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Showing posts from March, 2019

Hedda Gabler

#WorldTheatreDay
I haven't been to the theatre this year. In 2018 I was fortunate enough to venture out several times over the course of the year, with highlights including the Theatre Royal Plymouth's production of "49 Donkeys Hanged" by Carl Grose and the RSC production of "Miss Littlewood" by Sam Kenyon. In addition I saw Erica Whyman's production of "Romeo and Juliet", also at the RSC, which was a definite experience, but a poor adaptation.
As today is World Theatre Day I thought I'd offer a throwback to one of the best pieces of theatre I saw during the last two years; "Hedda Gabler" by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Patrick Marber, directed by Ivo van Hove and performed at the National Theatre. It goes without saying that Ibsen's play is a masterpiece, but van Hove's modernist direction is intelligent and distinctive. It breaks from the traditional theatrical presentation favoured by many earlier directors to instead create…

Micro-Criticism

As Leonard Cohen once said: Ring the bells that still can ring! After nine years of intermittently logging my excessive film viewing habits on the boutique streaming-platform MUBI, a comment I wrote last month has actually been spotlighted as a "popular review." Huzzah and indeed hurrah! The review in question refers to Gaspar Noé's most recent work, the flawed but undoubtedly visceral dance-horror-freak-out, Climax (2018).
Make no mistake, I'm not exactly bursting with pride or self-satisfaction or anything; I know these things are generally predicted by various algorithms and not much else; but as a writer with absolutely no critical credibility, platform or following, it was still nice to see.

Lights in the Dusk at MUBI:
I started using MUBI back when it was a film-related social networking site called TheAuteurs. In those halcyon days, when message board culture was still a thing, and the kind of in-depth film analysis that found a home on the so-called "blogos…

Through the Looking Glass

Thoughts on a film: Petria's Wreath (1980)
PART II: WINDOWS
To see the memory of a life through a window-frame is a presentation inherently cinematic. It plays into the natural association of the window as something to be looked through; a window not just looking out into the wider world from the perspective of the inhabitant within, but a window looking in on a new world from the contrasting perspective of the attentive voyeur. A private world full of characters and stories that are different but also recognisably the same.
The most obvious example of this - one that I've returned to several times in the context of the blog - is the Alfred Hitchcock directed masterpiece Rear Window (1954). Here, the central character, bound as he is by injury, finds himself cast as the aforementioned voyeur; his window-space becoming a surrogate for the cinema screen; each adjacent room and apartment presenting a new scene, story or, apropos to television, a "channel." Actuality is tra…

Piotr Szulkin

In Memoriam
The Polish filmmaker Piotr Szulkin passed away last year. At the time no words were shared on the pages of this blog. When the news hit I was taking a break from criticism; busy trying to write a play, which turned into a novel, which turned into nothing. I hoped others might pick up the baton and share some condolences in the name of this singular and distinctive talent, but little, if anything, was said.
Szulkin was a filmmaker I first encountered in 2012. From a UK perspective his work is incredibly obscure. None of his films, as far as I'm aware, have been made commercially available with English subtitles. Of his six feature-length films I've seen only three; but I could recognise in each of them a unique approach to visual storytelling; an unconventional appropriation of populist genre tropes (specifically science-fiction) alongside more recognisable art-house conventions; as well as a strong political subtext, which gave the work a lasting relevance. On one le…

Sculpting in Time

Thoughts on a film: Petria's Wreath (1980)
PART I: PROLOGUE
In the first scene of the film, an elderly woman, not yet formally introduced, walks out into a small courtyard to the rear of a house and begins her daily chores. During this act, she spies the ever-present movie camera and follows it from the corner of her eye.
At first I thought this was a flaw in the acting; a non-professional, cast by the director for authenticity, and as such unable to ignore the unnatural intrusion of the camera as she enacts these small routines. However, as the woman returns to the house and makes her way through to the cluttered kitchen, her own eye once again seem to meet that of the ever-watchful apparatus; breaking the fourth wall to acknowledge the unseen audience, only this time, with deliberate intent. In the next breath, the old woman speaks and begins her story; her attitude, genial but world-weary; her audience, those of us trapped behind the unconscious partition that separates the viewer…

Whispering Pages

#WorldBookDay2019
Something a little different to the usual film-related observations here. Given that today is World Book Day 2019, I thought I'd take the opportunity to pull together several short-ish book reviews that I'd written for previous World Book Days stretching back over the past few years. These were mostly posted across personal social media accounts for the benefit of friends and family. As such, they're not meant to provide an in-depth professional commentary, but rather a brief overview of why I liked these particular books and why I found them to be worthy of further attention. However, in the absence of any new content specific to the blog, combined with a genuine desire to update Lights in the Dusk more frequently, I'm reposting these literary-based observations below.

Fahrenheit 451 [Ray Bradbury, 1953]:
Considered one of the classic books - and very much a part of the modern canon of dystopian fiction, alongside other titles, such as "1984",…