21 April 2007

Adventures in Cinema (part 2)

Not content with sitting on the sofa and watching Any Dream will Do, I decided to be intellectual again this week, and went back to the tiny Star and Shadow cinema, to see some films by a team called Desperate Optimists. Now there's a title for a song, if ever I heard one.

They screened three short films from a series called Civic Life, and another slightly longer film called Daydream, developed as part of a cultural initiative in Liverpool. I went along thinking it would be several documentary-type films, but it turned out to be a more experimental and poetic business - the premise of the Civic Life films are that they're shot in one day, and are mostly one long-take. There's often a story in there, but you have to work out for yourself what that is. Sometimes that worked (the third film, Leisure Centre, about a young man who goes back to work after the birth of his child, managed to take you on a physical journey through the leisure centre and engage you emotionally as well), sometimes it didn't (Twilight, set on the Tyne, was technically very good, but just dull). Sadly, I suspect I'm rather traditional in my film watching, and prefer something that has some semblance of a plot, so the one that I liked most was closest to a traditional "story".

The longest film, Daydream, was harder work with ten scenes (eg a man falling from a balcony in a concert hall, a school party getting lost in the woods...) of varying length but a single take. It was supposed to show "the connection between a city during a moment of great change and how this moment can be reflected in the emotional world of its citizens", but it didn't really come across. Yes, the stories were on occasion emotional. But to a non-Liverpudlian, who didn't necessarily know the locations, the connection with the city itself wasn't apparent.

Saturday night popcorn thrillers they weren't. Interesting, though.

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