Archive for the FILM Category

I am a boy

Posted in FILM with tags , on September 28, 2016 by dcairns


I think we all have things like this… here’s mine.

I was talking to students yesterday – and what a relief to be actually talking to students, maybe even TEACHING, as opposed to endless admin…

Anyway, I was talking to students and the conversation triggered a memory…

I think we all have things like this… but I don’t have many because I’ve solved most of mine. We all have memories of things we saw on TV where we didn’t know what they were, maybe because we tuned in late or we were too small. But an image stuck in our minds and haunts us. The mystery is part of it, though the thing would still have resonance anyway. I think mine were pretty mysterious and fantastical — one I recently solved was BLACK ANGEL, which I knew I saw as a supporting short in front of SOMETHING during my dim youth — it turned out to have been screened with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Though the short itself is flawed, it does have a lot of the style and atmosphere I remembered…

Anyway, the conversation triggered a memory… There used to be shows on BBC2 “For Schools and Colleges,” and occasionally we got to watch them in school. I think maybe a teacher was sick on this occasion but for some reason we as a class — this was primary school so I was between five and eleven… closer to the latter… so figure mid-to-late seventies. And we saw a short film…

I’d say it was British and probably BBC-made. A boy was wandering on a beach. He considered getting in a barrel or drum and the had a vision of himself drifting helplessly out to sea. Then, even scarier, he explored a sea cave. There was an echo, and he played games with it. At one point he shouted “I – am – a – boy!” and the echo came back: “I – am – a – aaaa!”

I think he ran away at that point and I’m surprised we didn’t also.

I have no idea why I was subjected to this alarming film in school at such an impressionable age. I’m kind of glad I was though. I’ve probably forgotten everything else that happened in school that year. But What Was It?

If you can’t help me, tell me your own mysteries.


Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , on September 27, 2016 by dcairns

I don’t usually do fundraisers (except my own) on Shadowplay, but this one is special.

Funded by Scottish Film Talent Network, who funded my own THE NORTHLEACH HORROR, it’s directed by Gordon Napier who was our location manager and is a really striking and promising filmmaker, and the costumes are by Ali Mitchell who designed our mad scientists, Nazis etc (as well as creating the world’s best clown costumes for CRY FOR BOBO).

If you have the wherewithal, please consider helping.

Indiegogo page. Facebook page.

(More NORTHLEACH news soon!)


Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , , on September 26, 2016 by dcairns


For some reason we’ve started looking back at The X-Files. Partly this was a result of the revival of the series, which yielded two interesting episodes and a lot of really awful waffle from creator Chris Carter, whose indigestible exposition-dumps of mythos/backstory/conspiracy were the reason we stopped watching in the first place.

CC’s best show was probably the pilot, in which Fox Mulder (that name! that impossible name!) is much more eccentric and interesting, something they stamped on later. Then you had a season of the show being a bit too cheap and a bit too repetitive, before they learned that Dan Scully couldn’t always be skeptical and wrong without learning something (Mulder is always right) and then things started to get better, particularly when Darin Morgan was writing and the show could spoof itself while still being itself.

While Morgan’s latest episode drew fire for being TOO silly (and was cannibalized from an abortive effort to revive Kolchak: The Night Stalker), we rather enjoyed it, and got a lot of pleasure out of revisiting Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (Emmy-winning per by the great Peter Boyle), War of the Coprophages (a plague of killer roaches — but each incident comes with its own debunking, with a real alien invasion lost in the shuffle) and Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (a RASHOMON of nested unreliable narrations).


Then we moved onto Vince Gilligan’s episodes, all of which happened after we’d moved on, so they were all new to us. Gilligan didn’t bother deconstructing the show on a weekly basis, which probably allowed him to be more prolific. You do get more of a sense of the stories falling into a format which gets predictable, but on the other hand his specific twists usually still surprise even if you know when they’re coming. And here’s Bryan Cranston, showing what he can do as a racist conspiracy nut with an inner ear condition that will make his head explode if he stops driving, in Drive (basically SPEED, but with an actor’s head instead of a bus). And here’s Diana Scarwid being good and scary as a psychic who can make people do whatever she wants, and SEE whatever she wants.

Nice to see Gilligan addressing the kind of characters conspiracy theories actually appeal to — I mean, apart from everybody. The casual anti-Semitism of Cranston’s character is really surprising, and too complex to resolve in a 45-minute essay (or in a few thousand years of human civilisation, apparently).