Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Pilgrims and Progress: CurtoCircuíto 2015 (for Tribune)

Published on: November 12th, 2015

No city on the planet welcomes pedestrians like Santiago de Compostela, the north-west-Spain city whose mega-cathedral concludes the most famous Christian pilgrimage-route. More than 200,000 footsore—but nowadays increasingly well-heeled—walkers arrive in this steadily prospering capital of semi-autonomous Galicia each year, completing a ‘camino‘ that usually involves hundreds of miles of rural ambulation. Their reward: the superbly well-preserved old-town, whose mossily damp, granite-walled, rain-soaked and labyrinthine medieval streets are seldom penetrated by road-vehicles.

But riders of Shanks’s Pony don’t quite have it all their own way here. Any walker using the main light-controlled crossing on the Rúa da Fonte de Santo Antonio—where it meets the Rúa de Horreo on the old-town’s southern fringe—is temporarily but firmly relegated to second-class status. A scuttling, behatted green-LED man shows for 16 seconds, but then his immobile red counterpart holds sway for a patience-taxing 105—at a junction whose layout discourages potential jaywalkers.

Other crossings here are set to kinder sequences, but at least the Antonio/Horreo one allows its users—believers and skeptics alike—to gaze across the tarmac at their fellow humans, pondering the mysteries of existence, providence and urban planning.

SdC

And an awful lot can happen in 105 seconds, which is the exact running-time of one of the decade’s great films: sound of a million insects, light of a thousand stars by Tomonari Nishikawa. Appropriate then that “soamiloats“, was one of two main prize-winners at the 12th ‘CurtoCircuíto—Festival International de Cine‘ (CC), held in Santiago between October 6th-11th.

The long-standing commitment of CurtoCircuíto—”short circuit”—to experimenta is proven by the fact that €3,000 is the booty in both the ‘Explora’ section (avant-garde) and the ‘Radar’ strand (narrative-based), both competitions being restricted to productions from 2014/5 of 30 minutes or less.

As he explains in a dry on-screen caption that ends the film, the Nagoya-born Nishikawa—who now teaches at Binghamton University in New York State—buried 100 feet of 35mm film overnight under roadside leaves 15 miles from the ruins of the Fukushima nuclear power-station. Despite official reassurances that the area is now safe for residents to return a few years after 2011’s disastrous events, the result is testament to the enduring effects of radiation.

soamiloats

The (digital) image is a jagged succession of pulsating, oceanic blues, enlivened with myriad scratches and distortions. soamiloats is aesthetically dazzling in its beauty, but stands as a quietly but unflinchingly accusatory political document. It’s also been blessed with that terrific all-minuscule title—the shorter the film, the more important the label—that bestows additional layers of cosmic poetry.

soamiloats‘ ten-word moniker notwithstanding, when it comes to short films—particularly at the more experimental end of the spectrum—brevity often points to quality. Firmly established as a “name” within the avant-garde community, Nishikawa has made 16 “pieces” since his 2002 debut, and only one of them—2010’s ten-minute Shibuya-Tokyo—runs longer than six minutes. His commitment to the form is thus as evident as his mastery of it.

But while in literature the concept of the brilliant miniaturist is well-established—nobody reckons Carver or Borges the lesser artist for never having written novels—cinema’s structures have long tended to sideline those who eschew conventional feature lengths.

soamiloats was by more than a minute the shortest of the 21 Explora candidates, a section whose other outstanding entries were those which operated with sufficient concision that they never threatened to outstay their welcome—shorts are bundled together in public projections, so the viewer’s impatience at stinkers is sharpened by the knowledge that something better may be next up.

Tehran-geles

In Tehran-Geles, Arash Nassiri sails close to the wind in terms of duration: indeed, he exceedes by two whole minutes the 16-minute average of all 50 films in CC’s three competitive sections. But the Paris-based artist’s concept is sufficiently bold to carry the burden of “excessive” length. He reappropriates stock helicopter footage of Los Angeles at night—these sequences look like heart-quickeningly glacial Michael Mann outtakes. We hear rough-audio extracts from telephone conversations about Tehran and its revolutions, and then gradually the familiar Downtown skyscrapers start to display gigantic advertisements and slogans in cursive Farsi script.

The Californian city thus blurs gracefully and imperceptibly into what is in theory its polar opposite–as signalled by the clunking pun of that dreadful title. None of the six longer Explora candidates (one of 19 minutes, four of 23, one of 26) managed to justify their relative longueurs, the tendency of certain film-makers to equate duration with profundity being just as marked among shorts as it is among features.

Deborah Stratman has produced several mid-length works over the course of her 26-year career, with one or two even breaking the hour barrier. But in the present decade the longest she’s gone is 15 minutes (Hacked Circuit [2014], a sly tribute to Coppola’s The Conversation). Her Second Sighted is a brisk found-footage collage whose quickness—it’s over in less than five minutes—is as economic as it is enigmatic; multiple interpretations are invited, but one detects ominous warnings about climate-change’s catastrophic potential.

The Reflection of Power

Johann Lurf’s ten-minute Embargo, meanwhile, is a technically complex but superficially simple exterior survey of blank-looking Austrian defence-technology plants in which the camera slowly dollies along the X-axis, moving closer to its subjects while simultaneously zooming out (or is it the other way around?) for a 3D-via-2D effect. The austerity of the image is counter-intuitively counterpointed by incessant, pullulating, bubbling electronica—part video-game, part juke-box—that represents a particularly risky but inspired creative gambit. Lurf trades rewardingly upon the enigma, implication and ambiguity that is the avant-garde film-maker’s stock in trade. But sometimes the gloves come off—as in The Reflection of Power by Romania’s Mihai Grecú, who was eight years old when Nicolae Ceaușescu met his grisly Christmas Day fate.

Evidently drawing on his experience of totalitarianism and its aftermath, Grecú now over nine transcendent minutes conjures hallucinatory visions of contemporary North Korea threatened by rising ocean-levels, via technically remarkable images that convey a puckish but violently nose-tweaking contempt towards the Kim dynasty’s delusions of permanence. Among its other achievements, The Reflection of Power also manages to be several times more “Ballardian” than 2015’s big J G Ballard adaptation, Ben Wheatley’s wretched misfire High-Rise, at less than a twelfth of the length and an even tinier fraction of the budget.

Neil Young
15th October, 2015
written for
Tribune magazine

NY in SdC

October 2015: Order of Merit

Published on: November 1st, 2015

The Mallet

RECOMMENDED
1. The Mallet (Ilić 1977; 10m) *****/5 {13/13}
2. The Reflection of Power (Grécu 2015; 9m) *****/5 {12/13}
3. Moonlighting (Skolimowski 1982, 97m) 8/10 {22/28}
4. Macao (Von Sternberg [+Ray] 1952; 81m) 8/10 {22/28}
5. Reconversão (Andersen 2012; 70m) 8/10 {12/28}
6. Tehran-Geles (Nassiri 2014; 18m) ****/5 {11/13}
7. Second Sighted (Stratman 2015; 5m) ****/5 {10/13}
8. Sicario (Villeneuve 2015; 121m) 7/10 {20/28}
9. The Immigrant (Chaplin 1917; 22m) ****/5 {9/13}
10. Visit, Or Memories and Confessions (De Oliveira 1982/2015; 68m) 7/10 {19/28}
11. A Poem Is A Naked Person (Blank 1974/2015; 90m) 7/10 {18/28}
12. The Fatal Glass of Beer (Bruckman 1933; 19m) ****/5 {9/13}

THEN
6/10 {17/28}
Clash of the Wolves (Smith 1925; 74m)
Droga! (Revereza 2014; 8m) [***/5 or 8/13]
Follow Me Quietly (Fleischer 1948; 60m)
The Hitch-Hiker (Lupino 1953; 71m)
In Jackson Heights (Wiseman 2015; 190m)
Neither God Nor Santa María (Delgado & Vazquez 2015; 12m) [***/5 or 8/13]
Never Fear (Lupino 1949; 81m)
The Shadow of Your Smile (Dmitriev 2014; 3m) [***/5 or 8/13]
66 Scenes From America (Leth 1982; 42m)
Tiere ohne Feind und Furcht (Grzimek & Grzimek 1953; 11m)
The Tramp (Chaplin 1915; 26m) [***/5 or 8/13]
Optical Sound (Groen & Neubacher 2014; 11m) [***/5 or 8/13]
6/10 {16/28}
American Ultra (Nourizadeh 2015; 96m)
Cinematon 102: Manoel De Oliverira (Courant 1981; 4m)
The Citizen (Stuhr 2014; 104m)
The Daily Actions (Perrone 2010; 81m)
Macbeth (Kurzel 2015; 113m)
The Martian (Scott 2015; 142m)
Spectre (Mendes 2015; 148m)
Welcome To Leith (Beach Nichols & Walker 2015; 86m)
6/10 {15/28}
Dark Forests (Breton 2014; 52m)
Let There Be Light (Huston 1946; 58m)
My Nazi Legacy (Evans 2015; 92m)
Resistfilm (Marín 2014; 13m) [***/5 or 7/13]
Stinking Heaven (Silver 2015; 70m)
The Street With No Name (Keighley 1948; 91m)

5/10
Alice (Allen 1990; 106m)
Rat Poison (Burov 2014; 90m)
Rocky VI (Kaurismäki 1986; 9m) [***/5 or 6/13]
Sidetracked (Fernández Armero 2014; 103m)
Sucker (Chessell 2015; 90m)
Viennale-Trailer 2015: Xiao Kang (Tsai 2015; 1m) [***/5 or 8/13]

4/10
At an Uncertain Time (Saboga 2015; 77)
For Some Inexplicable Reason (Reisz 2014; 96m)
Men Who Save the World (Liew 2014; 94m)
Only the Future Can Tell (Charmant 2015; 22m) [**/5 or 5/13]

3/10
I Am A Spy (Wood 2015; 23m) [**/5 or 4/13]
Atlantis (Russell 2015; 23m) [**/5 or 4/13]
Landscape With Broken Dog (Leogrande 2014; 14m) [**/5 or 4/13]

2/10
Out (Antúnez 2015; 17m) [*/5 or 2/13]
Queen and Country (Boorman 2014; 115m)

1/10
A Zed and Two Noughts (Greenaway 1985; 115m) [1/28!]


=======================================

The Mallet

THE YEAR SO FAR: TOP 20

1. The Mallet / Ilić 1977 / 10m [10/10] {13/13} September
2. Toponymy / Perel 2015 / 82m [10/10] {27/28} July
3. brouillard – passage #14 / Larose 2014 / 10m [9/10] {13/13} January
4. Through and Through / Królikiewicz 1973 / 70m [9/10] {25/28} March
5. Chappie / Blomkamp 2015 / 120m [9/10] {24/28} March
6. sound of a million insects, light of a thousand stars / Nishikawa 2014 / 2m [9/10] {12/13} January
7. The Exquisite Corpus / Tscherkassky 2015 / 19m [9/10] {12/13} July
8. Veruda: A Film about Bojan / Bezinović 2015 / 33m [9/10] {12/13} June
9. Windy Day / Hubley & Hubley 1968 / 9m [9/10] {12/13} February
10. The Reflection of Power / Grécu 2015 / 9m [9/10] {12/13} September
11. Embargo / Lurf 2014 10m / [9/10] {12/13} Jan/Sep
12. Kierkegaard / Bezinović 2014 / 4m [9/10] {12/13} June
13. Vous voulez une histoire? / Peretjatko 2014 / 10m [9/10] {12/13} June
14. Brâme: The primitive life living in shadows / Vacher 2015 / 12m [9/10] {12/13} July
– – – – – – – – – –
15. The Naked Spur / Mann 1953 / 92m [8/10] {22/28} February
16. Black Rain White Scars / Marxt 2014 / 9m [8/10] {11/13} March
17. Aferim! / Jude 2015 / 108m [8/10] {22/28} July
18. The Academy of Muses / Guérin 2015 / 92m [8/10] {22/28} August
19. Moonlighting  / Skolimowski 1982 / 97m [8/10] {22/28} October
20. Macao / Von Sternberg [+Ray] 1952 / 81m [8/10] {22/28} September
21. The Lacemaker / Goretta 1977 / 107m [8/10] {22/28} July
22. The Guests / Danielsen 2015 / 11m [8/10] {11/13} June
23. Barocco / Téchiné 1976 / 110m [8/10] {22/28} January
24. 45 Years / Haigh 2015 / 93m [8/10] {22/28} June

==========================

It Follows

REWATCHES, 2015 [top 20]

1. American Graffiti / Lucas 1973 / 113m [10/10] {28/28}
2. casting a glance / Benning 2007 / 80m [10/10] {28/28}
3. The Fly / Cronenberg 1986 / 96m [10/10] {27/28}
4. Starman / Carpenter 1984 / 115m [10/10] {27/28}
5. Psychic Driving / Jones 2014 / 15m [*****/5] {13/13}
6. Who Is Bozo Texino? / Daniel 2005 / 55m [9/10] {26/28}
7. Singin’ in the Rain / Donen & Kelly 1952 / 103m [9/10] {26/28}
8. The Call of the Wild / Lamothe 2007 / 108m [9/10] {25/28}
9. Southern Comfort / Hill 1981 / 106m [9/10] {24/28}
10. The American Friend / Wenders 1977 / 127m [9/10] {24/28}
11. Duck Soup / McCarey 1933 / 68m [9/10] {24/28}
12. Sonne Halt / Brehm 2014 / 2m [*****/5] {12/13}
– – – – –
13. It Follows / Mitchell 2014 / 107m [8/10] {23/28}
14. Factory / Loznitsa 2004 / 30m [****/5] {11/13}
15. Landscape / Loznitsa 2003 / 60m [****/5] {11/13}
16. The American Soldier / Fassbinder 1970 / 80m [8/10] {23/28}
17. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three / Sargent 1974 / 104m [8/10] {22/28}
18. Obsession / Dmytryk 1949 / 96m [8/10] {22/28}
19. Chrieg / Jaquemet 2014 / 106m [8/10] {22/28}
20. Profit motive and the whispering wind / Gianvito 2007 / 50m [8/10] {22/28}

The First Time I Saw ‘Macao’ (or, Rien ne va plus)

Published on: October 18th, 2015

On the Quai d’Orsay I touched a brass mermaid’s belly-button for luck; a few miles further on, within sight of Longchamp racecourse, I did the same with the nose of a granite Norwegian bear. Gamblers’ instincts evidently die hard, even when the gambler in question no longer gambles.

Sunday 4th October 2015: suddenly autumn, even a hint of winter as the afternoon progressed from race to race at forty-minute intervals. This was the second and final day of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting—its centrepiece the ‘Arc’, one of the world’s greatest races—and some contrast with the Saturday, which had unfolded amid unseasonably summery heat. Eight miles and two and a half hours after departing my minuscule Latin Quarter billet, I’d reached the Longchamp perimeter via a slightly circuitous route a touch footsore, a little dehydrated, somewhat hungry and decidedly hot-and-bothered. And so after watching the first race from the roadside on the opposite side of the track from the grandstand—the Aga Khan’s short-priced favourite Vazirabad scored a facile victory—I’d kept walking, over the river at the Pont de Suresnes into Suresnes itself (twin towns include Hackney), in search of a cheapish place to buy refreshments.

At a tucked-away Monoprix not too far from the bridge, mission accomplished: a couple of bottles of water, a baguette, two apples, all consumed during the ten minutes it took me to walk back to the racecourse gates. The next day, I decided, I’d pursue a more direct route, carrying sun-cream and wearing shorts. But when Sunday morning dawned chilly, grey and overcast in the Latin Quarter I reneged, and instead set out at 11.30am in long trousers. Route-wise, however, I adhered ruthlessly to schedule. None of Saturday’s semi-flanerie, when I’d stuck to the Rue de Vaugirard along the edge of Montparnasse for most of its length before cutting down to the Rue Lecourbe, crossing the river at the Pont de Garigliano and making my way to the racecourse via the Boulevards des Maréchaux and the Boulevard d’Auteuil, the latter taking me past the Piscine Molitor (from Life of Pi).

Rue le Tasse

Saturday saw me down to the river at a steady quick walking-clip of four miles an hour—weaving politely but implacably among ambling tourists where necessary, jay-walking against red lights whenever the traffic allowed—along the bank to the Eiffel Tower, where I crossed the Seine at the Pont d’Iéna and went along the Avenue des Nations Unies, through an obscure corner of the Trocadéro gardens, past the Rue le Tasse up to the Rue Benjamin Franklin and thence to the little roundabout at the Place du Costa Rica, where I picked up the Rue de Passy. My first and only proper pause: ten minutes in the evidently family-run Tabac de la Muette on the Chaussée de la Muette, where I stood at the zinc bar for my espresso and tartine (slightly glorified bread-and-butter); observed the punters hunched over their PMU betting-slips, then set off again towards the racecourse all of them had seen on TV hundreds of times, but (thoroughbred racing having always been a distinctly marginal sport in France) few of them had probably ever visited. This would be my fourth Arc: 1993 and 1994, then a long gap until 2013 when I’d seen the unbeaten filly Trêve thump much-fancied Japanese champion Orfevre by five lengths. Trêve had gone on to win the race again the following year, becoming the seventh dual Arc winner since the race began in 1920. And here she was again, the first horse ever to even try to win three Arcs—this unprecedented, potentially historic feat the main reason I was in Paris at all.

In April 2012, I’d made my only visit to Longchamp outside the Arc meeting—a regular workaday fixture, during a week-long experiment I’d undertaken to see if I might be able to make a living as a professional gambler. I can’t remember the first bet in my life, but I guess it might have been in 1976, when I was five—probably on the Grand National. The first one I can recall is Milliondollarman in the 1977 Derby, purely because of the name’s association with the Lee Majors Saturday-evening TV show The Six Million Dollar Man. My dad went to the bookies’ every Saturday to place small-stakes wagers, often in complicated multiples, and I was soon risking a little of my pocket-money on races shown on races shown in the by the BBC (Grandstand) and ITV (World of Sport).

Majors / $6m Man
Saturday afternoons watching the racing with dad; then, a few hours later, watching the late-night films with mam. From early childhood and through into the mid-80s, these twin strands of my mental DNA were ever-present, competing for my attention but so distinct as to be somehow complementary. Until 1984 film came first; I read the occasional Dick Francis thriller, but owned no horse-racing books of my own: the shelf instead featured horror-film guides, a biography of Boris Karloff, The Making of ‘The Legend of the Werewolf’. Then when I was 13, in 1984, I was given a hardback of Colin Turner’s In Search for Shergar just before York’s August meeting, and from then on racing took the lead—not that cinema was ever too far off the pace.

At university I started keeping a particular close eye on French racing; this led to a French-focused column in the monthly magazine Odds On, which in turn led directly to the publication of a brochure-sized survey of the top 50 French-trained prospects for the 1993 flat season, which was in turn then reviewed favourably in the Racing Post newspaper. For exactly a year, 1994-5, I worked for the Post in Raynes Park, south west London, then in late 1995 was taken on as an official Handicapper for the British Horseracing Board—later rebranded the British Horseracing Authority.

I stayed with the BHB/BHA for fifteen seasons, handicapping flat races: seven-furlong events for two years, then switching to 1the more high-profile staying division (which includes such historic races as the St Leger and the Ascot Gold Cup, and popular handicaps like the Northumberland Plate, Ebor, Chester Cup and Cesarewitch). This official function meant, of course, that I was no longer allowed to bet on British racing—after 2006, the ban was extended to any horse-racing, anywhere in the world. But after I left the BHA in January 2011 to concentrate on film-criticism and film-festival programming I quickly carried on where I’d left off. I’ve never been a particularly high-stakes wagerer, by the way: 20 quid would be my usual maximum, though in exceptional cases—particularly the Oscars, which I’ve found a lucrative betting-medium over the years thanks to the likes of Sandra Bullock, Tilda Swinton, Marcia Gay Harden and Matthew McConaughey—I might be tempted risk a three-figure sum.

Throughout 2011 I developed and put into practice a simple (in theory) high-risk betting system involving French handicap races at the major tracks, which threw up a sufficient number of long-odds winners to encourage that idea of becoming a full-time professional gambler. Because of various technical factors, this would have necessitated relocation to Paris—hence my week-long experiment in April 2012, when I tested the system at posh Saint-Cloud, unpretentious Maisons-Laffitte and gigantic Longchamp. In the evenings—and on the afternoons when I wasn’t at the races—I would seek out 35mm “revivals” of archive films at the small independent cinemas which are to be found in several districts of Paris, especially in and around the Rue Champollion in the Latin Quarter.

Kiss the Blood Off My Hands

The system yielded one 22.5/1 winner, Telbes, on the last day—welcome, but nowhere near enough to justify the risk of taking the plunge professionally. My cinema-tally was, if anything, more rewarding: Corman’s Bloody Mama (1970), Norman Foster’s Kiss the Blood of My Hands (1950), Sam Fuller’s Pickup On South Street (1953) and House of Bamboo (1955) at the Action Christine; Nicholas Ray’s Party Girl (1958) and They Live By Night (1948) at the Grand Action; Fassbinder’s Despair (1978) at the Champo; George Roy Hill’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) at the Accattone; Mary Lambert’s Pet Sematary (1989) at the Nouveau Latina; and Lost Highway at the Filmothèque du Quartier Latin—all bar Despair (I think) on 35mm. A pretty typical week, for Paris ‘rep’ cinema.

Three years and a half years later, I again combined hippodrome excursions with 35mm séances, mostly again at the Action Christine—now rebranded as the Christine 21—on Rue Christine, a couple of streets up from the Seine. This was where I saw William Keighley’s FBI-lauding The Street With No Name (1948) on the Saturday night, and Richard Fleischer’s 60-minute police-procedural oddity Follow Me Quietly (1949) on the Monday; Tuesday I was at the Grand Action for an ad-hoc Woody Allen double-bill of Alice (1990) and Another Woman (1988). But the highlight was the Christine’s 9.30 show on the dampish Sunday evening: Joseph Von Sternberg’s Macao (1952), starring the nonchalantly sensual, near-unbeatable combo of Jane Russell (then 30) and Robert Mitchum (34). It’s a picture I’d wanted to catch for some time—my interest honed by a 2012 Vienna screening of João Rui Guerra Da Mata and João Pedro Rodrigues’s The Last Time I Saw Macao (2012), a multi-layered cine-reverie drawing heavily on the Sternberg semi-classic. And I duly watched Macao in a kind of contented, attentive daze, having clocked over a dozen miles on foot that day alone—six miles to the races, six miles back.

Trêve didn’t win that third Arc in the endshe was a close-ish fourth behind Golden Horn, Flintshire and New Bay—and my main other interest, Antonoe in the opening Prix Marcel Boussac, fared even worse, the odds-on favourite (owned, like Flintshire and New Bay, by Khalid Abdullah) beating only a couple home. Not a penny or a cent of my money had I risked, however, having given up betting in two stages: I stopped betting with high-street bookies in November 2014, and then in the spring of 2015 also decided to eschew racecourse punting as well. My final bet was also a winner: Silvanus at 25/1, at the Chester May meeting, in a race which I watched huddled under a stairway sheltering from the wind, cold and heavy driving rain.

Karakontie

39 years seemed long enough to pursue pretty much any pastime, and I’d become disenchanted with the way that even backing a winner was hardly ever a source of unalloyed pleasure. The November decision was sparked by the success of one of my favourite runners, Karakontie, in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita. For reasons too technical and arcane to explain here, I’d taken 10/1 about a horse who ended up starting at a fraction under 29/1, so although I had a profitable Breeders’ Cup meeting—I bet in four races, had three winners and a close second—I felt so thoroughly cheesed off that I resolved only to bet at meetings where I was physically present. And then the following June, a series of farcical developments meant that I arrived at Hexham races after the first race had been run—a race in which my main fancy of the day (What A Steel) had taken part, and had duly obliged at 15/2. Yet another kick in the teeth; at the time of writing, I haven’t had a bet since.

The Last Time I Saw Macao

So while I continue to follow racing pretty closely, it seems that cinema has now drawn ahead, some 30 years after losing the lead. Cinema often lets me down, needless to say (this year’s prime offender: Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise) but it seldom boots me in the mug the way racing kept doing time after time. Macao isn’t perfect, of course; and it wasn’t a surprise to learn that the original director Von Sternberg had been sacked at a crucial stage, with Nicholas Ray being brought aboard to make some sense out of a convoluted narrative that involves a showgirl (Russell), a mysterious drifter (Mitchum) and a gregarious salesman (William Bendix), who all travel on the same boat to the Portuguese colony of Macao on the coast of China.

The Macao of the film is an exciting interzone of crime, decadence and corruption—one of the main locations is a gambling-house where thousands of dollars are won or lost on cards and dice. It’s a milieu which I’ve always found appealing, which has always felt somehow like home, even though the specific details of the casino here—which involves little baskets being hoisted up and down onto the tables—I can’t pretend to fully comprehend.

Resisting the temptation of a flutter had proven pretty easy at Longchamp. My main fancy had been Flintshire as an each-way prospect for the Arc (he’d been second the previous year) and I’d told a lot of pals back home as much, several times, as long ago as March, when Flintshire was available at the highly generous odds of 33/1. So nowadays I largely experience the “thrill” vicariously, receiving a small slew of complimentary text-messages when my advice/suggestions/tips prove successful.

Arc

Flintshire ran another stormer in the Arc, beating all but the favourite Golden Horn—recipient of a career-crowningly audacious ride from Frankie Dettori, who’d won the Derby at Epsom in great style on the same colt earlier in the summer. Golden Horn was only the second British-owned (Philip Oppenheimer) and British-trained (John Gosden) of the Arc in its history—the previous example being Rheingold in 1974, trained by Barry Hills and owned by the Vienna-born violinist and sometime RAF pilot Henry Zeisel. And while Oppenheimer’s historical connections with the De Beers diamond company aren’t unclouded by political controversy—the displacement of the San people in Botswana the chief cause for concern—this was a rare and heartening triumph for the relatively small, old-school owner-breeders who dominated the sport, at least in the UK, until the arrival of megabucks operators like Robert Sangster, the Maktoum family and Khalid Abdullah in the 1970s.

The latest big player to emerge has been Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, owner of Trêve, and a member of the Qatar royal family—Qatar has sponsored the Arc meeting since 2008. Qatar’s lousy human-rights record has been in the headlines since they so controversially won the right to stage the 2022 World Cup, while Saudi Arabia—Khalid Abdullah is the cousin of the current King—isn’t any more palatable. But one hardly ever hears any politically-informed criticism of such powerful and faithful “supporters of the sport” within racing—likewise the Maktoums, who pull the strings not only in their native Dubai but also in the United Arab Emirates of which Dubai is a part. Beautiful animals, attractive silks, ugly realities…

The bulkily unremarkable Qatar embassy is, I later discovered, just a couple of blocks away from the sensually languid brass mermaids who form the two doorhandles at 67 Quai d’Orsay—the navel on the right was the one I couldn’t resist fingering as I passed en rapide route to the races. And later, that chubby granite bear—sitting like a furry buddha on his blocky plinth, near the edge of a lightly-forested traffic-island—presented to the city by ‘les Norvégiens de Paris.‘ No further info; no date given.

Neil Young
18th October 2015

Bendix/Russell, MACAO

San Sebastian / Donostia: Hollywood Reporter reviews

Published on: October 14th, 2015

Canevari's PAULA

8/10 Paula
7/10 The Boy and the Beast
7/10 Family Film
6/10 Jai Alai Blues
6/10 Drifters
6/10 The Bride
6/10 The King of Havana
5/10 Moira

also seen
8/10
King Kong (1933)
7/10
Bright Future (2003)
6/10
Chang (1927)
The Four Feathers (1929)
Hitchcock Truffaut
The Late Bloomer (2004)
5/10
Duellum [short]
Parasol
A Perfect Day for Flying
Thirst
4/10
Back to the North
The Clan
Granny’s Dancing on the Table
Psychonauts
2/10
High-Rise

walkout
After Eden

September 2015: Order of Merit

Published on: September 28th, 2015

Canevari's PAULA

RECOMMENDED
1. Paula (Canevari 2015; 64m) 8/10 {21/28}
2. The Boy and the Beast (Hosoda 2015; 119m) 7/10 {20/28}
3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford 1962; 123m) 7/10 {20/28}
4. Vigilante Force (Armitage 1976; 85m) 7/10 {19/28}
5. Summers Downstairs (Sommerlatte 2015; 100m) 7/10 {19/28}
6. Family Film (Omerzu 2015; 90m) 7/10 {19/28}
7. Mustang (Ergüven 2015; 97m) 7/10 {19/28}
8. Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation (McQuarrie 2015; 131m) 7/10 {18/28}
9. Bright Future (Kurosawa 2003; 92m) 7/10 {18/28}
10 Slow West (Maclean 2015; 84m) 7/10 {18/28}

THEN
7/10 {18/28}
Sam Klemke’s Time Machine (Bate 2015; 90m)
6/10 {17/28}
Jai Alai Blues (Bilbao Ramos 2015; 110m)
The Snake Brothers (Prušinovský 2015; 111m)
Mediterranea (Carpignano 2015; 107m)
Hitchcock Truffaut (Jones 2015; 80m)
6/10 {16/28}
The Four Feathers (Cooper & Schoedsack 1929; 80m)
James White (Mond 2015; 86m)
Cop Car (Watts 2015; 86m)
The Bride (Ortiz 2015; 95m)
6/10 {15/28}
Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (Cooper & Schoedsack 1927; 69m)
The King of Havana (Villaronga 2015; 125m)
Drifters (Grönlund 2015; 92m)
Iranian (Tamadon 2014; 105m)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Gómez-Rejón 2015; 105m)

5/10
Bezango, WA (Amandes & Austin 2015; 96m)
Cemetery of Splendour (Weerasethakul 2015; 122m)
Duellum (Dávila Wood 2015; 9m) ***/5 {6/13}
Moira (Tutberidze 2015; 95m)
Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone 1968; 175m)
Parasol (Rosier 2015; 88m)
A Perfect Day for Flying (Recha 2015; 70m)
The Summer of Sangailé (Kavaïté 2015; 88m)
Tangerine (Baker 2015; 88m)
Thirst (Tsotsorkova 2015; 90m)
Victoria (Schipper 2015; 140m)

4/10
Back to the North (Liu 2015; 120m)
The Clan (Trapero 2015; 108m)
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Haller 2015; 102m)
Granny’s Dancing on the Table (Sköld 2015; 85m)
The Lobster (Lanthimos 2015; 118m)
Psychonauts (Vázquez & Rivero 2015; 80m)
Two Friends (Garrel 2015; 100m)

3/10
Children (Vojtek 2015; 100m)
Jian Bing Man (Dong 2015; 113m)
Legend (Helgeland 2015; 131m)
Why Me? (Giurgiu 2015; 125m)

2/10
High-Rise (Wheatley 2015; 116m)


=======================================

Toponymy

THE YEAR SO FAR: TOP 20

1. Toponymy / Perel 2015 / 82m [10/10] {27/28} July
2. brouillard – passage #14 / Larose 2014 / 10m [9/10] {13/13} January
3. Through and Through / Królikiewicz 1973 / 70m [9/10] {25/28} March
4. Chappie / Blomkamp 2015 / 120m [9/10] {24/28} March
5. sound of a million insects, light of a thousand stars / Nishikawa 2014 / 2m [9/10] {12/13} January
7. The Exquisite Corpus / Tscherkassky 2015 / 19m *****/5 {12/13} July
8. Veruda: A Film about Bojan / Bezinović 2015 / 33m [9/10] {12/13} June
9. Windy Day / Hubley & Hubley 1968 / 9m [9/10] {12/13} February
10. Kierkegaard / Bezinović 2014 / 4m [9/10] {12/13} June
11. Vous voulez une histoire? / Peretjatko 2014 / 10m [9/10] {12/13} June
12. Brâme: The primitive life living in shadows / Vacher 2015 / 12m [9/10] {12/13} July
– – – – – – – – – –
13. The Naked Spur / Mann 1953 / 92m [8/10] {22/28} February
14. Black Rain White Scars / Marxt 2014 / 9m [8/10] {11/13} March
15. Aferim! / Jude 2015 / 108m [8/10] {22/28} July
16. The Academy of Muses / Guérin 2015 / 92m [8/10] {22/28}
17. The Lacemaker / Goretta 1977 / 107m [8/10] {22/28} July
18. The Guests / Danielsen 2015 / 11m [8/10] {11/13} June
19. Barocco / Téchiné 1976 / 110m [8/10] {22/28} January
20. 45 Years / Haigh 2015 / 93m [8/10] {22/28} June

==========================

It Follows

REWATCHES, 2015 [top 20]

1. American Graffiti / Lucas 1973 / 113m [10/10] {28/28}
2. casting a glance / Benning 2007 / 80m [10/10] {28/28}
3. Starman / Carpenter 1984 / 115m [10/10] {27/28}
4. Psychic Driving / Jones 2014 / 15m [*****/5] {13/13}
5. Who Is Bozo Texino? / Daniel 2005 / 55m [9/10] {26/28}
6. Singin’ in the Rain / Donen & Kelly 1952 / 103m [9/10] {26/28}
7. The Call of the Wild / Lamothe 2007 / 108m [9/10] {25/28}
8. Southern Comfort / Hill 1981 / 106m [9/10] {24/28}
9. The American Friend / Wenders 1977 / 127m [9/10] {24/28}
10. Duck Soup / McCarey 1933 / 68m [9/10] {24/28}
11. Sonne Halt / Brehm 2014 / 2m [*****/5] {12/13}
– – – – –
12. It Follows / Mitchell 2014 / 107m [8/10] {23/28}
13. Factory / Loznitsa 2004 / 30m [****/5] {11/13}
14. Landscape / Loznitsa 2003 / 60m [****/5] {11/13}
15. The American Soldier / Fassbinder 1970 / 80m [8/10] {23/28}
16. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three / Sargent 1974 / 104m [8/10] {22/28}
17. Obsession / Dmytryk 1949 / 96m [8/10] {22/28}
18. Chrieg / Jaquemet 2014 / 106m [8/10] {22/28}
19. Profit motive and the whispering wind / Gianvito 2007 / 50m [8/10] {22/28}
20. King Kong / Cooper & Schoedsack 1933 / 110m [8/10] {22/28}

for Fipresci: ‘A Matter of Life and Death’

Published on: September 28th, 2015

http://www.fipresci.org/festival-reports/2015/miskolc-2015/a-matter-of-life-and-death

Partycrashers III: Locarno (via Kosovo)

Published on: September 25th, 2015

party3

https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/partycrashers-a-video-dispatch-from-the-locarno-international-film-festival/

Venice 2015: Golden Lion and Volpi Cup odds

Published on: September 11th, 2015

Rabin, the Last Day

PREDICTIONS
Golden Lion: Rabin, the Last Day
Special Grand Jury Prize: Blood of My Blood
Silver Lion (Best Director): Zhao Liang, Behemoth
Best Screenplay: Anomalisa
Best Actress: Catherine Frot, Marguerite
Best Actor: Mehmet Özgür and Berkay Ates, Frenzy
Marcello Mastroianni Award: Abraham Attah

GOLDEN LION
7-2 Rabin, the Last Day (Amos Gitai, Israel/France) 64
4-1 Blood of My Blood (Marco Bellocchio, Italy) 76
6-1 Behemoth (Zhao Liang, China/France) 43/4
8-1 Francofonia (Aleksandr Sokurov, France/Ger/Neth) 64
9-1 Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman/Duke Johnson, US) 56, 36
– – – – –
14-1 Frenzy (Emil Alper, Turkey/France/Qatar) 41
16-1 The Clan (Pablo Trapero, Argentina/Spain) 43
16-1 Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga, US) 38
16-1 From Afar (Lorenzo Vigas, Venezuela/Mexico) 47/8
25-1 A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino, Italy/France) 43/4
25-1 The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper, UK/US) 42

28-1 Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson, USA) 68
28-1 11 Minutes (Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/Ireland) 77
33-1 The Wait (Piero Messina, Italy) 34
33-1 Remember (Atom Egoyan, Canada/Ger) 55
40-1 The Endless River (Oliver Hermanus, SA/France) 31/2
50-1 Looking For Grace (Sue Brooks, Australia) 62
50-1 Marguerite (Xavier Giannoli, France/Cz/Bel) 43
100-1 Courted (Christian Vincent, France) 59
100-1 For Your Love aka Per amor vostro
….. (Giuseppe M. Gaudino, Italy/France) 57/8
200-1 Equals (Drake Doremus, US) 32

marguerite_clarry_horricks

BEST ACTRESS
9-4 Catherine Frot, Marguerite
5-1 Crystal-Donna Roberts, The Endless River
6-1 Valeria Golino, For Your Love
7-1 Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
– – – – –
10-1 Juliette Binoche and/or Lou de Laâge, The Wait
10-1 Sidse Babett Knudsen, Courted
14-1 Tilda Swinton and/or Dakota Johnson, A Bigger Splash
16-1 Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa
20-1 Alba Rohrwacher and/or others, Blood of My Blood


1441281393589

BEST ACTOR


5-1 Mehmet Özgür and/or Berkay Ates, Frenzy


11-2 Alfredo Castro and/or Luis Silva, From Afar


6-1 Roberto Herlitzka, solo or with others, Blood of My Blood


10-1 Abraham Attah and/or Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation


10-1 Guillermo Francella, solo or with Peter Lanzani, The Clan


10-1 Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash


14-1 Christopher Plummer, Remember


20-1 Fabrice Luchini, Courted


20-1 Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl


22-1 Giorgio Colangeli, The Wait


25-1 Louis-do de Lencquesaing and Benjamin Utzerath, Francofonia


25-1 cast-member(s) from Rabin, the Last Day


33-1 David Thewlis, Anomalisa


50-1 Nicolas Devauchelle, The Endless River


50-1 cast-member(s) from 11 Minutes


50-1 Richard Roxburgh, Looking For Grace




jury:
Alfonso Cuarón, Elizabeth Banks, Diane Kruger, Emmanuel Carrère, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Pawel Pawlikowski, Lynne Ramsay, Francesco Munzi

 

——————————————————————-
2000 The Circle / Panahi (40)
2001 Monsoon Wedding / Nair (44)
2002 The Magdalene Sisters / Mullan (43)
2003 The Return / Zvyagintsev (39) [debut]
2004 Vera Drake / Leigh (61)
2005 Brokeback Mountain / Lee (50)
2006 Still Life / Jia (35/6)
2007 Lust, Caution / Lee (53)
2008 The Wrestler / Aronofsky (39)
2009 Lebanon / Maoz [debut] (47?)
2010 Somewhere / Coppola (39)
2011 Faust / Sokurov (60)
2012 Pietà / Kim (51)
2013 Sacro GRA / Rosi (48/9) [documentary]
2014 A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence / Andersson (71)

Locarno 2015: Hollywood Reporter reviews

Published on: August 31st, 2015

Cosmos

Andrzej Żuławski’s Cosmos .

Otar Iosseliani’s Winter Song .

Nicolas Pariser’s The Great Game .

AKIZ’s Der Nachtmahr .

Sina Ataeian Dena’s Paradise .

D’Anolfi & Parenti’s The Never Ending Factory of the Duomo .

Hollywood Reporter reviews, May-August 2015

Published on: August 31st, 2015

IONA
IONA

Field Niggas
FIELD NIGGAS

Black Mountain Poets
BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS

Battle Mountain
BATTLE MOUNTAIN: GRAEME OBREE’S STORY

Hector
HECTOR

Len and Company
LEN AND COMPANY

The Legend of Barney Thomson
THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON

Montana house in Asheville, NC
AMERICA RECYCLED

Spooks: The Greater Good
SPOOKS: THE GREATER GOOD

Meru
MERU

The Elite
THE ELITE

Searching For Eddie Running Wolf
SEARCHING FOR EDDIE RUNNING WOLF