Monthly Archives: June 2012
We’ve been putting out this blog most weekdays for over a year now, and it’s been great. But we won’t lie to you, it’s also been hard. And because we want to keep putting it out for a long time yet, we’ve come to the conclusion that it would be better for us to post (slightly) less frequently, and spend (slightly) fewer of our evenings wrestling with WordPress.
Don’t panic! We’re going to publish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (public holidays excepted), and we’re hoping to have three proper posts a week – rather than four proper posts and some space-filling whimsy on Fridays.
We reserve the right to resort to space-filling whimsy.
Another thing: one of the best things about doing this for the last year and change has been how many writers we’ve had come in from outside the talkboard group that started the blog, some of whom have written some of our best stuff. We’d like that to continue. If you’ve written for us before, we’d love to have more from you (yes, even you), and if you haven’t, we’d love to hear from you even more. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And we’re always delighted to see new posters on the talkboard as well (you’ll need to register before you can post).
We’ll be back next week with a post from Philip Concannon on the short films commissioned for the Cultural Olympiad, and the promised reports from the Edinburgh International and London Indian Film Festivals.
The end of June. The halfway point of the year. A weak excuse for a few MostlyFilm writers to share their lists of the best films of the year so far, because they are list-making nerds.
Comments of the “I heartily concur!” variety, and the “really?” variety are cordially invited.
by Lissy Lovett
Gatz opened at the Noël Coward Theatre two weeks ago, and ever since then my Twitter feed has been full of comments like “I think I might have just seen the best piece of theatre ever,” and “ #gatz just blew my mind #gatzlondon”. When I bought my and my viewing companion’s tickets (up on the balcony, the most expensive seats down front are a whopping £117.50, which is a bit beyond Mostly Film’s budget), we had thought that maybe we’d sneak off halfway through if we didn’t like it. Heck, as it turned out we could have gone to watch England lose to Italy. But this blanket of praise put a different slant on things. What if we didn’t like it? Would that mean there was something wrong with us?
Will video-on-demand recommendations give The Tramp the random joy she used to get from video stores?
I like films, a lot. I have liked films a lot for a goodly number of years. Back in the glory days of video rental, I’d easily watch three or four films over a weekend, choosing them with an eye to variety. So if I rented a blockbuster new release I also had to get something obscure or subtitled, or if I rented an action film I’d get a rom-com to go with it.
Random rentals were the bedrock of my taste for years, the source of my guilty pleasures and my not so guilty ones: French cinema, anime, and martial arts movies – particularly when they star Steven Segal and a random rapper. But with the decline
of the video rental store, so the joy of the random video discovery has gone. Which is why I was excited by Netflix and its ‘picked for you’ recommendations service.
by Blake Backlash
It can be difficult to know how to begin. The attempt to come up with a first line for his novel about alcoholism sends Don Birnham, the protagonist of The Lost Weekend, into a bout of sweaty self-doubt. The fear of the blank page is enough make him abandon the manuscript of The Bottle to go searching for an actual bottle.
If Billy Wilder ever experienced such creative uneasiness himself, it doesn’t show in the films. The openings of The Lost Weekend and Double Indemnity are both memorable because of the strikingly assured way they immerse us quickly into their narratives. We watch Fred MacMurray stagger into an office in the wee-small hours and start to dictate a memo, in which he confesses to murder. And we watch Ray Milland through a window, as he packs a suitcase and casts nervous glances towards the bottle of whisky we can see dangling on a rope that hangs out of that window. The endings of both these films will, in different ways, return us to these opening images – this is a pattern that Wilder used most famously in Sunset Blvd, which opens with William Holden’s corpse floating in a swimming pool, as William Holden starts to tell us how he came to be floating there.
by Spank The Monkey
Type the name of Jan Švankmajer into YouTube during a dull afternoon at work, and you’ll be rewarded with hours of visually inventive, intellectually playful entertainment. But you’ll probably be rewarded with a P45 as well: the world of Švankmajer is – let’s emphasise this up front – quite definitively Not Safe For Work. Unless you work in a mental institution. Or an abattoir.
Czech surrealist/animator Švankmajer has been making films for close on five decades now, but for the most part they’ve been shorts: in those fifty years, he’s directed only six full-length features. Three of them have just been released on DVD by New Wave Films, and between them they provide a convenient snapshot of his strengths and weaknesses.
by Mr Moth
DJ Fresh & Dizzee Rascal – The Power
I’m fond of Dizzee Rascal (Bonkers was number one when my daughter was born, plus he’s dressed as a shark in the video), and I can’t say I’m not partial to a bit of DJ Fresh – Gold Dust was one of the best, most summery pieces of pop* in the last few years and even the omnipresent Louder didn’t grate after so many repeats. So this should be the hit of the summer, right? Well, yes and no.
As Euro 2012 fever GRIPS THE NATION, various MostlyFilm writers take an entirely random look at football on film.
Fever Pitch (1997)
by Philip Concannon
Even though it comes complete with a climactic twist that trumps anything a screenwriter could invent, the story of Arsenal’s 1988/89 title-winning season isn’t natural material for a film with broad audience appeal. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that Nick Hornby’s adaptation of his own book Fever Pitch attempts to yoke his own memories of that season to a standard-issue romantic comedy structure, with mixed results. Colin Firth plays likeable teacher and Arsenal fanatic Colin Paul, who gets romantically involved with his colleague Sarah (Ruth Gemmell), portrayed as an uptight shrew who views Paul’s obsession as nothing more than an adolescent interest he has failed to grow out of.
by Ann Jones
Patrick Keiller is a hard man to describe: an architect who makes films, a filmmaker who makes art, an artist who curates installations. He’s certainly someone who seems to keep his options open so that his films may also become books, or art installations such as this one. Perhaps woollier descriptions like cultural commentator are needed. Or perhaps it’s better to think about what connects different aspects of his work. At the heart of much of Keiller’s work is the notion that by looking at the past we can find out about the future.
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