Edie and Jose discuss Andrea Arnold’s 2016 film American Honey. We analyse the ways in which Arnold presents her protagonists and the American landscape that they traverse, its status as a road movie and the importance of music throughout the film. Part 4 of the series of podcasts for the Practice of Film Criticism module 2020.
Richard Layne returns to discuss Youssef Chahine’s fascinating musical in the light of Tara Shehata’s great podcast on the film last week. We discuss the film’s achievements as a musical, the catchiness of the music, the appeal of Hind Rustum and Shadia, the woodenness of Farid El-Atrash, and the influence of the screwball, particularly Preston Sturges’ The Palm Beach Story (1942). The podcast can be listened to below:
In the podcast, Richard discusses how C’es toi mon amour is the film that immediately precedes Cairo Station and Jamila the Algerian, and how it is worth comparing the two musical numbers set on a train in Cairo Station and in C’es toi mon amour in the light of themes of modernity, tradition, progress and personal freedom. You can see the clips below:
The Youssef Chahine Podcast talks to Cairo filmmaker Tara Shehata about two Youssef Chahine musicals, C’es toi mon amour/ ENTA HABIBI (1957) and Silence, on tourne!/Skoot hansawwar (2001).
The podcast can be listened to here:
Hind Rostom and Farid al-Atrash in C’est toi mon amour:
Farid Al-Atrash and Shadia Yassmin:
Opening number of Silence, on tourne!:
Cinematographer Pierre Dupouey on filming with Chahine:
In response to a comment on the podcast, Saudi filmmaker Yaser Hammad, who featured in our of our recent podcasts, notes that: ‘That also happened in “An Egyptian Story” the AD on set in the first scene is Youssry Nassrallah. Who also became a director and Chahine produced his first films which are on Netflix as well. He had a number of ADs who later on became great directors. like Dawood Abdelsayed, Redwan Elkashif, Khaled Youssef and many more’.
A discussion of Tamer El Said’s In the Last Days of the City, currently screening as part of the program for Safar 2020, hosted by the Arab British Centre. The program of films can now be seen from home until the 20th of September and you can follow the link here: www.safarfilmfestival.co.uk/
In the podcast we discuss the film’s combination of documentary and fiction, It’s self-reflexiveness and it’s formal beauty. The film dramatises a dilemma of a film within a film that the filmmaker can’t make cohere whilst avoiding that very same dilemma for itself by bringing in structural elements (the four friends, the increasing force of theocracy, the national football team’s wins, the search for an apartment, the loss of a relationship, the consolations of poetry in world characterised by alienation.
Jeff Reichert has written a lovely appreciation of the film in Film Comment which can be accessed here:
The podcast can be listened to below:
There’s an interesting article that brings in Chahine into a discussion of the film here:
…and this other interesting article on cinema in Cairo that also mentions Tamer El Said and Chahine:
The following is a series of images discussed in the podcast:
These are just frame grabs from the film captured because they’re either so beautiful or o expressive or both.
The wonderful discussion that followed the screening can be viewed here below. I found Tamer El Said’s commentary very articulate and surprisingly moving:
A discussion of the Youssef Chahine’s Devil of the Sahara aka The Desert’s Devil aka Devil of the Desert, 1954. We discuss the influence of Zorro and Robin Hood on the film, how Sharif is deployed as a combination of Errol Flynn AND Tyrone Power. We praise the film’s production values; how it’s a piece of entertainment filmed with a verve and flair that comes across even in the very bad copy we had access to. The film has exciting action sequences that make one re-think action in his later films and very successful large-scale musical numbers — the influence of Minnelli is evident throughout — that likewise raises questions about the deliberateness of later choices. A glossy piece of entertainment we both loved even though we saw it in the worst circumstances possible.
The podcast can be listened to below:
Richard mentions an excellent print was screened at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival last year. This is the festival’s entry below:
The version we saw was an atrocious copy from facebook that we are nonetheless thankful for and which can be accessed here:
If you want to follow up on the discussion of Sharif’s international career here is the trailer for Oh, Heavenly Dog:
A discussion of Nissae Bila Regal, Women Without Men, sometimes also known as Only Women, a Youssef Chahine film from 1953 with superb production values, musical numbers à la MGM and a plot that recalls Federico Garcîa Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba. We discuss many of the film’s themes that recur throughout Chahine’s later oeuvre: the influence of Hollywood cinema, melodrama, an exploration of modernisation, gender roles, a discussion of an idea of nation…..and much more.
We mention but did not discuss a lesbian reading of the film because we had not yet read Samar Habib’s excellent discussion of it in A Woman’s Closet is Her Castle: Lesbian Subtext and Corrective Pretext in Women Without Men’, where she also makes the claim that this film ‘gives us our first same-sex subtext in Egyptian cinematic history’. We simply didn’t get it but Habib’s article made us see.
Yaser Hammad is a young Saudi filmmaker as well as the screenwriter of Saudi Arabia’s first ever feature film to be released in Saudi Arabia, Roll’em (2019) . Meeting Yaser here has been one of the great pleasures of doing the Chahine podcast. Not only is he, like us, a great admirer of Chahine but, unlike us, he’s got access to all the Arab writing on Chahine and is much more knowledgeable about actors, songs, the whole pop and social culture around Chahine. His additions, corrections, interventions have been so invaluable that I asked him to join us for this podcast so that our listeners may also benefit. This is a wide-ranging conversation on Chahine’s oeuvre that tries to bring an Arab perspective on the work and, more personally, an account of what Chahine’s work has meant to at least one young Arab filmmaker.
The podcast can be listened to below:
Below you’ll find the trailer for Roll ‘Em, in which Chahine makes an appearance:
Many thanks to Yaser for contributing to the podcast. Richard and I hope many more of you will join in on the many conversations to be had on the work of Youssef Chahine.
The beautiful song that opens Ron Mann’s Altman (2014), the superb documentary on Robert Altman now on Amazon Prime, has been a gorgeous ear-worm since I first listened to it. I could not find it on youtube. That, and Altman’s own opening statements of how he sees cinema, is the reason for posting this:
A discussion of the seventh and last day of Ritrovato’s digital programming in full: Imperfect Crimes, To Kill a Child/ Att döda ett barn (Gösta Werner, 1953), Aimé Césaire – Le masque des mots (Sarah Maldoror, 1987), Mia madre – Giuditta Rissone (Anna Masecchia/ Michela Zegna, 2020), Ich War Neunzehn/ I was Nineteen (Konrad Wolf, 1968), Sepa, nuestro señor de los Milagros/ Sepa, Our Lord of Miracles (Walter Saxer, 1987) and, last but not least, Fail Safe (Sidney Lumet, 1964).
We end the podcast with a discussion of the pros and cons of the digital experience of this year’s Ritrovato. We offer thanks and appreciation to the Ritrovato team for succeeding in putting on the festival in traditional form in Bologna itself, but also for taking the trouble to provide this digital offering for those of us who COVID prevented from going to Bologna as planned. A massive thanks. It was greatly appreciated.
The podcast can be listened to below:
Frinds of Ritrovato might also welcome seeing this goodbye from the festival itself:
David Cairns does a good summary of both’ Imperfect Crimes ‘compilations , which we don´t really cover them in detail and you can access it here:
Friends might also be interested in this image capture from:
Richard Layne and José Arroyo discuss the main strands of the sixth day of Ritrovato 2020’s digital film programme. We spend a considerable amount of time discussing Robert Altman’s California Split (1974), which we loved, and George Marshall’s Tap Roots (1948), which we didn’t. We also discuss a considerable number of shorts, beginning withSarah Maldoror’s important Léon G. Damas (1994) and two more imaginative programs of shorts. Richard couldn’t quite get into Hanns Schwarz’ Liebling der götter/ Darling of the Gods (1930) and José missed out on it through bad planning so we will provide a link in the blog where you can follow up on it on the blogs of Dean Cairns and Pamela Hutchinson. A mixed program but a most interesting day.
This is the short film La briglia sul collo (the one about the badly behaved kid) that Richard comments on in the podcast:
Some of you may be interested in the image capture below:
A discussion of Ritrovatto’s digital offerings on its fifth day. We loved the look of Let Us Live (John Brahm, 1939), and Paul Leni’s Waxworks/ Das Wachsfigurenkabinet (1924). Mohammed Rezia Asiani’s Chess of the Wind/ Shatranj-e-Baad (1976), is a major discovery, and we find Solo Sunny (1980), directed by Konrad Wolf and Wolfgang Kolhaase, to be a major achievement in tone with an extraordinary central performance by Renate Krößner. Plus all the shorts, including Sarah Maldoror’s Monangambee one of the first African films directed by a woman. . A great day at Ritrovato.
Richard tells me there’s a nice brief article about watching “Chess of the Wind” in dodgy bootleg copies which can be accessed below:
A discussion of the fourth day of the Cinema Ritrovato’s digital program where we criticise the programming itself, feeling that not enough is made of the day. We then discuss Variety Lights/ Luci del varità (Lattuada/Fellini, 1950).
We spend a considerable amount of time on the wonderful shorts made available to everyone each day from the Cineteca di Bologna:
L’INDUSTRIA DELL’ARGILLA IN SICILIA (Italia, 191?), 5′ – R. Piero Marelli. Prod. Tiziano Film. Col. LU TEMPU DE LI PISCI SPATA (Italia, 1954), 9′ – R. Vittorio De Seta, Col. IL MIRACOLO DI SAN GENNARO (Italia, 1948), 8′ – R. Luciano Emmer ed Enrico Gras, Bn NASCITA DI UN CULTO (Italia, 1967), 17′ – R. Luigi Di Gianni. Scen.: Annabella Rossi. F.: Maurizio Salvatori. Mu.: Egisto Macchi. Prod.: Egle Cinematografica 35mm. Bn.
After a long wait and three delays, Christopher Nolan’s latest high-concept blockbuster, Tenet, has finally arrived in British cinemas. This description is a spoiler-free zone, but the podcast is decidedly not, so tread carefully before you listen: We spill every secret the film has to hold. The ones we could figure out, anyway.
Following our revisitation of five of Nolan’s massive flicks – the DarkKnighttrilogy, Interstellar, and Inception – we’re keen to see how Tenet fits amongst its brethren. We consider, as we have done repeatedly, Nolan’s action direction, the aesthetic design, the tone, the concept that drives everything, how it’s explained, what we love, what let us down, and, well… to detail anything further would be indecent.
Mike is gobsmacked by it, finding brilliance in some of the film’s execution, though is keen to make more than a few criticisms. José is much colder towards it, dismissing it as no more interesting than comic books for children – can Mike’s enthusiasm rub off on him? Tenet has its flaws, but it’s ambitious, intriguing, large-scale, wonderfully cast and acted – it’s worth your time.
We discuss the main features of Day 2 of Cinema Ritrovato’s digital offerings — Ladies Should Listen (Frank Tuttle, 1934) , Donne e Soldati / Women and Soldiers (d: Luigi Malerba, Antonio Marchi, co-written by Marco Ferreri) , Young Mr. Lincoln (John Ford, 1939) — as well as some of the Bologna shorts. We wonder about the Henry Fonda selections and what we can learn from the Frank Tuttle/ Stuart Heisler pairings in the program available digitally. We also discuss some of the failures in access and how it affected our viewing.
The amazing footage of Armenia can be found here just after the 4 minute point: