Film

Kino Eye: A film from Georgia

Although a small country, Georgia has produced some brilliant film makers, Otar Iosseliani, Mikhail Kalatozov, Nana Jorjadze, Tengiz Abuladze and Eldar Shengelaia to name only a few. Shengelaia made Blue Mountains in 1983, an absurdist satire which lampoons Soviet bureaucracy and could be seen as a precursor to the “Glasnost” (“openness”) movement associated with Mikhail Gorbachev. Soso is an aspiring novelist who regularly visits the local publishing house, desperately trying to get someone interested in his latest writing. However, the staff are lazy, frequently out for lunch, boozing and...

Kino Eye: Waiting for asylum

There’s been much coverage recently in Solidarity about migration and about the excellent news of victory for the campaign to stop Osime Brown being deported. The film Last Resort, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski and released in 2000, tells the tale of a Russian woman, Tanya (Dina Korzum), and her son Artyom (Artyom Strelnikov) who arrive in the UK expecting to meet Tanya’s “fiancé” at the airport. He is a fake, and never shows up. Tanya claims asylum and she is sent by the authorities to Stonehaven, a dilapidated south-east seaside resort which doubles up as a makeshift detention centre, dreary...

The reason I fight

I don’t watch many documentaries about autism, and on the rare occasion when I sit down to watch one, I am overwhelmed with a sense of dread. So much rubbish is said on the subject, even by people who want to be on the right side. So many patronising tropes, so much pity, not enough solidarity. In preparation for watching The Reason I Jump, I speed-read the book on which it is based. In 2007, thirteen-year-old Japanese boy Naoki Higashida wrote about how he experienced the world as a non-speaking autistic person. Particularly since its translation into English in 2013, the book has enabled...

Kino Eye: All the "young heroes" died

TheSolidarity 598 article by Eric Lee on the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union reminded me of one of the most intelligent and moving Soviet films about the war. The director Andrei Tarkovsky is probably too ethereal for some, but check out his first feature film, Ivan’s Childhood (1962). Ivan (Nikolai Burlyaev) is a child scout for the Red Army. Irascible, self-confident but recklessly brave, he risks his life behind enemy lines. The avuncular Captain Kholin takes Ivan under his wing and sends him to a military college but Ivan runs away. The film ends with Soviet troops searching through the...

Kino Eye: Medical pioneers on film

Here’s a film about the man whose name is forever associated with vaccination — the Frenchman Louis Pasteur. The Story of Louis Pasteur (director William Dieterle, 1936) concerns his struggle to convince a conservative medical establishment that diseases are caused by bacteria. He is opposed by Emperor Napoleon III’s personal physician Dr. Charbonnet. The Republican government which ousts Napoleon encourages Pasteur (actor Paul Munni) to continue his research which, in his experiments with anthrax, ultimately demonstrates the validity of his approach. One American review quipped: “If this...

Kino Eye: A really bad film

For a change, a really bad film: Mel Gibson’s Braveheart (1995). Usually, I only recommend films that I like and are interesting. Dale Street’s article on a possible second Scottish Referendum prompted me to think of films featuring Scottish nationalism. The one film that outshines all the others, but primarily because of its ignorance and stupidity, is Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Take the well-known poster of William Wallace (played by Gibson) with blue face-paint and kilt. Scottish warriors stopped wearing blue face-paint many hundred years before and hadn’t yet adopted the kilt. The English...

Kino Eye: Wedding in Galilee

Wedding in Galilee, an early Palestinian feature film, was directed by Michel Khleifi in 1987. Abu Adel, a Palestinian village mayor, wants to celebrate his son’s wedding in traditional style, but the local Israeli military commander insists the curfew regulations must be observed (the film is set in the period of “military government” of Arab areas inside Israel). Eventually, he agrees to let the wedding go ahead but on condition that he and his officers attend, to which the Mayor reluctantly concedes. Unsurprisingly, the presence of the soldiers creates tensions. Some relatives threaten to...

Kino Eye: A post-colonial film from Senegal

Ousmane Sembene of Senegal, a former French colony, was one of Africa’s pioneer filmmakers. His 1975 film Xala is set at the time of the colonial power’s withdrawal. The main character, businessman Aboucader Beye (known as “El Hadji”), becomes one of the new elite. He is utterly corrupt and accepts backhanders from French financiers. He already has two wives and marries a third, much younger than himself, a move which angers and upsets the older pair and Rama, his politically active daughter. She is opposed to the corruption of the new bourgeoisie which, of course, includes her father. She...

A film from the GDR

Making a — very loose — connection to Bruce Robinson’s review of theDeutschland series (Solidarity 592), and jumping back a few years, the GDR (which acquired the great UFA film studio when Germany was divided) once made some interesting films, even though much of this output now lies neglected and relatively unknown. My selection is a 1957 film, Berlin: Schoenhauser Corner, directed by Gerhard Klein. The ‘corner’ in question is a series of railway arches at Schoenhauser station on the Berlin overhead railway. Here disaffected teenagers, rebels and misfits congregate to look for some relief...

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