Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Yes, another blog about cinema

To kick things off, a quick look at the first four films of the Wellington Film Society's 2014 programme...

Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, UK 2012)
The notion to build a horror film around a foley artist working on a horror film is genius - one the best "meta" or "postmodern" narrative ideas ever. The final result is sound (sorry) but not striking, mostly due to a third act and denouement that's interesting, but nothing more.

Esterhazy (Izabela Plucinska, Germany/Poland 2009)
Esterhazy, along with the companion film at the 10 March screening of the Wellington Film Society, Rabbit a la Berlin, is a short inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War (or so we thought - thanks Putin for bringing that one back up again!) and the fact that large rabbit populations were actually quite happy in the no man's land between East and West Germany.

Given my general dislike for both claymation and stories involving animal analogues for human issues, this film was never going to win me over in a major way. But there's enough charm in the efficient 25 minute runtime of this short to win me over... just a little.

Rabbit a la Berlin (Bartosz Konopka, Anna Wydra, Germany/Poland 2009)
Like Esterhazy, Rabbit a la Berlin makes a kind of social allegory out of the rabbits situated, indeed prospering, in the 'death zone' between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. In this case, the rabbits have it 'easy' and are somewhat stagnant as a society. Then the Wall comes tumbling down, and suddenly they are faced with change, displacement and other challenges.

The film was vaguely interesting, but the uneasy mix of quasi-faux documentary and almost-satire didn't really work. It ultimately failed as a work of unusual natural history, and it didn't give enough substance for the audience to get its teeth into the politics or social commentary.

Zazie dans la metro (Louis Malle, France 1960)
How to explain Zazie dans le metro to a modern audience? Caro et Jeunet meets Chuck Jones with a dash of the Zucker brothers' Top Secret.

Or something like that.

Based on the book by Raymond Queneau, the film features 10 year old Zazie, who has to stay in Paris with her Uncle Gabriel for two days while her mother spends some time with her new boyfriend. Zazie determines to explore Paris, in which she has various adventures, as her pursuers have various misadventures.

In many respects, Malle's film hasn't dated well. The frequent use of sped-up editing in particular now seems kind of naff, even in a comedy.

The story's little more than an assemblage of cartoonish set pieces, but it still manages to go from diverting to actually quite engrossing about two-thirds of the way through in the Eiffel Tower sequence, and the hypnotic jazz montage scene shortly after.

All screenings of the Wellington Film Society are at the Paramount Cinema.


ETA: My next post will be Thursday, 27 March for a review of NOAH.

ETA 2: I was so unmotivated by Noah that I have decided to leave that review till Sunday, 30 March. I'll post my Eureka review on Saturday.

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading your reviews. I do miss the Wellington Film Society - there's not really anything quite the same here.