Wednesday 9 December 2020

Defending Cinephila 2020 (3) - Trump, Melville, Thornton...more


The Trump Taxonomy

It is a bit creepy to think that it took a pandemic to dislodge Trump from the Whitehouse – a quarter of a million dead, intensive care overrun, more to come - and still 75 million people voted for him. Back in December 2016 Rod Bishop took to analyzing movies according to their Trumpian voter taxonomy. 


“Is there a single character in Hell or High Water who would have voted for Clinton? Or a single character in Master of None who would have voted for Trump? How about the cast of Maggie’s Plan? Surely all for Hillary. Show Me A Hero? Most likely anyone but Trump. Making of a Murderer– all Trump?


“If they were forcibly led to a polling station, the black football students in Last Chance U are likely to all be Democrat. But what about the teaching staff and that white boy who could throw the football like a homing torpedo? No doubt about the entire cast of Preacher. all Trumpers, through and through.



“The border guards in the doco Cartel Land are no brainers. As are the white supremacists in the doco Welcome to Leith. Ironically, even the good townsfolk who tackled the bad guys in depressed rural Leith would most likely have voted for The Donald as well.


“The Night Of? Hard to see any of that crowd voting for Trump, but things break down with Mr. Robot(series two). Loaded up with fsocietyanarchism, can you imagine any of them in a voting booth, let alone discussing party politics? Bad for the image.”


Film Alert 101 as prescience. By 2020 we could contemplate whether the sassy women in Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers, notwithstanding their race and colour, Trumpistas? Maybe they didn’t vote at all, having far more on their mind. Certainly the entire onscreen cast of The Loudest Whisper, notwithstanding the indignities inflicted on them by Roger Ailes and others, were likely Trump fans to the end. The workers in Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert’s doco American Factory would have got the Trump message loud and clear. The community in Phillip Noyce’s Above Suspicion would follow the Donald to the ends of the Earth…and so it goes. Hopefully the nightmare is over…


The Pandemic

Cinema going as we know it may be either over, for good, or we may be merely in the sort of shock phase once induced by the arrival of VHS (and Betamax). Such a shock can be recovered from but streaming services seem to be way beyond home video as a threat. What was never stated back in the pre-DVD days was the absolutely crap quality of VHS – full frame, murky pictures that served as a reminder that going to the movies was qualitatively better. No more. Massive screens and 1080 and HD pictures are now as good or better than what you see in a cinema and the shock of discovery that the pandemic caused may well last beyond our lifetimes.


Jean-Pierre Melville

Not on Netflix or Stan or Binge or anything, at least down here. StudioCanal’s back catalogue of six of the master’s best, of the 13 features he made, screened at the Randwick Ritz. You can buy them in a box set in the UK but the big screens (including two shows in the 700 seat Cinema 1) showed them off to perfection. Not that the selection pleased all. “Where is Le Samourai? asked Bruce Beresford’s 13 year old grandson. 


Warwick Thornton

In yet another otherwise generally dismal year for Australian cinema, notwithstanding the ever-increasing expenditure of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, with near twelve hours of television Warwick Thornton set the gold standard. The Beach screened on SBS and later on the BBC, and series two of Mystery Road, screened on the ABC and also on the BBC. Mystery Road won the AACTA for best TV drama and was nominated in a lot of other categories. The Beach wasn’t nominated for anything, though Selling Houses Australia was in the “Best Lifestyle Program” section.


Things which took me by pleasant surprise

Adam (Maryam Touzani)

The Assignment (Walter Hill)

The Assistant (Kitty Green)

Bait (Mark Jenkins)

Blow the Man Down (Danielle Krudy & Bridget Savage-Cole)

Chess in the Wind (Mohammad Reza Aslani)

Corpus Cristi (Jan Komasa)

Just Imagine (David Butler)

The Mad Fox (Tomu Uchida)

Max and the Junkmen (Claude Sautet)

Suzaki Paradisu (Yuzo Kawashima)

Trapped (Vikramaditya Motwani)

White, White Day (Hylnur Palmason)


Donne e Soldati

Festivals Online

Not my idea of fun. Paying regular cinema prices to watch something on a computer isn’t my bag but I did succumb to Il Cinema Ritrovato’s offering (paid for as part of a subscription that never got to be used). I was grateful to see Melville: The Last Samourai, Donne e Soldati, I Cento Cavalieri, Ladies Should Listen, Liebling der Gotter, Let us Live, Chess in the Wind, Monangambee, Aime Cesaire: Le Masque des Mots  and Att Doda ett Barn/To Kill a Child. Lockdowns or no I’m not up for much of this.

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