A Japanese living in London writes anything about everyday life in UK – cafe, restaurant, design, stores, politics, news, events, art/museums, films, food, fashion, travel etc. イギリス暮らしもかれこれ10年。カフェ、レストラン、デザイン、お店、政治、ニュース、イベント、アート／美術館、映画、食、ファッション、旅行等々、ロンドンでの日常生活や、英国に関する情報を思いつくままに綴ります。
From March 1 to April 30, BFI Southbank has been hosting the comprehensive two-part retrospective season of the Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, one of M’s favorite film directors of all time. Many of the films shown are recently restored versions (film details & schedule).
A director, novelist, poet, linguist, painter and journalist with an outspoken political agenda, Pasolini was one of the most controversial and provocative directors of his day, who tragically ended his life on the beach near Rome (Wikipedia). His non-aligned leftism and defiant homosexuality can be seen in many of his films, as well as his cynical and critical view of religions, both Christian and pagan, as a foundation of European identity. With his roots in the neorealism, he ignored the rules’ of conventional film, and reinvented the language of cinema as a kind of poetry and used tableau compositions inspired by Renaissance painting. Pasolini’s works have inspired some renown filmmakers, including Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Derek Jarman, Gus Van Sant and Martin Scorsese.
I am not a big fan of Pasolini’s style which was often unnecessarily provocative, scandalous, absurd, and too metaphoric to understand, the similar reasons why I don’t love Jean Luc-Godard either. But I went to see Mamma Roma (1962), because this film shows real people who struggled to live after the Italian Fascist era and World War II. Mamma Roma is a mother who does everything, even trapping and blackmailing others, to make her dearest and only son to live a decent life, not like hers, but the movie ends badly despite of her sacrifice and effort (detailed plot). Overall, I enjoyed this film a lot. Ex-prostitute, Mamma Roma (Anna Magnani) is a stereotypical Italian mother who loves and protects her beloved only son with all the cost though sometime too much, but also an universal mother figure who only hopes her child’s happiness, so everyone can understand and sympathize with her way of living, though it may not be the right way. The cinematography is beautiful and atmospheric, showing the contrast between the newly built housing complex and Roman ruins in suburb of Rome. Some languages are rather immoral and vulgar. According to M who spent his teenage years in Rome, some Romans who live in impoverished area at that time could be like that, so I guess the movie is ultra-realistic in a way.
Here is a little information from Venice, sent by the artist Stefano Devoti who made an art work for the London’s restaurant In Parma By Food. He is in venice now at the Fiorenzo Fallani studio that host “Nice to Print You” program, where you can have an unique opportunity to work with a print master. You can also visit the studio full of contemporary art history, to bring home an unique object done by their hands – if you have a plan to visit this beautiful city of Venice and do something unique.
The story takes place in a small Protestant village in northern Germany in 1913-14, just before the World War I breaks out. Among the people who live there are a baron who own large estate, a strict pastor with many children, a widowed doctor, a midwife, and their children, and a unmarried schoolteacher who tells this story many years later. Since the first incident happened, the doctor falls down from his horse and is severely wounded by wire placed at the entrance of his house, a string of disturbing and distressing accidents occur and gradually take on the character of a ritual of punishment and torture. No one knows who is the perpetrator, and villagers in this highly moralistic and stiff community worry and feel uncertain. Then the World War I started and the mysteries remain unsolved and forgotten in the excitement of the war.
The title “white ribbon” comes from the episode that the pastor tie a white ribbon to the arm of his two children as a constant reminder of their duties to purity. But these kids, who should be ‘pure’, are the possible offenders of this horrific incidents and act very suspicious. And these children are the ones who grow up in the rise of Nazism and Fascism; this infers future brutality and what former children are capable of during the time of Nazis.
Suppressed cruelty – there are no scenes of actual violence. But the black & white footage enhances unseen chilling horror. As in his other his films, Haneke never reveals who did these crimes, so the viewers have to guess ourselves (and it is a bit frustrating). It is a long movie, about 2 hours and half, but it didn’t bore me at all – one of the best work of Haneke for me and it deserves to Palme d’Or.
English National Opera（イングリッシュ・ナショナル・オペラ／ENO）で、ヘンデルのメサイア（Messiah）を観た。イエス・キリストの生涯を描いたオラトリオの名作・メサイアは、もともとオペラの楽曲ではないのだが、気鋭の演出家・Deborah Warner（デボラ・ワーナー）によって、現代社会を舞台に、ダンスを取り入れたユニークなオペラ作品に仕上がった。衣装も小物も現代風、時折舞台後方のスクリーンに宗教画が映されたり、キリスト教の儀式に使われる小道具が劇中に出てくる程度で、キリストの物語にも関わらず宗教色は強くない。ティーンエイジャーの妊娠はマリアの処女懐胎、天使が羊飼いにキリスト降誕を告げる場面は、お遊戯会で子供たちがその場面を演じる形に、キリストの磔刑シーンは、若者の喧嘩に変えるなど、原作と繋がりを持たせようとしているが、ちょっと無理があるかも。キリスト教の学校に行っていたので、ある程度の知識はあるのだが、舞台上で起こってることと音楽とどう繋がりがあるのか分からず、後でタイムズ紙のレビューを読んで、ああそういうことだったのかと得心した。
We saw Handel‘s Messiah at the English National Opera (ENO). Messiah was not written for opera, but the director Deborah Warner transforms this oratorio masterpiece into an unique opera work, setting in modern urban life and taking in dance elements. The opera seems to reduce religion to a minimum – costumes and stage sets are modern, except the religious arts occasionally projected on screens and some ceremonial objects used in some scenes. The director tries to make a connection between the original story and this opera, but the attempt unfortunately doesn’t not really work well and quite cheesy: the Virgin Birth becomes teenage pregnancy, the meeting of shepherds and angels is turned into a school nativity play, and Christ’s scourging and Crucifixion translate into a fight among youths. I went to a Protestant school and know a bit about the life of Jesus Christ, but I barely understood the relationship between the music and what was going on on the stage. I figured out the meaning of some scenes after I came back home and read the review by the Times.
The biggest problem for me was the kids in the opera – I know it is not their fault but it was just annoying. A 6 year-old boy was almost always on the stage, walking around, running or sitting down, and it was very distracting. The scene of school play was really irritating as well, except a song by a boy with beautiful clear voice: the kids jumped up and down and the parents took a pictures or filmed with camcorders. It is reported that the opera uses 44 extras other than singers, including dancers. Some people just stand up or lie down – is it really necessary to put useless people on the stage??
However I I like Handel and Baroque music and enjoyed the music a lot: the Handel specialist conductor Laurence Cummings led the orchestra beautifully and voices of the two female soprano and alto singers were truly graceful. The modern and simple stage sets designed by Tom Pye were interesting, such as video footage of modern society (people going up and down on an elevator, or silhouettes of moving cranes) and transparent coffins placed all over the stage at the final part. We got a ticket, original price of £71 for only £10 with Evening Standardpromotion – so it was really worth going. But I would be upset if I paid £71 for the opera…