Archive for July, 2011

Beginners

July 22nd, 2011 - admin

It was in 1955 that Allen Ginsberg launched his full blown attack on US post war bourgeois conformity and celebration of his own sexuality as a gay man in the form of his iconic poem, Howl.  A turning point in gay politics and a precursor to the Sixties youth generation, there was a new agenda, the first hint at an alternative lifestyle outside Eisenhower’s ultraconservatism.

 

It was in the same year also that a gay art gallery director married a part Jewish refugee in Mike Mills’ semi-autobiographical second feature.  This was the other side of the coin from Ginsberg’s new beginnings & Harvey Milk’s subsequent liberation, a marriage of conformist deceit that suppressed his sexuality and subsumed her ethnicity.  He loved his wife but as a companion, a soul mate perhaps and would secretly check out the male talent at parties from a discreet distance.

 

His ‘beginnings’ came 44 years later as a new widower coming out and fully embracing a gay lifestyle, gay pride and a new ‘non-exclusive’ young lover all at the age of 75, an extraordinary release of half a century of identity frustration.  There is a fairy tale quality to his new found happiness, more enchantment than euphoria and it continued for four years until Father Time summoned the endgame.

 

We see all of this in retrospect, through flashbacks from the perspective of his son, Oliver whom we first encounter clearing out his father’s effects.  Oliver is the filmmaker at an earlier time as a graphic designer and he shares the grieving process with his new girlfriend, a French actress.  In a great gag, they meet at a fancy dress party where he does a solid job impersonating Sigmund Freud who would have had a field day applying the Oedipus complex to Oliver’s assortment of childhood memories where nothing is as it seems.

 

Moving are the scenes of the father continuing regardless of his diagnosis with cancer.  Played superbly by Christopher Plummer, he retains a plausible joy that convinces us that he is genuinely living for the moment.  A warmth develops between father and son, another new beginning that hints at the years lost to the suffocating impact of repression.

 

Very good also is Ewan McGregor as Oliver struggling to overcome an inherent pessimism and a destructive unease when his own relationships develop.  We hope that his final years with his father will help but there are no guarantees.

 

And often stealing a scene, upstaging the rest of the cast in time honoured outrageous fashion is a particularly cute Jack Russell terrier whom Oliver inherited from his father.  Subtitles recording the dog’s knowing responses to his new owner’s pretentious asides had no difficulty inducing nervous laughter from pet lovers in the audience.buy cialis super active onlinegeneric cialis canadian pharmacyfluoxetine drug interactionsssri for ocdfluoxetine insomniafluoxetine indications

 

Quirky, heartfelt and deeply personal filmmaking with some serious issues of social control at its core.

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Bal (Honey)

July 15th, 2011 - admin

Bal (aka Honey) is the concluding part of Semih Kaplanoglu’s, Yusuf Trilogy but has the earliest setting and it is the first to screen in the UK.  There is every chance that this gem would have slipped through the net also had the Berlin International Film Festival not awarded it the Golden Bear last year.

 

The handful of high profile indie filmmakers whose world premieres constitute an event have increasingly waited for Cannes during recent years leaving Berlin’s top four status at risk.  Berlin has responded by ploughing the remoter regions of the indie sector for profound cinema of cultural significance for a particular region but whose sincerity and philosophical scope is such that it reaches out to a wider audience.  It will be an uphill battle for Berlin to satisfy today’s headline grabbing commentators with this approach and, sadly, commercial factors may mean that it proves to be little more than a transition en route to it finding a new identity or slipping below the radar.

 

In the meantime, the Golden Bear still carries sufficient cultural cachet to influence perceptions long term.  Bal’s award barely registered in the film press and then principally for cynical critics to cite it as another example of Berlin’s continuing decline.  Now things are changing, Semih Kaplanoglu is discussed alongside Cannes heavy weight, Nuri Bilge Ceylan as part of an exciting Turkish new wave, which does not mean to say that there has been a re- think, a new mature reflection, but that more discerning voices are coming to the fore.

 

Bal is a very superior example of the resolutely independent but engaging work now making its mark at Berlin.  Set in the forests beside Turkey’s Black Sea coastline, there is something of the ethereal in the vast area of tightly compressed towering trees.  Compounded here by father & son, Yakup & Yusuf, negotiating the transverse spaces with a hawk and mule in tow, it resembles the self-contained world of an ancient mythological painting.  Yakup tends to his beehives, passes on life lessons and there is a sense that we are intruding on age-old rituals and intimate traditions, a very private existence not intended for our eyes.

 

Yusuf has a debilitating stammer that severely restricts communication with all except his father.  There is a sad inevitability to his being the outsider at school where he watches the other children in the playground through a class window.  A much coveted teacher’s special badge awarded for excellence in reading takes on a special significance; a symbol of peer acceptance, parental approval, almost a passport to wider society.

 

All takes place under the shadow of a pre-credits scene where we see Yakup fall from a high.  We later discover that a bad season for honey had resulted in his search for new locations on treacherous treetops further afield.  He would not return, Yusuf would lose his haven, his retreat from the world.  How would he cope?

 

Strong is the sense of nature continuing regardless, an uncertain future for a local community that has remained unchanged for years and a fading connection with an abstract but profound understanding that might fall into the broad heading of spiritual but remains beyond our grasp.

 

This is tender, mediative and discerning filmmaking capturing a moment of crisis, a turning point but in the quietest possible manner.  With a leisurely pace, beautiful cinematography (Baris Ozbicer) and gentle performances, we momentarily forget the harsher realities waiting around the corner and gaze on calmly as we might on a Sunday afternoon in an art gallery carelessly allowing Claude to lure us into one of his mythological landscapes.buy cialis in singaporelowest price cialis 20mgyasmin generic name yasmin recall yasmin online kaufen yasmin pharmacy

 

A natural successor to Satyajit Ray’s rites of passage masterpiece, Pather Panchali in its integrity, freshness and candour and the sheer wide-eyed charm of its lead character (Bora Altas). topspyingapps.com

Just Do It: A Tale of Modern-day Outlaws

July 15th, 2011 - admin

Frustrated by the limitations of the political system, Plane Stupid & Climate Camp are the modern outlaws of the film’s sub-title, crossing the line into the grey area of civil disobedience.

 

Emily James’ partisan documentary provides an insider’s view of the environmental activists over a 12 month period as they do battle with the authorities and the forces of greed in their obsessive quest to prevent climate damage at source.

 

Slightly odd but wonderfully audacious are the frequent stunts that grab the headlines blending school playground silliness with surprisingly effective strategies.  They target all parts of the capitalist funded environmental crisis; supergluing themselves on a corporate bank’s trading floor; a helter skelter maniac charge at a coal-fired power station en masse in the hope that one or two could breach the security and close it for the day.

 

Less direct but strangely intimidating is Marina Pepper, an epitome of the British eccentric, who employs the power of the kettle and a free cuppa to catch her enemies off-guard and promote the principles of an anti-capitalist community.

 

Blasted wide open is the right-wing media generated myth that they are anarchic troublemakers without a cause latching on to anything to disrupt for disruption sake.  Not so.  These are highly committed and knowing environmentalists who are purposefully pursuing an idealist/utopian agenda and seeing where it ends.  The message is clear enough, all small acts accumulate into a whole that can make a difference.

 

The English police had been to charm school since the shocking death of Ian Tomlinson and an uneasy truce hung over proceedings most of the time.  This could not be said of the Danish police who dished out a severe thrashing when the activists popped up in Copenhagen.

 

You may be bemused by a bizarre cabaret-style hand waving to signify agreement at activist meetings.  Also bonkers is the so-called ‘de-arrest’ manoeuvre, a gigantic group hug to protect the police target and on the evidence of the footage, madness sometimes works.

 

In many ways, James’ admirable film is as much a celebration of their left-field charm as it is an investigation of the inner workings of direct action.cialis online overnight shippingcialis tablets for salefluoxetine onlineonline fluoxetinegeneric fluoxetinefluoxetine generic

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Tree Of Life, The

July 8th, 2011 - admin

A meditation on grief, a contemplation of time and a deliberation on man’s relationship with nature, Terrence Malick’s stunning new film unashamedly returns to the great philosophical debates of the past and tackles the big issues with such a visionary splendour that we are tempted to discount the usual caution of proclaiming it a masterpiece without the passage of time for mature reflection.

 

The grief is intense and one that time does not heal – does it ever?  It belongs to a disillusioned middle aged corporate executive who broods over his childhood in 1950’s Texas and the loss of his 19 year old brother in military combat.  Masterly are the dreamy flashbacks to a leafy postwar suburbia that evoke a nostalgia for a lost place that never quite existed; TV and film imagery and distant memories fuse in a cinematic process reflecting our own distorted recollections and vice- versa, a working through of myth making at various levels as it feeds into the public consciousness.

 

Our first impressions gradually give way to an altogether different self-contained world where contradictions and tensions press against the gentle and warm surface; sometimes fracturing it completely but more often than not subsiding beforehand.  Religion sets the value systems but each of the parents have very different theological conceptions; the mother’s grace v the father’s work ethic, charity v individual, compassion v competition and so on.  It is all there, very real conflicts echoing paradoxes lying at the heart of the Western ideology generally and the American dream in particular.

 

But Malick’s scope extends beyond our society.  Extraordinary scenes of Kubrick proportions interject taking us back to the beginning of the universe and forward again through volcanic activity, fierce storms, prehistoric landscapes and early life; a breathtaking array of movement and shapes that morph into the abstract.  And then a dinosaur appears and carefully places his foot on another lying injured on the ground in a brief moment of apparent affection, an early departure, no more than a slight gesture perhaps, from the harshness of nature.

 

A sense of proportion could not be more far-reaching and absolute; our mortality fading into insignificance in the face of the universe’s eternity, the endless ways of escaping our fears fully exposed and a suspicion that any development of the human race is ultimately meaningless.  All of these things seem to be swirling around our executive’s head, as he attempts to rationalise a sorrow that grieving does not abate.

 

Brad Pitt is outstanding as the ultra strict Fifties father demanding unconditional respect and love at one and the same time.  His punishments are severe and disproportionate; more than an assertion of patriarchal authority, these are life lessons for a Social Darwinian notion of society within a right-wing Christian context, the kind that lies at the heart of the neo-liberalism that has proved so harmful during recent times.  Jessica Chastain is also very good silently portraying an inner torment at being unable to reconcile allegiance to her husband with his destructive behaviour.  And there is a strong performance by Hunter McCracken playing the executive as a boy grappling with adolescence when respect for his father periodically turns to hate overpowering a willingness to love.

 

Reactions to the ending will vary.  For some, it will take on a religious significance, which Malick probably intended but far more important are the ideological implications of the emphatic rejection of individual autonomy.how to buy cialis online safelycialis online deutschlandyasmin ocp yasmin ingredients yasmin in arabic yasmin online bestellen

 

A film of huge breadth and ambition that was a worthy winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes. essay orders

Separation, A (aka Nader and Simin, a Separation)

July 1st, 2011 - admin

Sometimes situations arise, things get out of hand, with consequences that nobody intended and no one person is wholly responsible for but everybody is partly culpable.  The protagonists in Asghar Farhadi’s profound new film find themselves in precisely this predicament, a vast grey area of confrontations bringing out tensions within urban Iran that will have resonances for many outside.

 

Particularly interesting for Western audiences is the dynamic at play in the middle class family of the film’s title characters where the language of negotiation has failed leaving a polite but cold and sterile dialogue incapable of resolution.  Seldom have we seen this side of domestic society in the New Iranian Cinema of the last decade and there is something very familiar to us over here in the way that disagreements over their daughter’s future are a smoke screen to conceal underlying tensions that are palpable elsewhere but ignored.  All too often we overlook the extent that middle class characteristics are transcending cultural differences in other communities as a troubling by-product of globalisation.

 

More recognisable to us from the new wave is the pregnant maid that the husband employs after a marital separation primarily to care for his senile, almost bed-ridden father.  Coping with poverty and a hot-headed husband, she survives on the borders of routine and fatigue.  Her plight forces uncomfortable compromises with religious orthodoxy and cultural traditions but there are limitations.  Would it be a sin to remove the old man’s soiled trousers?  She obtains emergency Islamic telephone counsel before proceeding.

 

The maid cannot cope.  Losing her judgement, she acts out of desperation, inflicting terrible cruelty on her charge along the way.  There is a flash point, a physical altercation with her employer that may have caused a miscarriage, treated as murder in Iran.  White lies, half truths, convenient rationalising muddy the waters; it is almost impossible for the judge to establish the facts.  Farhadi superbly leads us down blind alleyways, tricking us into sympathising with different characters, inducing false assumptions, a conceit that places us inside the action, forcing us to question our gullibility and its implications.  The families are at war where a warped sense of justice and revenge hover over the real battleground of class, gender and religion defined by stark binary oppositions.

 

The daughter is seemingly the only character that retains a sense of justice.  And then in a devastating ending she must choose between perjury and condemning her father to jail, possibly for a crime he did not commit.  An early lesson in the complexities of morality and loyalty.

 

Equivocal characters require subtle performances and the cast does not disappoint.  The screenplay engages us with compelling sub-plots that intrigue us throughout.  And Farhadi’s masterly direction confirms him as a significant force in Iranian cinema and beyond.

 

It is the fourth film in succession to win the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival that finds innovative ways of penetrating largely unexcavated cultural complexities outside the West, a point that seems to be lost on many commentators, who continue to criticise it without regard to its commendable aims.cheapest cialis generic onlinegeneric cialis from canadabuy motilium instantsmotilium online pharmacypurchase domperidone online domperidone cost us

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