Two Days, One Night (2014): Liberté, Égalité … Fraternité??

The Dardenne brothers – Jean-Pierre and Luc, the Belgian masters of mythical realism – have always placed survival and class struggle at the forefront of their cinema. With The Kid with a Bike (2012), the writer-director duo pushed their themes deeper into the forest of fairy tale, and there they’ve stayed. Continue reading “Two Days, One Night (2014): Liberté, Égalité … Fraternité??”

F for Fake (1973): You Can’t Kid a Kidder – Or Can You?

Having got bored of making (or rather, not making) narrative films, Orson Welles made F for Fake with the intention of creating an entirely new kind of film-making that would be picked up and carried on by other directors. Instead, the film failed financially and critically, only relatively recently receiving the attention it demands. F for Fake is a film obsessed with itself, it tells the story of its own creation, narrated and presented by the master manipulator himself, Orson Welles. The man who once convinced the East coast of America that Martians were invading Earth here deconstructs the idea of fakery; as he tells us: “I didn’t go to prison, I went to Hollywood.” Opening on a train station platform we see the bearded and caped Welles performing a sleight of hand trick for a small boy, dazzling and delighting him, ultimately lying to him. For the next 85 minutes or so we will be that child – he tells us we’re going to hear the truth, pulls a few tricks, captivating us anew with every frame, lying to us until we don’t really care what’s true or false, and leaving us all the happier for it. Continue reading “F for Fake (1973): You Can’t Kid a Kidder – Or Can You?”

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975): Some Kind of a Last Supper

Salò exists as a departure for Pier Paolo Pasolini. But only in how he treats his themes, the themes themselves are the same as they always were: art, sex, politics and religion. The crossover between them – and this was not always the case with Pasolini – is seamless, with the film standing as one of the most unified and coherent he ever made. This may sound contradictory when you consider the reputation of Salò; a film at constant war with the censors; a film that many respected critics refused to even give a chance to; and a film that may even have contributed to its director’s murder. Ignore all that nonsense though; Salò is Pasolini’s crowning glory. Continue reading “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975): Some Kind of a Last Supper”

Roma (1972): When’s Roma Not Roma?

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Fellini’s Roma is the city and its people through the director’s eyes. He tracks the evolution of Rome between the 1940s and the (at the time) present, 1972 – while keeping its ancient, eternal and ever present characteristics and institutions firmly in shot. The film is semi-autobiographical, the 40s segments feature a young Federico Fellini (played by Peter Gonzales) who is leaving his hometown of Rimini and heading for Rome; the present day segments follow the making of a movie which is taking place in Italy’s capital. The focus is never on any one character for very long though, it would be misleading to call Roma a biopic or a self-portrait because the man himself is reduced to a bit part. The only real character here – and the only one to experience any character development – is Rome, or rather Fellini’s Rome. Continue reading “Roma (1972): When’s Roma Not Roma?”