Archive for December 30, 2007

The Colour Of Mana

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2007 by dcairns

Crowden in da house.

POW!

Loitering within tent.

POOM!

Jer.

KABOOM!

Stills from THE FINAL PROGRAMME, an amazing pop-sci-fi sextravaganza scripted, directed and designed by the enormous Robert Fuest. Here we see dashing, pill-popping Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Jerry Cornelius (bottom) played by Jon Finch (who deserves rediscovery for being sexy and brilliant here) in search of mad scientists Graham Crowden (also to be seen maddening up Lindsay Anderson’s Mick Travis trilogy), Basil Henson and George Coulouris (the only member of the cast in CITIZEN KANE who aged something like his character. More on Prophetic Cinema, and the noble Mr. Crowden, soon).

For a while Fuest was a bright-yet-unrecognised light of British Cinema, but he had the bad luck to come along during the collapse in American funding at the start of the seventies. Initially encouraged, then royally shafted, by what Michael Reeves called “those ponces at A.I.P.”, Fuest combined eye-popping visual flair, a traditionally English love for the eccentric and unruly, and a gleeful sadism. In other words, he was a Michael Powell for the rock ‘n’ roll era.

While Michael Reeves was destroyed by depression, recreational drugs, and psychiatry, Fuest was trashed by the film business itself: THE DEVIL’S RAIN was ludicrously recut by the A.I.P. and the industry in the U.K. imploded, leaving Fuest to mostly stifle in TV work, with only one other feature credit in 1982, an intriguing-sounding softcore drama, APHRODITE.

But before that happened, we get not only the above movie, on which more later, but also the two DR PHIBES comedy-horrors with Vincent Price (a third, PHIBES TRIUMPHANT, was stymied by Fuest’s inability to come up with any more elaborately nasty murders), a sombre, skilled and stylish WUTHERING HEIGHTS, and this location-set, brightly daylit psycho-thriller, AND SOON THE DARKNESS (an odd debut for a former production designer since it requires no sets!):

I like the whispery female VO that comes in partway thru, as if someone’s been watching Godard…

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The Fly

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on December 30, 2007 by dcairns

Passion for Life

In David Cronenberg’s EASTERN PROMISES, Viggo Mortensen* urinates hard on a gravestone. Wish I could remember the name carved on the stone so I could Google it. I mean, what an unmissable opportunity! I’m sure the cemetery people (cemetarians?) wouldn’t allow an actor to pass water over a real Last Resting Place, so the stone must’ve been knocked up specially, in which case somebody got to choose the name inscribed on it, and who could resist making that name at least a close facsimile to an ex-wife’s, a movie critic’s, an unsympathetic producer’s or a school bully’s?

Wish I knew which. Two obvious possibilities, Robin Wood, once Canada’s premier writer-on-film, who never liked Cronenberg’s stuff, and the producers of Cronenberg’s dull drag racing movie, FAST COMPANY, can be excluded. Because it’s not their name. I don’t recollect exactly what the name IS, but I didn’t recognise it. Anybody out there with an Academy screener who can check?

Grave situation.

New Year’s resolution: get my mind out of the sewer.

*Regular reader Elver Loho points out that it’s not Viggo who does this at all, but another character. So this post is even more fatuous than we already believed…

Euphoria #2

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on December 30, 2007 by dcairns

Thanks for the suggestions I’ve already had for future editions of Cinema Euphoria. I’ll get to them over the coming weeks. Here’s my own first nomination.

I’ve written before about my love of William Wyler’s work. Here’s an offshoot of it, a piece of informal, or unofficial cinema that gives me great pleasure whenever I see it.

Audrey Hepburn’s screen test:

Partly it’s the human thing of responding to a smile with a smile. But what I like most is…

Wyler told Thorold Dickinson, who was shooting this test, to let the cameras roll on after the test was supposed to be over, and just talk to Hepburn, to get an unaffected, natural look at her. Audrey at first is quite stiff — like most intelligent kids, she tries to make a good impression by being Very Serious. And she’s probably getting further and further from landing the part the more that goes on. Then an emotive memory surfaces, and she appears vulnerable, and I would think Wyler’s interest would perk up at that point. And then, at the end, the grown-up asks a silly question and like all smart kids Audrey can’t help laughing at the silly grown-up, and also delights in having got one over on the Germans. And that smile has to be the moment when she got the part.

It might be interesting to blog on a few more examples of informal cinema, stuff that isn’t quite a film, but isn’t anything else. I have a newsreel I’d like to show you all, for instance. And suggestions are, as always, gratefully received.