On Heaven’s Gate

Bracketing the bullshit surrounding a movie is tough. But you make a concerted effort. Forget how much it cost (and lost), you tell yourself. Forget the stories and reviews and legends. Simply consider the images and sounds. Remember those strings! You replay them from Youtube. Is Cimino simply manipulating us? The audience is told to be wistful, or that the characters are wistful, or that 1870s Wyoming was full of wistfulness, or that we’re wistful for it. And remember Nate Champion, sweeping bread crumbs from his table, in his home; nervous but excited, glancing at Ella Watson for any sign of approval. Is he manipulating us too?

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Fellini, Sorrentino and the Roman Nobility

In the 1950s and ’60s, a trend to stage extended scenes of wild and weird parties became fashionable in Italian cinema. Directors exhibited a consortium of mismatched, obscure people swaying to the rhythms of the time. In these striking spectacles, an audience was confronted with innovative ways of communicating social, sexual and religious conflicts. What sticks out, however, are not the stories of the protagonists but rather the portrayal of the old Roman nobility.

By Alex Bower

Rose-Tinted Telescopes: Nostalgia, Preservation and Cinema Paradiso (1988)

This winter, on its twenty-fifth anniversary, a cinematic re-release of Cinema Paradiso will confront a new generation of movie-lovers with Whitman’s enigmatic response. The film hasn’t changed (this is a “fully restored” version of a director’s cut that’s been around for a decade now), but what has changed is the audience. We’re jaded and bored, more nostalgic than ever for a collective film memory that has begun to fade. This time round, director Giuseppe Tornatore’s paean to lost love and a dying movie culture may just be too sad for the cinephile to bear. Paradoxically, the only therapy for this melancholy is to go and see it.

By Sam Thompson

Context Is Not A Myth

Just as self-deprecation isn’t the opposite of arrogance but rather its sneaky corollary, so too the subculture(s) spring from the mainstream, germinated by a logic they purportedly oppose. “Sampling” is the example I want to use here: this musical method has degenerated, becoming coloured by some of the very worst aspects of our society.

By Yohann Koshy

Empathy and The Act of Killing (2013)

Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Act of Killing asks Indonesian war criminals to produce lavish re-enactments of their roles in the torture and murder of ‘Communists’ and ethnic Chinese, as well as their nightmares and fantasies. The result is a mesmeric and profound indictment of the empathetic power of the moving image.

By Sam Thompson

Slacker: “It’s not building a wall but making a brick”

Linklater’s 1991 film Slacker has two standout features: a commitment to presenting only incidental scenes, and the use of geographical continuity to join together unrelated fragments of different stories. Like the Oblique Strategy card says: he is not building a wall but making bricks. This gives him the space to reflect in a playful way on the principled apathy of his ‘slackers’ and the philosophical issues this raises.

by Matteo Tiratelli