I popped down to the NFT last Monday for my first visit for a while to catch Shane Meadows latest film, ‘This is England’. It concerns the coming of age of a recently bereaved 12 year old boy on a squalid Nottingham Council Estate. As the film opens, our isolated and bullied hero blossoms as he obtains a surrogate family in the form of a gang of (mostly non-violent) Skinheads.
This is a beautifully observed picture, well paced and engaging – you really feel for the little thug, even when he begins to slip off the rails. The sense of the 1980′s is wonderfully evoked, with the clothes, language, graffiti, haircuts and other little touches such as having ‘Blockbuster’ playing on the TV in the background will have you recalling your own mis-spent youth. It’s also incredibly funny – at least for a UK audience. The quip about the main kid – Thommo – being the spitting image of Keith Chegwin’s son I suspect would be lost on a Kansas audience. The mood turns somber and eventually violent, as you’d expect given the subject matter but has a uplifting coda which as Philip French pointed out in his Observer review is reminiscent of Truffaut’s 400 blows.
Obligatory link to the Guardian Q&A here, which was probably one of the more laugh out loud entertaining events I’ve seen at the NFT. Meadows is quite hilarious, and has some unique stories from his upbringing which you can see he’s invested into his movies. Compare and contrast with the silver spoon Guy Ritchie and his pseudo Scorsese rip-offs – the man doesn’t have a genuine iota of talent. Meadows, on the other hand is clearly following the path forged by the great Alan Clarke, Ken Loach and to a lesser extent Mike Leigh by making films which could only be made in this country, exploring the social and cultural environments of the UK, in the perennial neo-realist, improvised verite style forged by the new British cinema of the late 50′s. Long may they continue.
Los Angeles here I come !! Within a day, I’ve decided that a need a holiday before starting another assignment, and as it happens my mate also has some time off and expressed an interest in visiting the states. I’ve been toying with the idea of visiting LA for a couple of years, finally everything has fallen into place. Excellent.
I’m going to be a total film whore and fit in all the studio tours that are humanly possible in a fortnight. A photo of me standing under the sign for Mullholland Drive will also be aquired. All I have to do now is book and pay for it….
Given recent events in Virginia, and especially since the unbelievable development of that psycho sending his ‘electronic manifesto’ to the news media I stumbled across this amazing debate from 40 years ago that, for me is astonishingly prescient in many ways – at least for the first ten minutes or so.
On some of the sites I frequent there has been much discussion on the ’21st century’ nature of this event, either in the media, or with the terrified students reporting in real time what is happening on blogs, Myspace, facebook etc. etc. There are numerous examples of students linking to friends and family that they’re OK whilst the carnage occured, and of course the fiasco of campus authorities sending e-mails of warning rather than texts, to the inevitable camera phone footage – the whole thing just seems more accelerated than the last (western media at least) major news event.
What really, REALLY makes me angry is the exploitation – from the media (can’t be bothered to link, too many examples), to the Scientology vultures, to the most hated family in all America to gain that all important media exposure. Sickening. Time to turn the TV off and read a book.
Just to steal a bit of black humor – perhaps this may cause a slight chuckle….
‘FIVE DAYS? BUT I’M MAD NOW…..’
Quick post today, hectic at work again. I’ve been reading up on the critical consensus of ‘Grindhouse’ and it seems to be getting a pretty rough ride. I hope it will be great fun, I mean it’s got a hot chick with a gun in place of her leg – how can it fail? Apparently they have a sequence in the middle where a few trailers are shown for other (non-existent) movies – here is the Eli Roth directed one.
It seems that allegations of QT ripping the whole concept off a bunch of film students have surfaced – link here. Also check out the ‘Werewolf Women of the SS’ trailer – brilliant. Speaking of terrible movies of the 70′s, here is a special link for Nick – enjoy….
Here are some hysterical trailers for genuine grindhouse pictures. John Patterson – my favourite film critic – expands and examines the genre in all it’s dubious glory. As it’s sunny, and Friday, here are some chuckles – the worlds most amusing comic book panels. Unintentionally that is.
One of the most anticipated movies of the year (at least for me) finally arrives, and is something of a disappointment. The title refers to the number of brave Spartan soldiers who fight to defend the invading hordes of Persia and his million strong cadre of godless heathens. It’s based on a fine (if memory serves) graphic novel by probably still my favourite comic writer – Frank Miller. Like ‘Sin City‘, I suspect the film-makers have saved money on storyboard artists by simply replicating sequences from the originals shot for shot, a simple transition given the cinematic nature of Miller’s framing and plot-lines.
I wanted to like this, I really did, but the CGI rendered backgrounds gave it something of the ‘Star Wars’ prequel illusion difficulties – when you’re brain is going, ‘hmm that’s quite a impressive effects shot’ and not ‘ohmygodthatisamzing’ you’ve got problems. CGI may come on leaps and bounds with every passing year, but it still can’t fool the human eye completely. The fighting, however, is terrific and is superbly executed (ho, ho) with some real tour de force sequences of Spartan uber-warriors steaming through phalanx’s of foreign scum.
Much has been made in the press of the alleged political and ideological overtones of the picture given current events – can’t say I agree. I thought Snyder injected some wry commentary into his effective ‘Dawn of the Dead‘ remake but any covert message seems absent from this computer game movie. Maybe I was too distracted from the two fuckers sat behind us in the cinema who decided to treat us all to their insightful political analysis of the film in true Nathan Barley style fashion – after my previous experience of of total fuckwads in the audience at Odeon Tottenham Court Road I shall now be avoiding this place.
Been a while hasn’t it? Well, my broadband is down at the moment so I’m posting from work, and works been quite staggeringly busy. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I am particularly frustrated that this is happening now as I’m in the process of getting a new assignment, upgrading my company so I’m actually the ‘director’ (one for Deano there…) due to Gordon Brown’s recent tax shenanigans, and as such desperately need access to my e-mails. Sigh…such is life.
So what have we learned this week?
Reversing accidents make them even funnier.
This is simply disturbing.
This guy is quite funny, expressing his life in pie charts. My favourite is ‘% of time I am annoyed when I see Pixies referred to as ‘The Pixies’ in print’.
Anyone who missed The Trap is a fool and must immediately watch it, or never darken my blog again. Links here. I loved Adam Curtis’s choice of soundtrack, particularly those tracks from all the good John Carpenter movies – inspired.
Oh, and the post title is obviuously from ‘The Shining’. Obviously. I couldn’t find a link to that clip, so you’ll have to make do with a reasonably competent analysis of the film here.
It seems that my broadband connection will not be resolved until mid May, so blogging will be infrequent, especially since I am also looking for a new assignment, and work is absurdly busy. Normal service will be delivered once we have established what normal is.