Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Killer Of Sheep

I managed, for the first time, so see Charles Burnett’s fabled 1977 “Killer Of Sheep”, at Chapter last weekend, courtesy of the International Black Film Festival Wales. Produced just as the Blaxploitation era was fizzling out, the film deliberately eschews sensationalistic narrative; instead, Burnett presents a series of low-key sketches of working-class African-American life, focussing on a family whose vaguely depressive father manages to eke out a living as an abbatoir worker. Excellent monochrome cinematography, a beautiful music score (apparently his failure to clear most of the tracks contributed to the film’s languishing in the archives for so long), and some charming performances make this a surprisingly entrancing experience; the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired, however.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading”, the Coen Brothers’ follow-up to the epic “No Country For Old Men” is an elegantly plotted, deceptively clever masterclass in serious comedy. Exploring their pet theme of greed undone by stupidity, this tale of health-club employees attempting to blackmail a former C.I.A. employee appears to be ambling along amiably enough until Something Terrible happens which brings home the life-and-death nature of the endeavour. The point is, I guess, that world events are shaped by the petty flaws and neuroses of imperfect individuals. Beautiful performances, of course, most winningly from Brad Pitt (what with all the media coverage of his personal circumstances, one tends to forget that he’s actually an actor). If you loved “The Big Lebowski”…