Rod White introduces the March 2016 brochure

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Tue 23 Feb 2016

Rod White introduces the March 2016 brochure

As I write this I’m attending the Berlin International Film Festival - or as they call it, the Berlinale - as a ‘hired hand’ for our sister organisation EIFF, watching as many films as I can in the hope of bringing the good ones to you this June. I caught the rather delightful Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! on the opening night, and though I’m not important enough a guest of the festival to rate an invite to the ceremony itself, I did get into a simultaneous screening that beams the entire red carpet and opening ceremony onto the screen prior to the film. Yes, all 75 minutes of it! (If I’m honest, I’m not important enough to get into that screening either - I was given the ticket by someone who is!) The proceedings are hosted, as they have been for years I am told, by a German actress/comedian... let’s just say Henning Wenn may indeed be unique. The worst/best of it was when The Mayor of Berlin was welcomed across the stage with something like “and now, Müller’s Crossing”, (his name is Müller, and yes, she had to explain the joke too) which saw the Coens sinking even further into their seats. (I don’t think such events are their natural habitat, to be fair.)

However, the undisputed highlight of the night was Jury President Meryl Streep, on camera and visibly annoyed whilst not getting a joke about her being more accustomed to receiving than giving (awards, one had to assume) and if I’m any kind of lip reader appearing to mouth a well-known vulgar interrogative. And there’s more: Meryl was introduced on stage by a short film that described her role in The Iron Lady as “covering Margaret Thatcher’s life from tough politician to demented old lady” which I’m sure isn’t what they really meant... ahem.

As mentioned previously the big film of the month is the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, the framing plot of which sees Golden era Hollywood ‘fixer’ Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) keeping his Studio’s productions running despite, amongst a host of other things, the kidnapping by ‘Commie’ scriptwriters of the big star of their biblical epic (of the same name), Baird Whitlock (George Clooney). The recreations of studio staple fare being made on the lot are a constant pleasure - an On The Town-style musical, an Esther Williams-style swimming extravaganza, a low budget western, etc. - featuring a host of delicious performances from the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson. Marguerite is a marvellous French riff on the real life story of a rich American socialite in the 1920s who fancied herself as an opera singer - including performing in public - despite being utterly tone deaf. Her entourage, including her husband, chose not to point out her vocal limitations... (As chance would have it, there is a US version of the same story starring the aforementioned Meryl Streep in the title role of Florence Foster Jenkins that will no doubt be coming our way fairly soon.) Charlie Kaufman’s strikingly original Anomalisa and Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth get an airing as well. And it’s time again for our annual Italian Film Festival, in an impressive 23rd edition.

Arrivederci amici miei!

Rod White, Head of Filmhouse

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