The Last Command - Directed by Josef von Sternberg, USA 1928 (PG)
The Last Command starts from a brilliant script idea: a Czarist general, defeated in the Russian revolution, finds himself down and out in Hollywood, working for peanuts as a bit-player in movies; he is spotted and hired by his former adversary, a Mayakovskian stage director turned Hollywood film-maker; and both men loved the same woman ten years earlier.
Half the movie is an acid vision of the gap between success and the breadline in contemporary Hollywood, and the other half is a long flashback to revolutionary Russia, with the general seducing the woman Communist, imprisoning his rival, falling from power, and discovering abject humiliation. In other words, this is the first Sternberg masterpiece, the first of his glitteringly stylised rhapsodies of commitment and betrayal, expertly poised between satire and 'absurd' melodrama.
The cast are fully equal to it; Jannings, in particular, turns the characteristic role of the general into an indelible portrait of arrogance, fervour and dementia. Even more incredible, the sheer sophistication of Sternberg's visuals makes nearly all current releases look old-fashioned.
- Tony Rayns, Time Out.
This our live cinema event for 2017. We’d like to thank three talented Wellington-based composing musicians for developing and performing a live score for our screening.
Erika Grant is a Wellington-based multi-instrumentalist who sings and plays the bass, cello and accordion, among other instruments. She studied music performance at MAINZ, completing a diploma and being awarded the top academic marks of her year. Erika has played in Wellington bands Fertility Festival, The Railway Track Sleepers, The Turns.
Cookie Brooklyn and The Crumbs and Orchestra of Spheres, amongst many others, and has collaborated with musicians such as Jeff Henderson, Hermione Johnston, Chris Prosser, Isaac Smith and Rosie Langabeer, and theatre groups The Playground Collective and Ake Ake Theatre Company.
Ruby Solly is a Ngai Tahu musician, composer and writer. She recently completed a bachelor of jazz performance music at the New Zealand School of Music and is currently undertaking a masters of music therapy. Her cello playing is inspired by both the classical canon, the jazz canon, and alternative methods of playing; allowing her to traverse various genres.
She has performed with The Troubles, Whirimako Black, Jhan Lindsay, Mice on Stilts and The Front Liners as well as many others. She also works extensively as a recording artist and session musician, recording with The Strowlini Orchestra, So Laid back Country China, Rob Whelan and many more.
Hailed by the New York Times for her ability to time bend, Rosie Langabeer's eccentric, eclectic musical sound began last century, leading her on global journey of adventure and collaboration. A multi-award winner as a composer and performer, her wonderfully honest voice can make you want to cry and then sprinkle in some robot bird monsters.
Her list of collaborators is extensive and includes NZ wonder Chris O'Connor, Guggenheim Fellow, Neil Feather, Philadelphian Andrew Mars and bands Buffalo Stance, Settled Arrows and Totally Super Pregnant.
Recent festival appearances include: Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival (MA, USA, 2016), the High Zero Festival of experimental and improvised music, Baltimore, (MD, USA, 2016), Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival, (Havelock North, NZ, 2016), Joyce Theater Ballet Festival (NY, USA, 2015) and Bowerbird’s John Cage Festival Philadelphia, (PA, USA, 2013).