Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Cine-Comic-Strip: Departed 2016


A graphic evocation of the film figures we lost in 2016, in 12 panels, written by me and illustrated by Naiel Ibarrola, inspired by Abbas Kiarostami’s Where Is the Friend’s Home and featuring poems taken from Kiarostami’s Walking with the Wind on the Sight & Sound website.

Jazz Film in Iran - A First Time Retrospective



The centenary of jazz is being celebrated in a place you would least expect: Iran. 

A mini retrospective of jazz films, currently playing at the Cinematheque of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, is the first time ever in post-revolutionary Iran.

The Museum famous for its priceless collection of modernist art (including works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Kandinsky, Pollack and many more) and also recently in the news due to cancellation of a major exhibition in Berlin, hosts a cozy, popular cinema inside its stylishly beautiful building. The cinematheque, shut down for 7 years, was reopened recently, with an array of nicely curated seasons.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Time Remembered: Chris Marker’s Bill Evans CD

Until midnight music is a job, until four o’clock it’s a pleasure, and after that it’s a rite.” – Chris Marker

There are only indirect hints as to what Chris Marker liked and did beyond his films. In studying the world of this elusive director, every sign invites us to scrutinize it carefully. Marker appears in small details, such as the mix CD which one day arrived on my doorstep. If the address on the parcel hadn’t confirmed the sender as Tom Luddy, co-director of Telluride Film Festival and a close friend of Marker’s, I could have taken it to be Marker’s personal gift from the beyond.

The CD cover gave little away; underneath a photo of pianist Bill Evans was an illustrated image of the Markerian animal familiar Guillaume, a wise if mischievous-looking cat, holding sheet music, and the words ‘Joue pour Guillaume’ [Play for Guillaume].

The Best of 2016 | Senses of Cinema

Laughter in Hell
Senses of Cinema's World Poll results are online here. Below is what I picked from 2016.


Best new films:
Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea, Gianfranco Rosi, 2016)
Fai bei sogni (Sweet Dreams, Marco Bellocchio, 2016)
Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
Neruda (Pablo Larraín, 2016)
El hombre de las mil caras (Smoke and Mirrors, Alberto Rodríguez, 2016)
Peter von Bagh (Tapio Piirainen, 2016)
I Called Him Morgan (Kasper Collin, 2016)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The best DVDs and Blu-rays of 2016



From Sight & Sound's annual poll, here's the list of some of my favourite DVD/Blu-ray releases in 2016:
  • Napoleon BFI
  • Shield for Murder Kino Lorber
  • The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates Criterion
  • Lumière! L’invenzione del cinematografo Cineteca Bologna
  • Let There Be Light: John Huston’s Wartime Documentaries Olive Films

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Fantasy Double Feature of 2016


From MUBI Notebook's 9th Writers Poll: Fantasy Double Features of 2016, an annual poll in which contributors pair favorite new films of the year with older films seen in the same year to create fantastic double features.

NEW: Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, France)
OLD: Hue and Cry (Charles Crichton, 1947)

Two propositions about Europe, enunciated through acts of dissatisfaction and revolt against two of its key cities, Paris and London. And if that’s vaguely the motivation for pairing the two films, yet it is a complementing contrast which curiously brings them together.

The comics in Hue and Cry intrigue the imagination of a group of east London teenagers. Then, the imaginary becomes real and transcends the post-war ruins. Nocturama is about the reverse process of reality evaporating into a shopping mall fantasy. The online world, instant communication, and the social media are the visual comics of contemporary life whose superheroes are the account holders. Eventually, the revenge of the Facebook-era les enfant terribles against consumerism and globalization sees a funny turn when they are consumed by the very goods that surround them and give them their identities—a predictable encounter between Dawn of the Dead and PlayTime. But here, in the shopping mall sequences of the two films (the British one is on Oxford Street), is where exactly the point of convergence lies, when the films reduce the difference between human figures and models to nothing.