Archive for Edinburgh International Film Festival

Go West, Young Batman

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2016 by dcairns

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Today I shall be assisting Kevin Smith introduce BATMAN: THE MOVIE, which should be interesting.

Mr. Smith has been presenting his new film, YOGA HOSERS, and apparently talking to every single fan who wants a word. A gent.

Tomorrow — Bologna for the Cinema Ritrovato! Chaplin! Keaton! Epstein! Tavernier! Becker! Feyder! Pabst! Whale! Brando! Saslavsky! Cahn! Gance! Penn! Mizoguchi! Too many others. Reports to follow…

Chamber of Dreams

Posted in Comics, FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2016 by dcairns

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One after another, the films in out POW!!! retrospective turn out to be far better when seen on the big screen than one would expect — DANGER: DIABOLIK’s somewhat episodic plot seems to flow more smoothly, MODESTY BLAISE’s jarring tonal shifts seem more thought-through, and BARBARELLA —

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I used to assume that of the army of writers on this film (including Hammer scribe Tudor Gates, also credited on DIABOLIK), Terry Southern was probably responsible for the funniest lines, but when I got ahold of the Grove Press (!) edition of Jean-Claude Forest’s comic strip, I found they’d been lifted straight from its speech balloons. (“A great many dramatic situations begin with screaming!”) All of them are enhanced, however, by Jane Fonda’s witty and inventive line readings. How many ways of doing wide-eyed innocence ARE there? An infinite number, apparently. Fonda not only makes the film funnier, she defuses offense in the more exploitative scenes, reassuring us that good taste, and the heroine, will not be violated altogether.

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Embodying a very up-to-the-minute view of the future, 1968-style (the swishy shipboard computer seems like a riposte to 2001, but surely can’t be), the film is also, by movie standards, comparatively generous towards its source, crediting Forest once for co-co-co-co-co-co-writing, and once for design. Combining his art with the craft of production designer Mario Garbuglia (THE LEOPARD) results in wonderfully Felliniesque settings.

In my intro I said that Roger Vadim’s direction was the weakest link, but after watching the film with an audience I would have to retract that halfway — true, Vadim’s marshalling of his resources into camera coverage sometimes seems a bit random, so that you frown at shapeless footage of clearly magnificent environments and crowds — not as bad as CALIGULA, say, but a milder version of that effect — “I know we’re in an amazing set, but we just can’t see it!” As if, having covered his wife/star, Vadim had no clear plan for how to present anything else, and just let the cameramen roam about as if in a behind-the-scenes documentary. But the pacing of the film is really good. Despite their charms, DIABOLIK and MODESTY BLAISE are both peppered with dead spots in their talking scenes, partly a result of rather thin sound design, partly a result of directors who are either not so comfortable with actors (Bava, I’m afraid) or with comedy timing (Losey, unquestionably). BARBARELLA, in front of an audience, really PLAYS.

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Collaboration

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2016 by dcairns

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Yesterday — two contrasting screenings of THE NORTHLEACH HORROR, one with a disparate program of shorts, one with Steve Barker’s kinetic, political zombie theme park movie THE REZORT, which was a total blast. Steve’s audience was my kind of audience.

Spent most of today with the makers of HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY, an utterly charming documentary about a creative collaboration between two members of movie professions who never normally get films made about them: Harold Michelson was a storyboard artist who worked with Hitchcock on THE BIRDS and MARNIE, with Mike Nichols (he designed the shot where Anne Bancroft’s legs frame Dustin Hoffman) and many, many others, while his wife Lillian ran a research library based variously at the AFI, Zoetrope and Paramount. Two amazing and lovely filmmakers, profiled in detail in a film that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking (certain organs break easier when they’ve been warmed).

With the film’s director Daniel Raim and his co-producer and co-editor Jennifer Raim (another great husband-and-wife team) I strolled the city on a sightseeing tour and then dropped in on THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT, yet another film about a creative partnership, in this case the story of South Korean director Shin Sang -ok and his ex-wife, movie star Choi Eun-Hee, who were reunited when they were both kidnapped by Kim Jong-il and forced to make movies to raise the prestige of the North Korean film industry. A compelling and crazy story, beautifully told.

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The perfect blendship.

My editor friend Timo Langer has a copy of Kim’s book on film-making, On The Art of the Cinema — it’s not exactly a manual, more a set of dictats, vague-sounding aesthetic principles about how “each element of a film should be in balance” — the kind of things you can image a not-very-bright studio exec coming out with if asked to pontificate on a panel. It’s sort of like Bresson’s Notes on Cinematography as written by a dilettante blowhard. Or like Hamlet’s notes to the players, translated from the original Korean. Very boring to read, since it’s all just gassy generalisations, but a great talking point to have on your bookshelf. I covet it madly.

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