Chantal Akerman’s first series of features in the 1970s have one defining aspect in common: all are suffused with loneliness. In her first fiction feature, Je Tu Il Elle (1974), a character wanders between lovers old and new but is always confused as to what she really wants. In Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975), we follow a woman trapped in the monotony of … Continue reading All The Lonely People: Chantal Akerman’s Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (1978)
On a rock, there sits a man lost in thought. Or perhaps he is not thinking at all and is instead letting the landscape around him fill his thoughts unconsciously. Werner Herzog’s 1976 film, Heart of Glass (Herz aus Glas), has one of the director’s strongest opening set of images as the main character of the film sits in a foggy Bavarian landscape with life … Continue reading Heart Of Glass (1976) – Optimism in Destruction
On watching all of Patrick Keiller’s “Robinson” trilogy of films recently, it struck home how effectively stillness within a visual frame can traverse the geographical plain and recreate a journey that is both political and sociological. This, of course, goes to the heart filmmaking itself, the relationships with cuts especially and its portrayal of time, space and movement within a diegetic reality all being key … Continue reading Stasis In London (1994) – Patrick Keiller.
Because of their tapestry-like nature, the films of Luis Buñuel lend themselves well to a more in-depth form analysis. Within their aesthetic ploys and their narrative spines lies a wealth of readings concerning Buñuel’s attacks and treatises on politics and class especially. His 1972, Oscar-winning film, The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie is a perfect example of how a fragmenting narrative falls into dreamscapes that … Continue reading The Nowhere Road in The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (1972) – Luis Buñuel.
Jean-Luc Godard has always had a quiet interest in the relationship between his politics and the space they inhabit. The topographies of modernity coinciding with his political questioning of capitalism occurs in films such as Tout Va Bien (1972), La Chinoise (1967), and Weekend (1967) – looking in particular at a factory, an inner-city flat/Maoist commune, and a busy roadway . These spaces have provided more … Continue reading Libidinal Circuits in 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967) – Jean-Luc Godard.
British cinema is obsessed with the effect of location upon the individual. In fact, it wouldn’t be so sweeping to suggest that large swaths of culture born on these isles stems from the idea that the individual can be deeply molded by their surroundings and any fictional drama from Albion will be bare the aesthetics of its areas as far more than a setting. While … Continue reading Fear And Loathing In The Countryside – Withnail And I (1987).
In last month’s issue of Sight & Sound (November, 2015) Nick James details his relationship with the cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky in line with the season of films he’s curated for the BFI. Though the article is chiefly surrounding Tarkovsky’s (vast) legacy, one aspect in particular caught my attention whilst reading. He refers to a scene from Tarkovsky’s 1975 film, Mirror, which partly accounted for … Continue reading The Breeze In The Grass – Elemental Realisation in Tarkovsky’s Mirror (1975).
Nature is always present or at the very least contrasted against something in Gideon Koppel’s nostalgia portrait, Sleep Furiously (2008). In spite of the film being a very clear ethnographic postcard from the director’s past, having lived previously in the Welsh town of Trefeurig, it manages to underline its gentle portraiture with a sense of pervading nature and landscape; where even the most concrete of … Continue reading Emerson’s Nature and Sleep Furiously (2008) – Gideon Koppel.
More so than his relationship with painting, film, drugs or threesomes, Donald Cammell’s life and work seems to have been directly linked with mirrors. While all of the former aspects played huge roles and allowed access to knowledge of his obsessions in the first place through his work, it is the mirror and its hidden powers that seem to haunt Cammell as an artist and … Continue reading Mirrors, Donald Cammell and Jorge Luis Borges.
Few films are as explicit in their depiction of character relationships that are at the mercy of the fluctuating landscape than Roman Polanski’s 1966 film, Cul-De-Sac. Polanski had been to both ends of the environmental spectrum within his previous two films – the open waters of Knife In The Water (1962) and the cramped, claustrophobic London of Repulsion (1965) – and Cul-De-Sac sees him returning … Continue reading Isolation And Madness In Cul-De-Sac (1966) – Roman Polanski.