Archive for the FILM Category

Day & Night

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2014 by dcairns


Titles by the great Pablo Ferro.

Hal Ashby’s LET’S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER, a Stones concert film, suffers a bit from being ’80s product, a period probably nobody would say was the Rolling Stones’ finest. When I see old footage of Mick et al on Ready Steady Go, the air of danger and rebellion is so strong, the message is so clear — I can hardly imagine how transgressive they must have seemed. Conversely, in Scorsese’s SHINE A LIGHT, the message is “We’re still here. We do this.” But what is the meaning of this 1982 performance I see, with Mick’s leggings and jacket and sock-filled crotch bulge and Keith’s eyeshadow and fag and all the balloons?

Never mind. The arrangement of the songs, slathered in saxophone, isn’t too great either, though one can’t fault the marathon-like energy the band apply to them.


The film’s biggest filmic plus is that it’s an open-air stadium concert that starts in the last minutes of daylight and progresses into night, allowing for an ever-changing quality of light that creates a visual progression — something I believe all concert movies need. The masterpiece of the genre, Jonathan Demme’s STOP MAKING SENSE, achieved this by having the Talking Heads emerge gradually, one by one, building from David Byrne solo with guitar and drum track on a tape deck, to the full quartet plus backing musicians and backing vocalists — plus an elaborate and ever-changing lighting plan. Almost everything else I’ve seen throws the kitchen sink in right away, pyrotechnics and lights and inflatable pigs and dancing girls and diminishing returns.

Here, the diurnal structure helps, as do the nice colours, ’80s pastels of course but deepening as the sunlight goes orange then fades.

Ashby also is happy to throw away the first number on longshots, robbing us of Mick’s facial exertions and just showing off the remarkable space, a telefoto face-scape, an oscillating pointillist constellation of flesh dots, a great wall of the many-headed arrayed before us, spread flat on the screen by long lens distortion.

I want to say that Mick Jagger’s face is a panopticon. In the sense that a person standing anywhere on it would be able to perceive every other feature. Perched on the cro-magnon brow, he could observe the craggy gully of the mouth, blue in the distance, whereas from the promontory of a lip, he could gaze into those nasal caverns, on to the deep-shadowed hollows of the cheeks, the shimmering, glassy eyeballs, and the steep incline of the forehead, vanishing in a forest of sweaty locks.

Mediocre Time Girl

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on April 22, 2014 by dcairns


I’ve come to rely on Brit B-list director David MacDonald for at least one ludicrous moment per film. THE BROTHERS has a guy set bobbing in the ocean with cork tied under his arms, a fish in his hat to attract a passing sea-bird to swoop down and crack his cranium like an eggshell — a scheme served up as an alternative to murder. It’s not murder if a seagull does it. And DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS is a movie wholly composed of ludicrous moments.

Most of the mistakes in GOOD-TIME GIRL (1948), alas, are the kind that make it less fun. The story is narrated by Flora Robson to Diana Dors, a juvenile offender in need of a cautionary tale — this means that the mighty Dors is on screen for mere instants, and the rest of the flick concentrates on Jean Kent, who is OK but we can’t forgive her for not being Diana Dors. As a matter of fact, I often encounter this problem in real life: I’ll be talking to somebody, a shopkeeper, my bank manager, or the like, and I’ll think, “You’re OK, but you’re no Diana Dors.” It can sour a person’s whole life.

“I was present on the set of DANCE HALL,” said Alexander Mackendrick, “when Diana Dors was dragged away because you could see her nipples through her jumper, and she had to go away and have them stuffed with cotton wool, and her indignation at this was something to be seen.”

The film peaks early on with some whacky staging. Kent loses her job, and her drunkard father goes all MOMMIE DEAREST with a belt. As Kent cowers in bed, the hulking inebriate advances… and begins to lash the empty bit of mattress to Kent’s right. She screams! — in mystification, presumably, at this odd behaviour. I think we’d all feel like that if our father started taking his frustration out on the bed like that.

“I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the dirt.”

There’s also Dennis Price, Herbert Lom, Bonar Colleano, and the nice shot you see up top — a throwaway moment in a film otherwise free of style, and one that appears for just a couple of seconds, for no reason at all.

Still, I suppose Dors’ fleeting appearance gave her more free time to de-virginize Tony Newley, so it’s an ill wind etc.

The Egg and Eye

Posted in FILM with tags , , on April 21, 2014 by dcairns


The author, having painted two eggs for Easter, is able to properly register his surprise that LET US PREY, a film he and his wife co-wrote, has won the Silver Melies Award for Best European Horror Film at the Brussels International Fantasy Film Festival.


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