All Is Lost
On release from 26th December
Our Man (as he’s called in the credits) is played by Robert Redford. He opens the film in weary voice-over, a last message to loved ones. Then it’s 105 minutes of flashback to a well-equipped sailing boat in the Indian Ocean and what should be a retiree’s dream, until the yacht runs into trouble. Writer/director JC Chandor demonstrated in his debut, the financial crisis drama Margin Call, that he could build dramatic tension from 24 hours in one office. That script was all verbal wrangling; All Is Lost, though, has minimal dialogue as Our Man struggles with ropes, storms and all the hazards of open water except Life of Pi’s tiger. Redford, who’s now 77, makes a plausible nautical loner. If his performances have sometimes seemed distant, here he throws himself headlong into the struggle for survival. Another example of (literally) immersive cinema, this is a meditation on the present; every action recorded in methodical detail is a defence against annihilation.
Mark Morris Dance Group
Sadler’s Wells, 27th November to 1st December
There is no doubt that Mark Morris is one of America’s greatest living choreographers,. But trying to define why is rather difficult. He is no better a dancemaker than Merce Cunningham, nor more radically experimental than William Forsythe. Yet Morris can hold his own against either of them. Morris distinguishes himself through his insistence on live music for every performance, however wide-ranging and unexpected, played by the exemplary Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble. He was also the first American choreographer to use people with real bodies; many of his dancers appear to have been pulled straight from the streets of Brooklyn, where his company is based. His dancers can be fat, thin, short, tall, young, old, male, female and transgender. The seven pieces on show across two mixed bills are especially tantalising as none of them have ever been seen in the UK before. From the exhilarating Festival Dance to the three part drama of Socrates, the Morris men and women are umbilically connected to the music. Where else are you likely to encounter Scottish folk dances arranged by Beethoven, the austere minimalism of Eric Satie…