Friday 21 April 2023

Cry of Midnight (Samuel Khachikian, 1961)

Playing in Berlin (Sinema Transtopia) on May 11, 2023.

In 1961, the Iranian-Armenian Samuel Khachikian, a figure of enormous talent known for his strong female characters and the use of crime cinema motifs, the latter giving him the title of “Iranian Hitchcock”, was at the peak of his success. That year, both titles topping the Iranian box office were his. Indeed, other directors imitated his style and he became the first "name above the title" of Iranian cinema. Cry of Midnight [Faryade Nime Shab], internationally also known as Midnight Terror, was an unofficial remake of Charles Vidor's 1948 film, Gilda. It portrays one of the essential femme fatales of Iranian cinema, Parvin Ghaffari, appearing alongside the popular star Fardin as a young man who becomes entangled with a criminal gang but eventually finds his way back to the innocent girl that he's in love with. – EK

Thursday 20 April 2023

25 Fireman's Street (István Szabó, 1973)

25 Fireman's Street

István Szabó, 1973 | 98 mins

UK premiere of the new restoration at Close-Up Cinema (London) on May 28, 2023

István Szabó's agile camera is an uninvited guest peeking into the private and collective memories of the residents of an apartment building in Budapest that is due to be demolished the next day. In a Cocteauesque quest into the inner life of a house (which also bears trace of early surrealists in its splendid and puzzling juxtapositions) some 50 years is remembered overnight. The breath-taking long takes that have the fluidity of a dream reconstruct the recent history of nation through bricks, windows, walls and wooden panels. Like Jacques Tati's PlayTime, architecture is both the starting point and what frames every movement – it's a living organ. But here the building reflects people's desires and traumas more than similar voyeuristic investigations of architecture and film as it even bears the subtitle of a "Dream About a House".