Spooky

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Loved this LAIKA exhibition at the Portland Art Gallery that opened last month. Families and solo visitors of all ages were going round, completely absorbed by the magical sets, frame drawings and cases full of props, puppets and special tricks.

all photos October 2017.

Sweeping

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Beautiful animation in Studio Ghibli’s The Red Turtle, which reminded me how much I want to see the House of Illustration’s anime exhibition. A film without a spoken soundtrack but rich in sound and visual exploration, it follows a man cast ashore on a deserted island, his acceptance that he cannot escape and the happy life he builds for himself.

BAFTA

As you know, I’m a sucker for good design & if I could get my hands on these I would, because I think they’ll become classics.

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from top to bottom: Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, Carol, Spotlight, House of Cards.

The Eagle Huntress

I saw The Eagle Huntress yesterday, and it’s coming to the UK on wider release in the next few months. Mark your diaries now.

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Filmed in the Altai mountains in North-West Mongolia over a year by a crew of three and their 700kg of equipment that sometimes grounded their plane, it’s the moving and uplifting story of a 13 year old girl who wants to be an eagle hunter, a role previously preserved with men. With the encouragement of her father and grandfather, national champions themselves, she captures her first eaglet and the documentary takes off from there.

First, though, there is stunning cinematography of the mountains in winter and Asholipan’s grandfather releasing his latest eagle into the wild, the rule being that golden eagles are only used to hunt for seven years before being set free. The terrain and the bond of man and bird are made clear instantly, and this strength follows through into our introduction to the family. In terms of the editing, there is an uplifting mix of wide panning shots of gulfs and valleys shot on a drone, interspersed with rapidly cut images of the mountains throughout the year.

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Most heartening of all is the way the film itself has gathered pace since airing – the profits are shared with the family being filmed and now guarantee that their daughter can study medicine wherever she wants, whilst Daisy Ridley offered to narrate the voiceover after seeing a first cut at Sundance this year, and Sia wrore and recorded the title song in a day after viewing it in Toronto last month.

This is film making of complete integrity, all pretence stripped away under the harsh sunlight of the plains, and the result is a film that delivers a knockout of total conviction and honesty.

Top image from the BBC photojournalism piece that alerted Otto Bell to the story; photo of the Altai mountains and plain from the website of the tour organiser traveldragon.com

Watching

This beautifully-acted, well-shot and quietly restrained film about 18 months after I bought it on DVD and possibly having a quiet cry while watching.

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I blame all those Disney films for creating a Pavlovian reaction where I am now guaranteed to cry two thirds of the way through any film. Or perhaps it was watching a film about shattered hope so close to the Brexit result.

Chantal Akerman

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The CityLit brochure always throws up about 15 things I want to do, and I can’t wait to be retired so I can join their book clubs and walking tours. Over the years I’ve gone to courses on medieval Sicily, the Art Deco expansion of the underground, Bollywood dancing (don’t give up the day job) and Indian head massage.

Last month, I took a one-day course on female film directors that turned into the most luxurious discovery of new art. The first film we saw, Jeanne Dielmann, blew me away. Chantal Ackerman made it when she was just 23 and there’s not a foot wrong.

Just watch this opening scene and how different it is from what we’d usually see:

The pace, the camera movement, the trust in the audience, what is seen and not seen, the illusion of real time – it’s completely convincing and by 9 minutes in you know so much already.

Interestingly, the women in the group all found it highly realistic and the men were all bored.

image of Chantal Akerman from indiewire.com

Sueno Latino

Being still mildly obsessed with the film ‘Eden’ (sorry Lucy), here is a track from early on in the story.

On a separate note, I’m really annoyed that YouTube have decided that the only ads I want to see are either pregnancy tests or ads for cat food/dog rescue centres. #getstuffedcliches