Wednesday, 14 November 2018

LIFF 2018

As you almost certainly don't know, Leeds has a good claim to be, literally, the first film city in the world. It is therefore no surprise that it has a well established film festival. I have been to three screenings this year, the first, and best, of which was 'Twelve Angry Men'. It's an undisputed classic except perhaps to the astonishing seven and a half thousand people who have awarded it one out of ten on IMDB. One can only suppose that they didn't like its message that the process of justice ought to be taken seriously rather than be the subject of capricious whim, bigotry or indifference, or the telling subtext that it is often the immigrant rather than the native born citizen who adheres more closely to 'American' values. What certainly looks quaint from today's perspective is that the murder was carried out with a knife and there was only one victim.

Second up was 'Cléo de 5 à 7', part of the French New Wave of the sixties, which I found charming and ultimately, and surprisingly, optimistic. It's a hard film to explain - these French eh? - but it works. Someone told me that there were plans to remake it starring Madonna; that wouldn't work, for sure. The choice of these two films to screen was because a theme of this years festival was films that play out in (more or less) real time. It's a bit of a shame that they didn't show 'High Noon'.

Which brings me indirectly on to the third film, 'Tampopo', which is sort of 'Shane' with noodles. It's a funny, colourful paean to the links between food and love, both physical and spiritual, with many references to other films. There is a scene in which a down and out makes an omelette which is fairly transparently inspired by Charlie Chaplin's tramp character. Also in 'Cleo from 5 to 7' there is a short, silent film within a film, one which is definitely as unfunny as Chaplin always seems to be to me. So let's have an even earlier silent film; in fact what might conceivably be the earliest moving pictures ever shot, a few brief frames of Leeds Bridge in 1888:

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