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 notion of gothic is quite rightly taking over the BFI at the moment. Their gothic season is looking set to be its most all encompassing and vast seasonal retrospective for some time. The gothic tint has found its way into a number of avenues including its DVD range. The Flipside label always seemed fit for the sort of gothic releases still residing in the … Continue reading Schalcken The Painter – Leslie Megahey (BFI Flipside).
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.
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)
There’s something startling about just how inventive cinema was in the early days of its creation. Whereas other artistic mediums have taken hundreds of years to bear fruit, film seemed to have caught on to what it was about mere years after its very conception. Ranging from 1901 to 1908, the films in the BFI Fairy Tales release show a frank endorsement of both storytelling … Continue reading BFI Fairy Tales – Early Colour Stencil Films From Pathé (1901 – 1908)
This review contains spoilers. Barbet Schroeder’s Maîtresse (1976) is a film that is extremely hard to classify. Even with the hindsight of almost forty years, its apparent bed fellows all share a stubborn resistance to classification. The collection of films with vaguely similar themes and tendencies to push boundaries of explicitness that came out in the 1970s such as Salò Or 120 Days Of Sodom … Continue reading Maîtresse – Barbet Schroeder (1976), BFI.
Of all of Jacques Tati’s films, Mon Oncle (1958) is probably the most disarming in its satirical attack on efficiency and modernity. Monsieur Hulot is the perfect out of place character, stuck in an ever changing world that values tidiness and its objects more than its happiness and relationships. The high tech nature that is gradually engulfing Paris has never been so quaintly photographed (though … Continue reading Mon Oncle – Jacques Tati (1958), BFI.