Posts Tagged ‘Mike Leigh’

Blackpaint 476 – Blackpaint’s Best and Worst Films 2014

December 31, 2014

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Best Films and DVDs

Exhibition,  Joanna Hogg

Both Viv Albertine and Liam Gillick are great in this third brilliant film by Joanna Hogg (the other two being Archipelago and Unrelated), this one focusing  on two practising artists living in a designer house somewhere in Kensington, I think.  It’s funny and touching; I love the pretentious and yet stilted way they talk to each other about art; self importance, coupled with inarticulacy – reminds me of my partner and I.

Leviathan, Paravel and Castaing – Taylor

This is the documentary about deep-sea fishing from an American trawler (?) in the North Atlantic; staggering shots from above and BELOW the water – no clearly audible dialogue, mostly at night; hypnotic.

Leviathan, Zvyagintsev

Russian Barents Sea coast; municipal gangsterism and corruption, allied to the Russian Orthodox church, prodigious vodka, cigarette and herring consumption, firearms, violence, pathos and whale skeletons.

The Travelling Players, Angelopoulos

Classic Greek film; a travelling theatre group steer a precarious journey through the years of WW2, the British intervention and the ensuing civil war.  Operatic; fantastic.

A Separation, Farhadi

Enthralling Iranian film, concerning an urban middle-class couple, their crumbling marriage and the daughter in the middle.  Sounds unpromising – watched it twice (on Film4).

Inside Llewyn Davis, Coens

The film inspired by Dave Van Ronk – very loosely – downbeat, very funny, surprisingly good “folk” music; the only problem for me was a cameo from John Goodman, doing one of his huge, threatening eccentrics, for no apparent reason.  My friends in the Pretentious Marxist Book Group thought it was crap because it didn’t explore the political dimension of the 60s US folk boom – fortunately, in my view.

The Great Beauty, Sorrentino

Saw it on DVD; features Tony Servillo, which puts it up there immediately; features old men dancing in an embarrassing manner, a frequent Sorrentino trope.  Obvious homage to Fellini and none the worse for that.

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Worst Films

Julia’s Eyes, Del Toro

Dialogue and situations seem OK in Spanish, but the subtitles demonstrate how ridiculous and cliched they are; the eyeball horror doesn’t carry it.

The Killer Inside Me, Winterbottom

This is actually a well- acted and directed film, but the violence perpetrated on the women in it is horrible and unwatchable.  The ending is ridiculous.

Two Days, One Night, the Dardennes

Not a terrible film (Marion Cotillard is great), but a disappointment and not the masterpiece that the Guardian and Observer critics sat.  The problem is that there is no story arc – you know she has to visit a bunch of her work mates over a weekend and try to persuade them to vote for her reinstatement instead of their bonuses.  Straight away, you are thinking – or rather, I was thinking – “one down, twelve more houses to go”.  It looked like a telly film too.  still, the politics were right on….

Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh

Again, not terrible by any means – but a disappointment.  Too Dickens-y, especially his estranged partner, who keeps popping up with her (and his) daughters, demanding quite reasonably, some support from the artist.  Famous artists et al introduce each other to each other, famous incidents come along like buses, as they tend to do in biopics.  It looks brilliant sometimes – the Temeraire boat trip, for instance – and Spall is great, but I think Leigh’s other historical film, “Topsy Turvy” is far better.

Happy New Year.

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Life Drawings

Blackpaint, 31.12.14

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Blackpaint 467 – Mr.Turner, Marxist Ballet and Richter’s Postcards

November 1, 2014

Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh

Timothy Spall is great, the film looks terrific – but it’s got the usual biopic problem in that it’s episodic.  The boxes are checked, I presume in correct date order – visits to Petworth, Margate, famous paintings – the slaves in the sea, Rain, Steam and Speed, the Fighting Temeraire, lashed to the mast in the storm, Norham Castle, the red blob turned into a buoy, Victoria repelled by Sea Monsters – they missed out Turner in a boat sketching the great fire at Westminster, probably too difficult to simulate convincingly; but there is no story arc; it bumps along from one scenario to the next.  And there’s the dialogue – too Dickensy for me, too many periodisms.  And there are those scenes – the Royal Academy Varnishing Days and the boat trip out to the Temeraire – where famous characters and events are identified by theatrical introductions or grand statements.

There is a great fiddler in one sequence, on a ferry boat; he is Dave Holland.  As far as I could see, he got no credit at the end.  Every bit as good as Swarbrick in “Madding Crowd”.

Turner Prize – Duncan Campbell

There are two Campbell films; the first is “Sigmar”, based on Polke works (?); points form lines and intersections, dots are joined up to a soundtrack of barked commands in funny German accents.  Brings to mind those Czech cartoons you used to get on TVin the 60’s when there was a break in schedules.

Second film starts with an academic treatment of the role of tribal art in Western culture, of the construct of “negritude”, and ponders how black people should view it and take it forward.  It shows a number of examples of mostly African art.  This is followed by a Michael Clark ballet (below) based on Marx’s equations in “Kapital”.  Then a set of scenes involving hands, table, cloth, cup, soup, pan, sugar, lighted cig, ashtray – and a commentary that sounds like a diary and notes on the development of a film about capitalism.  Then, hands shuffling photographs – station, bear, Parisian streets, a bizarre street accident, Eiffel tower struck by lightning – with a commentary of letters from Allen to Freda.  I guessed Ginsburg, but couldn’t find anything to back that up.  Then a section on the death of Joe McCann in 1970 in Northern Ireland, his funeral and his image in a poster, and how the meaning of an image changes over time…

OK, right at the end is an image that stayed with me; voice drones on about the economics of the art market and the camera pans down over the cracked, green leather spine of an old-fashioned book and it’s suddenly like woodland trees in a misty evening, like that Seurat in the Kenneth Clarke exhibition at Tate Britain.

 

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Beckmann – Kitaj – Chagall

Watching the  BBC1 programme “The Art the Hitler Hated” the other night, I was struck by the Beckmann painting that turned up in the Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt and how similar it is to one of Ron Kitaj’s styles (see Cecil Court; the Refugees, below).  Not an original observation; Andrew Graham – Dixon remarked that Kitaj had done a bit of “fake” Beckmann and a bit of “fake” Picasso – “but mostly just fake” – in a hostile review at the time of Kitaj’s retrospective in 1994.

Actually, while writing this, another comparison occurred to me; Chagall.  I think it’s the positioning of figures in Kitaj’s obscure narrative pictures – they lie horizontal, lean, sprawl, do odd things (although I don’t think any fly)…..

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Gerhard Richter at Marian Goodman Gallery

Just visited this in Lower John Street, Soho.  Fabulous, huge white space.  There are several like the one below; done with lacquer, I think he places glass or perspex on top and shifts it to get the patterns – pretty much like  what Oscar Dominguez or Max Ernst – or both – called “Decalcomania”.  There are also huge linear pictures made with needle thin, dead straight, ink jet lines randomly selected by colour.  They’re novelties really; he’s playing about.  But then, a lot of art is famous artists playing about….  Best thing is a series of photos of landscapes altered by paint smudges and smears; a rockface nearly obscured and a farmer on a tractor stand out.

 

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Shark 

Why does Will Self keep italicising phrases in the text?  It reminds me of Krasnahorkai’s habit of randomly putting phrases in speech marks.

 

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