And not only because it has faces.
Unknown faces, if we consider wider audience and those who are not familiar with Michel Hazanavicius work.
Michel Hazanavicius take on the silent cinema really proved to be most entertaining cinema experience I had in a long time. Not because its witty and appealing cinematography or amazing lead actors, also because it shows deep love for the cinema.
Those are the famous Norma Desmond words from Billy Wilder cinematic masterpiece Sunset Boulevard. Few words that perfectly summarized the arrival of the sound era and desperation of those who couldn´t make it through.
Humans talks a lot, that can’t be denied. The artist look at this in a funny style. First words we can read are “Speak”. And the main hero, famous silent era actor George Valentin promptly refuses to talk. And he continues to do so during the whole movie. He is a perfect silent protagonist – adventure type of actor, something between Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino, and he certainly knows how to look good on the camera. These subtle nods to the Golden age of the cinema are only few of the many amazing moments in The Artist.
Nowadays you just can’t find film without dialogue. Of course there are some exceptions, for example Kim Ki-Duk film 3-Iron is practically without a dialogue. This film is perfect example of – when something that was considered outdated (and died in a 1927) was able to rise again. Myself, I love silent cinema (especially comedy and Buster Keaton), its visual humour, films where directors knew how to work with the setting around them and how to create original film universe.
And that’s why this film is for all of us. For those who loves films in general, for audience interested in art cinema, or even for the more mainstream fans looking for straightforward story. Plot itself consist from many well-known films (as the main inspiration for the film was John Gilbert and Greta Garbo relationship) as – 7th Heaven, Murnau´s Sunrise, Douglas Fairbanks Mark of Zorro, Citizen Kane or most notably Singing in the rain (even if The Artist is much more braver, for refusing to use any kind of dialogue). Story structure reminded me of all those old flicks, although the narration conventions here, were used in a very original and creative way.
And I don’t care if this movie is advertised as a possible Academy Awards Best Picture candidate. I would definitely suggest it to everyone. Simply, because it’s amazing and entertaining movie. Without unnecessary talk, famous faces in the main roles, full of pure cinema joy.
And also because it meets all the expectation I have for watching films.
Why short films can often tell more than a feature films…
A short documentary film by a young Polish director Marcin Koszalka Declaration of immortality is an unusual look at the life and work of the famous Polish climber Piotr ‘Mad’ Korczak. Declaration of immortality can be defined as a Mountain documentary genre. In the first minute it may even seem as a fiction film. The scene where we see the rock climber falling into the lake, definitely suggests it. However, the film contemplating the question of immortality couldn’t start with a different image than a death one. What initially looks like a feature film or the mountain documentary is an original portrait of the famous Polish climber Piotr ‘Mad’ Korczak. The document maps his long career – as the director tries to uncover all the paths that Polish mountaineer left on High Tatras sidewalks.
Declaration of immortality shows an aesthetic images of the High Tatras. The camera literally tracks Piotr´s footsteps, follows “fingerprints”. Shots where the camera captures the snowy peaks of the Tatra massifs, or when it silently follows the movements of the Piotr hands – these shots are not only beautiful, but also full of meanings. That’s Piotr whole life – the passion of his life. Director doesn’t need to say more, it is enough if he just points the camera at the mountains and the viewer immediately realizes the depth of Piotr´s love and motivation. It is clear why he can’t leave it behind. His “love” is mostly presented in the details, in which director almost analytically clings onto Piotr modeling climbing grips – his hands are like the hands of the sculptor, perfecting his life’s work. The viewer doesn’t need to be an experienced mountaineer to understand what is happening.
Declaration of immortality is not a film made of words. This films speaks in the images. Although, it´s not like that this documentary doesn’t use traditional narration discourse – the “talking heads”. However, a discussion between the director and the main hero is presented as a game. Question is answered by another question, and sometimes it even seems like that their roles are reversed – and the one who is interviewed is not a Piotr, but the director. This kind of ambiguous approach to the theme, lifts this documentary from the mere mountain film genre (although it environment plays an important role) and makes it mesmerizing and intimate statement about the one man and the end of his journey.
Director approach can be considered essayistic – quite a lot of interest is given to the legend surrounding its main character. Or maybe I should tell, that it rather focuses on his inability to come to the terms with the end of his legend. There behind the Tatras, an important question rises – isn´t already time to go, and leave this place for the others? And Koszalka again answer with the image. In one shot Piotr falls of ground (the same path he has build years ago), while his younger pupil can handle it without problems.
However, this question is never directly answered. Director leaves it open. After all he already hinted at the possible ending (and as a former climber I assure you, that the metaphor of a falling into silence is certainly a nightmare). The only one who can answer the question is the main hero. He became immortal years ago, but despite the advanced age, he can´t stop.
And the time when he will have to meet one’s end is silently approaching.
I was always more of a Marvel fan. If DC hadn’t got Batman I wouldn’t even bother. My dislike for chaps dressed in a red and blue, or with woman wearing weird pants decorated with stars never changes. Too bad it also applies to that weird family of superheroes, or to the comic hero with the most egocentric name ever (yes I am talking about you Captain).
I can see it now. I do have some serious issues with the stars and tight red and blue dresses.
Stan Lee was with Marvel since beginning. No matter what will others say, I will always consider him to be one of the greatest comic personas. No one has done more for the mainstream comic than him. Space of this post doesn’t allow me to list all the amazing characters he created. However it doesn’t matter, his fans knows them all.
I don’t normally post celebrations of a famous people. It´s not like people would miss it. But Stan Lee created X-Men – my most favourite comic universe (mainstream comic of course).
So in the celebration of a Stan Lee turning 88 here are his famous cameos.
If you happen not know who Václav Havel was or what he has done this article from The Guardian tells quite a lot.
He died some days ago. I kept hearing about him all my life and yet there are still things I didn’t know about him. For example that he acted as a Joan Baez guitar boy – of course he was hiding from police.
Or that he was a chemical laboratory technician.
Some time ago I met him. It was extremely hot day on a he juts sat there surrounded by journalist, photographers and ordinary people. And they all listened – it didn’t matter how old you were. Old people who only came because of him, young students with the same motivation, teenagers who were barely one or two years old during the revolution in the 1989, or kids asking their parents who the funny man was.
For the young generation he was someone others always spoke about in a good terms. However, younger generation, they barely knew who he really was. I sometimes think that they even forget what has happened in year 1989.
And just to remind you he was not known not only as a politician, but also as an artist and performer. Before he has become the face of the revolution, he was acclaimed writer and the chairman of the Circle of Independent Writers. I saw his play The Garden Ceremony in the theatre. It was amusing satire, highly intellectual and surreal in its own way.
One can say just another intellectual that had become the president. This one was different. He was someone who has pointed his finger at the Czechoslovakia and said look here – so that the big countries would finally know what was going on in the Eastern Europe.
Only few people outside Czech Republic or Slovakia knew that he also tried his luck as the director. His first and last movie was called Leaving – and he only made it few moths ago. How symbolical. I can’t say that movie is amazing, but it’s definitely interesting.
There is also a documentary Citizen Havel made by deceased Czech filmmaker Pavel Koutecký
Sure there is hardly anything bad about him in this movie – fact that many critics can’t get over. But as many of his revolutionary ancestors before him he deserves it too– and we can proudly call him the symbol he was meant to be.
I didn’t go out to light a candle for him. I should do it. It´s too late now, but let me say my goodbye this way.
Seems like everyone…
Last evening screening at the Poly cinema in Falmouth turned out to be a very interesting meeting.
Kill List is getting quite a lot of attention in UK these days. So I am really happy that it was screened in here, so I could see why it is so popular with my own eyes. And big plus goes to the Poly cinema, because they gave us a chance to talk to the director Ben Wheatley too. Nothing is better than a regular screening accompanied by the people who made the film.
I had no idea what the movie was supposed to be about. I kind of didn’t want it spoiled and sometimes it is just good not know much about the film. And as it turned out, that was a very good decision.
Director Ben Wheatley turned out to be an interesting person too. I like it when directors can reasonably answer questions about their films, when they can completely explain the reason they made it that way. His answers were very honest and interesting, and they really made me think about what he said and how it applies to the movie.
He also said that this was the first and last time he has shot the drama. I can completely understand him. Kill List is too depressing. It really gore and violent, but if you are already used to it (and watched enough Trier or Chan Park-Wook films or saw Haneke´s Funny Games), it´s not that bad. I would compare it to the Nicolas Winding Refn Drive. Drive was also full of blood and violent scenes (and famous beating scene from lift pose as a very realistic presentation of violence in a quite aesthetically stylish movie), but it was for a reason. In this film violence feels strangely real, sometimes it even hurts looking at it, but it belongs there. You can’t have a movie about hit man without blood. Kill List is definitely an interesting film. Depressing and full of blood and violence, but on the other hand, also offers Mike Leigh like portrayal of a one extraordinary family. Maybe may only problem with this movie is that it tries to be everything – family drama, krimi genre, horror, buddy film, black comedy. However, in the end it works. Because this movie meant to raise all those question and doubts. Because that is exactly what Ben Wheatley wanted from his audience. Same reason why he also banned all questions about the plot before the screening started. He wanted to raise the questions and let us hang there, and then end the film without answering them. He is just one of those directors, who likes to play with their viewers.
And in the end I have to say again, it worked. People talked, people wondered, and they kept talking about Ben Wheatley´s Kill List all evening – trying to find answers to his questions.
An evening with David Lean and Krzysztof Kieslowski
And once again it had something to do with a trains. As I pointed some time before trains or trains platforms offer us some really amazing chance meetings. All those strangers and people walking around, losing their bags, hurrying to catch their trains. Seriously, not catching your trains can seriously damage or change your life.
Famous film from the polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski Blind Chance is all about a guy who was too late or too soon to catch one particular train – and it´s about his life but from three different perspectives. Everything because of the one train. Catch it or not to catch it. Communist, rebel, or a successful doctor? That is rather serious question there.
Two strangers from the David Lean 1945 feature Brief Encounter are rather interesting “pair“. Good wife and successful doctor had also found each other by a chance. One day they met in the small café near the train platform (looks like something is in my eye trick will always work),they fell in love and tried to cheat on their husband and wife. It may sound bold, but that´s exactly what this movies is about – it´s about trying not to love, about suppressing your feelings. Too bad their love was strong and too bad her husband was just too good and understanding to be abandoned.
I suppose that was rather the point. It said a lot of about human affiliations and that ever-present guilt in our lives.
I didn’t know much about film or about the actors. Apparently it’s again some sort of British national film treasure, because everyone around me saw it before and obviously they didn’t mind seeing it again. And to say it frankly, I am not that much into romance (and I do not consider film as Casablanca to be a romance – for me it’s amazingly written war drama with great tragic pair of heroes). However, when I do like something it’s because a reason. And David Lean Brief Encounter is an amazing study of a relationship between man and woman, with fine actors performances and believable settings. Film feels very realistic – like life itself. I would definitely suggest it to anyone, even to the most cynical individuals.
This film is also David Lean last encounter with the writer and playwright Noel Coward. Sometimes it´s really hard to say goodbye.
Bruce Robinson & I, Apichatpong Weerasethakul & I, Aki Kaurismäki & I, György Pálfi & I, Dagur Kári & I, Ken Loach & I, Emir Kusturica & I, Lisandro Alonso & I…
Auteur theory representation in real life
It came to my attention that I even in my quite short life spam I ´ve managed to “meet“ quite an interesting group of filmmakers. Not all I would want, but enough to start (and because I am still what job search agency would call too inexperienced) bragging about. A chance to meet your often favourite director is the best thing festival can offer. Normally I would be really hard to even come closer to him. If you don’t know right people, of course.
You can meet them face to face, question them about their style, ask them about work, you can take something of your own from them. You can notice that Lisandro Alonso has the saddest smile, Ken Loach has longest successful film career and most fascinating hairstyle, or the fact that Dagur Kári can perfectly answer question about Iceland tapestry, fact that Kusturica has to become as famous as Fellini otherwise his father won´t acknowledge his directing career, or that György Pálfi is definitely nowhere close to his characters in Taxidermia.
And sometimes when you are brave enough, you can catch them on a street, buy them some beer and have them only for yourself. I heard György Pálfi is very friendly type of guy. And I meant it in a good way. However Aki Kaurismäki is completely different cause. Not that he is not friendly or what, he was certainly good to people, but he doesn’t like – to his fans dismay – attending O&A after festival screenings. He had spent most of his time in Czech Republic drinking outside festival cinema. Not alone of course, he was very buying shot for all his new friends.
My last encounter was with the director and writer Bruce Robinson, mostly known as creator of Britain much loved buddy film Withnail & I, or now in cinemas adaptation of the famous Hunter Thompson novel – The Rum Diary. Truly remarkable person – and amazing storyteller I have to say. For nearly two hours he had managed to hold our attention with his witty remarks about world of film or writing. Only telling stories, sometimes backtracking from original question, just to reach deeper and tell us something new and amusing about how it works, for example in Hollywood. It´s very bad, he said. We shouldn’t go there. And now for another useful advice. If your are director struggling with camera or setting just : “ Point your camera at the story. “
I hereby name him The funniest director I ever met.
My award to The cutest director goes to young female director Sophie Schoukens. Check out her debut film – Marieke Marieke.
Another award goes to Kaurismäki for being the closest to the characters he created in his movies – as much one director can be.
And to Apichatpong for being one of the most intelligent and inspiring people I met in years.
Other awards should be coming soon. I am still waiting for encounter with Lars von Trier.