Film

Kino Eye: One of the most beautiful films ever made

There are other reasons than the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for us to take an interest in Armenia. The countries of the Caucasus have a rich cultural history, and Armenia is home to one of the most beautiful films ever made. Sergei Parajanov’s The Colour of Pomegranates (1969) is a poetic biography of the eighteenth century “ashugh” (bard or minstrel) Sayat Nova. Its seven dialogue-free chapters follow Nova’s life from “Childhood” to “Death” and contains scenes, like tableaux or paintings, of stunning beauty which resist description. Of mixed Georgian and Armenian parentage, Parajanov lived at...

Kino Eye: An "epidemic" film

Time now for an “epidemic” film: The Killer That Stalked New York (1950, Earl McEvoy). On-the-run jewel thief Sheila Bennet (Evelyn Keyes) unknowingly has smallpox. As New Yorkers start dropping like flies, the police and medics begin a desperate woman-hunt. She is solely concerned to reach her (cheating) husband. The film ends on a ledge outside a hotel room. The husband plunges to his death, but Sheila lives long enough to help the medical services with “track and trace”. The epidemic is defeated and a final credit pays tribute to “the men and women of Public Health — the first line of...

Kino Eye: Sunshine - a film about antisemitism

There are many films about antisemitism. I am highlighting Sunshine (1999) by Hungarian director István Szabó. The story concerns three generations of the Sonnenscheins, a Budapest Jewish family — from the late 1890s to the collapse of “state socialism” in Hungary in 1990. The Sonnenscheins are assimilated and successful, their prosperity being based on a popular elixir bearing the family name (Sonnenschein translates as “Sunshine”). They change their name to the Hungarian Sors (“fate”) and convert to Christianity; yet antisemitism becomes ever more threatening. Even the second generation Adám...

Rebecca: feminist failure

This article contains spoilers for Wheatley’s 2020 Rebecca film, the 1940 Hitchcock film, and the original 1938 Daphne Du Maurier gothic novel. Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, showing on Netflix, was always going to be haunted by Hitchcock’s 1940 film. Wheatley and screenwriter Goldman were right to try and create a new film adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, rather than a remake of the Oscar-winning classic. They tried to give us a more explicitly feminist Rebecca, but sadly do not pull it off. Rebecca, in all her incarnations, is in many ways a feminist hero. She refused to let marriage crush...

Kino Eye: Looking for Langston

Those who read Janine Booth’s excellent article (Solidarity 569) on the Harlem Renaissance should find Looking for Langston (1989) by Black-British director Isaac Julien both engaging and interesting. The key words are in the title: “Looking for…” The film explores the black gay experience using a loose parallel between a nightclub in 1920s Harlem and a similar establishment in 1980s London. It is not a biography of Langston Hughes, although the film contains footage from the 20s, along with extracts from Hughes’ poetry and work by other contemporaries, including Oscar Micheaux, the first...

Kino Eye: Anti-racism in the 1950s

While black workers were fighting against the “colour bar” and about a year after the Notting Hill riots, Roy Barker directed Flame in the Streets (1961). Shop Steward Jacko Palmer (John Mills) argues for the rights of Gabriel Gomez (Earl Cameron) a black worker in his factory, but then has to confront his own prejudices when daughter Kathie (Sylvia Simms) falls in love with a black man, Peter Lincoln (Johnny Sekka). Despite its occasional clunky dialogue, it is a hard-hitting and powerful film. Earl Cameron was one of the prominent early black actors in British film and TV and died only this...

Kino Eye: The Watergate story

Another US film seems appropriate this week. All the President’s Men (1976, Alan Pakula) begins with the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee HQ in the Watergate complex in Washington D.C. Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) investigate and, on the advice of the furtive “Deep Throat”, “follow the money”. They steadily unearth a labyrinth of financial corruption and illegal activities pointing to the White House and Republican President Richard Nixon. Despite winning the election of November 1972, Nixon comes under...

Kino Eye: dirty work in US politics

A film about the US elections seems only appropriate, and there’s much to choose from. In The Best Man (Frank J. Schaffner, 1964), liberal candidate William Russell (Henry Fonda) is up against loud-mouthed populist Joe Cantwell (based on Richard Nixon — actor Cliff Robertson) for the Presidential nomination of an unnamed party. There is much “dirty work at the crossroads”. Cantwell illegally obtains a psychiatric report on Russell and threatens to expose him. Russell hears evidence that Cantwell is a closet homosexual but he refuses to use this against him. Eventually, Russell withdraws and...

China's coal mines (Kino Eye)

October 1 was the anniversary of the founding of the “People’s Republic” of China. Regular readers of the Morning Star should turn away now. Blind Shaft (2003, director Li Yang), a film set in a coal mining region of China, depicts the appalling conditions underground and corruption among officials. In 2003 there were 6,700 fatalities (official figures) in Chinese mines. Two con-men persuade a young lad to join them in the mine, posing as their nephew. After a few weeks they kill him while underground and the mine manager, afraid of an investigation, pays them a large bribe. The next time they...

Kino Eye

Kino Eye is a new column which will offer suggestions for film or TV viewing which are related to articles in Solidarity. The term "Kino Eye" is borrowed from the early Soviet documentary filmmaker Dziga Vertov, whose best-known film is Man with a Movie Camera (1929). Suggestions for viewing from readers are welcome. In Solidarity 562 I recommended two interesting, and very different, films from Bosnia, Walter Defends Sarajevo and Grbavica. Although not about Sarajevo, another film from that region also worth seeing is Tito and Me (Goran Marković, 1992), the comic story of a chubby young...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.