Wednesday 11 December 2013

The Ultra-Viewers: "I don’t have expectations. I want to see something different."

It's well-known at Borderlines that there are festival-goers of prodigious appetite who reputedly and repeatedly watch over twenty films in the course of seventeen days. Many of them know each other and some of them like jazz too. I thought it might be instructive to seek them out. Blaise White lives very close to one of the smaller Flicks in the Sticks venues, Cawley Hall, Eye, near Leominster. He works for Concern Universal in Hereford.

Jo Comino: How many films, more or less, do you see in the course of one festival?

Blaise White: I would think up to twenty. I don’t think I saw so many this year but it wasn’t though lack of wanting to. So, yeah, I’d say up to a couple of dozen if the timings work out.

How do you plan for what you go and see?

We get the brochure and Maggie and I tend to go through our own brochure and we mark the ones we want to see.

Oh, so you each have your own copy?

Oh, yeah, yeah, we each have a personalised copy, we try and plan around are we going to go and see anything together. And if I can, I go on a weekend, on a Saturday say, and see four back-to-back at The Courtyard if they’re of interest. And then we’ve been down to Ross, that’s probably the furthest, or Ledbury, if there’s a particular film we want to see that’s not on anywhere else. We try and fit in as many around everything else that’s happening. And I always plan to take some leave but it never seems quite to work out. I’m probably going to work part-time next year so I should be able to see a few more. I like the idea of being able to go and see films at eleven o’clock in the morning, quite fun.

I go to the London Film Festival and watch films one after the other and sometimes you get two that are thrown together…

…so you get interesting contrasts. I remember going to see the one about the Mongolian horseman (The Eagle Hunter’s Son) on the plains, and then another one about some completely different location and you feel like you’ve travelled a huge distance in one day, being immersed in all these different environments.

The Eagle Hunter's Son
So what tends to appeal to you?

I have a slightly frivolous approach to everything: I’ll go for the less popular thing in the hope that it’s interesting. The mainstream films are always bland or tend that way because they’re appealing to a mass market so I like documentaries. You know the one about the nuclear store in Finland (Into Eternity)? It was a very interesting film but also a very interesting subject. I was really glad that I found out more about what’s actually going on. You think about the whole context. I’ve been involved with anti-nuclear campaigning, not lately, but since I was a student and the whole objection to nuclear power is that you can’t get rid of the waste and actually being reminded that somewhere in the remote wastes, deep underground there’s this kind of thing.

Into Eternity

Deadpan Scandinavian government officials are talking in a very matter-of-fact way, ‘Do we or don’t we put a warning sign outside? Because if we put a warning sign outside that might encourage people to be more curious whereas if we don’t put a warning sign outside, people might stumble on it by accident’. Then at the end they said something about how this was a huge project that amounted to a tiny fraction of waste in the world that needs to be stored or dealt with in some way. So that really crystallised the problem. I like it because it’s Finnish, it’s a different slant on that topic.

The other one was the Norwegian one about the train driver (O’Horten). I loved that because we’ve been on that train but it was just so wacky in an understated way! That really appealed to me. Things that are almost whimsical and not obvious and then having a foreign language film or a film with a foreign setting or foreign actors is interesting The Iranian one, A Separation, I really did want to see that because I’ve heard things about Iranian cinema but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Iranian film before. You have a particular sense of Iran from the news, that there’s a theocracy and discontent, ordinary people not being happy living under this very oppressive system and you got much more of a real sense of what life is like; you wouldn’t otherwise know what the challenges are. Seeing a drama played out in a totally foreign environment, that’s interesting.
A Separation
 Is there anything you’ve seen that’s confounded your expectations, in either a good or a bad way?

That’s a good question because that’s the point: I don’t have expectations. I want to see something different.

So you let yourself go on a tide… bring it on!

Yes, bring it on! The Tibetan film about the dog (Old Dog) you could say in a way that’s such a dull film, nothing happens, it’s all very slow, but it’s fascinating. It’s not something I’d go to see everyday but I think, right, I’m going to book out some time because I want to take a chance and go and see something that will be different and it did have a powerful impact but in a very slow way.

Yes, it was very methodical, this happens and then this happens…

Old Dog
Sometimes I get a bit frustrated because, with a film like that, I don’t really understand the characters, what they’re feeling or what their motivations are. Ultimately when you knew the old man was being stubborn there’s a kind of shock suddenly when you realise he’s strangling the dog. You go out really satisfied because you’ve got to think about this, what’s really happening, summing up this moral dilemma because he doesn’t want the dog to be traded. You could argue that he’s right or wrong. It’s kind of meaty and thought-provoking, I suppose.

There were a lot of people who were totally alienated by the dog-killing. 

It was shocking but I could understand why, I could understand the intention of the film. I thought it was an intelligent way of constructing the film, the plot or the story had real power but in getting upset about it, they missed the point.

I’m trying to think if there’s anything where I’ve thought, ‘No, I don’t get the point of that at all...’

‘…that was a waste of time!’

To be honest, I went to see Bicycle Thieves and it’s bigged up as THE film, and it didn’t have the immediate impact that I expected it to. I didn’t think ‘I can see why people rave about this film or why it’s so influential.’ I didn’t kind of get it.
Bicycle Thieves
It could be because it was of its time?

Revolutionary or whatever.

Have you been coming to the festival right from the start or did you catch on to it?

I don’t know, when did it start? Was it the nineties?

No, 2003.

I think we would have been coming right from the start in that case. For me it’s a real thing to look forward to after the wintertime. You think, this is a time of year I really look forward to because I know I’m going to have an interesting experience.

You go sometimes with Maggie when your interests coincide. Do you prefer going with somebody else or on your own?

I’m quite easy. I’m happy going on my own and going with other people, you can compare notes afterwards and talk about the films you’ve seen. And they’ll say, ‘Did you see so-and-so?’ They might recommend something you hadn’t thought about and you’ll still have a chance to see it. I think she (Maggie) said to me once, ‘You go and see all these films at the film festival but then you hardly go to anything during the year.’

Do you really not go to see much else during the year?

Not a whole lot, no. We go to the Hall here or Yarpole, we’ve been to Bodenham, Stoke Prior, Leominster Playhouse, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Odeon in Hereford. I rarely go to The Courtyard where I know there are quite a few films on and it’s partly because they tend to be more mainstream films, the latest thing, and if it’s a good film I know it’ll be on at Flicks later. Like James Bond, we did see Skyfall eventually, but it was quite a few months after it had done the rounds. I’m not a film enthusiast in the sense that I’ll make time to see films. The thing that I like is being able to see lots of films together also the fact that you get a huge range of different things, the oddball films or the foreign films that you wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity to see. And how many times do you ever get the chance to see a documentary?

Yes, that’s very true. On cinema release. I suppose in places like London documentary releases are becoming much more frequent but certainly round here…

Benda Bilili
We’ve been from work as well, because we’re dealing with international development and occasionally there are films like Benda Bilili, which was great. I thought I’m sure this is going to be a really fascinating film and it was and, there again, it was a documentary. And so I emailed round at work and said, ‘There’s this film, OK, we don’t work in the DRC but it’s about poor African communities and personal story and it’s got music.’ And I actually got people there, colleagues of mine who wouldn’t ever go to anything in the festival and I was really pleased that they came as a social event and got a lot out of it. I manage the finance team in the Hereford office and some of them are just accountants, they never travel to our programmes, a couple of them have got young children, so they don’t have first-hand experience of what it’s like working in Africa so I thought it’s a great opportunity for them to see that and it’s a great film, a great story.

I think we’ve got some African films in the forthcoming festival. One called Nairobi Half-Life

Did you watch films from an early age?

Yeah, I remember queuing round the block to see Walt Disney’s Fantasia. I grew up in Salisbury and the Odeon Cinema there is in this old Tudor house so I have this very atmospheric recollection that you go through this kind of timbered hall to get into the actual cinema and I vividly remember it was there for one night only.
Salisbury Odeon (from

I’m just remembering now that there was a Salisbury Film Society and we were studying Macbeth. Polanski’s Macbeth was on at the Film Club so we went as a school thing to see it – I was about sixteen – and I remember that having a big impact. And then for some reason we went to Don’t Look Now at the film society when it first came out, early seventies, and I think that was the first X-rated film I had seen and that put me off. It was quite scary and atmospheric. So a few of us got into going to the film society films, arty ones as well. And, oh yes, there was a film called La Grand Bouffe about people eating themselves to death. The Tin Drum, The Enigma of Kasper Hauser, and a French film and there’s no dialogue in it and a guy who’s a painter, a dull industrial job, and he flips and turns into a caveman and his apartment into a cave and starts ululating and beating his chest.

Now I have some dim recollection of that. Was it with Michel Piccoli? (Themroc). 

Yes, there was this scene where they were having this demarcation dispute with two teams of painters are painting two sides of a set of railings and they get into a fight. So I suppose that’s where I got my taste for slightly offbeat foreign films when I was a teenager. Then as a university student seeing some films like that which I enjoyed.

Is there anything or any type of thing that you’d particularly like to see at the festival? We’ve shown quite a lot of classic films.

Casablanca at Shobdon Airfield
We went to see Casablanca in the hangar. That was a great idea, it made it an event. It’s one of those films you can watch anywhere and I love those 40s, Humphrey Bogart, film noir, Double Indemnity, type of films. Something Altman did, The Long Goodbye, in the seventies. I really like the breakfast films so that you can see four films in a day. I like classic films, foreign films, documentaries, art-house film, lesser-known films, low budget films, some animations.

I always think when the brochure comes out, 'Ooh, what’s going to be in there?' And I think last time I was disappointed; I was hoping there’d be some African films and there weren’t.

There was War Witch. Did you see that?

No I didn’t get to see that. There would probably be quite a few in the programme that I’d like to see but can’t get to. I suppose I’d encourage people at work to go and see the African films, make a social thing of it as well. I just enjoy the fact that I know there’s going to be a huge range of things to see, rather than particular things. Presumably you would always have a huge range of international films?

Oh yeah, I think that is something that is definitely part of the festival’s character.

I’m struggling to think, haven’t there been more defined strands or themes in previous years?

Yes, and we’re bringing that back.

If it’s a particular country or a particular subject, that’s quite nice. You think, well, I’ll go and see those three films because they all deal with related subjects.

Music films are another thing. One DVD I know is in there (cupboard) is Stop Making Sense, the Jonathan Demme concert film with Talking Heads. Absolutely brilliant as a concert film, I’ve never seen anything better. And you had one about Glenn Gould.
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould
I’ve just got more into listening to Glen Gould playing Bach piano music. It wasn’t a great film or anything, just a mundane documentary but I think he’s a really interesting character and it was fascinating to find out more about him, why he gave up playing and the strange relationship he had with his concert promoter’s wife. I knew he had issues about his mental health but that was very fortunate for me because I had a particular interest in him so I remember going to the afternoon show and there were about 12 people. And I thought, ‘Sod everybody else, it’s great that Borderlines puts these things on’.

I think it’s very important that it does.

Sometimes I like sitting in a cinema with just twelve people more than in a huge crowd of people. But then there’ve been some like The Lives of Others, a cinema full of people, and you feel the impact the film has on everybody coming out. I really remember that one very clearly because it had such an impact. That was a situation where you want to feel that everyone feels emotionally punched in the stomach by this piece of drama.
The Lives of Others
I love it because I’ve had all sorts of different experiences, from something fairly obscure to something big and amazing, from comedy to drama, and then factual interest. Just going and spending a day in the Courtyard, some days, a Saturday, I’ve been there and watched two or three films and hardly seen anyone I know and still you get the atmosphere of people coming and going, but generally I’ll bump into people and say, ‘Ooh what have you seen? What are you going to see?’

Thursday 31 October 2013

Drilling DEEPER into the BFI London Film Festival #lff (Part 2)

Continuing my very intuitive London Film Festival 2013 taxonomy...


Where would you find a film festival without a handful of films on this eternal theme? Three excellent ones here, a very controlled performance in Nebraska from Bruce Dern as an old, semi-alcoholic grump who is convinced he’s won a million in a lottery and wants to go to claim his prize. His son David takes the path of least resistance and decides to take him on a road trip that explores and redefines family ties with humour but without cloying sentimentality. 


Like Father, Like Son, the latest from Hirokazu Kore-eda takes a hypothetical situation, two boys swapped at birth, and tries and tests tests the two very different couples through what it means to be a parent as they contemplate exchanging their six-year-olds.  

Like Father, Like Son
A terse and contained British prison drama from David Mackenzie, Starred Up avoids the genre clichés through the strength and brutal detail of its opening scenes. Eric, a young offender is sent to adult prison because he is uncontrollable. His father happens to be banged up there and a conflict arises between the tensions in their relationship and progressive attempts to rehabilitate him through group therapy. A tough watch that only slightly dilutes as the plot moves towards its resolution.


 In which case the speculation is what happens to dialogue? Does the character talk to him or herself? Do we get interior monologue? Will it be a silent film? Three notable cases at the LFF: lost in space drama Gravity which delivers its very own 3D roller coaster ride, Locke (which I regretfully didn't see but is Tom Hardy in the interior of a car, driving from Wales to London for the duration of the film) and All is Lost in which Robert Redford is a yachtsman adrift in the Indian Ocean in a leaky vessel.

All is Lost


Computer Chess
Cinematography is the crucial element here, spectacular widescreen photography in Nebraska to convey the vast open spaces of midwest America and the closed, monotonous structures of small town life; in the US Indie offbeat comedy Computer Chess to simulate early 80s grainy video; and to stunning effect in the glittering, deep focus landscapes in the Polish biopic of 20th century Roma poet, Bronislawa Wajs, aka Papusza, a revelation, though there were barely 30 people in the audience at the public screening I attended.





There were three Greek films in total, of special interest to me; I sought them out. Two of them - The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas and Luton - could be classified as Greek 'weird wave' films following in the footsteps of Dogtooth, Attenberg, The Boy Eating the Bird's Food though the young director of Luton repudiated this categorisation in his Q&A.  They reflect, as you might expect, a troubled and fragmented society and eschew a conventional narrative story-telling. The third, The Enemy Within, was similarly dystopian but in straightforward revenge thriller form. I was delighted to run into Margaret, formerly Flicks in the Sticks promoter at Garway, at the Luton screening at Vue Leicester Square. Her verdict on Luton was 'pretty hard to take', unremittingly grim social and personal relations, long, long sequences and not much indication of where the film was headed. Or indeed why it was called Luton. The director explained that the airport had something to do with it: a mundane place where not much goes on (?) that is a gateway to London where everything is happening. Thus the episodes depicted in the film.

The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas



  • 12 Years a Slave - a tour-de-force from Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame).
  • Gloria
  • Papusza
  • Like Father, Like Son
  • Ilo Ilo -  fresh, low budget Singapore family drama which won Anthony Chen the Sutherland Award for best first feature at LFF as well as Camera D’Or at Cannes.
    Ilo Ilo
  • Exhibition
  • Nebraska
  • Sacro Gra - surreal, in the sense of bringing out the extraordinary in the everyday, this documentary that skirts around the margins of Rome's ring road won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Would make intriguing double bill, a long one, with The Great Beauty.
  • The Epic of Everest - unseen since it was a box office draw in 1924, this restoration from the BFI National Archive of Mallory and Irvine's tragic attempt to reach the summit of the highest mountain in the world is fabulous, down to the lyrical but occasionally dodgy inter-titles.
    The Epic of Everest
  • La Belle et La Bête - restored and simply magical. It seems likely this will play at Borderlines 2014 so come see and bring children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces (it's a PG) to catch the bug of cinema. 
    La Belle et La Bête

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Drilling deep into the BFI London Film Festival #lff (Part 1)

You really know that down time for Borderlines is over when the BFI London Film Festival comes around, 9 - 20 October this year. A decent proportion of its 200+ films are likely to open in the lead up to our own festival so it's a good opportunity for some concentrated viewing (topped up by a weekend of Independent Cinema Office screenings in early November) and to catch a few of the far-flung films that will only get very restricted cinema windows. 

Being there ('be here' is the LFF's 2013 strap line) is a pleasure, but a grinding one. So much to choose from, endless jiggling and juggling, so many unknown quantities. 

A rather well-worn copy of the Press Screening schedule
Press and industry screenings have multiplied this year so that instead of three choices in any given time slot there are now six or seven, housed for the first time in Cineworld, Shaftesbury Avenue, deep in the bowels of the Trocadero, an uneasy cross between an enfeebled version of Pleasure Island in Disney's Pinocchio and a cavernous modern stage set for the musical of Dante's Inferno.

Pleasure Island or the Gates of Hell? Trocadero
In addition, you have to submit requests for up to four public screenings the day before and this can be a strategic exercise, calculating how much time it will take to trot from Leicester Square over the Hungerford footbridge to BFI Southbank, or down Piccadilly to the Curzon Mayfair. And will you be able to fight off sleep for a 9pm screening of a film that will creep over the 100 minute mark, especially when followed by a Q&A with the director?

Hotfooting over Waterloo Bridge
How do you glean what's worth seeing? The official write-ups in the brochure are a guide to content but naturally imply that every film is a masterpiece. Word of mouth, interrogating other delegates on the hoof, in queues, on escalators, in adjacent seats, crossing roads, at the entrance to Underground stations and acting on their recommendations can be productive, along with snatching a moment to read a smattering of often contradictory reviews and Tweets.
Chance plays its part too. The festival is preceded by three weeks of press screenings at BFI Southbank and, refreshingly, you get what you are given, just three films per day from 10am to 4ish, a few gems, a bit of dross, and in between, much of interest that you might well overlook. 

One example during my three day's worth of pre-festival viewing was a curious Indian film called Fandry (Pig) that castigates the caste system through the story of an 'untouchable' teenage boy who, fuelled by a major crush on a fair-skinned classmate, Shalu, a girl from a much higher caste, strives with a bright optimistic enthusiasm to improve his lot. A final climactic scene of public humiliation as he and his whole family are forced to round up a herd of stray pigs, an 'unclean' job that no other villager will undertake, dramatically thwarts his efforts.


So, how to assimilate the 50-odd films seen over about 15 days? It's natural to group them into clumps, not necessarily along the lines of the now established LFF strands: LOVE, LAUGH, THRILL, DARE, JOURNEY... - a friend suggested
WINCE as an alternative - each with its own gala.

LFF Brochure
Here are my own categories:


The new Jim Jarmusch, Only Lovers Left Alive, with Tilda Swinton, white-haired, white clad, and Tom Hiddleston, black-haired and black clad, as a pair of languid and symbiotic 21st century vampires, fell into this category. I found it smug, static, pretentious and boring, others revelled in its wittiness and cool. 

Only Lovers Left Alive

British director Joanna Hogg's third feature, Exhibition, provided an intriguing counterpoint; another reclusive couple, both artists, played by non-actors, Viv Albertine, former Slits guitarist and Turner Prize nominee Liam Gillick, live within the dispassionate spaces of a modernist London house that they are about to sell. This one I inexplicably liked; the detachment of the characters left room for thought and speculation, but I can see that its slow pace and introspection may well irritate, if not alienate, audiences.


 One thing that struck me quite early on during the Festival was the high count of strong middle-aged or older female protagonists, often women on their own, many, many divorcées.  The BFI Statistical Yearbook 2013 reveals that, for the first time in 2012, the largest proportion of the cinema-going public over 15 is now the 45+ age group (though it makes no mention of the divorce rate), accounting for 36% of the box office. Is this beginning to reflect in the content of the films themselves, across national boundaries?

One of the most glorious of these is Gloria, a Chilean film about a divorced woman in her late fifties with two grown-up children, who loves disco and dabbles in the singles scene, meeting a man who seems to promise emotional and sexual reassurance but turns out to be not quite what he seems. Intimate, colourful, unsentimental and absorbing, Gloria offers a marvellously resilient portrait of the eponymous heroine from Paulina García.

Enough Said, directed by Nicole Holofcener, offers another appealing 'older woman' role for Julia-Louis Dreyfus as a masseuse who meets a man (the wonderful late James Gandolfini) at a party. Though not immediately attracted to him, the two (both divorced) have great rapport, reflected in the comic agility of their exchanges,  and an intimate relationship develops before coincidence and Eva's doubt-fuelled anxieties seep in to undermine their closeness.

Eva (Enough Said)

Back in Romanian cinema, a heroine of a different calibre in the winner of the Golden Bear at this year's Berlinale, Child's Pose. Cornelia is a formidable matriarch, a professional woman (not divorced but her husband comes across as a shadowy, emasculated figure) who knows everyone worth knowing, at ease in bourgeois society but fretful about her feckless grown son. When he, Barbu, kills a boy in a hit and run accident, Cornelia summons all her power, influence and steely composure in order to keep her son out of prison.

Cornelia (Child's Pose)

There were a couple of films in this category that veered towards the ludicrous. The very first film I saw, Adore, showed two childhood friends (Naomi Watts and Robin Wright) growing up together in an idyllic Australian bay to become middle-aged but sensationally attractive mothers (status: widowed, adulterous/divorced) who end up son-swapping - in the full carnal sense. 'Who is this for?' I kept asking myself. The answer came back pat, 'For older women, as a kind of sop that these days they can have it all, that their sexual appeal will not diminish with maturity and they will still be able to magnetise younger men.' There was not a glint of reality, irony or conflict in this film and I found it rather distressing to see the talents of Ben Mendelsohn and James Frecheville, both last seen in the dark recesses of Animal Kingdom, frittered away on this supposedly subversive bit of fluff. Here is some sample dialogue:
One mother: 'What have we done?'
Other mother: 'We've crossed the line.' 

Roz and Lil (Adore)

Labor Day was a bit confounding too. I was expecting if not wry humour, then a degree of dark dryness from director Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air). What we were served up with was decidedly squidgy.  Drained, reclusive, yes, and a divorcée, Adele (Kate Winslet) finds light and her own repository of fantasy in the form of intruder and fugitive from justice, Frank (Josh Brolin), who ends up being deliciously handy about the house in every conceivable way.

Adele (Labor Day)

Futher classification to follow...

Friday 7 June 2013

Why we come to Borderlines Film Festival all the way from Bedfordshire!

Christine and Mark Renney have been crossing the country from East to West in early spring for a few years now. Borderlines Marketing Assistant Alison caught up with them at the Market Theatre in Ledbury in March and asked them what was behind this migratory impulse. This is the response that they have sent us.

We first came across the Borderlines Film Festival when we made arrangements to visit family in Eardisley and wanted to see what was around so that we could combine this with other areas of interest.

Mark and I are avid film fans, and are members at Cambridge Picturehouse, and often travel to the National Media Museum in Bradford and stay over for a few nights to catch special things on there or go to talks at the University of Warwick by film historians followed by a film of particular interest to them.

You can imagine how delighted we were to visit not only a beautiful part of the country but an area with a thriving interest in films for all tastes and ages.  We decided to dip our toe in the water the first year of our visit as we only had a couple of days available in which to see films - that was in 2011.  From this we decided to take a week's holiday in 2012 in order to see as many films as possible in between other things we wanted to do. We enjoyed the opportunities of visiting villages that we would probably never have gone to in order to see films in local village or school halls.  The camaraderie of the audience members, who clearly support Flicks in the Sticks (fabulous idea by the way) regularly, is a delight and we got talking to some very interesting and interested people.
Francine Stock at Lady Emily Hall, Tarrington © Michelle Gerrard

We visited again for a week this year, initially booking the first week of the festival as holiday only to find that we had to cancel this and rebook for the last of the two weeks. What was so appealing to us was that both weeks had many films of interest and so we easily found, having already ticked the films of the first week to see, numerous films in the second week to watch - especially the Chilean trilogy.

It is our intention to come again in 2014 if the event is still running, which we are sure it will be as it is organised by people who really love and appreciate the fine works of so many film makers, old and new.
Disused petrol station at Whitney-on-Way © Mark Renney
Railings in Hay-on-Wye © Mark Renney

Thursday 4 April 2013

Here are a few of my favourite things

No, nothing to do with The Sound of Music. Paraphrase 'things' to 'links'.

It's that strange festival decompression time when reflection displaces frenetic activity. The film pages of the Borderlines website include a 'Read more...' link that takes you to a bookmarking site called Delicious where we have stored reviews, interviews and other links relating to each of the films in the programme.

So here are a few of this year's more unusual links:

1. Django Unchained - Tarantino Shoots You
Star in your own Spaghetti Western Stand-off using your computer's web cam and taking direction from Quentin Tarantino himself.

2. The movie poster for Elena by designer Sam Smith in a fascinating essay by Adrian Curry on MUBI that details the design process.

3. Background articles to some of the Japanese delicacies featured in I Wish.
Horsemeat sashimi (the red).
Karukan cake (the white)

4. The official Billy Casper website featuring the original locations for Kes put together by its then child star, David Bradley.

 5. Online exhibition for The Mexican Suitcase by the documentary's director, Trisha Ziff (though the music loop may drive you a little mad).

6. The original Village Voice review of Psycho.

7. A History Today article on the historical background behind A Royal Affair

8. And last but not least, a (German) knitted poster for Sightseers.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Festival showers and a bicycle competition

Somewhere towards the middle of Borderlines 2013 I couldn't help noticing that all three films I'd seen in a row featured a significant shower. As I'm sure, I've remarked before, for me, the way coincidence (sometimes deliberate programming, but more often sheer coincidence ) throws movies together in the most unexpected, often trivial ways is one of the deepest pleasures of film festivals.

First of all there was the potential Italian father-in-law in Woody Allen's To Rome With Love. Given the glorious free rein of his shower room, Giancarlo, played by real life tenor Fabio Armiliato, has a operatic voice to die for.
Outside that comfort zone, nerves get the better of him so the character played by Allen, an outré opera impresario, carries through the delightfully silly 'avant-garde' notion of casting him in Pagliacci, boxed in the armour of a built-in shower cubicle.

Quite a contrast in tone the next day, as I watched the grim Post Mortem and noted that the key event, a brutal government raid on the home of his girlfriend Nancy, takes place as mortuary assistant Mario showers. It's an attack that leaves the house wrecked and charred but Mario seems as clueless and cut-off from the political mayhem surrounding him in Pinochet's Chile as he is oblivious in his shower cubicle to the noisy and violent upheaval taking place just across the street.

Day three and the shower scene to end all shower scenes, Psycho of course. Hitchcock catches us and his main character unawares, unwinding after a day of flight, deep anxiety and moral tension under the soothing rays of a penetrating warm shower.

After that, I couldn't help seeing showers everywhere from the spectacular blood waterfalls that accompanied every initiation of a new vampire in Neil Jordan's Byzantium to Philip Seymour Hoffman as second violinist Robert in A Late Quartet attempting to hose off a raunchy infidelity and weeping in the shower at the enormity of the marital and professional betrayal he has just committed.

It got to the stage that I could count on the fingers of one hand the films that didn't feature a significant shower scene. Or any shower scene at all.

In the spirit of a different coincidence - bicycles - you might like to have a go at our Bicycle Thieves competition. Identify the titles of the four films we showed at Borderlines 2013 that prominently featured bicycles.

Email your answers by midnight, tomorrow Friday 22 March for a chance to win a copy of the Bicycle Thieves DVD, courtesy of our long-term sponsor, MovieMail.