Brexit Blues

By Tom Charity, VIFF Vancity Programmer

The Last of England (1987)

“What happens if they postpone Brexit?” one of my fellow English-born colleagues asked me about a month ago, when I announced this Sunday’s Brexit Blues double bill of Arcadia and The Last of England. Jane had just read that morning’s headlines, and suddenly there seemed like a good chance the decision could be punted well into the summer. I shrugged and said that in that case the topicality of my little film programme would be a sacrifice I could live with. As I write today (Tuesday), those hopes have long since dissipated. Still no one knows what will transpire on Brexit deadline day (this Friday): a disastrous no-deal retreat from the EU? A two week reprieve? A last minute volte face engineered by MPs fed up with this broken government’s failure to find a way forward?

One thing is certain: the Brexit Blues programme is every bit as relevant as I might have feared. Because no matter which side of the political spectrum you find yourself (and I have friends and family across the divide) Britain today is caught up in an unsightly mess that is very largely of its own making (with a little help from our fiends at Facebook and Russian funny money, I grant you), and there is precious little reason to feel optimistic for the future. The blues doesn’t begin to cover what most of Brits are feeling: depressed, dejected, desperate, demented… these are words that come to mind.

The Last of England (1987)

On the flip side, we’re used to it. I’m old enough to have been around when Derek Jarman released The Last of England in 1987, and if you think the title suggests a nostalgic paean to that green and pleasant land you are in for a rude awakening. Jarman was incensed with the inequities, bigotry and militaristic jingoism of Thatcher’s Britain, and his movie is a cinematic Molotov cocktail aimed at the pieties of the Rule Britannia brigade. Watching the movie in a shabby cinema in Panton Street, just off Leicester Square in the company of just a dozen or so punters, I remember an old codger storming out, but not before declaiming his disgust: “I fought the war for this!” 

March 31, 9:00 PM at the Vancity Theatre.

Arcadia (2018)

Arcadia, like Jarman’s movie, is a non-narrative experimental piece, and in a not dissimilar way it feints towards buffing the national stereotype of charming rural eccentricity, but only to expose a darker and more sinister side to our pickled solipsism.  With its pulsing score by Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Will Gregory (Goldfrapp), Arcadia should probably be experienced with mushrooms a la Phantom Thread, or at the very least a couple of deep draughts of IPA, but we will console ourselves with the thought that dark times make for arresting art, and look forward to seeing much more of this ilk from that woe-begotten sceptred isle.

March 31, 7:30 PM at the Vancity Theatre.

Brexit Blues Double Bill

Watch the two films for $20 at the Vancity Theatre.

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