- What We Do In The Shadows was writer/director Taika Waititi’s previous film and the winner of the Audience Award at LIFF28. Unusually for me, it was a film I saw three times in the cinema and thought it got better each time.
- Everybody loves it. Until very recently Wilderpeople had 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning it hadn’t received a negative review from any critics. It’s now dropped to 98% but that’s still ‘Certified Fresh‘. On Letterboxd (“a social network for sharing your taste in film”) it has been one of the highest rated films of the year.
- Taika Waititi is also directing Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and found time to make this short film, possibly the best entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet:
Hunt For The Wilderpeople is screening daily at Hyde Park Picture House from Friday 23rd September.
Bill Walton takes a look at In The Mood For Love ahead of Saturday’s 35mm screening and panel discussion on the Chinese film industry.
“He remembers those vanished years. As though looking through a dusty window pane, the past is something he could see, but not touch. And everything he sees is blurred and indistinct.”
The magic of cinema offers many tantalising glimpses into other cultures, other times, other ways of seeing. Whether it’s transgender sex workers in California (Tangerine, 2015), censorship in Iran (Taxi Tehran, 2015), the self-justification by Indonesian death squads (The Act of Killing, 2012), corrupt officials in Russia (Leviathan, 2013), or life on a council estate in Bradford, Yorkshire (The Selfish Giant, 2013) … we can always gain from such different ways of seeing the world.
In the Mood for Love brings to life Hong Kong in the ‘60s. While there is a powerful code of propriety it cannot completely crush the intense desires for intimacy between a man and women whose marriages are not going well. The film subtly explores loneliness and hope, love and betrayal. The cultural context is integral to the story. I found that Wong Kar-wai’s attempts to tackle such themes in the United States (My Blueberry Nights, 2007) did not work nearly as well.
Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung): “Feelings can creep up just like that. I thought I was in control.”
Everything about this film is beautiful, from the acting, the photography (Christopher Doyle), and the haunting music, to the design of the credits. No wonder it was recently voted by critics to be one of the greatest films of the 21st Century. This screening has been arranged with the Business Confucius Institute and will be preceded by a panel discussion examining the state of contemporary Chinese cinema.
Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung): You notice things if you pay attention.
Recently deceased Gene Wilder was an impressive film actor, mainly in comic roles and best when playing some sort of likable eccentric. Wilder progressed from Broadway to films; opening his career with producer and director Mel Brooks. His best work was probably with Brooks: The Producers (1967), especially in the last 45 minutes, revels in bad taste, performed with marvellous aplomb by Wilder and one-time blacklisted Zero Mostel. Blazing Saddles (1974) is one of the best send-ups of the western. But the key film is one on which Wilder also had writing credits, Young Frankenstein (1974). His performance as the grandchild of the infamous innovator was splendid. And the film also enjoyed a host of excellent supporting characters, notably Marty Feldman as Igor.
Wilder also teamed up several times with Afro-American actor Richard Pryor, early on in Blazing Saddles. Then in Silver Streak (1976) and Stir Crazy (1980) which were both very funny but also in advance of the times in their pairing of white and black protagonists. Pryor’s tutoring of Wilder in ‘street cred’ is great.
The coming Saturday the Hyde Park is screening Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), an accomplished musical adaptation from the Roald Dahl novel. It is also the centenary of the latter much-loved writer.
There is one other of Wilder’s films that would pay revisiting. He has a small role, as an undertaker, in Bonnie and Clyde (1957), still one of the outstanding examples of the gangster genre. Wilder received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting actor in The Producers and as co-scriptwriter for Young Frankenstein.
The new programme starts today with lots of great things coming up before the film festival in November (free tickets for the LIFF launch at Hyde Park are now available). Take a look at the excellent trailer reel or download the PDF and let us know what you are looking forward to seeing in the comments.
This weekend the Picture House is taking part in the Heritage Open Days. This is a great opportunity to explore the building and find out why it’s so important that we are working hard to maintain the cinema’s legacy.
There will be both self-guided tours, where guests will be free to explore all of the building and learn about it’s long history, as well as guided tours of the projection room.
On Sunday at 3pm there is also a special FREE screening of This Sporting Life (1963) in conjunction with the exhibition ‘A Tender Tumult: The Art of David Storey’ which is currently on show at The Hepworth Wakefield from the 11th June – 05th October.
Saturday 10th September
Self-guided tour: 2.30pm – 3.30pm
Projection room tour: 2.45pm
Sunday 11th September
Self-guided tour: 12.30pm – 2.30pm
Projection room tour: 12.45pm, 1.15pm, 1.45pm
For projection room tours, booking ahead is required and can be done by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0113 275 2045.
French cinema seems better than either the British or the USA industries in bringing on the talents of women filmmakers. And this film which opens this week is a good example. It won the prestigious Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.
The director, Mia Hansen-Løve, is Parisian who has directed several fine films including Father of My Children (Le père de mes enfants 2009), Goodbye First Love (Un amour de jeunesse 2011) and Eden (2014). She writes her own screenplays successfully, something that many young directors would be well advised to avoid. She also has some experience of acting in films, which probably helps her work. And she partners the filmmaker Oliver Assayas, which probably also helps, though they have very distinctive styles and interests.
Starring in the film is one of the outstanding contemporary actresses Isabelle Hubert, a fellow Parisian. She has deservedly received a profile and extended interview in the September issue of Sight & Sound. She was recently seen at the Hyde Park Picture House in Valley of Love (2015). This was not a great film but was worth watching for the performances of Hubert and of her co-star Gérard Depardieu. Both are formidable presences in European cinema, and indeed beyond. My earliest memory of Isabelle Hubert is dashing from NFT Screen I to NFT Screen II to watch The Lacemaker (La dentellière, 1977). It was a great introduction and I have enjoyed every facet of her career since. Not all her films are great, but if she has appeared in a bad movie it is one I have missed.
So reckon a real treat in store and a must to see.
Love Kills – Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Sid & Nancy
As everyone knows, the ingredients for a perfect love story always follow certain rules – sex, drugs, murder, heroin overdoses.
Welcome to love – Alex Cox style.
Sid & Nancy: Love Kills, Cox’s seminal and gritty retelling of the doomed love affair of Sex Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious and his American groupie-turned-girlfriend Nancy Spungen, turns 30 this year.
Yet it’s lost none of its edginess and vitality, in part largely due to the charismatic turns of its protagonists: Gary Oldman, in his first major film role, and Chloe Webb.
This is not a bio-pic in the conventional sense of the term – Cox isn’t interested in the childhood or peaks and troughs of his characters’ lives: this is a portrayal of the destruction of two people, infatuated with each other and with heroin, and their inevitable and nihilistic end. That destruction permeated into the making of the film: Oldman lost so much weight to play the emaciated punk icon he ended up in hospital.
Throw in an appearance by Courtney Love as a junkie (Love originally auditioned for Nancy – how prophetic would that have been in her later unstable relationship with Kurt Cobain!?), music by Joe Strummer and The Pogues – and, bizarrely, rumours that all five original members of Guns N’ Roses appeared as extras, long before they even met to form a band! – and you have the making of a great rock n’ roll opera that pulls no punches.
Interestingly, if anyone’s interested in checking out the copious amount of research Cox did in preparation for this film, his two huge notebooks can be viewed at the Bradford Media Museum!
This exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute might sound arcane or even slightly off-putting. In fact I found it a fascinating collection, including both art works and prosthetic devices.
The prosthetics and the art works are integrated so a visitor moves from the actual to the representations. My particular favourites were art works from post-World War I. There were some striking drawings, prints and paintings as artists responded to this cataclysmic event.
“Throughout history human beings have sought to extend and supplement their own forms to move faster and reach further. [This exhibition] … traces how artists have addressed radical changes to the very things we know best: our bodies” [Exhibition Catalogue).
There were also photographs of the treatments and developments for soldiers who suffered loss of limbs and organs in the conflict. There were interesting parallels with the film footage of post WWI rehabilitation screened at one of the HPPH WWI events, Regeneration (1997).
Most fascinating for me was a short 16mm film projected with an accompanying audio track, Entartete Kunst Lebt by Yael Bartana. The title is the German phrase coined by the Nazis to vilify the progressive art that they hated, ‘Degenerate Art’. The foremost artist who suffered from this was Otto Dix. His painting ‘Trench War and Cripples’ was burnt by the Nazi, but a photograph of the original survives. Bartana has used modern animation techniques to provide multiple images of the original and edit them into a five minute film. The film reworks the power of the Dix original into a moving set of images and sounds.
The exhibition is at the Institute until October 23rd., thirty minutes, or maybe more, and you can enjoy a stimulating walk round. There are also some parallel talks at the Institute. The interesting topic on September 28th is ‘Dismembering and Remembering Dada and the First World War’. The Dada movement worked in a number of forms and included avant-garde films by Man Ray and René Clair.
The latest film screening in the Adapting Miss Highsmith season at Hyde Park Picture House, is Michel Deville’s thriller of marital disharmony, Deep Water (Eaux profondes, 1981), adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the same name.
The season of films, showing on DCPs at select cinemas in the UK, was curated by Edinburgh’s Filmhouse in association Waterstones bookshops (and supported by the BFI) and has a total of 13 films, 12 features and 1 short, that represent the majority of major film adaptations of Patricia Highsmith’s work. Only two of these (Todd Haynes’s Carol and the short, A Mighty Nice Man, directed by Jonathan Dee) were helmed by a director from Highsmith’s home country, suggesting that her popularity was greater in Europe.
Monday’s film, Eaux Profondes was directed by Michel Deville, a lesser known director from the French Nouvelle Vague era. He is a director known primarily for his erotic comedies and dramas, but this film, funnily enough, recalls the psychological thrillers of Claude Chabrol.
The plot concerns a married couple Vic (Jean-louis Trintignant playing a familiar character from Highsmith’s thrillers, a charismatic psychopath) and Melanie (Isabelle Huppert), whose relationship is fraught with jealousy. Vic appears to have secretive affairs, and also does little to stop his much younger wife flirting and possibly sleeping with other men, then when Vic’s jealousy drives him to murder, suspicions towards him create fresh tension in their lives.
Check out the Adapting Miss Highsmith website for more info on the season: https://adaptingmisshighsmith.com