It’s the event film season. In this time of CGI effects, slow motion hero shots, basic storytelling and stuff blowing up real good, it’s often difficult to find a film at your local Hollywoodplex that tries for something more. A film about actual characters, who are involved in meaningful stories with insight and compelling themes. So when The Place Beyond The Pines was released last week, accompanied by favourable (often slobbering) reviews, I went out of my way to see it. I’m afraid I will be discussing the plot in some detail, so developments will be revealed. While these developments aren’t integral to the effectiveness of the film (ie. knowing them won’t ruin the film for you), I didn’t know the important one, and it wasn’t revealed in the trailer. If you read further, you’ll know. There, I’ve sufficiently covered my ass. Read More…
When I rewatched this film for this review I was struck with a sense of sadness. I vividly remember seeing it at the time (and I’ll explain why in a moment), but I hadn’t seen it again for years. God knows why, as I actually have 2 copies of it on DVD (one I bought, and one that came in a box set), but for much of the 1990’s Quentin Tarantino’s debut effort was one of my favourite films. Anyway, as I say, watching it this time actually made me sad, because while I really enjoyed it again, you can see all the early signs that would contribute to Cokey McFrankensteinhead’s latter-day self-indulgence, and other cinematic crimes.
Nevertheless, Reservoir Dogs is this week’s censorship review, as in many ways the history of this film is an almost perfect example of the idiocies of the British Classification system. Once again, all citations come from the BBFC’s excellent case study, available here.
Lengthy personal anecdote and mild spoilers below
I liked New Orléans when I went there years ago. A great atmosphere, easy women, alcohol by the bucketload- what’s not to love? Actually, and this reminds me, and it’s got less than nothing at all to do with the film but may strike a laugh, me and my mate were walking down Bourbon Street 3 sheets to the wind. We stopped to buy another daiquiri off a friendly native selling them from a stall, when I happened to glance up at the balcony of the bar opposite. On this balcony stands two of the best looking women that I’ve ever seen. They’re also clearly hammered, as they’re stripping for the pleasure of the crowd below. However, standing next to them was one of the least attractive and heftiest women that I saw in my entire time in America. She’s clearly 9 Sheets to a hurricane and for some reason best known to herself is also taking her clothes off. I take a swig of my drink, nudge my mate and say “Do you think her mother’s proud?”. Just as I’m going to take another swig of delicious beverage, I feel the clout of a meaty paw to the back of my head. I turn round to see a small and angry middle-aged woman glaring up at me with the vengeance of an angered god in her eyes. Before I can mutter a word, she screams out “I AM ACTUALLY”.
Anyway, that’s got less than nothing to do with the film, at all, so here we go with the review.
May contain stuffed alligators and spoilers below. Read More…
In the wake of another mortifyingly bad effort by England’s national side, The Rise and Fall of A White Collar Hooligan landed on my doorstep. Good timing, eh, particularly when you consider our latest supine penalty performance. It’s our fucking national game, and we’re utter cobblers. Still, at least we usually win on the terraces.
I’m genuinely convinced we’re in the middle of a kind of mini-golden period in British Cinema. 2011 in particular had some genuinely outstanding efforts released (and Brighton Rock, but we won’t talk about that). 2012 has got off to a relatively good start, with the new Hammer effort The Woman in Black playing to one of our traditional cinematic strengths. With films from the likes of Ben Wheatley still to come, it could again turn out to be another good year for our much benighted film industry. Mid way through comes director Paul Tanter’s The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan- released in the UK on Monday 2nd July, a film that promises to play to another of our traditional strengths: The London gangster movie.
British Cinema has a long and noble tradition of Kitchen Sink drama. Running back to the very start of the form, and arguably before it with the Angry Young Man playwrights, this genre has been a mainstay of our output. Some of the finest movies produced in these isles have fallen into this category, with Lindsay Anderson in particular championing the urban misery with films such as This Sporting Life. As the industry fell into terminal malaise, this almost seemed to be the only type of film we produced and the majority of modern British Cinema feels like it’s all set in a run down council flat with a miserable family in dramas directed by Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Shane Meadows. Down Terrace fits right into this tradition, being a no-budget film directed by Ben Wheatley, written by Wheatley and Robin Hill and starring Hill himself and members of his immediate family.
CONTAINS URBAN MISERY AND SPOILERS BELOW.
The mid 1990’s were a funny time in Britain. On one hand, Britpop was still running strong, Trainspotting and the Full Monty showed that we did actually have a film industry, the country was in economic good health, and, really, everything seemed to be pretty rosy. However, on the other hand, things were not as great as they appeared to be. Maybe it was because I was young and naive, but it struck me that if the country was really in as great shape as it seemed to be, then why were the papers full of corruption, incompetence and loathsome behaviour from our ruling classes? Whether it was Aitken or Archer going down for perjury, or Hamilton taking cash-for-questions, it didn’t matter as the lasting impression I have of the time was that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was a country run by asset-stripping bondage fetishists who would sell their mother to the glue factory for a couple of quid. At the time this sense of je ne sais quoi that permeated through the nation really did leave an uncomfortable feeling and if I had to put my finger on the feeling it’s that we were pig fucking sick of the Tory bastards, Thatcherism and the rest of it and we felt confident enough to try to rebuild the country. We were wrong, in hindsight (fuck you New Labour), but there was a fragile optimism coupled with a belligerent sense of celebration (have a look at Tony Blair’s inauguration in 1997 if you don’t believe me- oh, and America, I hate to break this to you, but Barack Obama= Tony Blair in a different tie). Things, this time, really were going to be better.
There were a handful of writers at the time that attempted to catch this feeling, who despised the right wing of this country and wanted to set it all to rights. Christopher Brookmyre was one of them. Read More…
It’s been an extremely long time since I’ve done one of these, and I’m actually thinking about renaming this section “the underexposed”. This time up, I’m once again delving back into Korean Cinema for a 2008 crime film that is both severely underexposed and truly excellent. I don’t really understand the West’s attitude to Japanese/ Korean cinema. Any blue filtered two-bit horror movie gets ridiculous levels of, to quote Droid, nut stroking, and yet the best films that I’ve seen from Korea recently are all crime films of some description. The tendency that still floats around amongst people to write off a whole culture as either boneheaded horror, stupid monster movies or chop-socky nonsense is astonishing, particularly when you consider how good films like The Vengeance Trilogy, Memories of Murder and now The Chaser actually are. The Chaser, incidentally, is being sold by Lovefilm as a horror movie. It most certainly is not. You can argue that it is a thriller, but it isn’t the serial killer gorefest that I was expecting. Read More…