Carnival: Party-Starters and Party-Poopers

With carnival weekend upon us, some may laugh with unfettered joy, whilst others contemplate whether adding a dial combination lock to their front door is going to far…

If you are of the former persuasion, here are a few Carnival-inspired pick-me-up type film suggestions to get you/keep you in the mood:

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BLACK ORPHEUS:

2da70df2_orpheusfront1 Made in 1959 and filmed in Brazil by French director, Marcel Camus, Black Orpheus re-frames the ancient Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice amongst the favelas and Carnaval of Rio.

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GYPSY CARAVAN:

18771126A dizzying documentary with some of the jumpiest, most beautiful music you could hope to clap your ears on… An intimate exploration and exposition of gypsy music and life through some of their greatest performers. If you want to set your own soundtrack to Carnival, here’s a good place to start.

FESTIVAL EXPRESS:

MPW-16403If gypsy music isn’t quite your thing, jump on board the wild Festival Express train, carrying some of the greatest performers of the 60s and 70s rock music scene as they endeavour to tour Canada.

PARIS IS BURNING:

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Fierce and beautiful documentary on the New York voguing scene and drag balls of the 80s. Show Madonna how it’s done with your post-viewing moves…

ON TOUR:

TourneePosterVivacious little film with actor and director, Mathieu Amalric, playing the manager of a team of American burlesque dancers on tour in Paris. Watch this with your feathers on, and then venture out to join the rest of London’s fabulous peacocks.

TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER:

tears_of_the_black_tigerThai Technicolor-style western. What else do you need?

 

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If you are one of those people for whom Carnival makes you feel:

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then how about something a bit more soothing? Why not go on retreat..?

INTO GREAT SILENCE:

e933481537a818e35445d9c716054f76.medium_448x337Documentary on monastic life inside the Grande Chartreuse in France.

 

WHEEL OF TIME:

Wheel_of_time_posterWerner Herzog documentary on the mandala ritual in Tibetan Buddhism.

BARAKA & SAMSARA:

BARAKA-Arrow-FilmsThe ultimate in bliss-out viewing. Watch with your backpack filled and ready to go.

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posted by Dixie Turner

 

 

Smells Like Fags and Greasepaint..

Written by Rob Munday

On Tour (2010)
Director: Mathieu Amalric
Main Cast: Miranda Colclasure, Suzanne Ramsey, Mathieu Amalric
On Tour follows a troupe of American burlesque dancers on their journey around France. It is an affectionate and enjoyable film that embraces imperfections in its story of life on the road.
As well as directing Amalric plays a central role as Joachim Zand, the chain-smoking manager of this group. His is a charismatic presence, controlling and yet weak, charming and yet hidden. Joachim is our modern day Cosmo Vittelli, the fractured hero of Jon Cassavetes ‘The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie’. Amalric has clearly been influenced by his fellow actor/director and he treats his characters with a similar compassion with his unflinching gaze.
The contrast between our imagined lives and the lives we actually lead, the displayed and the hidden, escapism and escape, are central to this film.
Burlesque is itself a fantasy, a release from the everyday. It presents   a snapshot of rose-tinted sexuality from a past that never existed. It allows titillation without guilt. But there is a flipside to the personas of Mimi Le Meaux, Dirty Martini and their exotic colleagues. Throughout the film we get glimpses into the dancers home lives and as we focus more on Joachim we see how he too has chosen life on the road and immersion at work over the messiness of the everyday.
On a plot level there is much that is familiar about On Tour. The errant father, abandoned kids, tentative romance, family troubles and power struggles are all conventional elements. However Amalric has a healthy disdain for leading the audience by the hand. Here story elements are often left obscure or underplayed in favour of embracing these characters and their baggage (both physical and emotional).
These are genuine burlesque dancers and it shows. The routines are impressive and inventive and it makes a welcome change to see women of all shapes showing themselves off on film. The theatrics of the stage performances are thankfully absent off stage. Instead the acting hits just the right note of natural playfulness. There is a refreshingly ramshackle feel to observing this odd group of performers set against the provincial seaside towns of France.
The group dynamics are the heart of the film and the only time it falters is when Joachim ventures away. Even in this section there are many nice details but when the group is back as one we get to revel in the full warmth and insight of Amalric’s vision.
Like its protagonists, On Tour drifts restlessly and reveals only fleeting glimpses of the depths beneath. However, what emerges at the end, in a typically loose conclusion, is a film that nourishes and invigorates.
Time to get those nipple tassels out.