Archive for Tilda Swinton

The Zero With a Thousand Faces

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2014 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2014-10-12-10h30m09s236

Terry Gilliam ought to, by rights, be exempt from criticism — he’s done enough great work and suffered enough appalling misfortune and interference to merit being left in peace — a mighty Prometheus regularly torn apart by vultures ought to at least be spared mosquito bites. Noble as these sentiments are, I’m not going to abide by them, since when was the life of the film blogger a noble one? I would place THE ZERO THEOREM abaft TIDELAND (2005), belonging in that category of undiluted Gilliam films, unscarred by tragedy or disaster (of the external kind, anyway) which nevertheless feel a bit insubstantial.

Beautiful, lively and as eccentric as you could ask for, TZT is also somewhat familiar — I remember at the time of THE FISHER KING, Michael Palin remarking that it was a little disappointing when someone as wildly original as Gilliam repeated himself even a little — he was thinking of the Black Knight — and in this case the disappointment is a little greater since quite a bit of the movie derives from BRAZIL, and even a key image that isn’t in Gilliam’s 1985 masterwork is actually the source image Gilliam had for that film — a man on a beach with a song playing. There’s a dream girl who is also real, and floats nude in the sky at one point, there’s a threatening fat-one-thin-one duo, a needy manager, a limp desk jockey hero, vast bureaucracies, plagues of commercialism, weird nuns, sideways monitors, tubing, homeless persons as set dressing, and a multinational cast that gives the movie an Everywhere quality. Welles’ film of THE TRIAL hovers somewhere between the director’s eye and his viewfinder.

Gilliam also has to contend with the generation or so of filmmakers influenced by him — when Tilda Swinton turns up, chuntering through a wig, false teeth and an extreme regional accent, it irresistibly recalls SNOWPIERCER, whether or not Gilliam’s film did it first.

And what do you do when your best film, BRAZIL, has since come true? Gilliam has suggested suing Dick Cheney for plagiarism, but that doesn’t solve the artistic problem.

vlcsnap-2014-10-12-10h33m19s80

Freshening the mix somewhat are the dayglo colours, which give the movie a unique, painfully intense look, and a vein of porno sexiness/sexism which is at times difficult to make sense of. Well, in fact the whole movie is difficult to make sense of, whether because Gilliam has obfuscated the narrative with excess decoration, or because it never was clear, is impossible to say. So the pleasures have to be snatched from incidentals, or rather the incidentals become central — David Thewlis’s desperate bonhomie, Melanie Thierry’s accent (putatively French but seeming to have made a tour of every major European country and a few of the municipalities), and the way Matt Damon’s suits always match his background precisely. Also the ways in which Christoph Waltz’s home has been adapted from a church.

vlcsnap-2014-10-12-10h32m02s111

Most of the film takes place in that church, which is the film’s solution to the problem of a low budget. Apart from having to confine itself to its quarters, and a slight tendency to repeat its computer animations on Waltz’s screens, it never betrays signs of cheapness. But a film stuck in one place needs some other form of momentum to compensate for the limited ground covered geographically. We never seem to be getting anywhere, in terms of narrative, character, theme or anything else. This inertia means that the movie can actually end with a sunset and still not feel like it has a proper ending.

 

2014

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2014 by dcairns

Red Mill still 1

Image from RED MILL.

The programme for this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival is available to read online. I wrote one entry, for a movie called ONE OF A KIND. And in my duties as submissions editor I spotted that one, and a film called GREYHAWK, which you should see.

LET US PREY, the horror movie I co-wrote with Fiona, is screening.

Also exciting — my Facebook friend Christa Fuller is showing her biographical documentary on the legendary Sam Fuller, A FULLER LIFE. And real-life friend Nathan Silver presents his latest movie, the award-winning UNCERTAIN TERMS. SNOWPIERCER screens, featuring noted Scottish talents Tilda Swinton and Ewen Bremner along with man-myths Ed Harris and John Hurt. There are retrospectives on Dominik Graf, early Iranian cinema and John McGrath, the committed left-wing Scottish writer whose most exciting credit, for me, is Ken Russell’s THE BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN. My prolific friend Mark Cousins is back with yet another film, co-directed with Mania Akbari, LIFE MAY BE.

The image above is from RED MILL, screening in the experimental Black Box section, which promises to be as eye-popping as ever.

And right after it all ends, I’m off to the Cinema Ritrovato in Bologne to see A HARD DAY’S NIGHT under the stars with Richard Lester introducing. So that’s nice.

 

Take Care of My Cat

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by dcairns

I had the pleasure of seeing Richard Ledes’ FRED when I was looking at submissions for the Film Festival — I watched it with the growing conviction that it was something unusual and very strong and then it slam-dunked a SUPERB final scene. I was able to congratulate one of its stars, Elliott Gould, since he’s here at the Fest, but while I was talking to him and perhaps gesticulating too broadly, Fiona stepped into my area of gesticulation and I hit her in the teeth with my beer bottle. Fortunately she wasn’t harmed, bit it was sore and kind of embarrassing.

“I can’t believe you hit me in the face with a bottle in front of Elliott Gould,” she said, later.

“That’s OK, he’s used to it,” I replied, thinking of THE LONG GOODBYE.

Another thing reminiscent of the Altman classic — Gould spends the whole of FRED longing for the return of a lost cat. I’m sure that wasn’t added to the script with him in mind, but it makes for a lovely connection.

The whole time I was watching the film, I was wondering WHO IS THAT? Not about Elliott Gould, but about the woman who plays his wife. I knew I knew her from somewhere. I mean, she was really familiar. So I looked up Judith Roberts and realized she’s the Beautiful Girl Across the Hall in ERASERHEAD. She’s still incredibly striking.

Speaking of the whole “I know that face” phenomenon — Mark Cousins introduced me to his regular collaborator Tilda Swinton yesterday, which was lovely. She threw me for a loop by immediately saying, “I have a feeling I know you.”

Well, I think the only time I’ve been in the same room with T.S. was in that very same room, Filmhouse Screen 1, when she was on the stage with Derek Jarman talking about CARAVAGGIO, and I was sitting in the seat she was sitting in when she said “I have a feeling I know you.”

But I didn’t think to say that.

I could have just said, “You are obviously confusing me with Brad Pitt.”

But I didn’t think to say that either.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 438 other followers