Whether The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi’s latest movie was deserving of its Academy Award this year – there has been much discourse amongst film critics that this is well off his best work – there is no doubt that he is one of the most important and brilliant film makers of today.
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul…”
Is there something changing in film culture? Why not make it something to check out in 2017. Just how many wonderful scripts for women were produced and how many little-known or unknown true stories were re-told. I really hope that we are now going to see, as a matter of course, powerful scripts for great actresses and so long as a true story is stranger than fiction I’ll keep watching.
In the world of cinema a similar experience frequently comes with much referencing to the viewer’s sense of personal credentials to be a proper film-lover. The work I am talking about is the Frenchman Abel Gance’s epic Napoleon, released in 1927. Not only epic in length, Napoleon has also undergone a truly epic journey back to our screens thanks to one man, the film historian Kevin Brownlow who, in my view wins first prize for having the longest-running obsession about just one film in the history of cinema!
The vampire genre features in the Film Culture course with a special reference – and I make no apology for this – to Jarmusch’s wonderful 2013 classic, Only Lovers Left Alive. My affection for Jarmusch’s work is partly due to my sense of a kindred spirit; he worked as a sound recordist in the eighties as I did. There, sadly for me, the similarity ends. Musician, composer, editor, actor, camera operator, screenwriter and director, Jarmusch’s talents are many and with his latest film, Paterson, I am, yet again, in a swoon.
I have written about science fiction in the cinema before and students of the Film Culture course will know that the genre features in it too. At this time of year I am occupied most evenings – and on rainy afternoons too – watching the latest releases and catching up on what I have missed this year in order to have a view about which films to vote for in the 2017 BAFTA awards. To me, there is simply no substitute to watching movies on a giant screen and sci-fi has to be seen this way to be fully appreciated.
In the final assignment of the Film Culture course the student is asked to consider the influence of an individual director within the context of a cinematic movement. From time to time an audience can find itself well blessed with works from number of hugely influential and talented auteurs and 2016 has been no exception. I want to consider two directors whose work has resulted me in spending many emotional hours in darkness amongst the company of strangers.