Monday, 29 June 2015

the imp of the perverse

benjamin cook is a filmmaker, journalist and youtuber whom the observer named the 'official chronicler of britain's youtube generation' because of a documentary series he made called becoming youtube. that’s how i came across his work initially, so when i saw he’d made the move into narrative filmmaking i was intrigued.

the imp of the perverse is a short film based on edgar allan poe’s essay about the impulse to do the most wrong thing in any given situation. poe’s essay cleverly morphs into fiction when the narrator confesses to a murder (sorry, should have added a spoiler warning ... actually, it was published in 1850 so if you haven't read it by now you probably weren't going to). cook’s retelling of the story centres around 18-year-old dan who has somehow trapped the physical form of the imp of the title in his wardrobe. unsure what to do next he invites his friends jake and myles over to form a plan.

in many ways, cook’s film follows the same structure as poe’s work, explaining the concept of the imp of the perverse through flashback, narration and dan’s discussions with his friends before finally tackling the imp itself. while poe’s imp was more of a metaphor, dan releasing imp from the wardrobe becomes the equivalent of poe’s narrator confessing his crime. the part of the story that’s missing is the ‘murder’, i.e. the twist that the imp has already made our protagonist do something wrong and the imp’s last act of persuasion is to convince him to confess. without that twist the story seems to fall a little flat.

however, the imp of the perverse is still well worth watching. there is an energy and creativity in the filmmaking that’s really fresh and invigorating, and the fourteen-minute running time really flies by as a result. the visual flair and use of flashback, inserts and narration is reminiscent of danny boyle’s early work or, dare I say it, edgar wright except it’s more polished and slicker than anything those filmmakers did at the outset of their careers. despite not really adding anything to the narrative the animation is a nice touch as well.

what really makes it work are the three main characters, a combination of the writing, direction and the performances of the three actors. i know people like dan and his friends, and I don’t think I’ve ever them portrayed on film so effectively. they’re not only likable, but cook really makes them feel like rounded characters with stuff going on outside the story of the film. i’d happily watch a whole series or a feature with them at the centre and that's where this short really succeeds for me.

thinking about the characters and how well they’re portrayed, i wonder if maybe there is a bigger point here that i missed in my earlier assessment of the narrative. poe’s story was about murder, perhaps the ultimate perversion. cook references suicide and pushing people in front of trains but the perversion described in the most detail is a food fight at a birthday party. is that a comment on the banality of our society? is the lack of a serious transgression on dan’s part a suggestion that our perversions have become sanitised? or is the film saying the opposite, that nothing changes when the imp is let out of the wardrobe, because we’ve already devolved into a society that acts on all its perversions and if we try to go back to a more repressed era then we end up trapped in our rooms not daring to leave, like dan is in this film.

maybe I’m reading too much into it. it’s a really good film, you should watch it. oh look, here it is -

Friday, 26 June 2015


i felt like watching something random and this one has been on my shelf for a while. it was surprisingly good.

sean bean robs a bank but gets caught so tosses a briefcase full of money off a bridge where pre-thor chris hemsworth picks it up. he takes it home to his wife, victoria profeta, they spend a bunch of it, then sean bean's meaner twin brother (also played by sean bean) turns up and demands it back, one cent at a time.

sounds like a good idea for a neat, low-budget thriller, and that it is. it's also a metaphor for the financial crisis. this film poses the question, what if instead of borrowing money from a bank or racking up purchases on a credit card, we borrowed money from sean bean with a gun. that's the comparison this film seems to be making, and it's a good one because it makes you think about all that debt and how would you pay it back if someone forced you to do so at gunpoint? yes, i write this as someone in a lot of debt.

what makes this work is that profeta and hemsworth do a great job at getting you on their side, despite their initial carelessness. you're with them all the way. hemsworth also does a good job of not looking like he could beat sean bean in a fight, which he obviously could because he's thor.

where the film gets really interesting is when the couple are forced to turn to crime to pay off the rest of the debt, and they start to enjoy it. ca$h is kind of a film about everything that's wrong with capitalism and for that i quite enjoyed it.

scroobius pip - words

i've been listening to a lot of scroobius pip recently, mostly on his podcast (which is amazing) but also his albums with dan le sac. i've never seen him live so i did the next best thing; i downloaded his edinburgh performance.

this isn’t a review really, more of just a recommendation. i’m not going to go into great analytical detail on the poems in this performance, i mean i struggle enough to make it look like i know a little bit about films, so i’ve got no chance with poetry. i just wanted to suggest you check this out because i thought it was pretty amazing. you can download it off of his website for a fiver (or buy the dvd) and it’s well worth it.

for the unenlightened, scroobius pip does a lot of things, including a very successful podcast and amazing music with videos like this one –

even standing in on a stage alone reading poetry he reveals himself to be more than a spoken word artist. there are jokes between the poems, which are a welcome reprieve from what is often quite dark subject matter. there are theatrics too, some obvious like costume changes to denote a change of character, to more subtle staging tricks that even someone like derren brown would be impressed with. the poems are mostly about death and sometimes unrequited love and religion, but mostly death, and yet the whole performance is somehow life-affirming. it made me unexpectedly happy, and made me wish i’d been there.

you should check it out. you can get it here.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

a letter to three wives

a letter to three wives is an oscar-winning film from 1949 that i’d never heard of until recently. there’s a newsreel clip on the dvd that shows part of the oscars ceremony from that year and i’d never heard of any of the films that won, which makes me wonder how many great films i’ve never heard of and whether the oscars are really that important anyway. mostly i’m just glad i got to see this film at all, because it has interesting women doing stuff and dealing with issues in a way that's often missing from contemporary films.

the film follows the titular three wives on a day trip with a group of school kids. before the boat leaves they open a letter from their mutual friend, addie ross, in which addie declares that she is going to run away with one of their husbands that day. away from the mainland and with no way of contacting their husbands, all the three wives can do is each reflect on their marriages and wonder if it’s their husband addie has stolen.

a letter to three wives is a comedy-drama, although i’ll be honest, i didn’t realise it was supposed to be a comedy until one of the jospeh l. mankiewicz biographers mentioned it on the commentary track. sure, there are funny moments but i wonder if the definition of  ‘comedy’ has changed over the years. it doesn’t really matter, because it’s the drama that’s interesting here.

the three main characters seem bold and interesting by today’s standards but whether that’s a reflection of a forward-thinking writer/director or a sad indictment of the decline of gender representation in contemporary cinema, i’m not sure. the least interesting character is probably linda darnell’s gold digging lora mae, and yet her character has the most complex relationship with her husband. she’s more than just a gold-digger, that’s the point, and her later scenes with paul douglas provide some of the more surprising and touching moments in the film.

then there’s ann sothern’s rita, a radio writer who has shot to fame and made a fortune from her career. the issue is that her husband, played brilliantly by kirk douglas, is a low-paid schoolteacher at a time when it was unusual for the woman in the relationship to be the breadwinner (to be honest, sometimes i think that’s still considered unusual, even if it is more common these days). ultimately, it’s not douglas’ character who has an issue with this, it’s rita who wants to bring him up to her level without understanding that money isn't all that important to him. in this way, the film becomes a real study of class and status, but rather than simply playing that out between the couples, the difference between the classes is more prominently represented between the individuals in the actual relationships.

this is most evident with jeanne crain’s deborah, a woman who met her husband while serving in the navy. many films of this period tackled the subject of soldiers returning from war only to struggle to fit back into society, but few of those films chose to focus on a woman in that situation. it would have been particularly difficult for women returning from war because suddenly they were expected to go from a position of authority and activity back to being housewives again, a predicament that was highlighted in betty friedan’s seminal 1963 feminist text, the feminine mystique. in deborah’s case, the difficulty of fitting back into society is made worse by the fact that she is also a small-town farm girl thrust into middle-class society because of the man she met in the navy.

all three stories here are equally interesting and thought-provoking, helped by mankiewicz’ assured direction which keeps a steady pace and gives the ideas room to breathe. structurally the film makes innovative use of flashback’s and narration to weave the various strands of the story into a compelling whole. but as great as mankiewicz is as a filmmaker, it’s the performers who really make this story work, particularly the darnell, sothern and crain.

a letter to three wives feels like a kind of film we don’t see too often anymore, certainly not among oscar-nominees. it’s a film where the stakes are domestic and the drama is familiar, and this makes it all the more emotionally charged. more than anything, this is an entertaining, accomplished film from a writer and director at the height of his powers working with a truly great cast, and for that reason alone it’s worth a watch.

eureka entertainment will be releasing a letter to three wives on blu-ray in a dual format edition as part of the masters of cinema series on 29 june 2015

Sunday, 21 June 2015

the happiness of the katakuris

if you've never heard of takashi miike or seen a takashi miike film before, the happiness of the katakuris is a good place to start. to put it into perspective, imagine if a filmmaker known for the violence and gore in his work, someone like eli roth for example, made a comedy-musical with animated sequences. that's kind of what the happiness of the katakuris is, except only takashi miike could make something this insane.
the film follows the katakuri family as they follow their patriarch, maseo, into a bold new business venture running a guesthouse in a remote area of the countryside. business does not go well, and when they do receive guests they have a tendency to die in bizarre circumstances. maseo and the others are forced to bury the bodies in order to save the reputation of the guesthouse, although what's really at stake is the integrity of their family unit.

that synopsis makes the happiness of the katakuris sound like a straightforward, run-of-the-mill black comedy, and that version actually exists in the form of the quiet family, a 1998 south korean film starring oldboy himself, min-sik choi. the quiet family is a solid, well-made film with a great concept and it's easy to see why there was a decision to remake it. but in handing directing duties to takashi miike, the producers ensured that this remake would become far more infamous than its predecessor.

the film opens with a fairy-like creature emerging from a bowl of soup, ripping out the uvula of the poor woman eating the soup then flying away until the creature itself is eaten by an animated crow. the creature is reborn, then eaten again and the sequence ends with the crow being struck down by a stick thrown by the grandfather katakuri. this is how we are introduced to the katakuris, but while it may seem completely random and insane it actually summarises one of the main themes of the film quite efficiently. this is a film about the cycle of life - we live, stuff happens, we die and then it all starts again. it's not unusual to open a film with a visual image that establishes the central theme, it's just that takashi miike chooses to do it with an animated sequence about an odd creature born out of soup.

then there are the musical numbers. the happiness of the katakuris follows the rules of the traditional musical in that when the characters are unable to express their emotions through words, they turn to song. and dance. and over-the-top set pieces with pop-video graphics, zombies and sometimes karaoke-style lyrics across the bottom of the screen so you can sing along (if you can read japanese, which i unfortunately can't). the songs are cheesy, on-the-nose and kind of intentionally dreadful, but at the same time it's difficult not to smile every time the characters start to sing.

the title of the film is perfect, because this is a film infused with happiness in spite of its macabre subject matter. it's a film about the joy of being alive despite all the things that go wrong, and there's something about the vivacious enthusiasm with which miike and the cast tackle this theme that is infectious. the ending would seem out of place and cliched in any other film, but here it's kind of beautiful and almost had me in tears. there is creativity and innovation in every frame, and thus the filmmaking style successfully matches the life-affirming themes of the film.

the blu-ray comes with a number of extras that also came with the original tartan dvd release but also includes a new 40-minute interview with takashi miike and a visual essay by miike expert tom mes. the film looks amazing too and has a timeless quality as a result.

if you've seen it before, you know what you're in for and this blu-ray edition is an essential purchase. if you haven't seen it before, why are you still reading this? you need to be watching the happiness of the katakuris right now because i guarantee you will have never seen anything like it before.

the happiness of the katakuris will be released on blu-ray by arrow video on 22nd of june

Thursday, 18 June 2015


tusk is one of the strangest films i've ever seen and you should probably skip this review, watch the movie and make your own mind up. there's something important happening in this film that i think is intentional. at its core, this is a film about what's gone wrong with the internet.

tusk follows a podcaster, wallace bryton (justin long), as he travels to canada to humiliate the latest target of his mean-spirited podcast in person. when the interview falls through he searches for another subject and comes across an ad posted by howard howe, an elderly gentleman seeking a lodger. in howe's ad he mentions a lifetime of adventures and thus howe becomes bryton's next subject. howe has other ideas and bryton soon finds himself a prisoner, subjected to a bizarre and horrific mutilation at the hands of his captor. his only hope is that his two friends ally (genesis rodriguez) and teddy (haley joel osment) can find him before it's too late.

tusk has an origin story almost as bizarre as the film itself. the idea came from an ad posted on gumtree by an old man seeking a lodger for his home overlooking queens park in brighton (yes, the brighton where i live). the only condition was that the lodger would have to dress as a walrus for a set amount of time each day. the ad captured smith's imagination, the idea turned into a story on an episode of his podcast and he made it into a film almost to prove a point - that any idea, no matter how insane, can become a reality if you know how to execute it.

all of this is old news. every review will no doubt retell the story above. i even wrote about it myself in the early days of this blog. but in a way, focusing on the origin detracts from the story the film is trying to tell. except for one important fact. the film was made to prove that because of the internet, awesome, creative stuff can happen. remember that, it's important.

as a film, tusk has a weird tone, veering between broad character-comedy and disturbing body-horror. the cast do a great job, particularly parks and long who throw themselves into the bizarre things they have to do on camera with real passion. osment and rodriguez provide solid support and johnny depp turns up to do a funny voice and wear a silly mustache. the funny moments are funny, but where the film really excels is in the body-horror department. there are a number of big reveals in the film, all the time showing more of what howe has done to bryton's body and each one of them more horrifying than the next. the final reveal actually reminded me of the ending of society. society was all about the third act orgy, here it's all about the walrus suit, and the suit (expertly created by robert kurtzman), when it first appears in all its glory, is a genuine shock that would give even yuzna's fx genius screaming mad george a few nightmares.

but this isn't simply a straightforward frankenstein-meets-misery horror movie. there's something more going on beneath the surface, and i think it's about the internet. specifically it's about internet trolls and how they've ruined everything.

for all his talk of being a podcaster, wallace bryton is essentially an internet troll. the gimmick of his podcast is to find embarrassingly awful videos, track down the person who made the video and humiliate them, either just through talking about them with teddy or by meeting them in person. there is a key scene in which his girlfriend, ally, takes him to task for this and tells him he used to be a nicer person. bryton counters that essentially being a dick online has built him a career. it's clear from this exchange that what bryton has sacrificed in order to have this career is his humanity. remember that, it's important.

when howe gets hold of bryton, he takes this idea one step further. he wants to take bryton's humanity away even further, by literally transforming him into an animal. howe too has aspects of the internet troll, particularly in his anonymity. through depp's character we learn that howe has had a previous identity. we also know he is a liar, and that calls into question everything he says. the flashbacks we are shown when howe tells his stories certainly look deliberately false, acting as visual representations of the lies he is telling. howe also has the same goal as the internet troll - he targets a public figure and through an act of dehumanisation he brings that person down to his level. he makes the man into an animal, like he is himself. isn't that exactly what the internet troll wants? to force a celebrity to fight on their terms so they can feel better about their own shitty existence? it's certainly what howe wants and i think this is the key to the whole film.

tusk is a warning. it's a film that visualises what happens in the comments section of any popular youtube video on a daily basis. it's a film about how the internet is taking away our humanity, and for that it is something truly audacious. remember, this is a film that exists because of the internet, and it should be a celebration of that fact. instead it is a damning thesis on why our idealised brave new world of creativity and collaboration cannot truly exist.

there's one other key piece of information here, one that i'm reluctant to bring up because in a way it's completely unrelated, but at the same time it seems completely related. there's something about what bryton becomes, this huge blubbery mass, unable to function as a normal human being, that reminded me of the 'too fat to fly' scandal that smith found himself at the centre of a few years ago. i'm not going to link to it, you can google it if you are that interested, but essentially smith was thrown off a plane for being overweight and the internet, being the warm, understanding place it is, turned this minor abuse of power by a major airline into a huge issue. the comparison isn't that 'oh, smith was thrown off a plane for being fat and the walrus is fat so it's like the walrus is him'. i'm saying that howe's dehumanisation of bryton is the same as the internet's dehumanisation of kevin smith. during the 'too fat to fly' scandal, smith was portrayed as something of a freak and that's exactly what howe does to bryton. he makes him into a freak. this makes me think that howe may be more than an uber-troll. he may be smith's representation of the whole of the internet.

ultimately, when we're looking at bryton's misshapen mass in the final scenes we are looking at a freak that howe has made for us. don't we do that every single day online? every time we click a link to a video of someone doing something ridiculous (or a 'news' item about an indie director being thrown off a plane), aren't we just spectators at a freak show? bryton becomes exactly the thing he would ridicule, and in a way we as a modern audience deserve no lesser fate ourselves.

personally, i think tusk is a complex, misunderstood work of genius and a modern-day nightmare alley. if you are at all interested in anything that i've said you should check it out immediately.

Friday, 12 June 2015

forty guns

a lone carriage trundles across a huge, empty plain, its three passengers dwarfed by the vast countryside. in the distance a sound, like thunder. the three men look up, but what they see coming is not a storm but forty men on horseback being led across the plains by a black-clad woman with a whip. this is the breath-taking, iconic opening to forty guns and it only gets better from here.

jessica drummond (barbara stanwyck) is a wealthy and influential landowner who essentially owns the nearby town and the people who live there as well as her land and the lives of her forty henchmen. things are going great for drummond until gun-for-hire griff (barry sullivan) and his brothers wes and chico roll into town in search of an outlaw under drummond’s protection. but it’s not until griff has a run-in with drummond’s brother brockie that things really start to spiral out of control.

director samuel fuller has become legendary for his stylistic flair and he makes use of every opportunity to use it here. early on we are introduced to a blind sheriff and fuller makes us painfully aware of his condition by shooting some of his scenes in blurry pov. later he films a seduction through the barrel of a rifle. then there’s the moment where griff first confronts brockie; a symphony of cross-cutting and close-ups that really ramps up the tension. there are other stylistic choices too, like the moment chico first kills a man and then in the following scene appears wearing black like his two older brothers, the uniform of the cold-blooded killer.

fuller is equally adept at taking on huge technical challenges, like the scene in which griff and drummond are caught in the path of a tornado (also an excellent visual metaphor for their relationship). then there’s the scene in which the corrupt sheriff (dean jagger of white christmas and later vanishing point) sets griff up for an ambush. we watch jagger describe the plan with glee, and then fuller ramps up the tension once more in a suspense-fulled set-piece that would have impressed hitchcock.

fuller also wrote the script, which at its heart is a dark, unforgiving love story. drummond and griff are portrayed as lost souls, broken by their experiences and the things they have had to do to survive. there are moments in which it feels like they’re made for each other, balanced by moments where it becomes apparent that neither of them can exist in the same world. both stanwyck and sullivan put in great performances here and really sell the idea of two people haunted by their past lives.

there is one other element that really makes forty guns stand out. i’ve mentioned stanwyck’s entrance, and the film never holds back on portraying her as a tough, uncompromising leader forced to make difficult decisions. in a time when it feels like Hollywood is still struggling to break female stereotypes, fuller and stanwyck managed to do it in 1957. what really strengthens stanwyck's character is that she’s not portrayed as an anomaly; she doesn’t have a moment where she puts down the whip and admits that all she wants is the love of a good man (although to be fair, the film does come worrying close to that on a couple of occasions). drummond is what she is, and she’s also not alone. there is one other female character in the film, a local woman named eve. you would expect that the other female lead in the film would be portrayed as the opposite of drummond, a showgirl maybe, or a pretty farmer's daughter. instead, eve is a gunsmith and spends most of her scenes wearing overalls and talking to griff’s brother wes about guns. to have two such characters in a film would be considered progressive by today's standards, and perhaps the sad thing is that in 1957 i suspect it was closer to the norm. yes, dear reader, when it comes to gender equality in films we are moving backwards. forty guns is proof of that.

there is a little more to it than the female characters challenging stereotypes. though they are onscreen less than the men, the film often feels like it’s about women; that it’s telling a story about a woman’s struggle. there is a moment towards the end where drummond and eve meet and talk briefly about their respective tragedies. it’s the most dramatic, touching and real moment of the film and it sums up everything that’s happened in the story and everything that the film is about perfectly. unfortunately, this theme of women being left to pick up the pieces while the men play with guns doesn’t run through to the end.

i won’t spoil it here, but the ending was apparently changed from the one fuller wanted to go with. if you want my advice, stop the film after the last gunshot, you’ll know when it happens. if fuller had been allowed to cut there, this would be a perfect movie.

it’s worth mentioning that as with all the masters of cinema releases the picture looks superb and there are some really interesting extras including an insightful interview with french film critic jean-louis leutrat. not only will you see one of the best westerns ever made, you might even learn something too.

forty guns will be released on dvd and blu-ray by eureka! entertainment on 22nd june 2015

Thursday, 11 June 2015


hungerford is a found-footage sci-fi/horror film written and directed by 19-year-old drew casson. who also did the visual effects. and plays the main character. and it’s rather good.

the films follows film student cowen rosewell as he films his friends adam, kip and phillipa as part of a college media project. however, there’s something wrong with the town of hungerford and cowen soon realises he is capturing the end of the world on video.

it would be lazy of me to compare this film to things like shaun of the dead and the world’s end (despite the obvious influences and the fact that the former is referenced in the film). sure, it’s a group of friends dealing with an apocalypse in a small town so the similarities seem obvious, but there’s actually a lot more going on here. in terms of influences i actually saw more of a direct parallel with 50s sci-fi movies like them! and invasion of the body snatchers. the alien parasites in hungerford also attach themselves to the back of their host’s neck in a way that reminded me of invaders from mars, or robert a. heinlein's novel the puppet masters (which was also turned into a film. hungerford is much better than that film).

but enough about influences, hungerford is very much it’s own thing. there are two really interesting themes at play here. early on, the friends are on the way to a party when they see two men assaulting a third man. at this stage the alien parasite plot is yet to be introduced and even then it's unclear if this incident has anything to do with it. the important thing is that the friends do not intervene; they leave the victim to his fate because they want to get to their party. this is a film about youth, and about how at a certain age we are so preoccupied with our own lives and our own dramas that we don’t even see the end of the world when it’s happening right in front of us. i could really relate to that.

the second big theme of the film is to do with moving on. the other characters continuously tell cowen that he’s wasting his time in hungerford; that he needs to move away and get on with his life. what happens to hungerford could almost be seen as what happens to your life if you leave it too late to move ahead. the idea of parasites controlling your every move could easily be transposed to getting a dull job in your home town and being trapped there forever. the four friends are constantly risking their lives for each other, but ultimately because of this they are unable to escape and rather than this coming across as a message about the importance of friendship, i saw it as the risk of friends holding you back. maybe i’m reading too much of my own experiences into this, but for me when things really kicked off in the film i couldn’t help thinking ‘you should’ve left while you had the chance’.

when things do kick off they really kick off. there’s a moment early on where it appears as though the film could all take place in one flat, and given that i’m assuming the budget was fairly low i can see why this would be a tempting prospect. casson dismisses that idea about halfway through, taking us out into the town and ultimately into the heart of the alien lair itself. however much it cost, the production value on screen is huge, particularly in the later scenes in which cowen follows a team of soldiers through rooms strewn with cocooned bodies. that said, casson handles the smaller moments really well too and there are a couple of genuinely creepy scenes towards the end.

for all it's innovation there are moments in hungerford where the constraints of the budget and the limited experience of the cast and crew pulled me out of the story. the performances are a bit shaky in the more intense scenes and the dialogue is occasionally a bit over the top and on the nose. that said, what the actors occasionally lack in subtlety they make up for in likability. i enjoyed hanging out with these people and that counts for everything because when the aliens came i really cared about what was going to happen to these characters. it’s a small but fundamental element that most big budget films of the same genre forget, but it’s front and centre here.

you should watch this film, not because it was made for no money, or because it’s exactly the kind of thing the british film industry should be producing, or because it was made by an extraordinarily talented individual who deserves to be supported. you should watch it because it’s really good.

check out the hungerford website for more details.

Friday, 5 June 2015


you don't need to read this review. you just need to know that one of the most imaginative horror movies ever made is being released on blu-ray and that this is very important.

society follows seventeen-year-old bill whitney, a troubled young man who suspects there may be something strange going on beneath the surface of his privileged upper-class beverly hills upbringing. driven mad with paranoia, bill calls on the help of his friends and together they uncover the truth about what really separates the rich from the poor.

to describe society's plot as i just have suggests some degree of subtlety to the storytelling, when the film itself is kind of the opposite of subtle. this is a film of extremes, even before anything weird happens. the music is over the top, the colours are garish and the actors are more soap opera than horror film, not helped by some very on-the-nose dialogue. director brian yuzna takes these elements that would really hinder the effectiveness of a lesser movie and turns them into society's strengths. the film parodies the soap operas of the time in order to critique our perception of the rich and powerful. yuzna also uses the light, at times comedic tone to settle his audience into a false sense of security before the chaos and horror of the final act.

it's all about the ending. what yuzna and effects genius screaming mad george achieve in that final scene is still incredible today. this is a film made in a time before computers made anything possible, but achieving the impossible with the limited resources available is what screaming mad george seems to do best. flesh becomes fluid in that final scene, and it's awe-inspiring and at times even beautiful. and gross and disgusting too, obviously, but however you look at it there's something incredible happening on screen in that moment and it looks particularly amazing in the restored blu-ray format.

the best thing about society is that it's a film about ideas. it's a film that takes an idea about what really goes on behind the closed doors of the wealthy and then shows us what that looks like. it's a bold, transcendent work that dares tackle the ugliness of wealth and does some amazing things with effects in the process.

the blu-ray has everything you would want from a film like this. there's a wonderfully self-deprecating interview with yuzna himself, along with a recent Q&A and a brief interview from the 1989 uk premiere. then there are interviews with the cast and a really fantastic interview with screaming mad george in which he explains how he came up with his name and shows off some of his latest works. there's also a commentary track and a screaming mad george music video.

if you haven't seen society, why are you still reading this? if you have seen it, i really recommend the blu-ray as it' s a film that improves with age and it's never looked so good.

i'll leave you with the words of rudyard kipling, which came to minds as i watched that remarkable final scene -

when the flush of a new-born sun fell first on eden's green and gold, 
our father adam sat under the tree and scratched with a stick in the mould; 
and the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
till the devil whispered behind the leaves, "it's pretty, but is it art ?

society will be released on blu-ray by arrow video on 8th june

Thursday, 4 June 2015

the strange colour of your body's tears

i'm not really sure what i just watched.

the strange colour of your body's tears is kind of a surreal thriller about a guy looking for his wife, and then many fucked up things happen to him. there's weird shit going on in the building he lives in, there are several women doing odd things who could all be the same woman, there are doppelgangers and a gloved killer who is sometimes several gloved killers. there's everything, happening all at once on the same screen. it's quite violent, but also creepy at times. it's very odd but never loses it's coherence. it's kind of amazing.

i feel like reviewing the strange colour of your body's tears won't do it any real justice. i should just post pictures, like this one -

and also this happens -

and there's a lot of this -

i mean, i could start talking about argento and bava and namecheck a few dozen giallos, but i feel like that's kind of doing it a disservice. there's something more going on here, and it's about paranoia and sex and isolation and suppressed memory. oddly, i found this film easier to relate to than anything else i've watched so far this year. that worries me a bit.

anyway, it's late, i feel like this film did something weird to my brain, you should probably just watch it.