Monthly Archives: September 2009

A Rediscovered Exercise in Homage

Now that the main body of work for Chodzenie – Siberia is over, I’m turning my attention to little loose ends that require tying up before I start writing the next script.

While flicking through the stuff on my hard drive, I came across this exercise we did at film school about 2 years ago. The brief was to go out and make a 2 minute music video and, being in the midst of an intensive Woody Allen binge, I thought that tribute should be paid the only way I know how.

Those of you who know the film MANHATTAN will get it immediately, those who don’t should see it immediately. The feedback I was given at the time was the idea was smart but I could have done with shooting for another day. Fact of the matter was, my partner in this exercise, who was supposed to be shooting second unit, got drunk the night before and never shot a minute so the film became a solo project and I went with what I had. The only reason I’m putting it up now is I only just desaturated it tonight and some shots are worth looking at now it’s in black and white.

My girlfriend Cindy thinks I have a rather grim opinion of Edinburgh judging by the footage I chose for the sequence……. I’d tend to agree. It’s positively grim though.

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An Afternoon With Bruce and Mike

……….So I arrive back in my homeland last night after 12 hours of travel preceded by 2 months of the most challenging work I’ve ever done.

Another 30 Bird project has been successfully completed. Check out their website HERE.

After spending 4 hours back at the day job this morning, the urge to go on a flick binge hit me like an angry woman, it was kept pretty contemporary.

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Based on the article “A Farewell To Arms” by John Carlin (check out the link incidently, it’s an interesting read) this flick brings back the unstoppable John McClane who is tasked, once again, with thwarting the intentions of a determined (and way too sharp looking) band of terrorists.

This is a quite different fight however.

Now there’s a hell of a lot of shooting and blowing up in this flick but the main fight, or should I say attack, is carried out by subverting the computer systems that run the mechanics of everyday life. Automated systems that are taken for granted to the point of being invisible are turned against the masses. From traffic lights, to the rail network to the FAA mainframe to every CCTV camera in any given place, these terrorists are all about remote devastation and they’re bloody good at what they do. With the click of a mouse and some furious key tapping, chaos reigns. It is, as John Carlin intimates in his article, I-War. Not to be confused, under ANY circumstances, with I-Robot………

Structurally the picture is simple. McClane is given a normal sounding job to pick up a computer hacker for the feds. Said hacker turns out to have unknowingly been writing programmes for the bad guys and is now a target for extermination as he’s served his purpose. Both worlds collide in a gorgeous example of overblown cinematic coincidence which leaves McClane and his weedy, but super smart sidekick to try to save the world with apparently no help at all from…… Well, anyone.

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Helicopter Pilots Beware: Cars CAN Kill

I found this film to be a lot of fun. you know what you’re getting from a Die Hard movie and this example makes no attempt to insert any Felliniesque flourishes. McClane survives so much in this flick that it’s often on the verge of becoming ridiculous (Jet fighter anyone?) but you forgive it as the action sequences are well constructed and work in the context of the flick. If you start poking holes in plot or character structure the whole thing collapses of course but, unlike Transformers, you don’t get bored and you don’t despise the filmmaker for burning / wasting enough cash to fund a decades worth of independant production……. The director here even waits until the final stand of scene to unveil the “Yippe-Ki-Yeh” …… We all knew it was coming.

Second up and sourced for free from the good folks at Lovefilm is the 2009 James Toback documentary Tyson

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Many reviews for this film berate James Toback for the pun loaded reason of pulling his punches, I completely disagree.

This movie is constructed like a confessional. The only time the camera diverts from Tyson is to show footage of either Mike at work in the ring or clips of the people that were influential in his life. Now he doesn’t confess to rape on film and goes so far as to call Miss Washington “wretched” and this is the main bone of contention amongst critics. “Why didn’t Toback press him on this?” they cry in blinkered unison. For me it’s clear. Tyson has, all through his life, been his own worst enemy and he does exactly the same here. The words are his, they’re said in the comfort of his home with no pressure on him forcing him into a corner. Toback’s camera is merely recording this man verbally fabricating the rope he’ll use to hang himself.

It’s a facinating insight into the mind of a man who was the perfect product of his environment, only to be plucked from that environment and be lauded as a king. For all his wrongdoing he is extremely candid, sometimes profound and occasionally sweet. All this despite honesty where it mattered most.

Here’s a taste.