Film

Kino Eye: A really bad film

For a change, a really bad film: Mel Gibson’s Braveheart (1995). Usually, I only recommend films that I like and are interesting. Dale Street’s article on a possible second Scottish Referendum prompted me to think of films featuring Scottish nationalism. The one film that outshines all the others, but primarily because of its ignorance and stupidity, is Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Take the well-known poster of William Wallace (played by Gibson) with blue face-paint and kilt. Scottish warriors stopped wearing blue face-paint many hundred years before and hadn’t yet adopted the kilt. The English...

Kino Eye: Wedding in Galilee

Wedding in Galilee, an early Palestinian feature film, was directed by Michel Khleifi in 1987. Abu Adel, a Palestinian village mayor, wants to celebrate his son’s wedding in traditional style, but the local Israeli military commander insists the curfew regulations must be observed (the film is set in the period of “military government” of Arab areas inside Israel). Eventually, he agrees to let the wedding go ahead but on condition that he and his officers attend, to which the Mayor reluctantly concedes. Unsurprisingly, the presence of the soldiers creates tensions. Some relatives threaten to...

Kino Eye: A post-colonial film from Senegal

Ousmane Sembene of Senegal, a former French colony, was one of Africa’s pioneer filmmakers. His 1975 film Xala is set at the time of the colonial power’s withdrawal. The main character, businessman Aboucader Beye (known as “El Hadji”), becomes one of the new elite. He is utterly corrupt and accepts backhanders from French financiers. He already has two wives and marries a third, much younger than himself, a move which angers and upsets the older pair and Rama, his politically active daughter. She is opposed to the corruption of the new bourgeoisie which, of course, includes her father. She...

A film from the GDR

Making a — very loose — connection to Bruce Robinson’s review of theDeutschland series (Solidarity 592), and jumping back a few years, the GDR (which acquired the great UFA film studio when Germany was divided) once made some interesting films, even though much of this output now lies neglected and relatively unknown. My selection is a 1957 film, Berlin: Schoenhauser Corner, directed by Gerhard Klein. The ‘corner’ in question is a series of railway arches at Schoenhauser station on the Berlin overhead railway. Here disaffected teenagers, rebels and misfits congregate to look for some relief...

Kino Eye: A film from Kurdistan

Pete Boggs’ articles on the Kurds (Solidarity 591 and 589) suggest it is time for a Kurdish film. Although director Samira Makhmalbaf is not Kurdish, her film Blackboards (Takhté siah) was shot in the Kurdish-populated mountainous border region of northern Iran and Iraq. Released in 2000, the film features a group of itinerant teachers who, carrying their cumbersome blackboards on their backs, hope to find some village children to teach. It is hard, dangerous work and many villages are deserted as the inhabitants have taken flight due to the Iran-Iraq war. One of the teachers, Said, encounters...

Kino Eye: Sacco and Vanzetti

The front page of the 1927 Labor Defender (Solidarity 590) depicting the two anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti reminded me of director Giuliano Montaldo’s Sacco and Vanzetti, released in Italian and English language versions in 1971. Arrested for their alleged part in a payroll robbery on 15 April 1920 in Braintree, Massachusetts, where a security guard and a paymaster were both shot dead, Sacco (played by Ricardo Cucciola) and Vanzetti (Gian Volontè) always professed their innocence. Their trial was, essentially, a rigged examination of their anarchist beliefs with a biased...

Women's Fightback: A Promising Young Woman

In A Promising Young Woman, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) is still living with her parents, and works at a coffee shop though once she was the most promising student in medical school. She has no partner, and only one friend: her manager at the coffee shop who thinks she’s wasting her life. Once a week she gets dressed up, goes to a club, and preys on creeps who believe she is drunk and vulnerable. Each reacts with terror as her calm sobriety is revealed at the point he initiates sex with his “victim”. As the film and Cassie’s mission of vengeance develop, we meet a series of archetypes. The...

Kino Eye: School rebellion

The school students’ rebellion at the Pimlico Academy (see Solidarity 587) brings to mind the classic anti-school film Zero de Conduite (Zero for Conduct), made in France and directed by Jean Vigo back in 1933. Returning to their dreary boarding school after the holidays, four students become increasingly angered by the petty discipline, appalling food, and bullying, obnoxious Headmaster. They stage a protest and the Parents’ Open Day ends in total chaos while the boys make their escape over the rooftops. Vigo went on to direct only one more film, L’Atalante (1934), a romantic tale of workers...

Kino Eye: Turkey in the 80s

Yılmaz Güney (1937-1984) was a Kurdish actor and then director who dedicated himself to making films depicting the struggle of the poor and oppressed in Turkey. Persecuted by the authorities, he was sentenced to prison allegedly for sheltering anarchists in his flat. On his release he accidentally encountered the judge who had previously sentenced him; the details are obscure and disputed but a brawl of some kind ensued and the judge died. Güney always denied responsibility but was convicted of murder. He escaped from prison in 1981 and sought refuge in France. It was there that he made his...

Kino Eye: Into her own hands

Adoption (from Hungary: Marta Mészáros, 1975), centres on the plight of Kata, a factory worker who is single and, at the age of 45, has decided she wants to have a baby. She tells her lover Joska, who is married, but he refuses to go along with her wishes. Kata befriends Anna, a teenage orphan who she meets in a café, and finds the support and solidarity she so desperately needs. Kata, now having rejected Joska, goes to the orphanage where Anna was brought up and adopts one of the children. The film ends in a freeze frame with Kata getting on a bus with her adopted child. No easy future...

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