Archive for the ‘Film’ Category


Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Written on January 16, 2015 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

27womenverge1301aAt one point in the swirling mayhem of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, a character catches sight of what she thinks is a mirror but is in fact a Picasso portrait. “My God, I look dreadful!” she exclaims. It’s a throwaway gag (and very funny in context), but it’s perhaps also symbolic. With its primary-coloured set, farcical plot, hectic pace and illogical structure, this stage musical of Pedro Almodóvar’s much-loved 1988 film aims to use splintered style and self-conscious theatricality to get at the fact that life, as experienced, often doesn’t make sense. It’s a second shot for the creative team, who mounted an ill-fated Broadway version in 2010. And it seems apt for a show all about tenacity that this slimmed-down version comes nearer its mark and features stellar performances from Tamsin Greig and Haydn Gwynne.

With a plot as twisted and tangled as an old-fashioned phone cord, writer Jeffrey Lane and director Bartlett Sher wisely go for simplicity and theatrical resourcefulness: a couple of chairs stand in as a taxi. This and David Yazbek’s cheeky, Spanish-flavoured live music keep the pace moving and contribute to the dizzy, disorientating sense of life falling away that accompanies the heroine, Pepa, as she lurches round Madrid in pursuit of her errant lover, bumping into his ex-wife and a host of other casualties of love.

The staging deliberately reminds us of the artifice of theatre, pointing up classic farce tactics, announcing scene changes with Brechtian placards, including a nod to Hamlet (the rosemary in the drugged gazpacho) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the revealing sleep induced by said gazpacho). Shakespeare, after all, was a master at creating dreamlike stage worlds to reflect the complex truth of inner turmoil.

Continue reading in Financial Times


The Eyes of a Beholder of Hardship

Written on December 29, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

the-salt-of-the-earth“The Salt of the Earth,” Wim Wenders’s new documentary about the life and work of the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, elegantly inhabits a moral and aesthetic paradox. Mr. Salgado’s photographs illuminate some of the worst horrors of the modern world: starvation, war, poverty, displacement. They are also beautiful, dramatic visual artifacts, and their power has a double effect. We are drawn into the contemplation of terrible realities, but at the same time our attention turns to the person bearing witness.

That is not a fault, either in Mr. Salgado’s lifelong project or in Mr. Wenders’s consideration of it. It’s just a fact of their common vocation. The filmmaker brings his mellow humanism and globe-trotting curiosity into an appreciative, easygoing dialogue with the photographer’s single-minded vision. They are a well-matched pair. Though Mr. Wenders does not appear on camera, he is present as a narrator and a sensibility, recounting his early meetings with Mr. Salgado and his collaboration with the photographer’s son Juliano, who is the co-director of “The Salt of the Earth.”

The elder Mr. Salgado, for his part, occupies the screen with quiet charisma. Speaking in French and Portuguese — he left Brazil during the military dictatorship and lived for many years in Paris — he modestly tells the story of an adventurous life. Raised in a rural part of central Brazil, he was trained as an economist before turning to photography, a career change he undertook with the support of his wife, Lelia, a frustratingly peripheral figure in the film until its final section.

Leaving her and the young Juliano for months at a time, Mr. Salgado set out to document unexplored aspects of human life, often focusing on remote areas and vulnerable or exploited people. “The Salt of the Earth” begins with the contemplation of pictures taken in and around an enormous, open gold mine, a crowded, infernal place in which Mr. Salgado’s camera discovers humanity in its raw, desperate essence.

Those images were part of “Workers: Archaeology of the Industrial Age,” a collection published in 1993. Subsequent projects included “Migrations” (2000) and “Sahel: The End of the Road” (2004), whose images of famine and war in Africa are made more wrenching by the photographer’s calm, heartbroken narration of the circumstances in which they were taken.

Continue reading in The New York Times


Maps to the Stars

Written on October 3, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

maps-to-the-stars-posterFilms that purport to satirise, examine, or eviscerate the vacuous horrors of Hollywood often end up as fatuously empty and self-involved as their subject. Look at Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis’s pitiful The Canyons, a classic case of people in glass houses merrily throwing bricks at themselves. Good job, then, that perennial outsider David Cronenbergclearly isn’t the least bit dazzled or seduced by the cultural cesspool of his latest movie, a tale of terminal Tinseltown wastrels with the twisted structure of a Greek tragedy and the rictus grin of a freshly poisoned sitcom.

On the contrary, Cronenberg observes the assortment of pestilential players in Bruce Wagner’s self-reflexive script with characteristic detachment, like a scientist watching bacteria multiplying in a Petri dish. The symptoms may be cultural rather than physical, but as with early films such as Rabid and Shivers, Cronenberg’s primary response to the display of disease is one of wry detachment – fascination rather than infatuation.

Mia Wasikowska stars as burn-scarred Agatha, returning to the alienating womb of California after a lengthy period of enforced separation. Via the vagaries of social networking (a very Cronenbergian viral malaise), Agatha lands a job as “chore whore” for fading actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore, looking like Lindsay Lohan’s wicked stepsister) whose broiling neuroses are being treated by self-help media quack Dr Stafford Weiss (John Cusack). Havana longs to land the lead role in a remake of a film that originally starred her mother (Sarah Gadon), a Hollywood legend who died in a fire and who now haunts her embittered, twisted daughter. Meanwhile, Bieberesque brat Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird) finds his star-crossed path inevitably intertwined with that of Agatha despite the best efforts of his mother, Cristina (Olivia Williams), to preserve and exploit the precocious monster whom she and her charlatan husband have spawned.

If The Brood (an early body-horror gem starring Samantha Eggar) was Cronenberg’s Kramer vs Kramer, then Maps is his Sunset Boulevard, with sprinklings of ChinatownBeyond the Valley of the Dolls and Mommie Dearest thrown in for good measure. At the centre of it all is Moore, magnificently horrendous as the needy-greedy Havana, wallowing in the amniotic fluid of her own narcissistic self-loathing – a sick, siren-like performance of parasitic perfection. There’s something of Eggar’s Nola Carveth in Moore’s Gorgon-like creation; watching Havana sitting in the lotus position, screaming in fury at the world, you half expect her to sprout boils from which the ravenous children of her rage will spill to wreak bloody havoc in the Hollywood hills.There’s more than a hint of The Brood’s “Psychoplasmics”, too, in Dr Weiss’s hands-on therapy, which physicalises Havana’s fury with no discernible benefit beyond the financial; the genre and shape of rage may have changed, but Cronenberg’s core psychodramatic concerns remain a constant.

Continue reading in The Guardian


Finding Fela: the strange life of Afrobeat’s forefather

Written on September 26, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

finding-felaLiving as I do in New York City, I’m frequently quizzed by relatives and out-of-town guests about “what shows to see”. While I do enjoy plays, there are few things I’d rather do less than shell out $150 to see a modern tourist-friendly Broadway musical. To spare myself humiliation, I lie and tell people to go see Wicked. (I’ve never seen Wicked.)

So it was against all my defensive grumblings when I went to see the Jay Z and Will Smith co-produced Fela! On Broadway musical a few years back. My only regret is that I only saw the show once.

Documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer) uses this recent production as a framing device to tell the story of Fela Ransome Kuti, the pioneering forefather of Afrobeat, who died in 1997 at the age of 58. While not exactly a stylish film (one can catch this very straightforward doc on VOD or home video without fear of missing anything) Finding Fela is certainly thorough. Without underselling his musical achievements, Kuti’s life as a political dissident in Nigeria is a fascinating microcosm of post-colonialism. But political movements always go down smoother when they have a danceable beat.

Kuti was born to an influential family. His father was a school headmaster and Protestant minister. His mother was a trailblazer for women’s rights in Africa. His older brother attended medical school in the UK, but Fela and studying never quite connected. He was drawn to music and basically created his own genre when he took elements from local dance music (known as Highlife) and mixed it with jazz (Kuti could wail on the sax) and the tightly disciplined soul of James Brown.

He discovered this third element during a 1969 trip to Los Angeles, in which he also encountered the Black Power movement. He then returned to Nigeria, formed his legendary band Africa ‘70, and produced an enormous amount of material, including many deep groove jams that lasted entire album sides. He built his own club (the Shrine), where he’d perform his lengthy, high energy sets, complete with dancing girls and political raps.

Continue reading in The Guardian



Written on September 19, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

PRIDE-Final-Poster-560x825Cards on the table: having been actively involved in the banner-carrying, badge-wearing, internecine bickering of student politics in the early 80s, I am predisposed to embrace any movie that celebrates the rag-tag allegiances that sprang up across class and gender boundaries during the miners’ strike. A fondness for cute quiffs, turn-ups, and Dexys hats helps too, along with nostalgia for the time when playing Bronski Beat records really loudly could be interpreted as a political act. Add to this an enduring love of British films such as Brassed Off and Made in Dagenham, which blend hard fact with sentimental fiction, and frankly Pride had me at “Hello.” Yet even taking all the above into account, I can still say with my hand on my heart that this boisterous tale of the unlikely union between striking Welsh miners and out-and-proud gay Londoners is one of the most irresistibly uplifting films of the year – for any audience.

George MacKay is Joe, a just-turned-20 mummy’s boy on the brink of coming out who finds himself shaking a bucket for the miners in 1984 at the insistence of gobby Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) and his friends at London’s Gay’s the Word bookshop. Insisting that anyone demonised by Thatcher is a comrade-in-arms, Mark launches the inelegantly named Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (“it’s a support group, not a skiffle band”) and heads off to Onllwyn, a mining village in the Dulais valley, which seems to view “gays” and vowels with equal suspicion. Cue muchLa Cage aux Folles-style culture-clashing between the macho miners and metrosexual activists, mediated by theatrical luvvie Jonathan (Dominic West), who busts some outre disco moves with oddly unifying results.

While politics today may be 50 shades of grey, actor-turned-playwright Stephen Beresford’s feelgood screenplay reminds us of a time when things were more black-and-white – when the venality of Thatcher’s government asked everyone Which Side Are You On? Yet Pride not merely acknowledges but embraces the fact that the opposition were riven with divide-and-rule disagreement. When Mark demands allegiance to the miners, his Gay Pride comrades angrily recall being “beaten up every day” by the very people they are now asked to support. Despite hefty donations, many of the miners and their wives remain frostily hostile to the incomers amid growing anxieties about Aids (these were the days of Greater Manchester police chief constable James Anderton’s “human cesspool of their own making” tirades, and apocalyptic “public health” campaigns more concerned with stonemasonry than safe sex). Yet for all the factionalism, the tone here is conciliatory and celebratory; when a breakaway lesbian separatist group (all three of them) emerges within the ranks of LGSM, we laugh with them rather than at them: Beresford and director Matthew Warchus (who helmed Matilda on stage, and willsucceed Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic) opt to respect and empower anyone willing to fight the good fight.

Continue reading in The Guardian

1 2 3 17

We use both our own and third-party cookies to enhance our services and to offer you the content that most suits your preferences by analysing your browsing habits. Your continued use of the site means that you accept these cookies. You may change your settings and obtain more information here. Accept