Close-Up Film Centre – the Shoreditch staple for adventurous film fans – has started a new season of films by Pier Paolo Pasolini [until 29 MAY 2018]. Here’s our RADIANT CIRCUS guide to what’s on*.
Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) is widely celebrated as a man of many talents and opinions whose untimely and violent death retains ample mystery. The work of this “great filmmaker, poet, journalist, novelist, playwright, painter, actor, political activist and all-around intellectual public figure” is being showcased in a new season at Close-Up Film Centre in Shoreditch. The selection of nine films shows how Pasolini was “strikingly modern in his embrace of conflicting philosophies – himself Catholic, Marxist and openly gay”.
According to the Harvard Film Archive, Pasolini is “one of the central figures of the postwar Italian cinema… recognized in his native land as arguably the most important Italian artist and intellectual of the twentieth century.” This isn’t to say his films are universally regarded as masterpieces. As the Rough Guide to Film puts it: “He was trying to rewrite the language of film and construct his own cinema of poetry. This was not to be a lyricism stuffed with chocolate-box beauty, but a difficult, gnarly poetry that wasn’t easy to consume. And like all true experiments, it didn’t always work.”
Whether you feel Pasolini is the author of multiple masterworks or merely a coarse ideologue, he is best known for his “subversive and increasingly scandalous fiction films”. Several powerhouse titles are featured here, including THEOREM (1968), THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (1964) and his notorious final film, SALÒ, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (1975). Sharing the screen are some considerably lesser-known documentaries – SCOUTING IN PALESTINE (1965), NOTES TOWARDS AN AFRICAN ORESTES (1970), and LOVE MEETINGS (1964) – resulting in exactly the kind of smart programming that keeps us heading back to Close-Up.
Close-Up is presenting Pasolini alongside a season of films by Jean-Luc Godard, a filmmaker whose films have serious resonance with those of the Italian polymath: “Pasolini is in some ways the Italian counterpart to Jean-Luc Godard. Despite his obvious glee in shocking the bourgeoisie, Pasolini was also a thoughtful, even philosophical, filmmaker.” – Harvard Film Archive. Both seasons run until the last week of the month.
- We’re fans of Pasolini’s sensuous fictions, particularly MEDEA, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (which The Rough Guide sees as his “only perfectly unified movie”) and the TRILOGY OF LIFE (not included here, Pasolini’s more “mainstream” movies still managed to get him prosecuted for blasphemy… Of course, scenes of the devil’s anus farting out the damned will do that for you). Whilst we’ve only ever seen SALÒ in our front room with as many shocked friends as we could cram onto a single sofa, it’s Pasolini’s non-fiction that we’re most eager to see here.
- SINGLE-O EXHBIT: If we had to pick just one Pasolini at Close-Up, it would be LOVE MEETINGS (13 MAY): “nothing less than a cinema-vérité Kinsey Report – with occasional Godardian touches – on Italian sexual mores in the 1960s” – Harvard Film Archive.
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
- Close-Up on Pier Paolo Pasolini screens at Close-Up Film Centre [03 to 29 MAY 2018].
- Now in its second week, the season continues with: THEOREM (08 MAY 19:30 & 22 MAY 19:30); THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (09 MAY 19:30 & 27 MAY 19:30); LOVE MEETINGS (13 MAY 18:00); ACCATTONE (13 MAY 20:00 & 17 MAY 19:30); OEDIPUS REX (20 MAY 18:00); MEDEA (20 MAY 20:00); SALÒ, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (23 MAY 19:30 & 28 MAY 19:30); SCOUTING IN PALESTINE (27 MAY 18:00); and, NOTES TOWARDS AN AFRICAN ORESTES (29 MAY 19:30).
- Read John Berger’s excellent article The Chorus In Our Heads – about a Pier Paolo Pasolini TV project that characteristically blends ancient and modern – from the Vertigo magazine archive, online exclusively at Close-Up.
*THE SMALL PRINT: As accurate as we could make it. Apologies for any errors. Updates & corrections will be made to the online version. Event dates/times are subject to change by the venue/organiser. We don’t filter by age/certification: all readers & subscribers should be 18+.
Featured image: LOVE MEETINGS screens at Close-Up (13 MAY 18:00).