Naughtily I left work early, well not particularly naughty as I can leave any time after 3 so long as I have accrued sufficient flexi-time; it just seems weird to leave work so early. First movie was at the State at 4pm, Francofonia by Aleksandr Sokurov, and I’d be looking forward to this as I loved his earlier film, Russian Ark. The new film is something of a historical fiction, blending history and imagination exploring the history of The Louvre in Paris, set around the time of its occupation by the Nazis. Bonaparte himself appears occasionally and there are ruminations on art and war; a key quote was around the idea that art is developed by people and culture but wars decide where it resides. The fictionalised Bonaparte claimed that war and invasion were primarily about grabbing art works; there was a suggestion that the great museums contain collections of art, plundered from other nations. Another quote was that “museums are in a constant state of wat.” I found this film fascinating both in its telling and its presentation using a variety of film stock, old photos, explorations of the building, and acting.
The second film was also a fictionalised history, also in a time of war, though this was set in the latter part of the first world war, The Childhood of a Leader. It started and finished with blasts of loud music that suggested great things, inbetween not so much. Much of the movie circled around the young son of an American politician involved in negotiations to end the war. Standard stereotypes of absent father and isolation abound. The child is mostly a precocious brat played very well; I’d argue that the child actor outshone the rest of the cast. Otherwise I found the film failed to deliver the energy that the opening implied. It was unexpectedly a quiet, period piece that didn’t deliver.