Archive for Kinji Fukasaku

The Other David Cairns

Posted in FILM with tags , on April 21, 2012 by dcairns

There’s another David Cairns. He makes documentaries. This is potentially confusing, even to me, especially since I’m currently preparing a documentary. (Remind me to tell you about that.) Since I sometimes write as just D. Cairns, I’m tempted to use that as my screen credit in future, although it seems unfair because I WAS HERE FIRST, DAMNIT.

But it got me thinking about names. What are the best film director names? Obviously Aldo Lado is very pleasing because the first name is an anagram of the second name, and vice versa. You can’t say that for Andrei Konchalovsky.

Names like Roberto Rossellini, Federico Fellini and especially Pier Palo Pasolini have both the mellifluous sound of the Italian language, and inbuilt alliteration. They sound like SUPERHEROES. I can readily picture Roberto punching his enemies through walls, Federico swinging from his webs above a Cinecitta Manhattan, and Pasolini picking up rough trade in his Salomobile.

Michelangelo Antonioni, on the other hand, is a ridiculous name. It doesn’t know when to stop.

Kinji Fukasaku is a terrific little name. So dynamic — it’s like every swear word in the universe crammed into six syllables. Robert Bolt reported that his first word after his stroke was “Fuck,” because it seemed to fit the circumstances and it’s so satisfying to say.* Had he gone that extra mile and uttered the name of BATTLE ROYALE’s future director, his recovery might have been accelerated greatly.

Britain seems ill-served in this capacity. No doubt familiarity breeds contempt, and we’re hardly likely to find the exotic at play, but I do find the arrays of Mikes, Kens and Tonys a little disappointing — the names fall far short of most of the actual work. You have to dig to come up with more ambitious names like Anthony Pelissier, Horace Ove and Piers Haggard. The double acts got it right — with Powell & Pressburger and Launder & Gilliat you can sense filmmakers capitalising on the greater interest of their surnames by jamming them together and dropping all the boring Michael and Sidney stuff.

America, the great melting pot, should offer a great variety of crazy mash-up names, and any set of end credits can usually be relied upon to throw up a few extraordinary conglomerations — from THE MATRIX I pluck the following — Jenaya Pender, Robert Simper, Mali Finn, Hugh Bateup, Sonja Smuk, Grayden le Breton, Toby Pease, Pieter Ploody. And yet, I submit, the crazy names department is one area in which American cineastes have consistently underperformed. Can you suggest any good exceptions?

*Also, a stroke often has a disinhibiting effect, making swearing more likely.


Planet of the Andalusian Dog

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2011 by dcairns

“God damn you all to hell!”

Yes, I’ve inserted Chuckles Heston (and Linda Harrison as Nova and Henry the Horse) into UN CHIEN ANDALOU. It’s what he would have wanted. And what better fate for an axiom of cinema?

I first saw UN CHIEN ANDALOU at a science fiction convention. It was the first, and for all I know last, such event to be held in Edinburgh. It happened at the Grosvenor Hotel and it was called Ra-Con. The logo was a raccoon. Possibly holding a phaser. Does anybody besides me recall this?

They showed SOYLENT GREEN, with Harry Harrison, author of the original novel Make Room! Make Room! there in person to denounce it. So Charlton Heston and UN CHIEN ANDALOU have long been connected in my mind, I guess. They also showed THE GREEN SLIME, which made less of an impression, although it turned out to be my first Kinji Fukasaku experience, not repeated until I saw BATTLE ROYALE at the Edinburgh Film Festival (and scored a free umbrella like the one Beat Takeshi sports in the film).

UN CHIEN ANDALOU screened as parts of a mind-blowing shorts programme that also included Jiri Trnka’s haunting animated allegory THE HAND, Jan Svankmajer’s BYT (THE FLAT) and something called 23 SKIDOO, which I’ve never seen since.

Ahah, here it is, on the INTERNET —

And like so much of what disturbed my frame of mind as a child, it’s from the National Film Board of Canada. It all makes sense now.

Film File-o’-Facts

Posted in FILM, literature, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2007 by dcairns

1] Herman Baldwin is the only actor to appear in both the 1922 and 1979 versions of NOSFERATU. He plays the minor role of “Third Rat” in the Murnau classic, but fifty-five years later he had graduated to feature-player status, portraying “Lead Rat” in the audacious Herzog re-imagining. Most recently, Baldwin worked on RATATOUILLE, where sophisticated motion-capture technology allowed animators to use his physical performance for the character “Skinner”. Baldwin is said to be “very disappointed” that Ian Holm’s voice was used instead of his own. Though now in his late nineties, Baldwin still hopes to escape from being typecast in rat roles, and would love to try his hand at a more romantic part.

2] Which movie actor and singing star is actually a conjoined twin?

*See bottom of page for answer.

3] Legend has it that if you play the first side of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon while watching THE WIZARD OF OZ, the effect is not really complimentary to either film or album.

4] The longest film ever made may be Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s BACH: A BIG FILM FROM LEIPZIG. But an exact running time is not available: critics attending the first screening in March 1987 have still not emerged.

5] Joseph “Buster” Keaton and Larry “Buster” Crabbe were actually brothers. Their son is eighties singing sensation Buster Bloodvessel.

Great Stone Face.Stiff Upper Lip.

6] Silent movie director Fritz Lang was actually silent in real life. Lang suffered from hysterical mutism after his experiences in World War One. He would communicate on set using his own personalized sign language, consisting mainly of punching and kicking. A punch in the stomach meant “less,” a kick in the shins, “more.”

After going to France to make LILIOM, Lang discovered he was mute only in German. By an irony of fate he could communicate fluently in French, a language he did not speak.

Old Lang Syne.

7] If you watch the first 40 mins of Oliver Stone’s THE DOORS while listening to “Give ’em Enough Rope” by The Clash, the film is massively improved. It’s even better if you shut your eyes.

8] Besides Jerry Lewis’ famed concentration camp comedy THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED, other unreleased movies waiting on the shelf include Kinji Fukasaku’s all-Japanese UNCLE TOM’S CABIN, and Merle Oberon’s directing debut, CHARLES MANSON: THE MUSICAL, starring Art Garfunkel and Twiggy.

9] The shortest film ever made is Michael Snow’s FRAME, which is just a single frame in duration. Since the film is too short to “spool up”, projectionists usually just drop it past the lens.

10] The most faithful film adaptation ever is Cantlin Ashrowan’s film of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The director simply filmed the book’s open pages, leaving plenty of time for the viewer to read. Ashrowan is now trying to interest Robert Zemeckis in filming the braille edition in 3D.

The Knowles Twins.

*Answer: Beyonce Knowles. Beyonce’s “Siamese twin” brother, Bernard (technically her half-brother) has to be digitally “air-brushed” out of photos and videos, although for live appearances he just puts a lampshade on his head.