Wednesday, 19 January 2011

BBC Radio 4 Film Season Diary Day 3

Given that I will be going to see Black Swan when it is released on Friday, I thought I'd better get up to speed with the films of Darren Aronofsky. This is something that I try to do as a matter of course, which at the end of last year meant watching Abbas Kiarostami's 10 ahead of Certified Copy, and Control as well as the music videos of Anton Corbijn prior to his The American.

Whilst I was in the library - I borrow DVDs from public libraries, rather than dedicated DVD rental shops or mail-rental schemes such as LOVEFilm - I came across a DVD of Tetro, a Francis Ford Coppola film that I managed to completely miss during its limited release in this country last year. So, with Aronofsky's Requiem For A Dream, I came home with two discs and, frankly, not enough to time in which to watch them.

Tetro is a dark, vaguely puzzlebox thriller with a patriarchal twist. It's more Chinatown than Festen... and not really either of them, concentrating on its Latin-American location and culture as much as the coming of age drama at its centre. My interest in the film, on this occasion, is cast led. One doesn't see much of Klaus Maria Brandauer these days, but he remains for me one of the most excitingly unstable Bond villains, even in an unofficial film. Apparently he's done a bit of operatic stage directing too, which made him quite an easy choice as a tyrannical conductor (though his actual 'conducting' is rum).

Beside him is the volatile, leftfield talent of Vincent Gallo, entirely capable of galvanising a film on his own. Unfortunately his temperance in this movie speaks for the project as a whole, which is muted, possibly distracted. If there's a theme to it it is the pursuit of expression and truth through art. The characters are writers, actors, dancers and musicians and Coppola uses interpolated dance sequences to articulate individuals' solipsisms. To complete the meta-phor, the film is mired in semi-opaque b&w photography. Lashings of Offenbach, Tchaikovsky and Brahms layer rather than penetrate the veneer.

With the Golden Globes now behind us and the BAFTA nominations published yesterday, the Awards season is well underway. This even extends to the humble outer reaches of the blogosphere. Total Magazine have a fairly comprehensive poll and Sky have three categories of blog to rate. Just like the familiar, high-profile Awards these are designed to draw attention to this otherwise rather diffuse substrata of the film industry, but one which is increasingly influential. For example, one blog common to both these lists is written by an individual who guest contributes to the mainstream BBC Film 2011 show and whose news, gossip and opinions are available in real time through social networking sites, primarily Twitter.

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