Tag Archives: mac Birmingham

93 – Cold War

Cold War is Paweł Pawlikowski’s follow up to the Academy Award winning Ida. We delighted in the Midlands Arts Centre’s fabulous projection system, which Mike says makes these beautifully lit and composed images “sing”, allowing their poetry to resonate. The film is unashamedly a love story, framed in a 4:3 ratio that best frames faces and sharpens the focus on the feelings they express, in glistening black and white.

Cold War begins unusually in that the love each of the protagonists has for the other is never in doubt. The problem, the threat, the barrier, is how the geopolitics of the post-war period interrupt that love – the whole world is against them! We discuss the resonances of the film’s setting, the period 1949-1964, and the significance of the film moving back and forth from Paris and several Eastern Bloc countries; with settings in the Polish countryside, Warsaw, Berlin Yugoslavia, Zagreb and then back to Poland. Is part of the theme that in the Eastern Bloc they’re forced to prostitute their art whilst capitalist countries encourage the prostitution of the self?

José swoons over the sadness, sexiness and romance of the film. Mike draws attention to a certain sketchiness and notes that Tomasz Kot looks like he belongs in a Stella Artois ad whilst admiring his performance and that of Joanna Kulig as Zula. José loves it so much he wants to see it again to further explore the patterning of images and sounds. Mike feels he’s seen enough but is willing to go along, particularly since the film is unexpectedly short at only 85 minutes. It’s certainly good, but precisely how good is Cold War is the question that overhangs the podcast.

The podcast can be listened to in the players above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

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33 – Z

We visit Z, a French-Algerian political thriller from 1969. It also happens to be a bona fide classic that won a ton of awards, enjoyed great popularity, and even succeeded in markets where it was subtitled or dubbed. Neither of us has seen it before; both of us are glad our first encounter with it is on a cinema screen.

We discuss its relevance to society today – the reason the mac is screening it, no doubt – the precision and economy of its editing and storytelling, its control of information, its title, its geographical setting, its surprising sense of humour, and indeed something we both found left rather a bad taste in the mouth. We also run down the eleven films from 1969 that outperformed it at the US box office, and José learns about The Stewardesses.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

31 – Human Flow

Ai Weiwei brings displaced peoples from across the world together in his documentary on the global refugee crisis. We discuss their plight, the film’s use of poetry, Weiwei’s imagery, and the countless ways in which he humanises people who are insulted, ignored, used as bargaining chips, and condemned to lives of confinement with no end in sight.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

30 – Happy End

Michael Haneke’s precise, layered Happy End takes on – what else? – the bourgeoisie, and sees Eavesdropping welcome 2018 and iTunes availability at last! Opening with praise for the extraordinary image quality provided by the mac’s 4K projector, we consider the film’s surprising comic sensibility, its observation of different social strata, how our expectations shaped our experiences of what we saw (or didn’t see), Haneke’s careful craft and subtle subversions of cinematic conventions, and his continued exploration of violence as a central theme.

And, finally, in a revelation to rival Psycho and The Sixth Sense, we nervously admit that we enjoyed the film as one might enjoy a Hollywood comedy or a trip to the zoo. Even now it’s tough to come to terms with that. Perhaps that is Haneke’s greatest achievement and truest subversion. We never before knew that he wanted us to have a good time.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.