Posts Tagged ‘Ritzy Picturehouse Brixton’

Le gamin au velo, Ritzy Picturehouse 7 April

April 7, 2012


I wouldn't let him near your bike if I were you...

The basis of this film is that young Cyril (an amazing performance by Thomas Doret) is in a children’s home after being abandoned by his father and hopes for some miracle to reunite them.  After running away to visit his father’s flat in the hope he will really be there, he ends up clinging on to Samantha (Cecile de France), the proprietor of a local hairdressing salon.  In an act of gratuitous goodness, she recovers his precious bicycle which serves as the symbol for all he has lost and takes him to stay with her at the weekends.

Well that’s what I like.  That’s what people are like.  Well maybe she wanted a kid anyway–He can hold onto me, but not so tight she says when he’s clinging on to her to resist being taken back to the home.  In fact, many of the actions in the film are presented without explicit motivation and you have to work it out just like in real life.

Can we say bike good:  car bad?  The bike is associated with Cyril and also with Samantha and in one idyllic scene Cyril allows Samantha to ride his bike, showing that she has now earned his love.  The car of the dealer Wesker surely represents everything undesirable, while Samantha’s car seems to be possessed by the (ex-)boyfriend Gilles except when it has the bike inside it.  Similarly city good: countryside bad, bad things happen in the waste land next to the estate where Cyril and Samantha live; but they include a kind of resurrection of course.  Not to mention women good:  men bad, but then Samantha is the only female character and really the only positive one as well.

Surely there was at least one plot hole:  Samantha tells Cyril to keep away from Wesker, who tries it on with all the new arrivals in the estate. But Cyril’s not new, he used to live there with his dad, that’s the whole point…

Days of Heaven Ritzy Picturehouse 3 July

July 4, 2011

That looks very like Levitan to me

Before this showing of Days of Heaven as part of the Ritzy’s Terrence Malick season we had an introduction by Asif Kapadia, the director of Senna who had once almost worked with Malick on a project.  He said that TM was a regular guy, he just didn’t like doing press–what was on the screen was the important thing for him.  Nature and Graham Greene were important themes in his work, and he liked to keep things simple.  He would visit locations with a camera before the crew got there to capture what the places were really like.

Asif Kapadia

He said that there were few prints of this film around and he didn’t know how good this one would be–apparently the studio had tried to make space by getting rid of some crap called Days of Thunder and a slight error had occurred…

So then we had Days of Heaven.  I was glad to see a film with working people as protagonists and there were some lovely images.  In principle the story was quite credible.  The idea is that Richard Gere and Brooke Adams are lovers who are pretending to be bother and sister and run away to work on a farm after Richard Gere gets into trouble at the factory.  Then rich but sickly farmer Sam Shepard falls for Brooke Adams and Richard Gere decides that Brooke Adams can marry him and then they’ll be rich once the farmer hurries up and dies.  There’s also Richard Gere’s real kid sister who provides voice-over narration and is played by someone.  Of course it all ends badly.

To me that’s good mainline Thomas Hardy and it’s also the kind of thing I can imagine my grandfather doing in the not terribly adjacent Canadian wheatfields.  In fact pimping his wife would probably have been a bit much for him, though I’m not so sure about at least one of my uncles.  But Richard Gere was awful, a kind of mass of grey tedium.  I couldn’t understand a lot of his words.  He sounded like an Italian trying to speak English and suppress his natural modulations. Brooke Adams managed both to be extremely beautiful and to look like a real person, which is something American cinema actresses often fail at.  But she seemed too much like your pretty kind sensible American girl to undertake anything so stupid.  You needed more words to make that real.

Sam Shepard was good as the farmer though!

The Island (Остров)

April 9, 2010


Strange things happen in out-of-the-way places.  The Ritzy in Brixton, for instance.  At the beginning of  L’armeé du crime a few months ago the thing started with a tremendous noise over the opening shots of captured résistants being taken away for execution.  Then someone complained and the film started again with mournful music and a voice reading out their names and ‘mort(e) pour la France’.  The terrific din was more effective somehow.

This time the trailers came to an end and we (there were two of us) were left with a blank screen.  Then someone from the staff appeared in the darkness behind me and called someone else on her mobile and the film began.  And in horizontal greyness the beginning of the film was rather like the blank screen.  Maybe they ought to charge extra for these multimedia experiences–get some cheepy birds in to aleatorically play an electric guitar.

Anyway, the film.  It’s the war and the nasty Germans seize a coal barge and say the stoker can live if he shoots Vasily Petrovich, the captain, for them (which he does).  Then they blow up the barge but he is washed up on the shore of a monastery island , together (as it appears) with lots of coal.

That was 1942.  Now it’s 1976 and Father Anatoly is the stoker in the monastery’s boiler room (situated on a separate island) and  well known to the local laity, who come to him for advice and miracles.  Often he claims the real Father Anatoly is asleep, but does himself appear massively pregnant to a young woman seeking a blessing for her abortion, and acts a dialogue for another petitioner to overhear.  In this case, the maiden is not dead, but sleepeth-or rather, the husband killed in the war is in fact living in France and his wife has to sell the pig and go to see him one last time.

Father Anatoly disrupts the good order and discipline of the monastery with irregular behaviour of various kinds–jokes, not washing, living in a coal-bunker.  This irritates Father Job, who likes things done properly, and Filaret, the head of the monastery, who is more sympathetic but also uncomprehending.  At various times Father Anatoly tells himself, his petitioners, God and the empty spaces that his sins weigh heavily on him.

And all of this is good straightforward stuff in a sense–the kind of point that Dostovsky (and indeed Tolstoy and many others) loved to make about real holiness and closeness-to-God looking ridiculous and unpleasant from the worldly point of view.

Then things take a worrying turn.  Filaret comes to spend the night in Anatoly’s cell (the boiler-room) after his own accommodation has burnt down (predicted by Anatoly facing the wrong way at divine service).  Anatoly throws his boots into the furnace and his blanket into the lake, as well as largely asphyxiating him under the pretext of exorcising demons.  This leads Filaret to realise that his own faith is merely superficial.

Then we suddenly escape the lake island and find ourselves on a train, where the admiral is travelling with his daughter, who is behaving very oddly (an extraordinary performance from Viktoriya Isakova, determined to get a whole film into her seven minutes on screen).  They arrive at the monastery, she says that her dad the Admiral is called Vasily Petrovich and Father Anatoly says she is not ill, but possessed by a devil, so he rows her off to his island where she grandly exhibits symptoms of demonic possession (a bit chilly for it, really) while Anatoly prays.  Then she recovers and weeps.

Anatoly tells the Admiral he must confess.  He asks What does that mean? and Father A explains that he once killed somebody and he feels he can’t die without telling someone.  But of course they’re the same Vasily Petrovich and he was only wounded in the arm.  So now Father A can die peacefully after upbraiding Father Job over the nice polished coffin the latter has had made for him.

So.  Are we supposed to swallow that happy ending as a tribute to Hollywood rather than the Bible?  Or is it supposed to show once again how peculiar the truly holy may appear to our sinful eyes?  In any case, there was a great deal to enjoy in the impressive horizontality and bleakness of the Russian landscape, and the Father Anatoly of Pyotr Mamonov.