Sunday, November 01, 2009

Film Club On Tour

Millbrooker Towers is still undergoing a Graham infestation as our favourite builder spends his days grubbing about in our living room, painting his strange substances onto our walls and pushing bits of wood about.

This means that our makeshift cinema is out of action for the moment, so Film Club is undertaking a short tour of Millbrook. The first date on tour was last night at Shazzerooneypoos' pad, where Mrs The Millbrooker and I provided the film and a drop of wine; Shazzerooneypoos and Dong provided a large selection of nibbly things and Frankenkeith chipped in with some vino of his own and a contribution to the feast. In a somewhat shaky photo, taken after more than a small snifter of wine and in low light, here are Dong and Shazzerooneypoos in post-film action.
And just because I can - here's Auntie Sharon with Frankenkeith a mere second or two before (or was it after?) the last shot.Next week's film club gathering will continue to tour with an appearance at Frankenkeith's place on Sunday evening. No idea what the film will be yet; it rather depends on (a) what Cinema Paradiso sends us and (b) whether the post gets through at all.

Last night's offering was Jean Cocteau's 1946 retelling of the classic folk tale Beauty and the Beast: La Belle et La Bête.I'm sure everyone's pretty well familiar with the plot: beautiful, downtrodden "Cinderella" character is obliged to go and live with magical beast in enchanted forest and eventually cures said beast of his curse by falling in love with him. So how does Cocteau infuse the film with enough to keep our attention?Firstly, he makes no attempt to show any form of reality; even the everyday family scenes before La Belle makes her self-sacrificial gesture of riding off to her fate with La Bête are dripping with almost pantomimic surrealism.The only fully rounded character is La Bête himself; a bravura performance by Jean Marais in which he employs huge amounts of silent film acting techniques (as do several other cast members). At times the visual effect is almost balletic. All the other characters (including fellow lead Josette Day as La Belle) are deliberately kept two dimensional which increases the level of unreality which Cocteau wants us to become wrapped up in.I found the film to be an outstanding work of art, from an age when (I can only assume) pure escapism was a vital part of recovery from the ravages of the war that had torn the country apart over the preceding years. Cocteau resists any temptation to allude to the volatile period of history in which he was operating, sticking firmly to a child-like vision of magic and vulnerability.The film club scale is, once again, a tad hazy after a night of much wine slurping. This is the best I can remember: Dong took at least one fag break and thought that the film was utter piffle; Shazzerooneypoos enjoyed the film loads and didn't make a single wuffling noise all evening; Frankenkeith enjoyed it too and was the first to point out the similarities between it and films of the silent era but didn't like the orchestral soundtrack. Slocombe couldn't make it but I'll suggest he would have liked it. Mrs The Millbrooker (whose choice the film had been) found lots to admire about it and was able to tell us loads about fairy tales and their origins in her post-film critique.Thanks, of course, to Shazzerooneypoos for stepping in at short notice and hosting. Here's looking forward to exploring the inner depths of Frankenkeith's abode a week today.

Here's a taster as the main protagonists meet in the grounds of La Bête's enchanted castle.

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