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Lee Sang-il Japan 2013 135 minutes
Cast Ken Watanabe as Jubee Kamata, Kōichi Satō as Ichizo Oishi, Akira Emoto as Kingo Baba,
Yūya Yagira, Shioro Kutsuna, Eiko Koike, Jun Kunimura.
Review by Tremayne
* Screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in the Special Presentation section.
At this year’s Pan Asia Film Festival special emphasis has been placed on “new young, immerging talent”.
A meaningful quote to be included in the introduction speech given by Asia House is ‘..to be an Artist means to never advert one’s eyes.’
Q & A conducted prior to the film screening
Had you had this project in your head for a long time? What was the journey?
At the time of release the original version of Unforgiven stood out, as it pinpointed violence and the pain it carries with it.
To make a comparison, the original set in 1880, was when The Samurai Era was coming to an end.
A Short in the earlier part of Lee Sang-il’s career deals with his background in Korea, and the various angles truth can be interpreted.
Hula Girls (フラガール Hura Gāru), a feature, won several awards and in 2007 cleared up five major awards at the Japanese equivalent of The Oscars.
Reactions to the film and the Cinematography
The Interviewer remarks on the 35 mm film the remake of Unforgiven is shot on; and the real snow in the film, which must have proven quite arduous. Shooting on film is a subject that Clint Eastwood, himself, spoke about, as part of a panel discussion chaired at The Tribecca Film Festival, in 2013. He resists “The Digital Age”, recognizing the edgier the film is without it.
Lee Sang-il adds “I wanted to do this one (in reference to Unforgiven) on film.”
Unforgiven, we hear, has received the Eastwood seal of approval.
The film swot, geek that I am meant I watched the original 1992 Clint Eastwood western Unforgiven within days of seeing the 2013 Japanese version. I question if this, in fact, prevented my mind from being more open?
The story unveils itself around 1880 in Hokkaido, the beginning of the Meiji period and the fall of the Edo shogunate. A time when Japanese government attempt to open the land (Ezo), which, as it stood, was populated by Ainu indigenous people.
Jubei Kamata (Watanabe), who, under order, has butchered a number of villains, is lead to be branded as a criminal, in Kyoto.
A series of blood baths lead to the battle that takes place in Goryokaku. Jubei goes into hiding to avoid the persistent efforts the new government undertake to make him their prisoner.
Over a decade later, Jubei continues to lead an existence
but in barren surroundings, cut off from everyone, apart from an
Ainu wife and their children.
His wife, gone, has changed him. A man whose only purpose before was to kill. The children she leaves behind are in the deepest of poverty. But their father who swore his days of the sword were long gone is forced to go against his word, and once again become a bounty hunter.
A fresh round of violence begins. In a new era.
The Western remains a genre of cinema I need to explore as it has never immediately jumped out at me. But In the instance of Lee Sang-il’s Unforgiven, Cinematographer, Norimichi Kasamatsubut creates the very original idea of a blank canvas, the crystal like snow, in contrast to one that attracts more colour, as incisions are made into the skin of swordsmen, whose scarlet coloured blood then finds its way to the surface.
“a villain should carry a villainous mark”, said to Jubei, a former swordsman of the shogunate, whose own face is carved into with shards of glass, symbolically mirroring those facial scars acquired by one of the concubine’s earlier in the film, after an enraged Client loses his temper.
A satisfying project, which leaves the Viewer wondering what kind of a journey Director Lee Sang-il will take us on in his next film.
(The Pan-Asia Film Festival runs from Wednesday 26 February to Sunday 9 March 2014).
Directed by Ted Kotcheff
Produced by George Willoughby
Screenplay by Evan Jones
Based on Outback by Kenneth Cook
Starring Gary Bond, Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty
Cinematography Brian West
Release date: 7 March 2014.
Running time: 108 minutes.
The film opens on an open expanse, and a sign which reads Tiboonda, in the Australian Outback. John Grant (Gary Bond), a mélange of Brad Pitt, Robert Redford and the late Peter O’ Toole, a school teacher from the “big city” has, due to the financial bond he signed, been posted to tiny, inconspicuous school.
School’s out for Christmas, and he has every intention of visiting his girlfriend in Sydney. To do this he must take a train to the mining town of Bundanyabba (or “The Yabba”), where he can then catch a flight to Sydney.
On the train he daydreams about his love interest, who immerges from the shimmering waters of the sea Ursula Andress style, and towers over him (out of shot), dripping in her sculpted bathing suit, as he seductively rubs the neck of his beer bottle in between her breasts.
At “The Yabba” he falls into conversation with local Copper, Jock Crawford, played by Chips Rafferty, in what was to be his last film role. Interestingly as Grant knocks back several kegs of beer, the topic of suicide is brought up. The apparent cause of this is the insufferable heat. Hard to imagine living in a climate where, for the most part, it’s cold and damp but it’s the idea of ‘extremity’ that’s important here.
They cross the road to a fast food joint where Grant orders a steak, keen to soak up all the alcohol he’s drunk. He’s then taken out the back to an illegal gambling area.
Crawford implies that every man there knows what’s at stake but they simply go in for the fight.
It is when Grant settles down to have the unappetizing plate of grub that’s been served up to him, that we are introduced to the character of Doc Tydon (Donald Pleasence), who gives a most memorable performance indeed.
Excited by his gambling winnings, Grant believes that all it will take is one more spin, and then he can be shot of teaching altogether.
A recurring theme from here on in is the exhilaration one is hit by over an unnatural obsession (or addiction) for something or someone, and then the desperation felt afterwards on the spiraling downward slope.
The obsession (or addiction) in this instance is that of ‘demonic drink’, which comes in the form of West End tinnies; and when, in a moment of desperation, Grant is asked what he thinks of “The Yubba”, he doesn’t hold back from saying that it’s “bloody awful!” I seem to recall a similar incident when I temporarily lived in Walthamstow, a suburban district of north east London, and someone stole my bank card during the first week!
He fast becomes part of an un escapable nightmare, so he is easily persuaded by resident Tim Hynes (Al Thomas) to go on a drinking spree, and then back to his house afterwards. The consensus being that if one keeps a continual flow of alcohol circulating around one’s body, one is never aware of problems and/or the circumstances one is in.
Tim’s daughter, Janette (Sylvia Kay) seems smitten with Grant but with him preferring to talk to her than drink, one of the men there questions his masculinity saying, “what’s a matter with him? He’d rather talk to a woman than drink!”An example of the fascination director, Kotcheff had not only for The Outback’s very existence but also the supposedly ‘hard-men’ of its frontier.
Out the back Janette exudes her femininity in the hope that Grant will succumb to her. They ravishingly begin to kiss but this is soon broken when he has an urgent need to vomit.
A poignant moment in the film follows with the look that Janette gives Grant after their passion has been spoilt by ‘devilish drink’. Her expression represents violation, rape even! An ill piece of meat that’s been slammed on the counter, only to be rejected!
“Come here, and get it”, says Doc to Grant, like a canine, whose shack he so happens to have ended up in after yet another heavy drinking session. The brown paste he serves up bears a striking resemblance to squashed excrement.
I love Pleasence’s monologue, which implies, that even as a qualified medical practitioner, he wasn’t socially accepted because he was an alcoholic with intellect .
Quite matter-of-factly, and philosophizing he compares sex to eating, where it is done out of a want. Grant learns, that for many, Janette has helped to satisfy people’s sexual appetites.
One cannot help but be slightly amused when the gang of men race past at bullet speed a road sign which reads ‘Road warning signs are there for your protection. Please don’t use them as a target’, on their way to hunt kangaroos.
The men’s wayward behavior reminds me of the stories I’ve heard, where in parts of France drunken farmers will go about shooting aimlessly at wildlife without holding a valid hunting license.
Their brutality towards the kangaroos depicts their general approach to life; and the greyhound they take along with them follows suit, in hindsight, one might say, ‘like owner, like dog!’
His humanity intermittently shines through during the kangaroo hunt but somehow, as was the case with the alcohol, he is lured back into a cruel game, and is talked into finishing one of them off by slitting its throat.
Sharply edited to create a nightmare sequence. A similar effect can be found in 1973 film, Don’t Look Now (Nicholas Roeg), to help enhance the love scene; thought at the time to be equally as shocking.
Grant knows not who he is, and what he does.
He returns to Tiboonda, from whence the nightmare began but not before an inevitable visit to the hospital first.
An engrossing piece of cinematic footage, not easily categorized but which one might refer to as a psychological horror, where one man, try as he might, can’t seem to escape the nightmare he’s in. He must, like a workout, let it sweat out of him.
It also serves as a reminder of the destruction liquor
can cause if not handled with moderation; and the inhuman acts
man insists on carrying out on the world’s
A NEW YORK WINTER’S TALE
Screenwriter/Producer/Director Akiva Goldsman
Starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Russell Crowe.
Writer © Tremayne
“The story blends a reality-based environment with the unexplained that exists behind the world we see.”
“It’s a straightforward emotional narrative, yet within that naturalistic world is a world where magic happens and people live for centuries”, states first-time feature director Akiva Goldsman.
At the very core of ‘A New York Winter’s Tale’ is a love story which extends across a century. The moment one falls in love, and loses love.
Its anti-hero, Peter Lake, is played by Colin Farrell who miraculously lives over 100 years because of the love he holds for Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), whose beauty is set up like a Degas painting as a ‘vision of white’, with ‘fiery red hair’, unafraid is she of the hand life has dealt her.
Colin Farrell describes the feelings Peter and Beverly have for one another as the kind that “transcend the constrictions of time.”
Mark Helprin’s novel on which the film is based presented a challenge for Goldsman, who also wrote the screenplay. He fell in love with it, and the lasting effect it left behind. The transition meant he had to work through a “complex sequence of events.” I don’t question the skill shown in the writing but I do the transference from page to screen.
According to Goldsman, in the novel “light is a character that doesn’t seem to have an inherent value of good or evil; it is just powerful. Beverly even says we’re all connected by light.”
In the film this is brought about through the use of colour, as from an artist’s palette; and practical lighting, and visual effects. The little magic that can’t be felt through the characters, is with the use of the camera taking on a personality in its own right.
Because of the length of time the film spans across, and the emphasis it places on magic, the filmmakers create a New York skyline and surroundings that represent the following eras: 1895, 1916 and 2014.
I think we would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t admit to feeling envy towards anyone, who at some point in their life has managed to seek out a love so powerful that the world has spun on its axis. And on the screen this power can be enhanced all the more.
Farrell says Beverly and Peter’s love “draws the attention of the celestial forces of the universe”, which then “conspire to keep him alive for 100 years.”
Peter meets Beverly in an attempt to steel from her father’s Central Park Mansion but not for a second does he plan on anyone being there.
Meaningful words are exchanged between them both as they share in a cup of herbal tea together,: “What’s the best thing you’ve ever stolen?”; to which he responds, “I’m beginning to think I haven’t stolen it yet.”
The only thing that can prize them apart is Beverly’s consumption. But Goldsman carves the story out in such a way that we inwardly ask the question, “does everything happen for a reason?”; with the idea that a loss one day, can become a gain the next. Why, the kind of story, that sheds light (literally), on why stars twinkle down on us.
Pearly Soames, played by Russell Crowe, and who isn’t dissimilar to Charles Dickins’s Fagin, takes Peter under his wing as a young boy, and teaches him all he needs to know about the act of thieving. However, when we meet Peter in 1916, a grown man, he recognises the brutality and complete loss of soul in Soames, who must surely be the devil.
Soames makes it his mission, in his life eternal, to track Peter down, and make him pay for his apparent betrayal. He represents what’s wrong in the world. The darker side; and the scar he bears on his face is but a reminder of this.
Russell Crowe describes his character seeing him as someone who has dedicated a considerable amount of his time to cultivating Peter , and that if he chooses not to be with him, he cannot have the privilege to live.
Peter was unfortunate enough to fall into the wrong hands and thus, ended up being brought up in a street gang run by Soames but an innate goodness compels him to drift. Then, quite unexpectedly, he stumbles on this profound love, one seemingly unattainable. Having fought with his inner demons, never thinking his life had meaning; Beverly manages to resuscitate him and leave him with a sense of purpose, that is most extraordinary.
I would agree with Goldsman ‘s statement of Farrell that his “open heart” adds to his presence on screen , and his outpouring of chemistry.
Jessica (Brown Findlay), in turn, is radiant. She emits an innocence of someone who’s been locked away in a tower, except that tower happens to be a rich Mansion.
Beverly has a clarity about her, and sees everything simplistically because she’s never had to look into the future.
Brown Findlay is graceful and as soon as the camera pans over her, she appears to float.
The difference in age between the main characters is of no importance, particularly since Peter’s age is classed as “timeless”. Nothing else holds any concern, except the sheer existence of an “amazing human connection.”
A NEW YORK WINTER’S TALE will instil a warm glow of hope inside you, as you recognise that whatever shape or form love chooses to manifest itself in, it is surely to be cherished. Because..
‘Between love and destiny, between light and
dark, miracles can happen.’
Release date: 21 February 2014
A Map For Love
Directed by Fernández Constanza
Starring Francisca Bernardi, Moro Andrea
DVD On Sale: 10th Feb | Country: Chile | Runtime: 81 mins |Language: Spanish | RRP: £14.99
Writer © Tremayne
A Map For Love not to be mistaken with the international bestselling book, The Map For Love, tells the story of Roberta, a young lesbian, whose girlfriend, Javiera, is a philosophizing actress and dancer.
The awkward but inevitable moment when she will come face-to-face with her mother lurks around the corner.
Roberta takes a call from her mother before dropping her son, Emilio off at school but the school-drop, or rush hour we see on the horizon afterwards could depict her racing mind, clogged up with anxious thoughts.
In the café Roberta tells mother, Ana, as she has done her father, that it is in her to continue having homosexual relations, and that it is not carried out as an act of torture to punish either parent for her upbringing.
They have a difference of opinion over telling Emilio she’s in a relationship with Javiera. Roberta believes he should be brought up to have an open mind.
It turns out that Ana already knows Javiera as she went to college with her daughter but with one final “brush off” comment, that she should trust no-one, Ana gets up from the table to leave.
Back at Roberto’s apartment, she discusses her mother with Javiera, acknowledging her determination, when at the age of 16, orphaned, she took on the responsibility of running a B&B all by herself.
The love scene to follow is sensual, made up of heavy petting, including direct contact with the nipple but in a non-offensive way, and if anything is equally, if not more enticing than one between a man and a woman.
Roberta suggests that they might take her mother out on a boat trip together; and allow the meditative flow of the waves the chance for them to get to know one another.
Ana uses the knowledge Roberta has for sailing, and the navigational options it entails as a metaphor, saying that it was her sense for adventure that disabled her from reaching her potential. An obvious dig at Javiera.
With a change in the tide, Ana begins to discuss her legal work, and chronic asthma with Javiera. Javiera,in turn, openly drunk, bursts into song. Ana sings too, and displays a hidden talent.
“when a sailor is given a drink.. he has already sunk, or is about to. “ A relevant quote to reflect the change in mood between the characters.
Javiera is placed in the awkward position by Roberta of explaining to her mother, the career she uses to support her aspirations of becoming a fully fledged Actress. She works in the post production side of film but not just any kind of film!
Ana reacts by saying she feels queasy and needs to go below deck to rest.
Javiera goes to check on Ana, and holds her hair back as she throws up. What happens next came as a surprise, even to me!
Drug-infused music plays from below deck as Ana tries to reason with her daughter, saying Javiera is no good for her, and would do anything.
Roberta and Javiera clearly, like the waves of the sea, have quite the tempestuous relationship, as the next thing we see is them cozying up as she helps her to go over lines; the line “thou doth stone my heart”, perhaps a good representation of the effect Javiera has on her?
The film title’s reference to a map becomes all the more apparent when the three women meet with Emilio at the end of their sailing trip.
A Map For Love finds its rightful place among the new wave of lesbian cinema that is fast immerging.
A Map For Love elaborates on that idea of love being gracious and tempestuous like the waves we find ourselves swimming amongst.
11 BAFTA NOMINATIONS
Review by Tremayne
BAFTA nominated British film GRAVITY returns to IMAX cinemas across the UK, thanks to an incredible demand from the British public.
THE IMAX ENHANCES THIS MASTERPIECE!
Alfonso Cuarón’s sci-fi thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney is thought to be one of the best films of 2013 by critics and the public alike.
Gravity** surely has secured its mark in cinema history.
Since it opened in October, it has become the highest-grossing IMAX release of 2013, in the UK and worldwide and is the seventh biggest IMAX release of all time in the UK so far.
Alfonso Cuaron’s GRAVITY, is a breath-taking journey, which takes audiences on an ultimate ride, with immense IMAX pictures and sound this film is given a new lease of life, digitally re-mastered using IMAX DMR.
Crystal-clear images grouped together with IMAX theatre geometry and a powerful digital audio make you feel you are floating in space alongside Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
Academy Award® winners Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) and George Clooney (Syriana) make Gravity a stomach churning unforgettable thriller, drawing you into the unforgiving realm that is deep space.
Oscar® nominee Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) directs the film, which he also writes with Jonás Cuarón, and produces with David Heyman (the Harry Potter films).
The director of photography was multiple Oscar®-nominee Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men, The New World) ; The visual effects are handled by Oscar®-nominated visual effects supervisor Tim Webber (The Dark Knight) and the music composed by Steven Price (Attack the Block).
'Watch a movie or be a part of one', is the 3D slogan, and Gravity is a prime example of that.
With its beautiful use of imagery the earth reflects off the visor of astronaut, Matt Kowalski's (George Clooney's) helmet, and could represent the mind, man's treasure chest of knowledge.
On second viewing I notice the visuals captured inside Ryan Stone's (Sandra Bullock's) helmet, with the effect that we are programmed into it, and can see the world in all its splendour through her eyes. The sensations are so strong at times that we start to question if we aren't, in fact, her.
The script holds much wit. One example is Ryan's reaction to Kowalski's suggestion of returning to the space shuttle, a simple “Fuck”, and in the manner of Dr Ross from ER, he responds with “Copy that”.
Parallels can be drawn with Armadillo*, an influential and detailed examination of a UK-Danish army base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2009. Documentary-maker Janus Metz and crew follow a group of juvenile Danish enlistees, as they adapt to the effects of battle, in and outside the camp, capturing combat shots by attaching a camera to the top of one of the soldier's helmets.
I like the banter between Kowalski and Ryan, which to me becomes all the more apparent when trading information (a term brought to the surface in Series, Sex & The City), he asks her where home is and what a typical day for her would be. A surrealistic contrast between the trivial chat that's taking place, and the sunset they are hovering over.
Ryan replies “I just drive”, and Kowalski, continually curious, enquires if somebody down there (glancing down to earth), is looking up at her. Kowalski, sensitive to what she has to say, switches his music off and provides her with his undivided attention. At which point she shares a very tragic story, all the while he can see her expressions in a tiny mirror attached to the inside of his arm.
I like the way in which the script, aside from the visual effects, is able to provoke images inside one's mind. For example, when Kowalski says “sip, not gulp. Wine, not beer”, by way of reassurance when Ryan's oxygen supply has run low.
“I gotcha” and “I had you”, are the utterances exchanged between Ryan and Kowalski, as he makes the ultimate sacrifice, detaching himself from the cord; that which, like a mother to a child, binds them together, not knowing what the outcome will be.
But as he drifts off farther and farther into the distance, she must learn to let go too , as she has also lost someone special to her.
One, if not THE most symbolic shot of the entire film is after Ryan has entered the space ship, and freed herself from her space suit. In mere under garments, she swirls round and round beside the window, in what questionably could be a foetal type position; as an inner peace finds its way inside her.
It has become clear that Ryan is now the principal character of the film. A big demand on any Actor but the chance for Bullock to prove to cinema goers the extensive range she has.
A striking shot of the earth is captured through the window of the port hole, which is enhanced all the more by the gleam off the glass.
Now while Mel Gibson's – The Passion of Christ left me feeling nauseous for four days, Gravity causes your stomach to feel like a tumble dryer.
“I hate space” says Ryan when she realises she's out of fuel; and a translucent tear drop manages to escape from one of her tear ducts.
Kowalski, in the form of a guiding spirit, enters the space ship and settles into the chair that's beside her, offering her a cheeky swig of the Russian gin he's had stashed away.
He reassures her, up in space no-one can bring harm to her but that it's time to go home. These last few words provide her with the ounce of breath she needs to make it.
Ryan on her own again, acknowledges Kowalski's departed spirit, and asks him to tell those she has already lost that she loves them.
No longer is she afraid of the outcome of the mission; if she lives or dies, it will be one hell of a ride.
Viewers might easily criticise that, like with the Bond movies, Ryan's character would have got more bruises and injuries. But, my argument back would be 'why can't we have a story depicting a tremendously brave woman, who's able to see her way through the unattainable; and thus promote the idea of wherever one finds oneself, one finds strength?'
In space Ryan sheds emotional skin that otherwise might have continued to weigh her down. Being away from everything and everyone, helps her to evaluate and go about re-setting her life, so that should she make it back down to earth, her purpose would be a lot clearer, and no longer would she hold onto a smeared pair of spectacles!
Arguably at the end we might ask if she has reached out to a higher being, a higher source.
So why not float through space with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney 3D style at The BFI IMAX®
Back by popular demand.
*Armadillo featured at The London Film Festival 2010.
**Gravity 3D featured at The London Film Festival 2013.
Production year: 2013
Director: John Turteltaub
Cast: Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro
Runtime: 105 mins
Last Vegas, an ‘ensemble comedy’ comparable to films The Hangover and The Bucket List, stars Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline, who decide to embark on a wild stag party weekend in Las Vegas to mark the imminent marriage of Douglas.
As pensioners, who are lifelong friends, they are determined not to behave their age, and to instead boogie like it was 1959, seeking out as much alcohol, gambling and women as possible!
In 1955 they are known as "The Flatbush Four", a quartet of cocky-mouthed 12-year-olds, who hang about the liquor store. However, 58 years later they have all sprouted in varying fashions. In the case of Freeman, he has had a minor stroke; while Kline is restless, craving adventure away from the Florida retirement community in which he lives; Niro, moody, is a recent widow, and Douglas, a renowned womaniser, who is set to marry a woman who is less than half his age.
The difference about this film from others is that the four principal Cast members are in the latter years of their life, ‘Generation Geritol’, as opposed to ‘Baby Boom’; having gone full circle, their ‘Baby Boom’ is comprised of all-time Nurses, senior-citizen events and grown up children who take on the role of the parent.
The four carefully make their way to Las Vegas, where they judge a cheap bikini contest, turn their backs on doctors’ advice, and manage to queue jump to the top of the list for the mega-party suite, which has otherwise been reserved for the likes of 50 Cent!
The feud between De Niro and Douglas over a love interest is played out once more, when they both befriend lounge singer Mary Steenburgen.
It should come as no surprise in a film made up mostly of fickle, bikini clad bimbos, that a 60-year old Steenburgen carries with her, a sense of empowerment. Thus enforcing the idea of stability within a superficial environment.
Cue the first bachelor party of its kind! With a little fondling, here and there, ‘Generation Geritol’ infuses etiquette into the generation beneath them.
Last Vegas is an inoffensive, uplifting movie, which will manage to squeeze out a tear or two; and despite it perhaps not reflecting the calibre of Cast in it, it does not fall flat on its face as tends to be the case with films comprised of ‘an all-star Cast’; an example of which would be 1994 satirical American Comedy Prêt-à-Porter (English: Ready to Wear), co-written, directed, and produced by Robert Altman.
Every person who goes to see Last Vegas will find it difficult to walk away from without being left with a warm glow inside.
Last Vegas holds some good one liners that embrace ‘the older man’, a rarity in cinema, where on a more in-depth level their insecurities are revealed to us , not dissimilar to those of a younger man.
Release date: Friday 3rd January, 2013
Fully restored for cinemas
Written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore
Starring Philippe Noiret, Jacques Perrin, Marco Leonardi, Salvatore Cascio
Release date: At cinemas from
Running time: 120 mins, Cert: PG
‘Enchanting in every way, Cinema Paradiso on the big screen will make you wide-eyed with childlike wonder..’
Cinema Paradiso, a love letter to the cinema if ever there was one. The second feature by Sicilian writer-director Giuseppe Tornatore, which tells the tale of Toto, a young Sicilian boy, also a film enthusiast. Little time passes before a strong bond is forged between him and the local projectionist.
The film reignited Italian cinema, which otherwise had been on shaky ground for a quite some time.
Historian Gian Piero Brunetta commented that Italian cinema in the 80s was broken into two parts. The first of ‘chaos’, that lead to ‘a breakdown in structures’; and the second of ‘growth and renewal’, with an important contribution by younger faces.
Tornatore, and other filmmakers like Gabriele Salvatores, heavily influenced the second phase but struggled to get projects off the ground.
He recognised that ‘any attempt to make films seemed impossible’, and began ‘to feel like someone who had started doing what he had always wanted to do’, only found that the world no longer needed it.
However that was to change when Cinema Paradiso won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, in 1990. The last Italian film to win such a prestigious award was Federico Fellini, for Amarcord. In 1973
Cinema Paradiso seen as Tornatore’s most ‘Truffautian film’ holds bold cinematography and reminiscent sentiments towards childhood, only enhanced further by the recognizable music score by Ennio Morricone, which spans over thirty years.
A story to stretch across generations, with focal themes of ‘friendship, love and filmmaking.’
Jacques Perrin, plays Salvatore, a reputable film director, who visits where he ws brought up to attend the funeral of his old friend and mentor Alfredo (Philippe Noiret).
Alfredo had been the projectionist at the Cinema ‘Paradiso’, where much of his upbringing was centred, and where he focuses a lot of his fondly natured adult thoughts.
Soon his memory box is swilling around with memories of a sentimental kind, as he reminisces about ravishingly beautiful first love, Elena, and the experiences that were to occur, that sculpted out his life.
Salvatore engages again with the people he was to leave behind thirty years earlier
The film then travels back to the 1940s, where we view Toto, as an altar boy, who, at the end of completing all of his errands, spies on the priest, who sounds a bell by way of signalling to delete specific scenes he perceives as scandalous, chiefly subtle forms of affection, including kissing.
Toto is quickly drawn to the projector, celluloid, and what they both represent. He begs Alfredo to let him assist him. Reluctant at first, he gives into the charms of Toto, and his inquisitive eyes, providing him with the opportunity to peer out from the booth they now both work in, and down on the audience they enchant with the images they reveal to them.
After a full restoration and to mark its 25th
Cinema Paradiso will receive a re-release into cinemas on 13th December.
The Photoplay Productions restoration of
The Phantom of the Opera
A FILM BY RUPERT JULIAN
3-disc Dual Format Edition
The Phantom of the Opera a silent picture made in 1925 adapted from Gaston Leroux’s novel of the same name.
Lon Chaney stars as the hauntingly disfigured Phantom, whose presence is felt at the Paris Opera House, and will go to fatal lengths to see the woman he carries a flame for famous.
The film remains well known for Chaney’s ‘ghastly, self-devised make-up’, a secret until it premiered; and supplementary direction given by him.
At the beginning the debut of the new season at the Paris Opera House opens with a production of Gounod’s Faust.
Raoul attends with the intent of hearing the dulcet tones of his beloved Christine Daae (Mary Philbin).
Christine makes a fast climb from the chorus to the understudy.
Raoul intends Christine to forego her career and marry him.
At the Opera’s peak the management resign but before they depart, they let those who are taking it off their hands know about ‘the Opera Ghost’, who will insist on asking for box number 5.
The ballerinas are frightened as they catch sight of an ethereal looking man in a fez, who resides in the cellars.
Meanwhile, Virginia Pearson, the prima donna of the Paris Grand Opera, storms into the managers office fuming. "The Phantom" has sent her a letter, insisting that Christine take on the role of Marguerite,
Christine reports to Raoul that she is being taught by the "Spirit of Music," and it is impossible for her to give up her career.
Two of the managers enter box number 5 during the performance, and are dumbfounded by the figure perched upon the chair. They flee from the scene.
Christine’s performances lead to a standing ovation.
Raoul unbeknownst to Christine waits outside her dressing room door, and when the others have left, ready to enter, he can hear a voice in the room with her.
Soon “the spirit” will demand her love.
This version of The Phantom of the Opera has been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress, as well as being selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
A most cherishable piece of film heritage for Film Professionals and Film Buffs alike!
●Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
●Original 1925 version (b&w, 103 mins) with newly commissioned piano accompaniment by Ed Bussey
●Original 1925 trailer and 1929 sound reissue trailer
●Reel 5 from lost 1929 sound reissue: the only surviving element, discovered in the Library of Congress archives
●The ‘man with the lantern’ sequence: mysterious footage thought to have been shot for non-English speaking territories
●Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces (2000, Kevin Brownlow, 86 mins, DVD only): the definitive documentary on the legendary actor and make-up artist
●Channel 4 Silents restoration souvenir programme (PDF)
●Illustrated booklet featuring new essays, an original review and film credits
RRP: £22.99 / Cert PG
USA / 1929/ tinted and toned, black and white, and colour / silent with music / 91 mins
GOTHIC: The Dark Heart of
Film runs from August 2013-January 2014 celebrating one
of Britain’s biggest cultural exports. With over 150 titles and
around 1000 screenings GOTHIC features spectacularly terrifying
special events to thrill every corner of the UK. The project also incorporates
the longest BFI Southbank session yet (4 months), UK- wide
theatrical and DVD releases, an education programme, a new BFI
GOTHIC book and a range of exciting partnerships, special guests
GOTHIC will explore film’s most popular theme, spawning some of
the medium’s most iconic, powerful and terrifying scenes and
characters whose lasting popularity just refuses to die.
Review by ©Tremayne
Written by Rachel Hirons
Produced by Damian Jones, James Cotton, Nichola Martin
Starring Sheridan Smith, Jaime Winstone, Kate Nash, Oona Chaplin,
Riann Steele, Sarah Hoare, Johnnie Fiori
Running Time: 86 minutes
The opening credits are in an Aztec style, which appear to match the wrapping of the lollipops and toiletries inside the ladies toilets; as well as that of the powder room lady’s garments. I’m not sure if this was an intentional move on the part of the Director?
Powder Room is based on play, When Women Wee by Rachel Hiron, previously performed at the Soho Theatre.
It’s a Friday night Sam (Sheridan Smith), ‘a lovely girl’, who feels she has done nothing with her life is conscious about enjoying herself. Although excited, she is also nervous as she will be meeting with old college friend, Michelle (Kate Nash) after five years. They haven’t been that much in contact but Sam has been curiously following the fashion blog she writes from Paris.
Sam enters the nightclub, and it isn’t long before she has red wine spilt over her but rather than let it jeopardise the rest of the evening, she tries to see the amusing side, and, ironically, it develops into quite the conversation piece. The arse or crack-breaker, one might say, as it is mistaken, time and time again for being a period stain patch.
Throughout the night we are introduced to an assortment of characters, and given a real insight into the ‘real speech’ girls use in a nightclub setting; more particularly, in the toilets, where no-one is sporting a masque.
As the film unveils it becomes more apparent that the Powder Room lady is a kind of ‘support bra’, as she holds each person’s life together as it appears to disintegrate, aired before her very eyes!
“don’t raze that rat in here!”, says Sam to Chanel (Jaime Winstone), her best friend, the ‘loose one’, with a heart of gold, when she attempts to shave her pubic hair in front of the mirror, and does this in between meeting different men .
Chanel despite having no shame with her promiscuous behaviour, is, as Jaime Winstone, who plays her has commented, ‘in control of her body and what she wants to do’; an attribute that each one of us would be envious in having!
What I have coined ‘the flick & lick scene’, where Paige (Riann Steele) and Saskia (Sarah Hoare, who recently appeared in an episode of Misfits) are tripping out on the drugs they’ve taken, is hilarious. Not only have they switched bras but they have also attached them to their heads, with the cups facing upwards so that they bear a striking resemblance to alien life forms.
Saskia, straight laced, is persuaded out of her comfort zone by Paige, who implies she needs to take more risks; when people, in actual fact, would give their right arm to have her stable lifestyle, including longstanding boyfriend.
Chanel refers to Sam’s ‘new friends’, Michelle and Jess (Oona Chaplin, Game of Thrones), who she tries to keep separate, as ‘The Bitches of Eastwick’. Brilliant!
It isn’t long before Sam realises she cannot go around holding up a pack of lies; and it results in a ‘freak-out speech’, mirroring a quarter life crisis.
The Powder Room Lady shows her maternal side as she hands folded up pieces of tissue paper to a sobbing Sam in the cubicle next door. And as the pound coin Sam chucks, lands in the tip dish, she knows the only way she can set everything straight between her and her friends, is to get up on the pokey stage, and imitate her group of friends’ usual dance routine.
Sheridan Smith is consistently good at playing “natural”.
Powder Room, like Sex & The City, has an immediate appeal to a female audience, but that does not mean to say that it wouldn’t manage to draw in a smattering of interest from the male population too; intrigued by the goings on, during a girls night out.
Powder Room holds a lot of strong messages but above all, perhaps, the misconceptions we make about the people amongst us whose lives, seemingly perfect, may actually carry as many cracks as our own, if not more!
UK RELEASE DATE: FRIDAY 6th DECEMBER
A new, epic film on Australia by John Pilger, 2013.
Fact. A twelve-year old boy is tasered by Police in 2011. They weren’t prosecuted.
Sub-human status: ‘you’re a black Aboriginal Australian. You’re not wanted on this earth.’
In contrast with ‘the eclectic white Australian’, who can rent a holiday apartment along Palm Beach, with a seafront view for $A 30 or 40,000 a week!
Amphilawatja Health Centre, in the Northern Territory has no electricity, and produces warmth and light by striking up a fire outside. Showering is also done outside, with a hose for the children.
Quite astounding when you realise there is a government managed building, across from it, that has a fully functioning air conditioning system!
At The National Museum of Australia, in Canberra, Barton, the first President of Australia is featured but there is absolutely nothing on the country’s longest surviving people, The Indigenous Folk.
Utopia is an Aboriginal homeland that was formed in November 1978. The name, I suspect, a corruption of ‘Uturupa’, meaning ‘big sand hill’, which is a region situated in the north west extremity of the area.
Neither a former mission, nor a government settlement, it was successfully claimed by the indigenous people who have never been completely dispossessed. They live in a score of outstations or clan sites, each with their traditional claim to the place.
David Smith, Manager of the Health Centre, takes us through the area’s living conditions.
There’s “ no bush bus service”. He also speaks of ‘cross contamination’, a result of the poor quality in housing. Cockroaches have been extracted from the ears of both adults and children. Other health issues include something which is referred to as ‘blue ears’, which can cause a delay in the learning process, and lower hydration levels, so there is a ten percent loss of body fluid.
Old footage taken twenty years ago could easily be mistaken for the present day.
Government communities don’t invest because they know if they do, that their governmental status will cease to be.
Mr Snowden, the Minister of Indigenous people, 2009-2013, when interviewed, focused on issues of legacy and poor government policy, pointing out that considerable changes
have occurred since 2007.
“when an Aboriginal dies, their home dies too”, said by a forty seven-year- old man, which bears great significance to when a Doctor draws parallels with a Dickensian Britain, further adding that almost one third of Aboriginal people are dead by the age of forty six!
“we are civilised; and they are not”, is a quote to be found in a school textbook; just one representation of how Aboriginees are seen.
Australia Day commemorates the arrival of the British in 1788. Or the English and Irish convicts, along with genocide?
“you’re full of shit mate”, is one person’s reaction to the idea of a whole community being airbrushed.
Interestingly, nothing in the tourist catalogue acknowledges the concentration camps; and today where they once were, stands a hotel complex with spa.
“it’s so degrading. We feel traumatised..”, are the comments made by a man visiting, who holds Aboriginal ancestry.
It’s quite alarming when you think at one time 51 people on the camp, would have been squeezed into the space that makes up one hotel room; with Clients now being charged
$A 240 for the priviledge!
“we’re refugees in our own country, a supposed ‘Lucky Country’.”
And what was The Morgue, is now the hotel’s kitchen area.
Margaret Quirk - Minister of Corrective Services, 2007-2009, insists that the team she used to work with were put on a ‘cultural sensitivity training’ course in 2008, a consequence of an aboriginal man being carried in a van of up to 57 degrees in heat, put through an agonising death as he was burnt alive!
Gerry Georgatos, a Journalist, states that the Black Australians are the most imprisoned people on earth. A fact I was not aware of. Examples are then given. The first, brother of Patricia Morton Thomas (Film Producer & Actor), was imprisoned when he had committed no criminal act, except for being critically ill and heavily laden with alcohol.
At the tender age of twenty he was a death’s door. The Coroner acknowledged he would have survived had he not sustained such brutal treatment at the hands of the police.
The second, Eddie Murray’s death in 1981, who was found hanging in his cell at Wee Waa Police Station. Parents, Leila and Arthur unconvinced that he took his own life, and was, in fact, killed by a police officer sought justice, which lead to the family experiencing complete intimidation.
Leila who passed away in 2004, died continuing to fight for justice; and husband Arthur, in 2012. But their son’s death was not in vain as it started up a huge justice campaign for
him and others alike.
“you can’t renovate an asbestos house. It needs to be pulled down”, is what is said when we visit another Aboriginal patch.
Malnourishment, also an issue, which also includes those who manage to tip over the scales.! Protein is provided in meat but vegetables are sparingly purchased since they are considered too expensive.
A Medical Practitioner brings up the topic of the 1780s, as comparisons are made with the terrible infectious diseases that were around at the time.
I had not realised the extent to which the film would centre on the continual problems the Indigenous People of Australia face but in no way did that act as a deterrent.
The film was able to lay bare the raw facts. My only criticism of it would perhaps be, that at no point did it expose us to any shade. One, therefore, stepped away from it with little hope left in the human race. The ideology being that ‘we become part of the earth we come from’.
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