Almost every Friday evening, whether going out or staying in, something feels a little wrong and then I remember that I don't have a film night to host anymore. I really miss this but rather than moan about it or just tap out a light nostalgia piece about what I would be preparing I've taken a leaf out o' my own blog and gone with my own suggestions as to what might form a season of Shadows. Two of the three years I ran the Shadows began in Autumn which starts on Friday.
Going on what I've noted in the year and a bit since the last screening the following might well serve as the program I'd present. Got some sci fi, kabuki, indy, politics, comedy, mysticism and folky vengeance. Your chair!
A man sees what looks like an attack on a woman in the nearby woods and runs to help but instead finds himself in the middle of a very weird situation. Time travel has seldom played so lean and mean. Never has a head scratch felt like this much fun.
SECONDS (USA 1966)
THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA (Japan 1958)
Fable from the middle ages in which a remote mountain village sacrifices one of its own annually to cope with food shortages. Everyone loves grandma Orin until her time, at sixty-nine, comes up and then it's all gossip and snidery. The problem is that Orin has no problem. She is willing to go. It means a death by exposure at the fozen mountain peak. Hard life lessons ensue for everyone though many don't heed them. And then, as can only happen in a Japanese movie, the climax is both heartrending and unsentimental.
LIFE OF BRIAN (UK 1979)
SOUND OF MY VOICE (USA 2012)
QUEIMADA (Italy 1969)
SAUNA (Finland 2008)
At the unmapped waste left alone even by decades of war there is a swamp and in the swamp there is a sauna house which might cleanse sinners of their sins or bring the world to an end. John Carpenter meets Andrei Tarkovsky. Absorbing.
RASHOMON (Japan 1950)
FEAR AND DESIRE (USA 1953)
Before Kubrick ruled the earth he made this student piece which stands between his professional photography and his film career. It's an intriguing piece. A group of soldiers wander the woods behind enemy lines and confront the difficulties of being soldiers without the backing of the military machine. Fevered voice over streams of consciousness and exquisite open air lighting work and the Kubrick framing that was there when he tabled his photos at the Look magazine editor's desk. He hasn't yet developed any real skill with action sequences and some of the character motivation is too forced. This is a young filmmaker's piece, all big statement and attempted virtuosity, but its strengths shine through the overstated characterisation and wobbly narrative joints to serve up a war movie with a conscience. The debate over the point where he emerged as an auteur rages still but whether you call it Paths of Glory or The Killing Fear and Desire, finally released, can now stand as a very real first glimpse into greatness.
GUILTY OF ROMANCE (Japan 2011)
KATALIN VARGA (UK-HUNGARY 2009)
Extraordinary tale of redemption set in the Carpathian mountains. Katalin is rejected by her husband and spurned by her village for admitting that her son is the result of a rape. She hits the road in a horse and cart with her son in search of the perpetrator. When she locates him her infiltration of his household and path to his confrontation is sobering but also, oddly uplifting. The picturesque but forbidding Transylvanian landscape and forests provide a reminder of the coversion of the crime and the life surrounding it. Seldom has revenge been so quiet and deeply effective. Director went on to make the extraordinary Berberian Sound Studio.
DARK STAR (USA 1975)
There you are. Just pretend you can head down to Collingwood curl up beside the fire with something good in a glass and watch some fine things on the screen. Nostalgia over and out ....