Tag Archives: EIFF

Corman Meets Poe

It feels like a country age since I last put up a post of substance. Please accept my apologies for the slackness on the blog front as I’m writing my dissertation and the treatment / script for the next flick which will be shooting sometime around March / April. We’re currently in the process of cleaning up The Three Tenners for entry into next years Edinburgh International Film Festival so everything that can be crossed, is crossed for that.

The dissertation is on the subject of adaptation which has meant watching tons of interesting flicks. I’m on a little strand of the Roger Corman / Edgar Allan Poe adaptations so it’s maybe right I should bring some of this stuff to your attention, should you have seen them or not. There’s 8 of them in total which Corman made between 1960 and 1964….. That’s almost 2 flicks a year, and he was making films in between! 5 day features man, bring em’ back. Well I suppose Shane Meadows already has with Le Donk.

Anyway, here they are in chronological order….. Seek them out!

House of Usher (1960)

Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

The Premature Burial (1962)

Tales of Terror (1962)

The Raven (1963)

The Haunted Palace (1963)

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)

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EIFF Off

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The EIFF is over for another year.

It’s a shame I never got round to posting fresh analysis and opinion on the films as I saw them but to be honest, my desire to type has been waning of late. It seems like the only thing I’ve done for the last 2 years is type so I thought it best to take a break and regain my thirst for communicating. Via the gift of innocent smoothies and some decent sleep, it seems to be back.

It was a good festival, maybe not as complete an experience as last year due to my work commitments but I got along to a decent amount of stuff and met some cool people.

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The opening film was the new Sam Mendes pic AWAY WE GO which had John Krasinski (star of the US comedy TV show The Office) and Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live) in the leading roles. It was a good natured, whimsical start to the fest which neither offended nor inspired me. The dudes at Filmspotting ripped it to shreds but the picture, in my opinion, doesn’t strive to be anything beyond what it is on its surface, 2 people in love trying to find their way after discovering they have a child on the way. Mendes himself came out and introduced the film and his summing up of what we were about to see was in no way weighty or philosophical. And that’s ok by me. You can’t sit and watch PERSONA over and over after all.

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The EIFF wouldn’t be what it is without its weird midnight pictures. Those pictures that may not see the light of day beyond the festival circuit. These are the real finds and it always annoys me that these little gems are what make a festival, but very few people get to see them.

One such example is White Lightnin’.

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The film stars up and coming Brit actor Edward Hogg as Jasco White, a real life character from the deep south of America who has his troubled life dramatised in this picture (Jasco, incidentally, is currently in jail) Hogg does a tremendous job bringing this hardened individual to life. There are moments of striking beauty despite the grimness of the subject and I never once felt that director Dominic Murphy pushed things too far. I loved this film and would say it was the best of my festival. I hope this picture gets a release, if it does it’ll probably run late at night, it’s worth staying up for!

The real highlights for me this year were the In Person interviews. I took in Darren Aronofsky, Bill Forsyth, Roger Corman, Sharmila Tagore and Joe Dante sharing their cinematic views live on stage. It was especially pleasing to see my college tutor Jonny Murray doing a great job interviewing Bill Forsyth. It’s now clear in my mind that Scottish cinema can be funny, insightful and important without having to resort to drab, arbitrary stories of drink, drugs or violence. Our nation has more to offer, we just don’t know how to fund it.

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Kim Newman interviews Roger Corman

I’ll lastly mention the Roger Corman retrospective that was running as a compliment to his In Person appearance. I’ve mentioned Corman a few times on this blog but I don’t think his contribution can be overstated. I had the pleasure of watching THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, THE INTRUDER and THE RAVEN on the big screen, more on THE INTRUDER soon as I’ve bought it and will dedicate a full post to the flick. People need to get into this guy. The films, although quite rough around the edges in many cases, show an ingenuity, a passion and an energy for story so often lost on glossier, more expensive productions. This freedom, I believe, is now returning thanks to the digital age, how that freedom will be utilised is another discussion altogether.

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The Slacker’s Back

Well it’s been a while innit?

There have been genuine reasons for the extreme lack of activity on the blog (It’s not laziness, honestly) and it’s cool that people are still dropping by despite having chuff all new to read.

Firstly, work on THE THREE TENNERS continues. I’m almost done with recording the sounds I need. All that will be required then is to lovingly complete the aural design and get a hand with colour correction. I really don’t want to rush this film as it’s my EIFF entry for next year and those people go for quality…… usually.

We also had a fantastic directing workshop with up and coming Scottish director Morag McKinnon. Morag has just finished her first feature and was extremely helpful, friendly and informative. It was great to direct in front of a working director as what your doing really comes under scrutiny, even more so than it does when on set. Anyway, it went well and a certain amount of confidence was taken from the feedback.

Last weekend I was in Manchester letting off some major steam and what better way to do this than by going to an Oasis gig. They’re not everybody’s cup of tea, granted, but were the band of my adolescence and in some strange way, helped me through some even stranger times. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for those lads. I can’t wait to bounce my grandkids on my knee and enthrall them with tales of being halfway into a coma alongside 50,000 people in a field by Loch Lomond in 1995.

Manchester was like being back in 91’…. Falling out of clubs at 6 in the morning in the arms of 100 mates you’ll never meet again only to get get right back on it and basically kick your body all over the shop.

There’s a nice documentary about the whole Britpop era, as told by the protagonists themselves.

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This well crafted film takes us from the Stone Roses gig at Spike Island, through the grunge invasion, into the rise of Britpop, Blur V Oasis, New Labour, Pulp’s rise from a decade of obscurity to the record breaking Oasis Knebworth gigs and finally, the crash of the dream round about their Be Here Now album. It’s not just a film about the music, but the impact it had on a society screaming out for something new.

I have to say, I was well placed for all those movements of the youth, being the age I am now. One doesn’t miss being 18 these days knowing what the kids have missed out on. I really hope they can get off their arses and get something going that isn’t comodified as soon as it becomes vaguely popular like some Simon Cowell inspired sell out fest.

If you were around at the time, whether you were into the music or not, you should check out this film. There’s some great moments with a beatifully lucid and retrospective Jarvis Cocker with alternative, leftfield views being provided by trip hop efficienado 3D from Massive Attack and Louise Wener. Hell, even Damon Alburn is tollerable.

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Jarvis Cocker in what I genuinely believe, is his own bedroom

I’ll leave you, for now, with a couple of clips from the aforementioned documentary. First up is a little section on the birth of Oasis, secondly is some comment on how New Labour weren’t shy on jumping on the “Cool Britannia” bandwagon.

I won’t leave it so long next time.

Last night’s viewing

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.


The Last Drop

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.

…….. Anyway.

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.


Joseph Cotten: Bad Egg


Teresa Wright: She’s got him sussed

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.


Tony Leung Ka Fai

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…….

Another EIFF Highlight

It seems like an age ago that the glorious cinematic jamboree that is the EIFF was in town. Browsing back over the last few posts I noticed that I’ve said ABSOLUTELY nothing about what was viewed. Ok, there was one post with the QUERELLE movie poster and the trailer for MAN ON WIRE but that’s about it.

I managed to get a hold of QUERELLE from the eca library and took it upon myself to take a copy, skimming through it took me back to that squirmish experience in screen one at the Edinburgh Filmhouse. Standing in line waiting to pick up tickets earlier that day I bumped into David Cairns, a lecturer at my place of learning (he does a mighty fine blog here, if you’ve got any sense you’ll make it part of your 5 a day)

“What are you watching today” he asked in his usual enthusiastic manner.

“I’m going to see Querelle” I replied, “I’ve not seen any Fassbinder before”.

“Well THAT’S a baptism of fire” he laughed fiendishly, knowing only too well what I was letting myself in for.

He wasn’t wrong!

More on that in a not too distant post….. I’m trying to find scenes I can show.

Back to the point.

One of the benefits of the EIFF pass is entry to the delegate centre “videotech”…. it sounds like an amazing electronic wonderland where you can re-enact THE LAWNMOWER MAN whilst listening to endless Gary Newman loops. Alas, it’s not nearly that cool. It is, in fact, a room full of small booths with really uncomfortable straight back chairs (the type they had in assembly) and 20in monitors WAY below eye level that are hooked to a dvd player and a pair of pretty decent sennheiser earphones.

In this battery cinema one can select any film showing at the festival and watch it at their leisure. Despite the harshness of the viewing facilities, the staff are more than welcoming and it’s pretty neat getting a free reign on the festival programme.

The one and only time I went in, I had the pleasure of taking in TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD which, as we’re advised at the start of the picture, is presented by the great Ray Harryhausen so already you have respect for it. i’ll not explain too much as it’s better, like I did, discovering it knowing NOTHING. Watching this trailer will have you clambouring for tickets like horrified New Yorkers fleeing the massive feet and fists of Kong himself.