Sometimes there is no greater pleasure to be had in a cinema than to simply watch a great actor act. Timothy Spall is an actor in the class of Toby Jones, Gary Oldman or Emma Thompson. Great British character actors who have no interest in glamour or publicity. Actors who when talking about using the silver screen as a canvas upon which to create their art, actually mean it. But, brilliantly, he is not the only one using the big screen as a canvas to craft a master piece. Both director Mike Leigh and cinematographer Dick Pope are using the medium to make moving landscapes that look like a Turner piece in motion. The film stars Spall as the titular painter, possibly England’s greatest ever and the man who made the landscape one of the great artistic disciplines. The film follows his struggle with his art as he blurs the lines of both the establishment and his paintings, creating ethereal ghostly pieces which were struggled to be understood in his time. There is a pain constantly etched onto Spalls face whether being mocked by those with no understanding of his gift or embracing a loved one. It looks to be a masterly performance from one of our greatest actors.
Saint Laurent looks like the kind of film biographies will spend an hour and a half desperately trying to persuade you their not. Boring. The trailer bears all the hallmarks of a filmmaker that thought a film about their favorite fashion designer would be as remarkable as the man, then realizes that there really isn’t enough story to engage an audience for that long. There are several quickly cut shots of the man in several melodramatic scenes, he gets slapped, he gets choked, he embraces his lover with passionate gusto, but the trailer never says why any of these things are happening, or ever gives any hint at any kind of story. All the trailer is concerned with is about how he is a genius who’s work befits cinematic immortalisation. As if his designs didn’t already do the job. The difference between this trailer and Mr. Turner’s is that Mr. Turner’s gave us an indication that there would be a narrative worth following, a three act structure that gave us a reason to care. Saint Laurent merely looks like an anthology of interesting scenes from his life, desperately squeezing them for all the conflict they can.
Still the Water
Being a non-Japanese speaker I’ve not much clue as to what this film is all about. All I have to go on is the visuals. Visuals that tell me a body is found in the beginning but the bulk of the film is a teenage romance. And not knowing why these two things are connected just makes me more intrigued. The two things about this trailer that jumped out at me them most though was the sumptuous shots of water, both above and below the surface, and how tactile this film feels, how the moments of physical contact feel real and how easily you can watch them touch each other and feel touched yourself. Director Naomi Kawase appears to have made a film that is deeply connected to themes of the natural cycle of life and death.