Of Steel

Preconceptions on settling down in a cinema can easily cripple enjoyment. So many products of Hollywood, given rave reviews by the press, turn out to be complete turkeys that you wonder if you have wandered into the wrong screen by mistake.

Take Inception, directed by the previously reliable Christopher Nolan, as a case in point: utter twaddle wrapped up in CGI effects, starring the abysmal Leonardo Di Caprio, and with a storyline so complex and fast-moving, only the highly intelligent or young (or both) could understand it. The emperor’s new clothes still work, it seems…

D’Acciaio, Ben Ingham’s film of legendary Italian frame builder Dario Pegoretti, seemed easy enough to work out beforehand. Ben contributes photos to Rouleur, so expect mean-and-moody, black and white, earnest. Photographers armed with movie cameras keep them still – no bad thing (think Anton Corbijn with Control) – so Ben would, no doubt, follow suit. Dario does things with a welding torch to make fellow frame builders weep: cue close-ups of bright flames and beautiful joins.

Oh, how wrong! From the off, Dario and assistant Pietro bicker and trade insults with such aplomb, such style, that you suspect they may have been married longer than they have worked together. And it is genuinely funny throughout. Not gently amusing, but proper, belly laugh funny. Which I admit to finding a little disconcerting at my first viewing, with both Dario and Pietro present, but they clearly love the film as much as those present did. Ben points the camera and away they go, talking with such passion about their calling, yet not once lapsing into pretentious pseudo-babble.

You have the chance to see this 15-minute gem with a whole bill of other (undoubtedly) equally fascinating short films, part of the London Bicycle Film Festival, at the Barbican this Sunday. Treat yourself.

And don’t be afraid to laugh. It’s okay, you know.


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