A Zed and two screenings

In London last week, I had a great view of Westminster from the office where my meeting took place — there it was, mother of parliaments, encased in scaffolding in an absurdly apt bit of symbolism. I kept expecting it to descend majestically into the river like the old Thames TV logo in reverse, with a bathetic gurgle as accompaniment.

The meeting done, I nipped into the subway and zipped over to the Lumiere Cinema to see Costa-Gavras’ Z, but rode one stop in the wrong direction. Correcting my course, I arrived at the cinema just in time to watch the guy in front of me snag the last ticket, doubly frustrating since I could trace exactly the error I’d made that cost me the viewing experience.

C-G’s son Romain has a film out which I could have seen, a gangster romp, but to hell with that. The state of the country has me in the mood for depictions of more serious criminal malfeasance.

So, upon returning to the Shadowplayhouse, I popped the Criterion disc into the machine and we caught up with the 1969 masterpiece about the death of a democracy, a Film For Our Times if ever there was one.

I wish Britain had its own Costa-Gavras. We have Ken Loach, and when he makes a political thriller like HIDDEN AGENDA, it’s not really a thriller — no jeopardy. And I like that one better than most. C-G’s best films are BLOODY EXCITING, the passion that drives the points he wants to make also seeps into the filming choices and you get something that’s more than simply “realistic” — it turns the contrast up on reality and makes cinema out of it. C-G is particularly alert to the possibilities for grotesquerie, absurdity and surrealism in depicting the true activities of the ruling powers.

(Weirdly, his American films tend to be not only less daringly political, but less thrilling. The intellectual excitement has to be there to feed the visceral-cinematic kind, I guess.)

2 Responses to “A Zed and two screenings”

  1. Subway, sir? SUBWAY? ‘Tis the Tube or the Underground, but never twas it the subway!

    Also, Z is great.

  2. It’s the subway, because they all link up, you know. There’s a world going on underground.

    Also, isn’t it just?

    In his films and filming interview, CG mentions his admiration for The Knack, and IT SHOWS! There’s that playful new wave thing going on, not interfering with the underlying deadly seriousness AT ALL.

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