Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Brooks, Berry, Beggars & Brothers...back!

The Dodge Brothers (Mark Kermode and co) will again be performing live alongside "Beggars of Life" at the BFI 10th April.

Having missed this up to now I've got my tickets and am counting down the days!

Link here:

And more on the Dodge Brothers.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Red footwear better than black bird?

If you've never seen it and are in the UK...The Red Shoes is currently available to view on BBC iPlayer.

Amongst the best Powell and Pressburger masterpieces (double the praise for Michael & Emeric), this is an unsettling delight... filled with passion, drama and lots of RED.

The film stars Moira Shearer as the prima ballerina torn between Anton Walbrook and Marius Goring. It has original music by Brian Easdale and lush cinematography by Jack Cardiff.

Both Brian DePalma and Martin Scorsese have named it one of their all time favorite films.

Put on your dancing!

And, if you REALLY haven't seen it go buy it anyway!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Isabelle necessary? ...very!

The greatest French actress of her generation (not just the best called Adjani fans!), Isabelle Huppert turns in a performance of rare depth and dexterity in Claire Denis's "White Material".

White Material is set on a coffee plantation in a former French colony in central Africa, in the grip of civil conflict and corruption. Isabelle plays Maria, the manager of the plantation determined to hold on to her way of life and to resist the urge to flee back to France and safety.

The sheer peril of the situation with murderous gangs of armed children faced against the controlling militia contrasts with the signature internal intensity of Huppert's performance. She pulls the viewer into her story whilst all around are losing their heads amidst the gathering horror.

How would you respond in such conditions? It seems oddly unbalanced that we focus on one well-off business woman whilst cheap lives are lost but that is the point and, ultimately, we feel compromised in our desire to extend sympathy to Maria. She underestimates the scale of the changes around her and, in the end, falls shockingly short in her attempts to bridge the gap between her own rights and those of her workers, colleagues and family.

It's white here.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Eleanor Boardman, outspoken & outstanding: Souls for Sale (1923), The Crowd (1928)

Eleanor Boardman, "the most outspoken girl in Hollywood", was also one of the most outstanding and intelligent actresses of the silent era.

Watching her naturalistic expression in potentially hazardous melodramatic situations in "Souls for Sale" and "The Crowd" is quite startling.

"Souls" was thought lost until the 1980's and is perhaps one of the first "films about films" featuring intriguing cameos showing Chaplin filming "Woman of Paris" and Erich von Stroheim shooting his masterpiece, "Greed". Eleanor rings totally true as Remember "Mem" Steddon who, literally, stumbles upon Hollywood in escaping from her murderous husband.

There's a genuinely thrilling climax (my 13 year old daughter confirms this) as a storm fuels a fire raging on set following the return of Mem's husband.

Eleanor is also the stand out in husband King Vidor's "The Crowd" as the wife of James Murray's near-hopeless dreamer, Johnny Sims. She anchors the drama throughout, never over-playing and ensuring the success of its tale of urban family struggle.

As John Coleman reviewed in The New Statesman. following the film's revival at the London Film Festival, "What a superbly controlled performance Eleanor Boardman gives; and what a sweetness she had, uncloying, instinct with life."

This film is surely one of the very best American silent films and deserves a plush remastering for DVD.

A lot more people should know her work!

Souls, actually, for sale here.
Join the crowd as well.
Go here for a biography of Ms. B.