Viewing several films by Walerian Borowczyk allows certain traits and patterns to form in regard to his filmmaking. From the extreme polar ends of Blanche (1971) to The Beast (1975), he’s a difficult to pin-down creator, though the man’s style has several factors that appear to gradually come into play. Goto, Isle of Love (1969) already conjures images simply from its title though it’s doubtful … Continue reading Goto, Isle of Love (1969) – Walerian Borowczyk (Arrow Video).
By the mid 1970s, the ease in censorship over large swaths of Europe lead to cinema pushing boundaries and taboo like the medium had never done before. The decade was awash with cinematic controversy and intelligent but often disturbing treatises on sexuality, drug culture, language, and violence. 1975 seems to be the pinnacle of the boundary pushing that started with films such as Ken Russell’s … Continue reading The Beast (1975) – Walerian Borowczyk (Arrow Video).
This reviewer contains spoilers. Robert Altman was a master in critiquing American forms of culture. So many of his greatest renowned work revolves around taking an American form, cultural sect, or problem and portraying their dramatically polar angles of perspective often denied to it (then and now) in mainstream culture. From early documentaries on college football in his debut work Modern Football (1951) and on … Continue reading Nashville (1975) – Robert Altman (Masters of Cinema).
Despite living in an age of increased documentation, archive and detail, history can still be a tricky picture to paint. For so long, the old adage of it being written by “the winning side” has been a tried and tested bias exposed in whole chapters of recounted history. This has been a development based around prejudice whether through class, racism, sexism or other forms of … Continue reading The Missing Picture (2013) – Rithy Panh.
The latest release in the BFI Flipside series revels in the social satire of its era with glee. Though of course the main draw of the release will be Saxon Logan’s main feature, Sleepwalker (1984), the release itself is built up to make a whole package of potential double and even triple bills of viewing; some Logan themed, some nocturnal themed. The main feature simply … Continue reading Sleepwalker (1984) – Saxon Logan, BFI Flipside.
Classical traditions and feminist ideologies collide and intertwine in Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s Riddles of the Sphinx (1977). It’s instantly clear from its opening “contents” page that the film isn’t simply going to be a piece of narrative cinema, nor is it going to be purely avant-garde. With the increasing use of the term Essay Film within the analysis of cinema, Mulvey’s film is … Continue reading Riddles of the Sphinx (1977) – Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen (BFI).
It’s an oft repeated dictum that British director, Humphrey Jennings, had a gradual decline of quality within his work towards the end of the Second World War. It’s repeated several times in the booklet of this excellent BFI release but, like many of the others who start with this statement, there is a “but”. That “but” is that Jennings’ weaker work is in fact not … Continue reading The Complete Humphrey Jennings Volume 3 (A Diary for Timothy) – BFI
Displaying a filmmaking ethic and system that would make even someone as fast-working as prodigious as Rainer Werner Fassbinder seem cautious and slow, Sadao Yamanaka should perhaps be far better known that he currently is in the West. Making twenty two films over his short but highly productive cinema career, Yamanaka can be seen as one of the missing links in great Japanese cinema. His … Continue reading The Complete (Existing) Films of Sadao Yamanaka – Masters of Cinema.
Roman Polanski’s period films don’t garner the same sort of critical attention that his genre films attain. The likes of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974) no doubt feature more highly in film discussions than the likes of Oliver Twist (2005) or Tess (1979) yet the latter of these films presents an epic expanse that manages to still capture detail and beauty; a rare feat … Continue reading Tess (1979) – Roman Polanski (BFI Release)
This review contains spoilers. For a filmmaker who was supposedly uninterested in visual allegory, Josef Von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel (1930) is full of potential for visuals readings if wanted. One of the first sound films to come out of Germany, it is astonishing how the medium’s relative newness seems to have had little negative effect on the visuals of this pioneering film. However it … Continue reading The Blue Angel – Josef Von Sternberg (1930, Masters of Cinema)