Pressure

Tags

, , ,

Pressure

Directed by Horace Ove

UK, 1976

HOME, 4 October 2017
Pressure

The past is a foreign country, but some things remain the same.

Tony has left school and is looking for a job. He gets lots of interviews, his O-level grades being top notch, but once the interviewer sees that he is black, he is oh so discreetly fobbed off and shown the door. They will be in touch soon, promise.

This is a film about black people in 1970s Britain, reigniting old and well-forgotten distinctions – between ‘coloured immigrants’ and people of colour born in Britain, say. The black people here are faced with few prospects and opportunities, prejudice overt and muted, police brutality. Although Pressure is a bit political and preachy, it hangs together still and as a social document it is invaluable. And in Britain today hot pepper sauce is generally available – I usually go for Encona meself. See, some things have changed.

Advertisements

On Body and Soul

Tags

, ,

On Body and Soul

Directed by Ildikó Enyedi

Hungary, 2016

HOME, 28 September 2017
On Body and Soul

This is a strange, wonderful, original, love story and an enchanting film.

Two people discover that they dream the same dream each night: they are deer in a snowy forest. There is a connection between them, which could easily have gone unnoticed and unacted upon.

Both live alone: for the man, intimacy is a language he had long forgotten; for the woman, it is something she had never learned. She is fragile, fraught with anxiety, endangered by her emotions.

You come away feeling that love opens an abyss in the soul, an abyss that only love can bridge. Very beautiful and moving.

In Between

Tags

, ,

In Between

Directed by Maysaloun Hamoud

Israel, 2016

HOME, 28 September 2017
In Between

Three young women, all Palestinian, share a flat in Tel Aviv.

One is due to be married to a strict Muslim man. Another is a lesbian, something which her conservative Christian family do not know. The third, played by Mouna Hawa, who has extremely beautiful eyes, is a liberal, free-spirited career girl. They are torn between two or maybe three worlds – religious orthodoxy and Western hedonism – neither of which they really want, and who can blame them?

It is a well-crafted, engaging film but it presents its protagonists with a simplistic conflict: secularism need not be so shallow, nor Islam so extreme.

Mind, the stark portrait of a conservative society, misogyny at its heart, strikes one as true.

Son of a Preacher Man @ the Palace

Tags

, , , , ,

Son of a Preacher Man

Directed and Choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood

Palace Theatre, Manchester

27 September 2017

Ian Reddington (Simon) in Son of a Preacher Man UK Tour. Photo by Darren Bell.

Ian Reddington (Simon) in Son of a Preacher Man UK Tour. Photo by Darren Bell.

This is a jukebox musical based around the songs of Dusty Springfield.

The story is a mite contrived but not with a certain quaint charm: there are three people, a man and two women of varying ages and sexualities, who visit or in one case revisit (the first song is ‘Goin’ Back’) The Preacher Man, here a legendary record store of ‘60s Soho. They are all looking for the eponymous owner, a learned and wise counsellor, in order to get advice on trouble in their love lives. He has passed away, kicked the bucket some years past, but they find Simon (Ian Reddington), a sorry, bestridden guy moping about the place, who turns out to be his son. Can he help them out, say by channeling the spirit of his late deceased dad?

It is a briskly directed, effortlessly entertaining show with lots of dancing and singing, lively performances of a slue of Dusty’s songs (probably ‘I Close my Eyes and Count to Ten’ was my favourite), and had the musicians playing live on stage along with the stars. For many of the songs we also had the pleasure of the Cappuccino Sisters, the show’s very own backing group: strong and sweet, there was likely an espresso or two in here too. Whenever they took to the stage, they added some welcome glamour, not least courtesy of the tall and leggy Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong. We ended with the title song, which should tell you that things turned out well in the end for that sorry guy we saw at the start. There is someone for everyone, as Dusty somewhere sang.

Son of a Preacher Man is at the Palace Theatre until 30 September, then tours throughout the UK. Further details can be found here.

Kills on Wheels

Tags

, , ,

Kills on Wheels

Directed by Attila Till

Hungary, 2016

HOME, 21 September 2017

Kills on Wheels

This is about a couple (or a trio) of disabled guys getting on with their lives as best they can; and it is a crime drama too.

They work as hitmen, or imagine they do, aiding a Serbian crime boss who is getting agitation from some gangster competition. Being disabled, they are not seen as a threat, so manage to catch the opposition off-guard. As Andrew Vachss puts it in one of his Burke novels: when you hunt predators, weakness is camouflage.

Zoltán Fenyvesi, who plays Zoli, bears a striking resemblance to Bobby Fischer, say around the time of the Havana Olympiad in 1966.

It is an engaging film and I enjoyed it very much.

Mother!

Tags

, ,

Mother!

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

USA, 2017

HOME, 21 September 2017

Mother!

Otherwise known as The Madonna Strikes Back.

It is difficult to find a description that does justice to this film, which is about everything and yet nothing. About everything because, well, it touches on Christianity, the war on terror, marriage, art and creativity, celebrity… a wide range. About nothing, well, because it doesn’t really engage with any of these themes, being in essence stylized and shallow. It is hardly serious about anything: the cinematic equivalent of a phone zombie that can’t keep a single thought in their head. The histrionics lever is set at 11 at the start and is never appreciably lowered at any time throughout.

As a diversion for people with low attention spans (the aforesaid phone zombies), it works or it should. There is a hit every half a minute or so. But as an actual film, something you might immerse yourself in and be challenged and interested, coming away happy – No, afraid not. A waste of talent and time.

 

ROH Live: The Magic Flute

Tags

, , , , , ,

ROH Live: The Magic Flute

Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Directed by David McVicar

Royal Opera House

HOME, 20 September 2017

ROH Live: The Magic Flute

This is a very copacetic production of Mozart’s German opera, an adventurous romance with a streak of occult intrigue.

Sabine Devieilhe stood out as the Queen of the Night, tenebrous talons drawn, fierce as a lioness in the pursuit of her daughter’s kidnapper. There were wonderful arias from Tamino (Mauro Peter) and Pamina (Siobhan Stagg), our earnest lovers, but the other couple (Papageno and Papagena) seemed to have much more fun, somehow enjoyed life more. Roderick Williams as Papageno provided comic moments aplenty and Papagena, the Austrian soprano Christina Gansch, looked like a city girl on the razz, her hair just out of curlers. A very entertaining journey.

Further details of the ROH’s production of The Magic Flute can be found here.

 

Belle de Jour

Tags

, , ,

Belle de Jour

Directed by Luis Bunuel

France, 1967

HOME, 20 September 2017

Belle de Jour

The tale of a middle class woman, the wife of a doctor, who spends her afternoons as a prostitute, for reasons unbeknownst even to herself.

It is a classic foray into the dark forest, one of Bunuel’s lambent portrayals of the human comedy: all desire, destruction and idiosyncrasy. You can glean the influence of Sade, Breton, Bataille, Pierre Klossowski…

While not convulsive, Catherine Deneuve is cool and chaste and sublimely beautiful – a blonde who somehow escaped Hitchcock’s clutches.

Fantastical slumming.

Look! New Acquisitions @ the Albertina

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Look! New Acquisitions

Curated by Klaus Albrecht Schröder and Antonia Hoerschelmann

Albertina, Vienna

6 July to 1 October 2017

Anselm Kiefer Woglinde, 1982-2013 The Albertina Museum, Vienna © Anselm Kiefer and The Albertina Museum, Vienna

Anselm Kiefer
Woglinde, 1982-2013
The Albertina Museum, Vienna © Anselm Kiefer and The Albertina Museum, Vienna

If you are in Vienna and have a hankering to view modern or contemporary art, the Albertina, MUMOK and 21er Haus are the places to visit.

At the Albertina their permanent exhibition, Monet to Picasso, includes every modern artist of importance up to about the mid-twentieth century (from memory, there are works by Klee, Chagall, Matisse, Giacometti, Bacon, Miro… and many others), so you have a guarantee of viewing exceptional art whatever you find in their current exhibitions. These, frankly, can be of variable quality, but they are usually interesting and often excellent. On previous occasions I saw a brilliant exhibition built around Antonioni’s great film Blow-Up (it had scenes from the film itself, some of Antonioni’s paintings, photography by David Bailey and Don McCullin, etc.) and another, equally memorable, devoted to Lee Miller’s war photography. There was also a Gottfried Helnwein retrospective, reviewed at this site.

This year at the Albertina I saw some works by Helnwein again; his images still have the power to disturb. They were in the Look! New Acquisitions exhibition, alongside works by William Kentridge, Anselm Kiefer (his Woglinde above), Adolf Frohner and others. Most arresting here, however, was Csaba Nemes’ Hotel Metropole series, drawings centred on the building that was the headquarters of the Gestapo during the Anchluss. It is the place where the protagonist of Stefan Zweig’s Schachnovelle is taken to be interrogated.

Details of the Albertina’s current exhibitions can be found here.

Csaba Nemes’ website is here.

Some drawings from the Hotel Metropole drawing installation are here.

My review of Stefan Zweig’s Schachnovelle is here.

 

The Wedding @ HOME

Tags

, , ,

The Wedding

Created by Amit Lahav

Gecko

HOME, 12 September 2016

The Wedding

Is this another metaphor for Brexit?

People arrive through a chute and quite quickly put on a wedding dress. They do this under the watchful eye of a uniformed official carrying a hardwood clipboard. No doubt she records whether the brides are bearded or clean shaven, along with their other characteristics.

The thematic thread of the show – it purported to explore such notions as weddings, union, obligations, divorce – was pretty woolly and the discernible narrative ropey and frayed, but the dance and the music was impressive. Top-notch, very entertaining.

One problem with shows like this is that they cannot do emotion, or they do it poorly. Dancers are not actors, and anyway you seldom see their faces in close up. And gestures in the middle distance don’t really cut it.

The Wedding is showing at HOME until 16 September and then at other UK venues until 7 October, details here and here.