Mark MacLennan

 
Thu
03
Jan
2019
 

The dehumanising impact of coal mining is laid bare in a Chinese documentary whose stunning images speak louder than words. Travelling around the vast, verdant steppes of Mongolia, the film-maker discovers a paradise soon to be lost to the open cast coal mining that devours the land. Director Zhao Liang juxtaposes the two worlds in arresting single shots: the frame is divided between the lush grassland that still – just – supports a nomadic community with the ugly grey scars that used to be mountains. The extraordinary photography is all the more remarkable given that Zhao shot much of it guerrilla style. Zhao, who shot the film as well as directed it, has an incredible eye, which was honed by his training and early career as a photographer. Zhao’s fly-on-the-wall technique lets the image, rather than the people, do the talking.

Mon
31
Dec
2018
 

Koyaanisqatsi ((which translates as Life Out of Balance), is a 1982 American experimental film directed by Godfrey Reggio with music composed by Philip Glass and cinematography by Ron Fricke.

The film looks at the world and more specifically the effect man has had on the landscape and the environment. Without narration, the film shows the world in a pristine condition and untouched: blue skies, beautiful landscapes and endless vistas. The man-made world is much less appealing. Essentially a montage using a variety of film techniques to provide a visually stunning montage of images. The film consists primarily of slow motion and time-lapse footage of cities and many natural landscapes across the United States. This visual tone poem contains neither dialogue nor a vocalised narration: its tone is set by the juxtaposition of images and music. 

A sensation when first released in 1983, the film is the first part of a trilogy.

Mon
31
Dec
2018
 

Orson Welles' free-form documentary about fakery focuses  on the notorious art forger Elmyr de Hory and Elmyr's biographer, Clifford Irving, who also wrote the celebrated fraudulent Howard Hughes autobiography, then touches on the reclusive Hughes and Welles' own career (which started with a faked resume and a phony Martian invasion). On the way, Welles plays a few tricks of his own on the audience. "F for fake" stands for the last movie Orson Welles really directed and, as for many artistic legacies it's the final demonstration of the genius of the artist.

Mon
31
Dec
2018
 

 

 

A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention.

Man with a Movie Camera[ is an experimental 1929 Soviet silent documentary film, directed by Dziga Vertov and edited by his wife Elizaveta SvilovaIt is widely regarded by many as one of the greatest films ever made, having ranked eighth in the 2012 Sight & Sound poll of the world's best films. In 2009, Roger Ebert wrote, "It made explicit and poetic the astonishing gift the cinema made possible, of arranging what we see, ordering it, imposing a rhythm and language on it, and transcending it.

 

Sun
04
Nov
2018
 

In a 17th-century Danish village, an old woman is accused of witchcraft. In the shadow of her flight, capture, confession, and burning at the stake, the young wife of the town's aging pastor falls in love with the pastor's son. Her confession of this illicit affair to her husband brings on her husband's death. At the funeral the pastor's mother denounces the young widow as a witch. Will the widow's lover come to her defence, or has the day of wrath returned?

Sun
04
Nov
2018
 

A drifter obsessed with the supernatural stumbles upon an inn where a severely ill adolescent girl is slowly becoming a vampire. Dreyer shrugs off conventional linear narrative and takes an experimental approach, plunging us into a waking nightmare that isn't so much black-and-white as it is misty grey. When cinematographer Rudolph Maté showed Dreyer some frames made hazy by accidental exposure to light, the director had him place a layer of gauze in front of the lens to replicate the effect for the rest of the film.

Many of the images from this movie have passed into horror iconography: an old man standing by the river tolling a bell with a scythe over his shoulder; Grey's dream of being buried alive; the evil doctor suffocating in flour dropped from the mill above. It's hard to spot where nightmares end and reality begins. This really is a film that exemplifies the idea of dreaming with our eyes open.

Sun
04
Nov
2018
 

How do we understand faith and prayer, and what of miracles? Ordet is set in August 1925 on a Danish farm. The widowed Patriarch Borgen, who's rather prominent in his community, has three sons: Mikkel, a good-hearted agnostic whose wife Inger is pregnant, Johannes, who believes he is Jesus, and Anders, young, slight, in love with the tailor's daughter. The fundamentalist sect of the girl's father is anathema to Borgen's traditional Lutheranism; he opposes the marriage until the tailor forbids it, then Borgen's pride demands that it happen. Unexpectedly, Inger, who is the family's sweetness and light, has problems with her pregnancy. The rational doctor arrives, and a long night brings sharp focus to at least four views of faith. Carl Dreyer's acclaimed Ordet, If you are a believer or an atheist, Ordet, regularly voted as on of the greatest of all films, will shatter you either way.

Fri
21
Sep
2018
 

During the Vietnam War, the young American Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is given the assignment to hunt down and kill one of his own: Colonel Kurtz (famously played by Marlon Brando), who has apparently gone insane, murdered hundreds of innocent people and constructed a strange kingdom for himself deep in the jungle. Willard and his crew embark on a surreal river journey to find Kurtz, meeting along the way a Lieutenant-Colonel who surfs during live combat, Playboy bunnies dropped in by helicopter to entertain rowdy troops, and the inhabitants of a French plantation trapped in colonial times. Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece was inspired by Joseph Conrad's famous novel Heart of Darkness. This film was plagued by an extraordinary script, shooting, budget an casting problems - nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director. An acclaimed documentary of the making of the film - Hearts of Darkness - was released in 1991 and acclaimed by Gene Siskel as 'the best film of the year'. 

Sun
09
Sep
2018
 

Follow the yellow brick road! Young Dorothy lives on a farm in Kansas where a large tornado picks her house, and her dog up and deposits them in the Land of Oz where things are strange and beautiful, but Dorothy just wants to get back home. She's helped by the Good Fairy of the North, but she's also in trouble with the Wicked Witch of the West, who seeks revenge for the death of the Wicked Witch of the East, for which she blames Dorothy. While searching her way home via the fabled Wizard of Oz, she meets a Scarecrow (who needs a brain), a Tin Man (who needs a heart), and a cowardly lion (who needs courage). Although it had a troubled and difficult gestation and subsequent shoot (it went through a number of directors) it remains one of the most beloved fantasy films of all time.

Sun
09
Sep
2018
 

William Friedkin's powerful film adaptation of William Peter Blatty's bestselling novel of a young girl who is possessed by a demon. The film quickly became a cultural phenomenon. 

One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, this tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When young Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting odd -- levitating, speaking in tongues -- her worried mother (Ellen Burstyn) seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest (Jason Miller), however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert (Max von Sydow) to help with the difficult job.

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