The second of a series of conversations about books on cinema with their authors. The intention is to expand and disseminate our understanding of cinema and its diverse histories and various cultures by bringing attention to recently published books in the field in order to enhance understanding of and access to the knowledge the books provide.
This one is with Pamela Hutchinson, founder of the great Silent London website and a regular correspondent for Sight and Sound, The Guardian and many other outlets on various aspect of Silent Cinema. The occasion for the chat is the publication of her wonderful new book on G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box, a BFI Film Classic, so recent that it’s literally hot off the press, and as witty as it is informative.
What you hear in the background is the bubbles in a glass of champagne and one can only hope that our chat is as fizzy. The conversation ranges from the film’s aesthetic achievements to its continued influence, the appeal of Louise Brooks, what Marlene Dietrich might have done with the part and what the film has to tell us on sexual desire, the options open to women and the prevalence of rape culture then and now. Pandora’s Box seems more pertinent than ever and just as powerful and hypnotic as it always was. Pamela Hutchinson’s book is not just a beautifully written introduction to the film but one which provides new information and enhances our understanding in various ways and does so with great charm and wit.
I hope that the quality of the chat compensates for that of the editing and recording. It can be accessed above.
The second instalment of the Eavesdropping at the Movies podcast with Michael Glass of Writing About Film, where we hope to offer the experience of eavesdropping on friends chatting informally about a movie after just watching it.
This week the focus is on The Hitman’s Bodyguard and the topics under discussion include: Can an action film that goes through Coventry be any good? Is it important that action scenes are funny? Is Gary Oldman a whore? All valuable questions. All answered in our chat about The Hitman’s Bodyguard. I think.
José Arroyo and Michael Glass.
The second instalment of the ‘Eavesdropping on Mike and José after a movie’ podcast with Michael Glass of Writing About Film, where we hope to offer the experience of eavesdropping on friends chatting informally about a movie after just watching it. The focus this week is on The Dark Tower and topics under discussion this week include whether Idris Elba has it in him to be a film star, the excellence of Matthew McConaughey’s performance, the value of watching a film in 3-4DX, and whether Mike has better eyebrows than Carla Delevingne.
Episode 1 (Girls Trip, Malcolm D. Lee, USA, 2017)
This is a trial episode of a possible podcast that Michael Glass of ‘Writing About Film’ and I are posting primarily to get feedback. It’s done as an mp4 so you can play it on your computer’s usual player, like a video. I have this romantic idea of the movies as a conjunction of place, people and experiences, all different for each of us, a context in which individual and separate beings try to commune, where the individual experience overlaps with the communal and where that overlapping is demarcated by how we measure the differing responses between ourselves and the rest of the audience: do they laugh when we don’t (and what does that mean?); are they moved when we feel like laughing (and what does that say about me or the others) etc. The idea behind this podcast is to satiate the urge I sometimes have when I see a movie alone – but that I also hope is shared by at least some of you — to eavesdrop on what others say. What do they think? How does their experience compare to mine? Snippets are overhead as one leaves the cinema and are often food for thought. A longer snippet of such an experience is what this podcast hopes to provide: it’s two friends chatting immediately after a movie. It’s unrehearsed, meandering, slightly convoluted, certainly enthusiastic, and well informed, if not necessarily on all aspects a particular work gives rise to, certainly in terms of knowledge of cinema in general and considerable experience of watching different types of movies and watching movies in different types of ways. It’s not a review. It’s a conversation. One roughly transmuted into another format so that you may overhear. We know the design of the image is lousy; and that the transitions between snippets are roughly cut. But what do you think of the idea, the title, the format? Feedback and suggestions most gratefully received.
(also on behalf of Michael Glass)
I love the Maigret films; they offer the double satisfaction of thrilling you with some of the worst humanity has to offer – though usefully shown tastefully – and then restoring order; moreover, that rebalancing is itself done in an orderly and systematic manner; one we’ve learned to know and enjoy playing along … Continue reading Maigret tend un piège/ Inspector Maigret (Jean Delannoy, France/Italy 1958)
A lovely byproducts of visiting Athens was its open air cinemas. I now see that it’s famous for them, with over sixty still remaining. But I had not known. I’d gone to Athens for the Parthenon, classical sculpture, Melina Mercouri and sunshine. Once made aware, however, I had to go, and we went every night … Continue reading Seeing Films in Athens
I Don’t Want to be a Man/ Icht möchte kein Mann sein is a delightful sex comedy, a movie about teenage rebellion from a hundred years ago, funny and amiable but not without edge. Ossie (Ossie Oswalda) is a young woman who enjoys eating, drinking, smoking, playing poker and flirting with the boys. What’s not to … Continue reading I Don’t Want to be a Man/ Icht möchte kein Mann sein A Comedy in Three Acts by Ernst Lubitsch (Ernst Lubitsch, Germany, 1918)
This is about a Hollywood film star, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), kind of lost, marriage failed, all his wishes are met but they’re not really desires because all he’s got to do is look and he gets offered it. He doesn’t even need to ask. Girls flash their tits at him everywhere he turns and, … Continue reading Somewhere (Sofia Coppola, USA, 2010)
The Lonely Wife/ Charulata (Satyajit Ray, India, 1964) If you cannot have faith, trust; if you do not know what is true, how can you make sense of the world and how can you live? These are some of the questions asked by Satyajit Ray’s great film, The Lonely Wife/ Charulata. The setting is an … Continue reading The Lonely Wife/ Charulata (Satyajit Ray, India, 1964)
This story of a man too cowardly to follow his heart is a short but very beautiful film. A screenwriter (Soumitra Chatterjee ) looking for material in rural Darjeeling gets stranded in a small-town petrol station when his car breaks down; there are no trains and no taxis. A rich manager of a tea plantation … Continue reading The Coward/ Kapurush (Satyajit Ray, India, 1965)
After seeing Satyajit Ray’s The Big City, Roger Ebert remarked that he had trouble approaching Ray’s films as ‘foreign’: “they are not foreign. They are about Indians, and I am not an Indian, but Ray’s characters have more in common with me than I do the comic-strip characters of Hollywood.” I agree. The film feels … Continue reading The Big City (India, Satjayit Ray, 1963)