Elli rl ’li; l’i-llJ.‘ BRONSON (18) 92min 0””

The brutal true story of Britain‘s most notorious and dangerous prisoner Michael Gordon Petersen aka Charles Bronson is given an expressionistic makeover by gifted Dutch auteur Nicolas Refn Winding (Pusher Trilogy, Fear X, Bieeder).

From his respectable Welsh upbringing to petty crime, prison, solitary confinement and tabloid hysteria Bronson‘s trajectory through the second half of the 20th century is unique. Here is a man who has never murdered anyone and who‘s collected takings from his crimes that would not even cover Sir Fred Goodwin‘s lunchtime sandwich bill; and yet he has spent 34 of his 58 years in prison, 30 of those in solitary confinement; largely for crimes committed in prison (hostage taking, GBH, riot incitement etc). Add to this the fact that, his anger management problems aside, Bronson‘s eccentric and polite ways have won him as many fans (and quite a few wives) as detractors.

In short, Bronson is a very modern British phenomenon, a bipolar enigma in search of some kind of celebrity endorsement. Fittingly writer (along with Brock Norman Brock) and director Winding approaches this rich material without ‘big house‘ cliche’ (McVicar this is not). Bronson is the portrait of a man who finds

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his place in the world, his pride and his status while being retained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

From the outset this is Bronson's show. Brilliantly portrayed by young British actor Tom Hardy (RocknRo/la, The Inheritance), handlebar moustachioed Bronson presents a vaudeville interpretation of his life. Like Ken Russell‘s wonderfully vulgar 1970 Tchaikovsky biopic The Music Lovers, Bronson mixes flashback, nightmare and fantasy on the same canvas. As the film opens up from the protagonist‘s stand up routine, it becomes obvious that this is an atonal, complex and unconventional simulacrum of Bronson’s story, one that is very much rooted in the look and feel of British cinema of the 19605 and 705 (Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg’s Performance, Kubrick‘s A Clockwork Orange, Lindsay Anderson’s If... are the most obvious touchstones) It is, however, to Kenneth Anger’s 1972 experimental short Lucifer Rising that Winding really looks for his meter, Anger‘s feel for the iconographic, the unjust and the nonsensical informs every frame of this outstanding film, from the slow motion fight scenes to its hellish portrayal of the UK’s mental health prisons.

Bronson is an amazing achievement, a cult film for sure but one that will live beyond all our lifetimes. Anthropologically it is invaluable; artistically it is a complex and unforgettable masterpiece. (Paul Dale) .(;i""".':' ""’.:‘.n', ‘r' ' '1'“

Name Nanette Burstein

Born 23 May, 1970. Buffalo. New York

Background Burstein's graduate film from New York University Tisch School of Arts became her debut feature-length documentary. The Oscar nominated On the Ropes portrayed three young boxers trying to fight their way out of Bedford Stuyvesant. New York. In 2002 Burstein co-produced and co-directed The Kid Stays in the Picture. the portrait of legendary 19703 Hollywood producer Robert Evans. She has also produced and directed the US television series Say it Loud: A Celebration of Black Music in America. and has shot commercials for Nike and Footlocker.

What’s she up to now? Her latest cinema documentary is American Teen, which follows the experiences of various high school seniors in Warshaw. Indiana over the course of a scholastic year.

On choosing the right school ‘I decided on the Mid West. because there's more of a timelessness and innocence in this part of the country. I found ten schools that were interested. and I interviewed students that were willing to participate. In the end the Warshaw school had the most compelling stories.’

On earning trust ‘If you are going to make a film where you want people to be Quite intimate on camera. you have to have an intimate relationship with them: I don't mean romantically. but you have to have a close friendship. l spent a lot of time just talking to the teenagers.’

On technology ‘Technology has made the experience of being a teenager more extreme. They tend not to think about the conseQuences of their actions and now they are able to instantly disseminate information through texting and Facebook. Technology reinforces their belief that they are at the centre of the universe.’

Interesting fact Burstein is one of the owners of a bar called The Half King in Manhattan.

(Tom Dawson)

I American Teen, selected release, Fri 6 Mar. See Also Released. page 48.

5-19 Mar 2009 THI LIST 45