“You ask what you should watch. I ask how I should live. It’s the same thing.” Il deserto rosso (Red Desert) (1964)

 

Review by Rob Munday

 

Michelangelo Antonioni is the master of disconnection, so good even his own name seems fractured, hidden inside it’s own repetitions.

2012 is his centenary and to mark this occasion the BFI are re-releasing Red Desert, Antonioni’s first colour film. Here we follow Giuliana played by Monica Vitti. She has a son with her husband Ugo who works as an engineer in a port town dominated by industry.
Giuliana is adrift, unable to connect with her life, followed by demons that manifest themselves in the brutal contours and colours of the factories and docks.

Colour is emotion and here it is an oppressive force stamping corporate authority on this population. Giuliana may resist with her auburn hair and green coat but she is fighting a losing battle. In contrast to the stark shapes and colours is the sea fog that envelops this world. It swallows up characters, buildings and whole ships with it’s malignant drift, and stops us seeing life beyond the edges of this world.

The score adds to this unsettling feeling using electronic manipulation to create dissonant sounds – a voice for the looming pipework. Like Vitti, we can never relax, never be comfortable here. It feels like she’s wandered into an industrial film, lost and hoping to find something in this barren landscape.

Her possible salvation comes in the form of Richard Harris’ Corrado. His subdued force and charisma seem to offer some hope. Unfortunately Harris’ voice is also lost, replaced by that of an Italian actor. Dubbing was an unfortunate trend of Italian cinema, the sacrifice made in their search for visual poetry. As Bresson once said, “Their lips betray them” and here Harris’ character is hidden, withdrawn. First dubbed and then subtitled you become twice removed from the truth – perhaps this is the way Antonioni likes it.

Unfortunately Red Desert has a fatal lack of drive. The brilliance of its successor Blow Up was in the way it married a bold use of colour and detached characters with an ingenious thriller plot. There the main character was forced to take an interest, to engage with his surroundings. Without this push of story Red Desert becomes as forlornly lost as it’s lead character. It remains an intriguing experiment with one scene, where Giuliana briefly escapes from the shackles of her manmade surroundings, that is pure sublime cinema.
Clip: http://youtu.be/8xyS8UvkzKE

New Releases: 30th July

Salute (2008)

Documentary expanding on the story behind one of the great moments in sporting history (and one of the greatest images of the 20th Century). Cert. PG

Trailer: http://youtu.be/k9NsN0ybTec

Mirror Mirror (2012)

One of two Snow White films released this year. This one looks the cuddlier of the two. Starring Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman). Directed by Tarsem Singh (The Cell!!!!). Cert. PG

Trailer: http://youtu.be/ILDeA7AqA84

Raven (2012)

A series of Edgar Allen Poe-styled murders see the police turning to the author himself to help solve the crimes.  Starring John Cusack (High Fidelity). Directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://youtu.be/vYAZnVk0Czw

The Players (2012)

Eight short films about infidelity. Hopefully not as ‘Hollywood’ as the trailer suggests… Starring Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and Gilles Lellouche (Point Blank). Cert. 18 French with English subs.

Trailer: http://youtu.be/OjXHTEECdMI

COMING SOON: August Releases – Highlights:

6/8:

Delicacy

Le Havre

Akram Khan: Homeland

13/8:

Lockout

Headhunters

Gone

 

20/8:

 

Marley

 

Damsels in Distress

 

 

Faust

 

Elles

27/8:

Battleship

The Lucky One

The Goodwife Season 3

This Is Not A Film

Review: Quatermass and the Pit (1958)

Review by Rob Munday.

“Down in the tube station at midnight, oh oo-ohhh ooh” – The words of Paul Weller, who had perhaps just seen this Hammer production about uncovered mysteries behind the tube station tiles.

The secrets hidden beneath London’s streets are certainly ripe territory for a horror. Here Nigel Kneale has adapted his successful TV serial for the big screen with Roy Ward Baker directing. The direction (and general feel) is solid if workmanlike. Baker succeeds in creating a convincing world and filling it with quality actors playing an assortment of professionals and experts.

So we have Andrew Keir as the titular Professor Quatermass, James Donald as Dr Roney, Julian Glover as Colonel Breen, Bryan Marshall as Captain Potter and Barbara Shelley exuding latent sauce as, well, ‘Barbara’. The main duty of these characters appears to be minor squabbling followed by long explanations. And that’s the problem – the endless explaining. There’s so much talk about wonders beyond our knowledge it’s as if the characters are referring to some other brilliant, but unseen, film.

This is a ‘What if?’ movie that unfortunately leaves you thinking: ‘What if?’ ‘What if the nice chemistry between Quatermass and Barbara had been developed?’ ‘What if the story had been simplified to create the British equivalent of Them! ?’ ‘What if they’d embraced the inherent nuttiness of the plot?’

Overall this is a strangely watchable film with performances that keep us intrigued. The story clearly suffers from the compression necessary in the switch from TV series to film. There are many ideas here but none that are given the breathing space to take seed within our minds. You get the feeling that this tale of past horrors and worlds beyond our own is best suited to the longer format where it can be absorbed at home, in the dark, sometime ‘round about midnight.

Clip: http://youtu.be/NhFM-8wiDrw

Video City A-Z of Film – Staff Picks: B Films (But Not Necessarily ‘B-Films’…) (Pt.3)

TOM SAYS:

B is for Bill Cunningham: New York

A modern documentary about a pioneering street fashion photographer. Mr Cunningham spends most of his time riding his bicycle through busy New York traffic, looking for and always finding something special. I must admit, before seeing the film a large part of me was expecting a fashion world sycophant gush-fest, but my curiosity won out. And thank heavens it did, because since seeing it several months ago, I must think about it every other day.

Not breaking too much with the typical art-doc form, the film follows his day-to-day life, taking in a handful of recent events, whilst also tracing his past. The films greatness lies in the ability to let its star dazzle. It deals with bizarre contradictions. Those of a man leading a monastic lifestyle, worker’s attire, modest meals and a cramped apartment filled with file cabinets of a life’s work, who deals (significantly but not exclusively) with the wonder and awe of high-end fashion and the glamour of New York society. He has complex and inspiring politics, remaining somehow both clear and mysterious. Deeply concerned with surface. Bill Cunningham is ever curious, and ever generous. What strikes me most about Mr Cunningham’s practice, is how he maintains a total openness, an almost complete lack of ego, and yet is able to form such a unique and personal vision of the amazing world that surrounds both him and us, through his tirelessly ecstatic work.

Here are some of my other B film recommendations:
Bringing Up Baby
Birth
Blood Of The Poet
Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls
Blue Angel
Bedazzled
Boom!
Blue Velvet
Brief Encounter
Brazil
Before Stonewall

Trailer: http://youtu.be/NYqiLJBXbss

MEHDI SAYS:

B is for Borat.

 

Based on one of the characters from the hit TV comedy series, The Ali G show, Borat is a documentary-style movie about a fictional Kazakh journalist who travels the United States recording real life interactions and interviews with Americans.

 

In his relentless pursuit to create controversy, Borat does and says the most unimaginable  and cringe-worthy things as he goes on a rampage to offend and annoy everyone he comes into contact with. 

 

 

Through his purposefully created comical appearance and persona, his character very cleverly invokes genuine reactions and responses from his subjects on various social and political issues. 

 

Its global popularity and commercial success was overshadowed, however, with record-breaking law suits, accusations of racism, homophobia and sexism. 

 

Borat is by far one of the funniest and most ingenious comedies I have ever seen.

Trailer: http://youtu.be/WH2CABcffAo

Stephen King Horrifies Our Shelves With a Few Oldies (But Newbies)

New into the shop this week: The Stephen King Collection. Three classic horrors to line your coat pockets with (if you’re of a weak constitution, best to line your underwear too…)

Maximum Overdrive (1986) Starring Emilio Estevez and the only film to be directed by the man himself: Stephen King (Just because he never made another one again doesn’t mean it’s bad. I mean, there’s a crazy truck with a goblin face on the front, so how bad can it be?)

Trailer: http://youtu.be/ggWS4tTzs60

Silver Bullet (1985) Starring Corey Haim

Trailer: http://youtu.be/8hSkvsPs13I

Cat’s Eye (1985) Starring Drew Barrymore and James Woods

Trailer: http://youtu.be/rBdshG0lWac

New Releases: 23th July

BEL AMI:

What Robert (Vamp) Pattinson did next. Based on the novel by Guy de Maupassant. Three Parisian women lust after a young man who uses his charms to climb the social ladder. Also starring Uma Thurman (Kill Bill), Kristin Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long) and Christina Ricci (Addams Family). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://youtu.be/jdJC_GkGXco

KISS ME:

Good little romantic drama about a thirty-something woman coming to terms with her engagement to her long-term boyfriend and her new-found love for another woman. Starring Ruth Vega Fernandez and Liv Mjones. Directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining. Cert.15 Swedish with English subs.

Trailer: http://youtu.be/aQZmmgaOJEY

KID WITH A BIKE:

The Dardenne Brothers return with this family drama revolving around a hairdresser who agrees to look after a boy who has been abandoned by his father. Starring Cecile De France. Cert. 12 French with English subs.

Trailer: http://youtu.be/Ce3t1YIYokY

CAT IN PARIS:

French animation about the secret life of a cat: family pet by day, cat burglar’s assistant by night… Cert. PG French with English subs.

Trailer: http://youtu.be/H7e07c52VWg

ALSO OUT:

SHANGHAI:

STREET DANCE 2:

Trailer: http://youtu.be/MBp1X5WYsJs

WILD BILL:

Trailer: http://youtu.be/EyquUziG0SA

THE PREY:

“If It Wasn’t For The French, I Don’t Know Where I’d Be.” – Ken Loach.

After winning the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes, British film maker, Ken Loach, will become the fourth recipient of the prestigious French award, The Lumiere. The life-time achievement prize will be awarded at the Lumiere Festival in Lyon on the 20th October.

Click here for an interview with Loach for The Observer in which he briefly reflects on the British government’s lack of commitment to the UK film industry.

Some of Ken Loach’s past gems:

Kes (1969)

One of the most affecting films about childhood you’re ever likely to see. Surely on everyone’s top ten British film list.

Trailer: http://youtu.be/HRYvUpsrqmg

Land and Freedom (1995)

A young unemployed Liverpudlian leaves home to fight fascists in the Spanish revolution.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006)

Two brothers are torn apart during the Irish war for independence.

Trailer: http://youtu.be/3isSPB-OOWw

Looking For Eric (2009)

Trailer: http://youtu.be/GgmTRuWMyeI

Indy At 70

Nothing like a whip to make archaeology look sexy.

Happy Birthday, Harrison Ford. 70 today.

Aside from Indiana Jones and Star Wars, check out Harry in:

American Graffiti (1973), directed by George Lucas

Trailer: http://youtu.be/HBI0p5OGlDw

Blade Runner (1982), directed by Ridley Scott

Trailer: http://youtu.be/6235QksD6kw

Mosquito Coast (1986), directed by Peter Weir

Trailer: http://youtu.be/2t1z-gRiNm0

Working Girl (1988), directed by Mike Nichols

Trailer: http://youtu.be/odR6tGpZTis

And, if you’re really stuck for something to watch on a Sunday night:

Cowboys and Aliens (2011), directed by Jon Favreau

Trailer: http://youtu.be/zH7KZD5vGBY

THEY’RE ALIVE – REAL PEOPLE. REAL SHOP.

So we live in a virtual world. Who has time for actual conversation? Who has time to browse; to handle an actual 3-D object; to move through physical space? Who has time to choose? Isn’t it so much better when the choosing is done for us?

More and more we are being sold a version of ourselves – an impatient version. “Impatience is a virtue”, we are told (see Samsung’s Jet commercial http://youtu.be/s8tWLEsLpxs).

Apparently, according to some DVD distributors – who shall remain nameless – not only is it too much of a hassle to leave our home to rent a DVD, but it’s now too much hassle to come home after a long day at the office/asylum and have to actually, like OMG, flick through all those thousands of channels on our TV in order to find something to watch. It is therefore FAR FAR too much hassle to actually decide for ourselves what we might enjoy, so now these people are providing us with services that decide what we enjoy for us – services which ‘learn’ which films we like and recommend us what to watch next.

My questions to these companies are:

A) Who are you pushing us to be? What bizarre, manic version of myself am I being sold when I’m told that my life is so hectic and weary that I need a software programme to tell me what to enjoy and how to relax?

B) Are you aware that your multi-million pound programmes are upstaged by the pre-existing technology known as HUMAN CONTACT?

Despite the mind-bogglingly hi-tech nature of this, our blog, at Video City we are proud to be Luddites.

Come and converse with us. We have actual personalities and we don’t crash when you try to rent too many films at once (unless they’re all Sarah Jessica Parker films, in which case, just hit the Force Quit button located behind our left ears).

With this ironically in mind – and because we’re really not into name-tags – please check out our new Staff Tab at the top of the page, where you can learn a little bit about these wonderful people who not only know your name (just like Cheers!) but who also recommend you great films based on actual HUMAN CONTACT and conversation…. Enjoy.

Video City with less beer. I mean, more beer.

(NORM!)

NEW RELEASES 16th July 2012

THE SOURCE:

Much anticipated battle of the sexes comedy/drama, in which a village-full of women whose daily toil to fetch water from the well leads them to go on sex-strike if their men refuse to find another water-source. By the director of The Concert (2009), Radu Milhaileanu. Arabic with English subs. Cert. 15

Trailer: http://youtu.be/wvxyIlq4Q7w

WE BOUGHT A ZOO:

Much anticipated family drama, based on a true story, with one of the least inspiring film titles of the year. Chucking in his office job, the father of two moves his family to the countryside in the hopes of a fresh start and of giving his kids “an authentic, American experience” whatever that is. Well, apparently it involves buying a zoo… Starring Matt Damon (Bourne Trilogy) and Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation). Directed by Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous). Cert. PG

Trailer: http://youtu.be/OuHFEhpxFPM

ACT OF VALOUR:

Much anticipated action adventure. The trailer says we all have something worth fighting for (cue image of the ol’ Stars n Stripes) and the main selling point of the film seems to be that it stars active duty Navy Seals. Go Team America (F*ck Yeah!)  Cert. 15

Trailer: http://youtu.be/ZnlPgo9TaGo

CONTRABAND:

Much anticipated crime drama in which Mark Wahlberg (NKOTB) must go back to his drug-smuggling ways in order to save his brother-in-law from a nasty drug baron (where did all the nice drug barons go?). Co-starring Kate Beckinsale (Laurel Canyon) and Giovanni Ribisi (Church of Scientology). Directed by Baltasar Kormakur (Jar City). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://youtu.be/SjcCbSmF_OA

DAMAGES SEASON 4:

Much anticipated fourth season of the law thriller drama series. Scary, scary Glenn Close (Jagged Edge) is joined by tough-guy-with-a-tie John Goodman (Borrowers) and a Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids) forever-on-the-verge-of-tears. Cert. 15

Trailer: http://youtu.be/Kt5x98_u234

CASINO JACK:

Anticipated drama based on the true story of a corrupt US lobbyist. Starring Kevin Spacey (American Beauty). Directed by George Hickenlooper (Factory Girl). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://youtu.be/w1igM1mfzPI

New Releases: 9th July

BEING ELMO:

 Documentary about the man behind the puppet. Cert. E

 Trailer: http://youtu.be/y-t7FxgbhQE

21 JUMP STREET:

Comedy. Two of America’s worst cops go undercover and back to high school. Remake of the 80s TV show which launched Johnny Depp’s career. Starring Jonah Hill (Moneyball) and Channing Tatum (Haywire). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://youtu.be/ZirgAYBcOgo

ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA:

New thriller by director Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Climates). A night and day in a murder investigation that has police, prosecutors, doctors and the murderers all searching for the body on the Anatolian steppes. Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes. Cert. 15 Turkish with English subs.

Trailer: http://youtu.be/4jKgHqU1jrs

RAMPART:

Woody Harrelson and Oren Moverman’s latest collaboration after 2009s The Messenger. Harrelson plays Dave ‘date-rape’ Brown a bad cop in the corrupt LAPD of 1999. This has the feeling of the 70s anti-hero with Harrelson brilliantly unapologetic in the lead. A surprisingly starry supporting cast add weight to proceedings. Cert. 15

Trailer: http://youtu.be/SGHPD3IYnd0

GOD BLESS AMERICA:

Sick of the trash-culture he finds all around him, Frank goes on a killing spree… Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (World’s Greatest Dad).Cert.15

John Patterson review for The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jun/30/god-bless-america-john-patterson?INTCMP=SRCH

Trailer: http://youtu.be/GEFj0Pngu_E

TRISHNA:

Trailer: http://youtu.be/wireluqDFuM 

ABSENTIA:

Trailer: http://youtu.be/aa1UJLqYeBU

 ENDURANCE:

ATHLETE:

 

GOSPEL OF US:

The film adaptation of Michael Sheen’s ambitious contemporary re-telling of the Passion play. As with the play the film takes place in Port Talbot using locals for the cast and crew. Sheen has made the logical progression from Tony Blair to Brian Clough and now… Jesus Christ. Cert. 12

Trailer: http://youtu.be/YorUV4PugEE

Video City A-Z of Film – Staff Picks: B Films (But Not Necessarily ‘B-Films’…) (Pt.2)

JESSE SAYS:

B is for Ballast (2008)

B is regretfully not for Billy Brown, “Hero” of Vincent Gallo’s 1998 Buffalo 66, but rather for Lance Hammer’s 2008 debut feature Ballast.

Ballast, which came out on DVD last year, is set in and inspired by the Mississippi Delta, a dreary and downtrodden area of the American south. The region has a distinct cultural heritage and is considered the birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, with numerous Delta Blues and jazz musicians influencing the early pioneers of the genre.

Today, and shown bleakly through Ballast, this cultural vibrancy is gone. The Delta brought business to it because of the land’s rich fertility, bringing a large slave population with it. Now that the soil is depleted and the production of cotton in the area no longer economically viable, the business has left and the communities raised there have been left without modern infrastructure and without care for their well-being. Houses left to rot, racial inequality in public schools and lack of employment opportunity, leave the area unable to function as a community and care for itself.

Ballast is not a political film, nor is it a film that begs its audience to weep for the characters it portrays. It’s opening half hour feels like the beginnings of a The Wire-esque gangland thriller, chronicling a young man’s descent into crime, but through its sparse language and naturalistic performances, the pace soon decelerates as we watch the family at the films’ centre try to deal with the death of one of its’ members. Over the films’ 96 minutes we are subsumed into British cinematographer Lol Crawley’s stunning photography and the gentle unravelling of the films’ narrative, which upon completion leaves you uncertain of both the family and the regions future. Akin to Debra Granik’s 2010 Winter’s bone, it is an unrelenting portrayal of poverty in rural America, told through deeply affecting visuals and performances of real power.

Trailer: http://youtu.be/s1lOiy3j-K0

ROB SAYS:

B is for… Bad Lieutenant (2009)

Don’t be misled by the title. This isn’t a remake or a sequel to Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film but it is one of the most waywardly enjoyable films you’re ever likely to see.

Bad Lieutenant could have been yet another corrupt cop flick with a hip hop villain (in this case Xhibit) and a pair of out of favour leading men – Nic Cage and the increasingly wide-faced Val Kilmer. Fortunately Herzog fills it with delirious ideas and lose energy to create a bizarre journey into the ecstatic truth of evil.

Cage is back to his best here, giving the most beautifully unhinged central performance since Christopher Walken in Donald Cammell’s Wild Side (search it out).

Herzog’s instinct is key to this film’s success and Cage commits fully to become his modern-day Klaus Kinski.

This film is no masterpiece – many parts don’t gel and the plot isn’t up to much – but who cares about plot when Herzog delivers a perfect antidote to Hollywood blandness. Bad Lieutenant wallows in personal lunacy with unflinching, gob-smacking, brilliance. One line to whet your appetite:

“What are those iguanas doing on my fucking coffee table?!”

Trailer: http://youtu.be/2N5UcZJHy4g

JESS SAYS:

B is for Black Orpheus (1959)

Black Orpheus  – set at the carnival in Rio; an amazing combination of music, colours and tragedy. Based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, it won an Academy Award in 1960 for Best Foreign Language Film.

Watch the original not the remake!

 


Hollywood’s Favourite Disaster: Child Celebrity (Long Live Lindsay/Viva La Lohan)

Lindsay Lohan – 26 today.

CELEBRITY TRAIN WRECK – the media loves it. Twitter loves it; twitter goes wild with it. At home, at work, in the street people ooh and ahh and tut and suddenly we’re all experts on What’s Wrong in a stranger’s life. We feed ourselves with updates about their love lives, their professional lives, their daily lives; if they shop at Wholefoods; if their nails are too long or too short; if they’ve changed their hair, or their lover or their t-shirt. If they have a temper; if they have a secret; if they have the ‘wrong’ lover; if they have a ‘dark side’; if they snort too much coke, then it’s even better. We’re addicted to their addictions. Like the fact that they eat pizza and that they occasionally cry – sometimes even in public (that’s seriously crazy – we should read about that…).

Lindsay Lohan, darling of Disney (but not any more), what has become of you? People say you did this to yourself, but did you really? An ambitious mamma and a crazy papa – they sent you out into the world in your nappies to face the camera, to win the prize, to learn to sell and to sell and to sell. And the world loved you – we lapped you up, all cute and freckley, playing dress-up like a big girl, acting like Marilyn. Who taught you to seduce the world when you were just a child? Was it us? And where are you now, all cut and bruised with the same world laughing its head off? Where are we, those same anonymous faces who championed you so? Where have we left you?

Drug addicted. Insecure. Desperate. Depressed.

And yet, still we watch you when you cross the road or run out for a can of soda; we’re still there to record your every move – are we afraid for you? Do we think you’ll fall? Or are we just waiting for you to fall? And who are we anyway? Addicted? For sure. Insecure, desperate and depressed? Probably. But it’s so much easier just to point at you. Self-pointing hurts the wrist.

HOW FAST DID THE SUITS DROP YOU AND THE TIES UNTIE YOU WHEN YOU WERE CAUGHT DRINKING, PUSHING THE WRONG BUTTON, LAUGHING TO THE WRONG JOKE WHEN YOU SHOULD’VE BEEN SIPPING CHERRY COKE AND TELLING THE WORLD THAT WHEN YOU GROW UP YOU WANT TO BE JUST LIKE MICKEY MOUSE AND LESS LIKE AMY WINEHOUSE?

Happy Birthday, Lindsay Lohan. Don’t let us get you down. x

posted by Dixie Turner