In a special seasonal edition of his acclaimed series, film critic Mark Kermode celebrates one of the most perennial of all genres: the Christmas movie. Mark unwraps a glittering selection of Christmas cinematic treats, from much-loved classics to hidden gems, Hollywood blockbusters to international films, and reveals the film-making techniques and storytelling secrets that make them so successful. Mark demonstrates how, as with all great genres, a key to the success of the Christmas movie lies in its adaptability. Christmas cinema embraces a remarkable range of styles and themes, from fairy tale fantasy to high-octane action, family drama to horror. But a great Christmas movie does more than simply set its story in the festive season. It captures something magical - the Christmas spirit - and in this programme, Mark shows you how.
Mark turns to horror and shows how film-makers have devilishly deployed a range of cinematic tricks to exploit our deepest, darkest and most elemental fears. He explores the recurring elements of horror, including the journey, the jump scare, the scary place, the monster and the chase. He reveals how they have been refined and reinvented in films as diverse as the silent classic The Phantom of the Opera, low-budget cult shockers The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Evil Dead, and Oscar-winners The Silence of the Lambs and Get Out. Mark analyses the importance of archetypal figures such as the clown, the savant and the 'final girl'. And of course, he celebrates his beloved Exorcist films by examining two unforgettable but very different shock moments in The Exorcist and The Exorcist III. Ultimately, Mark argues, horror is the most cinematic of genres, because no other kind of film deploys images and sound to such powerful and primal effect.
This time Mark explores the most visionary of all genres - science fiction, and shows how film-makers have risen to the challenge of making the unbelievable believable. Always at the forefront of cinema technology, science fiction films have used cutting-edge visual effects to transport us to other worlds or into the far future. But as Mark shows, it's not just about the effects. Films as diverse as 2001, the Back to the Future trilogy and Blade Runner have used product placement and commercial brand references to make their future worlds seem more credible. The recent hit Arrival proved that the art of film editing can play with our sense of past and future as well as any time machine. Meanwhile, films such as Silent Running and WALL-E have drawn on silent era acting techniques to help robot characters convey emotion. And District 9 reached back to Orson Welles by using news reporting techniques to render an alien visitation credible. Mark argues that for all their spectacle, science fiction films ultimately derive their power from being about us. They take us to other worlds and eras, and introduce us to alien and artificial beings, in order to help us better understand our own humanity.
This time Mark explores the genre that captures the joy and pain of growing up - the coming-of-age movie. It is the most universal of all genres, the one we can all relate to from our own experience, yet it can also be the most autobiographical and personal. Film-makers across the world repeatedly return to core themes such as first love, breaking away from small-town life and grown-ups who don't understand. And wherever and whenever they are set, these stories are vividly brought to life using techniques such as casting non-professional actors, camerawork that captures a child's-eye view and nostalgic pop soundtracks. From Rebel without a Cause to Lady Bird by way of Kes, Boyz n the Hood and This Is England, Mark shows how recurring sequences like the makeover and the group singalong, and characters like the gang and mentor figure, have helped create some of the most moving and resonant films in cinema.
This time it is the turn of the heist movie, with its unique combination of suspense and action. Whether it is the big bank job or netting a fortune in diamonds, why, asks Mark, do otherwise law-abiding audiences find themselves rooting for robbers and even killers? More than any other genre, the heist movie plays with our sympathies, encouraging us to identify with characters we would run a mile from in real life. From The Asphalt Jungle to Ocean's Eleven by way of The Italian Job and even The Wrong Trousers, Mark shows how recurring character types, such as the mastermind, and sequences like the planning scene and the getaway, draw us into the big score. And he demonstrates how recent hits like Inception, The Wolf of Wall Street and Baby Driver have pushed the conventions of the heist in thrilling new directions. At the box office, at least, crime really does pay.
Mark begins with one of the most popular genres of all. They are sometimes sneered at by critics, but from the 1930s to the present day, many of our most beloved movies have been romantic comedies. From Bringing Up Baby and The Lady Eve by way of Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally and Pretty Woman to Love, Actually (a particular Kermode favourite) - as well as recent hits such as The Big Sick and La La Land - Mark examines the cinematic tricks and techniques involved in creating a classic romcom. Mark celebrates old favourites, reveals hidden treasures and springs plenty of surprises. Examining films from Hollywood to Bollywood via other gems of world cinema, he reminds us how, much like love itself, the art of the romantic comedy is international.
Salvador Dali was art's greatest clown, but was he also one of its great geniuses? Journalist Alastair Sooke traces the life and work of the popular surrealist artist travelling throughout Europe and America. From his origins in turn of the century Spain, to his high jinx in New York in the 1970s, Sook reveals this artist's fascinating life story and explains the thinking behind and impact of his most famous works. Talking to Dali fans from Mighty Boosh comedian Noel Fielding to contemporary artist Jeff Koons, Sooke reveals the pervading influence of Dali and his brand of surrealism. Featuring testimonies from film giant Alfred Hitchcock and excerpts from the film Dali made with Walt Disney, Destino, as well as looking at contemporary advertising, this programme shows how the hand of Dali has touched almost every aspect of popular culture.
The life of Pablo Picasso is an exciting story of rebellion, riches, women and great art. In this episode of a four-part series dedicated to Modern Art, journalist Alastair Sooke travels through France, Spain and the US to see some of the artist's great works and recount tales from his life story. Talking to architects, fashion experts and artists, he investigates how Picasso's influence, particularly that of his Cubist work, continues to pervade modern life today, in the shape of buildings, interior design, clothes and of course contemporary art. Tracking down former Picasso model Sylvette David to her current home in Britain, he also hears how Picasso's images of her inspired the look of screen siren Brigitte Bardot.
This programme is the second in a series looking at four great modern artists: Warhol, Matisse, Picasso and Dali. Tracing the biography of this fascinating artist, and travelling through France, America and Russia, the programme explores some of the painter's greatest works. Sooke explains why Matisse's art is considered so great and also looks at how Matisse's brilliant use of colour and simplification of form continues to inspire illustrators, designers and of course artists today. Acknowledging the debt the famous couturier Yves St Laurent owed the painter, Sooke also talks to British designers Sir Paul Smith and Tricia Guild about their passion for Matisse, he travels to Utrecht to discover how even children's character Miffy the rabbit owes its origin to art, and reveals how logos and images as diverse as Apple's iPod advertising and even the 2012 olympic logo are inspired by the modern master.
The first in a four-part series exploring the life and works of the 20th century's most important artists: Matisse; Picasso; Dali and Warhol. Art critic Alastair Sooke sets out to discover why these artists are considered so great and how they still influence our lives today. He begins with Andy Warhol, the king of Pop Art. On his journey he parties with Dennis Hopper, has a brush with Carla Bruni and gets to grips with Marilyn. Along the way he uncovers just how brilliantly Andy Warhol pinpointed and portrayed our obsessions with consumerism, celebrity and the media, and then went on to re-invent them.
M.C. Escher is among the most intriguing of artists. In 1956 he challenged the laws of perspective with his graphic Print Gallery and his uncompleted master-piece quickly became the most puzzling enigma of modern art. Fifty years later, can mathematician Hendrik Lenstra complete it? Should he?
2007 • Creativity
"Monumenta" is an ephemeral art construction happening yearly since 2007, with art filling the vast space of the Grand Palais in Paris in a unique moment. This year the exhibit is the imaginary, complex world of two Russian artists, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov.
Pierre Soulages, the painter of the anti-image, who uses a palette of black, is the subject of this fascinating documentary. The preeminent painter of contemporary France, his paintings are stark and plain and painted with unconventional materials.
Phillippe Parreno has radically redefined the exhibition experience. Rather than as a collection of individual works, Parreno sees an exhibit as a coherent whole and works in many different media including film, text, sculpture and drawing.
Take a time trip to France in the 1960's-- student revolts! Pop Art! -- And meet Georges Pompidou, a bank director who became PM of France. His vision of modernizing France pushed the avant garde design of the Paris art and cultural center which is now home to the modern arts of France.
Approaching 40 years of age, Roy Lichtenstein finally finds his artistic inspiration for his unique works in his son's comic books and begins the Pop Art movement. With interviews and footage from the mid-twentieth century, see the evolution of this influential modern artist.
Federico Fellini coined the term "paparazzi". The curse of celebrities, the bane of existence of the indiscreet, do photographers like Ron Galella contribute to our understanding of the lives of the famous or are they voyeurs? And do they influence and create art? Is there a paparazzi aesthetic?
Becoming a central figure in Parisian life in the 1920's when in his early 30's, Le Corbusier was a writer, essayist, editor, painter, lecturer, but more than anything else, an architect of the Modern Era. His influence on architecture and design is incalculable.
Auguste Rodin followed his intuition and was inspired as well by the relationships with his models. Behind each of his works there was either a scandal or a controversy. He left us "The Thinker" and "The Kiss", two of the most famous sculptures in the world. Here is his story.
How did van Gogh, son of Dutch middle class parents, become Vincent the painter? Is the common perception of him as the ultimate tormented artist the whole story? Explore the roots of his life, and the progress of his incredible talent despite many failures both personal and professional.
Our universe seems real. But what if it’s a videogame? Scientists in a variety of fields are taking seriously the possibility that we live in a virtual reality. Maybe the Big Bang was just the moment someone flipped the switch and turned on our universe. Maybe what looks random has already been programmed to happen. If some advanced civilization did design and program our universe, would we ever know? Scientists are looking for glitches in the laws of the universe that may uncover its hidden code.
Scientists are discovering volcanoes on worlds we once thought dead. From our nearest planetary neighbour to tiny moons billions of miles away, today we are discovering volcanoes on alien worlds. Are these worlds where, tomorrow, we might find life? .