Issue 18 | June 2008


Land of Promise

By Dai Vaughan

The booklet to this BFI four-DVD collection of British Documentaries starts by quoting John Grierson’s description of their objective as ‘The creative treatment of actuality.’ This is a variant on the phrase, ‘The creative interpretation of reality,’ which used to appear on the masthead of Documentary News Letter. The trouble with this more familiar version – and I dare say Grierson used both at one time and another – is that it could apply to almost any work of art in almost any medium. ‘Reality’ is a notoriously slippery concept. ‘Actuality’, on the other hand, was the accepted term for a certain kind of early filmmaking: the relatively unsophisticated presentation of subjects of general interest – the Western Front, Peek Frean’s biscuit factory, a day in the life of a miner – which it was assumed the viewer would accept simply as a record of what had passed before the camera.
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It Is Better to Travel Hopefully than to Arrive

By Rosy Rockets

The Jim Jarmusch Collection brings together the ready, steady and go of the director’s landmark career. With Permanent Vacation, a fidgety, crumbling examination of adolescent discontent in crumbling 80s New York, he’s ready to have his say.

Nothing Is True. Everything Is Permissible.

By John Bradburn

Few films have a physical affect. Few films genuinely touch the body as much as the mind. Few films really struggle with the physicality of existence or the purity of senses as they reach the mind. Maybe it is because cinema is just so much light and sound...

Touch my Garden

By Jason Lee

Given the current intense media attention given to ‘wayward youth’, particularly concerning sexual behaviour, Andrew Birkin’s emotionally engaging and atmospheric 1993 adaptation of Ian McEwan’s 1978 novella has lost none of its relevance.

Her Name Is Sabine

By David Balfour

Sandrine Bonnaire, the striking actress who has worked with directors from Agnès Varda to Patrice Leconte, has created a film that is pained, personal and poignant. It is a documentary about her seemingly-autistic sister, Sabine of the title.

Return of the Frontiersman: Rudy Wurlitzer in Conversation

By Lee Hill

What can one say about Rudy Wurlitzer that doesn’t suggest multitudes of overlapping worlds? Like William Burroughs, he is the descendant of a once prosperous American business family.