Archive for Ozu

“How dare you make a face!”

Posted in FILM with tags , on January 8, 2017 by dcairns


That’s what it says, apparently. Burying myself in Ozu. Can’t tell you why yet. Also — Borowczyk! So you can’t say things aren’t varied. Oh, and a bit of Ashby, a dash of Etaix. I can say no more.


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2014 by dcairns


Hey look it’s Pierre Blanchar! (See comments for correction.) With Louis Jouvet in Salonican drag. What gives?

I have a Pabst-related gig, so I’m watching Pabst films. No hardship there.

But when I come to MADEMOISELLE DOCTEUR, a 1937 French spy thriller (Pabst was working in France before the war, which adds to the mystery of why did he go back to Germany when war started? He’s like Rudolph Hess in reverse. Or something) I hit a subtitles snag. The subs have been created by a fan. This is one of the great phenomena of modern cinephilia — fan subs have opened up vast uncharted areas for study and enjoyment by the monolingual — but of course sometimes the results are imperfect. I can remember Ozu’s sublime I WAS BORN… BUT sliding out of focus, mentally, as I gradually realized the subtitles had been auto-translated and didn’t make a lick of sense. It’s surprising how long it can take to notice. You patiently wait for a film’s narrative to resolve, but it never quite does because all the words are wrong.

The problem with the Pabst is different. The subs are simply unfinished, with whole scenes untranslated. Since it’s a twisty spy flick with moral gray areas and dubious characters adopting shady masks, it could prove challenging to my Earthling brain anyway, but the abrupt subtitle dropouts make it even more abstract, like watching Tinker Tailor as a child. (The problem Truffaut diagnosed, that whenever a character in a film refers to someone not present by name, we become confused, because unlike novel-readers we can’t flip back a few pages and remind ourselves who the hell Emma Flume or Argentine Filibuster or Rudolph Sasquatch *is*, largely disappeared for me when I read his statement of the problem, and I started paying attention to the dialogue. The bad one is still Carpenter’s THE THING, where somebody self-immolates offscreen and I can never work out who is meant to be smouldering in the ashes. I scan the beards, trying to work out which one is no longer present, which is no kind of fun.)

I was trying to think, what is this sensation reminding me of, as the film slipped in and out of comprehension like those little animated plasticine worms in ERASERHEAD, weaving above and beneath the riddled surface of my capability. I think it’s a childhood feeling, when you’re listening to adults and they suddenly shift the subject to politics or taxation or something you don’t understand and they might as well be making brass instrument noises like the adults in Charlie Brown.

Cell Six

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on June 19, 2014 by dcairns

Let Us Prey still 2

Film Festival opening parties are always good, but then you wake up “with a sare heid and a pocket full of sticky pennies.”

LET US PREY, written by Fiona and myself, screens at 20.15 tonight at Filmhouse 1, part of Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Director Brian O’Malley and his cast, led by Pollyanna McIntosh (FILTH, THE WOMAN), Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones, HUNGER, pictured) and Niall Greig Fulton (NATAN), having done a sterling job. The main thing we don’t like is the title, so as an act of petty vengeance I’ve used our original title for this post. Let it have one outing at least.

If you are a fan of gruelling horror I venture to say you will not be disappointed by the violence quotient in this film. And people I spoke to after the press screening seemed to feel it was FUN, which is good to hear. One anxiety we had was that it might just end up being an unpleasant ordeal, the kind of endurance test some horror fans seem to appreciate but which was never our intent. Instead, you get a suspenseful, funny, very stylish mixture of claustrophobia, character byplay and mayhem.

A pre-Fest treat: we tagged along to DRAGNET GIRL at Filmhouse on Friday 13th, so eager was I to repeat the experience I had with it at the Bo’ness Hippodrome — scored by Jane Gardner and performed by the composer (piano) alongside Hazel Morrison (percussion) and Roddy Long (violin). With a slight tweak to the sound levels, the experience was even better this time, and I shared it with Fiona and our friend Ali, who liked it so much she’s thinking of taking her husband to the Dundee screening on her birthday. Ozu’s only gangster movie is a unique treat, and if you get the chance, I highly recommend it. It’s touring Scotland so check press for details.

A funding optunity — Neil O’Driscoll, the ex-student of mine who brought me the story of Bernard Natan, is raising cash for a psychological thriller called WAKING THE WITCH. Here. Neil is super-talented and very nice, so you should invest — if anyone can turn a profit in this cockeyed business, it ought to be him.