22/23 Film Schedule
Parallel Mothers (Madres paralelas) – 10th October
Monday 10th October ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 123 mins. In Spanish with English subtitles. 2020.
Written and directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Penélope Cruz, Milena Smit, Israel Elejalde
Jockey – 12th September 2022
Monday 12th September ODEON Andover. Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Cert. 15, 94 mins. 2021.
Directed by: Clint Bentley
Starring: Clifton Collins Jr., Molly Parker, Logan Cormier
‘A career-best performance from Collins Jr,’ – Little White Lies
‘Beautiful and melancholy’ – Time Out
In terms of film magic hour is the time just after sunset and just before sunrise and it gives a soft light made up of warm golds, pinks, and blues. The sky itself is the light source, rather than sunlight, as the emerging or remaining light diffracts through the atmosphere. The resulting glow is less intense, not as bright and less yellow than that of the preceding golden hour in the evening for example.
In layman’s terms the easiest way to know if it’s magic hour is that once your shadow’s disappeared, it’s arrived. In fact, magic hour only lasts about 25 minutes, the cinematographer Néstor Almendros said the term was an “optimistic euphemism”.
The magic hour seemingly has within it a natural sense of melancholy, the long day closing as it were, and some past film club films such as Nomadland and Moonlight feature scenes shot at that time which support that theory. Days of Heaven and Tess are probably the best-known examples of films shot during the magic hour and researching the term one of the reviews for Days of Heaven stated that it was ‘an essay on loneliness, a melancholy poem on loss and love.’
Nowadays digital cameras do much of the work but in more analogue times, say for Days of Heaven which was released in 1978, as opposed to Jockey, which had a crew of 10, there were far more logistic and technical considerations required to capture images. The aforementioned Néstor Almendaros recalled:
To be as prepared as possible we would rehearse the scenes with the camera and the actors during the day. And then, with everyone poised and ready, as soon as the sun had set, we would shoot as quickly as possible — even frantically—fearful of even wasting a minute.
As a last resort, we would reduce the shutter speed and shoot at 12, then 8 frames per second, careful to instruct the actors to move very slowly so their movements would appear “normal” when the film was projected at the normal projection rate of 24 frames per second.
Some have suggested that with new digital techniques the magic hour is basically obsolete as it can be created in post-production with CGI and advanced colour correction techniques. It’s also moved into the digital realm in other ways, believe it or not, there’s also an app for it! Magic Hour 1.5 takes your location and calculates when magic hour will occur and how much time you have left once it begins. If a weather forecast is available it’ll give that to you as well.
Thankfully the makers of Jockey wanted to preserve a sense of reality and artistic integrity. ‘The jockeys tend to train really early in the morning. That’s one of the reasons so much of the film is set during magic hour,’ said the film’s cinematographer Adolpho Veloso but also, he continued, ‘to mimic the transitional moment that Jackson and Gabriel are going through. The sun is setting on Jackson’s career while it is rising on Gabriel’s. It’s tricky because that means shooting just a few takes at the right light. It was risky, but worth it.’
We’ll see if that risk was worth it….
A third of the audience filled in and returned a Feedback form. Most scores were either 3s or 4s. There were single responses for 1 and 2 scores and two scores of 5. The lower scores were quite adamant in their responses, “not very good” and “Boring” but with the caveat, “good cinematography though”.
Both the 3 and 4 respondents highlighted the use of the photography to capture the “magic hour” light at the very start and end of the day. Many respondents also picked up on (and found very compelling) the harsh life of jockeys off the track. Many providing feedback found it a slow burner of a film which opinion divided on whether this made it “plodding” or meant it, “built up the character”. Focus was also made of the lead character, Gabriel [as Jackson Silver], a jockey no longer young and past his prime. One respondent felt the actor, “not well cast – actor looked or rather didn’t look the part” whilst another concentrated on the character talking of their “bleak future”.
General summary comments were positive, “Very powerful”, “Very absorbing…Thought provoking”. In short, a film that created a definite reaction in all that responded.