Film Club, Tuesdays 12.00 – 1.30 on Zoom
This course is being delivered online via Zoom. John will start by giving a short lecture, then you will view film extracts and discuss them together or just sit back and relax. There is no homework!
Please find below an outline of what is coming up this Spring and Summer.
Tuesdays 13 & 20 April 12.00 noon – 1.30pm (2-week course)
‘Two Tuesdays, Two Brothers: Joel & Ethan Coen are Modern Masters of Cinema’
Who are the best modern directors? The answer lies with the Coen Brothers.
Their astounding debut in 1984 was Blood Simple, a film noir in the style of James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice. Their perfect gangster film Miller’s Crossing arrived at the same time as Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas but the plot had been so complicated they had to take a break for re-writes. In the interim they wrote Barton Fink in 3 weeks, which duly won Best Film and Best Director awards at Cannes – a very Coen result.
Their most popular film — Fargo — did for Minnesota what Blue Velvet did for Lumberton (Montana). They took the baton from David Lynch and passed it on to Tarantino. The Coen’s hero is Preston Sturges and his 1941 Sullivan’s Travels is the template for their films that look behind-the-scenes of Hollywood and lovingly pastiche its genres. Hail Caesar! took on epics, westerns and musicals. Their re-make of True Grit improved on the original. Their most recent —The Ballad of Buster Scruggs for Netflix — is their bleakest, and one of their richest. What will they do next?
Tuesdays 27 April – 29 June (10 weeks) 12.00 noon to 1.30pm
‘Documentary Film: the new fiction’
The best documentaries can be as entertaining or suspenseful as a Hitchcock thriller — what happens next, who is telling the truth? Dark Waters – the recent Todd Haynes’ thriller about Teflon and shocking historical events at DuPont – is documentary-like in detail, and suspenseful because of it. Documentary became the new fiction in the 1990s with Michael Moore. The documentaries Man on Wire and Touching the Void are equally gripping thrillers — but so too is the first-ever doc, Nanook of the North. We’ll trace the development of reality films to John Grierson, through Bicycle Thieves’ neorealism and cine-verite to the present. A class list of top twenty (ten is never enough) best documentaries could include: Man With a Movie Camera, Sans Soleil, Koyaanisqatsi, The Fog of War, Free Solo, I Am Not Your Negro, and Night Mail. Even Marianne and Leonard keeps you on the edge of your seat – will they meet again?
John Wischmeyer teaches courses on cinema at City Literary Institute in Covent Garden and at the BFI South Bank. He ran his own cinema in West London, treating it as part of the community and showing new and independent work where possible. He has been teaching since 1999. His first course was about Hitchcock’s centenary year. He continues to teach on a wide variety of subjects including Southern Gothic, Contemporary and Current Cinema, Film Noir and Neorealism, Masters of Cinema (David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers) and French New Wave.