Film

Film After Film

Issue section: 
Issue: 

In his explosive and thought-provoking new volume Film After Film: Or, What became of 21st Century Cinema? James Hoberman argues that the world of making movies has undergone a ground-breaking transformation.

His vast and versatile collection of reviews and essays, written mainly for New York's The Village Voice, affirm Hoberman's reputation as one of the most shrewd and politically sharp commentators on film.

Man of celluloid

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Thanks to a new high definition restoration, Polish director Andrzej Wajda's iconic 1976 film "Man of Marble" has the chance of a second life.

Wajda became famous in the 1950s for his war trilogy which included the masterpiece "Ashes and Diamonds". These were tragedies of the human condition in the face of profound moral dilemmas. His heroes often struggle for freedom or dignity against overwhelming odds. Wajda's stories are deeply embedded in Polish history, yet they have a universal message appealing to a wider audience.

Black experience in focus

Issue section: 

The runaway success of the searing artistic triumph that is 12 Years A Slave has illuminated a wider shifting landscape of black cinema. We are at a pivotal moment for black experience stories driven by black talent or led by a black majority cast.

Recent headlines about these films aptly encapsulate this period. In Bloomberg Businessweek, for instance, there's: "In Hollywood, Black is the New Black"; Vanity Fair, "Emancipating Hollywood"; New York Times, "A Breakout for Black Filmmakers", and from Hollywood Reporter, "Whites Suddenly Gripped By Black Dramas".

Capitalism and the caped crusader

Issue section: 

The success of movies based on iconic "costumed heroes" can hardly have escaped the notice of anybody who has been awake in the past ten years.

As such the endless "rebooting" of these characters is easy to understand. Christopher Nolan may have been excited by Batman's reinvention as the Dark Knight, but not as excited as Warner Bros by the return of at least $372 million for the first movie alone.

The popularity of these film franchises is more difficult to explain, but the sheer overabundance of chiselled vigilantes battering their way through Nazi supervillains and colourful outcasts ought to make us question why the appeal of these films is growing, and what they say about the world that is churning them out.

Horrors of capitalism

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Is it just hype or is the new horror film Cabin in the Woods a gore fest, a butt clenching, genre defining classic as some claim?

It was a dark rainy night when I along with four friends - Fred, Velma, Daphne and Shaggy - ventured from our home town of Hackneyville to the Ritzy cinema, Brixton, in the deep south (of London) to investigate.

We laughed and screamed as we drove off. All was well as we crossed the piranha infested river Thames, but as soon as we reached the alligator infested swamp of Southwark we were soon lost.

Outside the Law

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

French Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb spoke to Simon Assaf about his new film on the Algerian war of independence, Outside the Law

The Algerian national liberation struggle plunged France and its Algerian colony into a bloody war that has scarred both countries. Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law is the story of Algerian immigrants to France who were drawn into the National Liberation Front (FLN), the Algerian national movement. The war, and the scale of the repression recently admitted by France, is part of a history France attempted to bury.

Imperfect Cinema

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Death of a Bureaucrat, directed in Cuba by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, opens on a factory where a worker creating busts of José Marti (leader of the Cuban independence struggle of the 1890s and icon of the 1959 Revolution) is killed in an accident. The last bust to emerge is the worker himself.

What follows is an extremely funny and pointed film about the inflexibility of bureaucracy. After his burial his son realises that his identity card has gone to the grave with him. Without it, his widow cannot collect her pension. But getting the body disinterred proves to be a nightmare of paperwork and permits. It is a satire, of course, and representative of a deeply creative moment in the culture of post-revolutionary Cuba.

The resistible rise of the videocracy

Issue section: 

As both politician and media magnate, Silvio Berlusconi arguably holds more power than any Italian leader since Mussolini. Erik Gandini spoke to Louis Bayman about his documentary film, Videocracy.

The Economist is run by a group of communist conspirators. That, at least, was the response of the current Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, when, before the 2001 elections, the British magazine stated that the man was unfit to be the leader of a democratic country.

The ambivalent legacy of Free Cinema

Issue section: 
Issue: 

"I've just seen a marvellous programme of documentaries," I enthused to a young sculptor friend who has no particular interest in cinema. "Oh! Documentaries," he replied, "You mean those films that are like driving along in a car with the radio on!" - John Berger, Sight and Sound, 1957.

Berger's palpable excitement leaps off the page as he describes his reaction to a series of highly influential Free Cinema short films which re-energised British documentary making in the 1950s by recording "the virtues and dignity of ordinary people at work". The documentaries were "free" in the sense that they were not subject to overt commercial pressure or propaganda of any kind, although this is arguable as one of the programmes received backing from a multinational corporation, Ford of Britain.

Capitalism: A Love Story

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Over 20 years ago a friend said to me, "You really ought to catch this film Roger & Me. It's by a guy called Michael Moore and it's a very funny documentary about the closing of the GM motor works in Flint, Michigan."

This sounded most unlikely to me. Documentaries were rarely funny at the time, and the subject matter didn't seem to lend itself to humour. I went expecting something worthy but probably dull.

How surprised I was. Moore's film was indeed funny, angry, unusual and utterly devastating all at one time.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Film