SOFT RIOT

Film Klub

Billy The Kid and the Green Baize VampireSo… a camp, stylized 80s musical about a snooker match of which one of the players is a vampire you say? Yes, it has been done. The UK has a bit of a history of putting out some really camp musicals: Ken Russell did a few (Tommy and Lisztomania) which are the most obvious, then of course anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber which is of dubious quality.

Other than the two aforementioned Ken Russell films the other points of reference for this film include the most popular, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and then it’s lesser known sequel “new wave” tinged sequel, Shock Treatment. Or perhaps my favourite, Brian De Palma’s The Phantom Of The Paradise which features a gothic-styled synthesizer playing half-cyborg.

Billy The Kid and the Baize Green Vampire — the name alone draws up a lot of curiousity and that’s pretty much how I got around to watching it. That and London/mod poster boy of the 70s and 80s, Phil Daniels, was starring in this — a musical. Two points of interest right there. READ MORE

Images

17 August 2017

Images (1972, Robert Altman), coverFar more well known for his sprawling ensemble casts and “maverick” style of film making, Robert Altman (MASH, Shortcuts, Nashville, Gosford Park) did cover a lot of genres in his career, including “psychological horror” — well evident in his 1972 film Images.

This film stars Susannah York, a very talented British actress of many films, including one of my favourites, The Shout amongst many others such as The Killing of Sister George, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and so on.

Sometimes I get in patterns where I’ll watch a film directed or starred in by a particular person, in this case Susannah York, and then watch several others soon after with the same person, often discovering a film I wasn’t really aware of before, like this one.

York stars as Cathryn, an author of children’s books who is married to, Hugh, a professional photographer (played by René Auberjonois) who is often out and travelling for business and photo shoots. Right from the start the atmosphere of this film is very on edge and claustrophic — not only by a odd phone call see receives from what is apparently a stranger telling her of rumours of her husband’s infidelity, but also the soundtrack. This was an earlier film scored by John Williams sounds very different than the more orchestral compositions he did for Star Wars, perhaps even somewhat “industrial” sounding — lots of atonal bells, chimes, overblown woodwinds and what sounds like bowed metal making for a very brooding, creepy undertone that runs through the whole film.
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Afraid Of The Dark | eyeI’ve managed to write a list of films to put into this Film Klub so here we are at it again with two films within one post. The reason for this “double bill” is that sometimes I’ll watch one film and then research other films that might be similar. In this case I had watched the film Afraid Of The Dark (Mark Peploe, 1991) and then months later watched Paperhouse (Bernard Rose, 1988).

Although seeing the two films on two completely separate occasions I was struck by the similar aesthetics and themes running through the both films. In fact, I get a sense of a micro-genre of UK films coming out around this time, when the 80s were ending and going into the 90s — a micro-genre of young adult films where there is a young, child protagonist who gets pulled into a dark fantasy where the child’s mind starts blurring this fantasy and reality. The late 80s UK mini-series Moondial fits into this group as well, but for now we’re just looking at the two films aforementioned.

Afraid Of The Dark focuses around a young boy named Lucas who lives with his family in a neighbourhood in London. Lucas is soft-spoken and has very bad eyesight, therefore requiring him to wear very thick glasses. These glasses have a strong visual element in the film. Both Lucas’s parents and other characters in the film share concern about Lucas’s worsening eyesight. The film progresses into a strange mystery/thriller where Lucas is convinced there’s a murderer stalking in his neighbourhood and plays around with the concept that you’re unsure if this is just in the young boy’s head, or if it’s actually happening. READ MORE

Céline and Julie Go Boating

05 February 2017

Céline et Julie Vont En BateauIt’s a bit of a rusty feeling coming back to this around nine months later since the last entry, “Let’s Scare Jessica To Death”, but I feel like I’ve seen many memorable films in that duration, as well as from the many years proceeding that I thought it would be a good time to reflect and post more. Hell, why not?

For me the most intimidating part is the writing; trying to recap my thoughts on something I’ve seen so I’ve decided to write whatever happens to come to mind at the time, no matter how basic the overview is.

Céline et Julie Vont En Bateau (here listed by the English title, Céline and Julie Go Boating) is a film by French director Jacques Rivette, who is commonly grouped with the whole French New Wave — a blanket term used for such directors as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut who tried new things with cinema in starting as early as the late 1950s.

I’ve never seen films by Rivette before but I was aware of work done by actors in his film, including Barbet Schroeder (director of Maîtresse) and Bulle Ogier, who had done films for Schroeder as well as other European directors such as Fassbinder.

Anyway, with this film, Céline and Julie Go Boating, I held off watching it for a number of months as the running time is 193 minutes. I wanted to be in the right mood to watch it. I had no idea what to expect from a film that runs that long. When I did get around to it the pacing worked quite well.

The film follows two women who cross paths in a park when one woman drops her scarf. From there there’s a bit of a chase as Julie tries to return the scarf to Céline. This chance meeting brings the two women together under strange circumstances that could be categorised as “magical realism”. As the film progresses the women keep visiting a strange house where they don’t remember what happened during their time there. Only when they start sucking on these mysterious candies do they get transported to their time spent at the house, which is a “groundhog day” style routine of a set of actions and conversations that result in a young girl being murdered.

As Julie and Céline keep returning to this “routine” by ingesting the candies, they start to have fun with the repeating actions of this dream state, and eventually start changing the course of events, breaking down the somewhat normal feeling of these events into something more bizarre and surreal.

It’s a bit hard to explain it and it’d be a shame to give too much away. The long running time of the film however feels natural as you feel like you’re hanging out with the two protagonists as they go about their increasingly bizarre adventures and start morphing together in terms of personality traits.

And yes, there’s a scene where they do “go boating” — it’s short but an integral part of the film.

If you’re in the UK this film is available on player.bfi.org.uk (with a monthly subscription).

Let's Scare Jessica To DeathIt’s time to revive this on-and-off section of the website again. At this point it seems like I have a massive backlog of oddball films that I’d like to post in this section. It’s mainly finding the time in my crazy schedule to do so!

Anyway, without any further delay this entry is about a cult horror film from the early 70s called Let’s Scare Jessica To Death. It’s somewhat well known amongst cinephiles but it’s only recently that I’ve seen it. Much like another favourite film of mine, The Shout, it is a horror of the classic, supernatural vein that uses very little special effects and is more about the atmosphere and empty spaces that allow your mind to ponder the unknown, rather than constantly going at you with shock, gore and awe to provide the entertainment. Also, in both films the soundtrack and sound design is equally as important to the film as the visual footage. READ MORE