."My friends..."
".... I cannot plan a film as a script or as a storyboard. I need the camera; I need the actors; I need reality to whisper to me. If you leave the door open to reality, the smell of reality is so strong, it adds so much. It attacks and enters and infiltrates."
The Falls is a dovetailing of lawless arbitrariness with an obsessive orderliness that is spellbinding. Anarchist and activist are yoked together in a demented bureaucratic acte gratuit,as if an existential poetry had blown through the corridors of institutionalism whooshing the dust off the filing cabinets and making the dossiers dance.
The Tempest is High-Concept morality drama. But as its movie shelflife suggests, its also much more. The timetable is tight and the metaphors are not in the verse but in the plot itself. Oh that Shakespeare...
It takes more than a chance upsurge of jazzy FX genius in Hollywood's palpitating – pelt and elastic – nose departments to explain why so many screen stars are being pursued through the woods and streets by furry ravening mutants or red-eyed hand-held cameras. . .
Mike Leigh makes some of the saddest, funniest films in the English language. Life is sweet.
What an eerie film this is. What a violent film. What a haunting film, restoring the gospel story to its livid, vivid life even as it dwells on that story’s entanglement in pain, sacrifice, horror and death. Martyrdom is not a pretty thing.
Britain is the country of Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Bernard Shaw; of Garrick, Kean, and Oliver. It represents – at least in reputation – the aristocracy of theatrical tradition, the lawbook of theatrical style, and the yardstick of theatrical achievement.
While training at the Bristol Old Vic "one wasn't allowed near a stage for the first year or so. We were like over-trained greyhounds straining in the slips. We worked on scenes from The Cherry Orchard or Romeo and Juilet but we never did. . ."
Like a chameleon, moments of unbelievable inertia in Guinness alternate with equally unbelievable transfigurations. The colors change, the eye flickers, a new challenge is scented and the toung – snap! crunch! – darts out.
Venice has been a place of idiot enchantment ever since Katharine Hepburn planted the Hollywood flag there in Summertime and cut across the sun-drowsed cadenzas of Italian parlato with her brittle Bryn Mawr yap.
Gallons of ink; a pantechnicon full of paper; a talking parrot "buon giorno"; pigeons falling from churches: It was the year of youth at Venice. But first, I'm going for a dip in the wine-dark Adriatic.
Italian film festivals are one of the age's great gifts to mankind, welding the inspirational energy of the Italian Renaissance to the plug-in modernism of 20th-century technology. It's a union you find nowhere else. The different parts get sticky in the sun and you can't separate them; the place and the pictures snarl up together in an amazing knot.
Fassbinder, in his film Lili Marleen, weaves a fictional story around the famous song that leaped trenches and crossed battlefields working its magical sensucht on both Allied and Axis alike in World War II.
Fassbinder brought Veronika Voss to the festival and Herzog came with Fitzcarraldo. An exciting year.
Australia’s historical-cultural affinity with America – a shared ‘new world’ experience – presents a choice: either control the fiercer bacterial trends from U.S. cinema or create an authentic Australian film culture…
New ways of looking – and listening and arguing – have always been the weapon of progress and the measuring stick of liberty. Only in a society where the Wise Monkey rules are the issues of good and evil banned from sight, sound, or speech. Only an ideologically obsessed state, determined to gather power to itself, skywrites the commandments of censorship.
“I’m not interested in ‘passive’ filmmaking, in a film that’s precious and small and where it’s up to the audience to bring themselves to the movie. I want to bombard an audience – a very active, aggressive type of seduction. I want to manipulate an audience’s feelings for the same reasons that composers write symphonies.”
Come to Edinburgh and be ministered to by Leprechauns. Stay to see movies that can be mind-boggling, sporran-whirring fantasy-reality teasers. And, if you’re quick, there are still a few tickets for my night of naked Shakespeare readings. One night only!
There were rumors of a mosquito a-buzz in Venice this year – but nobody could find one on the movie-packed Lido. Deliciously, the Filmfest dazzled all comers with Ang Lee’s Golden Lion winner, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, and a-chuckle of starry celebrities were prancing about to boot.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is a new western with the charm of a rattlesnake. It comes with castanets attached to its tail, clickety-clicking as if to mesmerize us with rhythm, repetitions and the ambient noise of desert life. Then, when it chooses, it strikes: once, twice, thrice.
The blood-sucking Count has become the archetypal emblem for the evil that lurks below the surface, for the compulsion that eats away at its victim from inside – that eats away at our belief in ourselves as free agents in a moral universe. Nosferatu carries a plague; a spiritual one.
And The Ship Sails On shows again that Fellini can turn a soundstage into an empire of the senses. A giant liner, carrying a gaggle of opera celebrities, sails off towards the painted horizon across a billowing polythene sea.
Fassbinder's films made us expect more from the cinema: more challenge, more color, more subtly delirious subversion. In Venice this year, Moviedom responded. Dullness sank of its own weight to the bottom of the lagoon, and the new films had a rare bounce and vitality.
Nudging each other and doing musical battle for your vision field are such characters as Buttercup, Nanki-Poo, Mabel and Ruth, as well as Deadeye Dick, a gaggle of Pirate Kings, Major-Generals and Fairy Queens, Koko, Poo-Bah, Yum-Yum and, oh yes, Vincent Price.
Art gives the devil advocacy as strong as the saint's, and dandles its special charms more vigorously. We're taught to stay behind the front-line of the Good while recognizing the Bad from afar. Art teaches you to cross the war-zone: to know and empathize with the bad, and for a brief span to share its skin and soul.
If cultural identity has any meaning at all, or any hope of staying alive, it must be able to walk, talk, and function when not fastened to nationalistic subjects.
The patron saint of movie music is surely the Emperor Nero. With Rome blazing around him and homes and people crisping, he decided against calling the fire brigade."Poppaea," he said, turning to his wife,"bring me my fiddle." The rest is history. Or at least waterproof legend.
In the sun-filled gardens of the 15th Century Palazzo Corvaja, there was a marathon talk-in about the publication of an Italian book on Brian De Palma. As the authors expatiated on in polysyllabic Italian, a tree visibly grew taller behind them and a dog, who had been listening intently from a nearby balcony, yawned and fell asleep. Meanwhile, at the movies...
"We create institutions, governments, to help us live. But governments always have a tendency to dominate and control us rather than the other way around. We create something to help us, we pay for it, and we end up being owned by it."
The essential components of a religion are to offer stories about the source of life and the beginnings of a people, an ethical and moral matrix, and a communications network between the finite and the infinite by way of ritual. The noble savage movies provide all three.
Books are a continuous present, clothing a semantic notation in fresh subjective detail. Music is ever changeable,differently alive with each performance or interpretation. Theater (and opera, ballet) is self-proclaimed, evanescent, physically circumscribed artifice. Poetry, sculpture, and still photography are pieces of moment-in-time immobility, deep-frozen art to be thawed out imaginatively by each new spectator's response. Films alone – being at once animate, graphic, realistic, and unchanging – seem to have Time conquered.
For East Berlin, West Berlin is like a splinter under its fingernail. For West Berlin, the wall is like being marooned in a dancing hall where the only safe dance is the waltz – circle, circle, turn, circle (oops! bounced off the wall). Begin again.
In early 1987, millions of people could not tell a glasnost from a glockenspiel. Now it's all over the West. Glasnost: "openness".
The festival was held on the Lido di Venezia – with both indoor and outdoor screenings. Learning jostled with a gusty barbarism. Critics sat inside silently scribbling notes. Outside the Italians turned the Arena into a gladiatorial battleground, where some films were put to the sword, some fed to the lions, and a luckier few– like Gloria– given a rapturous thumbs up. There is nothing like an Italian audience in full cry.
Almost every movie in Venice that wasn't about youth was about old age or death. John Huston's The Dead is a wonder: a last testament handwritten and vellum bound. Everyone is dead or dying, in James Joyce's story and Huston's movie, but the snow will never quite cover their memories, their loves, their hates, their joys. Huston, a man marinated in the Celtic twilight and ending up more Irish than the Irish, was moviedom's mission control: an ancestral storyteller building space-time contacts with the medium of the 20th century. Venice, by honoring him, brought honor to itself.
Kubrick offers no easy job for theme-hunting critics. They can wheel and whirl around his films trying to spear a common theme, but the oeuvre won't yield one. What Kubrick's movies do have in common is not a theme so much as a method. He is a hunter in the atavistic jungle of human nature, an explorer set on discovering what happens to men and women when pushed to extremes in differing stressful environments.
It was business as usual at the 36th Berlinale FilmFestspiele. Here in Europe's capital of culture shock, confrontations and crises – political, artistic, meteorological – meet in an eternal apocalypse.
An Italian audience is the most honest I know. I would trust my life to them – and did. They cheer a good movie. And whistles, catcalls, and boos are never far from their lips when a film is a pretentious stinker.
In Taormina, the films unfold nightly in the crumbly magnificence of a Graeco-Roman amphitheatre with a star-punctured sky overhead. In the slightly too near distance, Mount Etna's crater gurgles happily away like a giant pot of tomato soup.
What better way to arrive at a film festival! Scrambling and turning in a wake of flying snow, a-top and suddenly a-bottom of a mountain sitting seven thousand feet high. Park City's whiteness sits at six thousand feet and you can ski right into Sundance (check your credentials!) to enjoy the latest in independent cinema, movies, flicks, documentaries, shorts...
Airborne charabancs and a giant german hot dog!.. And did that bear just salute me?… Yes,mein gott, it did. It’s a time for happenings. It’s the 56th Internationale Filmfestspiele. It’s the Berlinale in full, fine fettle. Take a boat, take a train, take a plane, walk. Just come to Berlin. You’ll be glad you did.
Snipping away at the sprocket-holes and unsnapping the frame, the Cannes Film Festival does a great thing each year. It frees a movie star from celluloid and presents him or her alive, well and, hopefully, kicking.
Now gather ‘round. Once upon a time tiny crinkly creatures emerged from the water. Time passed, as it does. Then much, much later they stood upright (who knows why?) and walked on two feet. And just a teensy bit later they began going to movies. In Venice...
Two movies at the 60th Cannes Film Festival presented an impassioned, missionary finger at the state of our United States. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN was a fable: powerful, oblique, reverberant. The other. SICKO, was a diatribe: headlong, focused, unsparing.
“It was sixty years ago today that Sergeant Pepper…” No, wait…it was the first Cannes Film Festival and this one is big number sixty. All that glitz, all that glamour, all those films. Sixty festivals unspooling the great, the good, the controversial.
The dutiful and the beautiful jetted in to join the Mostra’s cinematic party. The 64th edition celebrated the festival’s founding 75 years ago, its movies still blazing after the storms and stumbles of history.
Austere monkish tunics, cumbrous frocks with stiff toutou-style skirts, embossed giant cloaks in burlap, garments that could have been dug from some gigantic communal grave, caked and discoloured by mud and time. Golly. Really gear stuff. I mean, wow!
At the world’s first public movie show the Lumiere Brothers caused screams and havoc with their movie image of a train speeding smack head-on towards the audience. It’s been all go ever since. Welcome to Cannes.
In an age of proliferating fault-lines we looked into the heart of reality and discovered it was being bypassed. Not for malign reasons but to sound and probe the very fault-lines of the seeming true and the seeming real. You really should come to Venice!
Cannes, like the heart, has its reasons. Here on the French Riviera the sun sears the beaches, scalds the sidewalks and swocks down on the dark, ecliptic activity of movie-watching. That magic doorway into the heart and mind. The best films all had something to say about light and the manifold darknesses that fight it…
The Cannes Film Festival brought to the Azure Coast intertextuality, metafiction, self-reflexiveness and any other word you want to hook – like a silvery leaping fish – from a sea of postmodernism.
A construction site for the new Palazzo del Cinema? Buildings razed, bosky woods gone, nothing is recognizable. Yet we critics, with fantastic heroism, cut through alleys, down secret steps, across underground lakes, into and out of Middle Earth, up marble stairways and finally found the festival. Glory. (There was, we later learned, an easier way!).
There has surely never been a film squeezed for so long into so confined a space. The tank: we are tossed into this iron maiden and the hatch is slammed. The ‘outside world’ is seen only through gun sights. It is barely heard at all. The main acoustic is the turning, grinding, winching noise of the turret as it changes our viewpoint moment by moment: up, down, leftward, rightward, like some robotic madman dictating our world-view by an ear-tormenting semaphore of right angles. Tension, anguish, uncertainty, LEBANON.
Above the Croisette a nocturnal light show erupts: the evening seagulls wail like wandering comets, wheel in lyric and angelic torment. Cannes megawatt illuminations cast an underglow; eerie, white-bright, incandescent. Oblivious to the glamour below they float like rags of purified, animated radiance, dancing in the midnight air.
Art thrives on tragic extremes – and the culture of our globe is deeply troubled by the shape war will take in coming decades. Will that shape be destruction by nuclear blasts? Will it be an ongoing sequence of asymmetrical wars like those fought in the last half century? Will it be war by military violence; will it be war by chemical virus? The scenarios multiply. So do the movies – and Venice has captured them.
You’ve got to do something to celebrate the 125th birthday of a historic silver-mining town in snowy Utah. Do you party in Park City’s streets? Dance on its ski slopes? Place 125 giant candles on nature’s frosted hills and hire a giant to blow them out? Or….
They were like fiery parentheses or blazing brackets. Two films, one from the ex-Allies, one from the ex-Axis, prove something odd and hypnotic. Nazism and its heritage still haven’t climbed out of the collective world Alpentraum, or nightmare. They still haven’t puffed their way up to Lucidity Peak, from where the view is clear and the past is spread cleanly below us. We are still – seven decades on – writhing a little in our sleep, trying to process the un-processable.
I see a French village. A sky of azure hangs above. A thousand people bustle below. The sun burns on the boulevards; the town twinkles. And a Riviera runs through it. My aircraft makes its turns and groans, then with a sigh of envy deposits me in Cannes for my annual feast of films, parties, dinners and fun.
The Cannes Film Festival celebrated by showcasing three films about human beings who invent,create or reconstruct the real. In all three movies the characters manufacture actuality, or a likeness of it, from the projections of their wills and imaginations. It’s an act of faith in human potentiation.
A demi-century after A Bout De Souffle, the first surfing challenge of the French New Wave, we still pant in the wake of Jean-Luc Godard. We are blinded by spray, wobbling and puffing in the master’s wake, while Godard stands proud on his speeding surfboard. His new movie,
Winds howling across the lagoon. Lion statues tumbling down steps. Festival guests tossed about like balloons. Rain descending like giant combs to sleek and slick the hair of hurricane-lashed trees. Tempest began the festival….
It’s Tempest time. The “vexed Bermoothes” are a long way from the Venice lagoon. But our festival island, the Lido, has some little kinship with Shakespeare’s. We come; we see (movies); we are conquered by enchantment.
Each year in the festival’s catalogue directors are encouraged to make a statement about their movie wares, in much the same way an executive at a board meeting might have two minutes to make a ‘presentation’ about their mad, brilliant or revolutionary new idea.
It’s heaven on the Med and every paradise has its starry stairway. This year the stars were all there sparkling on the red carpet, from Brad to Bobby (deNiro), from Ange to Johnny (Depp) on Cannes 64th birthday.
The Cannes Film Festival has often focused our minds on the human body. But the bodies you think of first are semi-nude ones draped over golden sands. Ah, the pulsating beguilements of youth. But then…..
Every September golden lions are shooed onto the Lido di Venezia to be fought over by filmmakers. This year it was a spectacle fit for an ancient arena. A massive space and depth groined from the earth girdled the Mostra buildings. Whatever was it? It was….
Never mind the weather, feel the wonderful movies. It was mighty wet this year – thunder and asymmetrical warfare between brollies and cloudbursts. But Cannes was still Cannes, a meteorology-defying marvel of a film fest.
The festival movie gala is the most fascinating pas de deux between the clamour of fame and the longing of the celebrity recluse. So when Robert Redford was decanted from a black festival Lancia onto the steps of the palazzo I….