7:00 PM, 23rd June, 2018
Faces Places (I prefer the French title, Visages, Villages – it just sounds more exquisite) is a charming documentary about the power of images to convey emotions and make statements. Varda and JR drive through rural France in JR’s mobile photo booth, meeting locals and learning about the towns they visit. They then create large-scale portraits of the locals to paste on the sides of houses, trains, shipping containers and the like.
89-year-old Varda is a legendary director mainly associated with the French New Wave. She was the first female director to receive an Honorary Oscar just last year. I first fell in love with her in her marvellous 2000 documentary The Gleaners And I, and was more than grateful to re-acquaint myself with her in this movie. Varda is a documentarian who really cares about her subjects (where so many recent documentaries prefer to make fun of them), and this love certainly comes through in this movie. Her relationship with her artist collaborator is also genuine and affectionate.
Visages, Villages is such a soul-embracing tribute to the human spirit that you’d be mad to miss it.
8:39 PM, 23rd June, 2018
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE EMBASSY OF POLAND
There is something brilliantly creative about Loving Vincent. Made over seven years, the directors have recreated the paintings of Vincent van Gogh with actors against a green screen, employing 125 artists to paint over 62,450 frames in Van Gogh’s trademark style. And so the people Van Gogh rendered on canvas — the provincial French functionaries, doctors, barmaids and farmers who have been immortalised on museum walls — are brought to uncanny life by professional actors.
The plot begins one year after Vincent van Gogh’s death. Postman Roulin asks his son Armand to personally deliver Van Gogh’s last letter to his brother, Theo, after previous attempts to mail the letter have failed. Despite not having been fond of Van Gogh and recalling the incident when the deceased mutilated his ear and gave it to a local prostitute, Armand begrudgingly accepts due to his father’s affection for the painter. Armand follows the paintings and connects with the various figures in Van Gogh’s portraits.
The result resembles Richard Linklater’s adventures in rotoscoping – Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly – but seemingly painted by the world’s most famous artist in uncanny brilliance..