Archive for June, 2013


Posted in FILM with tags , , , on June 27, 2013 by dcairns


A fancy dress conga line could be the ultimate metaphor for cinema, or it could be just a random frame grab taken in desperation. Either way, the film it’s taken from, LUMIERE D’ETE, forms part of this week’s edition of The Forgotten, concentrating on Edinburgh International Film Festival’s retrospective of the works of Jean Gremillon.

Note: unless you’re logged in to MUBI, you may find the link doesn’t work and the article is very hard to find. So join MUBI! Meanwhile we’ll try to fix the link.

Le Sentier de la Pieuvre

Posted in FILM with tags on June 26, 2013 by dcairns


I’m having a day off from the Film Festival, and so can you! We return you to our serial photoplay, TRAIL OF THE OCTOPUS. Chapter 11, The Red Death!

Last we saw, hapless criminologist Carter Holmes was battering down the door to rescue Ruth Stanhope, while she, thinking him to be a rapacious ape-man, poised to kill herself. Of course, we knew how that was going to turn out. Ruth doesn’t kill herself. And Carter isn’t an ape-man.

Now they have to escape from the fiendish lair of Wang Foo, which they manage with one of the series’ most gripping action sequences ~

Too violent for Jim Carrey?

It seems highly probable that Ruth will spend the rest of the serial falling out of her tattered dress, but Carter suggests a kinkier alternative — she should don a spare suit of his clothes. Thus dragged up, she is handily able to impersonate a scarecrow and elude pursuing stereotypes, before hopping on a convenient biplane with Carter.


Now everybody’s off to Paris to get a ceremonial dagger from a French professor. Realizing the average life expectancy of professors in this serial, he’s glad to part with it, but Carter has a better idea. And by better, I mean stupider. He proposes setting a trap.

Meanwhile, Wang Foo prepares a duplicate dagger, booby-trapped to induce sudden death in anyone unsheathing it. And he uses his hitherto unknown powers of long-range mental suggestion to draw Carter into his own trap ~

It works. Carter finishes his preparations, and then checks in case there is a dwarfish ape-man lurking in the dumb-waiter. There isn’t. Not anymore.


But there was.

Oh, and Wang Foo has a mad scientist who’s going use his special invention to tug a piece of Mars out of the sky and drop it on Montmartre. So there’s that to look forward to. It’s not clear why he’s going to do this, but Wang Foo apparently doesn’t believe him anyway. Let’s just not worry about it. Probably never happen.


I was expecting the Black Cat Cafe to be sleazier, but I guess it’ll do. The black musicians playing le jazz hot are perhaps intended as a clue that this place ain’t on the level. Carter shows up in heavy disguise with Ruth, handing her a “code sheet” for emergencies. I’m sure that’ll be useful when Mars falls on their heads.

Midnight! The ape-man jiggers the fuse box! The gendarmes outside Keystone about helplessly in the dark! Carter is seized under cover of blue filter — he wrestles his assailant into a deadlock only to have him vanish like a wraith! But he does manage to get Tunisian turncoat Raoul Bernay and vamp Zora Roularde under arrest. Except, wouldn’t you know it, Ruth has been kidnapped again. Well, she was doing well. She nearly made it through a whole episode sans abduction.

Zora gives Carter the booby-trapped blade. And a big chunk of Mars hurtles towards Paris.


Questions, questions…


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on June 25, 2013 by dcairns


BREATHING EARTH: SUSUMU SHINGU’S DREAM plays Edinburgh International Film Festival on Wednesday (and again on Sunday). It’s the new film from Thomas Riedelsheimer, previously creator of documentaries about landscape artist Andy Goldsworthy and percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Shingu, the star of this show, is a sculptor whose kinetic work interacts with wind and water currents, dancing with nature. Riedelsheimer’s camera joins the dance.

I’ve written about this film for the Festival catalogue, but I want to add a personal note here. Halfway through watching my preview disc, I had to pause it so I could rush outside and look at the sky, to see seagulls cut through the air, making the wind’s movements visible through their pathways. A friend speaks of “the sidewalk test” — does the world look different to you after seeing a movie? It’s a test that many movies fail, even many good movies. BREATHING EARTH is a very good movie indeed, and it has a particularly strong effect on the post-movie perceptions.

I can also add that Fiona watched it with me while going through a rough time with depression and anxiety and it was the most wonderfully soothing experience for her. What will it do for you?