Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Drunk Critic- Guilty Pleasures 2

Batman And Robin (1997)

I write drunk notes on my phone all the time.
I have just come across 2 notes, 1 that is good and I will make into a future post called Bad Science the other is a drunk review of Batman And Robin which I vaguely remember watching a few months ago.
I can remember it hurt to watch but I also enjoyed it...Sadly I also remember going to see this film twice at the cinema.
I also went to see Event Horizon Twice around the same time!
Anyway there is no point me writing a proper review as this short incoherent mess pretty much sums it up.

Also I haven't changed any of this (apart from the spelling) and it contains a very sad drunken truth. See if you can spot it.

Dean Martin Is Batman
Deranged Logic
Every Line is a pun
Comic Book
90's Mess
If a 4 year old drew a picture of Batman
I Can't talk to my family

I think I might write some more drunken reviews, maybe you could find out a bit more about my life with every review?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Suspirian Rainbow: Or, Why I love Technicolor

We have an extra special post today from guest writer Fred Aspbury to get you all in the mood for our screening of Dario Argento's Suspiria.

In 1976 the Italian section of Technicolor processing closed and was replaced by single-strip colour production. Two years later the British section closed; the last of the centres for Technicolor production in mainstream cinema. An age had passed, an age of gaudy greens and radiant reds. The writing, of course, had been on the wall for over twenty years, when single strip colour production became the norm in big budget productions. Yet many continued to use and love Technicolor thanks to the unique over emphasis it gave to primary colours.

                  When I think off Technicolor I think principally of three films: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938); Vertigo (1958); and Suspiria (1977). This last was the final major film to be made in Technicolor and thus represents the swan song of a process that had defined colour cinema since the Twenties.

                  We may ask, however, why Dario Argento chose Technicolor in the first place. As stated, single-strip processes had been widely used since the early Fifties and were much cheaper than the complex and light-hungry multi-strip process. Indeed, would Argento not want to use single-strip simply because it offered a more realistic, lifelike visual experience than the frankly garish acid-trip of its predecessor? My point is this: horror (chiefly horror that deals with elements that require huge compromises from the audience regarding suspension of disbelief, such as the occult) would be most effacious if it shows a world exactly like ours, with the horrifying elements sewn subtly into the fabric of that reality such that it is difficult for the audience to differentiate what exactly is or is not possible in the real world. Take, for example, probably the most talked about horror film of the last decade, The Blair Witch Project. The success of that film was to make the events depicted in it seem as real as possible. The handy-cam style, now so popularly aped, was relatively new and even the cameraman himself was a character in the plot. Never are we able to escape to the comfort of 3rd person shots or the psychologically effective yet unrealistic bozom of music. Indeed, even the occult aspects of the story are never explicit (the witch may just be a serial killer) such that we are left with the impression that this could be real and could happen to me... pretty scary eh?

                  Yet I do not like The Blair Witch Project. I found it neither scary nor entertaining. This is not to belie the artistic merit and the achievement of this independent film in scaring and entertaining many. I myself, however, prefer Suspiria, a film which genuinely is scary and entertaining in an almost unparalleled way. Part of the reason for this is that very use of Technicolor; that failure to even attempt to produce a real world on the part of Argento. Granted, the nauseating overabundance of red and green is partially explained in the setting by stained-glass windows, but the colour bludgeoning occurs in external shots too and one is left with the distinct impression that these two colours, along with a purplish black, are the only colours in the world. Some films, such as the aforementioned Adventures of Robin Hood, are simply grateful to be in colour; the predominance of primaries simply serving to produce a slightly camper, more theatrical Sherwood Forest. Others, such as The Wizard of Oz and Vertigo, use the accidental effect to create a dreamlike atmosphere either adding to the magic in Oz or to the sickening dizziness of guilt in San Francisco. Like Argento, Hitchcock could have spurned Technicolor  (Psycho, released two years later, was in black and white) but decided that the blurry, psychedelic visuals allowed the audience to share the confusing, hyporeal and dizzying perception of Ferguson. In both Vertigo and Suspiria the look of the film unnerves us; we enter a world, not of clear lines and mirror images, not a spatial world, but a world of emotion, confusion and horror. It seems, particularly with Suspiria, that the idea is not to manifest a possible experience in our world, but to show a nightmare, in all its bile-producing gaudiness, that may enter our heads in the sleeping hours.

                                    The unnerving irrealism of the colour scheme is augmented by an odd soundtrack. Like many Italian films (which were by preference overdubbed even for Italian audiences) the dubbing is atrocious. The actors mime in English and yet it seems almost no effort has been made to sync the mouth shapes with the sound. I’m not saying this is deliberate - far from it as it seems to be a feature of many Italian films – but it does add to the disorienting dreamlike effect the film has. We may perhaps think here of David Lynch who has often un-synced soundtrack and video track in order to nauseate the audience (see Inland Empire, Twin Peaks, and Mulholland Drive among others).

                  Finally, the musical score. Written and performed mainly by the Italian Prog-Rock group Goblin. It is not a normal score, written specifically to force home the emotions the creators want us to feel. Indeed, it seems that in many scenes the music does not fit at all. Not that the music is not emotive, it simply serves to creep us out in a way that does not require its partnership with the screen visuals.

                  In short, what we have with Suspiria, is a film that makes no attempt to be real, to scare us about what may happen to us on our next night-time jaunt through Munich. It is an aggressive concoction of incompatible and unrealistic colours and sounds that have us squirming with almost unbearable nausea before the plot even produces a witch or two. The Blair Witch Project makes us think ‘this is so real, maybe this will happen when I go into the woods;’ but nothing so rational, so explicit happens with Suspiria. We experience a feeling, difficult to define at first, not horror but... discomfort. And I don’t mean discomfort such as we experience when we watch torture porn films like Saw; when we say ‘ooh, a scalpel in the eye looks painful, that would hurt if someone did it to me’. The Suspirian discomfort is in the stomach, in the limbs, it haunts you entirely because it has no discernable cause. Not until you attempt, as I have done here, to separate the sound and image of the film, reducing their efficacy. Yet even so, such analyses are easy when you aren’t watching it; when the nightmare begins.  The Blair Witch Project may leave us too afraid to go camping in the woods but Suspiria, rather than making us reluctant to take up ballet, renders us afraid to go to sleep.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Happy Days Are Here Again

The Boy Friend (1971)

Isn't Ken Russell amazing.
No other director has that power to surprise, I love the way he walked the fine line between sophistication and vulgar pantomime.
I watched The Boy Friend again last night and I think its a wonderful film.
Its even more wonderful as Ken released The Devils in the same year.
I can't comprehend how much talent Ken Russell had.
I can't imagine a (British) director now releasing such diverse films as these in the same year.
The film is a real revelation its charming and magical. And charming isn't usually the first word that I think of when I think of Ken's work.
Its Ken Russell's loving homage to 30's Hollywood musicals and I really don't understand why its not that well known, Its not even available in this country on DVD!
It features a fantastic ensemble cast including some Russell regulars.
Twiggy blew me away.
She gives a magical performance.
She plays Polly as an awkward young innocent and really shines.
Its hard not to fall in love with her.
She can sing and is an amazing dancer and comes across very well.
I have never been that keen of Twiggy before but this performance has really changed my opinion of her.
She even gets to sing "All I Do Is Dream Of You" from Singing In The Rain.

Ken avoids some of the over the top parts of his usual work and manages to mostly avoid the grotesque. But certainly finds humor and can be quite silly in places but that where the charm lies.
Ken often has the camera far from his cast as if we are in the theatre audience watching from there perspective.
He intercuts this with some kinetic camera moves that really involve you into the excellent dance pieces. The tap routines are stunning.

The set designs and costumes are faultless, you will want to wear tap shoes,dress in 30's glamour,wear a massive fur coat,have a pencil moustache/beauty spot and cover your living room in mirrors and pearls...maybe just me!
It really is such a pleasure to watch such a beautifuly designed film, shot with real attention to detail.
You will constantly have the internal monolougue "Wow, that looks beautiful".

Where Ken really shines are in his fantastic Busby Berkley inspired dance set pieces.

They are fun, light hearted, dazzling, spectacular, loving and technically brilliant.
Lots of refelective higly polished surfaces add to the illusion.

My favorite set piece has to be the dance routine on a giant gramophone with spinning record.

I actually think this may be one of his finest films, Its certainly his most accessible work. One to watch with your mum without the fear of seeing Roger Daltrey's monster penis!
Its the kind of film that will find a home in your heart.
It also has an intermission too, I am such a sucker for films with intermissions.

I am in love with this film...might even try some Tap Dancing.

Sunday, 5 February 2012


We are showing Suspiria on the 16th February...If you live in Nottingham you should come.
This months dress code is Black Mass.
More info here.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Federico Mancosu - Suspiria - The Boyfriend and Film Kunst Bar.

I have written about Federico Mancosu before but while researching Suspiria which will be our next Kino Klubb screening (16th Feb) I came across this wonderful poster. I love the minimalism of his work and how he doesn't always use an obvious image for his posters. But anyone familiar with the film will know instantly what its from.

Here is more of his work, I recomend that you visit his site here.

Great stuff.

Just got back from Berlin and was very tempted by this poster of The Boyfriend which I found in a Polish film posters shop...The €280 price tag put me off a bit though.

I shall write about The Boyfriend soon as I have fallen in love with it, Managed to get hold of a 16:9 print from the US as the naughty BBC showed a cropped version!

Also if you find yourself in Berlin I can highly recommend a trip to Film Kunst Bar a wonderful bar that has 10,000 DVDs, wonderful beer, bunk beds, a secret toilet, a Der Wolpertinger and very informed staff. The Chap I talked to highly recommended a film I haven't heard called Little Fugitive. Wonderful place...Find it here.