Monday, 27 May 2013

Extraordinary Games

The ending is fabulous.  The beginning is even better.  We’re in an office, high up, looking out over Berlin.  There is a computer; and a television set showing a film we can barely see - cops and robbers, heist, thriller; something violent for sure.  Although it could be, and this is not impossible, this movie!  There is a person in the room watching the TV, although they are hidden from us in a high backed chair; the sort favoured by successful executives.  We notice the credits.  Then our eyes become distracted by them.  Typed onto our cinematic screen they look like randomly scattered letters on a computer’s monitor.  It takes time to see the underlying order: gaps are being filled in to form names - of the characters; of the actors; of R.a.i.n.e.r.  W.e.r.n.e.r . F.a.s.s.b.i.n.d.e.r., who now chucks in quotes from the famous and the unknown; stencilled graffiti daubed straight onto the camera lens.  The subtitles add an extra layer of visual data.

Sunday, 26 May 2013


MyWeku has published my review of Xala.  It is in two Parts.  Part one and Part two.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Terrorists are Boring

We want so much more from our critics.

Almost all the major film-makers were in some way caught up in May 1968 and its aftermath.  Even the generally apolitical Chabrol took part in the Estates General and later explored the world of the ‘groupuscules’ in Nada (1974).  (Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, in The Oxford History of World Cinema)

I don’t think Chabrol is such an explorer.  He hardly leaves the inner ring road of the Parisian political establishment.  Never, we suspect, has he jumped in his car to explore the outer suburbs of far left politics; that maze of tower blocks and concrete walkways where little groups hide out in flats that look like squats; and from out of which few return completely sane.  Instead, he has made a film that is influenced by the atmosphere of May 1968; an event whose impact on the culture was probably far greater than its social, and certainly its political, effects. The intellectuals loved it, and have mourned those few days ever since.i  

Nada was written in a caf√© near the Sorbonne, and it shows.  It simply doesn’t capture the emotional world of a tiny sect committing what for them is a major political act.  They are, like most of the characters in his best work, too indifferent, too liberally normal, to be impassioned extremists; that is, real radicals. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013