Francine Stock is curating and presenting a fortnight's celebration of cinema (which started this Saturday just gone) on BBC Radio 4, presumably to coincide with the start of the awards season. Here's my digest of what I've been watching.
I'm cheating a little to say that I saw Blue Valentine on the 15th (I saw it on the previous day, the Friday) at the Ritzy Picturehouse Cinema, Brixton. Cianfrance's film has been a long time in the making, a project conceived along with the female lead Michelle Williams. As leading critics have pointed out this smacks of an actors' project. The script gets rather mangled by the overt technicality of the improvising. Williams and her co-star Ryan Gosling are committed as the the leads but overplay their roles. The cute Gosling particularly is immiscible with his working class character. The purpose of the film is very isolated, the investigation of character in tension with another. I experienced a contrived awkwardness but I didn't learn anything.
Yesterday, having eavesdropped on a Twitter exchange concerning a Sundance hit from six years ago, Primer, I had a root around and found the entire film on YouTube. This is a marvellously inventive sci-fi picture, for two reasons: not only is it an intriguing time-travel piece but also as the entire budget for the film was reportedly just $7,000. It manages the great trick of always being a step ahead of the audience but keeping them hooked on the film they're barely understanding until the end.
Following the death of Pete Postlethwaite last week I watched the tribute programme to the actor on BBC2. Following this I have vowed to seek out In The Name Of The Father and Distant Voices, Still Lives. I was sufficiently intrigued by his having taken a role in big budget gaming spin-off Aeon Flux to sit down and try watching that as well last night, but I only managed twenty minutes before boredom and embarrassment for the high-calibre cast caused me to abandon it - a very different sci-fi experience to that of Primer.