Category Archives: Film

Steve Jobs – a fitting biopic of the Apple founder

In a year of superheroes, here is a film that demands attention. This screen adaptation of Steve Jobs’ life, scripted by Aaron Sorkin, recognises the futility of trying to visualise the computing legend. A 2013 biopic of the Apple founder gave a broader view of his life; in contrast Sorkin grabs a few key events and throws them under the same setting. Almost all of Steve Jobs unfolds backstage at three product launches; for the Macintosh (1984), NeXt (1988) and iMac (1998). This framework could have hindered the narrative’s vitality. However, the creative manipulations the film makers use to address these challenges instead have produced one of 2015’s best movies.

Sorkin’s script, combined with director Danny Boyle’s imagery, creates a dreamlike quality. The claustrophobic environment traps the viewer inside Jobs’ state of mind. It’s like someone scanned his brain onto a film monitor and cut his memories together to form an abstract painting. Instead of focusing on highlights, Steve Jobs draws on images from his regretful, megalomaniacal subconscious. Through this approach we see his buried memories seamlessly combining; he becomes a Frankenstein-like figure.

The cast of important figures from Jobs’ life, unsurprisingly, keep pushing him to change. This includes Kate Winslet, in a great supporting turn as Apple Marketing Chief Joanna Hoffman, as Jobs’ only voice of reason. Other colleagues, played by Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels and Michael Stuhlbarg, beg the egotistical Jobs to give others credit for the company’s success. Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) is the ex-girlfriend seeking support in raising their daughter, Lisa (played distinctly by a different actress in each act). Each character has multiple duels with the caesar of Silicon Valley.

Leading this outstanding cast as the man himself is Michael Fassbender in the role of a lifetime. His take on Jobs unleashes a menacing perfectionist, fighting every battle to the death. Indeed, Jobs was a shrewd businessman. By separating the warmth from the charisma, the film explores the personality traits – not always pleasant – that elevated him above his peers. In one showdown between Jobs and Rogen’s Steve Wozniak, the latter says: “How come 10 times in a day, I read ‘Steve Jobs is a genius.’ What do you do?” Jobs replies: “I play the orchestra.”

His humanity, meanwhile, is shown wonderfully through the father-daughter conflict. Jobs constantly denies paternity of Lisa, who persists with him regardless. Her presence allows Sorkin and Boyle to transpose Jobs’ childhood onto Lisa’s character. Just as she is rejected by her father, so was the adopted Jobs. Lisa’s maturation also compels him to wake up from his manic-Machiavellian OCD dream.

The circling narrative seems to be an allegory for dreaming. Jobs’ line: “It’s like five minutes before every launch, everyone goes to a bar, gets drunk, and tells me what they really think of me,” acknowledges Sorkin’s conceit. Additionally, it recognises the idea of a dreamer questioning the reality of events taking place. Only a great film can work on so many levels.

The cinematography successively deploys 16mm, 35mm and digital formats to replicate the aesthetic of each era portrayed. The faultless score, production design and costumes add to the story without distracting. Everything is woven together with sparkling editing that deserves accolades. And while comparisons with The Social Network (another Sorkin-penned tech biopic) are inevitable, Boyle dismisses any resemblance with tenacity and excitement.

Steve Jobs is clearly a $30m experiment. A film on a similar scale, Birdman, won the Oscar for best picture in 2015. Can this one do the same in 2016? Although it’s certainly a contender, it seems very unlikely. It’s not a “message film”. You won’t walk away moved.

Each act is a character study which unfolds an attempt by Jobs to climb Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In that mindset, the casting of Fassbender, who looks nothing like Jobs, works. His spectacular performance portrays Jobs’ own image of himself. The distortion between who he once was and where he stands at the time of death is richly painted. Consequently the look, voice and mannerisms are all in sync, although not the face, which signifies a loss of identity: an essential component in Maslow’s hierarchy. That is why the final act is the closest Fassbender gets to the turtleneck-wearing genius we know. It reminds us Jobs is nearing self-actualisation; that in the next act, Fassbender’s crumbling Frankenstein will morph into the man himself.

However, there is no act four. Whether Steve Jobs reaches the pinnacle of Maslow’s theory is left ambiguous. Maybe the backstage drama that fuels the three acts doesn’t result in an enlightened Jobs. Conversely, by cutting short the momentum of grasping wisdom, it’s Sorkin’s way of saying the man we proclaim a saint was never one.

Review: Kingsman

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman is not your mother’s spy film. Hip and modern, infused with a classic air of British sophistication, this film aficionado left the cinema touting a wide grin and two thumbs up.

The film starts with an introduction to Harry Hart, played by none other than Colin Firth (heritage cinema actor, tried and true…check). He is part of an elite team of spies, headquartered in London (though they’re unaffiliated with any government), working for the international good. One of Harry’s team members, Lee, sacrifices his life early in the film, leaving behind a wife and son. Harry bears this stoically (like any proper Brit), though he offers his assistance should the wife or child of his fallen comrade need help in the future.

Kingsman 2

Fast-forward a few years: Eggsy, the son of our fallen hero is now grown. He’s a bright young man, although raised on what might be called the wrong side of the tracks. His mother has remarried a drunken lowlife, and Eggsy’s only solace is getting away from their council estate flat to cause a bit of mischief with his friends.

Without giving too much away, Eggsy finds himself in trouble with the law. He contacts Harry, and a whole new life is opened up to him. Although unsure of himself, Eggsy proceeds to be trained as a spy, with a class of ‘uppers’ who constantly remark on his origins. In this way, I found the film to be refreshing. So much of British cinema focuses on the divide of classes, whilst Kingsman focused on not just transcendence of class, but transcendence of self, set in a modern and recognisable world. Eggsy doesn’t believe in his abilities coming into training, and the chip on his shoulder is very nearly physically visible. He finds in Harry a patient father figure who teaches him a lesson, quoting Hemingway:

“‘There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.’”

This was the perfect juxtaposition to the classist philosophy. Given Britain’s past with a rigid class system, the recognition of true nobility coming from within resonated with me. It’s been said in other reviews that the film caters to an American audience, with their love for high-class British culture or “bit of posh”. It would be my suspicion that this film catered to a wider British audience, even more so than a general American one. In Eggsy, we have the underdog, the young man raised with little privilege. Harry gives us the true soul of nobility, and Michael Caine’s character, Chester, represents ‘The Establishment’, if you will. These three faces allow us to see the humans beyond their classes, and if you’ve been raised as a Briton, I imagine the contrast here is even more apparent. Of course we know the Uppers don’t always behave righteously. Then again, neither do the rest, regardless of where in the world you are. But these relationships gave more credence to a theory of mine: the British class structure is changing, and is perhaps more fluid than it ever was before. When social changes become apparent on the silver screen, chances are they’re taking place in the real world.

Both The Telegraph and The Guardian were quick to point out faults in the film. The Telegraph’s limited coverage seemed displeased with the film’s references to the Bond franchise, as well as a tasteless and really unnecessary line about anal sex by the Swedish princess (that The Telegraph and I agree on). The Guardian was more concerned with the stereotyping of Samuel L. Jackson and racism featured in the American South scene, where rednecks are Bible-thumping away about “the gays and the liberals”. I think, as an American, it’s fair to say most people don’t have a huge problem with an attack on Westboro-esque ideals. And Jackson’s megalomaniac antagonist was massively entertaining and provided some leeway for our suspension of disbelief. However, the presentation of violence in the American South church scene I did find problematic.

The film itself was fun, packed with excellent action sequences accompanied by music I wouldn’t generally expect from an action/spy film. Keeping to my expectation of British culture, I assumed by using almost techno/club beats, there was less emotion involved with the horrific, if not spectacular, mass slaughter sequences. This juxtaposition served as a guiding factor for the collective emotional response of the audience. Manipulative? Perhaps. But a certain degree of violence is expected when watching a spy film. The actual violence in the film was not my biggest issue, in comparison to the length of time spent on the violence and violent images. It is clearly an adaptation of a comic book franchise, and this is fairly obvious in said images. Whilst the adaptation element needs to be taken into account, I still feel strongly that the violence could have been less, and indeed, should have been.

Overall, however, Kingsman was a great bit of fun. I enjoyed the constant references to British-isms (breeds of dogs, the British unwavering value of politeness), the wry humour, the relationship between Harry and Eggsy, and Eggsy’s revival of confidence in himself. Something for everyone, as the old adage goes. There have been whispers of a sequel. And I know I’d happily queue up for Kingsman II.

The Act of Killing: A Meditation on Human Guilt

The Act of Killing (theatrical release) – 2012

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer

 

Organised by:

Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, and

The Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, Guilt Working Group

 

Venue: Birkbeck Cinema

 

What is the significance of guilt in a modern society? How does our perception of guilt affect our actions, laws, relationships, and cultures? The Birkbeck Institute for Social Research screened The Act of Killing on the 28th of February, to illustrate the need for interdisciplinary debate on the concept of guilt.

The Act of Killing is visually arresting and psychologically taxing. From the perspective of present-day Indonesia, director Joshua Oppenheimer explores the genocide that took place during 1965 and 1966, killing over a million people, through the eyes of its perpetrators: the so-called “free men” gangsters of the island nation.

Meet Anwar Congo. Something of a celebrity among Indonesians, Anwar is a grandfather with a sweet face and gentle disposition. He is quick to smile, revealing a nice set of chompers. It is not the smile one would expect from a mass murderer, though that is exactly what he is. During the purges, Congo was a gangster. He earned money as an executioner for paramilitary thugs, killing named “communists” who were accused of posing a threat to the nation. Seemingly proud of their brutal past, he and his friend, fellow enforcer Herman Koto, feel it is time to reveal their part in the nation’s history, so they agree to help Oppenheimer by re-enacting their part in the genocide on film.

Herman’s personality is in stark contrast to Anwar’s. A paramilitary leader, husband, father, and sometimes drag queen, he has a greater physical presence and seems more at ease with the dramatisation of the killings. He even engages his own children in re-enacting scenes from the murderous rampages. Herman definitely plays to the camera. He believes he and Anwar could be great stars, in spite of their bloody pasts.

Perhaps the toughest of the three, Adi Zulkadry is also a father and husband, and has obviously had some financial success since his gangster days. He feels no guilt over his actions during the coup. He believes the drive for survival is justification of the act of killing, which he freely admits is the worst crime one can possibly commit. Where human rights are concerned, the winners write history; they judge what is right and what is wrong.

The film that these former gangsters are making with Oppenheimer isn’t actually real. It is a device intended to reveal the natures of the individual killers, the cultural and political atmosphere of present day Indonesia (now run by a military dictatorship) and the humanisation (or lack thereof) of the act of killing. It is made on behalf of people who can’t speak out for fear of prosecution or death; when the credits roll, many contributors and crew are listed only as ‘anonymous’. Today, Indonesians still fear for their safety and that of their families.

The re-enactments of the banal brutality are shocking, but perhaps more shocking is the frankness of the interviews with the three former gangsters as they decide on scenes and blocking. Two specific sequences stand out. Firstly, the burning of a village. Actors are chosen off the streets, with the organisation Pancasila Youth playing themselves but 45 years in the past. This was the paramilitary group responsible for most if not all of the deaths during the coup. The re-enactment is meant to depict the torching and pillaging of a village in North Sumatra, home to “communists” and Chinese Indonesians. Here though, the line between dramatisation and reality is blurred: a woman, clearly stunned, is overwhelmed by the scene. She sits on the ground, her eyes unfocused. The men who were just playing the parts of thugs and rapists now try to help and bring her water. Children continue to cry, even after the scene has wrapped. Everyone on set now seems to realise that the sanctioned arson, the twisted cruelty, the unreasonable torture and murders actually happened.

In another powerful scene, Anwar takes the role of a Chinese man facing execution. As all had cited Hollywood gangster films of the 1960s as inspirations to their gangster personae, this is set in an office, the interrogators donning fedoras and smart-looking suits. Anwar, initially committed to acting in the film, now has the tables turned on him. When the time comes for his “execution”, he signals he has had enough, and the scene must stop. Anwar cannot speak, much less continue acting. He has experienced some of the terror he invoked in thousands of victims. When we view Anwar watching the completed scene, he appears his usual self, but the experience has clearly left an impression on his already conflicted mind. Anwar admits early on to having terrible nightmares about the deaths of his many victims. Now he wonders if he actually has sinned, as though it never occurred to him before.

I find The Act of Killing to be at a crossroads of humanity and banality. In his book The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker states that we all are capable of murder, given the appropriate motivation. I find this difficult to swallow, but watching the film, I am constantly reminded of how the animalistic side of our human nature can be encouraged and sustained. I don’t condone the acts of the gangsters, nor do I pretend to understand the motivations of those who seized power or ordered the murders. However, on a human level, I understand the allure of power, the formation of identity, the natural respect for authority, and the comforting effects of luxury.

Most of the documentary subjects are ill-educated and have had little opportunity or encouragement to develop a rounded conscience, thus their differing understandings of guilt. It is my belief that they are all products of a restless society, and given their lack of understanding of compassion, it doesn’t surprise me that they could revel in such violence without remorse.

The only positive to come of this dark chapter of Indonesian history is that it is finally being brought to the global stage. Blatant disregard for the value of human life can no longer be excused. The time for educating and upholding the rights of each person, living or dead, is now. Oppenheimer risked a great deal in making this film, as did many Indonesians. It is an honour to live in an age where this film is celebrated for its achievements. The Act of Killing is utterly, tragically remarkable, and an effective catalyst for change.

The Politics of ‘Pride’ Then and Now

If you saw the film Pride at the cinema, you may have experienced what audiences across the world did: people clapped at the end of the movie.  This doesn’t happen often but sometimes an audience is so moved and filled with joy that they must offer up their physical praise right then and there.  In the filled lecture theatre for the BiGS event Pits and Perverts Revisited: ‘Pride’ the movie and politics now! audience members and panelists affirmed having this experience when they saw the film.  If you’ve seen it, you’ll know why.  It’s a very inspiring story.

L to R: Siân James, Bev Skeggs, Diarmaid Kelliher, Daniel Monk, Mike jackson
L to R: Bev Skeggs, Diarmaid Kelliher, Daniel Monk, Mike jackson

At the Pits and Perverts event, we revisited the story of the group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) forming an unexpected alliance with the striking miners in South Wales.  We heard tales recounted by activists who were there, including Swansea East MP Siân James who participated in the strike and Mike Jackson, who founded LGSM.  The feeling left by the film permeated the evening.

The miner’s strike was a response to the government’s announcement of the intended closure of 20 mines and over 70 pits, leaving thousands of workers job-less. Thatcher famously referred to the miners and the Labour party as the “enemy within” in a speech given to the House of Commons on 20 July 1984. LGSM formed because they saw themselves as sharing an experience of oppression with the miners, Mike explained. They were both outcast by society, being labelled by the government as an enemy, and being harassed by police. Bev Skaggs, a sociologist from Goldsmiths who spoke on the night, explained that Thatcher’s government named many “enemies within.” In the early 80s, newspapers often called HIV/AIDS the “gay plague,” like the Daily Mail’s headline, “Britain threatened by gay virus plague” on 6th January 1985. Meanwhile the miner’s strike was an illegal (not balloted) action, so the mining families were struggling to feed themselves without pay or access to government benefits.

A short documentary about LGSM, made in 1986, was shown at the event. It showed campaigners standing outside of the local bookshop Gay’s the Word with bucket pails, asking for change to support the miners. They raised about £300-£400 per week to send to the miners. The miners relied on support groups for sustenance, and LGSM was one of their biggest donors.

SAM_2484
Mike Jackson

Mike Jackson said he joined the Gay Liberation movement because he was tired of compromising his sexuality while campaigning for the Labour party. “The Labour party was characterised by white men in grey suits – mostly sexist and homophobic,” he said. He said he felt that the Women’s Liberation movement was Gay Lib’s big sister.

Siân noted how the strike changed her role as a wife and a woman.

Siân James
Siân James

Before the strike, she was just an adage to her husband’s Trade Union activities. However, the strike needed women to be on the front lines, taking the risk of getting arrested. Women weren’t working, so “we couldn’t be sacked like the men,” Siân said. Siân shared an exchange between her mother and a photographer of women in the strike, Imogen, that captures this change:

 “Isn’t it nice, what’s happening?” Imogen asked, while waiting in Siân’s living room.
“No. I never know where she is now,” said Siân’s mother.
“Where was she before?”
“Sitting at home knitting.”

She plans to soon resign as MP to get back into grassroots campaigning.

The film has given an energy to all who have seen it, whether it rekindled an old passion or ignited a new one. I know many people in the lecture theatre that night walked out wanting to do something. Let’s take this energy and put it into action. We need it now.

You could volunteer for the Camden LGBT Forum, donate to OutRage, or join the LGSM in their campaigning, as they have reformed after 30 years. To do the last one, I recommend inquiring at Gay’s the Word at 020 72787654 or sales@gaystheword.co.uk. One speaker of the evening, Diarmaid Kelliher, emphasized how important Trade Unions are to the solidarity movement, and recommended that more young people join and broaden the unions. You can look find your local union here.

The London Pride march in 2015 will mark the 30th anniversary of the miners coming to the Pride march to return the support the lesbians and gays gave them.

Pride is still playing at the Odeon Panton Street in central London at 17:00 M-R.

Nordic Factory

Deeply rooted in the genre dubbed ‘Nordic Noir,’ Nordic Factory is a compilation of short films by a group of filmmakers from Scandinavia and all around the world.  The directors share a common theme, but have additional flairs from their own cultures and technical stylings.

Characterised by repression, guilt and regret, Scandinavian dramas have introduced a sense of new and original content into British television and film. The four shorts that comprise Nordic Factory (SundaysListenVoid, and The Girls and the Dogs) focus on these qualities. In a succinct manner, being shorts, they emphasise the problem and the atmosphere without the suggestion of hope or redemption. Perhaps it is this realism that appeals to a British audience? You be the judge.

Sundays

Directed by Kræsten Kusk (Denmark) & Natalia Garagiola (Argentina), Sundays is a meditation on the loose sense of duty Anne feels for her ailing father, Theodor. The unsaturated colouring of the picture compliments the coldness of their relationship. It is a character-driven narrative with a pacing perfectly suited for a short film: the revelation of information is well timed. We only learn why Anne acts purely out of duty when visiting her father once we’ve established the characters and their general dispositions, which in turn reveals the reason she controls her emotions and reactions so carefully. The end of the film leaves us without a suggestion of hope for Anne. Her situation simply “is,” and she copes with it as best she can. The story’s realistic depiction reflects many personal stories that play out in much the same fashion. There is no commentary about the inner lives of many seemingly ordinary people, be it individuals on the street, in the market, or at the desk adjacent to one’s own. Sundays is an honest and realistic, albeit quite depressing, storytelling venture.

Listen

The second short film, Listen, directed by Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni is a joint Finnish/Zambian effort. Whilst the colouring is much the same as Sundays, the contrast is noticeably starker, as befits the film’s content.

An interesting technique at the beginning gives some insight into the perspectives of the characters. A woman, fully veiled, tells of her husband’s constant abuse and her fear for the lives of both her son and herself. Next, we hear the same words but we see another woman, with only her face exposed. The same begins again, only this time, we see a male police officer. Midway through the veiled woman’s monologue, the camera cuts to a female police officer. From here, continuity editing picks up as the narrative moves forward and we learn the second woman is meant to be an interpreter at a Danish police station. However, the purpose of being shown all three perspectives one after the other is to give a sense of differing motivations of the characters. The veiled woman is prostrating herself to find safety; the interpreter fears for the woman’s long-term safety and thus gives a false account to the police officers, who don’t speak the veiled woman’s language and mistake her for being loud, unruly, and impolite. It is an interesting take on miscommunication and possibly a commentary on the danger of stereotypes and racial frustrations.

The title says it all.

Void

The third short, directed by Milad Alami (Denmark) and Aygul Bakanova (Kyrgyzstan), takes place (predictably) at night on a ferry towards Bornholm. Daniel, Scandinavian by descent, befriends Amir, a Palestinian from Copenhagen. The acquaintance seems dodgy to start, as Daniel, played by Lars Mikkelsen (Borgen and Sherlock 2010), seems to be coming on to Amir. But as with all uncomfortable characters, we find ourselves warming to him when he charmingly brings up his wife. Daniel now seems safe, and we mentally chastise ourselves for seeing something where there is nothing.

As the evening goes on, we are drawn to Daniel’s face. His gaze is distinctly predatory at certain moments, and when a close-up of him in the bathroom holds for just a second too long, we know that something is off with this encounter. Daniel has succeeded in befriending Amir, but he has an alternative agenda. He confronts Amir and tells him he wants him to have sex with his wife whilst he watches. Amir is alarmed and casts Daniel off him. He then takes pity on Daniel, seeing his odd behaviour as an act coming from pain, and agrees to go down to he and his wife’s room.

Again, the title says everything. Daniel has a void in his life and his behaviour is a sort of fetishised coping mechanism. The tragic beauty in a film like this is how perfectly it fits into its genre. Trying to relieve suffering by bringing another human into it does not always alleviate it. The message applies to the wider concept that life isn’t always positive. Realism better serves people than optimism, which sets them up for failure.

The Girls and the Dogs

The sunniest and most colourful of the shorts, this Nordic Noir was directed by Selma Vilhunen (Finland) and Guillaume Mainguet (France).

In their early teens, Mette, Lina and Anna Sophie are going to a party. But – they must pass through the woods and cross the beach to get their destination. (Sounds like a fairytale we’ve all heard of?). Chatting about the usual artifices of teenage life, the girls set out. In the midst of an important discussion about which boys will be at the party, Mette, the most thoughtful of the three, sees two shapes out on the beach. They turn out to be dead dogs, and, reminded of a story told to her by her granny, Mette proceeds to tell a Greenlandic story of creation. This story proves to be the most realistic element of the entire short. Instead of an Adam and Eve story of creation, Mette retells the story of a young girl, her rape, and the resulting offspring. The girls put the dogs to rest out at sea, then proceed with their banal chatter as they approach the complex where we assume the party will be taking place.

When Mette tells the story, the camera seldom deviates from her face, except for a couple reaction shots from Lina and Anna Sophie. It serves as a meta-narrative, that is, a story within a story, that comments on the larger story, i.e. the film The Girls and the Dogs. Being violent and desperate, the Greenlandic story of creation serves as contrast to the youth and promise of the girls, the sunny day, and their party. It reminisces about the uncertainty of life and that it is a process of destruction and creation, one we sometimes have little control over.

Nordic Factory is an excellent introductory Nordic Noir film for those unfamiliar with the genre and may pique interest in other television programmes of its kind (e.g. The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge, Wallander, The Hunt, Adam’s Apples). It’s equally as enjoyable if you’re already familiar with Scandinavian shows. Riddled with troubles, secrets, sadness, and gloom, you’re sure to think deeply about the broody tendencies on your telly that Brits just can’t get enough of.

Now Gallery comes to Greenwich @NOWGallery

My first of what I hope will be many outings to the newly opened Now Gallery in Greenwich was on Halloween and the treat or perhaps the trick of the evening was the opening short of Disney’s 1929 Skeleton Dance Skeleton Dance was not part of the sextet of films being screened that evening but perhaps, at least for me, because I like animation the highlight of the evening.

The evening, titled Unshore: the Artists’ Thames on Film, was the second in a series focusing on different aspects of London life. The films can best be described as innovative, arty and creative. For me, they were refreshing to watch being different from we usually get to see on television or in the cinema. The six films required active engagement and perhaps to the chagrin of the filmmakers, if they were to know, what I made of the films was miles away from their intent.

Polly II: Plan for a Revolution in the Docklands by Anja Kirschner  was a full-length feature lasting 30 minutes. The film’s premise was if East London was cut off by flooding then the poorer population would be segregated from the rich who’d have no intentions of rectifying the situation. It has a bit of everything you’d expect from a disaster film and perhaps a bit more, but for me the social commentary embedded in the film could not be overlooked and forced the viewer to think about, if nothing else the north/south and east/west divide along economic and social lines that the River Thames creates.

The other films of the evening did not capture my attention as much with the exception of Colour on the Thames, which took you down the Thames in colour in the mid 1930s. Not knowing the London of old this was for me a historical gem.

Debuting that night was Tamesa, by Rosalind Fowler. It would, perhaps, have been prudent of me to read what the film was about before I drew any conclusions as to its meaning. There is a wonderful scene of the filmmaker dragging 16 mm film along the banks of the Thames. It readily put me in mind of the scene in Independence Day (where Will Smith drags the alien muttering and cursing away). Having my reference point in place, I interpreted this as our alienation from critical thinking because of how film is used to direct our moral codes and shape our views of our world. I was on a roll in my understanding this very arty, imaginative film and I was enjoying how easily I was understanding “art”. When the filmmaker lights the water on fire, I’m positive that she has done this to show the level of pollution in the Thames.

Then the screenings were followed with a Q&A session. If anyone had looked at me as the film was explained they would have seen me shrinking into an unrecognisable substance (known as embarrassment). No, the filmmaker was not talking about alienation of any sort nor was she concerned about pollution in the Thames. The film was about processing analogue film using the water from the Thames.  What was understood by some was it reflected the struggle for artists to move away from analogue film and to adopt the digital medium.

Yes, I had clearly missed the point. But despite this, I was able to take something from this film that was meaningful to me. Although, I think the filmmaker may totally disagree, I think there is room for my interpretation. Regardless of the misinterpretation this was a delightful 10 minute film.

If you are a film student here at Birkbeck the Now Gallery has a late evening (Now Late) the last Friday of every month. The opportunity to see some innovative films, to chat, ask questions with some of the best, upcoming talent and with veterans for the price of £5 in a small but comfortable theatre may prove not only to be of educational value but a nice evening out.

The Now Gallery is nestled in the Greenwich Peninsula next door to the 02 Arena. The next instalment is titled Capital: Framing London and will be held Friday, 28th November.

 

Photo credit: Peter Morgan