Thursday, 4 September 2008

Cinema of Cruelty I

One of Boyo's imaginary cybershades, I forget which, asked me to compile a list of twelve films of personal significance to me. There are, naturally, no such films.

I am happy, however, to share a few flickering images of cultural decay that have caused the corners of my vermillion lips or eyes to twitch on rare occasions.

1. Cold Comfort Farm

Boyo waits until I'm at peace with the world, usually after a successful morning of supervising the evacuation of one of his sheds, before suggesting that we should visit his relatives in Wales.

I keep a copy of John Schlesinger's film at hand to remind myself of why Offa's Dyke was built and is still maintained. The book may not be set in Wales, but that wrinkled little country keeps its spirit alive (see photograph above).

2. L'année dernière à Marienbad

"Tels ils marchaient dans les avoines folles,
Et la nuit seule entendit leurs paroles".

I passed the "French nonsense" section of my International Baccalaureate with an essay positing that the Resnais/Robbe-Grillet film is a meditation on Verlaine's "Colloque Sentimental".

In fact I like it because it reminds me of my childhood family holidays.

3. Gorod Zero (Zero Town)

Mechanical tyrants, random nudity, roads that lead nowhere, both rock and roll, pools of water, suicidal cooking - this late Soviet offering is a reminder of what that Bolshevik shambles was like. It is also an approximation of Boyo's idea of a decent party.

4. El ángel exterminador

In this film Buñuel approximates my idea of a decent party.

I shall suggest a few more accompaniments to a cosy night in when it occurs to me.


Gadjo Dilo said...

…One of Boyo's imaginary cybershades, I forget which… You see, MC, I told you she’d bring us down to earth!

Was there a film made of Cold Comfort Farm? I loved the book. L'Année Dernière à Marienbad looks like a French film about ennui and perfect haircuts, and is none the worse for that. Gorod Zero looks very interesting – I’ve always regretted not seeing more Russian films as I admire Eisenstein and what I’ve seen of Tarkovsky. Ditto Buñuel – I’m fascinated by the ideas in his early Surrealist films – and this one looks like it going to get interesting. A suitably invigorating selection, Mrs Boyo; I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Gyppo Byard said...

To my frank surprise, I've seen two of these - Cold Comfort Farm and the Bunuel. I have a friend who theorises that Cold Comfort Farm contains every human character type possible, and that therefore everyone can be categorised as one or another of the denizens of Mockuncle Hill. She (being a busty mezzo of flexible morals) classifies herself as Agony Beetle; I would unquestionably be the innapropriately flippant farmhand Mark Dolour (who suggests that Agony Beetle forms a jazzband with her illegitimate children and urges her to keep reproducing until they have enough for a cricket team). I was therefore mildly disappointed to find that Mark dolour was written out of the screenplay...

No Good Boyo said...

True, Gyppo. I like the film too, but it lacks the paradoxically light Gothic density of the novel. Mrs Boyo gave a copy of the book to her parents the other day, in the hope that Cold Comfort might provide an alternative model to the Soviet-era collective farms of Ukraine.

M C Ward said...

I have been called many things, but never an imaginary cybershade by a Ukrainian lady. Things must be looking up.

I liked the look of Gorod Zero, despite not understanding a word. The Bolshevik who doesn't say anything would make a fine Inspector Clouseau for Russian audiences. No pinching my idea now.

Gadjo Dilo said...

He could appeal to the great Russian affection for "holy fools", MC. Apparantly George Formby was enormously popular there and was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1944.

Gyppo Byard said...

Hence the title of his famous hit, "I'm Lenin on a lamppost..."

Mrs Boyo said...

Gentlemen and Boyo,

I am pleased that you find Gorod Zero appealing. It is a fine film, and speaks truth to the powerless.

I am happy to confirm that the blight of Dzhordzh Formbi has passed from the Land of the Soviets. They have suffered enough.