A chamber piece about history which looks like a combination of Rembrandt and an old photograph. In the podcast we discuss how Joe Wright might be getting short shrift as a director and the excellence of the performances:Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn and Lily James are all marvellous. Mike mentions how the film is not the life of Churchill but a few defining weeks in the life of Churchill; how the film shows us nothing of Dunkirk, we merely see it on a map; and how wonderful a supercut of this and Dunkirk might be. Mike also highlights how the cemeteries of Belgium tell a very different story from the official one in relation to Britain’s ‘going it alone’ in the two World Wars. We discuss how the film’s emotional manipulations are cheap but how one finds oneself responding to the film’s jingoism. I would have enjoyed it more had the film been less of a Brexit film, whether the filmmakers intended it or not. I would really like to see a film with the same actors just focussing on the relationship between Clemmie and Winston, and there’s a wonderful volume of letters full of sketches of kitties and piggies called Speaking for Themselves that I wish someone would draw on for a film. Mike guardedly recommends the film and is instantly remorseful but agrees there are pleasures to be had from it. But…..
The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.
If films had a smell, humid wafts of drug-propelled sweat, sperm and blood would emanate from Only God Forgives. It’s a feverish nightmare of a movie, like Blue Velvet but without the desire. Here there’s only the dread of sex and the wish for violence, as ritualized as possible but explicit. The film has a wonderful soundtrack where every sound is rendered distinct but all-enclosing; one feels entranced in a vacuum, a shared but private dream, already clammy with dank and damp. The film is dedicated to Alejandro Jodowrosky, and the violence makes one understand why this is so. But the film also made me think of the Fassbinder of Querelle, all fevered renderings of the forbidden, slow-moving and not fully intelligible, on the verge of being laughable but prevented from being so by the potency of their presentation. Kristin Scott-Thomas, looking like Donatella Versace and acting like a real housewife of New Jersey, is the mafia Medea who might just as easily fuck her children as kill them. The film is like a fragment of a nightmare, a glowing neon-noir: hypnotic, entrancing, scary, disgusting. It doesn’t have anything to do with any world I recognize yet I’m already finding it hard to shake off. Kristian Eidnes Andersen designed the sound. Larry Smith was in charge of the cinematography. Both deserve applause.