The Secret in Their Eyes – Juan José Campanella (2009) @ the Ipswich Film Society
Tonights offering at the Ipswich Film Society was the 2009 Argentinean crime thriller The Secret in Their Eyes that won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at last years academy award ceremony. It’s the story of Espósito a court employee who resolves to solve a murder that was committed earlier in his career.
Not only is it a gripping film but it also includes a quite stunning piece of cinematography that was filmed at the stadium of Racing Club de Avellaneda in Buenos Aires. Espósito and a colleague are at the stadium hoping to catch the prime suspect who is an avid Racing fan. They spot their man but he manages to escape when a goal for the home side sends the crowd into a frenzy. They chase him under the stadium and eventually onto the pitch where he is captured by the police.
The sequence starts with an aerial view of the floodlit stadium from which the camera rapidly descends, or swoops if you like, down to and across the playing surface and into the midst of crowd behind one goal. The rest of the scene plays out over a five minute period in one magnificent unbroken shot. I can’t imagine it was shot in one take so their must be some, or a lot, of trickery involved. See what you think here…
A day of self indulgence involving two museums and two movies began at what was the Ipswich Art School.
The building reopened as a permanent art gallery last year with monies from Ipswich Borough Council and the support of the Saatchi Gallery who have loaned the gallery the works of a number of contemporary artists. The gallery is dominated by an ‘installation’ called ‘The Bed’ (photo top). By Will Ryman, it shows a man recovering from the boozy excesses of the night before, and measures some 8 metres in length. It’s a fun piece, as are the giant pair of black shoes constructed from liquorice and styrofoam by Andy Yoder (bottom right) and the woman’s legs in high-heeled shoes (bottom left) by Rebecca Warren. Other exhibits include the ‘Travellers Collection’ by Francis Upritchard. Upritchard, a doctor of contemporary voodoo, has constructed a curio cabinet that includes a make-shift funerary chamber for a mummy (bottom centre). Very odd indeed.
Next up was the Town Hall Galleries and The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition co-hosted with the Natural History Museum and the BBC’s Wildlife Magazine. Each year ten’s of thousands of entries are submitted by amateurs and professionals, young and old, and whittled down to a hundred or so simply wonderful photographs of the natural world that form the exhibition and win the chosen photographers a prize or two. My favourites are A Marvel of Ants, March of the Crabs and Desert Survivor. Ipswich is the exhibits first port of call before it travels around the UK. Very much worth a look.
Don’t think I’ve done two movies in one day since the long gone days of the double feature. Today we took in The American and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.
If you’re looking for a Hollywood blockbuster action film, you should probably look elsewhere, which is why the action-free action movie The American is showing at the Ipswich Film Theatre rather than Cineworld. But no mind. Mrs ExtremeGroundhopping heartthrob George Clooney plays a gunsmith, craftsman and assassin who has fled Sweden after an assignment there goes horrible wrong (he shoots and kills his own girlfriend to cover his tracks) to hide out in the Italian countryside. There he befriends a local priest and dates a local hooker while secretly crafting a bespoke rifle for a fellow assassin. The setting of a small medieval town and rolling hills is all very picturesque and serene and nicely filmed and the film moves along at a slow pace until, that is, he is tracked down by another assassin sent to exact revenge for his Scandinavian misadventure.
Having recently taken an interest in Swedish crime novels (The Kurt Wallander novels written by Henning Mankell in particular) we thought we give The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest a go (also at the IFT). Although it’s the third in the Millenium trilogy (based on the books of the same name by the late Swedish investigative journalist and author Stieg Larsson) there are sufficient flashbacks to orientate newcomers to the story. The main character is Punk-Goth computer hacker Lisbeth Salander who must fight a court battle to prove that she is sane after being accused of the attempted murder of her father (who sexually assaults and attempts to kill her in the previous instalments). At the same time a group of journalists, whom she has worked with in the past, are about to publish an expose of criminal and fiscal corruption in the corridors of Swedish power. Thoroughly enjoyable – plans to read the books are already in preparation.
A Prophet – Jacques Audiard (2009) @ the Ipswich Film Society
I thoroughly enjoy foreign cinema but the run time of A Prophet of two-and-a-half hours – and concentrating for that long on subtitles – almost persuaded us to stay indoors in the warm. But I’m very glad that we didn’t as this is a gem and it’s of little surprise that it was won several awards, including best film at the Cannes Film Festival, since its release towards the tail end of last year.
Immensely watch-able (there’s a good plot summary here), you daren’t turn away for fear of missing anything in this incident crammed film. A brilliant work it must be if it can get you rooting for a petty criminal who turns to murder and subterfuge to survive a six year jail term and emerges a hardened gang leader at the end.
It’s just a shame that this will never see the inside of a cineplex. If filmed in English it would be a box office smash but sadly won’t make it much beyond the Art House circuit.
Metropolis – Fritz Lang (1927) @ the Ipswich Film Theatre Trust
A science fiction classic, and one of cinemas groundbreaking films, Metropolis has influenced, amongst others, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, Blade Runner and Frankenstein. The film depicts the class struggle between a wealthy society of planners and thinkers, who live in luxury above ground, and the workers, who live underground toiling away to maintain the privileged lives of those up above.
The film had not existed for years in the version that director Fritz Lang completed. It was chopped and changed by distributors, censors and exhibitors, and key footage was lost. However, using 16mm materials discovered in a museum in Argentina a few years ago, and a huge restoration effort, this 2010 re-release reinstates key scenes taking the film back to – almost – its full and original length at 150 minutes.
The scenery (monumental skyscrapers and art-deco architecture) and special effects (which put those in many contemporary films to shame) are very very impressive but for me the runtime does not justify the very simple story line. While I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again I’m certainly pleased that I took the opportunity went to see it on a ‘big screen’.
One of the expensive films of its era the work is considered of such importance that it is listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s World Register as part of Germany’s documentary heritage.