Chris' Festival Diary: Films for the final weekend
Some of the strongest films are still to screen as we enter the last days of the Festival.
Noche, the debut feature film by Leonardo Brzezicki from Argentina, is an exceptional work. Original in its form, the film inverts the usual hierarchy of sound and image: in this isolated world (a colonial farmhouse and the surrounding woods), the sound track dominates, as the tapes that sound designer Miguel obsessively recorded and collected are played back over loudspeakers. The tapes form a soundtrack to the interactions of Miguel’s friends, who have come to mourn him after his suicide.
The film can be enjoyed for its sheer aural and visual beauty, or it could be seen as a mystery about sexual entanglements and death, or as a brooding allegory about alienation and transformation among young artists.
Fresh from its success at Cannes, where it had its World Premiere, Paul Wright’s Scotland-filmed debut feature For Those In Peril is a daring, atmospheric and richly textured film, shot through with raw emotion. It tells of a young man, Aaron, who alone has survived a fishing trip during which all other hands were lost. Rejected by his small community, Aaron becomes obsessed with the idea that the lost sailors (who included his older brother) are still alive and that he himself has the responsibility and the power to bring them back.
Some who saw the film at Cannes compared Wright’s style with that of Terrence Malick; I’d say that though there are certain similarities (the de-emphasising of narrative, the fragmented style) For Those in Peril cuts deeper, and in a wholly original way, by inviting the audience to share the tortured hero’s commitment to redemption through madness.
Both our retrospectives continue with some of the greatest works of our featured directors, Jean Grémillon and Richard Fleischer. From Fleischer comes the enduringly creepy 10 Rillington Place (1971), featuring an unforgettable performance by Richard Attenborough as real-life London serial killer John Christie, and a no less thrilling and devastating turn by John Hurt as his illiterate boarder Timothy Evans. Fleischer’s direction of the ghastly goings-on is taut and assured, and the film is a stand-out in his long career.
Grémillon’s The Sixth of June at Dawn (1946) is one of the least known of the masterpieces of that giant of French cinema. A passionate portrait of devastated Normandy, more personal essay than typical documentary, and unconventionally organised in musical terms, The Sixth of June at Dawn deserves to be considered alongside Roberto Rossellini’s Rome - Open City and Paisan as one of the foundational works of an emerging European post-war cinema.