Mustang: five free spirits corralled

<em>Mustang</em>: five free spirits corralled

School is out for the summer and five free-spirited teenage sisters head for the beach. Full of girlish exuberance, they splash in the sea with schoolboy friends. They swim, fight playfully, and clamber on the boys’ shoulders. We could be almost anywhere in the world, but this is a far-flung village on Turkey’s northern Black Sea coast, ‘a thousand kilometres from Istanbul’, and the teenage idyll is about to ‘turn to shit’, in the words of the youngest sister, Lale. Continue reading Mustang: five free spirits corralled”

Stories Only Exist When Remembered: a film of exquisite beauty

<em>Stories Only Exist When Remembered</em>: a film of exquisite beauty

One of the pleasures of blogging comes with the responses you sometimes get from a person you have never met, who may live on the other side of the world, yet who has read and appreciated something you have written. One instance was last week, when Victor wrote from Brazil in appreciation of a post I had written some time ago about the Korean film Poetry.

As a token of his appreciation Victor recommended a Brazilian film of which I’d never heard, viewable on YouTube. Stories Only Exist When Remembered, a first feature directed by Julia Murat in 2011, proved to be an exquisite film, a meditation on memory, time and ageing in which few words are spoken but much is implied. Continue reading Stories Only Exist When Remembered: a film of exquisite beauty”

Son of Saul: Auschwitz in unrelenting close-up

<em>Son of Saul</em>: Auschwitz in unrelenting close-up

In recent days I’ve made two journeys back into the dark heart of Auschwitz courtesy of a book and a film. But You Did Not Come Back is Marceline Loridan-Ivens’ moving memoir addressed to her father. Aged fifteen, she survived the death camp, but her father did not return. The acclaimed film Son of Saul was my second encounter with the horrors of Auschwitz. Despite the praise heaped upon László Nemes’s film, I have my reservations. Continue reading Son of Saul: Auschwitz in unrelenting close-up”

Patricio Guzman’s The Pearl Button: ‘We are all streams from one water’

Patricio Guzman’s <em>The Pearl Button</em>: ‘We are all streams from one water’

We are all streams from one water.

A block of quartz three thousand years old is the opening image of Patricio Guzman’s The Pearl Button; trapped inside is a drop of water. It was found in Chile’s Atacama desert, the driest place on Earth. Guzman’s last film, Nostalgia for the Light, began there, too.

After aridity, water: whereas that film remained for the most part in that ‘condemned land’ where human remains are mummified and objects are frozen in time, water is the key to everything in The Pearl Button, and Guzman follows the water – ‘Chile’s longest border’ – two and a half thousand miles south to Western Patagonia where the mountains of the Andes sink into the water to re-emerge as thousands of islands. Continue reading “Patricio Guzman’s The Pearl Button: ‘We are all streams from one water’”

Andy Sheppard and Joanna MacGregor: A Song of Two Humans

Andy Sheppard and Joanna MacGregor: A Song of Two Humans

I went to see pianist Joanna MacGregor and saxophonist Andy Sheppard play their new live score for Sunrise, F.W. Murnau’s 1927 silent film, more for the jazz. I thought I might be slightly irritated and distracted by the flickering images above the musicians’ heads.  I could not have been more mistaken: I was totally enthralled by Sunrise, and now understand why it is regarded as a cinematic masterpiece. Images from it have haunted my mind ever since the screening. Continue reading “Andy Sheppard and Joanna MacGregor: A Song of Two Humans”

The Innocence of Memories: a story of love, obsession and a city

<em>The Innocence of Memories</em>: a story of love, obsession and a city

A city, Orhan Pamuk once told me, would be a museum for our memories if we live in it long enough.
Narration, ‘The Innocence of Memories’

Director Grant Gee’s last film was Patience (After Sebald), a film in which passages read from Sebald’s book The Rings of Saturn complemented images of the Suffolk landscape with absolute perfection. Now he has done something similar with Orhan Pamuk’s novel The Museum of Innocence, taking the viewer on atmospheric journeys, drifting through the deserted streets and alleyways of Istanbul at night, accompanied by readings from the novel and extra material also written by Pamuk. It’s a stunning film, perhaps the best invocation of the spirit of a work of literature that I’ve seen.  It also provides a guided tour of the Museum of Innocence itself, established by Pamuk in Istanbul to house real objects that trace the fictional love affair described in the novel. Continue reading The Innocence of Memories: a story of love, obsession and a city”

Janis: Little Girl Blue: break another little bit of my heart

<em>Janis: Little Girl Blue</em>: break another little bit of my heart

Janis: Little Girl Blue is a documentary directed by Amy Berg about Janis Joplin.  It’s a story with which you’re already familiar, and a subject that might too easily appeal to those harbouring a lurid interest in drug-fuelled sexual excesses or a tie-dyed nostalgia for the sixties. Berg, though, avoids sensationalism or pathos (except perhaps in the title), and her film features few of those music biz talking heads, familiar from Friday evening BBC 4 music documentaries, blathering on about how so-and-so was such a wonderful person who single-handedly changed the course of modern music. Continue reading Janis: Little Girl Blue: break another little bit of my heart”