4 items from 2015
Last year proved to be an extraordinary one for feature-length documentaries about art and artists. 2014 saw the release of Tim’S Vermeer (a holdover from 2013), For No Good Reason, Jodorowsky’S Dune, all dealing with masters of pen, ink, and brush while Life, Itself explored the writing of Roger Ebert and Glen Campbell: I’LL Be Me offered an intimate portrait of the acclaimed musician. Barely two months into 2015, we’re now treated to an exceptional film which immerses us into the world of classic dance. Now, the ballet has been the backdrop for many classic dramatic films, from the fantasy world of The Red Shoes to the psychological terror of Black Swan. But there’s little back stage melodrama here. Director Jody Lee Lipes let’s us peek behind the curtain, past the tights and tutus for the sweat, strain, and stress for Ballet 422.
So, what’s with the number? »
- Jim Batts
“Made in England” is how Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger finally stamped their unworldly, otherworldly Tales of Hoffmann from 1951, an adaptation of the Jacques Offenbach opera, which is now on rerelease. It actually negated English and British cinema’s reputation for stolid realism. This is a hothouse flower of pure orchidaceous strangeness, enclosed in the studio’s artificial universe, fusing cinema, opera and ballet. It is sensual, macabre, dreamlike and enigmatic: like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In his autobiography, Powell recalls talking to a United Artists executive after the New York premiere, who said to him, wonderingly: “Micky, I wish it were possible to make films like that … ” A revealing choice of words. It was as if »
- Peter Bradshaw
Ballet adds a surreal, creepy quality to many films and tv shows. Here are 12 of the most unsettling...
Ballet is not natural. Dancers perform exhausting routines with legs and feet turned out to bizarre angles, arms held just to the point where they really start to hurt (that’s when you know you’re doing it right), backs bending to angles of 90° and more, limbs held stock still while balancing on their toes, in bodies mathematically maintained in a state that contains absolutely not an ounce of fat but can sustain two or three hours of jumping and running around.
And then the female dancers add to all this by putting their entire weight on the points of their toes, feet bruising and bleeding, nails cracking, and the male »
Arts critics tend to get a rough time of it in the movies. Even looking at this year's awards season hopefuls, Birdman casts a wonderfully scabrous Lindsay Duncan as a theatre critic who is determined to kill the hero's play, and Mr. Turner presents John Ruskin as a lisping, pretentious fop, a representation that has led some to take mild umbrage.
To look even further back, at Ratatouille's sneering Anton Ego, or Lady In The Water's film-savvy 'straw critic', or Theatre Of Blood's gleefully murderous tract, there's not a whole lot of love for critics in film. Any of this might give way to the preconception that critics, especially film critics, don't actually like films and that they're out of touch with both the filmmakers whose works they »
4 items from 2015
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