Late Spring (1949)

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Noriko (Setsuko Haro there) is 27 years old and still living with her widowed father (Chishu Ryu there). Everybody tries to talk her into marrying, but Noriko wants to stay at home caring for her prof of a dad.

She’s a gorgeous girl is Nori-chan (well, Setsuko Haro obviously) Can’t stop smiling herself pretty; she butters up the old duffers, dad and uncle; has them dangled off her lovely little finger. She can’t wait to welcome father back home from the train. She’s a dads dream daughter (would be mine too)

A scheming Auntie is trying to marry off Nori. But also marry her daddy off too. Nori is not best pleased about her darling daddy with another woman. Is jealous. “I’m the one who understands him the best” she’s saying. She can’t leave her daddy in the clutches of another woman.

The film has really taken off (about half way through) Setsuko Hara is running this show now. With her pain, her jealousy. She wants to stay as Daddys darling, his golden girl. Can’t bear the thought of leaving him (is this an Elektra complex?)

But father is resolved to have her leave him. “You must marry sometime. I’ve been using you for too long. I couldn’t let you go. I must apologise for it. But it is time for you to marry. Or I will worry”.

And he doesn’t want her to worry. That she’d be leaving him in the lurch, left hopelessly to fend for himself. So feigns the possibility of marriage to this other woman. But of course what has replaced any worry in her (for him), is jealousy of this putative other woman who is going to steal her fathers heart away from her.

There is one lovely final trip together to Kyoto. “I want to be with you like this. I’m happy being with you like this. Marriage wouldn’t make me any happier. I like how it is now. My greatest happiness is to be with you”. But he jumps on her for that. Here is the whole heat-rending scene.

“Happiness is not a thing to wait for, but what you create”. Is it? The pursuit of happiness? We can all get what we want if we will it enough? (through hard work, and effort) I used to believe this. Not so sure anymore. Happiness is a capricious cat – come and goes when it pleases.

The talking to he gives her makes her realise how selfish (for being jealous) she’s been. It’s humbling how he gives her away like this. By sacrificing himself (his own selfish wants and needs – of her) His duty, as her father, is to liberate her towards her greater future happiness with a husband (when he as her father is no longer around)

“Mono no aware”; thats what this, and every other Ozu film I’ve watched is saturated by: the inevitable sadness of life caused by change. The impermanence that permeates every existence to its core. Thats what makes Ozu’s films so bitter-sweet, so tender, so human.

Dir: Yasujiro Ozu, Japan

7.5/10 (I’m probably going to have to uprate Ozu’s films by an extra mark when I look back. This should really be an 8)

Under the Skin (2013)

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The Guardian have made this their No 1 film of 2014. Peter Bradshaw, their main man is head over heels about it. I was intrigued enough to download it a few months ago. On first watch my intrigue slowly turned into a sort of pale puzzlement. A feeling of, “Is that it? Is that all?” Hmmm. Don’t know. Feel like I’m missing something.

But I haven’t felt like binning it. A nagging feeling to find that something I was missing makes me want to watch again.

Scarlett Johanssen had impressed me on that first watch, and she’s impressing me still. You wouldn’t think she was Hollywood A List. For one thing she speaks unaccented flawless “English” (better even than old Gwyneth Paltrow) And she allows herself to become unbeautiful come the end. Starts off as powerful chilly sex siren but ends up vulnerable, victimlike, waif-like.

Yes, ScarJo is one of the best things about this film. Which is good, because the whole film is focusing on and around her. Here she is picking up her first man to farm flesh from

Laura (ScarJo) an estranging alien annihilating stupit blokes on for a bit of opportunistic stranger sex, a mindless shag.

Across that black lake lick of seduction these Glaswegian laddies will lose their looks, their skins, their cocky lifes. You think to yourself: you probably deserved that you knobhead you.

But then Laura picks up an Elephant Man. And he touches her hair, her face, her tears.

He’d only wanted to go to Tesco’s! I haven’t really understood why that transformation has happened. But it has, and now she gets slowly “filled up” with humanity. Her humanity makes her more vulnerable, more susceptible, but not very person-like. Not much personality going on. Just wandering around without a jacket on in the freezing wet drecky Highlands of Scotland. Following another strange man off the bus. Watching Tommy Cooper with him. Having him lie ontop of her and stick his wick inside her. Alarmed she jumps up and has to examine what the hell he was doing to her down there; use of lamp to look is unintentionally, but absurdly, comic.

Throughout this 2nd half its all getting slower and drearier. There’s a sense of unlocated brooding ominiousness. Hardly any dialogue to give us a clue as to what human thoughts Laura might be thinking; her feelings seem to be slowly unthawing from frozen but incapable of comprehending (by her, or by us) Just lots of looking at herself in mirrors not knowing who the hell she is behind that face of skin.

So its difficult to really empathise with somebody this unknowable or depersonal. And although a person is seemingly slowly releasing within, struggling to be realised from inside all that skin, its emerging too late and too slow for us – for me – to really care, or be feeling our own humanity inside what she is becoming. She’s not really one of Us. And deskinned at the end (sent up in smoke) she dematerializes back to where she came, back into one of Them, them alien Things with the crash helmets.

More people have loathed this film than loved it (if the reviews on Amazon and IMDb are anything to go by) I haven’t loathed it. I haven’t loved it – like Pete Bradshaw did – either. The screechy soundtrack inserts disconcerting atmospherics that brood on mostly non-existent tension. There’s no real propulsive dramatic story driving you forward. It stops and stays still too much, too often, hypnotising itself inside its own reflection. Its kind of chillingly and callously tedious.

A film contriving to be more about alienation than aliens. But it ends up leaving its alienation with you, as a feeling you’ve been dissatisfied, and possibly a bit dispirited.

Dir: Jonathan Glazer, UK

6/10

My Life as a Dog (1985)

MY LIFE AS A DOG, Anton Glanzelius, 1987

I’ve probably seen this film too many times already (at least 7 or 8)

Little boy who plays Ingemar is so brilliantly cast. As you can see from that pic he looks like his dog Sickan, like a cute little Jack Russell himself. And he barks like one. You just want to pick him up and pinch his nose, cuddle his ears

He’s a naughty mutley though. Big bro sticks little bro Ingemars willy in a glass bottle. The bottle shatters. Bloody shards have to be picked out. Ingemar is getting up to too many pranks and antics like this. All this nonsense is making Mama cry.

And Mama is Very Ill. Spends most days in bed, reading, and dying.

How is our little mutt going to cope with losing his Mama? Thats the sad heart of this film. He’s going to bring her breakfast in bed. He’s going to throw that glass of milk in his face. He’s going to make Mama laugh.

The brothers have to be packed off to family relatives to give poor Mama a rest. But Sickan can’t go with. Unbeknownst to Ingemar, Sickan is being got rid of.

Lucky for Ingemar he’s staying with fun Uncle Gunnar. Uncle tells jokes. Uncle lives with other fun people in quirky Smaland. Fransson is hammering again. There’s a boy with green hair. There’s coffee in the summerhouse and Uncle coaching Ingemar, “Have the ball in the head. Be the ball”. (Although Uncle is a rubbish goalie) And there’s blonde beauty Berit who Ingemar loves, and tomboy Saga who loves Ingemar.

Everyone is lusty gusty with loveable life, and exuberantly, unstoppably, expressing the joie de vivre that isn’t back at home with his dire dying Mama.

Eventually, Ingemar gets told the bad news about Sickan. But when your best dog dies you can be like a dog. You can bring her back and bark. Barking won’t be bringing Mama back to life though.

What else can Ingemar do to cope and comfort himself? Think that things could be worse. Be fretting over the fatal Soviet spacedog Laika for example. This philosphical perspectivizing does seem a bit larded on though, there to broaden the films can-cope message, widen its appeal. Ingemars cheeky chappie immaturity doesn’t quite fit the profound philosophical perspective he’s espousing (in his voicing overs)

Why have i’ve watched this so often? Could be I have to feel Ingemars pathetic little sad doggie sad from time time to time. But I am feeling now slightly immune to the films mainstream broadbrushed cutesy charm. With a new girlfriend I’d probably watch it again though.

And, oh yes: Ingemar (Johansson) became Champion of the World.

Dir: Lasse Halstrom, Sweden

7/10 (used to be an 8, but repeated watchings have jaded me a little)

A Hen in the Wind (1948)

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How can I resist watching a film by the great little Japanese master Ozu called “A Hen in the Wind”? I mean, that title itself already makes me want to like it before I’ve even watched it.

Tokiko is having to sell her last kimono. Life is tough. Her little boy Hiroshi is ill. She’s carrying the stricken boy in her arms to the doctors. He’s suffering from “Acute catarrh of the colon” (?!) says Doc. Critical. He might die.

But how does she pay the medical expenses? Beg? Steal? Borrow? Or sell her body?

She did it. Sold it. Only the once. But enough to bring shame and regret. When her husband finally returns what will he do, how will he be? Forgive her or forget her? She shouldn’t tell him.

He’s back. They bow (after 4 lonely years apart?!) No hug for her. No kiss for him. A conspicuous lack of heartfelt reaction here. I guess hugging and emoting wasn’t the done thing then (1948) there (Japan) Or maybe this is more Ozu. He always seemed to prefer emotional restraint and containment.

She’s telling him. Blurts it. Too honest or good for her own good is Tokiko. Why make him and her suffer by telling the truth?

He’s angry, throws her around. Then – he forcibly re-possesses her (he rapes her?) Punished her anyway.

Stomps off to brothel, to the scene of her crime to ascertain facts, acquaint himself with the sordid details. Actually, its turning out more sorry than sordid. He buys a girl. But of course he doesn’t –  because too moral a man – have the sweaty balls to want her. I’d want her if i were you sonny Jim. You haven’t had any for 4 years. A nice pretty girl. Not a cheap tart. A good girl. Just doing it to keep her family alive. Just like your poor wife was.

He’s going to save the prostitute. Make a bad girl good. Find her a proper job. But what about his wife? Is he going to save her too, by forgiving her?

She has to get punished again first; get shoved headfirst down some racketty stairs (symbolic of her fall from grace i suppose) And has to limp pathetically back up again, unhelped, on her own.

And now she’s abasing herself even more “I’m sorry I made you feel like this. I can’t stand to watch you suffer anymore. Do as you wish. I’ll take whatever you do to me. Hit me. Hate me. Do anything to satisfy yourself” she’s pathetically pleading.

Come on, get over yourself – and friggin forgive her. Thats what I want. And that’s what I get.

“I won’t scold you. I feel sorry for you. I know you had no choice that time. Lets forget it as a bad mistake. I’ll forget it. You too. Let be more generous. Lets love one another more deeply” he finally concludes. Yes! He’s done it. Become the Big Man. Although I can’t help feeling this is an Ozu-speak speech rather than being compassionately felt by her obtuse woodentop of a husband.

At last he’s got his arms around her holding him. She’s got her hands clasped tight together behind his back. She’s never going to be a bad girl, or let him go, ever again.

A hard watch. I don’t know about evoking poetical images of hens in winds. This has felt more like hurts in hearts.

Dir: Yasujiro Ozu, Japan

7/10

Le Quattro Volte (2010)

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Be prepared to take a walk out into raggedy-rough Calabria. You’ll stand still watching nature coming and going. You will be as a goatherder sat under a withered old cypress tree. But I hope you haven’t got his horrible cough.

Its 11 minutes before a human voice speaks a grazia. Up till then we’ve been hearing goats blaahhing, and bells tinkling, and dogs barking. And there isn’t going to be any discernable dialogue throughout the whole 80 minutes. You’ll just have to get used to all the bleddy blaahing and barking.

After about half an hour I’m not quite sure why I felt this was a film worth recording and keeping. Its static to the point of soporific. But no doubt it will lull me into its beautiful ting-a-ling rhythms. The goats bells can be heard clinking and clanking everywhere. And now church bells chime in. Tintinnabulists everywhere – rejoice!

For his cough the old goatherder is drinking sweepings of church dust. Superstition is sadly, and sillily, still alive and kicking. Although he’s still hacking that rattle. So still dusting his drinkings. He craps in some corn – without wiping his arse. Accidentally drops the packet of dust behind instead. I think he’s going to die in a minute. With all that dust and nonsense clogging up his tubes.

Goatherder actually looks like a goatherder (i. e not an actor) I suppose when you’re a lonely goatherder you don’t need to speak much. You talk goat and thats about it from one day to the next.

Christians are processing some saintly martyr while dragging a large wooden cross with red roman soldiers in fancy dress; a gaggle of goats, sorry, i mean people, follow obediently behind. The goatherders collie has to do a lot of acting and barking (talking) in the long take of this scene (and very impressive he is too)

The goats have climbed into the houses, jumped in the beds while the villagers are out following that cross. For the goatherder has gone dead in his bed. The dust done for him (or the cough) Another procession proceeds to carry him off in his coffin down the hill.

The old goatherder is reborn as a kid goat; who soon gets stuck in a narrow ditch and loses its mommy. Ma! its bleating Ma! A wolf might come along in a minute and eat it. But I doubt it. Instead we follow this lost kid Baahing and Maaing till nightfall. Its still lost. Poor thing. Under a tall fir tree it dies.

The following summer the tall fir (the kid died under) gets felled, debarked, dragged, and clapped into the village square. There to be erected; the faking up of this fir as a pole of palm with a discombobulated top-knot (why?) A male has to shin up it to reclaim a balloon (why?) After which it is toppled and its spoils are grabbed from it as it lies fallen (why?) Is it us humans who are ridiculous? Or just the idiotic part of the human race we call Italians?

From that trunk of fir charcoal is made. The last 12 minutes we watch the careful construction of an elaborate byre cum charcoal kiln. Humans (and Italians) maybe not so ridiculous after all.

So whats all this been about?

“Le Quattro Volte” is the Pythagorian idea that we each reincarnate as the 4 lives within us: mineral (the charcoal), vegetable (the tree), animal (the kid goat) and human (the old goatherder) All quite neatly constructed and connected when you think about it afterwards. If you can be bothered to think about it afterwards. Perhaps the 80 minutes you’ve spent patiently watching it will be all the time you deem necessary to be thinking about it. That is to say, not (a lot)

Dir: Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy

6/10

Early Summer (1951)

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This summer I went on a bit of an Ozu-fest, watching 6 of his films all in the space of a few weeks. It got too much in the end, and the films were getting to seem samey, resemble one another too much – I was Ozu’d -out. But I’ve still got 4 films left over. So I’ll see if having a few months off might have refreshed my fascination with him.

Extended family are living all together in Tidy Orderly Ozu world. The family dynamics are pleasantly harmonic; about the worst thing that happens is little scamp doesn’t wash his cheeky face.

Setsuko Hara, as per Noriko, has such a beautifully lit up presence. Chisyu Ryu is not doing his usual Hmmming, playing more Noriko’s disapproving older bro.

“I’m home!” they say on entering. And home sweet home it is. You’ll always get greeted back from work with a hot bath, a beckoning kimono, a drink, some food, a warm smile.

I’m liking the light hearted humour that is being cheekily and sometimes, sarcastically, flecked through the nice knit of family fabric.

The second half of the film has to break into this family harmony and unweave the close stitching (a bit) So those scampy boys kick around a loaf of bread for not getting what they want (train tracks). Get scolded by dad (Chishu Ryu). Run away to the train station. But nothing much comes off this subplot. They get found soon enough. Worry over.

The main plot is still centred on Noriko, about why she’s still not marrying.

And why isn’t she? Because she’s a new woman; she’s not old school, in a kimono, carrying trays of food and drink to men, serving their lazy wants and wishes. She’s new school westernized; wearing dresses and high heels, having her own ideas about relationships with men. Its all about feeling the entitlement, and having the awareness, to choose; to decide whether to or when to and who to – marry.

In the end she decides to make the wrong choice. For her family that is. For a while they’re down in the dumps about it. She’s wanting to marry her old childhood friend. Problem is he’s got a kid already (his wife died) But thats the man she wants (rather than the man they want her to want). And so she’s going to follow through on what she’s chosen. Not that she isn’t upset about upsetting her family. But she’ll be decided enough, and determined enough, to see it, I’m sure, through to its happy end.

So this has been a pretty enjoyable jump back into Ozu. Actually, you don’t do jumping in Ozu. You get onboard a steady boat, and you make a soft sail into a gentle slipstream. And anything that may have eddied up unease inside you along the way is always given a sweet safe place to land.

Dir: Yasujiro Ozu, Japan

7/10

The Virgin Spring (1960)

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May possibly have been the first Bergman I ever saw back in the late 80’s on Channel 4. Impressively shocking. Then I watched it again some years later and was still impressed (although less shocked) So lets how impressed i can be this time.

A curse for God Odlin to come and rid her (Ingiri) of her bastard. She’s a beautiful bastard herself (Gunnel Lindblom) Ingiri makes Karin (Birgitta Pettersson) a toad sandwich. Its all going to be her fault this.

Lazybones daughter Karin has to take the virgin candles to church, wearing her silkiest shift, her dressiest dress, her Little Red Riding Hood robe. Her longest blondiest hair is combed beautiful by mama (Birgitta Valberg).

Off rides the fair maiden with scowling Ingiri in the spring morn as a cuckoo cucked off its head.

Ingeri fears to enter the dark forest. Karin rides blithely, naively, sweetly, on alone. She gets savagely raped by 2 goatherders with bad teeth. Flung themselves on her like devils they did. Then she’s murdered and stripped naked of her fine clothes. Ingiri has watched her being raped and murdered with rock in hand, but did nothing.

Stupidly the stupid goatherders have turned up at Fathers (Max von Sydow) place for the night; are accepted at the masters table to break bread.

Boy goatherder can’t eat his din dins, knocks over his bowl. “Rub his temples with salt and vinegar, put a hot wooden lid on his stomach” instructs Mother.

Then Mother finds out who these devils are. She carries her dead daughters dress to Father.

In readiness for his retributive revenge Father has birched himself, then fetched for the slaughtering knife. He can’t, won’t, slaughter them in their sleep. He watches and waits for the first call of the cock. Whats he waiting for? To pluck up the courage to do it? To salve his Christian conscience and clear it for murder? Or maybe this is Bergman making our consciences wait, and feel troubled, about what we would do (if we were him) My conscience has already let go of itself. My primal instinct unequivocally, says “Go on – kill the bastards”.

They’re woken to be stabbed awake. He wants them to know what they’ve done and what he’s doing them for. One rapist is stabbed through the neck. The other rapist has his neck broken (and possibly spine snapped) That was good revenge. We, I, wanted to be watching that.

Whats he going to do to the little boy though? He didn’t rape. He didn’t murder. He couldn’t do anything. He’s innocent isn’t he? But the Father throws and breaks boy against the wall. That was wrong. You went too far there. That was blood-lusting rage. That wasn’t retributive justice.

He’s killed them all. And then begging God to have mercy on him. The  God who apparently saw it all. Saw the innocent girls murder, saw his vengeful wrath. “You permitted it. I don’t understand you” Father cries. (Yeah, blame it on God)

And lo, the river of forgiveness did flow and his dead child could be baptised again in its virgin springs. Bergman admitted this ending with the spring was somewhat tacked on and over didactic, even bogus. In other words, he was as unhappy with it as I am.

He doesn’t punish or kill Ingiri. He forgives her by not killing her I suppose. Has to get some merciful compassion in somewhere, so as to be a good Christian again.

You have to admire how everything has been so immaculately and effectively constructed about this film. Its faultless. Its like a well honed old folk parable. Belongs in a old Norse book of fairy tales. A chilling morality tale of revenge and repentance. Hard to see how it could be bettered.

Overall (despite the hokey ending) it’s still is as impressive as it always was.

Dir: Ingmar Bergman, Sweden

7.5/10 (I’d give it 8 but it feels too bleak to warrant too much rewatching)

In The City of Sylvia

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Our handsome young Artist sits on hotel bed all in a muse … pencil a cock….waiting to strike a rhythm….for at least 4 minutes. Yes, slow film this is going to be. Lots of pouting poses and striking gazes, and assuming the attitude of.

Over lovely old Strasbourg the church bells are ringing. Our long haired Calvin Kleinalike is out with his map wandering and sitting in street cafes with pencil still acock gazing at all the lovely gazelles (he needs to sharpen that pencil) to see if she’s The One….. the One who he’s come to find, his Once Upon a Time Sylvia (who he met, then missed 6 years ago)

Lingering the longing…. for her…in all those lovelinesses…. of soft necks of sweet lips of stroked hair. He catches tantalising glimpses of her in every her here.

But then he sees her reflected through window – and is after her, to track and hunt her down. Around and around the streets of Strasbourg she leads him

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Hes calling out “Sylvie” but shes not responding to this ghost behind her. She clomps on, loses him. He finds her again.

They’ve got on a tram and hung together they talk at last.

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He’s asked if she is. She’s said she isn’t. He’s said what a disaster it is (to have mistaken her) She’s said how awful it was (to be followed by him). Now, come on girl – I know being stalked isn’t pleasant, but this is dreamy dreamboat here, the gorgeous guy who’s been panting after you for the last hour – get a grip, be flattered!

But she’s not going to fall for his sorry or his dreamy looks (director said not to) She’s jumped off and left him hanging. He’s had it. He’s missed her again.

There’s a lot of beauty being beautiful in this film. Gazing into lovely girls gazes. So many eyes watching and wondering into one another. Think I would have preferred Him (El) to have been a bit less beautiful, a bit more like the less lovely rest of us blokes. Can’t feel much sympathy for a man who looks too lovely to be lonely, or left alone, or rejected. Every girl in this film is just dying to be on the end of his pencil.

He does bag a bird in the end. But it wasn’t The One. Wasn’t his Sylvia.

This is the scene at the end with all the women he’s gazed upon waiting with hair flying.

Many men like to fantasize, to eroticize, to ogle after, most women. Some men might even want to follow those lovely ladies around all afternoon longing their lingering.

But rarely do we get what our cock most desires – that beauty-bird of our dreams.

Dir: Jose Luis Guerin, France/Spain

7.5/10

This Sporting Life (1963)

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In a decade (60’s) in a colour (b/w) in a culture (working class) in a country (England) I always want to watch. So why haven’t I wanted to watch this?. Probably because its about a sport (rugby league) and an actor (Robert Harris) I’ve don’t feel much affinity for. But lets see if I can get over myself.

Richard Harris as rugby league bruiser Frank Machin looks t’ part but doesn’t sound t’ part; his Northern accent got lost somewhere in the Irish sea: “much” comes out as “mooch” for example. He’s doing the moody marlon (brando) look of mean malcontent. Gum-chewing intense intent into every scene, but far too over-powering for these little domestics. Get him to Camelot – and quick! So he can slay dragons or something.

“Some people have life made for them” Margaret moans. “And some people make it for themselves” Frank snarls, swiping his hand across the table. “Its about time you took that ton of rock off your shoulders” he shouts. I don’t think these spasms of truculent rage are going to win the sad woman over Frank. Bloody calm down lad.

Why’s he so hot for miserable crab-faced Margaret? (Rachel Roberts) She’s no Sally Anne Field or Julie Christie.  Her widowed misery is woefully overdrawn. Harris and Roberts seem miscast together; her dislike for his big ape act almost seems genuine. But the antipathy that pours off the pair of them gets to make this film feel too sour with ill-will. Too much bile and bickering are biting out any sympathetic engagement or empathy for them.

Frank doesnt appear to like his love for women very much (probably why he’s banging loveless Margaret) He might have been better off scrummaging inside blonde Mrs Weaver’s knickers. At least she seems to know what she wants from a big ape.

Frank is acting like a pig in a posh restaurant, well, acting like a total twat. It’s obvious by now that the brute has serious anger mis-management issues. His (6!) front teeth got punched out. Yes, think he had that coming.

Reviews of this film are titled “stark”, “uncompromising”, “painful”, “bleak”, “grim” “depressing”. I can see why it flopped at the box-office. It started off miserable and kept getting worse.

“He played a blinder, he played a blinder”.  Well, he overplayed and overdid and overblew the whole bloody film. Think I’d have prefferred Richard Harris to be sent off. Stick on Albert Finney instead.

Out of those quartet of films that came out between 1960-63 (Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, A Kind of Loving, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner) this is my least favourite. I’d watch the other 3 again, but this one is going straight in the bin.

Dir: Lindsay Anderson, UK

4/10

The Beaches of Agnes (2008)

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Film me in old spotty mirrors and behind scarves” says Agnes on her Belgian beach. Well, we don’t get much that’s spotty or unsightly in this documentary, but we do get a lot of her hiding behind scarves.

It’s a chronological slide-show through her life, which she’s trying to jazz up with imaginative recreations of bits of memories of meanings she feels are salubrious enough to share.

Many of these bits have already been committed to celluloid, so its as if she’s re-archiving and re-working a past that has already been exhaustively recorded through her various autobiographical films and documentaries.

She’s known as an “experimental” feminist film-maker so i suppose you’d expect her to not tell her life-story too conventionally. But all the silly walking backwards and dressing herself up as a walking potato she does looks, well, faintly ridiculous.

After a while I’m starting to feel that this is just a boring exercise, or excuse, in conceit and self-absorption. Other people’s histories are often not as interesting to you as they are so obviously being fascinating to them; all those too particular anecdotes or too personal memories get to seem as self-centred in the retelling as somebody droning on about the dreams they’ve had dressed as a potato.

I was hoping for her to be offering insights into her working methods of film-making, hear her philosophic reflections on The Nouvelle Vague (of which she was one of the originators). But she doesn’t seem to want to go very far into anything too deep. She comes across as being intellectually light-weight, far too slight and facile to be taking herself so – this – self-indulgently seriously.

Its a rosey tinted glow she shines back on her life; no raw sense of any travail or troubles. It’s like she’s mocking up being Agnes Varda being a self homaging itself, praising herself, patting others and herself on the back for taking part in all her nice bits. Its all beautiful facades, and little old Agnes at the receding centre of it all beguilingly scarved in hiddeness.

Here’s one nice quote I’ll take away: “A relatively solitary life with passing elations, love stories….” Could be me that.

Dir: Agnes Varda, Belgium

4/10