Staff A-Z of Films… F is F-f-for (Pt. 3):

LALLY SAYS:

freaks-posterF for Freaks (1932)

Based on the short story ‘Spurs’ by Clarence Aaron “Tod” Robbins, Browning’s ‘Freaks’ is set at a sideshow and is a story of unrequited love, honour, discrimination, and revenge. Hans (Harry Earles – The Wizard of Oz), a midget, recently rich through inheritance, is seduced by the Circus’ gold-digging trapeze artist, Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova – The Man Who Laughs). With the help of the show’s strong man, Hercules (Henry victor), Cleopatra plots to marry and kill Hans for his fortune, underestimating the strength of the ‘code of the freaks’ and their familial bond.

“We accept you, one of us! Gooble Gobble!”

The plot may sound quite familiar, it is an age-old, love-triangle tale. However, it is the setting and supporting cast that makes “Freaks” so distinguished. Unlike many of today’s films in which we have 5-6 foot tall actors portraying 3-4 foot tall characters, ‘Freaks’ the pre-CGI horror film had its titular heroes played by bona fide stars of the American sideshow and circus industries.

tumblr_l7vzslZ4Pq1qbbjxvo1_500In 1896 a 16-year-old Tod Browning ran away from his well off family in Kentucky, to pursue one of his life long fascinations, the circus. He travelled for many years with various sideshows and carnivals featuring as a Talker for ‘The Wild Man of Borneo’, as a clown for the Ringling Brothers Circus and performed as ‘The Living Corpse’ in a live burial act. In Vaudeville theatre he worked as clown, actor, dancer and magician, and in New York City he was the director of a variety theatre where he met fellow Louisvillian W. D. Griffith. Browning’s directorial carrier evolved into silent cinema throughout which he worked frequently with horror legend, Lon Chaney. In 1929 he directed his first talkie The Thirteenth Chair with Bela Legosi, a partnership that only two years later would lead to the immortal Dracula.

Browning’s successful yet, oftentimes tumultuous career in the horror genre was brought to a rapid halt after the release of Freaks, only making four more pictures before leaving the director’s chair altogether. Now considered a milestone in cinema, this film is also one of history’s most controversial features. From the first test screenings, in which one lady claimed it to have caused her miscarriage through shock, until today, this pre-code horror has continued to maintain its dangerous reputation. Soon after production, Freaks was reduced from its 90 minute running time to just 64 minutes (the cut footage is now considered to be lost), a happier ending was clumsily added as ordered by MGM studios and it wasn’t until 1963 that the UK finally lifted it’s 30 year ban on the film.

tumblr_m69fvbVGMX1qbbjxvo1_500In general the film presents the ‘freaks’ as honourable kindly characters, whilst the ‘normals’ come across as shameless and a-moral. However, no individual is presented so simply. For example, as Hans’ infatuation for Cleopatra increases, his consideration for his fiancée Frida is almost entirely neglected.  Meanwhile, of the two good ‘normals’ in the film, Phroso and Venus, who are kind to the ‘freaks’, Phroso, has his morally grey areas with regards to his attitude to women: “You dames is all alike. Yer sharp-shootin’, yer cheap, and how you squeal when you get what’s coming to ya”.
After the initially shock-inducing introduction to some of the ‘freaks’, where those who call them “monsters” are invited to see them as the “children” they are, the film plays out as more of a drama than a horror film. Browning elegantly turns from the exploitative and sensationalist nature of the side-show industry, to look at the every day mundanities of the ‘Freaks’ Lives. Once we have become accustomed to their way of life, and have learnt to distinguish the performers by their personalities and not just their abnormalities, Browning reverts to utilising sensationalism once again. The infamous scene in the woods helps establish Freaks as one of the greatest horror films of its time. This visually powerful sequence, in which a host of the ‘freaks’ crawl to attack, is enhanced by the erratic dance of storm-induced light and shadows, with beautiful yet hauntingly monstrous results.

002As controversial as it has been over the years, Freaks is a fascinating study of the sideshow world, one all too seldom looked at with such honourable intentions as Browning clearly held. Freaks may not be considered a scary horror film by today’s high-definition, gore-fest standards but it is horrifying in the true sense of the word, and yet also tender, funny, and quite unforgettable.

Interesting facts:
After Freaks was withdrawn and shelved by MGM, the notorious American director and producer of exploitation films, Dwain Ester, bought the rights at low-cost and travelled the country showing it under titles “Forbidden Love” and “Nature’s Mistakes”.

***with spoiler***

Olga Baclanova’s bird suit worn near the end of the film was originally designed by Lon Chaney, but he unfortunately died before being able to put it to use. It was kept in an MGM store cupboard for years before Browning brought it out.

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ROB SAYS:

ku-xlargeF is for A Field in England (2013)

A psychedelic, black and white, British civil war movie – what more do you want?
Ben Wheatley has put his stamp on the gangster film (Down Terrace), hit man movie (Kill List), and caravan comedy killer flick (Sightseers). Here set out to revive the much missed midnight movie.
With visuals that mix Jodorowsky with Sergio Leone and a script by Amy Jump that feels completely authentic but also fresh and alive, Wheatley takes us down a psychological rabbit hole into a world of alchemy and spiritual hoodoo. The trademark intensity of Reece Shearsmith will sear into the mind, Michael Smiley intimidates with venomous vigour and you’ll find yourself sucked into a world out of kilter.
a-field-in-england-2013-001-man-in-wheat-field_1000x750Does it all make sense? I’m not sure, but it’s trip you won’t forget in a hurry.

 

Staff A-Z of Film: F is For… sexy, speedy and faster faster FASTER

WILLIAM SAYS:

F is for Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Russ Meyer, 1965)

FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL! KILL! is the story of [a] new breed of SUPERWOMEN emerging out of the ruthlessness of our times. We are introduced to three buxom Go-Go girls: VARLA, ROSIE, and BILLIE, wildly dancing the Watusi before the leers, jeers and lecherous come-ons of their drooling all-male audience. The violence, implicit in the girls’ tease, is quickly moved out of the microcosmic bar into the outside world as they literally let go of themselves, embarking on a wild, violent, deadly journey of vengeance on all men. VARLA, the outrageously abundant KARATE MASTER leader of the pack, breaks the arms and back of one man, runs her Porsche over two others, grinds a fourth, a muscleman, against a a wall and eventually, deliberately goes down the path of her own self-destruction, dragging her two buxotic cohorts along with her.

– Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! press kit

Perhaps it is the sincere irreverence of the whole endeavor  – the sense that all involved (actors, director, spectators) know exactly that what they are dealing with is ironic, yet continue to nevertheless to believe in “the lie that tells the truth” and all without a trace of either condescension or naitvité – that makes  FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL! KILL! in the words of the likes of John Waters, no less, “Beyond a doubt, the best movie ever made.”

– Mark Betz, “Camping in the Movies of Russ Meyer: Some Notes in Passing”, Gerbil: A Queer Culture Zine no. 9

+ folllow Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! with …

F is also for Fluff (William E. Jones, 1999)

Watch it here – not suitable for weurghk, without headphones

Fluff is at once a tribute to abstract video art and an affectionate send-up of the promotional language of 1970s gay porno flicks.  As in the opening sequence of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, a gravelly, almost satanic, voice-over modulates simple black and white patterns.  The narrator speaks more and more quickly until the piece becomes a frenzy of overwrought prose and bracing disco music.

– William E. Jones

F is also for Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974), Fireworks (Kenneth Anger, 1947), Flesh (Paul Morrissey, 1968) Frenzy (Alfred Hitchcock, 1972), and – Tom’s right – First Blood (Ted Kotcheff, 1982)

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ALY SAYS:

fastandthefurious4_posterF is for FAST AND FURIOUS

“I live my life a quarter-mile at a time.” 
Fast and the Furious is about illegal street racing and heists. Street racer and ex-convict Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew are under suspicion of stealing expensive electronic equipment. The late Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) is an undercover police officer who attempts to find out who exactly is stealing the equipment.
vinCars, girls and money, that does it for me! With the combination of high-octane car chases, stunts and elaborate heists sequences I enjoyed this film more that I thought I would. One of my favourite parts of the movie is when one of the characters, Jesse, is asked to say grace and he delivers a grace like I’ve never heard before.
    “Dear Heavenly… uh…Spirit. Thank you for providing us with the direct-port
     nitrous… uh… injection, four-core intercoolers, an’ ball-bearing turbos, and…
     um… titanium valve springs. Thank you.”
After the success of the first Fast and the Furious movie, it has been followed by six sequels with number seven of the series was being worked on as we currently. But with the resent passing out one of the main characters Paul Walker, will the series end here? Only time will tell.
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ALY SAYS:
friday-night-lights-2F is also for FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (TV Series)
Friday Night Lights is an American drama television series based around a high school football team in the town of Dillon, Texas. It follows the trials and tribulations of the towns football players, their friends, family, and coaching staff.
Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of American Football, there is very little actual game time action and more about what goes on behind the scenes of the sport much like Moneyball (Brad Pitt & Jonah Hill). Episodes of the show tackle race and class, and what life is like for those who don’t embrace either God or football.
If you enjoy the first season and feel like you want more, don’t fret, the other four seasons are finally available in the UK as well as a movie starring Billy Bob Thornton with the same title.

New Releases: 24th March

PHILOMENA:

PHILOMENA-poster-773x1024-504x667Judi Dench and Steve Coogan (zzzzz) are two unlikely companions on a journey to find her long lost son in the highly acclaimed new comedy from director Stephen Frears (zzzzz). Based on an incredible true story (zzzzz).

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DON JON:

don-jon-posterVainglorious anti-porn pseudofeminism. I see through you, Joseph. A film that wants to have its cake, gobble it, then call James Franco to talk about the finer points of  not only having your cake, but, also, eating it. One day they will choke. I haven’t watched this yet (I will), but I’m probably right, ha ha ha.

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JEUNE ET JOLIE:

Jeune-et-Jolie-quadI shall be watching Jeune & Jolie for the simple fact that the story takes place over the course of a year and is divided into seasonal segments, each separated by a Françoise Hardy song. Simple pleasures.

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FIRE IN THE BLOOD:

fire-in-the-blood-posterJohn Pilger: “Fire in the Blood is one of the most powerful, important and humane documentaries I have ever seen. It’s the story of ordinary people standing up to unaccountable power. The struggle to save millions from the ravages of untreated HIV is revealed as a struggle against the new lords of the world, transnational corporations, their greed and lies. Genuine hope is rare these days — you’ll find it in this film.”

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SAVING MR BANKS:

Saving_Mr._Banks_Theatrical_PosterDisney do Disney? Pitchfork once reviewed a Jet album by posting a YouTube  video called ‘monkey peeing in his own mouth’. Get my drift?

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DIANA:

Naomi-Watts-Diana-Biopic-Poster-Ecosse-Films-07112013-01Oh dear, if only Frank Perry (Mommie Dearest) had been around to make this.

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

THE MISSING PICTURE:

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FREE BIRDS:

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MR SELFRIDGE SEASON 2:

MRSelfridge

posted by William Goodey

So sorry we don’t have Zardoz (1974) on DVD…

… because it looks amazing. A film Roger Ebert described as an “exercise in self-indulgence” on the part of director, John Boorman, who, following the success of the unforgettable Deliverance (1972) – one of the greatest films of the 70s, could basically do whatever he liked.  And this is what that ‘whatever’ looks like (and why not? we ask):

1524628_10153867148915487_480391146_nStraight away alarm bells are ringing and about a half-dozen reasons why perhaps not spring to mind. There’s so much going on here I don’t even know where to begin… A look only the bravest should cultivate. Bound to raise a few eyebrows down at your local Weatherspoons. And, was this the inspiration for Sacha Baron-Cohen’s eye-watering Borat outfit, I wonder?

SNN11BORAT-280_612344aBut let us press on…

STARRING:    

28704581SEAN CONNERY

Zardoz.avi_snapshot_00.50.49_%5B2011.06.20_21.13.57%5DCHARLOTTE RAMPLING

Zardoz+LadyDIRECTED BY:

zardoz-1973-08-g

JOHN BOORMAN

On a post-apocalyptic Earth, the population is divided between the ‘Eternals’ – an immortal elite who lounge about on their country estate called ‘The Vortex’ – and the mortal ‘Brutals’ who are basically a slave race, existing in a wasteland and supplying the Eternals with food (post-apocalyptic? Sounds like London now). Zardoz, a giant flying stone head rules over the ‘Brutal Exterminators’ whose job is to liaise between the two races and collect the food from the Brutals (in our London analogy, Zardoz would presumably be Boris Johnson – a giant floppy, blonde head flying about, barking – though the flying stone head of Zardoz seems somehow more serious and believable). Sean Connery, playing one such Exterminator gets himself in a bind (not surprising given his fancy suspenders) and finds himself captured by the Eternals, experimented upon (again, perhaps not surprising) before finally escaping and destroying The Vortex along with most of the Eternals (at this point, I shall discontinue the London analogy..)

Interestingly, Ebert compares the film to Alain Resnais’ Last Year in Marienbad (1961), but only in as much as both films are likely to leave your brain in a fog of bemusement. It has been described as THE place where genius and madness actually meet and many have wondered how a film with this plot – not to mention these costume designs – actually made it from conception all the way to the big screens, but I have it on good authority from two of my Video City colleagues that Zardoz is indeed as AMAZING as it looks – especially as it looks as though it were made on a budget of about £15 – and so, I repeat, so sorry we don’t have it on DVD…

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Ben Wheatly (director of Sightseers, Kill List, A Field in England) discusses Zardoz in the Telegraph, and The Den of Geek celebrates Zardoz’s strangest moments.

Posted by Dixie Turner

 

10 picks from BFI FLARE: LONDON LGBT FILM FESTIVAL

The party started last night.

Here are ten things you should try and see before it’s over (the Sunday after next)…

Valencia: The Movie/s (Various, 2013) – FRI 21 20:20, SAT 22 11:30, SUN 23 18:30

A collaborative queer punk ‘exquisite corpse’ adaptation of Michele Tea’s 2000 cult autobiographical novel.

Will You Dance With Me?: Recording Tests For Ron Peck’s Empire (Derek Jarman, 2014) – SAT 22 18:40

Unedited and previously unseen dance footage shot by Jarman in September 1984 at Mile End gay club Benjy’s.

Queer Bollywood – FRI 28 + SAT 29

One talk, two screenings and a club night celebrating the history of popular Hindi cinema from a queer perspective.

Age of Consent (Charles Lum and Todd Verow, 2013) – TUE 25 20:40, WED 26 13:00, SAT 29 16:40

Festival favourites Lum and Verow deliver a documentary about London’s only leather bar, The Hoist. Buckle up.

Caged Lesbians – SAT 22

One talk, one screening (John Cromwell’s 1949 women-in-prison classic, Caged) and “a night of musical mischief, intimate interrogations and sexy cell block encounters” exploring lesbians behind bars.

I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole (Jim Tushinski, 2013) – SAT 22 14:15, SUN 23 16:10

A fascinating and much necessary portrait of gay porn auteur/renaissance man Wakefield Poole.

Scream Queens: Gay Boys and the Horror Film – FRI 21, MON 24, WED 26 + FRI 28

Four bloodcurdling screenings and an illustrated history of horror through a queer lens from festival programmer Michael Blyth.

Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton (Stephen Silha, 2013) – THU 27 18:10, SAT 29 13:00, SUN 30 14:10

Another much necessary portrait of another perceptive visionary; poet/filmmaker/radical, James Broughton.

Kate Bornstein Is a Queer & Pleasant Danger (Sam Feder, 2013) – FRI 21 18:30, SAT 22 18:10, SUN 23 16:00

“Kate Bornstein is an author, playwright, performance artist, gender theorist, recovering Scientologist and pioneering gender outlaw.”

Killjoy’s Kastle: Allyson Mitchell’s Lesbian Feminist Haunted House – ALL HOURS

Re-animating a large-scale installation Mitchell staged in Toronto in October 2013, Killjoy’s Kastle multimedia frenzy presents “a nightmarish and glorious vision of feminist terror”. Mitchell hosts a free talk about the project on Sat 22 March at 14:30.

Posted by William Goodey

New Releases: 17th March

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR:

Blue-is-The-Warmest-Color-Poster-HD-WallpaperI’m really struggling with this film. I was really excited about it coming out, really excited by the the stir, adoration and outrage it pulled out of people, and admittedly kind of excited by the notion that this straight man had made this politically bad, very wrong-footed Palm d’Or winning film about two queer women. I tried to not read too much about it – found much of what I did read too right-on, too simplistic, too drooling – went to see it, and sort of loved it. Since then I’ve thought and talked about it quite a lot and now I’m far from positive about the film. I think it’s  largely reprehensible. But, I also think that in certain respects it’s quite powerful and resonant. I sort of like it in spite of myself. Now this is a terribly uninformative, contradictory mess of a blurb for such an easily hyped new release, but you should absolutely watch it (and please come tell me what you think). Then we can talk specifics and I’ll tell you why it sucks and why it doesn’t. The wonderful Eileen Myles realllly hated Blue is the Warmest Colour, and though I do too, I was also really into it.

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HUNGER GAMES 2 – CATCHING FIRE:

catching-fire-poster7 YouTube comments about the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire…

This movie is perfect….literally everything about it is perfect. -333

i want to watch it !!!!!!!

ive never even read the book and this is one of my favorite movies

can anyone tell me what happend at the ending of the movie im so confused

Although I do like The Hunger Games but I still prefer The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

Today i readed book. 🙂

this movie is gona be different

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THE COUNSELLOR:

world-exclusive-new-poster-for-the-counsellor-144467-a-1378966818-470-75Cormac McCarthy’s first original screenplay directed by Ridley Scott. I like how quiet the trailer is, until the bad song starts. The Counsellor is Michael Fassbender, a lawyer who finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking. It looks fairly entertaining, but, as Video City’s Andrei mentioned to me, this kind of material works better in the hands of the Coen brothers (who adapted McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men), than in the cloven hooves of R. Scott. It’s received quite mixed reviews, but the rave ones are enticing; Manohla Dargis of The New York Times noting how  “Mr. McCarthy appears to have never read a screenwriting manual in his life […] That’s a compliment”, and Scott Foundas at Variety drawing a comparison to John Boorman’s Point Blank. Hmm.

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ESCAPE PLAN:

escape_plan_ver3When Drinkenstein and Turbo Man do porridge, Lord knows you want a sugary spoonful!

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

SALAMANDER SEASON 1:

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CALL THE MIDWIFE SEASON 3:

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OUTNUMBERED SEASON 5:

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Posted by William Goodey

Staff A-Z of Films: F is For… (Pt.1)

TOM SAYS:
936full-first-blood-poster
F is for First Blood (1982) – dir. Ted Kotcheff
I was really wracking my brains trying to come up with an F-Film, then I checked the list. It happens that a lot of my very favourite films begin with the letter F, including two that I claimed were “My favourite film of all time” at various points, but only when badgered for an answer. (Do real people really have a favourite anything of all time?) These “all time” tops were The Fly and Faces. Faces has some of the most exquisitely natural performances I’ve ever been blessed to see and The Fly has a scene where Geena Davis gives birth to a giant maggot… but, I really really need to tell you about the original Rambo film, First Blood.
 
The film is about Vietnam veteran, John Rambo, who in searching for his friends returned from the war, finds them prematurely dead in an uncaring America. He is bullied by small town police who he escapes and is then pursued by. It is a simple film dealing with big themes of authority, responsibility, freedom, societal constraint, and wilderness. Stallone is perfect for this role, part everyman, part fearsome force of nature, part wounded animal. 
firstblood1The film’s thrust mirrors that of the song Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen, and like Springsteen the film is very populist whilst not pandering. For the reasons that a Springsteen song will always hold me tighter than a meandering ramble by Bob Dylan, I believe First Blood is an infinitely stronger film than The Deer Hunter, arguably its closest and more critically acclaimed rival.
 Born In The USA – Nebraska recording video.

First Blood’s reputation as an elegant and sensitive film is ruined by its sequels. James Cameron, the blame is at your feet, and not just for this. Mr Cameron made a series of weak action movie sequels to a string of amazing original films, sparking them into awful movie franchises. Aliens was a saccharine bloodbath that followed the nuanced terror of Alien. Rambo: First Blood part II, (arguably the dumbest title ever) reduces meaning, style, content, …basically everything except the body count, until you are left with a dulled-out nothing of a feature in which even the endless killing is completely flat. Just when you’re starting to believe he is doing all this out of some kind of demented malice you realise even his own films aren’t safe, and he runs the terrible formula on Terminator. I concede his original is a solid sci-fi horror which he proceeds to pump full of Disney morality for a horrendous joke of a follow on. 
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BEN SAYS:
fargo14F is for Fargo (1996)

This quirky and darkly funny thriller is the brainchild of Joel and Ethan Coen. Set in the locations of Brainerd, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota it tells the tale of a ransom gone horribly wrong.

William H Macy plays car sales man Jerry Lundegaard, who due to financial difficulties decides that he can make some good money by having his wife kidnapped…! His plan is to pay his hired kidnappers, played by the brilliant Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare, $80, 000 but tell his wealthy father-in-law that they have requested a cool one million dollars. However, this being a Coen brother’s film, things don’t go quite the way Jerry had planned.

fargo09As with many of their films, the Coen brothers deliver a clever, twisted thriller with moments of brilliant dark humour, helped fantastically by William H Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare whom are all on excellent form. Bare in mind this film isn’t for the faint of heart or for viewers looking for a light comedy. But if you don’t mind the odd bit of blood and strong language then this film really is a must… Just a quick word of warning, if you’re planning on using a wood chipper soon after watching this film, you might want to do some other house hold chores. Trust me!

BEN SAYS F IS ALSO FOR:

fugitiveThe Fugitive (1993)

I know, I know… every one over the age of 20 has probably seen this film and it really doesn’t need recommending, but I don’t think you can possibly have an A to Z list of film recommendations and not include it…

If you’re one of a unique band of people whom have not watched this film with delight then allow me to give you a brief over view…

Starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, it centres on Ford’s character Dr Richard Kimble coming home one night to his house to find his wife being brutally attacked and murdered in their home. During the fight between Kimble and the assailant, the assailant escapes into the night and Kimble is left to pick up the pieces. Sadly for him things go for bad to worse and he is subsequently the main suspect in the crime. Faced with no alibi, he’s found wrongfully guilty and sentenced to life in prison and death row… Then just when things couldn’t get any worse for Kimble, he finds himself in an explosive bus accident when a fellow inmate attempts to flee the prison bus en-route to the jail. Seizing his chance, Kimble decides to make a bid for freedom and to try to clear his name and bring his wife’s killers to justice. I know… exciting eh? Well just when you think it couldn’t get any better, in steps Tommy lee Jones as US Marshal Samuel Gerard who is assigned the task of bringing in the now fugitive Dr Kimble at all costs. Let the chase commence…

fugitive-740If you really have not seen this film then I can assure you it’s a Saturday night must. Although rated 15 at the time, I think most of us would agree that now it would be a 12 rating and actually quite good fun if you’re looking for a family film looking for some edge of your seat thriller action. Enjoy!

BEN SAYS F IS ALSO FOR:

MSDFADO EC034Falling Down (1993)

What else can I say but Falling Down….

If you’ve ever had a day that you wish would just end and everything and anyone is making it worse than this may, or may not as the case may be, the film for you…

It’s a simple story of one man, played by Michael Douglas, who finally reaches breaking point on his morning commute to work and decides he has had enough with it all and simply wants out and to spend time with his young daughter now living with his estranged wife. As he walks away from his car after snapping, his day simply goes from bad to really really really bad as he finds himself in an attempted mugging, forced to walk through gangland territory, missing the breakfast menu in a fast food restaurant for being 2 minutes after they have stopped serving and well you get the point…

large-falling-down-blu-ray9As twisted and dark as it is brilliant, Michael Douglas doesn’t let up as the simple white-collar worker who has finally had enough of being on the bottom rung of society. His portrayal of frustration and anger at the way modern society has become is attention grabbing to say the least and in some ways reflects how many of us have felt at some point in our lives, especially with the way we move through life almost too quickly for our own good. (Just FYI the fast food restaurant scene alone makes the film worth watching…!)

BEN SAYS F IS ALSO FOR:fight-clubFight Club (1999)

The first rule about fight club is you “don’t talk about fight club”

So I wont…. (But please watch it! Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter and Meat Loaf… what more could you want?!?)

BEN SAYS F IS ALSO FOR:

Full-Metal-Jacket-006Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, this film follows a group of US marines in training in 1967, during the Vietnam War. Its central characters, Privates “Joker”, “Cowboy” and “Pyle”, become the main three protagonists in this very dark and bleak war film.

As the recruits go through week by week training under the demoralizing and often brilliantly crass and blunt Gunner Sergeant Hartman, we see how their innocence and spirit are slowly dwindled down, forcing them to question their own morality. For many, Kubrick’s portrayal of military life showed how it was far from glamorous to say the least, (compared to Top Gun made only a couple of years prior) and that he, Kubrick, wanted audiences to understand what it was like being a young G.I. in 1960’s America in war they knew little about. In fact, Kubrick’s want for realism was a major factor in casting the actors, namely actor R. Lee Ermey, who played drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. For Ermey was himself a former Marine and real life Marine drill instructor! (Which also may explain most of the ad-libbing he does when confronting his trainees!!) As the film continues and their training completed they are then sent off to Vietnam in 1968 where they learn very quickly how little they are prepared for such a horrific and violent conflict. As humorous as it is dark, Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket touches on the dark physique that often goes hand in hand with war. Yet despite the dark moments, Kubrick manages to weave in moments of humour into otherwise deeply dark scenes that many other directors have tried and failed to do. So for that reason, Full Metal Jacket is regarded as one of the 100 films you must see before you die…

Other F films I recommend:

The Fighter

Family Guy Series and their take on Star Wars.

Fifth Element

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easy_rider poster

What’s Marilyn Reading?

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Hard boiled crime – “Big Brokers” by Irving Shulman

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A new script – Niagara (1953)

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Polishing off a literary tome – Ulysses by James Joyce

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Mr Monroe’s efforts – Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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On the lawn with Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

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Fiery spanish painting by Francisco Goya

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The Passenger List in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

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Marilyn is not reading Murder By Strangulation

posted by Tom Moore

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Review: Back to the Garden (2013)

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Back to the Garden – Reviewed by Rob Munday
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It’s a year since the death of Ivan, an inspirational theatre director, and we follow a group of his close friends who come together to celebrate his memory.

Back to the Garden is the final part in Jon Sanders loose trilogy exploring love and death with each film shot on a taut shoestring budget and set in the Kent countryside. With protagonists in their 60s the past weighs heavy: past indiscretions, words gone unsaid, emotions buried under the weight of time.

This film opens with two enigmatic scenes: A woman makes tea on a boat. She turns to someone unseen and is pleased, but something feels off – is he really there? Then we cut to see a man emerging from deep fog and looking out in despair as a ghostly woman drifts past in a boat. Is she dead or is it his love for her that is dead? These two ghosts haunt Back to the Garden: a dead man whose absence still hurts and the shell of a marriage hollowed out by infidelity and ill communication.

Still 2This marriage belongs to Julia (Anna Mottram) and her actor husband Jack (Bob Goody). Jack has the conflict of many talented actors, his wit and charisma weighed down by nerves and insecurity. Jack has played away in the past, taking advantage of an actors life, but this time it’s serious. With the lady in question, Stella, present at this gathering along with his wife and the trauma of an absent friend, Jack finds himself coming apart at the seams. Bob Goody, who featured in Sanders’ previous films, is excellent. At once endearing and heartbreaking, his clowning persona only makes his anguish more painful.

Along with Jack and Julia the two other couples allow us to observe relationships from different perspectives. Maxine and Ed are young lovers at the end of an affair and provide the film with an important kick of life. They show the beauty and pull of misplaced love in contrast to Jack’s forlorn fawning. And then there is Maggie, a woman adrift, still in a couple but with Ivan’s absence robbing her of purpose.

P1030640As with the previous films in the trilogy (Low Tide and Late September), Back to the Garden is made using long master shots and improvised dialogue. There is a tension between these two elements with the static framing restricting the actors’ movements while their tongues have free reign. Sometimes you crave the immediacy of the cut but Sanders approach can reveal pockets of truth and his unflinching eye means these characters are exposed to us. The improvisation can meander at times but when it does strike a chord there is genuine resonance.

This is the boldest and most effective of the trilogy. Visually a step up, the sharper imagery and stronger atmosphere is aided by a score from Douglas Finch that shimmers across the foggy landscapes.
With such big themes as love and death there are many clichés to avoid, Back to the Garden not only succeeds in finding the truth beneath the surface but has a quiet power that creeps up on you and leaves its own distinct memory behind.

‘Back to the Garden’ is released on 14 March at Curzon Mayfair.
See backtothegardenfilm.co.uk for details of other screenings.

***

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The Suit; The Dancing Feet; The Legs: The Band Wagon (1953)

“THERE’LL BE A NEW SUN IN THE SKY WHEN YOU GET ABOARD THE BAND WAGON!”

So proclaims the almighty trailer, and LO! Here we are, blinking like newborn babes…

Now that the sun shines once again (global warming, anyone?), and the glow is restored to our hearts, we can discard wetsuits and snorkels and walk around town with a spring in our step, and our eyes, yes our eyes see in COLOUR once more. Where once London town was soley a mix of grey, sullen brutalist architecture and Dickensian dark corners now there is GREEN (a Charisse-y chartreuse?) and RED (the spangling dress of a femme fatale?) and we at Video City turn like sunflowers to our screens and we reach and lift towards the source for we have seen that there is no colour like the vibrant glory of:

band_wagon_pub_photoTHE BAND WAGON (1953) – dir. Vincente Minnelli (Gigi, American in Paris, Bad and the Beautiful).

A musical comedy about an aging Broadway star (Fred Astaire) who hopes to revive his career with one more smash hit until the pretentious producer threatens to ruin it all in an attempt to make ‘high art’. Cue the ballet dancer to clash (oh so beautifully) with Fred’s down-to-earth tap…

Just as much fun, nay, perhaps even more fun than Singing in the Rain (maybe even just because you haven’t seen it a hundred times with your gran, chewing over Christmas cake, with a cracker-crown on your head, trying to get into the spirit of it). Just as beautiful, bold and brassy; just as vibrant and jazzy, nay, perhaps more so than Singing in the Rain, because a) this has the Minnelli touch and b) this has Fred Astaire and, let’s face it, no-one cocked a hip quite like him (no, not even John Wayne) and no-one’s shoes were ever shinier…:

Perfection.

Plus, Happy Birthday Cyd Charisse. Your legs began at your armpits, just where they should.

cyd_charisse-Bandwagon_2“Cyd Charisse is a terrific dancer, a wonderful partner. She has precision plus – beautiful dynamite, I call it … When you danced with her, you stayed danced with her.'”
Fred Astaire, Steps in Time (1959)

Screen-Shot-2014-03-04-at-10.56.55-PM-600x375“She looked like a woman who liked to shock priests with wicked confessions.”
Gene Kelly

posted by Dixie Turner

New Releases: 10th MARCH

THE BUTLER:

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Lee Daniels’ loosely based on a real life (of Eugene Allen) tale of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a black butler whose tenure in the White House lasted for 34 years.   It’s sentimental narration of 20th century history has drawn The Butler negative comparisons to Forest Gump, but – as Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times observes – the film does present an “ambitious and overdue attempt to create a Hollywood-style epic around the experience of black Americans in general and the civil rights movement in particular”. Turan does also state that it “undercuts itself by hitting its points squarely on the nose with a 9-pound hammer”, but its doubtless an interesting project. Flaws, should it have them (I ain’t seen it), might make it a more provocative and productive watch given what it appears to be going for.

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ENDER’S GAME:

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Bombastic adaptation of a 1985 sci-fi novel by some idiot. It’s got a crud title and a monumentally dull trailer. The only thing going for it is my man, Harrison Ford.

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST SEASON 1:

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Beauty, NYPD detective Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk), sees her mother shot dead but is saved from the murderers by, umm a beast. Nine years on, she discovers that Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan), a soldier though to have been killed in action, is, umm alive. Catherine gets to know him. She finds out more about her mother’s murder, and starts to realise who Vince, umm might be. Looks fun actually!

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PARANOIA:

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Simply irredeemable. The poster obscures the one thing it has going for it, my man Harrison Ford working the dome.

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DRINKING BUDDIES:

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Directed by Joe Swanberg (LOLHannah Takes the StairsV/H/S and most recently an episode of the excellent HBO series LookingDrinking Buddies is a film about two co-workers at a Chicago craft brewery struggling with romantic feelings for one another whilst in respective relationships. Instinctual and accurately mannered, the film makes me thirsty – in good ways. Check it out.

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

SHORT TERM 12:

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Posted by William Goodey

Epic of Everest (1924)

The Epic of Everest: watch the trailer for the restored film record of the historical climb  - video

Reviewed by Rob Munday.

The only way to really do justice to this film is to project it on a screen the height of Everest, to revel in its wonder and the impossible temptation to scale its heights.

From the opening purple-tinted vision of Everest this film lives up to its title: It is a true epic that overshadows the modern trend for equating ponderous length and bloated budgets with grandness; even when shrunk down to cinema size this film remains an epic to cherish.

We follow a 500 strong group of men, women, and donkeys on their arduous journey that starts with the challenge to reach the foot of the highest peak in the world. As they climb higher the team gets smaller, the donkeys are replaced with yaks and Everest itself becomes an ever more imposing presence. Chronicling the third attempt to climb Everest led by George Mallory this film was shot, directed, and produced by Captain John Noel. The Epic of Everest is more than an official record or mere travelogue but rather a paean to the eternal struggle between man and nature.

tumblr_ms6vvh254P1s6ozp1o1_1280As well as beautifully restoring this 1924 film the BFI have commissioned a new score for its re-release. Simon Fisher Turner’s soundtrack brilliantly compliments this wondrous work. He somehow captures the daunting power of this towering peak and his propulsive rhythms add to our feeling of being a fellow traveller. Turner also incorporates found sounds and Nepalese instruments and vocals to give real texture to this remote world. And what a world, almost ninety years may have passed yet these images remain stunning. The camera never moves but Noel has a real eye for capturing the landscape. We get a sense of the wonder he must have felt and also the sheer size as we look upon explorers in their woolly jumpers and jackets dwarfed by vast cliffs of ice.

p01jrtdwNoel’s intertitles give us an insight into the journey and his preoccupations. They give detail on the Tibetan tribes they encounter and the ancient mountain monasteries whose construction is a mystery even to the locals. But these are Imperialist times and Noel can be condescending about the local way of life and inhabitants who have no desire for greatness. However, he does respect the views of the native monks as they speak of the mountain they call ‘Goddess Mother of the World’. He also has genuine respect for the Sherpas (both men and women) that are normally the unsung heroes of mountaineering exploration.

tumblr_mv8envzrtC1qbatq8o1_500The colour tinting adds character when needed but Noel’s real achievement, in the harshest of conditions, is to capture step-by-step this strange journey. When sitting in a warm cinema this expedition can seem like some sort of madness but for John Noel there is no doubt: this is a noble cause and it is a duty for man to attempt to conquer nature. As Noel’s camera looks on (with his much-cherished telephoto lens) at distant ant-like figures in the vast snowscape we know there can only be one victor.

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Oscar Catch-Up

So the Academy Awards are upon us once again – that prize bestowed by the institution made up of the most powerful string-pullers in the business… Of course, box office success has nothing to do with the outcome and everyone goes home a radiant and gracious winner – especially those whose paychecks have just quadrupled.  Watch for the stumbles, the cracked smiles, the false hope, the tears and, yes, the plastic surgery. Hecklers welcome. Streakers encouraged.

Below are the nominated films that are available on DVD for you to catch-up on. Pull your facial skin taut, perfect your frozen smile and watch with your fanciest frock on… And then – judge for yourselves!

gravity-posterNominated for 10 awards, including Best Picture and Best Directing (Alfonso Cuaron)

Plus – Cuaron Catch-up:little_princess_ver3A Little Princess (1995) – Apparently Alfonso’s personal favourite amongst his films.

y_tu_mama_tambien_ver2Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) – Two young friends meet up with an older woman in this edgy, sexy coming of age road movie that rocketed Gael Garcia Bernal  to international stardom.

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Children of Men (2006) – Apocalyptic sci-fi drama starring the utterly unenigmatic Clive Owen – the miracle of pregnancy in an otherwise sterile world leads Clive to take extraordinary measures in an attempt to save the human race.

***

captain_phillips_ver2_xlrgCaptain Phillips

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Barkhad Abdi) and Best Editing.

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blue_jasmine_ver2Blue Jasmin

Nominated for Best Actress ( Cate Blanchett) and Best Supporting Actress (Sally Hawkins).

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Prisoners+PosterPrisoners

Nominated for Best Cinematography.

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115276Great Gatsby

Nominated for Best Costume Design.

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Act of Killing

Impressive and hard to watch, Act of Killing places  former torturers and exectutioners from the Indonesian anti-communist purge of the mid ’60s back in their bloody roles and watches as they eagerly reenact their crimes…

&

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Cutie and the Boxer follows the life and marriage of two Japanese artists living in New York since the ’60s, one seriously overshadowed by the work – and personality – of the other (guess which is which).

– both nominated for Best Documentary.

***

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Great Beauty

by Paulo Sorrentino (Consequences of Love, Il Divo, This Must Be the Place)

&

the_hunt_2012The Hunt by Thomas Vinterberg (Festen) and starring the excellent Mads Mikkelsen (After the Wedding, Royal Affair) – an excellent study of the effect that doubt and distrust can have in a small tight-knit community.. a man is falsely accused by a small child of abusing her and quickly finds his whole life turned upside down as those he trusted and thought of as friends turn against him.

&

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Broken Circle Breakdown

– all nominated for Best Foreign Feature.

WATCH TONIGHT TO FIND OUT WHO THE WINNERS AND LOSERS ARE – OR JUST GET A GOOD NIGHT’S KIP INSTEAD AND CATCH IT ALL IN THE 25 PAGE SPREAD IN TOMORROW’S STANDARD/METRO… (well, there’s nothing else going on, is there?)

POSTED BY DIXIE TURNER

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Oscar Tips: David Niven shows us how to keep our cool…

1361361156_1330106997_robert-opel-david-niven-lgDavid Niven (1910-1983), whose birthday it would be today, gets interrupted by a streaker at the 46th Academy Awards:

” Well that, ladies and gentlemen, was almost bound to happen. It’s fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings.”

1958-david-niven_2149667iDavid Niven winning his own Oscar for Separate Tables.

“KEEP THE CIRCUS GOING INSIDE YOU, KEEP IT GOING, DON’T TAKE ANYTHING TOO SERIOUSLY – IT’LL ALL WORK OUT IN THE END.”

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More Niven Tips:

Separate Tables (1958)

Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

posted by Dixie Turner