My first visit to the Curzon Mayfair in over 10 years last night. This was the Time Out Special Screening of Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon, a severe but beautiful b&w piece set in pre-WW1 Austria.
The London Film Festival seems to be full of pleasant surprises and I was pleased that Haneke not only introduced the film but also returned (with a translator) to take questions.Rather brilliantly, the broadcaster Paul Gambaccini was in the audience and able to ask the obvious question that the rest of us avoided: why black and white? (the answer was rather typical, i.e. it seemed obvious, but also came with the interesting suggestion that it's clearly from a period that is past history now for all of us and so this seemed like the logical way to represent it on screen. The difficulty in engaging with the film is one of the problems that proved insuperable to me.)
Still, Haneke was pleasant and voluble enough, insisting that the film is not simply about the germination of the Third Reich and that he prefers to leave his films open, without answers. He also alluded to his next project, working with Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant (of Bertolucci's Il Conformista) on a French film about corporeal science. Sounds rather Houellebecquian to me.