I’m Restarting A Film Night!

So, we had a serious case of the gremlins. On 4th July we were all set to screen Beast (2017) and a technical issue got in the way. Quite a decent one, but thankfully people who want to watch movies are also extremely generous and gracious.

Here are the emails that were sent to all attendees…

Email 1

“First of all I would like to say thank you so much for supporting this event. It was great to see a room full of people that wanted to see something a bit different.

I would also like to apologise that the event didn’t happen. I appreciate that you have put time aside to attend, made arrangements for childcare and so on. We have figured out what the technical issue is and are determined to find a solution, although that might require a change of venue. As mentioned, I will shortly process refunds.

The next step is to reorganise, because the film is excellent and deserves to be enjoyed by an audience. Once I have new details I will be in touch. Some of you will have booked for Funny Cow (1 Aug) and Phantom of the Paradise (5 Sep) and, at present these screenings will be taking place, albeit maybe at an alternate venue.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.”

Email 2

“Good Morning

Here is an update regarding the Clameur Du Cinema film screenings;

Following the cancellation of the 4 July screening of Beast (2017), I am pleased to announce that the film will be screened at 7pm on Wednesday 18th July 2018.

Despite identifying the technical problem that led to the event being cancelled we are unable to resolve it and so the location of all screenings will be changed to the Frossard Theatre at Guernsey Museum, Candie. It is a shame to leave the Digital Greenhouse, I have held events there in the past and found it to be a brilliant location. If you are looking to hold a business, creative, media or tech related event I would urge you to contact the Greenhouse and find out how they might be able to accommodate you. You can find more information at www.digitalgreenhouse.gg

The move to Guernsey Museum means that changes have had to be made to our other planned screenings due to prior bookings. Apart from Beast, future screenings will now take place on the last Wednesday of the month rather than the first. Funny Cow will screen on 29 August and Phantom of the Paradise will screen on 26 September. If you have already booked for either of these screenings and cannot make the new dates please contact me for a full refund otherwise your booking will remain in place.

On the plus side, the Frossard Theatre has a larger capacity so there will be 20 more seats available at each screening and having the last Wednesday of the month as our screening slot means that there will be a film on Halloween!

I will shortly send out direct invites regard all our screenings. Please let me know if you wish to be removed from the mailing list. You can always find information about Clameur Du Cinema events at www.cdcgsy.com/screenings

Thank you for your support.”

…so, Beast will be screened, onwards and upwards.

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I’m starting a film night!

So, I’ve booked a venue, sorted three films and licensing, and chosen a name. I’m starting a film night.

I’ve screened films before, and talk about them endlessly, but it’s time to actually create a regular film night and share all the new, odd and interesting films that don’t get a look in on Guernsey’s screens. The films are vital, but it’s the audiences that will make it a success and their engagement and enjoyment.

So here we go…

The night is called Clameur Du Cinéma and won’t be as pretentious as it sounds. It takes place on the first Wednesday of every month at Guernsey’s Digital Greenhouse (a great interactive venue) starting on 4 July 2018 with Beast (2017). I’ve also booked Funny Cow (2017) and Phantom of the Paradise (1974). Tickets can be booked here.

Here goes, wish me luck…

Wynter

Desert Warriors and The Problem with Dune (1984).

I’ve seen Dune more times than I really should have.  I’ve gone through phases with it and in 2013 I wrote the following…

“Although not perfect (what film is?) it’s a great big, weird and ballsy piece of sci-fi.  What really feels right is the savage nature of the world in which it’s set both in terms of the political / societal set up and hardness of the dessert planet Arrakis.  Everything in this film is life and death.  Highly Recommended.”

Having finally seen it with an audience, on a screen larger than my TV, I’ve got to admit that it’s a bad movie.  I’ve ended up here because my mind connected a shot of Alia, the young sister of the main character, with Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

Untitled

It’s hard to believe that the reference isn’t intentional, that Lynch isn’t invoking Lean.  Both stories feature outsiders leading desert warriors in military campaigns that are linked to larger political games.  The Middle Eastern influences in Dune are front and centre and so is the importance of a precious natural resource.  When O’Toole’s Lawrence dances, it’s because he’s infatuated with his robes and his shadow is his partner, he can’t help but check his reflection in his dagger.  Alia is similarly lost in herself and that’s why the shot is so striking, it’s the one moment in Dune in which a character isn’t pushing the plot forward or saddled with overly obvious inner monologue.   The two texts touch for one moment.  The big difference is that Lawrence… has subtext (voiced perfectly in that scene) and is alive, Dune is dead because it has none.

 

Proof of Concept

I’ve just worked my way through the available videos in Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studio project on YouTube and I think they’re really worth your time. Like his earlier short films all the videos are full of ideas and wonderful / haunting images, and their incomplete concept feel is part of the charm. Unlike his feature films they don’t outstay their welcome.

Rakka is clearly the stand out but every short does it’s own peculiar thing and it’s an hour well spent that’ll leave you looking forward to the release of the next video, Zygote, on 12 July.

M.C.P.T.S.D.U a.k.a. Jessica Jones

I’m not the biggest fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (M.C.U.),  a couple of the movies are really good but it’s essentially a (admittedly well made) culturally imperialist content generator: racking up minutes and occupying multiplex screens.  But when you combine the films with the Netfix Originals offerings, Marvel have, maybe inadvertently, created a rather significant and interesting gap between the two with the small screen offerings playing out as the damaged echo chamber of the film’s classic bants tinged mass destruction.

The films have obviously already started to react to the previously unmentioned mass destruction in very direct ways, the plots of Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice directly concern the aftermath of these cataclysm and the latter even seems driven to insanity, but they are still top down views.  Films about billionaires, gods and Government operatives.  Jessica Jones (2015 – ) is the view from the cheap seats.  It’s a series that directly references the MCU, infuses everything it does with the shackles and scars of the past, and successfully grounds it by having real and unimaginable trauma as it’s main focus.  It’s also infused with mistrust of motive and power and the superhero ‘powers’ are almost invisible until they are used in blink and you’d miss it moments or damaging frantic fights.

Jessica Jones is the best that Marvel currently has to offer.  On it’s own it would just be a very strong and interesting series, with smart writing and great performances.  With the weight of the MCU’s glib body count it’s turned into a diamond.  I’ve still got two episodes to go before completing the first season, I might just cry if she starts wearing a costume.

 

Film: Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)

Kingsman The Secret Service @ www.cinemascream.co.uk

Once again I’m sat in a cinema wishing I was watching Kick-Ass (2010).  That was a disruptive riot of a movie that got the tone and the disrespect just right.  Kingsman falls flat for being too much in love with what it should be tearing down.  It doesn’t seem to get that being as good as one’s supposed betters is about more than just becoming one of them.  It’s a fatal flaw.

Don’t get me wrong there is a lot to admire, including a jaw-dropping stand-out scene of mayhem, but even that is compromised through forced moral justification.

It’s also 30 mins too long and a mis-judged joke sees the film end on a staggeringly regressive note.

Film: L’Argent (1928)

L'Argent @ www.cinemascream.co.uk

“Everybody needs money. That’s why they call it money.”

I love that line from David Mamet’s Heist (2001), the idea that the thing is so important that it can only have been named after itself.  That’s why L’Argent is called L’Argent.

Based around a tale of stock-market manipulation and unrequited love, Marcel L’Herbier’s film is a dive into finance and acquisitions of all kinds that is stunning in it’s drama and technical brilliance.  Made right at the end of the silent-era, it rivals A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929) in it’s daring and movement as it places the camera on the trading floor and throws you into the hustle and bustle whilst never loosing the avant-garde edge that places the best of silent cinema into the realms of purity.

This is the movies and the final line is priceless.

Highly Recommended.

Detritus.

The Masters of Cinema DVD really is fantastic as, along with the usual high quality extras, it contains the contemporaneous ‘making of’ documentary Autour De L’Argent (1928), which is worth the purchase in it’s own right.

Film: Fury (2014)

Fury @ www.cinemascream.co.uk

I’ve been thinking about Fury quite a lot since watching it back in November because it’s a hard film to get a handle on.  It’s a solid war film in the cynical tradition of Cross of Iron (1977) with a strong cast and an unflinching approach to the meat-grinder side of warfare.  Away from the blood and mud it’s tank crew as family with Brad Pitt as father and Shia LaBeouf, better than ever before, as mother.  It’s a tough and gripping watch and then there is that scene at the dinner table…

It’s an odd scene.  The strangest family dinner since The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).  A real knife edge scene that you think is only going one way and then it doesn’t, but what it does instead seems to whitewash what the reality would have been.  Which is strange for a film that doesn’t pull punches… I’m struggling with this one scene but can’t deny it’s what elevates the film into the realm of fascinating.

Highly Recommended.

Film: Young Winston (1972)

Young Winston at www.cinemascream.co.uk

So Young Winston is one of those grand British epics that just don’t get made any more.  It’s pretty much a political / social thing as stories of Queen and Empire get more complicated as the world gets smaller and we all know each other a bit better, but that really undermines interesting lives and history that were never simple in the first place.  We just need to find a way to tell these stories again.

The problem with Young Winston, which is a perfectly serviceable film about a fascinating figure and time, is Winston himself.  He’s played by the wonderful Simon Ward but something just feels off and I can’t figure out if it’s Ward overplaying (not likely) or the fact that Churchill himself was such a large character that even an accurate portrayal feels too broad.  The voice sounds like an impression because it’s become an impression of itself.  Again, I doubt it’s Ward because I can’t remember seeing a portrayal that didn’t feel like imitation.

Maybe some figures are so fixed in the mind that looking at them straight on doesn’t let you anywhere near them.

But damn, what a life!

Recommended.