Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Eraserhead

Director – David Lynch – 1977 – US – Cert. 15 – 89 mins

*****

A look at where Eraserhead came from – and where its weirdness led. First published in 1996.

The current vogue for Special Editions and Director’s Cuts prompts David Lynch to rerelease Eraserhead with a Dolby Stereo sound remix.

The pre-existing gem of a soundtrack was textured by Lynch and collaborating sound designer Alan Splet to incorporate a host of industrial noises alongside such unforgettable effects as the hero’s girlfriend’s mother gargling during a dinner table fit. Eraserhead remains arguably the most original and innovative vision the last twenty years of American cinema have produced.

Not that film or director came from the mainstream. Abandoning painting as an art student, Lynch began making animation / live action films with the brief loop Six Men Getting Sick (1967) with the four minute The Alphabet (1969) and the half hour The Grandmother (1970) funded by American Film Institute grants. The AFI then funded Eraserhead, which mushroomed to feature length and required completion finance from elsewhere. Reactions to the result vary between boredom, revulsion, or admiration (this writer aligns with the latter).

Invited to his girlfriend Mary’s (Charlotte Stewart) for dinner, “Printer – on vacation” Henry (Lynch regular Jack Nance) learns she is pregnant.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Red Shoes

Producers-Writers-Directors – The Archers (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) – 1948 – UK – Cert. PG – 135m

*****

A young dancer gives her all to the art of ballet, symbolised by the story’s centrepiece of the Ballet of the Red Shoes, in which the heroine is danced to death by the eponymous footwear – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 8th; major season Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds Of Powell + Pressburger continues at BFI Southbank and on BFI Player until the end of December with a free exhibition The Red Shoes: Beyond The Mirror (booking essential) running until Sunday, January 7th 2024

The second movie by the Archers not to deal with wartime issues in any way, shape or form (the first being Black Narcissus, 1947) deals with art in the story of a young dancer torn between love and her chosen art form. Student Julian Craster (Marius Goring) is outraged to discover, during its debut performance, that his music tutor Professor Palmer (Austin Trevor) has lifted several passages of Craster’s college work to pass them off as part of his latest dance score Heart of Fire. His subsequent interview with ballet company head and creative genius Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook, who appeared in four Productions of the Archers and later in The Queen Of Spades, Thorold Dickinson, 1949) secures him a lowly job as music arranger for the prestigious Ballet Lermontov.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

My Name Is
Alfred Hitchcock

Director – Mark Cousins – 2022 – UK – Cert. 15 – 120m

*****

Idiosyncratic documentary is a personal journey through Hitchcock’s movies narrated by the legendary director himself – out in UK cinemas on Friday, July 21st

Hitchcock having been dead for over four decades, he doesn’t actually narrate this film. The voice over is instead a convincing impression by Alistair McGowan and even though you know it’s a trick, you soon settle in to the idea that Hitch genuinely recorded a voice over for this film. Cousins even plays along with the odd, “yes, Mr. Hitchcock.”

Cousins has these days established himself as a documentarian of cinema, covering subjects as integral as the act of looking itself (The Story Of Looking, 2021) and key directors such as Orson Welles (The Eyes Of Orson Welles, 2018). He’s very knowledgeable on cinema and numerous other subjects, and the effect is rather like spending a pleasant evening chatting in the pub with a friend possessing these skillsets (albeit a pub equipped with the ability to unobtrusively show film clips as and when needed). He’s also very much his own man, a superb communicator with his own unique way of looking at things, so you’d expect a film about as well known a director as Hitch to be not only well-informed about its subject but also to offer some unique insight or perspective that mark the production out as coming out of Mark Cousins’ head.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Enys Men

Director – Mark Jenkin – 2022 – UK – Cert. 15 – 96m

*****

A lady environmentalist working on an uninhabited island off the Cornish coast becomes subject to powerful, localised forces from the area’s past – out on UK Blu-ray/DVD combi and on BFI Player on Monday, May 8th

NB The title is pronounced “Enys Main”, the eponymous “Men” being as in “menhir”.

A radio receiver. A bird. An island. A woman in a red coat (Mary Woodvine). A flower. Jenkin seems to love the process of putting little bits of film together to make a whole that’s altogether larger than the sum of its constructed parts. If that same process was evident in his earlier, equally Cornish if less fantastical and black and white Bait (2019), his new film is radically different and, moreover, it’s in colour.

Enys Men is being touted as a horror film – presumably with Jenkin’s blessing if the trailer is any indication – but I’m not sure that’s exactly what this film is. Some horror fans may well come away wondering while they bothered, while viewers put off by the term ‘horror’ may well respond positively to Jenkin’s latest – provided they can be persuaded into the cinema to see it.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Decision To Leave
(Heojil Kyolshim,
헤어질 결심)

Director – Park Chan-wook – 2022 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 138m

*****

A married detective investigating the death of a climber becomes obsessed with the victim’s wife, who looks increasingly like the murderer – back in cinemas for one night only Monday, 13th February, on MUBI since Friday, 9th December

Any sexual or romantic energy that once existed between city-based detective Hae-joon (Park Hae-il from Heaven: To The Land Of Happiness, Im Sang-soo, 2021, The Fortress, Hwang Dong-hyuk, 2017, The Host, 2006, Memories Of Murder, 2003, both Bong Joon ho) and seaside town-based wife (Jung Yi-seo, bit parts in Samjin Company English Class, Lee Jong-pil, 2020; Parasite, Bong Joon ho, 2019) has long since evaporated.

Investigating the fatal fall of skilled amateur climber Ki Do-soo (Yoo Seung-mok from The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil, Lee Won-Tae, 2019, also The Host, Memories Of Murder) where the man’s Chinese-born wife Seo-rye (Tang Wei, from Lust, Caution, Ang Lee, 2007) is a murder suspect, he falls for her…
[Read the full review at Dmovies.org]

Trailer:

Decision To Leave is back in cinemas for one night only Monday, 13th February, on MUBI from Friday, 9th December.

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Doctor Who Am I

Director – Matthew Jacobs, Vanessa Yuille – 2022 – UK – Cert. 12a – 80m

****

Screenwriter Jacobs’ entry into US Dr. Who fan subculture follows his scripting of the 1996 Dr. Who TV movie that was supposed to launch the franchise Stateside but floppedout in UK cinemas on Thursday, October 27th and Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download Monday, November 28th

What the hilarious narrative feature Galaxy Quest (Dean Parisot, 1999) did for Star Trek, this heartfelt yet hugely entertaining documentary does for Dr. Who. Matthew Jacobs, whose work includes the screenplay for Paperhouse (Bernard Rose, 1988) and the original story for offbeat Disney cartoon The Emperor’s New Groove (Mark Dindal, 2000), also wrote the script for the US network TV movie Doctor Who (1996) which was supposed to relaunch the BBC franchise in the US, a goal it spectacularly missed when no series proved forthcoming.

In retrospect, Jacobs considers that his script made two major errors in terms of the Doctor Who legacy. One, it recast the hitherto entirely alien Time Lord as half-human, and, two, it allowed him to kiss a member of the opposite sex, something no previous version of the doctor had ever been seen to do.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Doctor Who Am I

Directed by Matthew Jacobs & Vanessa Yuille
Certificate 12a, 80 minutes
Released in cinemas 27 October and
DVD & Digital 28 November

What is a church, and why do people attend it? This is a documentary about Doctor Who fandom and conventions. At no point does it suggest, at least not in so many words, that such gatherings might be churches. Hold that word, ‘gathering’. It’s one that those of us who are religious often employ to describe ‘church’.

Screenwriter Matthew Jacobs has, for many years, avoided attending such gatherings… [Read the full review in Reform Magazine.]

Doctor Who Am I is out in cinemas in the UK on Thursday, October 27th and DVD & Digital Download Monday, 28th November.

Read a longer review elsewhere on this site.

Trailer:

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Kurt Vonnegut:
Unstuck In Time

Directors – Robert B. Weide, Dan Argott – 2021 – US – Cert. 15 – 127m

*****

A warm and compelling look at the life of writer Kurt Vonnegut, the influence upon him of the bombing of Dresden, and his decades-long friendship with director Weide – out in cinemas and on digital platforms from Friday, July 22nd, BFI Player Rental from Monday, August 22nd

Read my shorter review for Reform magazine.

The documentary Weide eventually made about Vonnegut took him the best part of four decades to complete. Weide opens with a statement about Vonnegut walking in the woods, feeling a tree and seeing the bombing of Dresden before it occurred. There seems no reason to doubt Vonnegut. He was unstuck in time, jumping around the years and decades. Weide first contacted him in 1982, never imagining that it would take him anything like as long to complete the film as it did. He starts looking at interviews of himself (“who wants to see a documentary in which a filmmaker appears as himself?”, he asks) – defined by where they were shot or what shirt Weide was wearing at the time.

Whatever else Vonnegut and his writing are, they are not conventional.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Pickpocket

Director – Robert Bresson – 1959 – France – Cert. PG – 76m

*****

Why is a man compelled to pursue acts of petty thievery – acclaimed, arresting, existential drama is out in cinemas on Friday, June 3rd

I have just rewatched Bresson’s classic and am still not entirely sure I have its measure. Perhaps that’s the thing about great works of art. Oh, to have seen it on its original release, had I been old enough, and watch it without the baggage of it being proclaimed a cinematic masterwork.

Words on the screen proclaim at the outset that this is not the thriller its title might suggest; it’s rather a study of a man who repeatedly commits crimes which is trying to understand why he would do that.

The characters, of whom the main protagonist Michel (Martin LaSalle) is the one who gets most screen time and indeed, is scarcely if ever off the scree, are played deadpan, with Bresson doing his utmost to ensure that his cast perform the roles without acting. He doesn’t want the actors’ craft to come between us and his images of people doing, being, talking. He seeks to avoid the artificiality of acting thereby allowing his performers to realise his images without any acting technique mediating them.… Read the rest

Categories
Art Documentary Features Live Action Movies Series Shorts Television

Greenaway
By Numbers

How Peter Greenaway’s obsession with various numeric and other cataloguing systems has led to the creation of highly complex, multi-layered film pieces that joyfully play with audiences

If ever anyone were to make a film about the Dewey Decimal System, it would be Peter Greenaway. He is obsessed with ways and means to classify the world in which he finds himself, systems to organise and make sense of that peculiar world, people’s relationship networks with one another and their movement and actions within that world and those networks.

I first came across him on the theatrical release in Hammersmith of his three hours plus epic The Falls (1980), made in between his early, self-financed short films of the 1960s and 1970s and his first, more conventional in length feature The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982). The Falls takes its name from entries in the section of a directory beginning with the letters F A L L e.g. Orchard Falla, Constance Ortuist Fallaburr, Melorder Fallaburr. The directory chronicles survivors of a Violent Unknown Event, VUE for short… [read more]

Full article at DMovies.org in association with Doesn’t Exist Magazine – purchase your copy now.