Tuesday, 27 May 2014

SHORT REVIEW: Seven Streets, Two Markets and a Wedding (2014)

This short review appears on The Upcoming website here.

Seven Streets, Two Markets and a Wedding is a compilation of ten short archive films of London from between 1930 and 1980 – a mixture of rediscovered public information films and amateur footage.

The film is primarily a nostalgic affair, with each film introduced by modern footage from the same location. While the archive footage is vibrant, full of people and activity and often hand-held, the modern shots are tightly framed, steady, full of mundane naturalist sounds (sirens, alarms, traffic) and sparsely populated. Quite why the modern age is best represented by the techniques of ‘slow cinema’ is never quite addressed, nor is the question of why any of this archive footage is so nostalgic. The film prefers to merely show old footage and offers no contexts or opinions. As it is then, the film is merely a hodge-podge of old footage and is of little interest beyond some initial curiosity value.

The most interesting film is These Can Be Yours, a road safety film from Wembley Road Safety Council, a hopelessly dated and turgidly edited film that suggests that the most damaging consequence of a woman getting run over by a motorcycle is that her daughter will have to cook for her picky husband, who would much prefer his wife’s cooking. Similarly, her son’s attempts to help out in the kitchen will only lead to disaster – smashed dishes being worse than a smashed leg for a woman. Though amusingly archaic, it does lead one to wonder why this rather conservative project views such sexism with nostalgia.

More suffocating than nostalgic, Seven Streets, Two Markets and a Wedding offers little of interest, beyond certain observations such as: ‘People seem so ill at ease when faced with a camera in those days.’ But with no unifying theme, the film is ultimately dull.

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