Archive for Masters of Cinema


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on July 12, 2014 by dcairns


New from Masters of Cinema.

TOO LATE BLUES, the second film of John Cassavetes, has a video intro by me.

IF…. has a text essay in the booklet as well as an interview with Brian Pettifer, one of the film’s dazzling discoveries, conducted by me.

HAROLD AND MAUDE has another video intro.

Strange seeing myself on video on a commercially available DVD. Even stranger seeing my name as an item on the menu. DAVID CAIRNS — that’s all it says. Click here for some David Cairns.

Thanks to Brian, to Colin McLaren for the use of the flat and the excellent spaghetti and to Alberto and Lukasz and Anna and Mario for recording my blatherings. Thanks to MoC for the gigs in the first place.

Now you should buy at least one of them!

If…. (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray] [1968]

Harold And Maude (Masters of Cinema) (Blu-ray) [1971]

Too Late Blues (Masters of Cinema) (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray + DVD] [1961]

Cabinet Maker

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on June 5, 2014 by dcairns


THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI gets a new UK release, theatrically in selected venues, and on Blu-ray/DVD from Masters of Cinema. The latter features a video essay by me, edited by Timo Langer. I pitched hard to get the gig, because it seemed like a terrific film to tackle in that way — the story is so packed with ambiguity, reordering it and re-emphasizing it is a joy. I am proud to say I’ve introduced a new hare-brained theory to the reading of that film, which ninety-very-odd years on still retained unplumbed depths of peculiarity. It feels like you could spin a new interpretation out of any random minute in its modest runtime.

I can also report that the film looks nearly new, and the experience of seeing it is totally new — a different film, now we can see the actors’ expressions in long-shot. Werner Krauss’ essentially comic performance is sharper, and Conrad Veidt’s tragic one is even more poignant now that he seems to be in the room with you…

“If ou have the means, I highly recommend checking one out.”

It streets on August 29th — not yet up on Amazon for pre-order — I’ll keep you posted.

Almost Too Late

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on May 14, 2014 by dcairns


I got an invitation to contribute to the Masters of Cinema Blu-ray of TOO LATE BLUES. Somebody had dropped out and they needed it in a week. Unfortunately, I was preparing to go to Toronto in LESS than a week. And I had never seen the film. And did not consider myself a Cassavetes expert by any means.

But I watched the film and halfway through I knew I had to say YES. So I went on a binge of reading and viewing to make myself more familiar with my subject. I induced two students from Edinburgh College of Art’s film course final year (thanks, Anna & Mario!) to shoot and record me talking about the film in front of projected frames, and I think it turned out pretty good.

You may pre-order here –

Too Late Blues (Masters of Cinema) (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray + DVD] [1961]

I had a little more thinking time for this one, which is a film I’ve screened almost annually at the college –

Harold And Maude (Masters of Cinema) (Blu-ray) [1971]

But oddly, the TOO LATE BLUES piece I did may actually be the better of the two.

If…. (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray] [1968]

Finally, I wrote an essay for the booklet of this one. Like H&M, this is a film I know well from way back. I supplemented my own musings by interviewing Brian Pettifer, a Lindsay Anderson stock company star who remembers it all very fondly, though alas Paramount wouldn’t let us include any of his observations about the film’s sparse budget…

If you click on those links and buy something, you will be supporting Shadowplay, which is to say ME. Secretly, I think this is a good thing to do.


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