THE-CHILDHOOD-OF-A-LEADER

“…Parfois, on me traitait comme si j’étais un chien, guili-guili sur le ventre et sous leurs doigts, je devenais une poupée, un enfant poupée, un poupon qu’on met tout nu dans la baignoire pour le laver avec les mains de toutes ces dames, de tous ces messieurs, et le mettre au dodo dans un p’tit berceau comme un bébé qui rit quand on le touche…”

Jean-Paul Sartre, L’enfance d’un chef (The Childhood of a Leader, 1939)

Childhood is intended as a time of innocence. A period of one’s life that is free from worry, anxiety, and trepidation about the life yet to come. It is where life is lived in the present, and parents’ love is a shield from the corrosive realities of the indifferent world. In Brady Corbet’s astonishingly capable and self-assured hands however, childhood becomes something else entirely. It is a nasty, brutish thing, cold and dark and utterly lacking in warmth. It is here that the origins of the depraved depths of human cruelty are pried apart; it is here that evil begins.

Read the rest of this entry »

e2f30422b84eeb8fb0590d8d6aa2935b

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, Then how should I begin?

– T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915)

The association between butterflies and the feminine in the western narrative have been canonised in Puccini’s verismo opera Madama Butterfly, itself an allegory for western imperialism. In Act 1 of the opera, the character of Cio-Cio San (a.k.a Butterfly) sings to Pinkerton, “Dicon ch’oltre mare se cade in man dell’uom / ogni farfarla da uno spillo è trafitta / ed in tavola infitta!” (“They say across the sea, if it falls into the hand of man, each butterfly from a needle is pierced and on (a) board fixed!“). The proverbial subjugation of the butterfly (woman) by the man inevitably spells doom, foreshadowing what is to come if Butterfly allows herself to be captured by a colonial lepidopterist.

Read the rest of this entry »

ACTOR
Michael Fassbender, STEVE JOBS
Michael Fassbender, MACBETH
Gael García Bernal, EVA NO DUERME
Eddie Redmayne, THE DANISH GIRL
Peter Sarsgaard, EXPERIMENTER

ACTRESS
Juliette Binoche, L’ATTESA
Carey Mulligan, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Charlotte Rampling, 45 YEARS
Maggie Smith, THE LADY IN THE VAN
Alicia Vikander, EX MACHINA

DIRECTOR
Terence Davies, SUNSET SONG
Alex Garland, EX MACHINA
Peter Greenaway, EISENSTEIN IN GUANAJUATO
Justin Kurzel, MACBETH
Alexander Sukorov, FRANCOFONIA

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Adam Arkapaw, MACBETH
Bruno Delbonnel, FRANCOFONIA
Rob Hardy, EX MACHINA
Mark Lee Ping Bin, THE ASSASSIN (Nie yin niang)
Michael McDonough, SUNSET SONG

COSTUME DESIGN
Paco Delgado, THE DANISH GIRL
Wen-Ying Huang, THE ASSASSIN (Nie yin niang)
Massimo Cantini Parrini, TALE OF TALES
Sandy Powell, CAROL
Jany Tamime, SPECTRE

SCREENPLAY
Alex Garland, EX MACHINA
Charlie Kaufman, ANOMALISA
Jacob Koskoff & Todd Louiso and Michael Lesslie, MACBETH
David Nicholls, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Aaron Sorkin, STEVE JOBS

SCORE
Craig Armstrong, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, EX MACHINA
Alexandre Desplat, THE DANISH GIRL
Jóhann Jóhannsson, SICARIO
Jed Kurzel, MACBETH

2015films

(from top l-r)

francofonia (dir. sukurov) | saul fia/son of saul (dir. nemes) | ex machina (dir. garland) | tale of tales (dir. garrone) | carol (dir. haynes) | macbeth (dir. kurzel) | taxi tehran (dir. panahi) | dheepan (dir. audiard) | 45 years (dir. haigh) | the lobster (dir. lanthimos)

tumblr_nufl5dCp8B1sy3bdbo1_500

“When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture and when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of a sudden we discover something that we start seeing.”

– Saul Leiter

Manhattan in the 1950s: a metropolis of fog and early-morning commutes; grey days of rain thudding on the pavements and stray cats surveying from the fire escapes; overcoats and umbrellas, tartan sensibilities and Rockefeller glamour, and through the faded drizzle of it all, the flash of a fur coat and carmine lipstick. Very much a seamless component of the urban landscape, yet unmistakeably distinct from her surroundings, Cate Blanchett’s Carol is as captivating as the subject of Edward Hopper’s “New York Office”. Hopper’s gift lay in capturing the still-life moments of the city: that moment in which the animation of urban life is briefly suspended, haste and unrest come to a standstill, revealing rare and unexpected beauties. Similar to Hopper’s paintings, Carol is not so much a film, but an observation of the rare intimate moments of life: an absent glance, a feather-light touch, a forgotten word…While its exquisite attention to detail renders the film ever-so slightly overly mannered, its documentary-like portrayal of a mutual fascination and courtship make for an unhurried and ruminative viewing.

The influence of master photographer Saul Leiter is undeniable, and perhaps even a bit of David Hamilton and Frank Oscar Larsson: a muted tapestry of city life as though seen through a gauze veil, forging an intimacy between the viewer and subject through masterful use of the grainy Super 16 film. The excellent screenplay wastes no time in establishing exposition – we are in the middle of an ongoing narrative almost immediately, at once immersive and organic. Like voyeurs, we simply observe the daily lives of the characters as they happen, who need hardly go into detail establishing their narrative significance.

It is, perhaps appropriate then, that the camera and the act of photography plays a central motif in the film. Therese’s interest in the camera is her conduit into Carol’s world, one that is slightly removed from her own and entices with the promise of the unknown. The incrementally intensifying nature of the relationship between the two women is both subtle and satisfying, punctuated by lingering looks and gestures. Their relationship is not ‘forbidden’ in the traditional sense of societal pressure as the inclination would be, but rather by the characters’ own reticences and insecurities. When they at last come together, the film carefully avoids the cliche of making a political statement, but merely follows the action where it leads, as natural as you like. There are no explosive moments, and instead the film revels in the quiet moments that seethe with latent intensity and longing. Things are not said, but implied. Indeed, the relationship is instigated by the forgetting and returning of gloves – there is much to be said about the reserved yet erotically charged language of gloves in Victorian society; as in dropping a handkerchief, leaving behind one’s gloves was clearly a flirtatious indication of romantic intent.

Carol is a careful and considered film, very much a mirror of the social circumstances in which the relationship takes place, cautious yet brimming with passionate reserve. It is lazy and reductive to denote it as a ‘lesbian romance’ (as Highsmith herself would have no doubt loathed), but rather the spark of a chance encounter that is blown into something more. It is the story of connections and strangers, that curiously erotic moment of locking eyes with eyes with someone with little thought for how one’s world might be transformed from that instant.

000199078-crimson-peak-1371-1372-07-02

 The world is a parable – the habitation of symbols-the phantoms of spiritual things immortal shown in material shape.

– J. Sheridan le Fanu, Uncle Silas (1864)

For millennia, the storytelling tradition has been bound up in tales of the unspeakable, the unknowable, and the unexplainable. The hushed conjuring of demons, spirits, and all things wicked were direct counterparts to our own frailties and secrets – the horror that lies within. The gothic movement in the mid-18th century to the end of the late-19th century was the culmination of such conceits, with literary, artistic, and architectural manifestations of the terrible and wonderful – macabre, sinister, and wholly sensational at times.The gothic tradition extended from the Romantic one, as radical artists broke free from the lofty ambitions of the Enlightenment, and decreed a manifesto dedicated to all things wild, unbridled and, above all, concerned with death. The popularity of gothic fiction rose to apical heights in the Victorian era, and its preoccupation with death, sex, and the psychosexual imagination was rather scandalous to those decorous Victorians and their moral propriety; unsurprisingly, enthusiasm for tales of swooning heroines succumbing to dark and mysterious terrors in the candlelit shadows of foreboding castles was unbridled. Such is its influence, the gothic imagination has persisted over 250 years since its original appearance in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, as tales of dark stormy nights have assured their place in popular culture.

Read the rest of this entry »

Because, as usual, awards show are rubbish.

BEST ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard, DEUX JOURS UNE NUIT (Two Days, One Night)
Anne Dorval, MOMMY
Nina Hoss, PHOENIX
Sidse Babett Knudsen, THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY
Rosamund Pike, GONE GIRL

BEST ACTOR
Haluk Bilginer, KIŞ UYKUSU (Winter Sleep)
Benedict Cumberbatch, THE IMITATION GAME
Romain Duris, THE NEW GIRLFRIEND
Eddie Redmayne, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Philip Seymour Hoffman, A MOST WANTED MAN

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Carrie Coon, GONE GIRL
Brit Marling, THE BETTER ANGELS
Samantha Morton, MISS JULIE
Andrea Riseborough, BIRDMAN
Emma Thompson, EFFIE GRAY

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Grigoriy Dobrygin, A MOST WANTED MAN
Michael Fassbender, FRANK
Red Kateb, FAR FROM MEN
Lawrence Makoare, THE DEAD LANDS
Edward Norton, BIRDMAN

DIRECTOR
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, WINTER SLEEP
Batin Ghobadi, MARDAN
Alejandro González Iñárritu, BIRDMAN
Christian Petzold, PHOENIX
Peter Strickland, THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY

SCORE
Alexandre Desplat, THE IMITATION GAME
Herbert Grönemeyer, A MOST WANTED MAN
Jóhann Jóhannsson, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Gary Yershon, MR TURNER
Hans Zimmer, INTERSTELLAR

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Benoît Delhomme, A MOST WANTED MAN
Matthew J. Lloyd, THE BETTER ANGELS
Leon Narbey, THE DEAD LANDS
Dick Pope, MR TURNER
Gökhan Tiryaki, KIŞ UYKUSU (Winter Sleep)

SCREENPLAY
Damien Chazelle, WHIPLASH
Xavier Dolan, MOMMY
Christian Petzold, PHOENIX
François Ozon, LA NOUVELLE AMIE (The New Girlfriend)
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias, LOVE IS STRANGE

COSTUME DESIGN
Andrea Flesch, THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY
Madeline Fontaine, YVES SAINT LAURENT
Barbara Grupp, DIE GELIEBTEN SCHWESTERN (Beloved Sisters)
Ursula Patza, LEOPARDI
Tanja Hausner, AMOUR FOU

DOCUMENTARY
20,000 Days on Earth (dir. Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard)
Citizenfour (dir. Laura Poitras)
Silvered Water, Syria (dir. Wiam Simav Bedirxan & Usama Muhammad)
The Look of Silence (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer)
Rich Hill (dir. Tracy Droz Tragos & Andrew Droz Palermo)