22 July 2013-07-22

Fabrice Luchini between blow-up dollies of Stalin and Mao in In the House

Out in the UK This Week       In The House (Momentum, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) François Ozon’s thriller/farce is as clever as you’d expect from a man who gave us the relationship-in-reverse drama 5X2. Here he’s again examining the nature of storytelling with a film about a teacher who becomes infatuated with his star pupil’s stories, each of which ends with a “to be continued”. And in the continuation the story – and the teenager writing them – becomes more and more involved in the older man’s life. There’s post-structuralism in there, if you’re feeling smart. But the whole thing works just as well as a dark farce played to the hilt … Read more

The Curious Return of Douglas Sirk

All That Heaven Allows original poster

  What is it about a film-maker who died around 25 years ago in obscurity  that fascinates a new generation of directors?         The director Douglas Sirk died in 1987 aged 90. Born in Hamburg as Detlef Sierck, he became well known for his string of lush melodramas made in Hollywood in the 1950s. Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956), The Tarnished Angels (1957), A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958) and Imitation of Life (1959) are considered his key works. The French “auteurists” were the first to start the re-assessment of Sirk in the late 1950s – the distinctive look of … Read more

White Elephant

Fathers Julián and Nicolás patrol the shanty

London Film Festival, 2012-10-21 At a certain point in the career of a successful film-maker who isn’t working in the English language, you expect him or her to make a “breakout” film, the one that gets them noticed in the global multiplexes, the one that makes them some money. At this point in the career of Pablo Trapero, the Argentinean who gave us Familia Rodante, Lion’s Den and Carancho – all critical hits – you’s expect White Elephant to be that film. It isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s a disappointment. Quite the contrary. Instead of taking the money and selling out, Trapero has taken what budget his status as a film-maker now entitles him … Read more