This is the penultimate screening of the year-long 70x70 film season. London writer, filmmaker and 'psychogeographer' Iain Sinclair celebrates his 70th birthday year, with the showing of 70 films, handpicked for their association with his work and shown in venues all over London. Here is a full list of the excellent programme, which finishes this month.
Here is Iain Sinclair's introdcution: 'Sympathy for the Devil was a 16mm polemic shot on 35mm. The contradictions begin there. At £150,000, it was Godard’s most expensive feature, made in a city he disliked and a language he pretended, when it suited him, not to speak.
The sight of his new young wife, Anne Wiazemsky (fresh from her radiant debut, co-starring with a donkey in Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar), wandering about South London and West London, spraying slogans on corrugated fences, was profoundly depressing. The film became a documentary about futility, ugliness, poor light, the insolent rhetoric of scrapyards, gun-waving black freedom fighters (jobbing actors).
Swinging London: the psychedelic gibbet. A colour-supplement commission dressed up as a movie. Photographers shooting photographers. Antonioni’s BlowUp, made two years before Godard hit town, predicts riverside expansionism and the future location of the Thames Barrier. A city of moneyed immigrants. Russians with good English tailoring eating Italian food.
Godard’s more troubled raid tracks around a notable English monument, the Rolling Stones. More stone than roll: even then. Smoking defiantly, prematurely jaded musicians fiddle with a demon-summoning song, while the camera loops lethargically around them. A more unreal and therefore truer account of the psychosis of celebrity, of (simulated) Dionysiac madness, than Antonioni’s guitar-wrecking performance by the Yardbirds.'
Here and above is the trailer.
No2: The Battle of the River Plate (Powell & Pressburger, 1956):
Stratford East Picturehouse, 6.30pm
This is part of a Powell & Pressburger season at Stratford Picturehouse.
Chicago Reader review:
Michael Powell's 1956 war movie, called Pursuit of the Graf Spee in the United States and originally called The Battle of the River Plate in the UK, is mainly distinguished by its lack of action: a crippled German battleship has to put in at a neutral port in South America, while the local British authorities use fair means and foul to keep her pinned down. Though it's mostly a waiting game, the film is tense and involving, thanks to Powell's fluid shifting of the point of view—you root for the Germans as much as for the Allies. It isn't one of Powell's best films, though as an inactive actioner, it's typical of his contrary-minded approach to moviemaking—he sets himself impossible problems and then solves them, brilliantly. With Anthony Quayle, Peter Finch, and John Gregson. 119 min.
Here is the opening.