Can we separate Art from Life?

‘To value a piece of work does not require us to applaud its creator.” (Ashleigh Wilson, On Artists, MUP, 2019) Or does it? Do we have to love the artist to love the work? Think of Pablo Picasso, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen. All can be judged as having questionable morals. If, like me, you’ve always enjoyed movies such as Allen’s […]

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A Feast of Film

My year of movie-watching started with the little-known YAH (Young at Heart)  festival, followed by the fantastic Alliance Française French Film Festival. Here are some of my favourites: Catherine Deneuve features twice: in the magnificent new print of Buñuel’s 60’s masterpiece ‘Belle Du Jour’, first as the bored housewife Séverine who fulfils her erotic fantasies by secretly becoming a prostitute, and secondly as the ageing ‘Claire Darling’, an octogenarian with a death wish, released 60 years after ‘Belle Du Jour’. Deneuve shines in both films, displaying an amazing range of thespian talent. Her beauty through the years is undiminished, as we see her at each end of her long life. It’s poignant to see her acting alongside her real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni in Julie Bertuccelli’s ‘Claire Darling’ (La Dernière Folie de Claire Darling). Another ‘Blast from the Past’ was the magic and mysterious ‘Last Year at Marienbad’, in a beautifully restored version. Directed by Alain Resnais in 1959, this surrealist black and white movie has lost nothing of its magic in half a century, leaving this viewer as if woken from a dream. Other highlights for me were the satiric ‘Man in a Hurry’, (un Homme Pressé) which played wicked games with French spelling, when its star, the whimsical Fabrice Luchini, learns to speak again after a stroke, and ‘Family Photo’, again directed by a woman, Cécilia Rouaud. Its humour had a bitter edge, perhaps too close a reminder of the invisibility […]

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Movie Madness

Sydney Film Festival 2016: Memories of a Devotee Compared with some past festivals, this year’s SFF was of an exceptionally high standard.  The plush surrounds of the iconic State Theatre added to the intense and slightly guilty  pleasure of a fortnight immersed in film. Outstanding selections included the Canadian feature ‘It’s Only the End of the World‘, about a terminally ill gay […]

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The Great Ingmar Bergman

Had the privilege  this long weekend of viewing seven of Bergman’s films, dating from the late forties to the sixties. What a treat! Each movie was introduced by the erudite David Stratton, who shone light on these sometimes dark, deep movies. From the beautiful and horrifying Virgin Spring, to the fascinating psychoanalytical Persona, we were transported to the wild coastlines and dark forests of Sweden, and invited into the psyches of his characters through brilliant close=ups, and monologues that could well emanate from the analyst’s couch. The elegance of Bergman’s direction was obvious, from his mediaeval ‘The Seventh Seal’ in which his main character gambles for his life with the black-garbed Death, to the light-hearted ‘Smiles of a Summer Night’. So interesting to see how Woody Allen’s ‘A MIdsummer Night’s Sex Comedy’ was influenced by this film of Bergman’s. My favourite was ‘The Silence’, about two sisters and their complex relationship, starring Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom. This was closely followed by ‘Persona’ in which the identities of two women, played by Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, merge and diverge in a dreamlike way, so that the viewer sometimes can’t tell which is which. In one anazing close-up, the two faces are blended onto one.

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