Sunday, 23 January 2011

BBC Radio 4 Film Season Diary Day 7

I'm listening to Friday's Radio 4 piece about pop-up cinema, which reminded me of my own experience of seeing Lindsay Anderson's If... in a large hall at Dulwich College, with Secret Cinema. We were walked from a local train station to the College by young men in morning suits and carrying canes. At the College we were checked for nits by a group of nurses (also checking tickets) and were given sweets, referred to as 'tuck'. So, peripheral entertainment reproducing a sense of the film, but certainly related to the experience of the modern (i.e. not 1980s 'post'-modern) independent school. This came to a climax with the organisers welcoming us in the form of a school assembly at which we were required to sing a hymn. The film itself was something of a disappointment, just a projection of a DVD rather than a print. However the sound was sufficiently good for us not to notice that it was so good, as your piece describes.

Of course, my experience - an entirely selfish, recreational evening out - was very different from the rather more altruistic undertaking of the screening of Sweet Sixteen covered by Radio 4. However, what this clearly demonstrates about pop-up cinema is that it has not only a self-sustaining market but also a constructive social use. This is encouraging for those who feel inclined to invest in the idea both financially and responsibly.

To end my week I went to see a preview screening of Alejandro González Iñárritu's new film Biutiful at London's BFI Southbank. The film is a realist drama of the efforts made by a compassionate, working class Catalan to do the right thing for his colleagues, friends and family. Cannes Palme d'Or winner Javier Bardem certainly deserves the award. However, although the lyrical film is meticulously constructed (and makes ideal use of the Ravel Piano Concerto at just the right moment), I'd hesitate to bully people into seeing it without delay. It's long and though touching, rather grim.

This completes my week-long series of daily blog posts following my own film-centric activities for BBC Radio 4's Film Season. I continue to write about film here on my blog, through my film reviews at and in rolling discussion on Twitter.

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