NEWS FLASH: SUBTERRANEAN VOID CONTAINS PIRATE GOLD, THE HOLY GRAIL AND LAST REMAINING DINOSAUR – oh, and P.S., regardless of these wonders, WE’RE STILL OPEN

deer_cave__mulu_national_park__borneo__malaysia

When first hearing of the ‘subterranean void’ that has been discovered by engineers working to fix Thames Water pipes in Notting Hill, the cynic in me immediately thought: only in Britain could engineers, after weeks of digging, be surprised to find a hole. Or rather, only in Britain and in the city of Springfield where the entire town, at the end of an especially memorable Simpsons episode, find themselves at the bottom of a hole having dug in search of buried treasure. When one towns person enquires how they’re going to get out, a genius – Chief Wiggum maybe? – makes the delightful suggestion that they must “dig up”. It’s been about 5 years and I still haven’t stopped laughing.

Anyway.

After I got over my initial cynicism, my mind jumped to the next logical conclusion: that the engineers had found a wonderous underground cavern filled with stalactites, bats and a giant pile of pirate gold that shimmered in the eerie green light falling from a single shaft, oh so magically, onto the deck of a Spanish galleon that had been swept up centuries before as it crept down the Thames.

I mean, clearly:

goonies-pirate-ship1

Indiana Jones, The Goonies and Jurassic Park are all being enacted under the bourgeois treadmill of Notting Hill. Right under one of the 11 oh-so-essential Starbuck’s, a pterodactyl’s wing is slowly unfolding.

Right under your extra-hot, extra-wet skinny mochachino, the ghost of Blue Beard and a drawing of Red Rackham are about to do battle over a piece of eight…

1750-Piece-of-Eight

87266229a-rackham-rouge-jpg

Somewhere behind you, someone with a small keyboard is playing that eerie/magical music you only get in Steven Spielberg films when the Ark of the Covenant has just been discovered. Listen..

Ok, so that sounds totally rubbish, but you know the music I mean. Oh, and your lifelong dream is about to come true: any second now, someone is going to call you ‘Dr. Jones’. Unless you’re a GP called Fred Jones, in which case, someone is going to call you ‘Indy’…. As you raise that ‘coffee’ to your lips you can feel the power of the Grail coursing through your veins…

indiana-jones-holy-grail

Anyway. To cut a long story short, there are a bunch of road works going on in Notting Hill, and despite outward appearances, WE’RE STILL OPEN.

rackham

goonies13

Indiana_Jones_Action_Figure_Whip_Action

LOVE AND CUTLASSES,

VIDEO CITY.

X

by Dixie Turner

New Releases: 27th May

GANGSTER SQUAD:

gangster_squadwide

Trailer

LAST STAND:

FIN02_Last_Stand_NYCC_1Sht_ab01-610x903

Trailer

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON:

hyde-park-on-hudson-poster1

Trailer

LORE:

lore-2012

Trailer

ATOMIC AGE:

atomic

Trailer

AURORA:

Aurora_Quad_2

PARENTAL GUIDANCE:

parental_guidance_poster

Trailer

THE YEAR DOLLY PARTON WAS MY MUM:

TheYearDollyPartonWasMyMom

Trailer

LIABILITY:

The-Liability1

Trailer

FIRST POSITION:

first-position

Trailer

I WISH:

i-wish-movie-poster

Trailer

ERNEST AND CELESTINE:

155640_1

Trailer

by Dixie Turner

“I UNDERSTAND THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT ENCOUNTER IN LIFE IS THE ENCOUNTER WITH ONESELF.” – Yves Saint Laurent. Film of the Day: L’amour fou.

6809890962_eeb5305c7b_o-460x347

Pierre Thorreton’s remarkable documentary on the life and love of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, L’amour fou (2010), begins when Saint Laurent announced at a press conference on January 8th 2002 that he was retiring. He did so with the style and grace characteristic of one who had dominated the fashion world for nearly 50 years. He thanked Christian Dior; he thanked Coco Chanel. He credited Catherine Deneuve with being a lifelong muse. He spoke of his demons; the private battles of one both passionate and driven and shy and reclusive; he spoke with the humility seemingly characteristic of his nature.

“I’ve known fear and terrible solitude,” he said. “Tranquilizers and drugs, those phony friends. The prison of depression and hospitals. I’ve emerged from all this, dazzled but sober.”

Did he speak of Pierre Berge? Perhaps.

But the conference clip ends with a statement of dedication to selfhood; a statement which echoes through the film as you watch a life and love unfold; a statement which echoes through the viewer long after they have stopped watching. A statement, also, that perhaps seared the heart of Berge, but a statement whose truth, for all the love in the world, cannot be denied. Indeed, no love can truly flourish without it:

“I UNDERSTAND THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT ENCOUNTER IN LIFE IS THE ENCOUNTER WITH ONESELF.”

After decades of work, encouraged, managed and partly driven by Berge, the Socratic injunction ‘Take care of yourself’ was clearly not lost on Saint Laurent.

yslportrait

Saint Laurent and Berge co-founded Yves Saint Laurent Couture House and became lovers in 1961. They separated amicably in 1976 but remained lifelong friends and business partners until, a few days before Saint Laurent’s death from cancer in 2008, the two were united in a Pacte civil de solidarite (same-sex civil union).

l_amour_fou_2

In his eulogy to Saint Laurent, Berge reflected on their life together:

“I remember your first collection under your name and the tears at the end. Then the years passed. Oh, how they passed quickly. The divorce was inevitable but the love never stopped.”

Yves-Saint-Laurent-glasses-

Pierre Berge on his relationship with Saint LAurent.

l_amour_fou-poster

8658288_orig

by Dixie Turner

Recent Additions (Films We Should Have Had Before, But Didn’t):

Amateur

Hal Hartley’s fantastically perverse cult classic tale of misassociation, Amateur (1994), in which an ex-nun-turned-porn writer meets an amnesiac hustler who is in search of his estranged, prostitute, wife.

amat

The film takes its title from the root meaning of the word: ‘one who loves’ – in an interview about this film, Hartley recites a brilliant anecdote about Hitchcock once dismissively calling Charles Laughton an ‘amateur’ (could this have been a response to Laughton’s amazing though patchy noir, Night of the Hunter?), to which Laughton replied: “Well, I love my work…”

Anyway, starring Isabelle Hupert (of course – I mean who else would you cast?) as the ex-nun and Martin Donovan (Weeds).

münchhausenR

A bit of a film-history curiosity in that it was commissioned in 1941 by the Third Reich’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, and has the rather dubious kudos of being generally considered to be Nazi cinema’s greatest fictional achievement… Incredibly impressive special effects, even by today’s standards, and starring Hans Albers – the most popular German actor of his generation, Munchhausen tells the story of the Baron Munchhausen who rode on a cannonball and lived on the moon. If you’ve seen the Terry Gilliam 1988 version, then it’s still worth checking this one out for comparison.

by Dixie Turner

New Releases: 20th May

DJANGO UNCHAINED:

django-unchained-poster-e1357542813658

Another pulp fandango from Tarantino. Waltz steals the show, DiCaprio is surprising good, unfortunately the director tries his hand at acting again with excruciating results…. Cert. 18

Trailer

TRUE BLOOD Season 5:

True-Blood-Season-5-TrailerTara, Tara, Tara. OMG. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Trailer

THE SESSIONS:

The-SessionsTrue story of poet-journalist Mark O’Brien, a 38 year-old man who has been paralysed and on an iron lung since childhood, who now wishes to overcome one more obstacle – losing his virginity… To this end he hires a sex therapist, played by Helen Hunt (As Good As it Gets) and the two embark on a series of ‘adventures’… Cert. 15

Trailer

TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE:

Trouble-with-the-Curve-Poster-003‘Heartwarming’, feel-good sports drama about an aging baseball scout whose expertise are put to the test by the management of the Atlanta Braces who believe he’s too old for the business. Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams (Sunshine Cleaning) and Justin Timberlake. Cert. 12

Trailer

BULLHEAD:

11163597_ori

Poignant Oscar-nominated Belgian drama about a cattle farmer who, traumatised by events in his youth, finds himself having to cope with the effects of this whilst simultaneously dealing with the dark side of his business. Flemish and Dutch with English subs. Cert. 15

Trailer

PLAYING FOR KEEPS:

Playing-for-keeps-poster

Rom-com about a former football star who now coaches his son’s team in an attempt to become a better man/father etc (yawn) etc… Starring Gerard Butler, Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Directed by Gabriele Muccino (Pursuit of Happyness). Cert. 12

Trailer

WEST OF MEMPHIS:

west_of_memphis__span

Critically acclaimed documentary about the West Memphis Three who, when only teenagers, were arrested and convicted for the murder of three 8 year-olds. After serving 18 years, they were finally cleared – the film examines the miscarriage of justice they suffered and follows on from three previous films made about the case, the first being Paradise Lost, also in rental, should you be sufficiently enthralled..

Trailer

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

BROADCHURCH:

DVD cover

Trailer

HIDDEN FACE:

hidden-poster

Trailer

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS S4:

S4Cast

Trailer

by Dixie Turner

Film of the Day: Philadelphia Story (1940)

**YOU’LL NEVER BE A FIRST CLASS HUMAN BEING OR A FIRST CLASS WOMAN UNTIL YOU’VE LEARNED TO HAVE SOME REGARD FOR HUMAN FRAILTY.**

PS+posterQuintessential screwball comedy, directed by George Cukor, starring Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and BIRTHDAY BOY, the very wonderful James Stewart

ht_pf_katharine_hepburn_ssmain_philadelphia_story_1939_121018_wgTracy Lord: I’m going crazy. I’m standing here solidly on my own two hands and going crazy.

James Stewart - the philadelphia story - & Katherine Hepburn Macaulay Connor: Oh Tracy darling…

 Tracy Lord: Mike…

 Macaulay Connor: What can I say to you? Tell me darling.

 Tracy Lord: Not anything – don’t say anything. And especially not “darling.”

Annex - Hepburn, Katharine (Philadelphia Story, The)_28**THE PRETTIEST SIGHT IN THIS FINE PRETTY WORLD IS THE PRIVILEGED CLASS ENJOYING ITS PRIVILEGES.**

philadelphiast3 MEN; ONE REDHEAD…

Tracy Lord: The time to make up your mind about people is never.

by Dixie Turner

In This Week: Les Mis – a musical for those who usually avoid them…

les-miserables-movie-poster

Reviewed by Lally Pollen

So far ‘Les Misérables’ has received an unfair amount of both over-blown praise and bitter criticism. For me, Tom Hooper’s latest project, the first musical film production of Victor Hugo’s classic C19th novel is in one word – patchy. As for words, however, it is deserving of a few more, so let me elaborate.

Desiring to make the film more accessible to those for whom the musical is not the most appealing medium, as well as create a more realistic feel, Hooper had the singing recorded on set. The cast were provided with a piano accompaniment via ear pieces, the orchestration being added afterwards. The result was that the actors had more freedom with the timing and characterisation of their performances than they would have had with the usual pre-record and lip sync method of so many other stage and screen musical productions. The physical and the vocal nuances being perfectly matched, the dubbed-over effect is entirely avoided, allowing for an almost seamless transition between story and song. This method of on-set recording is a solid contribution that leaves room for some of the excellent acting within the film to flourish.

anne-hathaway-les-miserables-photo

Not usually a fan of Anne Hathaway, I found myself happily surprised by her quite excellent turn as Fantine. A strong, elegant voice is well matched with her emotional rendition of the mother hard-done-by. Another actor I believe highly deserving of praise is Samantha Barks who plays the grown-up Éponine – an excellent voice. Good casting brought Sasha-Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter together again as the enjoyably wicked innkeepers (last seen together in Tim Burton’s musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street).

The aesthetic of the film is mostly carried by the impressive set design, which manages to bridge the cinematic look with that of the theatrical. This, however, is let down by the cinematography. With many of the most enjoyable film versions of musicals, the camera work is as inseparable from the music as the characters are from the storyline. With Les Misérables the camera instead hinders the performances, masks the set design and reduces the power of the emotional swell by frequently ignoring the story’s rhythm.

With regard to the casting of the film, Hooper for the most part chose actors over singers. While this may have made the musical more accessible to those who do not, generally speaking, like musicals, it seems a disheartening choice for those who do love them, particularly for singing enthusiasts. A shame considering the excellent, unusual and hopefully influential method of on-set sound recording.

While casting non-singers was not a problem regarding certain roles, for example Baron-Cohen and Bonham-Carter who provided the much-needed comic relief, (similarly the revolutionary leaders, Hathaway and Barks) it was problematic for the roles of Valjean and Javert, both of whom have powerful, emotionally delicate and vocally demanding songs which are key to the projection of plot and the rollercoasting power of the music.

tumblr_mftsfodlig1s21aw6o1_500

Neither Jackman or Crowe had the appropriate range needed for these roles. While excellent on Broadway in his role as Curly in Oklahoma, which demands a strong, deeper voice, Jackman does not have the vocal control needed for songs such as ‘Bring Him Home’. Whilst, Crowe having proved his proficiency in acting many times before, could not meet the demands of Javert’s moving solos.
The music of Les Misérables is, more than most musicals, heavily operatic in style. The long sustained notes and somewhat challengingly wide range demanded of some of the roles are just a few of the techniques that help carry the emotional weight and swell of the story. Again with the intention of appeasing the anti-musical audience, Hooper cuts short the lengthy operatic style notes and casts actors uncomfortable in the necessary ranges. The result is a repeatedly anti-climactic tone to many of the scenes.
Overall I could not entirely enjoy this version of Les Misérables and would rather see the stage version any time. I do however believe that Hooper’s film could have a highly influential effect on the recording techniques of future musical film projects. Die-hard fans of Schönberg’s musical will, I am sure, be curious to compare the difference in priorities of this production to the original. It is to those not usually partial to musicals, however, that I would recommend Les Misérables. It is for them, it would seem, that Hooper has made this film.

Film of the Day: Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) P.S. Happy Birthday, James Mason

affiche-Pandora-Pandora-and-the-Flying-Dutchman-1951-2

**THE MEASURE OF LOVE IS WHAT ONE IS WILLING TO GIVE UP FOR IT**

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman – directed by Albert Lewin, shot by Jack Cardiff and starring birthday boy, James Mason and an unforgettable Ava Gardner – tells the story of a powerful attraction between two seeming strangers which turns out to be a love that has pulled them together from across centuries. The Flying Dutchmen has been condemned to eternal life lest one who loves him is willing to die to release him… can love break the spell?

pand_sm1

PANDORA: A WOMAN THAT MEN DIE FOR

mason-james

HENDRIK AKA THE FLYING DUTCHMAN: NEEDS A WOMAN TO DIE FOR HIM

protectedimage-1

“I know now that they were in love. But I have a feeling they never spoke of it.”

protectedimage

Geoffrey Fielding: “To understand one human soul is like trying to empty the sea with a cup.”

by Dixie Turner

Film of the Day: TOUCH OF EVIL (1958)

MURDER! DRUGS! RACISM! CORRUPTION!

touch_of_evil_ver5_xlg

*ANOTHER WELLES MASTERPIECE AND ONE OF THE FINEST – AND LAST – OF THE CLASSIC FILM NOIRS*

Starring, and directed by, Orson Welles. Also starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Marlene Dietrich. Keep an eye out for Joseph Cotten’s cameo…

capture3

“ORSON, YOU LOOK WONDERFUL!”

– An earnest exclamation made by a well-known Hollywood actress at a party Welles attended during the making of Touch of Evil. The actress was unaware that Welles was actually still in make-up, including large amounts of padding and prosthetics.

touch-of-evil

Vargas: Captain, you won’t have any trouble with me.

Quinlan: You bet your sweet life I won’t.

Annex - Leigh, Janet (Touch of Evil)_NRFPT_01

Susan: I could love being corny, if my husband would only cooperate.

stranglewelles

Sanchez: What are you trying to do?

Quinlan: We’re trying to strap you to the electric chair, boy.

touch-of-evil-marlen

**MARLENE – SOME KIND OF A WOMAN**

by Dixie Turner

Michel Gondry’s Sweded Taxi Driver

taxi-driver-robert-de-niro-in-martin-scorsese-movie

De Niro vs. Gondry.

TaxiDriver-MichelGondry

Remember when you were a child and you had just watched an episode of the A-Team where they’re all locked in a baddie’s garage and then manage to break out by building a monster-truck seemingly out of nothing more than a couple of old cogs, a wheel, a few manly grunts and some spit? You know what I’m talking about. Remember how you would try, in your bedroom, alone, to re-create the spectacular glory of this achievement with an old mouldering piece of broken-off plywood, some plastic bags, a few nails and a magic wand you ‘borrowed’ from a friend? Even when you added the elastic band it still didn’t quite make the right engine sound and shifting from 3rd to 4th gear wasn’t quite as smooth as you would’ve liked and frankly this was because you’d really just constructed a bizarre shelving system. Remember that sense of abject failure? Well this is the revenge of all of those crushed moments…

9925-be-kind-rewind

Ghostbusters sweded – better than the original?

be kind rewind 1

Robocop sweded – better than the original.

If you’re not sure what ‘sweding’ is, either check out its origin’s in Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind or watch the following. Or I can stop being obnoxious and just tell you.

It’s basically a home-made re-make of a film, made on a non-existent budget with whatever toilet rolls and duct tape you happen to have lying around. The glory depicted should be captured unedited, with only a single take per scene.

Here, Michel Gondry directs himself in a sweded version of Martin Scorsese’s classic Taxi Driver – love the coloured-pencil bullets! Regard:

Other great swedes:

Terminator 2 Sweded

The Dark Knight Sweded

P.S. For those of you with A-Team envy who can’t get it together to build yourself a helicopter out of two old toothbrushes and some tinfoil, now you too can save yourself years of therapy with a couple of ideas for how to rebuild a) your car b) your self-esteem and c) your dreams:

a-TEAM-the-a-team-474089_550_389

and for the more economically disadvantaged:

*PEACE AT LAST*

Cubee___The_A_Team_Van_by_CyberDrone

P.P.S. FOR THOSE OF YOU THINKING OF JOINING THE CELEBRATION OF 2013 AS ‘THE YEAR OF THE MOHAWK’, HERE IS A TOUCH OF (THEMATICALLY JUSTIFIED) MOHAWK MAYHEM:

taxi_driver_4

121911_michel_gondrys_taxi_driver_t

b-a-baracus-showing-his-chains

$(KGrHqF,!ikE3SivZ9EUBN8!3FP+lg~~0_35

*PITY THE FOOL*

by Dixie Turner

New Releases: 6th May

THE IMPOSSIBLE:

the-impossible-movieEpic true-life tale of a family caught in the 2004 Tsunami which so devastated communities in South-East Asia, causing huge loss of life. “Devastating and uplifting” and “epic and intimate”. Well. Starring Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive) and Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting). Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage). Cert. 12

Trailer

QUARTET:

quartet-quadThis year’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel-stand in. Dustin Hoffman directs an outstanding British cast in this “uplifting” and “life affirming” comedy set in a grand old manor for retired musicians. Every year, to celebrate the birthday of Verdi, the residents perform a concert but this year a couple of new residents (including Maggie Smith as an operatic grand dame) complicate plans and the concert threatens to unravel. Cert. 12

Trailer

MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN:

Midnights-Children-posterBased on the book by Salman Rushdie and directed by the wonderful Deepa Mehta (Earth, Fire, Water). Two children, switched at birth (which coincides with the moment of India’s independence), grow up living a life intended for the other in a new India whose ups and downs are inextricably linked to their own. Powerful and vibrant; at times beautiful, at times disturbing. Starring Satya Bhabha (New Girl) and Charles Dance (Gosford Park, Swimming Pool). Cert. 12

Trailer

FACILITY:

The_Facility_DVD_O_Card_AGIThe murderous side-effects of a new drug come screaming to the surface of the seven volunteers on whom it is being tested. Cert. 18

Trailer

by Dixie Turner