Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tabu: Paradise Regained

The footprints of Portuguese Miguel Gomes, as director, co-writer and narrator of Tabu, are everywhere. It is a truly original piece of film making, despite the debt he acknowledges to F.W. Murnau's 1931 silent movie of the same name.

In fact, Miguel reckons Murnau's is a better film. There is lots more in the interview below.

Its short prologue is a strange tale centring on a lone European on safari. A crocodile and a mysterious woman are links to the main story. This ambitious work is refreshingly different. Its cast includes several strong performances. Part 1 (Paradise Lost) is set in Lisbon where Pilar (Teresa Madruga) helps her elderly neighbour Aurora (Laura Soveral). When she finds Aurora's lost lover Ventura (Henrique Espírito Santo), he reveals the secrets of their fatal romance.

Part 2 (Paradise) takes place in colonial Africa. Apparently there was no written script. Gomes chose to shoot on location in Mozambique. Young Ventura (Carloto Cotta) is a cross between Errol Flynn and Rudolph Valentino, with young Aurora (Ana Moreira) a fitting femma fatale. The deft use of silence helps to take this melodrama to another level, especially through its quirky humour.

The dialogue in Part 2 is silent, but other sounds and music are present. The sequences with the band performing are priceless. The film has clean, crisp black and white photography in 1.37:1 aspect ratio, a silent movie format.

Tabu is not an overtly political piece, despite its connections to the Portuguese colonial wars of the 1960s. The audience is left to draw its own conclusions.

Miguel Gomes' movie has all the hallmarks of a cult classic. One for true cinephiles.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cinema Takes: Film Titles A-Z

Film Titles A- Z

20 Feet from Stardom
A Serious Man
About Elly
Animal Kingdom
Apart Together
Attack the Block
Beautiful Kate
Billy the Kid
Blue Jasmine
Bran Nue Dae
Bright Star
Brighton Rock
Broken Embraces
Burn After Reading
Cane Toads: The Conquest
Capitalism: A Love Story
City of Life and Death
Closed for Winter
Crazy Heart
Darkest Hour
District 9
Easy Virtue
Eden is West
Empty Nest
Fish Tank
Flame and Citron
Frozen River
Fugitive Pieces
Get Low
Gran Torino
How I Ended This Summer
Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno
In A Better World
In the Loop
In Search of Beethoven
Inglourious Basterds
It's Complicated
I've loved you for so long
Julie & Julia
Kill Daddy Goodnight
Last Ride
Lemon Tree
Let the Right One In
Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed
Mad Bastards
Man on Wire
Milk of Sorrows
Monty Python's Almost Final Cut
Murch - Walter Murch on Editing
Of Time and the City
Pardon My French
Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict
Rachel GettingMarried
Samson Delilah
Rust and Bone
Searching for Sugar Man
Ship of Theseus
Silent Wedding
Slumdog Millionaire
Social Network
Soundtrack for a Revolution
Stories We Tell
Summer Hours
The Bastards
The Best Offer
The Boys are Back
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
The Class
The Combination
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dressmaker
The Grocer's Son
The Gatekeepers
The Hedgehog
The Hurt Locker
The Killer Inside Me
The King's Speech
The Ornithologist
The Reader
The Rocket
The Schoolgirl's Diary
The Tall Man: Death in Paradise
The Visitor
The Way Back
The Wrestler
Thrilla in Manila
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Up in the Air
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Waltz with Bashir
Wild Tales

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

NO: 'Happiness is Coming'

No completes a trilogy about his home country by Chilean director Pablo Larraín, following Tony Mareno (2008) and Post Mortem (2010). Fifteen years after taking control of Chile in the bloody coup of 11 September 1973 General Augusto Pinochet called a plebiscite to endorse his leadership. No leads us through the media campaigns in the shoes of fictional advertising colleagues who direct the opposing TV spots. These were 15 minute segments over 27 nights before the vote. The originals can be accessed on the official website.

The film has the feel of a documentary quite deliberately. It uses archival footage that merges almost seamlessly with the modern takes shot on analogue U-matic videotape in 1.33 (4:3) aspect ratio. Some will find the loss of quality annoying. It certainly blurs the line between the real and the imaginary but that's one of the movie's strengths.

Gael García Bernal stars as René Saavedra who brings his background in TV commercials to the political task that many feel a lost cause from the start. Bernal clearly revels in roles that reflect his personal philosophy such as Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries.

There has been criticism of No because it does not tell the full story of the campaign and exaggerates the importance of the advertising approach with its upbeat 'Happiness is coming' theme and rainbow logo. Some even see it as glorifying the advent of politics as marketing. That might have been the case in Chile given its fifteen years of dictatorship and censorship but western democracies had embraced the political spin merchants in the early 1970s if not long before.

No well deserved its Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film for 2012.

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