MAN OF IRON

1981; directed by Andrzej Wajda; written by Aleksander Scibor-Rylski; 147 mins

[Sorry, couldn’t find a suitable English language clip or trailer]

With the passing, late last year, of director Andrzej Wajda, and with Cannes 2017 well underway, I thought it time to check out Palme d’Or winner Man of Iron – interestingly, the only sequel ever to win the prize. Previously, I had only seen Wajda’s 1958 masterpiece, Ashes and Diamonds and beyond that, my knowledge of Polish cinema is pretty poor, so let’s delve in… Continue reading

THE WHITE DIAMOND

2004; directed by Werner Herzog; 87 mins

[Sorry the trailer’s in German, that is the only trailer I could find]

In lieu of There Will Be Blood (because my DVD was shagged), the 100th review on Reading Films will be of my second favourite Herzog film – after 1972’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God. A neglected documentary, released thirteen years ago and never mentioned except in passing in any retrospective of the director. This, I think, is his most positive, heartwarming and emotionally fulfilling film. Continue reading

A BAND CALLED DEATH

2012; directed by Mark Corvino and Jeff Howlett; 92 mins

Rock & Roll: that’s the thing most punk rockers seem to say when the subject is broached as to what makes them punk. They almost inevitably say they just wanted to make Rock & Roll music. That’s not the only connection this film has with the great pantheon of rockumentary filmmaking, though… Continue reading

CRISIS: Behind a Presidential Commitment

1963; by Robert Drew; 52 mins

A bolder, much more confidently made documentary from Drew Associates with better sync-sound and more clarity and accuracy with the cameras of Richard Leacock, James Lipscomb, D.A. Pennebaker and Hope Ryden. Perhaps because they were given unprecedented access to the inner workings of the White House, they naturally upped their game. However, they had also not really stopped working since their 1960 experiment, Primary, thus, the quality of this film and it’s makers is far superior. Continue reading

THE SORROW AND THE PITY

1969; directed by Marcel Ophüls; written by André Harris and Marcel Ophüls; 251 mins

Part One – The Collapse (l’effondrement): A look at the French experience during WWII, singling out the town of Clermont-Ferrand which was, temporarily after the Nazi invasion, the seat of government for Petaín and the Vichy government. The first half of the film concerns itself with the downfall of France from 1940 to 1942, the attitudes of the people and British betrayal* that led to the split and the rise of the resistance. Continue reading

SACRO GRA

2013; directed by Gianfranco Rosi; 91 mins

“I come across like a slut.” says one table dancer as she does her make-up. “It accentuates you” replies her colleague in a manner that suggests this conversation is a regular occurrence. Then out they go, from the cramped back area, filled with empty trays and stock to go and gyrate on top of a cramped looking bar to be occasionally ogled by half-interested young men. Continue reading

PRIMARY

 1960; directed by Robert Drew; 53 mins

In this most terrifying of election years, it’s interesting to go back and check out this documentary which details the Wisconsin Primary in 1960, in particular the contest between senators Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy, both canvassing on the campaign trail to be elected as the Democratic candidate for the presidency. This was a pioneering documentary which overturned many of the conventions of the format. Creator Robert Drew developed a lightweight camera rig so that a crew could film and record sound simultaneously on the go. This meant that they could capture events as they happened with the candidates being themselves. Continue reading