To coincide with World Aids Day, and in conjunction with The Terence Higgins Trust, Screentalks presents Jarman’s 12th, and final, feature film, Blue filmed in 1993, the year before he succumbed to AIDS-related complications.
The 79-minute film is inspired by Yves Klein’s 1961 painting ‘Blue Monochrome’, and features a single ‘blue’ frame with voiceover narration. The film has screened at museums, galleries and film retrospectives ever since its release, evoking sensory and contemplative response. Jarman created Blue to reflect on his increasing loss of sight – blue-tinged as a side-effect of his medication – and heightened sense of mortality. Autobiographical, anecdotal, experimental, affecting, uplifting and metaphysical, this is a viewing experience not to be missed.
Dr Florêncio is a lecturer in History of Modern and Contemporary Art and Visual Culture. His short (spoiler free!) introductory talk will introduce you to Jarman and his innovative work. Screen Talks invites you to join João in the Picturehouse bar afterwards to share your thoughts and reactions to the film. Come along to find out more about Jarman’s films and the legacy of Blue in the context of World Aids Day 2015. We will be fundraising at the screening for the Terrence Higgins Trust:
The talk will begin at 6.30pm at the Exeter Picturehouse, Bartholomew Street West
Book tickets here:
Image from Derek Jarman’s Sketchbooks
The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum at the University of Exeter holds the archive of James Mackay, the producer of many Derek Jarman films including Blue. Don Boyd’s archive also holds material relating to Jarman. If you are interested ion accessing the archives email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week’s Screentalk introduces a masterpiece of Argentinian suspense, Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman (2008).
Veronica is driving in northwestern Argentina when her mobile phone distracts her and she runs over something—but drives on. The police confirm that there was no accident, but Veronica begins to have a meltdown, thinking she may have killed someone. Was it an animal? A child? Or nothing at all?
We hope you can join us for the screening, and for film chat in the bar afterwards.
Click for the trailer here:
Trailer – The Headless Woman
Like Someone in Love
A review by Ebba Wester and Angus Henderson
Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love is a quiet, moving force. It is the calm before the storm. It moves flexibly and lazily through urban Tokyo, and gently strings and stretches out time like a rubber band – slowly but with increasing pressure. We do not realize the inevitability of an abrupt snap until it’s already happened.
The film follows Akiko (Rin Takanashi), a young woman living in Tokyo working part time as an escort whilst completing her studies at university. When one night she is placed in a cab and sent to an ‘important’ client living outside the city, the elderly ex-professor Takashi (Tadashi Okuno) turns out to be her welcoming customer. In many ways it is a familiar story; one about the everyday melancholy and loneliness of modern/urban life, the yearning for human affection and the awkward struggle for intimacy. Yet Kiarostami’s communicates with such subtlety that the film transcends its deceptively simple narrative.
The film favours ambiguity over clarity and thin sheets of mystery seem to constantly layer and overlap, yet the mood remains contemplative rather than confusing. Often opting for more distant and still/ objective cinematography, the camera asks us to observe and not to judge – we are encouraged to empathise with the characters, but not overtly manipulated into doing so.
Kiarostami draws on the thematic occupations of Ozu in Like Someone in Love, familiarity and distance between generations is observed and critiqued. The sense of an overbearing morality tale is dispelled by the lack of a flawless character. And a feeling of the incomplete surrounds the film. We never truly discover the fate of the characters developed in the film, it is certainly brought to a swift end, but the possible consequences linger in the mind long after. The effect garnered is one of elegant intrusion.
Truth and falsehood in the film builds interesting characters not at qualms with deceit. Although as the story progresses we come to understand why moments of deception are necessary or preferable to the truth. Kiarostami therefore weaves the audience into Akiko and Takashi’s complicity and makes it tasteful. This subtlety guides us towards the odd couple at the centre of the narrative who may at first seem cold or insincere in the first third of the film. We are not forced to like Akiko and Takashi but instead are drawn to them, through Kiarostami presenting a phenomenological puzzle, which can widely ignore the morality of truth in pursuit of safety. This intelligence of direction and combination of storytelling makes for a beautifully complex Tokyo that seems so unwilling to give up its mystery.