Film diary – to end of Feb


My Way Home (Miklós Jancsó, 1965)  A young Hungarian at the tail end of WW2 muddles his way home, getting caught up with the disorganised Russian army along the way.  He is billeted with a young Russian officer tending a herd of cows, and become friends.  A lovely, touching film, beautiful camerawwork and a subtle distance from emotionally explosive situations.

The Round-Up (Miklós Jancsó, 1966) A group of outlaws/guerilla fighters are held in a prison in the middle of barren plains by soldiers, who want to weed out the most hardened fighters and members of a particular group.  This film looks beautiful and you can easily see why Jancso was influential to directors like Sergio Leone – stunning depth of field from extreme close-ups to lone figures on the horizon.  Shows the ridiculousness of petty power and how it can be used to oppress and humiliate.

London in the Raw (Norman Cohen, Arnold L. Miller, 1965)  Tagline: “The world’s greatest city laid bare. Thrill to its gay excitement, its bright lights, but be shocked by the sin in its shadows!”  Wonderful mondo film produced by Tony Tenser who never turned up his nose at a decent piece of exploitation.  The wonderful world of underground beat clubs, padded out with belly dancers, music hall acts and pursuit of beauty through gyms and hair implants, to name but a few sections.  Glorious fashions and haircuts a plenty… looking forward to having friends round to watch this with a bottle of wine or two!

Chelsea Bridge Boys (Peter Davis, Staffan Lamm, 1965) Great 30 min short documentary about a teenage biker gang who actually come across as very genuine, naive, gentle and likeable.

Prom Night (Nelson McCormic, 2008)  Nonsense remake – a slasher film with very little slashing – or, at least, very little of the tension and/or gore you might expect from such a film.  The best thing about it is a turn from Idris Elba (The Wire’s Stringer Bell) as a cop whose dialogue almost entirely consists of exposition (his sidekick cop will also be familiar to Wire fans).  ALMOST so bad it’s good… but not quite.

Intimate Lighting (Ivan Passer, 1965)  A lovely, gentle film about 2 friends from a smalltown, one has become a successful classical musician, returning home (with his hip beatnik girlfriend) to play in a classical concert, whilst his friend has remained as headteacher of the local music school, playing at funerals for extra money.  A wonderful, subtly amusing portrait of family life and friendship, contrasting the passing of time, aging and choices in life, and what really matters.  A favourite scene observes the 2 friends getting drunk and silly together, great stuff.

Daisies (Vera Chytilova, 1966)  Anarchic surrealist dada-esque “punk rock poem” following 2 young girls defying a decaying society and bourgeois culture by deciding to act spoilt, decadent and irreverent.  A play with film form as much as political ideology – lots of fun, nice frocks, psychedelic colours and images…

Howl (Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, 2010)  More a visual representation and exploration of the poem rather than a narrative following the obscenity trial.  James Franco has Ginsberg down pat, reading the text in a beat bar, intercut with animated respresentations of sections of the poem and re-enacted interview segments of Ginsberg explaining his intentions and thought processes behind the work.  The trial is almost an aside, only touched upon superficially really – Jon Hamm has no great stretch here, pristine 60s suit, selling an idea to the judge – would be more interesting to see him in a more unexpected role.  Always marvellous to see Bob Balaban, who only seems to align himself with splendid things.  A very interesting collage piece but doesn’t really shed much new light on the subject matter.  (P.s. James Franco will still always be Daniel from Freaks and Geeks though – nice to see him turning out to be a genuinely good actor 🙂  )

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