What has not changed, despite the shift into genre, is the commitment to helping us sympathize with damaged, alienating (and alienated) people. In his films we might feel the discomfort of self-recognition from these characters, while in all but the finest horror films, their predicament is usually reduced to a motive for a reign of bloody terror.
How soon after our heroine has been so viciously dispatched, turning our experience and emotions upside down, do we find ourselves itching for her body to disappear, even though this means her murderer will most likely escape justice? Just nine and a half minutes. Are we monsters?
To understand the origins of the Screenplay film festival, the annual highlight of the Shetland arts calendar that Hubbard continues to run with eyebrow-raising drive and stamina, it is useful to note that Shetland is historically (and understandably) an island of enthusiastic bookworms.
I, Daniel Blake is a film not about injustice (which we can all read about), but about hardship (which we do not) and how its victims cope with it. We are never allowed to forget the inhumane backdrop, via the mind-numbing repetition of ghastly, subliterate welfare terminology.
An astute conceit in Beyond Hatred is the mirroring of the legal process and the filmmaking process, as it depicts two legal teams tasked with telling a story to an audience (the jury): like the director, they must stress-test the effect on their audience of each method of presentation of the facts.
The essence of his realism is that he presents his characters to the audience exactly as they would present themselves. Only later, as he begins to decorticate their personalities through his increasingly intimate dramatization of their relationships, will they reveal themselves as they really are.
Pialat’s quest was to seek out something more artistically valuable and emotionally direct: a cinema of genuine immediacy and truth, a cinema from which fragments of real life could erupt from the screen, where moments could simply exist, freed from the yoke of their context or origins.
Gere’s performance, aggressively understated, is subtle to the point of nondescription. His character’s complexity is comprised entirely of a refusal to reveal anything at all, until it dawns on the viewer that this is because there is going to be nothing to reveal.
It's the tale of two men who are striving, against a background of fear, distrust, and discouragement, to work out what they want from each other and how to achieve it. And it's one of the most complex and beguiling cinematic love stories since Wong Kar-wai's turn-of-the-century monument In the Mood for Love.
The 4:3 aspect ratio is often referred to as the shape of a conventional television screen, but when contemplating the work of Powell and Pressburger, there is a far more rewarding comparison to be made, which is with the shape of a traditional 19th-century Victorian theater stage.