Friday, 11 September 2015


Tarkovsky's Stalker may have been based on Arkady & Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic, or on part of it. However, it is not a cinematic adaptation of it. 

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Fellini's Amarcord

The marionette like blind accordion player, providing the score for the comedy and tragedy of life in a coastal town in pre-war Italy is, perhaps, one of the most enduring images coming out of Fellini's imagination, an image that lingers in the mind, appearing in my conciousness on the most unexpected moments. Re-watching Amarcord brought that character solidly to the front of my mind, again. 

Fellini, to my mind, had this uncanny skill to mould real people, actors, into a world created out of his imagination, a world where reality and fiction are just one seamless reality, where reality becomes fiction, and fiction reality. The world he creates, or re-creates (does it matter?), in this film falls clearly into this category. 

Even the fascists are portrayed as figures of parody, terrifying, yes, but still parody, like the battle that a fascist uniformed gang had with a gramophone playing the International on the church tower during a visit from a regime dignitary, and the subsequent portrayal of the wheelchair bound fascistic commander, overlooking the comedy like interrogation of the lone socialist in the town. Yet, Fellini's gaze is always humane. 

His films just linger in the mind, even after many years after watching them, the atmospheric scores by Nino Rota being essential ingredients.

Just some thoughts. Many words have been written about his cinema. 

Amarcord at IMDb:

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Revisiting David Lynch's TWIN PEAKS

One of the rewards of a spring clean up is re-finding old pearls, such as David Lynch's Twin Peaks, a VHS video tape that seems to be a condensed version of Fire Walk With me:

I just love the creamy soft, painting like, nature of not only Lynch film, but also of the medium, such a rest in this age of 4K video. Still very impressed with the dark unsaturated browns of the colour palette, depicting so well the dreams and nightmares underlying those white fences and well equipped kitchens of American suburbia, the exclamations of fascination by urbanite FBI Special Agent Cooper with those forests, with those majestic Douglas fir trees, adding to a feel of a disjointed place. An exploration of so much of Lynch work, with Fellini likes undertones, such as the dwarf dance.

Laura Palmer, a 17 year old Twin Peaks belle, is found murdered, naked, wrapped in a sheet of plastic. 

Laura Palmer, straights As in every subject, top of her class, the face of the year, the Homecoming Queen, her father being a trusted lieutenant of the local big wig, hints of a feudal like social structure in here, too. of A picture of achievement in every way.

Laura Palmer. Twelve year old girl writing in her brand new diary the dark feelings populating her subconscious, eventually taking hold of her life.

Laura Palmer. 13 year old cocaine addict, who fucks everybody to pay for her habit, including her father's employer.

Laura Palmer. 13 year old star of orgies held in the midst of those forests that fascinated agent Cooper so much.

Laura and Bobbie. Voted as Best Couple by their High School.

Laura Palmer. HHomecoming Queen.

Laura Palmer. 15 year old prostitute.

Laura Palmer. 16 year old beautiful daughter, pride of her parents.

Laura Palmer. 17 year old corpse.

The film hints at the darkness of her story, at the darkness of this small town near the border with Canada. The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, As seen by Jennifer Lynch, is much more explicit of her story. 

David Lynch, a worth exponent of American Gothic in cinema.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Reflections on John Maloof's FINDING VIVIAN MAIER

Spy, nanny, photographer. A John Le CarrĂ© thriller? 

"Who are you?"

"I am a spy", was Vivian Maier response, according to a man, a linguist, who knew her, as reported in John Maloof's cinematic quest of the person behind the myth, behind the urban legend that she has become. 

Not long ago, a fellow photographer whom I had not seen for about twenty years, we paced the streets of Hull, sometimes together, during the late 1970s, came to me with

"Vivian Maier was like one of us",

the implication being that we have still to be discovered. I suspect that he is not the only one thinking that. Perhaps that is one of the factors fuelling her popularity. Yet, was she? This man, now retired, was an outreach and lecturer in photography, while I am an amateur with some local notoriety, with a couple of solo and several group and open exhibitions behind me. On our age there is the web, with that myriad of blogs, sites, dedicated to street photography. My eyebrows were raised. 

Maloof's film  is as much as about our reactions to her photography as it is about her, the initial scenes with the camera panning from blank face to blank face, people who mostly knew her as a nanny, or a woman who rented her storage space, getting a V Smith when she pressed her for a name.


The linguist did not understand, and looks like that he still cannot understand, why she called herself a spy. Maloof does not elaborate in the subject, perhaps because of his desire to present facts as he managed to uncover, and see, them, letting us to interpret, and judge. Yet she, to my eyes, said as it is. Aren't we, strange creatures trawling the streets day after day with a camera in one hand, a thick skin on the other, spies of our humanity, of our, using that well known expression, human condition?

"A nanny! What is a nanny doing  taking photographs?", was another common response of those interviewed. As if photographers take photographs, nannies take care of children, photographers do not take care of children, nannies do not take photographs, a box like mindset that characterises our increasingly specialized societies. The responses of the cultural establishment approached, such as MoMA and Tate Modern, falls in a similar slot. There is a too mummified view of culture, of the arts, too often. All this continuing debate about is photography an art form, what defines a street photograph, who cares about it? I do not. 

Yet, her work has become a favourite of not only so many fellow photographers, but of the public too. Is that because we see her as seeing the world as we do, from down the excitement, the comedy and tragedy, and, sometimes, the dangers, of the pavement, and not from a pedestal, that pedestal promoted by the art galleries? Matthew D'Ancona, on a completely different subject, mentions in an article for The Guardian that we, human beings, are complex creatures with often contradictory, and conflicting, thoughts, feelings, emotions. Does not her photography reveals that complexity, as the work of so many so called street photographers do? I had had comments on a similar vein about my own work. People such as her went out and made an image of the world as she saw it, as she understood it, as she felt about it. Naive she was not, living in Chicago, or New York, access to galleries, to contemporary photography, was always at her reach. Her mother had a camera, too. She explored under the skin of the world outside, and around, her. 

One of the photographs that Maloof dug out of her as a child lingers, still, on my mind, a child with inquisitive eyes, unflinching in her directness to the camera, to the person behind it, as if she wanted to be that person. It reminds me of my own initial interest in photography, back in the 1970s, not of my fatigued feel of four decades later, of my desire to penetrate under the skin of a society, of lives, of people, who were alien to me, who are still alien to me, who always will be alien to me, yet I still continue in my quest. Is it not what photography, street and documentary photography, is about? 

The picture of Vivian Maier that Maloof paints to us is that of a complex human being, with conflicting emotions, with a compassionate and non judgemental eye, yet with a dark side, a lone person, the daughter of French immigrants (at least, her mother was), who, probably, suffered a traumatic experience in her youth that marked her outlook and mindset, who was not interested in the drapes of success, who looked down on her employers, yet who yearned for some kind of recognition, of acceptance, in spite that she just did not fit in it, as one of her former employers brutally mentioned. A person who had the freedom of an outsider, without the ties and prescribed behavioural, social and cultural moulds of those inside a culture, a society, a person who basked in that position. Her photography has a kind of longing feel, a desire to be in, and out, of what she was photographing. That is what makes it be so endearing for me. 

She was, more or less, of my mother age. The world she portrays has so many similarities with my own family photo albums, to even my own experiences as a kid. 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Why I stopped writing this blog?

Two years ago I just stopped writing on this blog. The trigger was Google's decision to put all their services under one roof, the common factor being Google+. The consequence of that was that images I had posted here, with permission from film studios and distributors, in some cases with the specific request that they should be posted only on this blog, and nowhere else, were showing in my Google+ account under Photos. In one swap, Google put me in breach of copyright. Thanks you very much.

In anger, I just stopped carrying on with the blog.

However, Google's action was the trigger, not the actual reason, or reasons, to stop writing. Not long before that, I already had stopped posting the weekly what's on in British cinemas, as I had been doing since 2009, when Cinema-Architecture was started. I was just tired of spending a good deal of a day, or so, gathering information about the latest releases, some of the distributors' websites are just hopeless, about films, many of which I had not the slightest interest in them. In a way that heralded the end of the blog as it has been conceived: as a mouthpiece to show case the kind of cinema disregarded by the film studios, distributors, and chains, although in hindsight, it was not in the cards then,

I tried to make Cinema-Architecture to be as inclusive as possible in the world of arthouse and world cinema, yet I was receiving little support from many of the independent distributors whom, for understandable reasons, were more interested in well established media and blogs. That was the conundrum. I did not even get the support of the still existing Hull Short Film Festival. I was also involved in a support group for Hull Screen, then this city only independent cinema showing non-mainstream films. In spite of our efforts, audiences continued to dwindle. Talking to people, they seemed to have quite a narrow view of  arthouse cinema, not daring to go out of their comfort  zone. I also had the bitter experience of my views being disregarded (not so much by the support group committee, I hastily add) too often by members of the audience on post performance conversations, the unsaid feel of their belief as myself being quite ignorant, as I am not British.

I was also becoming disillusioned with the kind of films I was supposed to review, mostly Asian comedies and blockbusters, ie, Hollywood mainstream cinema being replaced by Asian ones. One of the Asian distributors stopped sending review DVDs, wanting me to increase my costs by incurring in a heavy use of my broadband connection.

In short, I did not gain enough support from non mainstream film makers and distributors, and plain disillusionment of their output.