Friday, April 29, 2016

Love & Friendship in Sight & Sound

I recently had the pleasure of meeting the great Whit Stillman, who made his mark as one of the most distinctive writer/directors in American cinema with his 1990s trilogy Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco, but who disappeared from cinema for 13 years before returning in 2011 with the undervalued Damsels in Distress. We met to talk about his new film Love & Friendship, an adaptation of Jane Austen's early epistolary novella Lady Susan that proves to be a perfect match for his particular comic sensibility. Featuring a brilliantly sly performance from Kate Beckinsale and a scene-stealing turn from Tom Bennett, Love & Friendship is a brilliantly funny, elegant and intelligent addition to the annals of Jane Austen on screen. Stillman and I discussed the film, Jane Austen and the director's 25-year career in a wide-ranging interview, and you can read it in the June issue of Sight & Sound, which is on sale now.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Novecento on Masters of Cinema Blu-Ray

Bernardo Bertolucci’s Novecento is an epic like no other. Given complete freedom and an enormous budget following the extraordinary critical and commercial success of Last Tango in Paris, the young Italian director attempted to encapsulate the entire twentieth century in a violent, sexually charged and operatic film that sprawls across five mesmerising hours. I’ve been fascinated by Novecento ever since I first saw it at a memorable screening during the BFI’s Bertolucci retrospective in 2011, and so I was thrilled to be asked to write a new essay on the film for Eureka’s new blu-ray as part of the Masters of Cinema collection. The film looks incredible in this format and I’m very proud to be part of such an exciting release. I've also been working with Arrow Films recently for a forthcoming blu-ray release, and I'm looking forward to announcing more details on that one soon.

Novecento is available now.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Late Shift and Interactive Cinema

Remember Doom? No, not the video game, but the Dwayne Johnson-starring 2005 film directed by cinematographer-turned-hack Andrzej Bartkowiak? There’s no particular reason why you would recall that entry in the ignominious history of cinematic adaptations of video games, but you might remember the debate it sparked. When Roger Ebert stated that video games cannot be art he invited a furious response from gamers who insisted that he was dismissing a medium he knew nothing about. Five years later, when Ebert returned to the subject in response to a TED talk given by game producer Kellee Santiago, he wrote:

“One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite an immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.”

There’s probably no real answer to this question, art is where you find it, but the debate continues and the lines continue to blur. With video games employing more sophisticated and ambitious storytelling techniques and increasingly cinematic visuals, games such as the acclaimed 2013 release The Last of Us are now hailed for their emotional content as much as their gameplay virtues. But if video games are becoming more like movies, what happens when things go the other way? If a movie takes on the virtues of a game, does it no longer fit Ebert’s definition of art?

Read the rest of my article at Mostly Film