In the Mood for Love, Hong Kong 2000

24th September – 2.30 PM

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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.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.

Son Of Saul Hungary 2015

Screening daily from Friday 29th
Introduction and panel discussion Sunday 1st May 5pm

Son Of Saul

There have been countless essays written about cinematic representations of the Holocaust; are the Academy Award winning depictions by Steven Spielberg or Roberto Benigni truly important? or just trite exploitation? Is it ever OK to make a fiction film about the awful events that happened in places like Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka?

Son of Saul director, Laszlo Nemes, himself a film school graduate, has made a film that places him into this ongoing conversation, and sees his debut as, among other things, a critique of established popular representations. In an interview with The New York Times, Nemes reveals his antithetical approach “Since the end of the Second World War I’ve seen very clearly that many people more or less consider the Holocaust as a mythical story and approached it probably from a defensive mechanism, as a way to get away from it through survival stories. I don’t think Auschwitz and the extermination of the European Jews was about survival. It was about death. And how Europe killed itself, committed suicide.”

But Son of Saul, now an Oscar winner itself (Best Foreign Language Film 88th Academy Awards) has been met with its own share of criticism. Manohla Dargis for The New York Times called the film “Intellectually repellent”, Michael Koresky in Reverse Shot described it as being “grotesque and exploitative” and Stefan Grissemann in Film Comment similarly sees it as exploitation; writing “In its pursuit of controversy, Son of Saul plumbs unforeseeably new depths of revulsion.”

The film does, however, have a surprising but powerful supporter in Claude Lanzmann, director of the revered holocaust documentary, Shoah (1985). Lanzmann has criticised other films for dramatising the horrors of death camps, yet has given Son of Saul his approval, praising it as an “anti-Schindler’s List”

Son of Saul first played at Hyde Park Picture House as part of the Leeds International Film Festival last November, where it didn’t quite manage to rank in the audience top 10. Yet looking at Twitter, it definitely had its fair share of supporters in the audiences, and although I’m undecided on how I feel about the suspense plotline, I have to recommend it for Géza Röhrig’s central performance, the impressive stark sound design and for the arresting shallow focus cinematography by Mátyás Erdély.

Son of Saul screens daily from Friday 29th of April. The Sunday screening at 5pm will include an introduction by Dr Dominic Williams (University of Leeds), co-author of a recent book about the Sonderkommando as well as a post-film panel discussion with Prof. Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds), Prof. Sue Vice (University of Sheffield) and Gary Spicer (Stockport College).

Philosophy and Film: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Tuesday 26th April 6:15pm

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

The second session of the Philosophy and Film series at the Hyde Park Picture House will show Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), directed by Michel Gondry, with a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman.  Eternal Sunshine is about an unhappy estranged couple, Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Joel (Jim Carrey), who separately decide to have their tormented memories of their failed affair deleted by a professional service, Lacuna Inc. Then they accidentally meet again, not knowing who they are.

Here’s one idea. We’ve all had bad experiences, and bad memories of those experiences. They can make us feel defeated, depressed, even paralyzed. Wouldn’t we be better off without them? Here’s another idea. Our memories naturally decay. By and large, we don’t think this is a tragedy. It protects us against being entombed in the past, and leaves us free to live in the present, and to plan for the future. But if this forgetting doesn’t ruin us, and may even benefit us, then why would it be a bad idea, if we could, to take deliberate steps to erase these memories? And, if it turns out that it would be a bad idea to deliberately erase our memories, then should we try to fight against the natural processes of decay? The film obliquely explores ideas like these in a variety of ways, and from a variety of angles. Dr. Gerald Lang (University of Leeds) will be talking about them after the screening of the film.

Philosophy and Film: Badlands

Showing Tuesday 22nd March 6:15pm

badlands
Badlands (1973)

Terrence Malick’s directorial film follows two young lovers on a road trip across South Dakota, as they kill people along the way. It is a beautiful film, and touches upon many things that will occupy Malick throughout his career – nature, wonder, innocence, love and morality.

Dr. Joe Saunders (University of Leeds) will provide a short talk after the film, exploring Malick’s treatment of love and morality. This will be followed by a discussion with the audience.

This is the inaugural session of a philosophy and film series at the Hyde Park Picture House. The series explores philosophical issues raised by some of cinema’s most engaging films.