Now Streaming… The Musical Treasure Trove of ECM

When the news broke a few days ago that ECM, the illustrious and proudly independent Munich-based music label founded by Manfred Eicher in 1969, was making its remarkable back catalogue available to major streaming services, a film critic friend sent me a piece in the New York Times which singled out 21 ‘essential’ ECM albums. Knowing … Continue reading Now Streaming… The Musical Treasure Trove of ECM

A Matter of Death and Life: the Films of Ingmar Bergman

The following piece – an introduction to the work of Ingmar Bergman – was written for the website of the Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle, which this month mounts a brief season of his films. But it might serve equally as a taster for the comprehensive Bergman retrospective which is coming up at London's BFI Southbank in … Continue reading A Matter of Death and Life: the Films of Ingmar Bergman

Anouar Brahem: back with another musical jewel

I first became properly aware of the musical genius of Anouar Brahem back in 1998, and like most revelations it was accidental. I had, as it happened, already heard the Tunisian playing his oud – a North African lute-like instrument – first, unconsciously, on the soundtrack he composed for Moufida Tlatli’s 1994 film The Silences … Continue reading Anouar Brahem: back with another musical jewel

The Sound of Distant Memories: Valentin Silvestrov

Of the many fascinating composers who began their careers under the artistically reactionary regime of the Soviet Union and later found fame in the West – besides the obvious example of Arvo Pärt, I’m thinking of figures like Sofia Gubaidulina, Giya Kancheli, Tigran Mansurian, Alfred Schnittke and Galina Ustvolskaya – one of the most distinctive … Continue reading The Sound of Distant Memories: Valentin Silvestrov

Four More Discoveries: An Update after the London Film Festival

Some of you may have already read my recent blog in which I recommended a number of films in the BFI London Film Festival, films which I’d already seen at other festivals earlier in the year. For much of the LFF I was involved in introducing movies and hosting Q&As, but I did, fortunately, find … Continue reading Four More Discoveries: An Update after the London Film Festival

The 2017 BFI London Film Festival – some personal recommendations

With this year's edition of the London Film Festival due to begin in a few days, I thought I'd suggest a few titles to look out for. There are many movies in the Festival, of course, which I haven't yet seen, but of those I have managed to catch already – in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, … Continue reading The 2017 BFI London Film Festival – some personal recommendations

A new jewel discovered in Venice: ‘Custody’ (‘Jusqu’à la garde’)

A few months ago, I received an email from Alberto Barbera, artistic director of the Venice Film Festival, asking (to my considerable surprise) if I'd be interested in being a member of the ‘Opera Prima’ jury for the upcoming 74th edition of the event. Needless to say, I replied that I'd be more than delighted … Continue reading A new jewel discovered in Venice: ‘Custody’ (‘Jusqu’à la garde’)

Turning Tarkovsky into music: Nuit blanche

A confession: while I recognise the cinematic importance of the late Andrei Tarkovsky – his influence on certain filmmakers, and the high regard in which his work is widely held – I myself have never been a great admirer of his films. I like Ivan’s Childhood and Andrei Roublev well enough, but I have always … Continue reading Turning Tarkovsky into music: Nuit blanche

Back in Bologna: the forgotten films of Helmut Käutner

Now in its 31st year, the Cinema Ritrovato festival mounted by the Cineteca Bologna has become something of a pilgrimage site for cinephiles in search of restorations, rarities and rediscoveries. Indeed, some might argue that it is a victim of its own success; in recent years the number of attendees has increased so much that … Continue reading Back in Bologna: the forgotten films of Helmut Käutner

Of films and photos: more from Romania’s remarkable Cristi Puiu

A few months back, I received an invitation to participate as a member of the jury for the main competition of the Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF) which takes place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania’s second largest city after Bucharest, in early June. Honoured to be asked, and keen to visit a country which has been giving … Continue reading Of films and photos: more from Romania’s remarkable Cristi Puiu