Film serials go back to the earliest days of cinema -- think "Perils of Pauline" cliffhangers or the exploits of French criminal mastermind "Fantômas," unspooling in theaters in weekly installments. More recently, a new kind of serial cinema has emerged. Less reminiscent of those silent movies or the Hollywood franchises of Harry Potter or James Bond -- themselves a kind of large-scale, ever-expanding serial -- these news works are film compilations more akin to the networked complexity of the best of contemporary episodic television. It's no surprise then that the latest example of the form, the British import "Red Riding Trilogy," was originally made for UK broadcast. (The film series will appear this week in U.S. theaters, but fittingly, on VOD, as well.)
Read more of my latest piece for IFC.com here.
While the article only focuses on "Red Riding," with passing references to the "Pusher" films and Kieslowski's work, I realize now there are a couple of recent omissions: I probably should have name-checked Steven Soderbergh's "Che" two-parter and Zentropa's character-driven The Advance Party project, which I've written about previously. While Andrea Arnold's "Red Road" is the only film to have been released as part of the Advance Party, the second film in the series, Morag McKinnon's "Rounding Up Donkeys," has been completed, and a host of new Advance Party films has been greenlit under the moniker Advance Party II, with a new set of rules set to be given out at next week's Berlin Film Festival. According to reports, participating filmmakers include Paul Wright, Adrian McDowell, Esther May Campbell, Daniel Mulloy, Enda Hughes, Rory Bresnihan, Ciaran Foy and Steph Green. This is no passing fad.