Friday, June 07, 2024

You Burn Me

The contemporary reputation of the Greek poet Sappho rests largely on a collection of fragments. ‘Ode to Aphrodite’ is the only one of her works that is known to be complete, having been copied and preserved in a treatise on composition, and from the rest of her reputedly expansive oeuvre we only have around 650 context-free snippets, some of which consist of just a single line. One of these lines, known as Fragment 38, simply reads, “You burn me.”

Read the rest of my review in Sight & Sound:

Thursday, April 25, 2024

That They May Face the Rising Sun

“Does anything happen, or is it the usual heavy going?” a novelist is asked about his latest book in That They May Face the Rising Sun. “Not much drama,” he replies, “more day-to-day stuff.” This response acts as a wry self-commentary on Pat Collins’s film. That They May Face the Rising Sun is concerned with the everyday lives of a small group of characters in a lakeside village in the west of Ireland. A few things do happen in the film – a wedding, a death – but there is little in the way of standard drama and conflict, and no firm narrative shape beyond the passage of time and the changing of the seasons.

Read the rest of my review in Sight & Sound

Monday, March 04, 2024

Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World

No filmmaker is more plugged in to the current moment than Radu Jude. His 2021 film Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn was made at the height of the pandemic, and it was one of the first films to engage with the strange reality that we found ourselves in, with Jude seeking bold new cinematic forms to comment on our broken society as he saw it. Bad Luck Banging won Jude the Golden Bear in Berlin, but his follow-up, Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World, is an even more ambitious and accomplished achievement, and an even more scathing portrait of how we live now.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son Review

In the May 1997 edition of the Big Issue, the ‘Missing Persons’ feature contained a photograph of a 15-year-old girl who had been out of contact with her family for two months. Lorna Tucker ultimately spent 18 months on the streets before finding a way out, and her documentary Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son, is a clear-eyed look at the problem of homelessness, which recognises its severity and complexity but also emphasises the possibility of change.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Scala!!! Review

The seats were uncomfortable, the floor was sticky, it smelled weird, there was often illicit behaviour occurring in the dark, and the whole building rumbled every time a Northern Line train passed underneath. The Scala cinema in King’s Cross offered a filmgoing experience like no other, and 30 years after its closure, mention of the venue still inspires misty-eyed reveries in cinephiles of a certain age. Some will recall the epiphany they experienced watching Eraserhead (1977), or a sexual awakening sparked by films like Sebastiane (1976) and Un chant d’amour (1950), but many will be just as likely to reminisce about the venue itself. Being part of the chaotic atmosphere in the audience appeared to be as much of a draw as the images on the screen.