Friday, September 30, 2005

Repertory watch: Curzon Soho

The Curzon Soho seems to be the place to go this weekend. Apart from the short films I’ve already mentioned, the venue will be showing Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy (Recut) by director Graham Coleman. The re-release of the acclaimed documentary marks the digital remastering of the masterpiece, first released in 1979. The new version includes additional material and a new commentary, and has been edited down from its original four hours to a more compact running time, retaining its three-part structure. Part 1 introduces us to the richness of Tibetan Buddhist culture and observes the Dalai Lama in his dual role as Head of State and spritual teacher, filming him in his residence in Dharamsal, North India. The central section of the film generates a vision of Tibetan society previously unseen. Set entirely within the confines of one monastery, in the remote mountain retreats and within the township with the monastery serves, the film follows the lamas of the Sakya Monastery in Boudha, Nepal, as they prepare to perform an ancient protective ritual known as ‘A Beautiful Ornament.’ In Part 3, we move to the landscape of Ladakh, following the monks and farmers through their day and ending with a depiction of the monastery’s moving ritual response to a death in the community. The promise is that this is the first time the film is shown as intended. So get your Buddhist bells down to the materialistic confines of Soho and give the singing Hare Krishnas some serious competition.

Sunday, 2/10 at 2:45pm.

Filtered vigil: Liz Taylor is ill

The Daily Mail reported today that 'Elizabeth Taylor is losing her battle against heart disease.' The alarm bells in my heart went off as soon as I caught the picture of the old Maggie the Cat from the corner of my eyes. I know it's a bit of demode to be worshipping old Hollywood stars, but Liz Taylor is Liz Taylor and in our boring world populated with Gwyneth Paltrows and Jennifer Lopezes, who could just as well be working as traders on the floor of the stock exchange, the possible death of Liz Taylor heralds the end of the a more fun era, of which she's one of the last as well as the greatest of the remnants.

The article said that Liz is reported to be 'sleeping 12 to 14 hours a day, rarely leaving her bedroom, and hasn't set foot outside her Bel Air home in Los Angeles for more than a month.' The article closed with a quote from an unnamed source, who said: 'Her overriding problem these days isn't a pill addiction or diabetes or anything neurological. It's more like a deep, deep sadness.'

Cut to tears rolling down my cheeks.

Now cheer yourself up with some Liz Taylor movies:

Out 30/9

There's Innocence...
and the rest.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

If you're in town in the Soho area Saturday afternoon and feel like stretching into the evening a bit, check out the programme of short films at the Curzon Soho that starts at 6pm. The programme was compiled by Short Seasons and they promise 'a selection of shorts from raw, fresh and talented filmmakers, showcasing festival winners alongside previously unexposed talent.'

Filtered news: Foreign Oscar entries has reported that a second round of European countries have named their Oscar entries as the 30/9 deadline approaches more quickly than Gwyneth Paltrow can shed a tear.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Filtered event: Resfest


The annual festival of shorts, videos and feature, RESFEST, has landed on the NFT for the 2005 edition. Among the highlights are the premiere of Doug "Scratch" Pray's new documentary, Infamy, an exploration of graffiti that plays against stereotypes and a preview of Mike Mills' debut feature Thumbsucker.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Review: Innocence (out 30/9)

Welcome to the doll house: Innocence

A very young girl arrives in a coffin at a same-sex school enclosed by woods. The place has a timeless feel about it, although the dress code bespeaks of the 1960s or even the 1950s. The girls have the posture of ballet dancers and immaculate manners as a result of careful and strict grooming. This is the universe depicted by the uncanny, haunting film Innocence, a combination of dark fairy tale fare and drama that plumbs into the realms of female pre-pubescence with nods to magic realism and surrealism.

Directed by one of the rising stars of French cinema, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Innocence is based on an 1888 short story by symbolist German writer Frank Wedekind. Hadzihalilovic shows here a tremendous gift for creating symbolic imagery and atmosphere, not to mention a very developed cinematic vision.

After Iris, the girl from the coffin, is welcomed into the institution, she becomes the protégé of the oldest in the group, Bianca. As it happens, every evening Bianca has to go to an undisclosed place, much to Iris's distress, who has to be left behind. The only two adult presences in the place are Mademoiselle Edith (Hélene de Fougerolles) and Mademoiselle Eva (Marion Cotillard, seen previously in A Very Long Engagement). Most of the girls seem happy enough, mainly because they know nothing else or perhaps any memories from their prior lives elsewhere seem to have been erased. One of them (Alice) rebels and climbs the wall that separates the place from the rest of the world, disappearing into the forest. The mise-en-scene is immaculately elegant, understatedly sumptuous with lots of dark furniture, white linen and the breathtaking location of the film.


Innocence is like a dream that hypnotises the viewer with its strange yet recognisable imagery. It is one of those texts into which many interpretations can be read. The most external layer shows a feminine sensitivity dealing with the female soul as it prepares for a world dominated by men. It's strange in that enclosed universe that is constructed like a Freudian metaphor of female biology and sexuality, but it's also cosy and protected. Hadzihalilovic never really explains much, which also gives the film a certain tension. Sometimes it almost veers into Gothic horror clad in Channel, but to good effect.


Despite the fact that nothing much happens, the film generates a feeling of compelling curiosity. Like the girls in it, the viewer is seduced into forgetting what the outside world is like and becomes as surprised by the panorama of a sunny city square as the characters that get outside of the school at the end are.

Hadzihalilovic managed to create a meticulous balance between fantasy/surrealism and reality in a film that moves like a dream but which is, all the same, naturalistic. Innocence is a beautifully woven fable tailored to the contemporary imagination populated by accumulated references. It is a very idiosyncratic work with one of the most beautiful and haunting opening credits scenes I've ever seen.

Preview: video art showing in London

Hayden Fowler, White Australia, 2005

Grant Stevens, Like Two Ships, 2005

The Elastic Residence gallery in the East End will be showing between 12 and 30 October the work of Australian video makers Hayden Fowler and Grant Stevens (pictured) straight out of Sidney's Gallery Barry Keudoulis.

Elsewhere, the Beaconsfield gallery is hosting the exhibition Chronic Epoch- The Celebration of a Decade. The artists include Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Bob & Roberta Smith, Tomoko Takahashi, Kerry Stewart, Hayley Newman, (nobleandsilver), Anna Best, Susan Collis, Keith Coventry, Shane Cullen and David Cunningham. The show includes an extensive programme of screenings as well and it seems worth checking out (until 20 November).

Finally, at the Camden Arts Centre, Runa Islam and Roderick Buchanan show their video and film works.The show runs until 13 November.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Filtered oddity in space: the moon-landing hoax

Strange news arrive at The Filter's newswire. It's about a website promoting a film that promises to prove once and for all that the moon-landing was a hoax. Since the press-release is really interesting, I decided to share it with readers in its entirety, verbatim, just like Bloomberg sometimes does.

Bart Sibrel, writer, director and producer of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon (AFTH) has upped the ante in his quest to prove the Apollo moon landings were not authentic by launching a new web site and releasing three new DVDs: Astronauts Gone Wild (AGW), Apollo 11 Monkey Business (MB) and Apollo 11 Post-Flight Press Conference (PC).

AGW features the complete footage that aired two nights in a row on Leno and around the world which showed an altercation between Sibrel and Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Aldrin punched Sibrel in the face after Sibrel called Aldrin “a liar, coward and a thief” for his role in continuing to perpetrate the hoax.

“I have since apologized for provoking him to hit me,” Sibrel said. “And the fact remains that we did not go to the moon. It is a travesty to be misleading the world in this important area of science.”

PC is the complete footage of the August 11, 1969 press conference in which members of the press questioned Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins after their alleged return from the moon.

Sibrel believes that anyone watching this footage with a truly open mind will discern quickly that the astronauts are lying. “They look like they are at a funeral for an hour and a half,” he says, “instead of victorious warriors worthy of praise.”

“After spending half of a million dollars and ten years researching this topic, I would bet my life that the moon landings were fraudulent,” Sibrel said.

Sibrel said that while altered transcripts (when comparing the transcript with the footage) and audio clips of the post-flight conference have already been available, this is the only DVD that shows the video of this conference in its entirety.

MB contains nearly two hours of Apollo 11 footage which Sibrel believes reveals the staging taking place during the mission.

“Included is the unedited footage of the Apollo 11 crew faking being half-way to the moon when they are clearly in low-Earth orbit,” Sibrel said.

Moon Movie

Friday, September 23, 2005

Filtered meditation: they say queer cinema is back...

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain

With Ang Lee's recent triumph at the Venice festival with his gay cowboy film Brokeback Mountain, the gay media and pundits have started to proclaim that queer cinema is back. I expect Lee's movie to be a cinematic milestone: he's appropriated the most American off all genres and gave it the gay treatment - that is quite something. But whether 'queer cinema' is back remains to be seen because, the question is, was it really there in the first place?

Repertory watch/Berlin.Symphony of a City

Berlin, Symphony of a City

Early cinema and montage film fans are in for a treat this weekend. The Barbican will screen on Sunday (25/9) at 4pm Walther Ruttmann's Berlin Symphony of a City (Berlin. Die Sinfonie der Grossstadt), which created the template for films that use speed and build-up techniques to create a sense of movement and depict the kinetic life a city. The film shows the motion of the metropolis from morning until midnight, starting from its awakening, the crowds of workers at train stations (a motif that was very much in vogue at the beginning of last century), city dwellers and the morphing of sun-lit urban space into the artificially-lit theatrical universe of the city at night.

Out 23/9/Preview

After beeing booed in Leicester Square in London earlier this week with his wife Madonna, Guy Ritchie now gets the bruising he deserves from the critics as Revolver hits the screens. Has any film director been more hated than Guy Ritchie? I can't remember anything like that, at least not on the level which Ritchie seems to arouse contempt in critics and film fans alike. And when you see Madonna Inc. (who really should rename herself MacDonna) arm-in-arm with that bead-eyed public school boy, all those people who used to love the brash, sassy pop artist who in the early 90s became a figurehead of sexual liberation and the mainstreamisation of the gay scene, gaze at her now and ask themselves, 'who's that woman?' It's the former provocateur reinvented for the Bush era, I guess.

Other releases

Filteres news: London Film Festival announces line-up

The 49th London Film Festival, which will take place between 19 October and 3 November, has chosen The Constant Gardener (by Fernando 'City of God' Meirelles) for the opening gala and George Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck for the closing of the event. The festival's line-up includes 33 European and 120 UK premieres. Tickets are fought over, so early booking is advised.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Filtered news: Latin American cinema festival

There’s no stopping the Latin America thang in London. We’re barely done with a Brazilian film fest and along comes another one, casting an even wider cinematic net to include both Spanish and Portuguese-language films. Latin Exposure is a two-week bonanza of cinema, which includes stuff that retro-loving enthusiasts will, well, really love: vintage Brazilian films from the 1970s such as Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands and All Nudity Will Be Punished. Yummy.


Filtered reportage: Catherine Deneuve at the NFT

As part of the season dedicated to the great French film icon, Catherine Deneuve took the stage of the NFT for another instalment of the Guardian interviews. Deneuve was interviewed after a screening of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (more on the film later) by Geoff Andrew, the NFT programmer, who conducted an informal, warm and sort of gossipy chat with the muse. Deneuve came across as a very sane and grounded actress, avoiding erudite comments about cinema and making it all sound really simple and easy. No chance she could ever end up like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.

She wouldn't, anyway, because she still works constantly, appearing in arthouse films with the same grace as she illuminates the screens in bigger productions. Deneuve regaled the audience with remembrances of her work with Bunuel, Truffaut and her encounter with Hitchcock, who had planned to make a film with her (come to think of it, she really would have made the ultimate Hitchcock blonde), but due to an accident with Hitchcock the project never materialized. When asked the classical NFT question, ‘Any regrets for dedicating your life to cinema’, Deneuve hastened to correct Andrew that she never dedicated her life to cinema; it’s always been just a job and she appeared really sincere when she said that. Deneuve was also plugging a book containing her diary entries over decades called Close Up and Personal, so there you go, she got a plug here too.

Front window: Deneuve in The Umbrellas of

As to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Le Parapluies de Cherbourg in French), this film is a unique cinematic experience. Made in 1964 with glorious candy-coloured art-direction and directed by one of the Novelle Vague luminaries, Jacques Lemy, The Umbrellas… is a hybrid beast. A mixture of musical, operetta and drama, it is perhaps best described as a deconstructivist musical since the genre conventions are laid bare in the service of reality. It’s a very simple story of an unsuccessful love story, which automatically disqualifies it for ‘happy-ever-after’ Broadway fare. It’s an ecstatic exaltation of the minutiae of life with a strong French flavour, of course, but universal in its humanism and sensitivity. If you like the work of super-kitsch and colourful French photo-duo Pierre and Giles, see this and revel in its magic. On now and until next week only.

Related shop window:::

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Filtered news/Shane Meadows starts shooting new film

Industry news arrives at The Filter's wires: Under the working title This is England, Shane Meadows (Dead Man’s Shoes, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, A Room for Romeo Brass, Twentyfourseven), started shooting his new film last week. The film is described as 'darkly comic rites of passage story which unfolds during the summer of 1983, when Britain’s disenchanted youth took to the streets of the working class towns across the nation.' It tells the story of Shaun, an 11-year-old kid growing up in the north of England. Set during the summer holidays, it follows his rites of passage from a shaggy haired ruffian grieving the loss of his father in to a shaven headed thug whose anger and pain are embraced by the local skinhead fraternity. Cast includes Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley, Joe Gilgun, Andrew Shim and Vicky McClure.

Shane Meadows stuff on Amazon:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Filtered meditation: is cocaine a film genre?

Local warming and cocaine in Brazil: Lower City

Is cocaine, after all, a film genre? The recent episode with supermodel Kate Moss innocently caught chopping out lines of coke made me wonder about that. Alas, the recent marketing campaign for the British film The Business sold it on the basis that it contained ‘more charlie than Casino’ and, frankly, who cares about some lines of coke when the Artic’s ice cap is melting away? Only the anachronistic British tabloids do, who probably get the idea of vendettas on beautiful supermodels during brainstorming sessions in the toilet. But going back to the coke film genre, yes, it does seem that the big screen has something of a love affair with the white powder. In fact, a new addition to the genre is coming up soon, the Brazilian film Lower City (late October release date tbc), from the Walter Salles movie factory. It seems like coke sells. And a lot.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Filtered news/Short film competition

Do you like films? Do you like speed? Do you like making films on speed? (Andy Warhol did, but that’s another story…) Then, here’s your chance: Faster Films is holding a short film competition in conjunction with Future Shorts on the theme of speed, as in 'velocity'. The deadline is October 23, so hurry up.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Out 16/9


Except for Wolf Creek (pictured) and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, starring the ultimate French diva, Catherine Deneuve, this is a pretty lame weekend for film releases. Stick to repertory choices.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Repertory watch/Tate Modern

Tate Moderne is showing the work of legendary California-based filmmaker Morgan Fisher. Fisher began his career as an editor in the commercial film industry before exploring the avant-garde. His first-hand insight into the inner workings of Hollywood narrative led him to examine and deconstruct the narrative of film and the industry itself with humour and intimacy, as represented by films like Standard Gauge (1984) and Production Stills (1970). Great exercise in film about film which occupies many a imagination of video artists these days.


FILTERED REPORTING/Child star turns into pony-tailed man

Last night I attended the opening of the New Brasil film festival down in Brick Lane and watched for the fourth time, I guess, Central Station. I was surprised at my the fact that the film still drew tears from my big Brazilian eyes everytime Fernanda Montenegro cried on screen. Maybe it had something to do with the free-flowing gratis Brahma beer, but that film, which is not really my favourite thing in the world, always has that effect on me. Anyway, the child star of the film, Vinicius de Oliveira, was present, and he resembled nothing the cute, innocent boy on the screen: he's a grown-up man now with the smell of celluloid, all dressed in black and sporting a studio-executive-office ponytail. He was very sweet, though, when he spoke to the audience and I saw him dry up his eyes at the end of the show. I'm not alone there, it seems.

FILTERED NEWS/Bloggers in arms

First there was my article in QX magazine about gay bloggers. Now the International Herald Tribune, the world’s most chic newspaper, followed in my footsteps and wrote about fashion bloggers. Apparently they are legion. And ferocious.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Repertory watch/Werner Herzog season

Herzog shoes another scene

The great German directo, Werner Herzog, has got to be one of the most ardent searchers for cinematic truth as well as one of the most uncomprimising film artists to ever swim in the piranha-infested film industry. With films like Fitzcarraldo and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, he's made history as one of the major proponents of the so-called New German Cinema.
A visionary, a madman, a philosopher and a great film-maker. For those who know little or nothing about Herzog, don't miss the opportunity to brush up on the auteur at the season dedicated to him that goes on until 22 September at the Goethe-Institut London and Ciné lumière (see links bar on the right). See you there.

Review: Wolf Creek (out 16/9)

Fear eats the soul: Wolf Creek
If Wolf Creek had been made 30 years ago, it would be destined to be a cult horror classic. But in our desensitised times, it will register merely as an interesting experiment in mixing genre and realism. Still, director Greg McLean did a great job by taking inspiration from the pared-down style of the Dogme 95 manifesto (handheld camerawork, location-shooting etc) and mixing it with sprinkles of B-movie gore. The effect is so strong that I feel compelled to warn readers that this is really scary stuff, the strongest type of fear that cinema has ever made me feel.

Not that the levels of gore are much higher than most Hollywood slasher movies. The difference is that in Wolf Creek there is a notable absence of camp, which normally turns horror movies into pantomime. And because this is a proper film, we get to know the characters really well before their suffering starts. The effect is tantamount to watching friends being murdered and not being able to do anything about it.

And who are they? Two English girls on holiday in Australia, travelling in the remote southwestern Australian outback with a cute lad from Sydney. When their car breaks down at Wolf Creek, in the middle of nowhere, a Crocodile Dundee-style redneck comes to their rescue. And then McLean subverts the archetype of the friendly Australian bushman into a cold-blooded monster reigning free in the wilderness. McLean also uses a Blair Witch-style configuration of fact, with title cards at the beginning of the film saying that every year in Australia 30,000 people go missing and 90 per cent of them are found within a month. I’ll never go to Australia.

And what is the point of showing the human soul at its darkest, the banality of evil, the dullness of psychosis? Exactly that.

Filtered news/Brazilian film festival starts today

Just a reminder

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Filtered news/The Filter mentioned in QX magazine

Good start of the week. I wrote a piece for QX magazine on gay bloggers which is coming out in this week's issue. The editor had the kindness to mention my own blog with my byline so I guess this will be a busy week for The Filter's traffic wardens. You can read the full story here.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Filtered news/Asian Extreme

The Filter's newswire has received information from the 'iconoclastic' Tartan Films about the Asia Extreme 2005 season. It is a season of extreme films made in Asia, of course, which has given the world some pearls like Mike Takashi's Audition and Hideo Nakata's Dark Water, recently remade and westernalised by Water Salles. So expect super-natural horror (R-Point), a police thriller (One Nite in Mongkok)and thrillers galore (such as Abnormal Beauty). The season does what it says on the tin, that is, it is extreme, but whether it is in extreme good or bad taste will have to be decided by you.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Repertory watch/Breathless

Belmondo and Seberg in Breathless

The Curzon Mayfair is celebrating celebrating the launch of the International Herald Tribune’s BREATHLESS…International Herald Tribune Arts Season with a special screening of Jean Luc Godard's masterpiece Breathless (1960). The screening will be followed ollowed by a round table discussion on the legacy of Breathless with 'experts from the media' - would that maybe be film critics? Anyway, people may keep saying how cool Breathless is, what with Jean-Paul Belmondo's dangling cigarette and Jean Seberg's hip International Herald Tribune journalist. But it's good for more meaninful reasons than mere 'coolness': it's a film that helped restore a lightness and playfulness to the stuffy cinema that the 1950s produced by defying conventions that dictated how editing and narrative should be.

Curzon Mayfair - 22/9 - 6:30pm (see links for details).

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Review: The Aristocrats (Out 9/9)

Can a film based on one joke be any good?
In the case of The Aristocrats, the answer is yes, not so much because of the film itself, which is pretty much standard documentary fare, but on the strength and curiosity of the subject itself and the wonderful bevy of American comedians who appear in it. Produced by Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette, the film feature luminaries such Drew Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Eddi Izzard and many other (mostly Jewish) faces that you will be happy to get acquainted with. So what is this joke, after all? If you don't know it, it would be a shame to spoil the fun, but it does involve a hell of a lot of graphic images of sex, scatology and the talent of the comedian who can improvise on a template. Sounds intriguing? Go see this movie.

Also out this week...

DVD Watch/Flesh, Trash and Heat

The famous 'Andy Warhol' trilogy, which was actually directed by Paul Morrissey, is finally available on DVD via Amazon. The films mix extreme realism, experimentation, a lot of improvisation and, in my view, hysterically camp humour. No 'indie director' has gone that far ever since

In Flesh (1968) we follow a teenage hustler’s attempts to raise money for an abortion for his wife’s lesbian girlfriend. In Trash (1970) rather than get rid of a baby, a sexually impotent heroin user and his ambiguously gendered girlfriend (played by Holly Woodlawn, recently seen in Milwauke, Minnesota) try to start a family by faking a pregnancy to get on welfare. In Heat (1972) a young, forgotten TV child star seeks to make a comeback in LA by getting involved with the family of a former B movie star - now a gameshow panellist - her lesbian daughter and her bisexual ex-husband.

The DVD features the fully uncut and newly restored versions of the films as well as a host of extras prepared and selected by Paul Morrissey himself and commentaries from British arthouse luminaries. Delicious, and not only because of Joe Dalessandro's gorgeous screen presence.

Filtered news/Pasolini murder case to be reopened

Pier Paolo Pasolini

The case of the murder of Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who was killed in 1975, is to be reopened by Rome police after the man convicted of his murder renounced his earlier confession. The official version of Pasolini's murder is that he was killed by a 17-year-old hustler called Pelosi in a deserted beach in Ostia, near Rome. But Pelosi said in a recent TV interview that the murder was in fact committed by a gang of three people. For long this official version has been contested since many believe that Pasolini was killed by fascists who used his homosexuality as a cover-up. The reopening of the case may signal that the truth will finally be revealed.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Filtered news: Brazilian film festival in London

Time flies by. It's been ten years now since Brazilian cinema underwent a Phoenix-like renaissance in the mid-1990s, after a period of absolute inertia in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and became one of the most coveted national cinemas in the world, with Walter Salles leading the parade with his international successes. To celebrate a decade of what has became known Novo Cinema Novo, New Brasil is organising a festival at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane between 14 and 18 September which includes some of the main films produced in the period and a workshop with Brazil's leading film theoretician, Lucia Nagib. Not to be missed.


Filtered news/Video art at the Serpentine Gallery

Still from Gentlemen 2003

British videomakers Oliver Payne and Nick Relph take over the Serpentine Gallery to show their videos which mix the aesthetics of documentary, music video and video diary. London is their main subject. The duo have been collaborating since 1999 and won the Golden Lion for Best Artists Under 35 at the Venice Biennale in 2003. The show runs from 6/9 to 2/10.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Filtered anticipation/Almodovar blogs on new film.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. If like me you wait for the next Pedro Almodovar film like a child awaits Xmas, here are the good news: he's making a new film. Now, the even better news is that he's writing a production diary. The film stars a de-Cruised Penelope Cruz and veteran Almodovarette, Carmem Maura. And it's called Volver.


Out 2/9

Out this week, full stop