My love-affair with Soviet cinema was cemented at film school when, literally frame by frame, we dissected Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 propaganda masterpiece Battleship Potemkin. Back in the late sixties and early seventies as British cinemas fell into decline one or two flee-pits survived in some small towns, included mine, Reigate. It was there I first saw Andrei Tarkovsky, starting with his 1966 classic, Andrei Rublev, showing to an empty theatre. At film school I spent seven hours watching – and dozing – through Sergey Bondarchuk’s epic War and Peace and of course, plenty of Tarkovsky.
Maybe it’s a dumb question. Cinema always has something to say whether or not it is worth saying. Yet, over the last few months I have been becoming ever more reassured that there are a remarkable number of new films that really have something to say about the time we live in.
Ever the optimist, for me there is no substitute to the cinematic experience, I think news of the end of cinema is premature. The latest merger of two giant chains should be seen as sign of optimism that maybe the cinema experience will continue to get better and we will continue to spend more time in a darkened room amongst strangers.
The rest of the world may love our costume dramas and imagine that England still thinks it rules the waves – about that delusion I think they are right – yet I am filled with gloom that cinema continues to churn out this stuff.
Join OCAs Ruth Maclennan at Manchester HOME on the 16 December.
Her genius is that she sucks you into the narrative. It’s an over-indulgence of cinematic culture that I cannot have too much of. Following The Party, there is a royal flush of quality independent cinema to look forward to in the next week or two.
His observation that it is now the domain of streamed multi-episodic drama where character development reigns supreme is compelling. In his view the decline of modern Hollywood is driven by risk-aversion, but this demise is actually something that has been going on for a very long time.
Recently I read a very good article in the FT by Jason Solomons which starts by asking the question, ‘When was the last new movement in British Cinema… heralding a flurry of new directors and new styles?’
The debate about public opinion trumping critical analysis and what that means for popular culture will continue so long as there are films to watch and audiences to see them. But I say three cheers to all those who laugh at the emperor’s new clothing, leaving bad films to perform badly, losing their investors lots of money for letting self-indulgent, so-called talent loose on a film set.
I have to admit that I cannot find fault with the top ten comedies of all time as selected by all those critics. I’d probably put most if not all of them into my most loved comedies. Would you?
I’ve been home from the Venice Biennale for almost three months now and I’m thinking about the work I saw and what impressions have stayed with me.
Last month I was invited to give a masterclass in moving image to a group of young artists in Almaty Kazakhstan, for the ‘School of Artistic Gesture’ as part of an initiative of ArbatFest – an independent arts festival that has been going for seven years in the city.