Pablo Larrain’s Neruda is out on home release now.
Here’s what I thought over at Flickering Myth and below…
Taking the conflict between poet and political senator Pablo Neruda and the anti-communist Chilean government as its background, this latest from Pablo Larrain (No, The Club, Jackie) plays out like a metaphysical chase movie, with the rich imagination of the writer being harnessed as a creative suit of armour to protect him and his interests.
During political congress in 1948, Senator Neruda (Luis Gnecco) accuses President González Videla’s (Alfredo Castro) government of betraying the Communist Party and is then impeached and a warrant put out for his arrest. Police Prefect Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal) is assigned to arrest the poet. Fearing for his safety, Neruda tries to leave Chile with his artist wife Delia del Carril (Mercedes Morán) but they are turned back and forced into hiding. This new life of refuge and uncertainty inspires the poet to create new work new myths and new legends.
While the setting and mood of the piece is beautifully represented and there is genuine tension built up with Peluchonneau’s determination to ‘win’ his arrest, the film as a whole is starkly unconventional and all the better for it. Without giving away too many details, the story is partly based on Neruda’s private imaginings, and how much is fact or fiction becomes increasingly unimportant. What is necessary is the power of belief, memory and poetry itself, to build up a workable formation of reality. So, we have a deconstructed – and then re-constructed – biopic.
Review of Holocaust Survivor doc is at Flickering Myth and below…
An in-depth and personal look at one of the bleakest points in history, Claire Ferguson’s Destination Unknown surveys the human stories at the heart of the events of the holocaust.
Skillfully inter-playing the stories of 12 survivors with archival footage from during wartime, the film allows an insight into the memories, passion and courage of these individuals. The film documents their various routes to escape the confusion and systematic evil of Nazi work camps such as Kraków-Płaszow, Mauthausen and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Amongst those interviewed by producer Llion Roberts is Mietek Pemper, who helped Oskar Schindler compile the famous List and save thousands of people. Also featured is a survivor’s tale of meeting the fearful Amon Göth, the sadistic commandant of Kraków-Płaszów.
The struggles to survive did not simply end with the closing of the war. One of the things that the film does so well is highlight the tragic psychological damage that was done to these people, and the pain that does not simply go away after escape, survival or victory. Indeed in the case of Ed Mosberg, who gives lectures dressed in prison uniform, the past and pain of it does not seem to have dissipated very much at all. There is the sense that there is some power in keeping it where you can still see it.
The post-liberation period of the war is dealt with in some detail. The sheer chaos of Europe trying to come to terms with itself in the fallout of the war is given personality and intensity through these people’s stories. Mostly all in their eighties and nineties, the film lets them speak and does so with clarity and vision. A wonderful feature of the film is the energy given off by these survivors. When they have been through so much, it is amazing that they can still laugh and smile and dance. Yet, as evidenced through home video footage and photographs some can and do. And that tells us so much about human strength and resistance.
Destination Unknown is a powerful film and, ultimately, a profoundly moving one.
Working on ideas
New ways to clear out the cistern
Transform the system
Filter out the noise
From outside speakers
Bent double-time in scriptures
A pointless so-ill-oquy
That tarnishes the hi-fi
And chucks blue dirt in blind eyes
This journey needs a new compass
Because we need to see
North from South
Up from Down
Right from Left and Right from Wrong
All wrong and no mistaking
No more cries or bellyaching
Things cannot remain the same
Things cannot continue as they are
The lucky cat wants to say hi, I think.
Or maybe goodbye?
A farewell to memes, shared themes and cultural icon dreams?
Or a welcoming of clickable debate, pop culture pointers and tales from long ago and far away?
In fact, the feline is a good luck charm and symbol of fortune, often used outside street vendors and commercial enterprises.
All of which stood me in fine stead as I shrugged off a rough night and strode the miles to my temp job for another day of unrelenting similitude.
There is a cat looking out for me, I remind myself.
They are waving a paw and offering good luck.
Something to take to the photocopier, I think.
Robert W Monk
My review of the documentary film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars screening across the UK on March 7th is over at Flickering Myth..
Whether it be
Fake or Real
Seems to be a reasonable choice right now
As it’s certainly better for the general head-space
But is it a form of ignorance
Of blocking out
To try and pretend
That things are not happening?
Is it just
That we already know
Need to be done?
Review of His Girl Friday below and over at Flickering Myth.
His Girl Friday marks something of a turning point in the movies. Howard Hawks’s adaptation of a play (Hold the Front Page) exploring the dynamic world of newspaper journalism took the genius idea of changing the gender of the originally male ace-reporter character and transforming him into Rosalind Russell’s vivacious Hildy Johnson. Her portrayal of a smart and determined journalist trading razor-sharp quips and put-downs with her charismatic ex-boss and ex-husband Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is a truly wonderful creation, bringing a whole new dimension to fast-talking character driven screwball comedy.
Hoping to draw Johnson back into the non-stop life of the newsroom, Burns offers her the chance of a dramatic scoop of a much-talked about execution. At the same time, he also attempts to create doubts in her mind about her upcoming marriage to the reliable but dour insurance man Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). Johnson, displaying an insider’s knowledge of exactly how Burns’s mind works, gives as good as she gets, with a blistering display of rapid-fire argument and counter-argument. The mixture of the dramatic tension and drive of the newsroom is brilliantly balanced with honest , wry and often scathing give and take verbal exchanges, providing an absolute dramatic comedy standout in classic Hollywood.
The new Blu-ray release from Criterion lovingly restores the movie to its full glory, with a massive selection of extras to further highlight the timelessness and overriding appeal of His Girl Friday.
- New high-definition digital restoration of His Girl Friday, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New 4K digital restoration of The Front Page, made from a recently discovered print of director Lewis Milestone’s preferred version, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- New interview with film scholar David Bordwell about His Girl Friday
- Archival interviews with His Girl Friday director Howard Hawks
- Featurettes from 1999 and 2006 about Hawks, actor Rosalind Russell, and the making of His Girl Friday
- Radio adaptation of His Girl Friday from 1940
- New piece about the restoration of The Front Page
- New piece about playwright and screenwriter Ben Hecht
- Radio adaptations of the play The Front Page from 1937 and 1946
- His Girl Friday trailers
- Plus: An insert featuring essays on His Girl Friday and The Front Page by film critics Farran Smith Nehme and Michael Sragow
The birds are not singing for you
The birds are not singing for World Peace, an end to oppression or a return to the Godhead
The birds are not singing for workers rights, libertarian values, social mobility or true sexual equality
The birds are not singing for a slap-up lunch, a boozy weekend away or a 2 for 1 deal at the supper club
The birds are not singing for hacked elections, the virus in your hard-drive or the End of all of these Days