Saturday, 28 December 2013

2013 - TEN OF THE BEST

Before 2013 is yesterday's news, full of embarrassing haircuts we'd all rather forget, I'd just like to shoehorn in my films of the year. As usual, I've tried to go with my guts, so all these choices are intestinal. And you can't argue with your intestines. 

10. SPRING BREAKERS (Harmony Korine)

Harmony Korine's SPRING BREAKERS is a dreamy, psychedelic satire about the most vacuous holiday imaginable (Spring breaaaaaaaaaak). It's a Day-Glo car crash of a movie, but beneath the beaches and the boobies, there's more going on than meets the eye. I think.



9. THE PAPERBOY (Lee Daniels)

Lee Daniels' THE PAPERBOY is also set at the height of summer, but it's an altogether sweatier affair in which Efron, Kidman, Cusack and McConaughey perspire their way through 60's Florida, getting up to all sorts of clammy japes. The resultant sweat-fest is as moist as a A STREETCAR NAME DESIRE (1951) or, if I may be so bold, A TOUCH OF EVIL (1958). Which is not to say that Lee Daniels is the new Orson Welles. 



8. FIRE IN THE NIGHT (Anthony Wonke)

A nightmarish tale of brotherhood, survival and apocalypse at sea, FIRE IN THE NIGHT is a documentary about the night of July 6th, 1988, when the Piper Alpha oil platform went up in flames. As told by the survivors of the disaster, it's a gripping, horrifying and admirable document of a tragedy.



7. IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY (Don Hertzfeldt)

IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY unravels the disintegrating mind of Bill, a little stickman struggling to come to terms with his place in the universe. Herzfeldt's inventive mini-epic is full of cinematic ambition, narrative playfulness and ingenious use of sound. You can download it here for a few quid and it's well worth every penny. Do it. Do it NOW.  


6. A FIELD IN ENGLAND (Ben Wheatley)

Ben Wheatley's A FIELD IN ENGLAND is a headfuckingly strange black and white arthouse film that created a feeling of excitement and potential in original British filmmaking once again. Stuck at home with a heavily pregnant lady, I tapped into the hubbub surrounding the film's multi-platform release by watching it on the old telly box on the day it came out. And lo, it was a trippy delight. 


5. THE ACT OF KILLING (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Replete with dream sequences, dance routines, and a horrific (and potentially faux) purging of the soul, THE ACT OF KILLING is an unbelievably bizarre, powerful documentary about humankind's disturbing capacity to murder. It's given me nightmares. 


4. UPSTREAM COLOUR (Shane Carruth)

'Imagine a Terence Malick film edited by Roger Corman' - Kim Newman's astute summing up of Shane Carruth's second feature; UPSTREAM COLOUR. Which has given me a great idea - why doesn't Corman edit everything Terence Malick made after BADLANDS and gift the world a glut of 90-minute Malick-Corman belters?


3. A HIJACKING (Tobias Lindholm)

High pedigree Danish drama with an outstanding 'man under a fuckload of pressure' performance from Søren Malling. Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm (writer of THE HUNT and BORGEN), A HIJACKING is as taut as a Holmegaard bow string (i.e a bowstring that is very, VERY taut).


2. STORIES WE TELL (Sarah Polley)

STORIES WE TELL is a documentary in which Sarah Polley interrogates her family history and uncovers some jaw-dropping revelations amidst the tapestry of narratives on offer. It's a highly personal film that eloquently elaborates on a universal truth: families are fucked up. 


1. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (Derek Cianfrance)

Putting these films into some kind of hierarchical order for this blog, I was kind of surprised to see THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES hop up to the top of the list. But back in April, with the weight of impending fatherhood bearing down on me like a great behemoth from the sky, Cianfrance's epic tale of responsibility and legacy struck a chord with me. D-minor, I think. The saddest of all the chords.   













Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Mister John

I've written about MISTER JOHN for the Picturehouse Blog. If you want to read it, click here.



Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Network


Off to the BFI London Film Festival today with Ben Soper and Blue Iris Films for the next installment of Network. You can read about my experience of taking part in the development initiative over on the Creative Futures website. Just click here. I bloody dare you. 

Getting myself pumped up for my trip with the London Boys. RIP fellas.   


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The King of Marvin Gardens

I've been a right shitter to this blog, letting the poor bastard languish in the doldrums of blogscurity as if nobody reads it. As if! Anyway, I'm going to start bleeding out all the little disturbances that I make on the surface of Mother Earth. Next time I accidentally floss too hard and draw blood and wince - gonna blog it. But let's begin this foolhardy promise of more content by winding the clock back a couple of months. 

Here’s a link to a piece I wrote in July for the Picturehouse Blog on the reissue of downbeat 70s drama THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS. Not the most celebrated of those wonderful 70's American New Wave flicks but it gnaws at the soul like a hungry beaver with an insatiable appetite and a pair of gnashers that could fell the sturdiest Norwegian spruce. You get the picture: it's a film worth subjecting yourself to. And the Park Circus reissue is very pretty indeed.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Where Do You Want This Killing Done?

I spent last weekend visiting the salty old Queen of the sea, wonderful Copenhagen! Turned out there was a number of great cinemas there but I only managed to catch a film at the Empire Bio, in the Norrebro district. It's well worth seeking out. I saw the 2012 film Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley's compelling documentary about family narratives. I also visited the Danish Film Institute but found the archives closed on a Monday, so had to settle for a cold beer in the cafe and a browse through the programme in a language unfamiliar to me, possibly Danish.

The above picture was taken in the Assistens Kirkegard, an amazing graveyard two minutes from where I was staying. You can find the headstones of countless Danish greats here, including fairy-tale heavyweight champion Hans Christian Anderson. As a Religious Studies graduate, top of the body pile for me was proto-existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard's epic riff on God asking Abraham to stab up his son Isaac just to prove his faith always stuck with me. Faith is a gnarly old business.

I'm off to stick on Highway 61 Revisited, dig out my old copy of Fear and Trembling and spark up a Gauloise (that's an existentialist joke that's not very funny, probably because we live in a meaningless  world). I'll leave you with a film I saw in the Statens Museum for Kunst by a lesser known Danish surrealist, Wilhelm Freddie. It's like a more disturbing Un Chien Andalou that will put you off bread for a good while.

Friday, 4 January 2013

London Short Film Festival 2013


Last summer I wrote and directed a short which I made with Ross Howie, a man prepared to do unspeakable things to plants for very little incentive. I'm very happy that our small film Children of the Soil will have it's first public screening at the London Short Film Festival on the 5th of January, as part of New Shorts #6: Low-Budget Mayhem.

Big thanks to Media Education for kindly lending us some lights, Ailsa Morgan and Colin & Sally Howie for locations and tasty bites, Kim Richmond for banging the drums like Ginger Baker and Olivia Gifford for driving a car full of tonnes of period detail. If anyone spots the vintage Brains coaster on screen, F.A.B to you!

Some of these folk on twitter:

@DennyWhisp
@KimTreharne
@oliviagifford

Will get the film online in the not too distant future.

Happy tenth birthday to the London Short Film Festival!