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Nicky Hamlyn
Film Locations
Lis Rhodes' bleak film: A Cold Draft (1988), is also set in east London, although it is not documentary in the same way as Sundial and Blight.

Rhodes' framing of tower-block estates at sunset juxtaposes the brutal with the sublime, a strategy that opposes cinema's tendency to compartmentalise good and bad, beautiful and ugly, as if they were mutually exclusive.

Rhodes shows here how they invariably coexist, and this image becomes a metaphor that extends to thoughts, attitudes and other aspects of human activity and character: we are all made up of contradictory and competing forces, a fact which cinema invariably suppresses or simplifies in the interests of narrative coherence.

The narrator in A Cold Draft delivers not an informative commentary, but a bleak, vivid poeticised account of alienated labour: "peace work, part-time, half-time, short time, sometime, all the time". These rhythmic and painful phrases are counter-posed to often obscure images that refuse to illustrate the text, but rather compound its blunt, fragmentary meanings. Fractured spaces and semi-abstract forms displace each other in sliding superimposition, ceaselessly returning the viewer to the restless surface of the screen.

Still from Cold Draft by Lis Rhodes, 1988
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