Posts tagged with “film”

Posted 3 weeks ago

Human Capital, by Paolo Virzì (2014)


"Everything is going so well. You bet on the downfall of this country and you won."

Forget The Great Beauty, forget I Am Love: Paolo Virzì’s Human Capital is the most perceptive and imaginative parable of contemporary Italy’s skewed aspirations and obsession with the lives (and the money) of others.

While the story is interesting enough, the characters are well-sketched, and the acting is very good - particularly from my favourite Italian actor, Fabrizio Gifuni (The Best of Youth) in a dislikable role as the wealthy hedge fund owner and pater familias - Human Capital is very much a director’s film.

I must admit I am surprised: I have always liked Virzì’s quirky comedies but didn’t expect him to find this new depth and an impressive ambition in his work. His visual style has none of Sorrentino’s baroque flourish, nor Guadagnino’s austerity and coolness - it’s simpler, warmer, quite sentimental. There are at least four scenes I found completely preposterous - one in each chapter. And yet the whole film hangs together remarkably well. Virzì displays an understanding of human relations (particularly those of younger people) that is completely missing in many of his Italian peers’ work.

The script uses Stephen Amidon’s novel set in Connecticut and repurposes its critique of WASP bourgeoisie towards a more encompassing study of Italian social climbing. There are also echoes of Buñuel, AmoresPerros, Flaubert channeled via Franzen, even some nods to Wes Anderson. And of course the story could be well be another riff on the themes of money, class and car crashes composed by the greatest of them all, The Great Gatsby

The result is a film that has at the same time a fiercely contemporary face and a timeless inner moral spine, an Italian story that can be relocated anywhere in the world where there are haves and have-nots. Some parable indeed.

Human Capital was announced this morning as Italy’s submission to the Oscar Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language category. It is released in the UK on Friday 26 September - you can see it at Curzon Cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema.

Posted 2 months ago

Friday night at the Troxy

This is what I’m doing on Friday. It’s a crazy expensive ticket for a rep movie, but the price is right when it’s for the right cause: it’s hard to quantify just how much this film means to me. It was my first encounter with Shakespeare, Thoreau, Tennyson. My brother and I watched it a hundred times, my parents worried that Neil’s suicide would make an impression on our far too young minds. It certainly did. But not as much as that central dictum: “carpe diem. seize the day. Make your life extraordinary.” It should be no surprise to anybody who knows me well that I have suffered, and I have had therapy, and I was saved (temporarily, because it’s a constant battle against that big black dog) from my own depression by the realisation that I misunderstood that idea. An extraordinary life doesn’t mean success, wealth and fame, it doesn’t mean triumph, boasting, power, measuring yourself against others. An extraordinary life is one spent believing that every day has something to offer, no matter how small or large. Fighting every day to keep going, be kind, stay open. Choosing to adjust navigation techniques depending on the ebb and flow. It’s hard work, an extraordinary life. I will be able to quote along tomorrow, through some inevitable tears. So don’t judge me if I give my hard-earned cash to Secret Cinema hipsters*, or I fall for the easy emotion of a celebrity death. I’m nothing but an idealist trying to grow up. 

Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

* All profits from the screening are going to charity. There will be other screenings in different venues, to be announced on the Secret Cinema social channels.

If you are in the UK and cannot attend the event (sold out in 4 minutes!), please consider giving a donation to Mind, the amazing mental health charity that helped me to ask for help and put me in touch with my therapist. Thank you.

Posted 7 months ago

The Essay Film A Manifesto by Mark Cousins

In the last two years I have made three essay films – What is This Film Called Love?, A Story of Children and Film, and Here be Dragons. In the next year, I will make two more – I am Belfast and Stockholm My Love.

In making these, and watching many more – by Anand Patwardhan and Agnes Varda, for example – and after reading Philip Lopate’s book on the essay, I started to make a mental list of the elements of, and the principles behind, essay films. This list is a kind of manifesto.

A fiction film is a bubble. An essay film bursts it.

An essay film takes an idea for a walk.

Essay films are visual thinking.

Essay films reverse film production: the images come first, the script, last.

Filming an essay is gathering, like a carpenter gathers wood.

A fiction film is a car, an essay film is a bike; it can nip up an alleyway, you can feel the wind in its hair.

A road movie has outer movement, an essay film has inner movement.

An essay film is the opposite of fly on the wall.

An essay film can go anywhere, and should.

Two essay films should be made every year. Why? Because, after F for Fake, Orson Welles said this to Henry Jaglom during lunch at Ma Maison: “I could have made an essay film – two of ‘em a year, you see. On different subjects. Various variations of that form.”

Commentary is to the essay film, what dance is to the musical.

All essay films would be improved by a clip of Dietrich (see Marcel Ophuls).

An essay film cannot create the atmosphere of Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard;
A fiction film cannot explain that atmosphere.

Even Hollywood makes essay films – look at DW Griffith’s Intolerance.

Essay films are what Astruc dreamt of.

Digital had made Astruc’s dream come true.

from: A Story of Children and Film website

Posted 11 months ago

Federico Fellini (January 20, 1920 – October 31, 1993), every inch a film director.

Posted 12 months ago



Is there a classic movie bloopers fandom because there needs to be one


Posted 12 months ago

Su JunkiePop c’è una specie di mia recensione di Only Lovers Left Alive, il nuovo film di Jim Jarmusch con Tilda Swinton e Tom Hiddleston, All’incirca un film di vampiri col dito medio ben alzato nella direzione generale di Bella & Edward. Dai, leggi.

Posted 12 months ago

Anonymous said: Do you know where the Lubitsch sign that hung in Billy Wilder's office is today? Or who to ask? Thanks.


Hmm. Since the only photo I’ve seen of this sign (drawn by Saul Bass!) seems to be modern and museum-like, I want to say it’s hanging in the lobby of the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum in Westwood Village in southern California. That’s my guess. I wouldn’t know who to ask except the executor of his estate or his relatives.

Any readers know the whereabouts of the Lubitsch sign?

If you are talking about the “how would Lubitsch do it?” sign, it’s in the Deutsche Kinematek Museum für Film und Fernsehen in Berlin > 

It’s my 2nd-favourite item in the permanent collection, number 1 being the vast array of Peter Lorre’s passports under different names/disguises from when he escaped Germany and subsequently moved to Hollywood. Also, Marlene Dietrich’s complete luggage set and the original backdrop art for Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. A fabulous film museum.

Posted 1 year ago


8 Films by Federico Fellini

8½, Amarcord, La Strada, Juliet of the Spirits, I Vitelloni, 

Nights of Cabiria, City of Women, La Dolce Vita

Posted 1 year ago

This Halloween I’m going as a vampire - the right kind of vampire, this kind of vampire. (***Potential Film of the Year alert***)

Posted 1 year ago


Cannes Film Festival 1983 - Special Jury Prize: Robert Bresson (L’Argent) and Andrei Tarkovsky (Nostalghia).

I have a videotape of the awards ceremony from the 1983 Cannes Film Festival, where a Special Jury Prize was jointly awarded to the then seventy-six-year-old Bresson for his last film, L’Argent, and to Andrei Tarkovksy, for Nostalghia. As Bresson, called up by Orson Welles, stepped on to the stage, a tumult broke out, a furious acoustic battle between those booing and those acclaiming him; the audience was asked for calm a number of times—only as Tarkovsky was invited on stage did the storm of protest abate.

—Michael Haneke