GFT Blog: Your CineMasters Picks

Last month, the Glasgow Film team wrote all about Our CineMasters Picks, then we passed it on to you and asked who you'd pick to celebrate on the big screen - and you did not disappoint! 

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Originally, the first name that popped into my head was Stanley Kubrick. I am such a massive fan of his work, the journey that 2001: A Space Odyssey takes you on is nothing short of life changing in the context of film. However!!! (Yes three!) I changed my mind, probably due to being lucky enough to see Kubrick's films on the big screen a number of times, I would like to suggest Nicolas Winding Refn as a CineMaster, and the chance to re-watch some of his work in the cinema is too good to turn down. 

The way his films completely immerse you in sound and vision reminds me so much of the craft of Kubrick. I really think he is such an underrated/underappreciated director. Some of his imagery is just stunning and more importantly, for me anyway, linger on in your brain for such a long time.

Simon Gray

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I would like to suggest Michael Haneke for one of your CineMasters seasons. His films, especially the ones I have chosen below, are modern classics, doing what all good cinema should – making you think, allowing you to question both your perception of what is being viewed on screen and also prejudices you might hold about the depiction of difficult subjects (such as amoral violence in Funny Games and euthanasia in Amour). He has said “there is never just one truth, there is only personal truth”, which seems to sum up his approach to filmmaking, and the need to pick up clues and understand nuances in his films lend themselves to being seen on the big screen. I have watched nearly all of his films, but not one in a cinema, so the opportunity for me, and of course others, to watch and enjoy his unsentimental but thought-provoking work in this way would be a privilege. Suggestions: Benny’s Video, Code Unknown, Cache, Funny Games and The White Ribbon.

Laurie Donaldson

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The laid-back, poetic films of Richard Linklater embody the spirit of summer unlike those of any other director and make him the obvious choice for next GFT CineMaster. His debut film, Slacker, is a stream of consciousness stroll through a day in the life of Austin Texas's slacker community, as they discuss philosophy, conspiracy theories and politics, and cemented his style of dreamy walking-talking movies. Based on Linklater's high school years, Dazed and Confused follows teenagers on the last day of term as they navigate school traditions, social circles and their burgeoning adulthood. Featuring a killer seventies soundtrack, this affectionate and knowing film is one of Quentin Tarantino's favourites, saying of it: "the characters are like your friends and it's like you're hanging out with them again". It is interesting to watch the film today knowing what big stars some of the ensemble cast would later become including Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg, Milla Jovovich and Matthew 'Alright, alright, alright' McConaughey. The central work of Linklater's career is a trilogy of films each made 9 years apart starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as Jesse and Celine - the great screen couple of our time. Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight are a thoughtful examination of relationships and human connection and of the nature of destiny and time. The epitome of Linklater's philosophy and style, the Before Trilogy, like all of his films, are full of life, and while his films are thought-provoking and profound, it is impossible to not be smiling the whole way through them. I propose the following films also be shown along with those mentioned above as they best distill his energy and soul: Waking Life, School of Rock, Boyhood.

Kieran Smyth

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I'm all for celebrating classic Italian directors like Fellini, Leone and Antonioni, but I'd say it's high time we all looked at less obvious masters from the same era. Has any UK cinema ever done a retrospective of films by Dino Risi

Seminal road movie Il Sorpasso (1962), the neo-realist post-war exposé of A Difficult Life (1961), pioneering omnibus I Mostri (1963) and comedy-drama The Priest's Wife (1970), as well as the original Scent of a Woman (1974), are all great examples of films both popular and influential, which remain largely undiscovered by British audiences. And who could resist the unlikely pairing of Marcello Mastroianni and Oliver Reed in 1973's Dirty Weekend, a farcical indictment of celebrity obsession in the media? 

Risi's filmography comprises some of the finest performances by Vittorio Gassman, Sophia Loren, Alberto Sordi, Giancarlo Giannini and other giants of Italian cinema, yet I'd wager most readers of the GFT blog are largely unaware of even his biggest box office hits. I could say the same about Monicelli, Lattuada and even more recent luminaries like Silvio Soldini or Gabriele Salvatores, but my top vote goes to Dino Risi, without a doubt.

C.J. Lazaretti

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My pick for the Cinemasters season would be Claire Denis. A modern master of cinema extending the possibilities of the form and deserving of a wider audience. A filmmaking favourite of director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) with a genre diverse catalog of films. Her filmmaking is attuned to a variety of human experience not often captured on film - with an eye to the unspoken aspects of relationships, including a tactility of bodily interaction and the depth of character revealed through the eyes. An emotional nuance and sensitivity which speaks to the heart before the head. Denis' filmmaking spans the pop-cultural and the poetic, from an intriguing filmic jukebox to her sensual mode of storytelling. Her enduring collaborations with actors (eg. Dennis Lavant, Alex Descas) and crew (cinematographer Agnes Godard and British pop-group Tindersticks) and the diversity of their contributions are further reason to show more of her films.

Denis' most recent work Un beau soleil intérieur competed at Cannes and we can hope to see her first English-language venture with sci-fi High Life (ft. Robert Pattinson) in the not-too-distant future, so now is the time to introduce more of her work to a British audience.

Particular highlights of her oeuvre include: a brooding family drama, a Melville adaptation, a sexual vampire flick, and a psycho-geographic memoir: Beau Travail, 35 Rhums, Nenette et Boni, Trouble Every Day, L'Intrus

Reuben Wheeler

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I believe that for the CineMasters strand, there is no other option than David Fincher. Fincher is, in my opinion, the best director still working today, as well as the most underrated. The CineMasters strand can help give Fincher that recognition. 

Aside from Alien 3, all of Fincher's work has received acclaim. Se7en is one of the best crime thrillers of all time. The Game a frustratingly tense mystery. Fight Club, THE definition of  a cult film. Panic Room effectively creates a tense atmosphere using one location. Zodiac, the most underrated film of the last decade. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fincher's very own sprawling epic. The Social Network, Fincher's best, is the most realistic film about how we live now. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a rare case when the remake is better, and Gone Girl, a brilliant examination of the media.

There is no other director who feels both contemporary and classical. This is an opportunity to show these future classics - and help them gain a whole new audience.

Tucker Griffin

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I love the choice of Park Chan-Wook - so few non-European/English voices there. More underseen though is the great Lee Chang-Dong - his greatest, IMO, Secret Sunshine, doesn't even have a release here even though it's one of South Korea's few Cannes winners (the wonderful Jeon Do-Yeon). Some would give this accolade to Peppermint Candy - the history and state of the nation, conflict in flashback of a troubled hero. Or Mi-Ja's remarkable story in Poetry. And in a country with few female directors he's produced two recent hits - feature debuts for June July and Yoon Ga-Eun. I've got his screenplay, only early works are available on R3 DVD but I'm not sure about prints.

In more classic terms - Kurosawa (with Mifune) starred in this years film festival. I've seen Mizoguchi and Ozu at others. But Naruse? Ichikawa? Not so much. We've been well served by DVD releases for both in this country but wouldn't it be wonderful to see When a Woman Ascends the Stairs or Sound of the Mountain on the big screen? And while Ichikawa's take on Japan in the war tend to be his best known films (with Fires on the Plain getting a pointless remake recently) but I would love to see the gorgeous Actor's Revenge in the cinema - a perfect marriage of theatre and film. Non released options include the superior Mishima adaptation Enjo, or the Kindaichi tale in The Inugamis. And I love Dora Heita - the film from the Four Musketeers, Ichikawa, Kurosawa, Kinoshita & Kobayashi with a barnstorming performance from Koji Yukosho. 

I'd have gone with Kobayashi here as my favourite Japanese director but recently had the great joy of going down to Leeds for a retrospective there, which included all of the Human Condition (split over 3 days for sanity's sake).


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Paolo Sorrentino is Italian cinema’s most distinctive, provocative auteur. Described as “perhaps the most brilliant director of the new Italian wave", Sorrentino’s films feature full, idiosyncratic cinematic images as well as acerbic criticisms of Italy’s socio-political malaise. The Great Beauty (2013) best illustrates this duality as a jaded journalist is wooed, and ultimately repelled by Rome’s superficial party life in a truly Fellini-esque feature. Il Divo (2008) tackles similar concerns in its heavily stylised depiction of the sinister, 41st Prime Minister of Italy, Giulio Andreotti. Toni Servillo appears in both films, in polarising roles, establishing a true actor-director relationship. Without veering into pastiche, earlier films The Consequences Of Love (2004) and Family Friend (2006) contain intertextual references to the work of Martin Scorsese, Alexander Sokurov and Ang Lee. His forays into English language filmmaking are equally interesting in their scope, from the peculiar This Must Be The Place (2011) which features Sean Penn as an aging rock star made up in Goth make-up, to the languid, emotionally affecting Youth (2015) which ruminates poignantly on the ageing process. Throughout his oeuvre Sorrentino has proven himself as a unique filmmaker, able to simultaneously refer to the history of cinema whilst proving the medium has infinite possibilities - justifying his position as one of contemporary cinema’s foremost stylists. As such, he is deserving of a CineMaster season.

Callum Simpson

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William Friedkin. The enfant terrible of 70's cinema. The French Connection brought new life to the cop movie with one of the greatest car chases ever filmed, illegally on the streets of New York. Tough and gritty with a class performances by Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider. The Exorcist is simply the greatest horror movie ever made. With a ferociously innovative use of language, special effects, subliminal images and an ability to scare audiences stiff, The Exorcist has surpassed its horror beginnings and is now simply one of the best films ever made. When Sorcerer opened to critical apathy (up against a small movie called Star Wars) it failed to live up to its budget and expectation from such a prominent director. In hindsight now it's regarded with more fondness, the bridge scene alone had more thrills than a dozen Mad Max films, and a Tangerine Dream soundtrack makes a great addition. As a remake of one of the best films ever made it stands up well. In the '80s Friedkin returned to familiar ground and turned out one of the greatest cop movies of that decade. With 2 hard nosed LA cops after a prolific forger, To Live and Die in LA was a stylistic classic that deserved more acclaim. And it had a car chase to match The French Connection. There is your 4 film series right there.


GFT CineMasters continues in June and July with one of the most recognised names in Finnish cinema, Aki Kaurismäki. Titles include The Match Factory Girl, The Man Without a Past and Le Havre. Our next CineMaster will be announced soon!

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