Christopher Petit – Content (2010)

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At one point in Chris Petit’s haunting new film Content, we drive through Felixstowe container port. It was an uncanny moment for me, since Felixstowe is only a couple of miles from where I live – what Petit filmed could have been shot from our car window. What made it all the more uncanny was the fact that Petit never mentions that he is in Felixstowe; the hangars and looming cranes are so generic that I began to wonder if this might not be a doppelgänger container port somewhere else in the world. All of this somehow underlined the way Petit’s text describes these “blind buildings” while his camera tracks along them: “non-places”, “prosaic sheds”, “the first buildings of a new age” which render “architecture redundant”. Continue reading

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Sophie Fiennes – The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006)

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THE PERVERT’S GUIDE TO CINEMA takes the viewer on an exhilarating ride through some of the greatest movies ever made. Serving as presenter and guide is the charismatic Slavoj Zizek, acclaimed philosopher and psychoanalyst. With his engaging and passionate approach to thinking, Zizek delves into the hidden language of cinema, uncovering what movies can tell us about ourselves. Whether he is untangling the famously baffling films of David Lynch, or overturning everything you thought you knew about Hitchcock, Zizek illuminates the screen with his passion, intellect, and unfailing sense of humour. Continue reading

Christopher Thompson & Alper Cagatay – How to Sell a Banksy (2012)

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“Banksy’s work now reportedly changes hands for millions.
But he puts up his street art for free. Have you ever wondered
what would happen if you got your hands on one of these?
Does it mean you’ve found a winning lottery ticket or just
scraped some worthless crap off a wall?

Going up against the Art Establishment, Critics, Auction Houses,
Gallery Owners and Authentication Boards in a quest for the
elusive meal ticket, two filmmakers unwittingly gatecrash the
murky and protective world of Banksy. Continue reading

Pierre Prévert – Mon frère Jacques [2004 restored version] (1961)

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Restored in 2004 by Catherine Prévert

Cast
Jacques Prévert … Himself
Pierre Prévert … Himself
Arletty … Herself
René Bertele … Himself
Pierre Brasseur … Himself
Jacques B. Brunius … Himself
Raymond Bussières … Himself
Marcel Carné … Himself
Marcel Duhamel … Himself
Jean Gabin … Himself
Paul Grimault … Himself
Alexandre Trauner … Himself
Jeanne Witta … Herself
Continue reading

Claude Lanzmann – Shoah (1985)

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Shoah is Claude Lanzmann’s landmark documentary meditation on the Holocaust. Assembled from footage shot by the filmmaker during the 1970s and 1980s, it investigates the genocide at the level of experience: the geographical layout of the camps and the ghettos; the daily routines of imprisonment; the inexorable trauma of humiliation, punishment, extermination; and the fascinating insights of those who experienced these events first hand.

Absent from the film is any imagery shot at the time the Holocaust occurred. There is only Lanzmann and his crew, filming in private spaces and now-dormant zones of eradication to extract testimony from a series of survivors, witnesses, and oppressors alike. Through his relentless questioning (aided on occasion by hidden camera), Lanzmann is able to coax out material of unparalleled emotional truth that constitutes both precious oral history and withering indictment. Continue reading

Jørgen Leth – Det Erotiske Menneske AKA The Erotic Man (2010)

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Erotic Man (Det Erotiske Menneske) (Director: Jørgen Leth): This somewhat experimental and extremely personal film raised so many issues for me to think about that I’m not sure my rating will align much with that of other reviewers. I don’t mind at all. Leth, who has been making films for more than 40 years, has made perhaps his most honest and personal one yet. An examination of the erotic, it’s more of a personal memoir, a record of an attempt to recreate (or create) memories or fantasies (romantic/sexual) from years of experiences all over the world. Leth seems to have an affinity for the exotic, having traveled extensively in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Since 1991, he’s lived in Haiti, and this film seems to have emerged from a long-term love affair he experienced there. In fact, this film and his memoir The Imperfect Man have caused controversy in his native Denmark because in them he details his relationship with Dorothie, the 17-year-old daughter of his cook. Continue reading

Aleksandr Sokurov – Chitayem Blokadnuyu Knigu AKA Reading Book Of Blockade (2009)

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The lengthy siege of Leningrad during World War II cost a million civilian lives. In Alexander Sokurov’s documentary, various people – actors, journalists, students, soldiers – read eyewitness accounts about this ‘historic and cultural disaster’, to use Sokurovr’s words. Continue reading

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