Cannes 2010. Craig McCall's "Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff"

David Hudson

Cannes 2010

Sheila Johnston at the Arts Desk: "The last time Jack Cardiff went to Cannes, nobody recognised him; wearing his trademark trilby, he'd tell curious autograph hunters he used to be a stand-in for Frank Sinatra. In fact Cardiff's claim to fame was somewhat greater: his was the eye behind some of the most achingly beautiful images in all of cinema."

Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff. "Exactly what it says on the tin," writes Guy Lodge at In Contention, "a linear, meat-and-potatoes trip through the career of arguably the cinema's greatest ever cinematographer, sparked by the affable, illuminating presence of the late Cardiff himself in interview clips and, of course, ample footage from those gorgeous films."

"Best known, perhaps, for his sublime work for Powell and Pressburger on Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes, he also shot many big international films during the 1950s (The Barefoot Contessa, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, War and Peace, The Vikings) and directed more than a dozen films beginning with the very fine Sons and Lovers in 1960," blogs Todd McCarthy. "Director Craig McCall worked on the project for 12 years and the project is enriched by this, as there are interview subjects — Charlton Heston, for one — who have since passed away." McCarthy then describes what he would like to have included in the documentary Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography.

"Immersed in the history of art, and with a house full of paintings by Turner and Van Gogh, the film casts Cardiff as a great innovator, a craftsman of lighting and lensing," writes Tom Seymour at Little White Lies. "The film's second act reveals how he was revered, albeit discreetly, as someone uniquely capable of lighting the nurseries and caprices of an actresses face. Jack Cardiff, as such, worked intimately with some of the most beautiful and famous women in screen history. 'Some people collect postage stamps,' he says as he sorts through a pile of stunningly lit monochrome portraits of Gardner, Loren, Taylor and Hepburn. 'I collected beautiful women…but only in picture form.'"

The doc screens for three more evenings at BFI Southbank in London; more recommendations — brief ones, though — from Wally Hammond (Time Out London), Edward Porter (Times), Andrew Pulver (Guardian) and Anthony Quinn (Independent). Jason Solomons talks with McCall for the Observer. Earlier: Sukhdev Sandhu in the Telegraph. Page at Cannes. Site.

Back to Todd McCarthy for a moment, because he's also got a couple of paragraphs on Serge Le Peron's Gilles Jacob: Citizen Cannes, "a 50-minute documentary about the longtime king of the croisette." It's "an effervescent delight, an affectionate tribute to the elegant and erudite gentleman who guided the Cannes Film Festival through some of its greatest years, beginning in 1978." Page at Cannes.

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