Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Tindersticks: Claire Denis Film Scores

The Castro Theater was packed for this live event at the San Francisco International Film Festival, featuring the British band Tindersticks accompanying clips from the films of Clair Denis. Anticipation was high, & the keyed-up audience clapped along with the music for the sponsors reel that precedes every screening. Being ignorant of both the band & the films, I was at a big disadvantage. The 8 musicians of Tindersticks play a variety of instruments, including double bass, cello, violin, flute, saxophone, guitar, keyboard, percussion & melodica. Their music made me think of lounge jazz, & its slow, sauntering gait & long melodies evoked landscapes. Leader Stuart Staples sometimes sang, though I could not make out any of the words. The flute was puzzlingly off-key, even though the same musician sounded fine on the violin & really lovely in a trumpet solo accompanying an image of the sea. It was my favorite part of the show.

The clips were from several different movies, & were shown as fragments, intermixed with each other. I never got a sense of what any one movie was about, except for one that takes place in Africa. There were many close-ups of people kissing or having sex. Several scenes show women perpetrating violence against men. A woman on a horse drags a man to death, another hacks a man to death with a machete, &, in a particularly gory sequence, a woman chews off a man's face.

The band was on the stage, directly in front of the screen. Since I always saw the top half of the band sticking up into the bottom of the picture, I never fully entered the films themselves. The experience left me a bit disengaged. The audience was quiet & attentive. They applauded each break in the music & gave the band a standing ovation at the end. The woman seated next to me took pictures of the screen 3 or 4 times during the show.

§ Tindersticks: Claire Denis Film Scores 1996–2009
film scores, Stuart Staples
director, Claire Denis

San Francisco International Film Festival 54
Mon, May 2 8:30 / Castro

No comments: