Close Up

18 - 19 June 2016: Alex Cox's Introduction to Film Book Launch

"Critics, academics and theoreticians talk theory. That is what they know. Artists talk about their processes in making art. This is my attempt to apply what I know to a beginning study of film." – Alex Cox

Join Kamera Books and Close-Up in a special programme of films to mark the release of Alex Cox's Introduction to Film: A Director's Perspective. Gareth Evans will be in conversation with Alex Cox to discuss his new book.

"The course of Alex Cox’s career parallels the fortunes of American independent cinema over the past thirty years. During that time, Cox has made the transition from studio-funded wunderkind to transnational indie director to a filmmaker working in what he calls "microcinema": movies made for very little money, shot digitally and distributed by adventurous small companies. This trajectory places him squarely in the tradition of many of the maverick filmmakers that have inspired Cox, like Samuel Fuller and Monte Hellman.

Cox’s love of cinema, evident in numerous articles and books and his stint as the host of the BBC program "Moviedrome," centers especially on the work of those filmmakers who have invigorated their work with the vitality and drive of genre cinema; besides the directors already mentioned, these include Ford, Kurosawa, Leone, Peckinpah and Roeg. Inspiration from and homage to these auteurs occurs frequently in Cox’s own films. But far from being a Tarantino avant la lettre, Cox eschews cynical pastiche for a passionate belief in cinema as critique – of consumerism, of warfare as foreign policy, of the fusion of politics and the media – and as an art form well suited to expressions of anarchic energy." – David Pendleton

Gillio Pontecorvo
1969 | 132 min | Colour | 35mm
Introduced by Gareth Evans

This rarely seen, overlooked gem, featuring what may be one of Marlon Brando’s most fascinating characterizations, was Gillo Pontecorvo’s worthy follow-up to his political masterpiece The Battle of Algiers. The brilliant radical Italian director achieved something unique in cinema, by wedding, as he said, "the romantic adventure and the film of ideas." Although Burn! recalls an Errol Flynn swashbuckler, it is primarily a devastating attack on imperialistic nations – particularly 19th-century Portugal and Great Britain depicted in the film, and by implication, the United States and its involvement in the Vietnam war. read more

Alex Cox
1987 | 95 min | Colour | 35mm
Introduced by Alex Cox followed by a Q&A session with the director

Made at a time when US involvement in Central America was a hot topic, Walker is probably Cox’s most overtly political film. It is a decidedly postmodern version of the true story of William Walker, the American adventurer and apostle of Manifest Destiny who led a failed revolution in Mexico, fled south with an army of mercenaries, and toppled the Nicaraguan government in 1855 with the support of US industrialists. The film was actually shot in Nicaragua in 1987 as the Sandinista government was still attempting to quell the American-funded Contra insurgency. At the time of Walker’s initial release, many critics seemed perplexed by Cox’s abundant and overt insertion of anachronistic objects that disrupt any sense of the film as a period piece. Seen today, these objects are a clever way of pointing out the parallels between Walker’s Nicaraguan exploits and those of the US government in the 1980s. read more

Repo Man
Alex Cox
1984 | 95 min | Colour | 35mm
Introduced by Alex Cox

The tale of a young man learning the tricks of the trade of repossessing cars from an old hand serves primarily as the MacGuffin for a manically satirical look at life in the US during the first Reagan administration. With a doomsday device in the trunk of a car giving off a menacing glow (lovingly lifted from Kiss Me Deadly), Cox light-heartedly makes some serious points about the all-pervasive menace of the military-industrial complex, and gives the staggeringly great cast of character actors brilliant material to resourcefully ply. Set in the wasteland that then was downtown Los Angeles in the age of punk, Repo Man is in many ways an outsider’s view – that of an Englishman suddenly landed in the urban sprawl of a most un-European city. read more