Weekly Cinematique screenings were abandoned as soon as the restriction on large gatherings was put in place in March. But the clever people at ACMI were quick off the mark introducing on the 19th of March the Virtual Cinématèque providing screenings we could access in our homes.
They put together a terrific range of films announcing on Twitter each Tuesday evening what would be available on the following Wednesday via which platform.
We watched a few but given our extensive social life didn’t manage anything like a film every week.
We made an effort to see Károly Makk’s Love (Szerelem). I first saw this, I think, at a Melbourne University Film Society screening some time in the nineteen-seventies. We were able to watch it all via the National Film Archive of Hungary’s Vimeo page. It won the Cannes Jury Prize in 1970.
The ACMI overview describes it thus: In Budapest circa 1950 a bedridden old woman finds comfort in recalling fragmentary moments of happiness in a pst dating back to imperial times, and in fantasies stoked by her frequently visiting daughter-in-law Luca who fabricates stories of her husband János’s glorious success as a filmmaker in New York. János is, however, imprisoned by the Stalinists in his home city and unlikely ever to see his mother again.
It’s described as a psychologically rich masterpiece. I’ve always remembered the loving reunion of the married couple. It also shows clearly, but in an exceptionally nuanced way, how living under a totalitarian government poisons all relationships. Which made the bond between husband and wife even more poignant. Beautiful film. Here’s an excerpt from YouTube.
We also saw a couple of Michael Powell both via SBS On Demand. The first was A Matter of Life and Death which I’d seen before. Starring David Niven as Squadron Leader Peter Carter who engages in flirtatious banter with American radio operator June ,played by Kin Hunter, moments before he bails out of his crippled aircraft to a certain death. Only he doesn’t die.
I remember the scenes in heaven, which have a surrealistic look about them. There’s a bureaucratic signing in procedure which in its way is an indictment of war as soldiers, sailors and airmen enter in a steady stream. And a court-room scene which is terrific. I remember the stairs.
I’ve always loved David Niven; so quintessentially English. And the angel is terrific. Everything about it works. ACMI called it a film for our time; a bold, full-bloodedly cinematic, poetic and breathtakingly audacious – heaven is in monochrome, and the earth in “glorious” Technicolor – celebration of shared values, community and life itself. Here’s the trailer.
The second was I know Where I’m Going, described as a story of learning the difference between money and happiness, set in the Scottish Highlands. I remain undecided as to whether it’s anti-feminist or not.
Our heroine is a feisty woman, having been a feisty young girl, knowing exactly what she wants. Which is money and security. She’s finally about to realise her ambition by marrying a rich fellow much older than herself. Who we actually never get to see. Of course she gets side-tracked by falling in love with the handsome and possibly impecunious naval officer.
Joan is played by Wendy Miller and Torquil (love the name) is played by Roger Livesey who was the doctor in Life And Death. They were both great. And I enjoyed it a lot. Here’s the trailer.
Joe watched Assassin via SBS On Demand. This is directed by the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien and we’d both seen it at MIFF. Another wonderful film; glorious cinematography. But I was too tired to stay up for it. But here’s the trailer, included here because I loved it and am sorry I missed it.
Separately from ACMI we watched Death In Brunswick. Stirred to do so in part by Sam Neill’s wonderful Instagram homilies during lockdown. Which included some very inventive film-making. In any event we found this much darker than we remembered. Perhaps because we’re getting old. John Clarke is so funny; he just has to say hello and it’s amusing. Sam is terrific as well and so is Zoe Carides in a role that has dated somewhat. Here’s the trailer.
I was also very pleased to finally get to see Woman At War. Joe had seen it at MIFF and I was meant to but went for a drink instead. I’ve always felt guilty about doing so. Especially as Joe, and everyone else who saw it thought the film was terrific. It was on SBS On Demand. A quirky film, very inventive. Lots of humour but a serious message about the environment, government and media. Great performances from everyone but especially the lead actress, Halldóra Geirhôsdóttir. Here’s the trailer.
The only other thing we watched was the third season of Babylon Berlin. Love this show although this season was not as engaging as the first two. Here’s the trailer.
So we had enough cinema over the last twelve weeks to keep us happy.