Archive for Jamie Stone

OK, Connery!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2008 by dcairns

Sir Sean Connery, pictured at Edinburgh Filmhouse where he engaged in a brief but tasty discussion with TV’s Mark Cousins, ahead of a screening of Sidney Lumet’s searing THE HILL.

Fiona and I arrived good and early, as befitted the importance of the occasion, and immediately encountered my ex-student Jamie Stone in the bar (with current student Tali Yankelevich). Jamie, who had been presented a Connery Honorarium (or Connerarium, for short) at the recent Edinburgh International Film Festival, had turned up in hopes of grabbing a spare ticket, but there were non to be had. However, he had the edge on me in another respect, since he was newly returned from Mark Cousins’ and Tilda Swinton’s own film festival in Nairn, the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams. He had driven up with filmmaker Robert Glassford, who brought a gigantic tent capable of sleeping eight. After taking in a film, they drove about looking for a quiet spot to pitch their canvas. Nothing. Deciding to bite the bullet and pay for a spot in a campsite, they then discovered that Robert, a brilliant but erratic talent, had forgotten to bring the tent-poles.

Fortunately Mark Cousins himself came to their rescue and offered them space in a camper van, and the following night they actually spent in the cinema itself, a ballroom equipped with beanbags in lieu of conventional seating. This sounded considerably more comfortable and practical than my own occasional fantasies of living full-time in a cinema, which usually involve burrowing into the popcorn like a rat and spending the night there, or else climbing into the screen like Buster Keaton on SHERLOCK, JR (or Mia Farrow in THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO) and discretely bedding down in the background of a scene. That big crane shot of all the wounded soldiers in GONE WITH THE WIND — I could lie down there and nobody would see me. I wouldn’t be bothering anyone. WHY CAN’T I?

Of the Film Fest experience itself, Jamie reported: “It was wonderful,” with a sort of magical glow about his face.

Grabbing seats in the auditorium, we found ourselves next to John Reid, who had brought his camera along. He gracefully supplied the snaps for this post. Confusion set in as we joined him, as Fiona initially thought he was the boyfriend of a friend of ours’, then thought he was the boyfriend of a different friend, before we realised that he is in fact the identical twin of the second boyfriend. I was in a state of pre-Connery anticipation and unable to help much.

The show began with Mark C informing us that it was the day before Sir Sean’s birthday, so we welcomed him to the stage with what I believe they call a “rousing chorus” of Happy Birthday To You. Some slight confusion at the end as to whether to sing “Happy Birthday Dear Se-an,” or “Happy Birthday SIR Se-an,” or possibly “Happy Birthday Sean Connery,” which scans better but just sounds funny.

Sir S. was in fine fettle, particularly relaxed and amusing in front of an Edinburgh audience and talking to Mark, whom he knows quite well. He spoke of his long-term relationship with director Sidney Lumet “nothing sexual, though,” and the fact that he has stayed friends with probably more directors than actors. THE HILL was filed with ROBIN AND MARIAN and THE NAME OF THE ROSE as films which did not reach a wide audience upon release but which have enjoyed a long afterlife with intense admiration from devoted fans. “This film was made before half of you were probably — oh, there’s some old buggers here too.”

(The use of the B word, a Scots favourite which isn’t even considered particularly obscene here, reminded me of Connery’s work in CUBA, and his response to Brooke Adams’ angry “I see,” — “Well I’m buggered if I do!” That’s one of the best lovers’ quarrels ever filmed.)

While Mark sometimes prodded and guided The Great Man’s memory, Sir Sean clearly had vivid recall of the heat of the Spanish location, with the suffering that entailed for the cast, and the way Oswald Morris’s cinematography transformed it into a convincing North Africa, blowing out the sky into a white scream of nothingness. Of the stunning images, Connery also added, “It’s in black and white. Ask for half your money back now.”

Spoken like a True Scot.

Photos by John P. Reid.

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Congratulations

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2008 by dcairns

— to my newly graduated students Anders and Jamie, who just won the McLaren Award for New British Animation at Edinburgh Film Festival for SPACE TRAVEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, part of their THE WORLD ACCORDING TO series (TWAT for short). This more than makes up for the Fest’s strange decision to only show one of the series.

This WILL be the first of many awards as long as the guys get the films out there to be seen.

Watch out for those fellows!

“You like me! You really like me!”

In other news, the Michael Powell Award went to the new Shane Meadows film, SOMERS TOWN, which kind of disappoints me on principle. I’ve often felt the prize goes to films that Powell himself wouldn’t have thought particularly revelatory (and revelation was something Powell REQUIRED of cinema), but I haven’t seen the Meadows film, so that isn’t the problem. This year the ground rules have been changed — it used to be that first or second features by new directors in the U.K. were eligible. Now Meadows is in, with his sixth feature, and Martin Radich’s CRACK WILLOW, a genuine first feature, wasn’t even considered. The Festival is perfectly entitled to change the rules as it sees fit, but it would be nice if we could understand what the qualifying conditions actually are.

Enough griping — congratulations to the winners, and to the rest: “Try again. Fail again. Fail BETTER,” as Samuel Beckett would say.

Also, congratulations to festival director Hannah McGill and her team for a very enjoyable Fest.

Shorts

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2008 by dcairns

Lots of good short films on at the E.I.F.F. I’ve thought for years that they should have a short on with every feature (unless it’s a three-hour arse marathon or something), and this year still only a few of the features do have shorts in front. Let’s face it, shorts are helpful to people rushing from one screening to another and arriving late, they bring in extra punters because often the short filmmakers and their families are in attendance, and they provide ADDED VALUE to a screening of a feature which may be on general release in a month’s time anyway, and is now screening at a vastly inflated rate. Moviegoers deserve something extra.

My newly-graduated student Jamie Stone has TWO films showing. One of his Three Minute Wonder animations (SPACE TRAVEL ACCORDING TO JOHN), co-directed with Anders Jedenfors, shows in the first McLaren Animation programme, where the other stand-out is Will Becher’s THE WEATHERMAN. I wasn’t sure whether to add or deduct points for Becher’s use of Ennio Morricone’s magnificently silly theme from MY NAME IS NOBODY. In the same programme, Sally Arthur’s A-Z was a visual and aural treat of surpassing charm.

Jamie’s live-action short FLIGHTS, which plays chicken with the boring social realist misery genre, before flipping into something utterly joyful and upbeat, screens with the feature TIME TO DIE.

With Martin Radich’s gross-out tragedy CRACK WILLOW, I saw a short from Australia called HEARTBREAK MOTEL, memorable for great lighting and sweatily intense performances, and a spectacle as grotesque as anything in the main feature: a tall man dressed as Little Lord Fauntleroy, an idiot grin plastered across his strange features, his eyes seemingly taped up into a faux-oriental squint, capering nimbly before a horrified “john”. “This isn’t quite what I had in mind,” the customer whimpers, queasily.