IN THE CINÉMA CLUB OF… MARK JENKIN
The maverick sensibilities of Mark Jenkin are always on display, making each entry in his evolving filmography as captivating as the last. His films obey the logic of the Silent Landscape Dancing Grain 13 film manifesto, an instructional set of limitations he’s imposed on himself to inspire creative breakthroughs. Though Jenkin has an extensive history of short-form filmmaking, it’s his transition to feature filmmaking with Bait and Enys Men that have garnered him increased plaudits from critics and audiences alike. After its premiere at the 2019 Berlinale, film critic Mark Kermode wrote, “Bait looks set to become one of the defining British films of the year, perhaps the decade,” in The Guardian. His latest work, the island-set horror film Enys Men, premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and opens in New York City theaters today.
PERFORMANCE, Donald Cammell & Nicolas Roeg, 1970.
It’s the determination to play with form that I love about this film. The non-linear storytelling, the dislocation of sound and image, the Memo From Turner sequence. I could watch this film on a loop forever. Not to mention the fact that it marks the start of Nic Roeg’s incredible career.
THE GARDEN, Derek Jarman, 1990.
This is the film that started it all for me. I saw it, unsuspecting, late one night on Channel 4 and it changed everything. When Simon Fisher Turner’s score kicked in, the narration began and the super 8 cameras turned on themselves I realised that there was someone behind the lens and I wanted to be that person.
L’ARGENT, Robert Bresson, 1983.
The most distilled of Bresson’s films. Narratively simple, thematically complex. He was the greatest and was getting better all the time.
BIG WEDNESDAY, John Milius, 1978.
A film that was passed around on VHS when I was a youngster in Cornwall. I always considered this ‘our film’ as I knew nothing of California and the history of surfing. Dumb, macho and overblown it may be but it’s also insightful and wildly affecting.
RADIO ON, Chris Petit, 1979.
I had no idea what I’d seen when the lights came up in the theatre the first time I saw this. Britain as a foreign country. The power of film to abstract the familiar. The world is drab, the atmosphere anxiety inducing, and there is a sense of foreboding and a threat of violence hanging over the whole thing, yet it is a completely exhilarating viewing experience.