HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR directed by Alain Resnais (France, 1959)
This is a movie about the fallibility of memory; an intense love story set against the backdrop of the bombing of Hiroshima in Japan.
On August 6th 1945, an atomic bomb killed around 200,000 people. The exact numbers will never be known since the victims and buildings were reduced to ash.
The film begins with graphic and disturbing images of people in the city receiving treatment for terrible injuries. These shots illustrate how it was originally conceived as a sombre yet poetic study in the same vein as Resnais’ Night And Fog (1955) about the Nazi concentration camps.
Perhaps Resnais recognised the limitations of the documentary form and realised that facts tell us relatively little about the human cost of such tragedies. However compassionate a filmmaker’s intentions may be, the risk is that the viewer’s role will be reduced to that of a passive witness to the horror. View full article »
THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown, 2013)
After her two previous bestsellers, Donna Tartt is in the enviable position of being able to call all the shots with any publisher.
She is like an esteemed movie director who knows her work is never going to be subjected to unwanted cuts.
Moreover, she has established herself a writer who works slowly and meticulously, preferring quality to quantity.
A book every decade is her current rate of production and she expresses no desire to change this. She says she’ll be content if her life work consists of five big novels.
Constant rewriting and self editing are among the reasons why she is not more prolific. In a recent BBC interview, Tartt describes how she decided to scrub 8 months work after realising she had taken the plot down a wrong track.
You can well imagine why, after labouring for so long, she would resist any further editing suggestions. However, I can’t help feeling that this degree of total control is a double-edged sword. The Goldfinch is a novel that cries out for some bold editing and in my view it is at least 200 pages too long. View full article »
Any blogger (and cat!) will relate to the funny cartoon strip courtesy of The Oatmeal in which an increasingly desperate feline seeks ever more elaborate strategies to attract the attention of the internet addict. This is my favorite panel:
BIRDMAN (OR ‘THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE’) directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (USA, 2014)
From the stylish opening credits and free-jazz drumming of Antonio Sanchez’s unorthodox soundtrack, this is a movie that is keen to make an immediate impression.
It is the kind of derring-do which could so easily have backfired and then been dismissed as nothing more than brash arty-fartiness. Yet Birdman postively revels in its showiness and having a excellent supporting cast, that includes Naomi Watts and Edward Norton in prime form, means that all the risks are calculated ones.
The story revolves around Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson, one time celluloid superhero who now feels all too human as he approaches the third age. By adapting a Raymond Carver story for a Broadway show he wants revitalise his flagging career and, in the process, demonstrate that 60 is the new 30. View full article »