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Sunday, 15 July 2018

Scandinavian Film Festival - Peter Hourigan reviews U-JULY 22 (Erik Poppe, Norway)

Among the too many acts of violence and terrorism the two incidents in Norway in 2011 have stood out. In the middle of the afternoon, there was an explosion in the government quarters of Oslo, killing 8 people and injuring many more. Less than two hours later, an attack occurred on the island of Utøya, where a summer camp for youth members of the ruling Norwegian Labour Party was being held. This lone wolf attack killed 69 people, and also injured several hundred more.
A film based on this latter event is being screened in the current Palace Scandinavian Film Festival. In Norway, the impact of those two incidents is such that you only need to say ‘July 22’ and people know what you’re referring to.  So, the film only needs the name U – July 22, the U referring to the island, Utøya.  The director is Erik Poppe, who made the recent The King’s Choice (2016), which I did not see.
The attack on the island started at 5.22 pm and lasted for 73 minutes when the shooter surrendered to the first police to demand he lay down his arms.  The final single shot of the film also lasts exactly 73 minutes.  But we do not see any shooting, or the shooter aiming at people.  Rather, the hand-held camera stays with one girl for the whole time, and we experience the incident as it would have been experienced by one person caught up in it, trying to find out what is going on, scared for her own life, anxious for her younger sister who she hasn’t seen since before the first shot.
Andrea Berntzen as Kaja, U- July 22
The characters in the film are fictional – there was not a girl called Kaja  or a missing sister called Emilie. But the story was developed from all the accounts of the survivors, and is probably an example where a fiction can get closer to the truth than an actual documentary.
This focus on Kaja means that many of the traps of this kind of story are avoided. There is no graphic violence, no brains spurting out of an exploded head, or malicious grins on the face of a gunman. In fact, in the whole film we only catch a brief possible glimpse of him once, a silhouetted figure some distance away on the ridge of the hill. This denies him the notoriety of becoming a movie character – and I am honouring that by not naming him in this review. 
In fact, people caught up in an incident like this do not know who the gunman is. They would only have their own fears and panic, and by adopting this approach to telling the story, the film puts their experience foremost.  We spend most of the 73 minutes with Kaja who is probably 16 or 17. The camera follows her where she runs, looks out from her hiding places, catches glimpses of people running in panic as she would see them.  
The technical logistics of achieving this in a film are breathtaking.  The island is 11 hectares in size, and Kaja would seem to cover a lot of this area during the 73 minutes, from wooded areas in the centre of the island, to cliffs and cold seas around Utøya.  We also hear what she would have heard – and in particular the dull thud of all the shots, seeming to come from all around.  It must have taken weeks of planning and rehearsal for Andrea Berntzen as Kaja, for the cameraman, Martin Otterbeck and all the extras, co-coordinating action over the whole area.  It is reported that they did five takes of this sequence, able to achieve only one on any single day.
This decision to focus on one character is significant because it really throws the light on those caught up in such an incident, which challenges us to reflect on how we would have behaved. Kaja comes across   others hiding campers, and we can see a range of responses as people try to cope with this terror.  It is also commendable that this approach does not give the perpetrator the oxygen of fame and publicity.
But it is also a limiting approach.  Just as important as asking ourselves how would we have reacted, is trying to understand how such an incident could happen.  And because of its approach, U July 22 cannot address this.  Think of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant,based on the Columbine High School massacre of 1999.  Van Sant’s approach allows us to identify with people who will be caught up in the shooting, as well as enigmatically giving us some insight into the shooters, so we can speculate on possible causes – which is the prelude to hopefully avoiding such events in the future.   From what we learn about the victims we do develop a sense of the value of the lives lost, the variety of their potentials. We do not have that in U July 22.
So, a film certainly worth seeing – but also a film where I’d say what you see on first viewing is probably all you’d get from repeated viewings, apart from being able to admire even more the complexity of that 73 minute final single shot.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

On Blu-ray - David Hare is thrilled by UN BEAU SOLEIL INTERIEUR (Claire Denis, France)

Juliet Binoche, Un Beau Soleil Intérieur 
The loves of a woman is no more and no less than the subject of Claire Denis' wonderful new film, with the astonishing participation of Juliette Binoche, Un Beau Soleil Intérieur which has just been released in a very fine English friendly Blu-ray by Curzon Artificial Eye in the UK. The movie debuted in English language territories in July last year at the sister Festivals of NZ and Melbourne, and has since enjoyed only limited commercial runs in Europe and the USA. 
Xavier Beauvois, Un Beau Soleil Intérieur 
My only quibble with the new Blu-ray is the appallingly misconceived faux-hip translation of the original French title which should read something like, “A glorious inner sun” to something as hideously banal as the Gerome Ragni-esque homage, “Let the Sunshine In”. 
Nicolas Duvauchelle.
The film has its beginnings in a 1977 text by Claire’s old chum the late Roland Barthes, "Fragments d’un discourse amoureux". Or as Claire would have it, as she does in a disarmingly sweet 30 minute interview to camera on the new disc, 34 Fragments, in effect a sister film to her earlier movie 35 Rhums (35 Shots of Rum, 2008). 

Alex Descas and Valerie Bruno Tedeschi
In both this and that film, a woman languishes, albeit in considerable sensual pleasure and genial ambivalence, with one of Claire’s most present and sustaining male actors, Alex Descas coming late to the picture, as a potentially redeeming figure to the woman and her currently unfulfilled desire for both sex and affection. 
Juliet Binoche
Claire is very much not a director for gender studies devotees, nor indeed much of modern so called western “feminism”. I imagine her effigy being ritually burnt in Gender studies classes the world over for her “sins”. Like several previous essays in transgression, ranging from a serial transvestite granny killer (J’ai pas Sommeil, 1994), to Cannibal Vampires (Trouble Every Day, 2001, admittedly with the odious Vincent Gallo playing lead Vampire, along with the sublime Beatrice Dalle), to lovable but incestuous fathers (Les Salauds, 2013). 
Juliet Binoche, Un Beau Soleil Intérieur 
Such transgressions are redundant in the new film, with a handpicked cast of men whose characters, bar one, are obnoxious almost beyond belief. Her growth as an artist and human being, which already to me seemed complete long ago now reaches the highest levels of artistry by engaging effortlessly with such charmless arseholes through delirious lightly played comedy, rooted in very harsh and very real anguish. 
Bruno Podaldydes.
Thus her current affair and fuck buddy (played by the exceptional director, Xavier Beauvois as a fat, smug self-obsessed status prick who orders “gluten free olives” with glasses of high end Scotch at a bar), is a man whom she confesses to enjoy fucking with because she can always have an orgasm the moment she re-imagines him as the vulgar little shit he actually is. Her possibly even more vile ex-husband Francois, played by Lawrence Grevill, has two brief appearances, only one more than their daughter who also seems completely superfluous to Isabelle’s life in the here and now. 
Gerard Depardieu, Un Beau Soleil Intérieur 
The movie musically glides its way through a gorgeous funk jazz score from the Julian Siegel Quartet through to Etta James’ "At Last". The latter song signals the movie’s epiphany, (if it indeed needed one), just as the Commodores did in Claire’s fabulous 35 Rhums a decade ago, and once again, with perhaps her favorite male actor, Alex Descas. 
Which leads me back to one of her favorite female actors, the unassailably beautiful and moving and flawless and real Juliette Binoche who takes us on this glorious, exhilarating ride into Claire’s life. If one of the perfect subjects of cinema is photographing a woman’s face, Claire surely shares this noble conceit with masters like Sternberg, Ozu, Mizoguchi and Ophuls. One might cede some evidence of ups and downs in the rides Claire has taken with some of her pictures over the last 15 years, notably Les Salauds (2013), L’intros (2004) and particularly White Material (2009) which I feel is burdened by an overly self-conscious performance from Isabelle Huppert and too schematic a screenplay. But the director’s irrepressible impulse to pleasure and pain, and to sheer joy, and the intoxication of her form and image are overwhelming. 
Claire Denis
Un Beau Soleil Interieur is Claire Denis at top form, and she’s back with soul mate, DP Agnes Godard, here shooting on digital Sony F65 cameras with a range of 70mm Panavision primes, most of them very short focal length to give the close and two shots which make up 80% of the movie a blissfully classical feel with the clear supremacy of the face over every other item of the shot and the lighting. 
Claire Denis is a master of cinema. She has been since Beau Travail in 1999, and I hope she keeps making movies for as long as she draws breath.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

An Australian New Wave - Bill Mousoulis puts in the hard yards to draw attention to the new talent.

Bill Mousoulis
On his invaluable Pure Shit Australian Cinema the indefatigable Bill Mousoulis is constantly bringing new Australian cinema to attention. The fact that that the film-makers are too often below the radar only spurs Bill on. He ponders not just the films but what might be done to bring the film-makers to some kind of recognition.

Here is the first para of his most recent contribution which begins with this para before providing a list and links to greater appreciation.

This page presents a list (with brief annotations) of Australian independent filmmakers who may be designated a "new wave" of directors within Australia at the moment. They are mainly younger filmmakers (though not strictly), with their first features (or mini-features), made independently (often with no funding whatsoever), and the films and filmmakers are not acclaimed/recognised by the major Australian film festivals so far (with a couple of exceptions). This list is perhaps subjective, to my own taste, featuring as it does films that are formally experimental or dynamic, but every filmmaker on this list is deserving of recognition. I also envisage that this list will change with time, but it will always feature directors who are not yet on the "shore". So, here they are – the current "Australian new wave".

You can find the whole story if you click here

Go Bill. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Streaming on Netflix - Rod Bishop uncovers FOUR SEASONS IN HAVANA (Félix Viscarret, Cuba/Spain, 2016)

A disillusioned, chain-smoking, roguish cop, prone to drinking binges, bouts of self-pity and hopeless romanticism is battling away in a world of corruption, drugs, sex and murder. Sound familiar? Some of it is, but these four feature length police procedurals come from Cuba and our cop is a product of ideological cleansing, unemployment and an economy gone-to-shit ever since the Soviet Union collapsed.
Mario Conte (Jorge Perugorría) wanted to be a writer and still tries; his romantic relationships seem forever doomed and his drinking buddies include an Angolan Vet in a wheelchair.
He’s obsessed with Creedence Clearwater Revival and every time he comes close to breaking a case, an unseen, unspoken force from above stops him linking street-crime to The Party. Che Guevara posters and paintings are peeling off the walls, Cuban funk swells the soundtrack and some Havana buildings, even funkier than the music, look like they might collectively collapse at any moment.
Leonardo Padura
This is the world of Cuban author Leonardo Padura and his Havana Quartet novels, where cops happily discuss their “existential problems” while driving old Russian cars and persons-of-interest can be experts in “Creole postmodernism”. It’s the 1990s and Cuba is suffering through a severe economic decline known as The Special Period.
A former investigative journalist, the Havana-born Padura charts this world of a generation disillusioned by the revolution; nostalgic for the “decadent” Cuba of the 1950s; permanently stung by accusations of being “non-ideological” and ever aware of investigations into their behavior from those above them. In one episode, Conde faces up to his own homophobia, his “macho-Marxism” and his inability to adjust to a new Cuba “after things changed”.
Spanish produced, in association with Cuba’s ICAIC, and directed by Spaniard Félix Viscarret, it’s unique and exotic and in Padura’s words, a “series [that] bears witness to a Havana which in ten years might not exist”.
"...a world of corruption, drugs, sex and murder."

Monday, 9 July 2018

On Blu-ray - David Hare sifts through some French editions of films by the great man himself Ernst Lubitsch

Charles Laughton (left) gives his boss the razzie in the Lubitsch episode from If I had a Million (1932).
And Gary Cooper is seen next with everyone's favorite old uncle/auntie, Edward Everett Horton (below) sleeping in HIS bed, and (further below) a screen with the devoon Claudette Colbert on a pontoon in a studio backdrop Paramount Riviera from Lube's Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, which was torn to pieces by the censors, from 1938. (I have to say I suspect Paramount's wonderful production design studio Riviera was probably much nicer than the real thing.) 
To say even the double entendres which these two screens hint at are dead is an understatement. This picture, and Cukor's Zaza, were perhaps the worst hit victims of the post 1934 Code, both in the same year of 1938, coming on top of variously censored and re-edited titles from the pre-34 era which had to be re-submitted to get the stamp of appproval from that old pervert Joe Breen for the new sexless age. 
These titles, as well as Design for Living(1933) a true Lubitsch masterpiece, and One Hour with You, a Lube/Cukor joint effort of mixed success (for me) have now been released on Blu-ray by Elephant in France. 
Design was afforded a decent 2K restoration by Universal some years ago, and has since appeared on a Criterion Blu-ray with a great Joe McBride commentary, so skip this Elephant disc in favor of that quality edition. 
And unless you're a fanatical Lube completist, the transfer of Million is so rough I cannot recommend it for fear of ridicule. Bluebeard is also really a title for completists so it's up to you folks. Image quality is ragged but sharp, but the print is unrestored. Black and white levels are good and consequently there's decent contrast and texture, but Christ it's technically rough. 
So is One Hour with You, (below) also in this pile of Froggie releases. 
Some players might also have trouble defeating the French subs.

Vale Henion Han - Mike Rubbo remembers a film editor of distinction

"this for me is 
the classic Henion Han 
photo because it shows 
the pants he wore, day in 
and day out, the crotch 
as you see, below the knees. 
I think of them as his Tai Chi pants." (MR)
I picture Henion Han on Avoca Beach. He is not in the water. In fact, he is dressed in his usual black with his strange baggy trousers, the crotch below his knees, as he paces the beach, camera and tripod in hand. Indeed, I never saw Henion without those trousers. Henion in the water, is an image I just can't imagine. 
In my memory, the sun blazing the sea the deepest blue, perfect waves curling towards the shore, he's filming his beloved daughter, Lulu who has become a champion surfer, moving up through the ranks from just having fun, to winning competitions. 
Here's Henion with 
daughter, Lennan Han, 
and in front, Che Eis, 
Sane, his son. 
He was there for both
of them all the time. MR
He was devoted to his two kids, Lul and Che Eis Sane, would and did do everything for them. Our daughter, Ellen, Ellika Dattilo, was childhood friends with Lulu. 
Apparently, when he died of cancer on Tuesday morning, the 4th of July, or just before, Lulu was talking to him on the phone from New York while Che Eis Sane was beside him.
I owe Henion in a lot. He patiently performed the impossible, teaching me how to use Final Cut express and liberating me from having to depend on himself and others every time I needed some editing done.
But I was a very high maintenance student. I was forever ringing him at odd hours, he lived just around the corner at that time, and begging him to come over and solve some final cut problem. I fed him cups of coffee as he sorted out my confusion.
I also owe him because, in conversation one day, he remarked that it was curious that so many people were now living to be centenarians. That sparked a mutual idea, that we would do a film about this phenomenon.
It was going to be an essay film but when a young researcher I put on the job, found Olive Riley, then a hundred and four, and a standout character, we abandoned the essay and told the story of Olive going back to her native, Broken Hill, hunting memories, midst jokes and tears. Olive died at 108 not only celebrated in the film but as the world's oldest blogger. 
Henion edited All About Olive which I now regard as my most touching documentary. His quiet, poetic side is so evident, the way he bathed our story in Chopin's Nocturnes, for example, such a strange choice for the rough and ready Olive, but it works so well. 
Later today I'm going to hunt for footage of Henion I must have somewhere. I remember filming him beside our lake, giving a Tai Chi demonstration.
I'm not sure why we were doing it but he was so fluid, so precise, so able to remember the hundreds of moves, that the sequence is precious. With our lake in the background, his intense concentration, lost in the ritual, makes beautiful material if I can find it. It was never posted, never shared. 
We met in a curious way. Henion and his wife Lee, had settled in Australia from South Africa, she South African, and he of Chinese descent. Somehow they found themselves in Avoca Beach. 
One day in the local butcher shop, Henion looked up at the paintings, portraits of the locals which were hanging over the meat, the name striking a bell. Or, perhaps it wasn't the signature but rather that he asked Robbie the butcher about the artist exhibiting in this strange gallery.
Being told it was Mike Rubbo he said to Lee, " how curious that this painter has the same name is that documentary filmmaker we studied in Chicago. What are the chances of that do you think, given it's such an unusual name?" They had both been to film school in Chicago and had seen my films in class. 
When it became clear that I might be that same person, given what Robbie knew about me, local filming etc, Henion got my address, came to visit, starting a wonderful friendship. We collaborated not only on movies for TV, but also did lots of shooting on the Avoca Beach Theatre issue.
You can hear his voice interviewing people outside the famous theatre in the mid-2000s about why they love the little single screen, and why they would hate to see it turned into a multiplex, a tragedy still to happen.
As people in the film world, we both agreed that the theatre occupied and catered to a small and highly successful niche market, and to go multiscreen would be throwing that away. 
We loved talking about politics. Both of us would shake our heads at the madness in the world, at the machinations of the hidden elites which we agreed were pulling the strings. 
this is in March this 
year as Henion Han, 
already battling the 
disease, gets the 
Golden Horn award 
for editing the 
documentary The Giant 
is Falling. MR
Then the work dried up here and Henion, having divorced, went back to South Africa to work on various projects. Most recently he won the Golden Horn for is editing of a documentary called The Giant is Falling. You can see him getting his prize in this photo collection. 
He must have been already sick with cancer but was fighting it bravely and often looked pretty happy. 
He'd teamed up, after his bitter divorce, with a wonderful woman from the film world over there, Robyn Aronstam,  now head of the film school in Johannesburg. They were very happy together.
Henion Han and Robyn Aronstam  
so happy together. I guess this 
is in South Africa. MR
Some weeks ago. he came back to enjoy the superb treatment one gets at the Gosford Hospital. We know it's good because they've saved my life and Katya, who works there almost daily as an interpreter, is in awe at the staff's caring attitude and expertise. 
They had put him on intensive treatment and he was optimistic. He came round a few days ago and, although he looked thin, he was in every way the old Henion, joking enthusiastic about life, concerned for his kids.
He'd passed on to us an amazing French political thriller series called, The Bureau, knowing I would love it. Somehow I couldn't watch it via his hard drive gift, but found it on SBS online and was about halfway through the day he came, eager to talk to him about how compelling it was, in its understated style. We loved the continuous menace but absence of violence on the screen.
Now, it's so strange that Henion is gone, so quickly, so absolutely, and yet I am still watching his gift, into the third season of The Bureau, and thinking of him as prompts occur in the story.
For all three of us, myself, Katya, and Ellen, who was in tears on the phone with the news, a big hole has opened up in our lives, our fragile, you never know what's coming next, lives.
On the right is a young Henion as I never knew him. someone else will know where this was taken. 
I am intrigued to see that he is yet to discover his low-slung pants, his signature dress in later life. MR

The Current Cinema - John Snadden suggests we get ready for DETECTIVE DEE: THE FOUR HEAVENLY KINGS (Tsui Hark, China, 2018).

Good news for fans of Chinese fantasy / martial arts cinema with the arrival at the end of this month of DETECTIVE DEE: THE FOUR HEAVENLY KINGS. 
Mark Chao
This is the latest Tsui Hark directed pic in this series. I thought the previous film YOUNG DETECTIVE DEE AND THE RETURN OF THE SEA DRAGON was one of the best Chinese movies in recent years and Hark's best effort for a long time. 
Carina Lau

Taiwanese star Mark Chao returns in the title role and Carina Lau is again the Empress who might or might not be working for the good of the Chinese people (how topical is that?). Fans of Hong Kong pop culture of the 1990s might get an enjoyable kick from the film's title.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Vale Michael Edols - Mike Rubbo remembers a remarkable Australian film-maker

Two very dear friends died this week within hours of each other. I will post first about Michael Edols, director, cinematographer boat-builder, a wonderfully warm man. He died on Tuesday evening this week, July 3rd.
Michael Edols
I first became curious about Mike when I saw an extraordinary documentary on the great Plateau in Papua New Guinea, Tidikawa and Friends. The film written and directed by Jef and Su Doring, was shot by Michael. 
It was about a tribe called the Bedamini and focused on their spirit man, Tidikawa, a gentle soul amongst his people but a raider and a cannibal as well outside
Getting to the remote location and winning the trust of this tiny tribe of perhaps no more than 500, was something Mike had to do with Jef and Su .
It was the intimacy of his camera work which I found so compelling. I sensed he had some almost magical ability to instill trust, in this case in people who'd never seen a camera before. Tidikawa gazes straight into the lens as Mike's camera looks back unflinchingly. (you can find a clip on YouTube.)
I felt as if I was there in a documented place in a way I had not felt before.
Like many of us young Australians of the era, he was off on a life of travel and empathetic exploration in a way never dreamt of by our parents. We were a new kind of travelers, living through a magic time
Later I saw his superb, Lalai Dreamtime. In that doc. Mike began his lifelong interest in Aboriginal people, again demonstrating his ability to get very close. I remember it as the best the evocation of country I'd seen. I remember especially slender men reaching up to daub images on high rock ceilings, stretching as if to the sky. (There is also a clip on YouTube.) 
The chance to work with Mike came later. I was in Paris shooting a film called, Solzhenitsyn's children. Suddenly, my cameraman and had to go back to Canada, his wife was having a baby, but lucky for me Michael Edols was in Paris and he took over.
His style was so unorthodox that I was worried at first. But he fixed me with his crooked and quizzical grin, laughed his signature cackling laugh, and said. "Don't worry, you'll love it ." And I did.
In more recent years, after he teamed up with the artist-later-his-wife, Marion Edols, I knew him as a boat-builder and generally doing watery things around Pittwater and Scotland Island. We last saw him in fact working on the boat on which they'd been living. it was up out of the water, as Mike scraped the hull.
Only a few days ago I sent him a message, knowing the boat must be now back in the water. "When do we get on board?" There was no answer. So sad his going in his mid-70s, heart attack, too young, too vigorous, and too much missed.
"We had such wonderful years together," said Marion when she phoned to tell us the sad news on July 4.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Barrie Pattison on Film Alert - A Top Ten selection of reviews by Sydney's supercinephile

Editor's Note: Veteran cinephile Barrie Pattison has sent in over 150 reviews for the delectation of Film Alert readers. He is an inveterate attender of festivals and the films that represent the byways of old and new cinema. The films he covers are rarely if ever reviewed in the mainstream media. He also blogs away at his own site Sprocketed Sources . The selection below is rather random but intended to indicate the length and breadth of Barrie's interests.

A glimpse of a section of Barrie Pattison's personal archive
NORMANDY NUE (Philippe Le Guay) or CE QUI NOUS LIE/BACK TO BURGUNDY (Cedric Klapisch) 

Friday, 6 July 2018

Chris Marker at the Cinémathèque française

I wasn’t going to do this until challenged by Adrian Martin.

Not long after the entrance to the Chris Marker exhibition, which begins with a timeline down a passage, there was one (for me) initial revelation. When you get to 1973, it mentions that Marker made his second fiction that year. It was called Ambassade and there’s no other information anywhere about it until you reach the bookshop elsewhere in the Cinémathèque française building. There you can find a copy of the edition of “L’Avant Scene du Cinema” devoted to Marker which contains the script of the film and a host of stills. Seeing that you can find the film on Youtube I guess it means I just wasn’t paying attention to the length and breadth of Marker’s career. However, I should also mention that in the leaflet accompanying the exhibition the timeline therein also fails to mention anything for 1973 and thus omits Ambassade. 

And the length and breadth on display in this exhibition are remarkable, most especially in the way that Marker remained active, engaged and true to himself for his entire 91 year life. He never seemed to stop working and never seemed to stop agitating on behalf of the oppressed as he saw them. I haven’t got the intellectual firepower to analyse his politics, especially as they evolved over time from a sort of cheery leftism to an engagement with all the forces of the state that have developed over time as means of controlling and managing the citizenry.

The exhibition has a lot of screens where you can see short extracts of lots of his films. That’s sensible in itself because most who attend these things drift up to and then in and then away at random. The only film shown in full at the exhibition (but see Mary Stephen’s Facebook post below which I’m incorporating) is the monumental La Jetée. But, here’s a thing that should be incorporated in every exhibit of this kind. When you walk up to the room where La Jetée is screening, a small screen outside has a digital clock telling you exactly how many minutes and seconds you have to wait before the film starts again. Brilliant. Randomness overcome.

Be Gibson asks if I noticed a letter to him from Marker that’s in the exhibition. Sorry, no. There’s a wealth of such material in glass cases, typed up in the old-fashioned way with a carbon copy on display, testimony to Marker’s meticulous record keeping among all else.

I confess I am not one who delves into biography so there was much here that was new. Marker’s day job at Editions du Seuil was one such and the covers, among many things, of the series of travel guides he commissioned, all featuring photos of gorgeous young women, was an interesting sidelight. The viewpoint they claimed to take - a book in the form of an intelligent conversation about a country was/remains unique you’d have to say.

Finally I can report that when we get to the La Jetée  section, the connection is made with Hitchcock’sVertigo and illustrated by, inter alia, a copy of the Vertigo poster from the Cinémathèque  collection. The poster however is for the Italian release of the film (“Capolavoro”) not the French which changed the title on the poster to Sueurs Froides. Which is what I have mounted on cheap chipboard at home. I wonder if it’s worth anything.

Here’s Mary’s note: A dense and precious exhibition in great company, especially appreciated the multiple soundspaces coming from different angles and the layers of play on visual displays, mirrors and negative spaces in the Art nègre box, noticed that the same ticket gives the viewer right of entry to a room downstairs to screen and rescreen all films mentioned in the show, good idea! 

Then had a field day lingering at the Cinémathèque bookstore and both wishing there were more euros/Australian dollars in the respective credit cards ... a sudden downpour while having to run under it in order to get from the building to the cafeteria within the same space (don’t ask why) adds to the drama. La Jetée music fills the headspace and wish I had a turntable to play that never-before-released music track on vinyl...

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

On Blu-ray - David Hare swoons over the new Criterion Dietrich & Von Sternberg box set

Editor's Note: Notwithstanding an earlier, er, expression of disappointment David Hare now has the box set in his hands and so....

Now in my grubby little hands the boxset of the year, no, the decade. No, the history of Home Video.

A free subscription to anyone who can name the films that the screen grabs below are taken from.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Another day in Lyon - A visit to the Institut Lumière - A model for Sydney

If ever a model was needed for what Sydney needs it’s the Institut Lumiere in Lyon.

Institut Lumiere, Lyon
The Institut’s public face is a sumptuous historical location loaded up with cinema history, which serves as a magnificent museum paying homage to the cinema’s founders on the  very site where the very first film was photographed. The house that the wealthy Lumière family built is now the Museum and, in addition to artefacts and displays, houses the admin of the Institut. 

There the screenings in the cinema made from the converted film studio, and the nearby factory which now houses a book and DVD shop and space for educational initiatives all happen. The DVDs are arranged like books, by the ‘author’s’ name across all the various sections). 

Monument to the Lumiere brothers, outside the Institut Lumiere, Lyon
There also an outside square where a monument to the brothers backs on to an open air cinema currently operating during the holiday season.

Then the Institut is also responsible for the annual Lumière 2018 Grand Lyon Film Festival, shortly to have its 10th edition. 

Jane Fonda, Prix Lumiere, 2018
Its anniversary will be marked by the annual Prix Lumière being awarded to Jane Fonda. A flyer in the Museum foyer tells us that Accreditations for young people are now on offer. They entitle the holder to a festival catalogue, reduced ticket prices, reduced prices on goods sold in the Museum shop and a 20% discount at a couple of nearby restaurants. 

The festival will run for nine days have 400 screenings of 180 films and it is anticipated there will be 171,000 admissions. Professionals are also invited to participate in the ‘Classic Film Market” to take place over four days during the festival.  

What more could you ask.

I have a feeling that if someone could convince Gladys Berejiklian to come to Lyon and see what’s been done so effortlessly then I’m sure some of that $9 billion, say a hundred million bucks or so, that the NSW government got from selling off the electricity poles and wires could be applied to the worthy cause of state-sponsored and supported cinephilia. 

Monday, 2 July 2018

A day in Lyon - home of the Lumiere Brothers and....

We were warned. 

There’s nothing in Lyon.

But… Gericault’s The Mad Woman or The Obsession of Envy (left) is a bit more than nothing as is Rubens’ Saint Dominic and St Francis Protecting the World from Christ’s Wrath  and Picasso’s Woman Sitting on the Beach.  “C’est grand, non?" Said the obliging attendant at the fine Musee des Beaux-Arts who helped track down the remarkable Gericault with the green faced woman and her deranged look…

…and there’s Librairie La Bourse (above) the best organised DVD shop I’ve ever been in, and that was to only one of its three locations near the Hotel de Ville. Oh boy. 

Fortunately French DVD and Blu-ray distributors are largely indifferent to putting subtitles on their movies, even French subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, so some money stays in the pocket when you pore over the racks. The man behind the counter just shrugged. “Je sais, je sais… De quel pays venez-vous….oooh”. The organisation ran to genre, director’s name, actor’s name, country and more, and more.... and more box sets than I've ever seen in one place. “It takes patience” said the man behind the counter. Campion, Weir and Luhrmann all got their own card in the directors’ section. 

….And at the end of the Impasse Saint-Polycarpe, near the Hotel de Ville a sign on a door tells you that here is Le Cinema a forty seat black hole with digital projection screening 8 films today including Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (Alexandra Dean, USA) for 4 for old folks, who constituted the audience for this film, and, by a sighting of the small group in the foyer awaiting the next, the next as well. Bare is not the word for this establishment. As a matter of interest the film’s title has been changed, in France at least, to Hedy Lamarr: from Extase to wifi.

The Institute Lumiere, occupying the site of the Lumiere family home and the adjacent factory (left) where the first film of the workers leaving was shot, is closed today but will receive attention tomorrow. 

The local Metro station is also named after the famous brothers who ‘invented the cinema’ on this very spot. I’m sure we can expect Gladys Berejiklian to insist on a Raymond Longford stop if Sydney ever gets its tram. …and a Lotte Lyell stop as well of course. Sometimes it will be before Raymond's and sometimes after, depending on whether you are coming or going...

...and news comes from the Antipodes through that loyalty and dedication have been rewarded with Al Cossar's appointment as the director of MIFF....