Dir: Jim McBride | Cast: Richard Gere, Valérie Kaprisky | Drama | US | 100′
There’s a lot to be said for Richard Gere in his early days of tousled-haired charisma and cupid bow lips. With an sweet smile and a svelte body, he played the perfect Officer and a Gentleman and the Armani-clad, snake-hipped seducer in American Gigolo and had acting chops too.
In his Jean Luc Godard neo-noir remake Jim McBride (The Big Easy) translocates the action from Sixties Paris to Eighties Los Angeles, where Gere cuts a dash as Jesse, a wanton opportunistic wayfarer and Jerry Lee Lewis devotee with a gift for the gab and a side-line in stealing cars. He then goes on the run after killing a cop in Las Vegas and flees to Mexico where he meets Valérie Kaprisky’s French architecture undergraduate Monica and the two fall in love. Breathless’s breezy charm turns into something more sinister as Jesse’s crime catches up with him and Monica is forced to make a choice. MT
OUT ON BLURAY COURTESY ON SECOND SIGHT FILMS FROM 26 MARCH 2018
Dir: Sergei Parajanov | Armenia | 79′ | Biopic Drama |
This heady, avant-garde cinematic reverie depicts the life of highly acclaimed 18th-century Armenian poet and musician Sayat-Nova (Vilen Galstyan) from childhood to his death, particularly focussing on his relationships with women. Glowing in a new bluray release, the sumptuously fantastical visual poem is said to serve as a metaphor for Parajanov’s own life. It was only officially seen in western cinemas in 1982 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece by cinephiles and critics alike. The director – who was to spend a large part of his creative life behind bars on account his sexuality and political beliefs – had spent the intervening years in prison with the authorities re-editing and diminishing his prized work.
Sergei Parajanov was influenced by Sergei Eisenstein and Alexander Dovzhenko and his highly stylised and dreamlike film blends new techniques such as the use of jump-cuts with exquisite tableaux often seen in silent film to tell a story drenched in ancient Armenian art and folklore, and opening with a quote from a poem crafted by Sayat Nova: “I am he whose life and soul are torment”. His major contribution to the world of cinema was in raising the profile of his non-Russian Soviet heritage of Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine.
Parajanov was born in Soviet Georgia of Armenian parents in 1924 and started life as a musician before discovering film-making at the famous Soviet Russian All-Union State Institute of Cinematography film school in Moscow. He married in 1950 but his wife was sadly murdered the following year, possibly by her family on the grounds of religious scruples. A second marriage ended in divorce and precipitated a disenchantment with his own film oeuvre when he saw how Andrei Tarkovsky made use of dreams to present allegory in his extraordinary debut Ivan’s Childhood (1962).
In Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (1964) Parajanov once again depicts ancient traditions through a tragic but magical tale of doomed love set in the exotic wilds of the Carpathians.
In Pomegranates, Sofiko Chiaureli is cast in five both male and female roles, underlining Parajanov’s attitude to non-binary sexuality and artistic freedom. He then made two more films sealing his international success on the film stage, allowing him to travel abroad and embark on his final auto-biographical project Confession, before dying of cancer in 1990. MT
THE COLOUR OF POMEGRANATES | SPECIAL EDITION BLURAY FROM 19 February 2018 | COURTESY OF SECOND SIGHT DVD.