Posts from 25th June 2004

25
Jun 04

Liisa Lounila – “Popcorn”

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Liisa Lounila – “Popcorn”

Some months ago I went to see the Liisa Lounila show at the Anthony Wilkinson Gallery. I loved it: I went several times and dragged a few (un)fortunates along with me to see it. I didn’t write about it. I meant to but I had other things on. I’m sorry.

Liisa’s best work is a home-made version of the ‘time slice’ technique which makes Keanu appear to hang in the air while firing his big gun in The Matrix. Lounila uses the technique to appear to move around within still photographs. My favourite is “Popcorn”, a series of images of some young-and-noticeably-not-un-pretty friends of Liisa having a popcorn fight to the tune of some clunky, lovely melanchtronica. The camera seems to be inside the shots, making three dimensions from the kind of images we’re used to seeing in two.

I haven’t managed to shake “Popcorn” since I saw it this spring, I’ve kept remembering it and I wasn’t sure why. Until this morning, thinking about how the hope and excitement of Euro 2004 seems like a ridiculous dream now, how excitement at that goal (or that other goal, or whatever) seems absurd now the story, that part of the story which belonged to me in some way, has been written and finished. And I thought that “Popcorn” reminded me of how my own memories can feel (do yours?), odd half-mobile snapshots.

And I thought “there’s no real point writing about a show which finished months ago” but I’m delighted to say that Liisa Lounila has a website at which you can see “Popcorn”, only slightly spoiled by being a tiny quicktime window rather than a whole wall in a darkened room. You can also see the other film which showed at Wilkinson, “Play”, which is probably too glamorous to count as one of my memories. Click on ‘works’, in the top right corner. If you want.

FT Top 100 Films 76: The Philadelphia Story

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FT Top 100 Films
76: The Philadelphia Story

I don’t know if we call this romantic or screwball comedy, and it doesn’t much matter, except that it does seem to have the best qualities of both, and more. It has the sophistication and shine and feeling of a good romantic comedy, and the fun and (sometimes) pace of a screwball comedy. It also has three of Hollywood’s greatest ever movie stars (Katherine Hepburn had been in the successful play, and chose Cary Grant and James Stewart as her co-stars), plus some strong support (as so often, the little sister role and the grumpy older relative are the best. Preston Sturges did these magnificently too – see e.g. Miracle Of Morgan’s Creek) – though as ever in these films, the intended never looks like a realistic contender (see also #97 Bringing Up Baby, plus His Girl Friday and countless others).

It has one of my favourite openings ever, as we watch Grant and Hepburn’s separation, the backstory of the movie: the moment when Grant feels like punching her, but settles for just pushing her in the face, is as fine a gem of wordless performance as cinema can offer since Buster Keaton’s heyday. It’s a preview of the polished brilliance of the film as a whole, packed with perfect and memorable scenes, and dominated by three stronger and more complex performances than some will have you believe these great stars ever gave (Stewart’s oscar for this was the only one either he or Grant won, shockingly). It’s a delight to watch throughout, occasionally making you cringe but mostly making you smile and laugh, one of the most eminently adorable films that’s ever been made.