Friday, 30 April 2010

A Day of Violence - FAB Fest, Filmhouse - 30/4/10






Sounds good doesn't it?


Then you should probably stop reading now because "A Day of Violence" was all of those things and it was fabulous because of them. Made on a budget of £50,000 (which is roughly what a Premiership footballer makes for 45 minutes work) this is very far removed from the glossy gangster films that clutter up the multiplexes and it is about as far removed from the sort of sanitised nonsense that Guy Ritchie produces as it is possible to get. Director Darren Ward gives us a nightmarish look at the life of small time debt collector Mitchell over the course of his final few hours on the planet. During that time we are dragged into a world of genuinely shocking violence and gut wrenching blood letting.

The fact that it is made on a shoe-string budget means that, clearly, it lacks the polish of films with much larger bank accounts but given Wards love of Italian cinema, and particularly the "nasty" element of it, this works in the films favour as it become something of a homage to the sort of films that he clearly loves.

There can't be many films that feature such graphic violence that also manage to elicit so much sympathy for the central character who is responsible for so much of the fims brutality. The fact that Mitchel (played by Nick Rendell) does manage to make us feel something other than fear and repulsion is testament to Wards ability. Like "The End" which screened earlier today as part of FAB Fest "ADOV" is an example of people who care enough about film to get up and make them. Could this film have been smoother around the edges? Yes. Could this film have been slicker? Yes. Is it going to be in the running for anyones shortlist of best British films this year? No. That shouldn't stop everyone from applauding everyone involved because with a shooting schedule that saw filming only take place on weekends, a miniscule budget and a, relatively, inexperienced cast (with the exception of cult legend Giovanni Lombardo Radice) they have made something compelling and undeniably there own.

The End - FAB Fest, Filmhouse - 30/4/10

The very definition of independent cinema and for that reason it is very difficult to be too critical of writer/director/star Jeremy Thomas. After all he is out there making films while I am sat here in screen two of the Filmhouse hunched over my Mac offering "criticism" of his tell me who deserves the credit? In fact, don't...I'll tell you; it's Jeremy.

Harvey Fenton of FAB Press introduced the film as "existenial horror" and I think that is a fairly accurate description of what was on display. However, I think that Thomas also has an interest in the philosophical theories of fatalism and determinism going on the plot of "The End". Thomas plays a school teacher who, while helping in the pursuit of a masked kidnapper, discovers that his life is actually a movie...or at least he thinks it is. He may simply be a paranoid schizophrenic. So far, so "Truman Show" but what makes this film worthwhile was the clear sense of mischief and humour that ran throw it like Irn-Bru runs through the veins of your average Glaswegian.

I'm not sure that Thomas will ever graduate to making "big" movies but I'm equally unsure as to whether he has any interest in doing so...with films like "The End" he is in total control and the result is that he has made a film that is, despite my reservations, original and clever. Maybe Hollywood should give him a call...original and clever, the man could be the saviour of cinema.

Merantau - FAB Fest, Filmhouse - 30/4/10


Indonesian romantic comedy, coming of age tale, gentle melodrama...this is what Merantau is not.

What it is is about one hundred minutes of punches, kicks, slaps, smacks, crashes, bangs and wallops as Yuda negotiates his way around the mean streets of Jakarta attempting to protect a young woman from the evil clutches of international sex worker smugglers.

Like most of you I have seen my share of martial arts movies and fight scenes but I can honestly say I have never sat through an action film and wanted to whoop, cheer and punch the air like I did during this. Things happened during the fight scenes that I haven't ever seen before and that, in itself, is no mean feat for a film in this genre.

Leading man Iko Uwais is a Silat Indonesian martial art that, if you're anything like me, you will never have heard of or seen before. He is also a decent young actor proving that it is possible to give a convincing performance and kick ass without being a dumb-ass on screen.

This was the only UK cinema screening of "Merantau" but I would wager you will hear more from its star in the next few years and don't be surprised to see Silat academies opening in a town near you soon.




High Lane - FAB FEST, Filmhouse - 30/4/10

Based on the last known work of Enid Blyton "Five Get Butchered in Croatia"...

OK, not really but you get the idea.

Five bright young things from France decide to go climbing in Croatia only to end up falling victim to a psychotic poacher named Anton. To my mind the sort of people who enjoy climbing deserve everything they get...why don't they just watch the great outdoors from the comfort of their living room like normal people?

Director Abel Ferry has taken "The Descent" and turned it, almost literally, upside down. Instead of ghastly goings on deep beneath the surface of the world the rest of us call home his heroes/victims find terror in the world high above the rest of us. Chloe, Karine, Loic, Fred and Guillaume all fall foul of the worst sort of horror as they find that the beauty of the natural world is home to all the beastliness of the very world they think they are escaping..except here there is nobody to hear you scream.

While it couldn't be called an original idea it is a gripping horror film and it manages to avoid simply being a copy of "The Descent" thanks mainly to the stunning cinematography (some of the shots when the five are crossing the sort of rope bridge last seen in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" are seriously wonderful) and the equally impressive performances of the cast. Fanny Valette is especially impressive as Chloe and Johan Libereau is equally impressive as her cowardly boyfriend Loic.

For those of us who never venture closer to nature than the walk from the car to the cinema this is the sort of film that makes us feel smug about our opposition to nature. For those of you who get some perverse enjoyment from climbing hills or extreme sports let this serve as a warning to you.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Erasing David - 29/4/10 - Cameo

"If you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to worry about"

You must have heard people say that before?

There is a collective term for the sort of people who believe it; idiots.

What they seem utterly unaware of is that what is "wrong" is not a constant, it changes regularly and is decided by other people. Just because you and I think that something is "right" or "wrong" does not mean that it is right in the eyes of the law today or that it will still be right in the eyes of the law tomorrow.

Despite this people in Britain have allowed themselves to become the most observed country in Europe and we come behind only China and Russia in the world. Why? To make us "safer" of course. This despite the fact that the ever increasing numbers of CCTV cameras have had no impact on crime or anti-social behaviour.

Did you know that ever telephone call, text message and email you make or send is kept on file for twelve months?

Did you know that your mobile telephone can be turned on without your knowing it and then used to track you and to record conversations?

"You're paranoid"

"The government aren't about to start using that sort of information"

"What are you worried about?"

"You're a conspiracy theorist"

Yes, yes I may well be.

In "Erasing David" direcor David Bond decides to see exactly what information is out there about him and how easily it could be used to find him or be used against him.

The answers to both of those questions are utterly unsurprising to a "conspiracy theorist" like me but if you are the sort of person who believes that there is nothing to worry about by government and industry holding huge amounts of your personal data (and handling it very carelessly in the case of this government) then what he discovers will shock you.

This is a film that deals with issues that everyone should be concerned by...the fact that so many of us are not is, possibly, more worrying than anything else.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

An Interview with Duglas T Stewart

Duglas T Stewart is the lead singer and head honcho of Glasgow hipsters BMX Bandits.

BMX Bandits have been making whimsical, sublime, romantic and emotional pop music since the mid-'80s.

Mr Stewart is one of the most important figures in Scottish pop music of the last thirty years. An inspiration to and influence on people from Kurt Cobain and every single member of every single group to emerge from Glasgow since 1986. His love of music is well known and his influence on music is undeniable but what about the movies?

I managed to secure a few moments of Mr Stewarts time and asked him to tell me what songs of his he would choose to be the music of the opening and closing credits of the film of his life.

"If BMX Bandits tracks were to be used I think I'd have The Sailor's Song (from My Chain) as the opening theme as it says a lot about my romantic nature and about longing for love to come and rescue/save me. Also although it has a sad side to it, it is very much a song of hope. I think the end theme should either be I'm Still Hungry (also from My Chain) or E102 (The Rise and Fall of the BMX Bandits). I can imagine quite a lot of stuff in the film might be seen as sad or mildly tragic but in the end there is always hope. I'm still hungry for life and for love and for music and also I believe in trying to go forward. I'd like people to leave the cinema feeling better, feeling their is hope ... not feeling defeated."

Listening to that answer I'm reminded of that wonderful Oscar Wilde line; "Nothing should be beyond hope, life IS hope". Even when there is an element of tragedy in the songs you write I always feel that there is something hopeful in the music. Hope (as another Scottish band put it) is important. What about music from other people for your films soundtrack?

"Generally I prefer movie music that is scored by people like Ennio Morricone or Bernard Herrmann to soundtracks made up of collected songs. Some directors do that sort of thing very effectively like Scorsese or Tarantino but if BMX Bandits wasn't being used I'd like to have Ennio Morricone score the movie. A theme a bit like his main theme for Il Grande Silenzio for would be good fror the opener. I think the great beauty in its sadness would be right and the opening scene would be of me walking down the Great Western Road in Glasgow late at night. The streets would be covered in snow and deserted except for me and it would be snowing still. You wouldn't know where I was going. For the close something lighter and again more hopeful and sensual like Metti Una Sera a Cena. The last scene would be me getting into bed alone as the theme played in the background and I would be lying there with no real expression until it got to the bit at roughly 3.05 where the vocal lifts off and at that point my eyes would close, it would cut to black and the titles would role."

We need to find a writer and a director for this film, it already sounds amazing. If you could make a film about any one of the fabulous bands to have emerged from Glasgow over the years (and that's not easy for me to say given my status as an Edinburger) who would it be and who would you cast?

"To be honest I really think it would be BMX Bandits and not just because we could do with the promotion. I think our story could be the one with most drama including heartbreak, sex, violence, abuse, abduction, jail scenes and also it would feature a lot of the other key Glasgow bands in the story. Obviously there's been a lot of members (25) so I'll give you just a few casting suggestions:

Rhys Ifans as Duglas
Ewan McGreggor as Norman Blake
Talulah Riley as Rachel Allison
Robert Downey Jnr as David Scott
Tom Hanks as Francis Macdonald"

Now I know that this film has to be made. Tom Hanks as Francis's the role of a lifetime and the one that would surely bag Hanks that elusive third best actor Oscar.

I had a huge crush on a girl at school called Emma. I used to sit with her outside of school and wait for her mum to pick her up. Eventually I plucked up the courage to ask her out. We went to the cinema and to my annoyance I can't remember what we saw. We didn't sit in the back row and we only ever went on one more date (a recurring theme in my love life) but can you remember the first time you took a girl to the pictures and what you saw?

"The first time i took a girl to the pictures was Frances McKee (the Vaselines). I was 16 and she was 15. We went to see An American Werewolf in London. I warned her before that I wasn't good with blood and guts but I think she thought that I was joking. Anyway the combination of nerves and the gore got to be too much for me and I started to feel really faint and unwell. It ended up with Frances having to almost carry me out of the cinema about one third of the way into the movie and take me for a cup of tea so that I could recover. She was very kind about it. Since then I've seen way more violent and gory stuff and been okay. I think it was really nerves that got to me. We didn't sit up the back, so we had a long walk up the aisle when I was feeling bad and had to leave."

It's annoying that my first date wasn't with a member of The Vaselines but then again I'm no Duglas T Stewart so a date with Frances McKee would have been wasted on me. What about the first time you went to the cinema at all, can you remember that as clearly?

"My first trip to the cinema was a double bill of Tom Thumb and The Wizard of Oz. I really like Terry Thomas and Peter Sellers as the villains in Tom Thumb but The Wizard of Oz was on a different level. It was so magical, so other worldly. It's still a big favorite of mine."

Through your lyrics and the answers to my questions it seems you are a lovely man, a romantic even but surely there must be a dark Duglas lurking inside you somewhere? If you were to be a villain from the history of cinema who would it be?

"I think I'd be Frankenstein's monster. He doesn't mean to leave a path of chaos and destrucion behind him or cause such terror, he can't help it, it's just the way he was made."

You are a key part of the cultural history of Glasgow and so is the Glasgow Film Theatre. If you were to find yourself trapped inside the GFT forever what film would you want to find playing on loop?

"Well my all time favorite movie is "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg" but if it was playing in a loop I'd be in a mess. I actually got to introduce a screening of it at the GFT, which was one of my greatest thrills ever but on a loop I'd go for another a Jacques Demy film, "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort". It looks so beautiful, is so joyful, I love the Michel Legrand music and the wonderful on screen magic between real life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac."

At the end of this interview Duglas left me with this parting comment;

"I hope those answers are good for you."

On behalf of everyone reading this Duglas I feel pretty confident in saying that, yes, those answers were good for us.

Thank you so much...for the music, for the lyrics and for your thoughts today.

Idiocracy - DVD - 27/4/10

Second feature film from Mike Judge which takes a look at the unavoidable future of mankind...sort of.

I once saw a woman on the Maury show who had called her child "Lemonjello". Honestly. She had called her child Lemon Jello. That sort of decision takes a special kind of idiocy. It's that kind of idiocy that Judge looks at in "Idiocracy" where he imagines a world entirely populated by the sort of people who willingly submit themselves to the "Jeremy Kyle Show" and who think that the films of the Wayan Brothers are amusing.

I realise that mocking that sort of "culture" makes me appear like the worst sort of snob...and I am.

I'm also proud of it.

It's not that I don't like "stupid". I do. I really liked "Role Models" and I am addicted to shows like "Judge Judy" and "Americas Next Top Model" but I also like things that are knowingly intellectual, arch and artistic. The danger of the world we live in is that too many people are brought up to believe that notions of beauty and sensitivity are the preserve of intellectuals; which they are not, they belong to all of us.

This is turning into a rant.

So what.

While the world that Judge paints in "Idiocracy" is unlikely (can anyone really imagine "Fuddruckers" changing their name to "Butt-Fuckers"?) his point is valid. Unless we start to promote a love of education (I don't mean school or college) then where will our society end up? Too many bright, hard working, dilligent and creative people don't have children for fear of what a world like ours will do to them but the consequence of that is that only people who are dim, lazy, demotivated and boorish will have children and then they will have get the general idea.

This wasn't a particularly well made film, once again Judges weakness in constructing a plot is all too apparent, and the performances from the leads (Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph) are stuck in second gear his central premise is an important one and he does manage to hit the target more than once with his observations on a society utterly in awe of big corporations and the dark art of advertising.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Idiocracy...coming to a town near you unless you do something about it.

Monday, 26 April 2010

She, A Chinese - Filmhouse - 26/4/10

Li Mei lives in a tiny, rural village in China.

She has never been further away from her home than four or five miles.

She whiles away the time helping her father scavenge on the rubbish dumps, looking after the pool tables at the village haunt and arguing with her mother.

After being raped by a truck driver who she occasionally visits the cinema with she leaves home and heads for the city where she finds herself working as a prostitute and becoming the girlfriend of Spikey (a man who makes his living beating people up for gangsters). When Spikey has a meeting with fate and comes home fatally wounded Mei finds his stash of money and buys a ticket for a trip to Europe.

When she arrives in London Mei abandons her tour group and drifts from one cash in hand job to another before meeting Mr Hunt, an elderly widower who marries Mei to help her stay in the country and to provide some company aside from his cat. Mei soon bores of life with the pensioner though and sets up home with Rachid, a Muslim man, in the back room of his cafe. This relationship doesn't end well as Rachid bows to pressure from his friends at the mosque and decides to head back home to India leaving a now pregnant Mei to embark on the next stage of her journey alone.

Reading back over that this sounds like a dreadfully depressing film but it was far from it.

Mei is one of the most incredible characters I have seen on the big screen this year.

She flits from feisty to sullen, victim to manipulator, aggressive to passive...sometimes within the space of a scene. While she may seem to be the victim at several points you are never allowed to feel sorry for her as she bounces back with a vigor and determination that shows you that she is a force of nature, a whirlwind of emotion, a fighter as well as a lover.

The film itself is beautifully observed with comments on the nature of modern Chinese life, the position of women in the East and the West, the meaning of family, abuse of power and status...and all delivered with a real warmth and understanding from writer/director Xialou Guo.

The performance from Huang Lu as Mei was equally warm and convincing. When she arrives in England it is almost as if she becomes a completely different person let alone a different character...she had a real presence on screen and I found it almost impossible to look at anything or anyone else. With a running time of around 100 minutes Huang Lu is present for the entire duration of the film there isn't a scene without her. It's another one of those performances and films that makes you realise quite how poor the bulk of what the "mainstream" serves up really is.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Office Space - DVD - 24/4/10

Mike Judge is best known as the man behind "Beavis and Butthead" and "King of the Hill" two of the most important and influential cartoons of the past twenty years. As a teenager watching "Beavis and Butthead" felt genuinely was punk in cartoon form. "King of the Hill" bridged the gap between the things I liked and the things my dad liked. Judge is a skilled creator of characters and an astute observer of the everyday.

"Office Space" was his first feature film as writer/director and on its release it...well, it bombed.

The problem, and it's one Judge acknowledged in a recent interview with the Guardian, is that while he is good at comic writing he isn't so good at plot. "Office Space" certainly isn't demanding viewing but, and this is an important but, it is beautifully written and the characters are brilliant comic creations.

Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) hates his job, his life and, quite possibly, himself. He works in a non-job for a big corporation and everyday is the worst day of his life. A visit to a hypnotherapist sees Peter embark on a course of action that ends with him committing fraud via a computer virus with the aid of two equally disillusioned co-workers. That, essentially, is the plot of "Office Space" but along the way we meet some great characters including Milton, Lumbergh and Michael Bolton (not that Michael Bolton).

This is, without doubt, a "cult" movie and one that I feel sure will benefit from repeat viewings.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Dogtooth - Cameo - 23/4/10

Readers of a nervous disposition should stop

"Father" and "Mother" have decided, for reasons that are never fully explored, to keep their three children isolated from the real world. To manage this they have spun a web of bizarre lies and half-truths about what lies outside of the walls of their garden. Aircraft which fly overhead are presented as toys to the children, a stray cat is elevated to the status of killer big cat and the notion of chaos reigning outside is ever present.

To satisfy "Sons" burgeoning sexuality "Father" brings home Christina, the security guard at his place of work, who is paid to have sex with him. It is as a result of this that the chaos that the parents tell their children is outside arrives, with gusto, on the inside. Before long all hell has broken loose and the fragile unreality that has been created begins to unravel.

Incest, pornography, self-harm, abuse and all manner of other horrors are here and yet, despite this blacker than black setting, there are moments of real humour and belly laughs. A dance routine that would put both David Brent and Napoleon Dynamite to shame is worth the price of the ticket alone.

"Dogtooth" struck me as being a Haneke film without the lecturing, hectoring tone. A similar sense of disquiet and discomfort can be found in his work but where in the work of Haneke there is no respite from his "message" here director Giorgos Lanthimos manages to give us a strong, clear message about the nature of family and the influences upon it without ever losing the humor that can be found in the darkest of situations.

Not for the faint of heart or the easily offended but for the rest of you there is much to enjoy here.

American Movie - DVD - 21/4/10

I like people who are dedicated to things.


The sort of people that sneering, nasty, people mock for being "saaaad".

People who go to conventions for "TJ Hooker" or "Battlestar Galactica".

There was a brilliant documentary about the people who obsess over "Star Trek" a while back...I loved everyone in it.

I didn't love them in an ironic or patronising way.

I really loved them.

What's not to love?

It's so easy to mock, it's so easy to takes guts to be gentle and kind.

There is something so imressive about people who can lose themselves so completely in something even when everyone else is telling them it's ridiculous and a waste of time.

What's sad about it?

What fills up your life that is in any way better? Football? Drinking? The "arts"? Your faith?


The object of affection in this documentary is Mark Borchardt who is obsessed with making films. He spends all of his time plotting, planning and preparing for his next project. He pores over every reel and lavishes more love and attention on them than he does anyone or anything else.

Director Chris Smith meets with Mark as he is preparing his masterpiece, "Northwestern", which is an autobiographical piece. When that project fails due to a lack of funding (Mark works in a funeral home as a cleaner so isn't actually working with any sort of budget) he returns to an earlier piece, "Coven", and persuades his elderly uncle to invest several thousand pounds to get it finished with the understanding that the profits will go towards finishing "Northwestern".

Borchardt is a real character. He is foul mouthed, loving, angry, passionate and funny all at the same time. He is surrounded by bizarre people; his Swedish mother, his elderly uncle who looks like he has stepped off the "Deliverance" soundstage, his friend Mike who has lost most of his mind to LSD and the various other loners and outcasts who are his actors and associates.

Despite knowing that Mark is never going to make it by the end of the film you care more about him than anyone ever did about James Cameron, McGee or George Lucas! Where those "directors" always have an eye on your dollar Borchardt is only interested in making films, his films, his way. He is an inspiration.

He is the reason why we should cherish those people devoting their time to things we don't understand. The likes of Frankie Boyle and his odious followers would no doubt find something unpleasant, snidey and aggressive to say about these people but not worlds all the brighter for the colour they bring to it.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Repo Men - CIneworld - 20/4/10

At one point in "Repo Men" a young woman with bionic ears plugs the jack from a pair of headphones into her ear and then allows Jude Law to listen to what she can hear.

Just take a second to digest that.

What do we have so far?

A woman with bionic ears.

A headphone jack being inserted into one of the bionic ears.

Jude Law.

Can you guess how bad this was?

No, you can't because no matter how bad you think it was I promise you it was worse.

There will be no further comment on this film.

An Interview with Kim Newman

Kim Newman ladies and gentlemen.


Author of non-fiction works including "Horror: The Complete Guide to the Cinema of Fear", "Apocalypse Movies: End of the World Cinema" and editor of the BFI companion to horror cinema. He's also written more non-fiction books than I have read (not really but you get the idea) and he is a journalist for Empire magazine.

To say that Kim Newman knows about film is like saying The Smiths are the greatest English band of all's a fact and you can't convince me of anything otherwise (although Kim does make a compelling case for the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band). Imagine my surprise then when this luminary of the British film world agreed to an interview for this tatty can't imagine it, trust me, I was more surprised than at any other time in my adult life. Having regained my compusure I settled down with Kim to probe him to within an inch of his life. That's not true, I emailed him some fairly silly questions and he sent a reply back but I'm trying to give the impression that I'm a proper journalist here, cut me some slack.

I really like "The Exorcist" Kim. I know it's a bit Kermode Fan Boy but I really do like it. If I could wake up tomorrow and be a character from any horror film it would be Father Karras. Like him I've lost my faith and I understand that internal struggle that defines him and his actions in the film (pretentious, moi?). What about you? Which character from horror cinema would you like to be and which character from any genre most resembles the "real" Kim Newman?

"I don’t know if I’d want to be a character in a horror film – you basically get a choice between monster and victim. Even stalwart heroes suffer ordeals you wouldn’t really enjoy. I might enjoy, say, Dr Phibes’ resources and interior decoration, but no one would want to be him. The character in fiction I most identify with is probably Philip Marlowe."

Did you catch that people? I tried to come over all knowledgable and intelligent in an attempt to impress you and Mr Newman...what did he do? He topped me. Not only did he top me he did so without being a pretentious oaf like me. He cut right to the heart of the horror genre and didn't leave me looking a bit daft. That's Kim Newman right there for you...a man who knows his stuff and doesn't mind letting you know it but who never does so in a way that makes you look foolish. Brilliant.

I was in a band once. We were called "This Years Model". We were rubbish but I had convinced myself that I was only weeks away from becoming the new Morrissey. One afternoon the guitarist and bassist summoned me to a band meeting and dumped me. They threw me aside Kim, like a used something or other and then moved on with their lives like adults. I, on the other hand, have held a grudge ever since. I still loathe them as much today as I did then...sixteen long years ago. I will never forgive them. Enemies then, enemies now and enemies tomorrow. We all have people like that in our lives though, don't we? So, which method for disposing of an enemy in film would you employ?

"If I have enemies (I probably do), I tend to ignore them. Offhand, I can’t think of a movie which features that as a method of murder."

Damn it. Not only is he movie literate he is also too nice to harbour grudges and want to put his enemies through some awful "Saw" like torture. This all seems a bit too good to be true. Surely it can't just be me who is bitter, twisted and unfulfilled in life?

Wikipedia (I know, I know) says that a recurring theme in your work (and I happen to agree) is your fondness for "reinterpreting historical figures" then placing them in new settings...which character from cinema, that you may not have used in this way, would you like to take and place in an alternate setting and what would that setting be?

"I suspect I’ve already done that a little too often. A few notions of mine that have never made it anywhere near being actual stories … what if a cryo-frozen Walt Disney woke up in the future of Buck Rogers? (Eric Brown did a defrosted Walt story, which went in a different direction – but was enough to make me not think much more about this nebulous idea) … and what would happen in a Nazis-won-the-war timeline to the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce 1940s versions of Holmes-and-Watson from the Universal pictures? (I had a notion about the murder of a victorious Hitler and Holmes being hauled out of an internment camp to solve it – it’s still on the drawing board along with a few other things I’m unlikely actually to write). Me, Neil Gaiman and Eugene Byrne once wrote a story (an offcut from a humour piece which is around as ‘Culprits’) about Sergeant Bilko in Vietnam, which was sort of funny (I remember Ernie raffled off a seat on the last plane out of Saigon before the fall and won it himself, and Doberman freaked out on LSD and ran a motor pool in Cambodia beyond the reach of the Geneva Convention)."

That answer, readers, is the reason why Kim Newman is who he is and is where he won't get anywhere in life unless you can imagine Bilko in 'Nam. Forget exam results, working hard and impressing your need to have the sort of demented imagination that comes up with that sort of concept if you want to be happy and make others happy.

I've decided to stop trying to be more interesting than Kim with my questions and just settle for enjoying his answers. Dial-a-cliche now then, what was the first film you saw in the cinema?

"When I was four or five (in 1964), my parents took my younger sister and me to see First Men in the Moon (here), the Nathan Juran-Ray Harryhausen-Nigel Kneale-HG Wells film, at the Classic, Brixton (now, I think, the Ritzy). Sasha, my sister, had a crying fit and we had to leave. I was annoyed and pestered my parents to take me back again to see the end of the film (as was common then, we’d come in after the main feature had started and expected to see the whole program until ‘where we came in’ – I think the first film image I saw was the Cavour ball tumbling through space). One or other of them took me (but not Sasha) to see the program from the beginning. So, the first film I saw at a cinema – probably the first film I saw, since we didn’t have a television set until later that year – was not First Men in the Moon, but the supporting feature. For years, I remembered a desert setting and a blonde heroine, and thought it was A Twist of Sand with Honor Blackman (here) but the dates didn’t fit (that came out in 1968). I just did an internet search, and it looks as though the film was East of Sudan (here), also directed by Juran and released by Columbia in the UK in the same month with Sylvia Sims (and Jenny Agutter). I suppose I should track it down and confirm that."

Thank you for taking the time to talk and for talking so fabulously!

Kim Newman ladies and gentlemen...a gent.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Lion's Den - Filmhouse - 18/4/10

Just brilliant.

Sometimes when you go to see as many films as I do they can become a bit of a blur..."Humpday" slips into "Cemetery Junction", one Ozu film can become totally indistinguishable from another no matter how beautiful they are. It can also be a bit tiring...remember, dear reader, that I am not being paid to review these films, this isn't my "job"; I have another full time job that I have to fit the films around. I'm doing this because I love films but it can be difficult to maintain interest and enthusiasm.

Then you see something like "Lion's Den" and you remember why you go to the cinema.

Make no mistake this was a film that was worth the time and worth the money.

Big themes, big performances, beautiful cinematography, believable characters, a strong, honest script, direction worth the car chases, no explosions, no tricks and flicks, no special effects.

We need films like this.

Trust me.

While we all need a film like "The Hangover" on a Friday night after a bad week, we all get a kick out of big budget sci-fi and action movies, we all have guilty pleasures like "Music and Lyrics" (that's a personal issue) but for cinema to be a "serious" art form it needs something like "Lion's Den".

Julia wakes up to discover blood on her hands, she showers and heads off to University. On returning home she finds the lifeless bodies, bloodied and beaten, lying on the floor of her flat. One of the bodies is dead and the other barely alive. From this point on we follow Julia as she enters a female prison where we learn that she is pregnant. Her life inside prison with her child is presented to us in a very intimate, almost documentary style, and before long we forget that she is a possible murderer and our only concerns are for her welfare and the welfare of her child.

This was a beautifully observed, poignant and genuinely dramatic film. The performance of Martina Gusman is one that should be talked about by film critics but it won't be. Too many of them are still trying to convince themselves and you that Carey Mulligan is an actress as opposed to a posh girl playing at make believe. Honestly, Gusman is simply magnificent in this film. She presents us not with a character but with a person. I never doubted for a second that Julia was real, that she was accused of murder, that she was a mother...she just existed for the duration of the film and, even now, long after it's conclusion she is real to me.



What it means to be a woman.

How society treats women.

Real issues, universal themes.

A real, honest and grimly beautiful film that serves as the perfect antidote to so many of what clutters up the multiplexes.

Find it, watch it and love it.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

The Blacks - Filmhouse - 17/4/10

Set at the end of the Balkans crisis as the ceasefire is signed this thriller from co-directors Goran Devic and Zvonimir Juric tells the story of a group of Crnci (Blacks) who appear to have the task of taking care of "dirty" jobs. While nothing is shown to explain what that might mean the inference is that they may have been involved in some very unpleasant activities. The group are led by Ivo and despite the ceasefire he has decided to take the group on one more mission to rescue other members of the blacks but this doesn't end well for anyone.

There is no plot spoiler in telling you that all but one of the group die as that is shown at the films start and from there we are taken back to an earlier point to explain how this came to pass. All of the men are, clearly, haunted by the things they have seen and done. The only enemy appears to be the enemy within themselves; born out of the awful acts they have been involved in.

It's an interesting premise for a film and a period in modern European history that hasn't really been tackled in any detail before but sadly the film drags even with a running time of only 80 minutes. The decision to focus on the internal struggles over "action" is an honorable one but something is missing and the pace of the film doesn't allow you to overcome the fact that nothing is actually happening.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Psycho - Cameo - 16/4/10

Alfred Hitchcock.

Not enough for you?


Janet Leigh.

Still no?


Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates.



THAT shower scene.

Still? Really?


Possibly THE film score by Bernard Hermann.

The motel.

The stuffed birds.

The dead mother.

The Freudian plot.

Still no?

You need to see a psychiatrist.

You might be a psycho.

Or dead.

Possibly both.

This is "Psycho" we're talking about. A film that is the template for ALL modern horror films. A film that was so shocking, so scandalous and so outrageous on its release that people tried to burn down, not really but it really was a film unlike anything ever seen before.

Alongside "Rope" this is my favourite Hitchcock film.

What do you mean you don't have a favourite?

I'm done with you.

"Psycho" is one of the definitive films. It's a film that you can rely on to impress you every time you watch it. It highlights why Hitchcock is regarded as one of the masters of cinema. A film that contained just one of the shocks that Hitch throws at you in "Psycho" would be a gem but he gives you classic scene after classic scene; killing off lead characters here, presenting dead mothers there, slashing up the faces of nosey-parker private investigators hither and shoving one of the big screens greatest killers thither.

It's influence stretches across the decades that have passed since its original release; just take a look at the list of films showing at the BFI as part of their " context" season in support of this re-release. Barton Fink, Deranged, Dressed to Kill, Spider, Psycho II, Halloween and many more owe a huge debt to this film.

Do you get it now?

This is what cinema was made for.

You haven't seen it?

Shame on you.

You have seen it but you don't know what all the fuss is about?

You're a pompous ass or a moron.

Possibly both.

I pity you.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Sons of Cuba - Filmhouse - 15/4/10

Andrew Langs documentary takes an intimate look at life inside the Havana Boxing Academy which takes boys at age eleven and trains them to become some of the best boxers in the world. Former Olympic and World champions have been trained at this boarding school for pugilists and it is easy to see why as day after day of grueling runs, sit-ups and push-ups are shown in glorious, sweat soaked detail.

Set against the backdrop of terrible poverty, the failing health of Castro and a country feeling the pinch of its isolation from the global community the stories of Junior, Santos and Cristian stand as metaphors for the hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations of a whole nation. Cristian is the son of a former Olympic and World champion yet his father lives in a shack with no money. Despite the proof of what the rewards for all his efforts will be Cristian wants to become a champion too so that his country, his friends and his family can be proud of him. This sense of patriotism and the importance of community and family is impressive but one cannot help but wonder to what extent it has been engineered by propaganda in schools and the media.

Whatever the questions that are raised about the nature of Cuba when Cristian enters the ring for the chance to become national champion it is a moment that matches "Rocky" for tension and emotional punch. It's tempting to tell you that this film is a "knockout" but that would be too easy...ah, I've just done it. I'll try harder next time.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Cemetery Junction - Cineworld - 14/4/10

Ricky Gervais.

"The 11 'o' Clock Show"

"Meet Ricky Gervais"

"Night at the Museum"

"Night at the Museum 2"

"Ghost Town"

"The Invention of Lying"

All fine but if that was his CV he would not be as widely praised and highly regarded as he is. It is his work alongside Stephen Merchant that has set Gervais apart as a writer, director and performer; "The Office", "Extras", "The Ricky Gervais Show", "The Ricky Gervais Guide To..." and now "Cemetery Junction" are all work that stands head and shoulders above the other pieces I mentioned.

I think it is down to how the two men work together with Gervais himself explaining that they have a "one veto" rule where nothing goes in unless both men believe in it. The result is, perhaps, that certain parts of Gervais character are kept in check and a more modest and believable product is presented to his audience.

One thing that I adore about "The Office and "Extras" was that they were not ordinary television comedies; they were beautifully observed slices of life with all the humour that is found in the everyday and all the love, romance and pain too. The work of Gervais and Merchant has a Romantic and idealised vision of England at its heart too and "Cemetery Junction" contains all of these elements.

Set in the year I was born, 1973, the film starts with a sun-kissed England and Vaughn Williams playing in the is a stunning and beautiful start to the film and from there the two men do a terrific job of (re)creating the world of 1970's Reading. The story centres on the lives of three young men, Freddie, Bruce and Paul (Snork) as they come to terms with their lives as adults; working, loving, fighting and daubing signs with vulgar drawings!

Like the "kitchen sink" dramas of the late 1950's and early 1960's this film explores the ideas of hope, escape and family. Bruce lives at home with his drunk, unemployed father who he despises for allowing his mother to leave with another man. Neil has started working as a life assurance salesman and battles with the small town mentality of his mother and father. Snork (Paul) is just a bit daft and doesn't share the concerns of his two friends but is desperate to find "someone".

It's obvious fairly early on what is going to happen with each of the gang but the lack of complexity in the plot simply makes it easier to lose yourself in the world that has been created and to allow yourself to enjoy instead of analyze. Gervais and Merchant have shown that they are not simply excellent writers or excellent television directors but are talented directors and writers in any medium...although, for me, it has to be Gervais AND Merchant.

Humpday - DVD - 13/4/10

Ben has it all.

He's married to a beautiful, sweet and funny woman; Anna.

He has a lovely home.

He has a good job.

He's trying to start a family with Anna.

Things are looking good.

When an old college mate, Andy, turns up at his home in the early hours of the morning it is clear that things are going to get messy pretty quickly. Andy is loud, brash and eccentric...the look on the face of Anna as she watches her husbands behavior around Andy tells us that she can see what we can see and that Ben can't; Andy is trouble.

True enough Ben is soon involved in a drug fueled conversation with Andy at a party (without Anna) where the topic is "Humpfest", an amateur porn festival, and the two men goad each other into making their own contribution which they call an "art project"; two straight men having sex on camera in order to push boundaries.

The big question is whether or not once they are sober will they go through with it and if they do why?

Director/writer Lynn Shelton manages to make a funny and engaging dark comedy which could, in the hands of the likes of Judd Appatow, could have been a crass, gross-out "comedy". "Humpday" is laugh out loud funny in places and cringe-inducingly uncomfortable in others. This is a film that is, at its heart, about fidelity, honesty and friendship but which uses the most outrageous of premises to explore those issues. Shelton has managed to make something memorable where lesser talents could have made something instantly forgettable.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

No Greater Love - Cameo - 10/4/10

Michael Whyte spent 10 years trying to get access to the order of Carmelite nuns in Londons Notting Hill. It was ten years well spent as the result is a film that gives an intimate portrait of a group of women who are, at best, unknown and, possibly, unknowable.

What prompts anyone to turn their back on the world, leave their friends and family and turn, instead, to a life of isolation, dedication and poverty? For the women it would appear, on the surface, that they are motivated entirely by a deep faith and sense of obedience. They are, clearly, women who have an unshakable belief in God and who believe that dedicating themselves to Him and to Him alone is the only way that they can express that faith.

Whyte manages to show us every aspect of the lives of the nuns; the ritual, the routine, the prayer, the chores and nearly every part of their daily lives. What is most striking is the silence as the nuns speak only twice a day during dedicated recreation time and are mute for the remainder of the time. In the absence of radio, television, talking or any of the other aural distractions that we are surrounded by other sounds become more obvious; footsteps, coughs, the swish of cloth, creaking floorboards and a million other things. Whyte has clearly decided not to fill the silence and so there is no music and no commentary and the result is that we are drawn into the world of the nuns in a most intimate way.

A documentary about a group of women who live in the world but who are not of the world.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Don't Worry About Me - DVD - 10/4/10

David has a one night stand with Liver Bird Karen when she visits London. In the morning it's fairly obvious that it has meant more to David than Karen. He seems oblivious to this and when he finds a presentation that she is to deliver that afternoon in the hotel room he jumps on the Megabus to Liverpool in order to give it to her. That leads to an awkward confrontation with Karens boyfriend and David being stranded in Liverpool with no money to get home. When he decides to use his last few pounds to bet on a dog race the girl in the bookies takes pity on him, lends him 20p to take his stake up to three pounds and gives him a hot tip which wins and the two of them decide to spend the afternoon together spending the winnings.

It's not much of a plot really and, to be honest, it's not much of a film. Much was made about it being Saint David of Morrisseys directorial debut but for me that isn't something to get excited about. Morrissey is much loved, even revered, by the industry but I don't "get" him. He appears to be an actor who has spent most of his career in fairly average roles in fairly average shows. Sadly, for him, he has now progressed from average actor in average roles to average director of an average film.

The film stinks of "made for TV" due, in part I am sure, to it's low budget but due more to Morrisseys own life in TV. He seems to have been unable to make the transition from small to big screen. This may be because the bulk of his own career has been in television where the aesthetic is different. His experience of working in cinema includes highlights such as "Basic Instinct 2" and "The Reaping"...not exactly films destined to inspire you to dizzy artistic heights.

The problem with the film is that Morrissey, like many Liverpudlians, has a romanticised view of his city and the people in it. "Salt of the earth", "...funniest people in the world", "earthy", "honest" etc etc. In truth Liverpool is a fairly drab, grubby town where you have a better than average chance of being stabbed or robbed by gangs of teenagers. I've come over all Boris Johnson here...I won't be apologising though. The "professional Northerner" schtick runs through this film and where the characters from Liverpool are all honest, funny and gritty the Southerner, David, is workshy, offensive and shallow. The North is "real" and the South is "fake".

If this had popped up on BBC 1 on a holiday Monday it would have been diverting but as a "proper" film it is flawed in more ways than you could count. Characters with no real depth (other than someone having a brother with Downs Syndrome and another who has a mother with depression...I'm not making this up), genuinely awful script moments, a scene where a man beats up a giant teddy bear because a girl he has known for less than six hours has fallen out with him; do I need to go on.

David Morrissey then ladies and gentlemen, a man who appears in lots of television programmes, several dreadful films and who has now made a dreadful television movie and is attempting to pass it off as a real film.


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

An Interview With Rod White April 2010

Rod White is the Head of Programming at the Filmhouse Cinema in Edinburgh. You may well have seen him introducing some of the films he has chosen and, if you have, you'll know that he is a man who knows his movies. MyFilms2010 chanced its arm and asked if he would answer a few questions for us...amazingly he agreed. On the surface these questions may seem a bit trite but actually they are incredibly clever questions designed to give an insight into who the real Rod White least that's what I'll be claiming when I submit my application for a press pass to this years EIFF.

In order to lure Rod into a false sense of security I began by asking him what the first film he could remember going to see was. No doubt this threw Rod as he is probably more used to being asked clever questions about the underlying messages of Kazakhstani film noir from the 1970's. "It was definitely "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", which is still a personal favourite, and, if I'm not mistaken, it was at the city centre ABC in Dundee." This threw me a little you I expected the Head of Programming at the Filmhouse to have been taken to see "La Dolce Vita" at a small boutique cinema in Rome by his bohemian parents while holidaying there. The fact that he went to see "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" in Dundee would appear to show that he is an "ordinary" man and not some sort of cinema snob. Interesting.

I have a couple of films that I use to "judge" people. That makes me sound incredibly shallow doesn't it? That's because I am. The films that I use to judge whether or not I can be "proper" friends with someone are "The Exorcist" (I know, I know...utterly predictable and a bit Mark Kermode) and "Lost in Translation". What about you Rod? "Obviously I wouldn't be so judgmental Paul but if forced to choose one...let's say "Tremors". In case you're wondering...yes, that "Tremors". Luckily for me I really like "Tremors" and so there is a good chance that one day I could become friends with Rod. If you don't like "Tremors" then you can't...actually, that's not quite true but I'm trying to put you off attempting to hassle Rod in the Filmhouse bar by shouting "I LIKE TREMORS TOO...PLEASE BE MY FRIEND".

I went to school with a boy called Harold Howarth. He used to break wind into his hands and then shove them into my face. I hated him...understandably I think. If I could punish him by locking him in a room and forcing him to watch one film on loop for eternity it would be "The Spirit". What about you Rod, what film would you choose to punish someone? "Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge"...because my cruelty knows no bounds!". There you have it, don't upset Rod White because if he ever has the power to punish you for upsetting him (and under New Labour that day may not be far off) then you will have to watch "Moulin Rouge" for all eternity. You was all "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and quirky, cult monster movies a minute ago but now he's going to lock you in a room and force you to watch "Moulin Rouge".

On a more serious note I asked Rod why he thought industry bashes like the Oscars and the BAFTAs insist on "ghettoising" foreign language films like "Un Prophete" (which by any standard was the best film of last year but was ignored in the best film category and lumped into the foreign language basket") and focus only on English language films. "They don't know what they're looking for with foreign language and so they tend to go with films that speak the universal language of sentimentality. That wasn't always the case". I think that's the best answer I've heard to that particular question and it made me feel a bit better about films like "Un Prophete" and "The White Ribbon" being overlooked for awful films like "Avatar" and "An Education". Thanks Rod.

If I had my own cinema and I had the chance to choose what film would play on its last ever day of business it would probably be "A Matter of Life and Death" because it's the one film I can watch time and again and never tire of. What about you Rod? If the Filmhouse were to close its doors tomorrow what film would you programme to be its epilogue? "It would be "The Third Man" - it's the best British film ever made and, selfishly, it's probably the film I've played more times than any other in my time programming here at the Filmhouse".

So, what have we learned from Rods time on the couch here at MyFilms2010? Nothing really, except that, clearly, he loves films...I can't think of a better qualification for being in charge of programming film at the best cinema in Edinburgh. Can you?

The Blind Side - Cineworld - 6/4/10

Leigh Anne Tuohy.


Evangelical Christian.

Interior designer.

Big hair.

American "football" fan.

Former cheerleader.

A woman who "does" lunch.

What I'm saying is that this is the type of women I should loathe!

I believe in a womans right to choose.

I support gay marriage.

I lost my faith a long time ago.

The type of girl who would "cheer" is the type of girl who would never have shown any interest in my acne ridden face as an adolescent.

I have nothing in common with Leigh Anne Tuohy.

This story of how she took a homeless African American into her home and her family, supported him through high school and fostered his athletic talent is the type of story that normally has me running for the toilet in order to throw up.

It's mainstream, Oscar friendly, schmaltz of the worse sort.

That might make what I'm about to say a bit of surprise.


I cried tears of genuine emotion on more than one occasion throughout "The Blind Side" and by its end I wanted to book a flight to the States and embark on a pilgrimage to find Tuohy and pledge my undying love and devotion to her.

Much was made about "The Blind Side" being a piece of Republican propaganda and pro-Palin preaching given the similarities between the two women. That should have been enough to stop me from even going to see this film...but I went and I'm really glad I did. Oh, that hurts to type. In truth this isn't a propaganda piece and the similarities between Tuohy and Palin are cosmetic, instead this is a heartwarming story of one families ability to reach out to someone in need. It's that simple and it's that complicated.

The importance of Tuohys religion is only given import by commentators with an agenda I would wager. There are films with more sinister and overt religious messages ("Knowing", "Battlefield Earth" being just two examples) that are offensive to people of faith and non-believers alike. "The Blind Side" isn't one of them. This is about doing something nice for no other reason than it's the "right" thing to do.

The world would be a better place with more people like Touhy and her family...I'm pretty sure they are far from perfect and that they have made as many mistakes as the rest of us but that doesn't detract from the significance of what they did for Michael Oher. Their faith is insignificant to the story...their are Jews, Muslims, Atheists and who knows whatists who do similar things every day.

Oher went on to become an American "football" star...but this story isn't about him. This is the story of Tuohy. Her charity, love and kindness are inspirational. I think I'm starting to gush and ramble here...that is only due in part to the story, the rest of my gushy rambling is because Tuohy was played by Sandra Bullock and I love Sandra Bullock too.

Oh, this whole review is going to have to be deleted before anyone reads it.

I'm giving this 24 hours and then I'm replacing it with a scathing attack on the film and the Tuohy family!

Monday, 5 April 2010

No One Knows About Persian Cats - Cameo - 5/4/10

An Iranian film that follows two teens, Negar and Ashkan, as they attempt to secure the visas and passports that will allow them to leave the country and play some concerts in London. At the same time they need to gather musicians to play with them. What follows is, at least in part, an arresting look at life in a repressive regime for young people who simply want to play and make music.

I am a music obsessive...the posters on Ashkans wall for Joy Division and The Smiths could have been taken from my own adolescent walls...but I have to be honest and say that this film was ruined for me by the music. At times it felt like I was watching a Jools Holland Iranian special...and that isn't my idea of a good night. The music of Negar and Ashkan was fairly typical indie fare and, for my ears, tolerable but the heavy metal efforts of another group, the rap and the more traditional music all made me wish I had a remote control in hand to zap forward.

"Persepolis" covered very similar ground and managed to do it in a visually arresting way and with a more assured look at the regime that makes little things like music and fashion crimes. Director Bahman Ghobadi doesn't manage to do anything as interesting visually and there is little explanation for those who know little about life in Iran. Sadly, what had the makings of an interesting film never quite delivered and I was left wishing for the end to arrive long before it did.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

March 2010

The big film of the month of March was "Crazy Heart". Sadly it was also a big disappointment. Only the performance of Jeff Bridges elevated this above made-for-TV status and the performance of Maggie Gyllenhaal almost negated Bridges...seriously, this was a stinker from her.

Two highlights of the month for me were "The Headless Woman" which was absolutely brilliant and "Kick-Ass" which was absolutely brilliant but in a totally different way! However, there is no doubt that the best film of the month and of the year so far was Warwick Thorntons "Samson and Delilah"...which I haven't been able to stop thinking, or talking, about since I saw it. It should win the Oscar for best picture next year...the fact that it won't says everything about the film industry and nothing about the film. GO AND SEE IT.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Lourdes - Filmhouse - 2/4/10

Written and directed by Jessica Hausner "Lourdes" tells the story of a group of pilgrims visiting the site where Bernadette is alleged to have seen the virgin Mary several times in a grotto on the site. Now many hundreds of thousands visit the site (which resembles a sort of Catholic Disneyland) each year in the hope that they will be cured of all manner of ailments. It is in this setting that Hausner creates a slow moving and intimate tale of what happens when a miracle (apparently) does take place.

Christine (Sylvie Testud) is a young woman who is paralysed from the neck down due to MS. She is utterly reliant on others for everything from getting dressed to eating. While visiting Lourdes she recovers all of her physical faculties and, it appears, we are witness to a miracle. The reaction of the other members of her party vary from wonder to suspicion to anger and hostility.

Despite being the possibility of this being an advertisement for Lourdes and Catholicism Hausner avoids either and also manages to avoid adopting a tone of mockery. The setting and the religion are almost incidental here. Instead we are given an insight into the world of Christine; we sense her frustration at being confined to a wheelchair, we feel her longing for a relationship with a man, we empathise with her attempts to show who she is while so many see her simply as a wheelchair. It is a terrific performance from Testud and even when the inevitable miracle arrives it never seems anything other than convincing.

There is no doubt that the "Lourdes" phenomenon is one that entrances some and horrifies others but this isn't a film about the morality of people with serious illness traveling many hundreds of miles in search of a miracle cure, this is a film about what happens to someone when they receive what they were most desirous of. Hausner has crafted something that is interesting and that connects emotionally with its audience. A film that has much to say but not about what people would expect it to.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

My Own Private Idaho - DVD - 1/4/10

After the success of "Drugstore Cowboy" Gus Van Sant was able to turn his attention to a project that had been dear to his heart for many years. The result was "My Own Private Idaho" which takes, at least in part, the story of Shakespeare's Henry IV and retells the it with Portland rent boys in place of royalty.

The result is a, now, notorious and magnificent film. The beautiful but flawed River Phoenix stars alongside Keanu Reeves as Mike and Scott respectively. Mike is a narcoleptic down and out while Scott is the heir to an incredible fortune. Together they sell their bodies, steal and hang out with the other outsiders populating the back streets and abandoned hotels of Portland.

At times Van Sant takes wholesale sections of Shakespeares script but, unlike his shot for shot remake of "Psycho", he adds elements all of his own to leave us with something that is quite unique and never anything less than fascinating.