A common phrase on the school report cards I gingerly handed to my parents some years back was “easily distracted”. Some teachers elaborated on that by saying “has potential but is easily distracted”. The latter phrase really wound up my guardians as it suggested I could do well, but didn’t want to. The heated discussions following such occasions are not remembered with a huge amount of fondness.
Why am I sharing this with you?
Following a successful screening of my recent documentary THE LAST DROP (which is currently going through a re-cut) and a busy stint at the Edinburgh Film Festival and Fringe, I’m left without a project in recognisable pre production, therefore I have to WRITE.
Now I’m not without ideas, far from it. There’s 3 shorts, an idea for a feature, a documentary and an experimental piece bouncing about in my brain just now, all fighting to get out. Trouble is, I’m easily distracted. I’ve made 3 attempts this weekend alone to sit and get it flowing, but have always been lured onto the rocks by the sirens of attention deficiency.
I should maybe just take a pair of wire clippers to my internet cable and donate my DVD collection to charity.
Yesterday’s attempt at productivity was hampered by a few things, all of them films. My good friend and fellow director, Zach Rosenau sent me a script which he’s hoping to get made at the end of the year. He’s asked me to assistant direct so, having wanted to work with Zach since I met him and because I love the script, the decision to commit to his project wasn’t a hard one. A point of reference for the film is Hitchcock’s SHADOW OF A DOUBT, having not seen it for a while I thought it only right that I revisit it immediately.
On raking the interweb for a movie poster (I love to get the poster in the post, you may have noticed) I came across a blog that described the picture as a “minor Hitchcock classic”. How does one go about making a “minor classic”? Answers on a postcard.
SOAD is actually Hitchcock’s personal favourite and it’s easily in my top 5 Hitch pictures. Joseph Cotten plays a deliciously villainous role as Charlie Oackley, a misogynistic killer of rich widows, who in an attempt to flee the rap for his series of murders, returns to his family home in the hope that small town America will provide refuge from the threat of the chair. The family initially hold him in complete reverence, in particular his niece and namesake young Charlie Newton, played by Teresa Wright. The girl has her uncle on the highest pedestal but it is this bond that proves to be his undoing. A few strange actions by Oackley seem inconsequential until detective and admirer Jack Graham, lets her know just what her perfect uncle is accused of. This leads to a piecing together of previous clues and a rapid deterioration of their relationship which eventually put her life in danger.
In addition to this being a tremendous picture in terms of dramatic progression over 3 acts, it also has all the supplementary characters that add humour to this most terrible of situations. There’s Joe Newton (Charlie’s Papa) and Herbie Hawkins (featuring Hume Cronyn of BREWSTERS MILLIONS and the COCOON films fame in his first role). Both are crime novel enthusiasts who, throughout the film, hold hilarious conversations about how they’d kill each other and get away with it. There’s Ann Newton, the incredibly smart and sarcastic kid who spawned a thousand cinema imitations and Patricia Collinge as Emma Newton, the perfect portrayal of a Middle American matriarch.
I’ve found the first ten minutes of the film on youtube, you can actually watch the whole thing there if you simply can’t wait to get hold of a DVD…….
Second up was a film I remember for its notoriety in my teens. I never saw it on its release….. I have now.
This film has a lot of sex in it, that much is well known. I remember it being labelled pornography back in 1992 but I have to disagree with that. It falls into the category Michael Winterbottom‘s horrifically boring 9 SONGS does in that it shows a relationship and all its elements. For those of us in relationships that still have a hint of passion in them, that includes sex. Where director Jean-Jacques Annaud succeeds and Winterbottom fails is that we actually care about the characters in THE LOVER.
The striking Jane Marsh
The film follows the sexual awakening of a girl in Indochina, 1929. Travelling on a ferry one day she meets The Chinaman, played by Tony Leung Ka Fai. The two immediately fall for each other but cannot realise this coming together in any other way than the physical. He is destined to end up in an arranged marriage, she throws a barrier between them fuelled by social prejudice her family upbringing. It’s an incredibly tense and beautiful film. Other than the moral questions thrown up by the age difference (she’s 15, he’s 32) the question of love itself is investigated.
This was Jane Marsh’s first film with her career being restricted to only 9 further roles since 1992. Although nowhere near an award winning performance, I think she handles the subject matter well. Seek it out.
Right, back to this script…….