Ep66: Steve McQueen

 

*This episode contains strong language

To coincide with his exhibition at CAST Cornwall as part of the Groundwork programme, we teamed up with Groundwork and CAST, and the Thomas Dane Gallery in London to record artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen in conversation with Nicholas Serota at the WTW Plaza Cinema in Truro and are honoured to share that conversation with our listeners.  

The episode is based around the conversation between McQueen and Serota, and Dario and Neil’s discussion of McQueen as a filmmaker and visual artist. Steve’s work in cinema arguably makes him one of the most vital, fascinating and important working British filmmakers but as the conversation elucidates it is merely a different form of aesthetic expression for a visual artist who has created a unique, formidable and exhilarating body of work since emerging on to the British art scene in the early 1990s.

The episode also includes Josie Cockram from Groundwork discussing the programme and the work of CAST Cornwall. More information on Rachael Jones’s film Tracing Granite that is discussed in the episode as well as links to other pieces and reflections related to the programme can be found in the RECORD section of the Groundwork website.

Information on the artworks discussed by Steve McQueen on the episode:

Unexploded (2007)

Gravesend (2007)

Bear (1993)

Deadpan (1997)

Drumroll (1998)

7th Nov. (2001)

Charlotte (2004)

Western Deep / Carib’s Leap (2002)

Queen and Country (2007 – 2009)

Hunger (2008)

Static (2009)

Shame (2011)

12 Years a Slave (2013)

End Credits (2012 – Ongoing)

Ashes (2015)

Ep65: Lek and the Dogs (w/ Dir. Andew Kötting)

*This episode contains strong language

Andrew Kötting is a unique voice in British Audio-Visual culture and after seeing and admiring much of his work it was a great pleasure to welcome him onto the podcast to introduce his enigmatic new film Lek and the Dogs. Loosely based Hattie Naylor's play Ivan and the Dogs, itself the true story of a Russian child abandoned to Moscow streets to be 'raised' by the cities stray dogs, the film is both intensely personal but perhaps more concerned with grand social and philosophical questions that his previous work. The third in his 'Earthworks' trilogy, Lek brings Kötting's trademark eclecticism in both visual and aural style and in terms of the cinematic, artistic and literary references he mines. Samuel Beckett, Montaigne, Tarkovsky, Margaret Atwood, Plato, Nicolas Roeg, John Berger, Dziga Vertov, among many others, are all points of reference in this unique cinematic essay.

Dario is joined by Andrew Kötting at his local cinema, The Electric Palace in Hastings, for a very special screening and a wide ranging discussion about the film and his creative work.

The film can be viewed on MUBI until the 7th of July. 

Show notes

Ben Nicholson's review of Lek and the Dogs in Sight and Sound

Kermode Uncut: The Kotting Club

Ep64 Unsocial Audiences

In this episode, we focus on research from a special themed edition of the Participations journal of audience research looking at the notion of unsocial audiences and non-traditional, extended and disruptive forms of spectatorship. Dario's contribution to the journal was an article on a project examining the potential of second screening as a tool for film analysis and this podcast features his interviews with three of the other contributors. He speaks to the editors of the edition Steve Gaunson and Tessa Dwyer about the background and development of the issue and their own articles on disruptive cinema in Silent Era and the phenomenon of Japanese bullet screenings. Dario then discusses the phenomena of Second Screening directly with James Blake how outlines its uses for new forms of transmedia storytelling. Finally, Dario talks to Helen Kennedy who has researched extensively on extended, live, and theatrical possibility of the cinematic specifically here in terms of Secret Cinema.

Show Notes

Dwyer, Tessa & Steve Gaunson: 'Un/social cinema – audience decorum revisited

Blake, James: 'Second Screen interaction in the cinema: Experimenting with transmedia narratives and commercialising user participation'

Llinares, Dario: '"Please turn your phone on": Analysing outcomes of second-screen spectatorship using Social Media in the cinema space'

Dwyer, Tessa: 'Hecklevision, Barrage Cinema and Bullet Screens: An intercultural analysis'

Gaunson, Steve: 'The 'Picture' habit: Bad decorum and delinquents at the Silent Cinema'

Kennedy, Helen: '"Join a cast of 1000s, to sing and dance in the Revolution": the Secret Cinema "Activist" brand and the commodification of affect within "experience communities"'

The rest of the articles from this themed section can be found here: http://www.participations.org/Volume%2014/Issue%202/contents.htm

Ep63 The Islands and the Whales (W/ dir. Mike Day)

hqdefault.jpg

The environment has always been a staple theme for filmmakers as it lends itself to spectacularly cinematic aesthetics, profound statements regarding humanity and nature, and often apocalyptic narratives. Mike Day's new film The Islands and the Whales certainly doesn't lack visual impressiveness but it also carries a combination of subtle storytelling and brutal honestly in its depiction of the complexities of environmental socio-politics which has local and global dimensions. 

The Faroese whale hunters have had a lot of publicity regarding their traditions which seem out of step with environmental sensibilities but The Islands and the Whales both lays bare the contradictions of Western liberal assumptions regarding how to talk about and even be an environmental activist, while also depicting the islanders' own struggles in coming to terms with how pollution is causing what seems like an inevitable end to their traditional way of life.

Dario and Neil discuss environmentalism in cinema, lament the seeming futility of individual and collective responses to climate change, and Dario speaks the the director of the film himself about the challenges of its making and the inadequate media coverage of the environmental crisis that is upon us.

Review in The Guardian

Review in The Ecologist

Ep62 Juice (w/ film critic & podcaster Leslie Pitt)

be0d180d6ffde82d765716ddbf45be38.jpg

The focus of this episode is Ernest Dickerson's still underrated 1992 drama Juice, featuring a young (pre-fame/pre-legendary) Tupac Shakur. The live portion of the show was recorded a little while back at Falmouth University's School of Film & Television but is being released now due to the episode not being based around release schedules, as the previous Claire Denis episode was.

The timing though is fortuitous, with Childish Gambino's This is America song and music video being released earlier this week and bringing to the fore again questions around black identity, gun violence and black male bodies. 

In the episode Neil and Dario discuss the term 'black cinema', the evolution and status of black filmmaking in American and British cinema and how complex such a discussion is from an acknowledged white standpoint. 

The episode also features a clip of Dario's deep discussion about film criticism and contemporary film culture with friend of the podcast Simran Hans, which can be found in full over on our Patreon site for subscribers, as well as Neil's chat with film critic and podcaster Leslie Byron Pitt about representation in filmmaking and film criticism alongside as Basic Instinct and erotic thrillers as Leslie is one quarter of the excellent Fatal Attractions podcast

Links:

Ernest Dickerson on The Treatment podcast

Angelica Bastien on Odds Against Tomorrow, a brilliant film noir about racism

Wakanda Forever: Black Panther and the power of representation, by Leslie Byron Pitt (for Media Diversified)

Ep61 Claire Denis (with Dr. Felicity Gee)

RPWCLAIREDENIS.jpg
91C7Xg9ya+L._SL1500_.jpg

We are joined for this extended conversation about the work of filmmaker Claire Denis by Dr. Felicity Gee. Felicity, a previous guest of the show, provides some wonderful insight into and thoughts on the work of the French filmmaker whose new film Let The Sunshine In is released by Curzon/Artificial Eye this Friday, April 20th.

The episode covers a range of topics including aesthetics and feminism, the canonisation of Beau Travail, as well as the new film and how it fits into her body of work. Music in the episode comes from some of the collaborations Denis has undertaken with the band Tindersticks.

Music:

Opening (from 35 Rhums) / The Black Mountain (from L’intrus) / Children’s Theme (from White Material) / Train Montage (from 35 Rhums) / Trouble Every Day (from Trouble Every Day).

Click here to stream the album Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009 by Tindersticks on Spotify

References:

Dario mention's Judith Mayne's research on Claire Denis

Ryan Gilbey's interview with Claire Denis for the New Statesman (mentioned on a previous Patreon bonus epsiode by Ryan)

Postscript 1:

I watched 35 Shots of Rum again and it is as exquisite as Dario and Felicity discuss on the episode. NF.

Postscript 2: 

I apologise for all the rummaging you hear on the episode. Due to Dario and Felicity being in the same room we couldn't record using headphones over Skype so their mic picked up my fidgeting. NF.

Ep60 Right Now Film Festival / Brexitannia (+filmmaker Daisy Asquith)

*We apologise for the poor sound quality of the live segments of this episode. We are still working out the optimum way to record the live events for the show. Please stick with it as there are some great interviewees and some really great discussion on this ep.*

For our 60th episode we have teamed up with the Right Now Film Festival and one of our Cornwall partner venues The Poly in Falmouth for a screening of Timothy George Kelly's documentary Brexitannia.

The discussion tries to stay rooted in the cinematic but the overwhelming anxiety, confusion and uncertainty of Brexit in the UK means this is maybe our most political chat to date. The event ended up being a chance for audience members to share in the collective anxiety and confusion with us, aided by the excellent documentary that brought everyone together. 

Neil talked to Right Now FF coordinator Amy Hepton about their touring documentary festival venture.

Also on the episode Neil talks to filmmaker and convenor of documentary at Goldsmiths Daisy Asquith about her latest film Queerama, a stunning archive documentary about British queer screen representation, released through the BFI.

Clips from Brexitannia and Queerama, as well as the latter's core musical figure John Grant are featured in the episode alongside the discussions. 

Thanks to Right Now FF and The Poly for inviting us to get involved. And thanks to Luke Smith for coming down to take some photos, including the image below.

Credit - Luke Smith

 

 

Ep59 In a Lonely Place (w/ Prof. Julie Grossman)

hero_EB20090813REVIEWS08908139995AR.jpg

The career of Nicolas Ray boasts many films that are part of the cinematic canon, but it was his 1950 Film Noir In a Lonely Place that cemented his directorial sensibility and his appreciation of the fragile human condition. Starring an ageing Humphrey Bogart, in one of his most complex roles, and Gloria Grahame, who perhaps even surpasses Bogey in a performance that has the wit of Bacall, the emotion of Bergman and the sexiness of Hayworth. Screened in front of a full house in Hastings' Electric Palace In a Lonely Place provokes many interesting questions around sexual politics, representation, the dark side of Hollywood and how we understand cinema through the problematic structure of genre.

For this episode, Dario interviews Professor Julie Grossman, director of Film Studies at Le Moyne College, upstate New York. Prof Grossman's book Rethinking the Femme Fatale contests the critical discourses that simplistically posit the female icon of Noir as an object of male fantasy and anxiety.

There's also an accompanying blog by audience member and film teacher Peter Blundell for you to check out, should an hour and forty minutes not be enough for you.

Show Notes

Prof. Julie Grossman, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY. 

Library of America entry on In a Lonely Place

Ed Gonzalez Review in Slant 

Serena Bramble in Senses of Cinema

Gaby Wood on In A Lonely Place for LRB

Ep58 Dark River (with Clio Barnard and Andrew Kötting)

dark-river-2_orig-1021x580-600x341.jpg

The arrival of a new film by Clio Barnard promises an in-depth and uncompromising study of character and place; Dark River, her new film set in the harsh and beautiful Yorkshire farming landscape, is no exception. The northern locale links to her previous films The Arbor and The Self Giant, as does the bleak and brutal tragedy of the human stories. However, this rural tale, based on the Rose Tremain novel Trespass, is somewhat of a departure from the urban working-class focus of those previous films. 

In this Q&A, presented in association with Cinecity, Clio talks about the film with long-time friend Andrew Kötting, touching on the development of the script from the book, the casting, her minimalist aesthetic, the P.J. Harvey soundtrack and the challenges of the rural locations.

Show notes

Clio Barnard interview in The Independent with Jacob Stolworthy

Arrow Film Dark River Press Release

Interview with Clio Barnard on The Selfish Giant

Dark River: Why British Films Have Gone Back To The Land - Nick Hasted in The Guardian

If you enjoy the podcast please consider supporting us on Patreon. You will get access to all our bonus content, the full podcast archive, our monthly newsletter, and further perks as and when we think of them.

 

 

Ep57 Paul Thomas Anderson

The recent release of Paul Thomas Anderson's eighth narrative feature film Phantom Thread has the film world abuzz. No one is more excited than us here at The Cinematologists as it gives us a long-awaited chance to go deep on one of our favourite filmmakers and someone we believe to be one of, if not the greatest American filmmakers currently working.

This first episode of the new season sees Neil and Dario discuss Anderson's place in the pantheon, his unique talents and style, and the immediate impact of his latest work - so different and yet so in line with his previous films. It also precedes a forthcoming bonus episode on Inherent Vice that has been gathering dust in the Cinematologists vault awaiting the right time to see the light of day. 

For now though, here's the episode:

The release of Phantom Thread has seen some great writing and discussion emerge on the film and Anderson's career and films. Here are some of our favourites on the film and his work:

The Film Comment Podcast - Violet Lucca and Sheila O'Malley discuss Phantom Thread

Melissa Anderson on Phantom Thread for 4Columns

The Curzon Film Podcast - Jake Cunningham, Josh Slater-Williams and Dr. Irene Musemeci on Phantom Thread