Archive for Robinson in Space

“London” Thrills Me

Posted in FILM with tags , , on December 2, 2010 by dcairns

The new edition of The Forgotten is online over at The Daily Notebook.

For once, the movies under discussion are available to buy ~

UK: London / Robinson In Space [1994] [DVD]

US: London Robinson in Space London/Robinson in Space

Also: a gentle reminder that The Late Show: The Late Films Blogathon commences on the 12th of this very month. Of course, I haven’t watched any of the films I’m planning to write about yet. But I’m confident that this will happen.

All That Gab

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2008 by dcairns

A Fever Dream Double Feature, doubled:

Position 69, Production Code style

As part of Otto Preminger week some while back (remember, when the world went Otto MAD?) I attempted to watch THE MOON IS BLUE, figuring it had to be of some interest. And it kind of is, purely from the point of view of Otto’s elegant mise-en-scene. Some of today’s directors could learn a lot from Otto’s laid-back but economical but simultaneously kinda florid filming style. Some of today’s directors are beyond help, but many of those with a bit of talent could raise their game by studying what Otto does with the camera and the actors together — the DANCE.

But despite the panache shown in the camera blocking department, I couldn’t get through the thing (Cue standard mumblings about how the film’s daring-at-the-time defiance of the Production Code and the Catholic Legion of Decency by permitting the utterance by characters of forbidden words like “pregnant” and “virgin” are no longer shocking. Cue perplexity that Catholics would object to these words when their entire religion hinges on a story about a pregnant virgin). It wasn’t that the sexual attitudes had dated and no longer titillated — there are plenty of romcoms and even sexcoms from this period and before and later where that just isn’t a factor in the massive amounts of entertainment dished up (although the sexcoms tend to date more than the romcoms, they eventually come around to being very enjoyable with a dash of irony). It was that the whole thing was unfunny, ponderous, smug, glib and extremely irritating.


Despite the IMDb’s listing, I suspect that F. Hugh Herbert, author of the play and screenplay, is also the writer of THE GREAT GABBO, a bad movie I can heartily recommend for it’s stupendous negative entertainment value and inspired lack of good judgement — Erich Von Stroheim doing cross-talk comedy, unpleasantly fast musical numbers, dancing insect people — the film with everything you never wanted.

I suddenly flashed on the perfect companion film for TMIB — TWO FOR THE ROAD. My God that’s annoying. The comparisons don’t end there. Both films feature attractive, personable leads, seemingly enjoying themselves, their co-stars and their material. Everything is in place for audience pleasure, except that the material (script by Frederic Raphael, in the case of TWO-FER) — and by material I basically mean dialogue, since that’s what you get — is nauseatingly whimsical and pleased with itself. While Stanley Donen doesn’t shoot with quite Preminger’s flair for blocking, he did, with cinematographer Christopher Challis (see also: the later Powell & Pressburger films; and THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES) break new ground in filming car scenes without process photography, and the film serves up the usual delightful Audrey Hepburn fashion show.


But despite these virtues, I say this: if you ever find yourself faced with the necessity of performing an atrocity of some kind (a high school massacre, perhaps, or a spot of ethnic cleansing) and you feel a little too kind-hearted, too fond of humanity to really put your full enthusiasm into the task, watching these films back to back would probably turn you into a modern Genghis. But I don’t actually recommend this — incredible as it seems, the world is already violent enough.

The London Nobody Knows

Instead I recommend Patrick Keiller’s LONDON and ROBINSON IN SPACE, which will induce a dreamy, floaty, focussed-yet-sleepy form of happiness, relieving stress and gentle massaging the muscles of your soul.

Dead Means Very

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2008 by dcairns

The Skull 

It’s like being in a bloody war. No, wait, we ARE in a bloody war.

But I meant the way the prominent figures of British films have been keeling over this week. Paul Scofield is the latest one I’m aware of, and I feel like putting on LONDON or ROBINSON IN SPACE to hear his majestic voice again, and because those beautiful Patrick Keillor film-essays are the kind of thing I can drift through in a dreamy cloud of pleasure, bewildered when the film ends and I wake into sluggish reality.

R Hobart

Also today we heard of the decease of Brian Wilde, a fine character actor and comic turn, with a long long track record. Back in in 1957 he played Rand Hobart (no relation to Rose), the crazed devil-worshipping farmer in NIGHT OF THE DEMON for Jacques Tourneur, uttering the classic line “It’s in the trees — it’s coming!” before his memorable self-defenestration (the line is repeated in Kate Bush’s song The Hounds of Love, but revoiced by another actor).

The Window

Previous to that, Arthur C Clarke shuffled off, and my blog received about fifty hits from people typing in variations of the query “Arthur C Clarke pederast” due to a casual statement I made in an old Euphoria post. Oops.

The big shock was Anthony Minghella’s too-early death. He wasn’t a filmmaker whose work affected me particularly, but it was tragic to lose him so suddenly and so young. His latest film, THE NO 1. LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY, from a novel by Edinburgh writer Alexander McCall Smith, and photographed by Edinburgh-based ace cameraman Seamus McGarvey (the man with Nicole Kidman’s nose on his mantelpiece, grisly souvenir from THE HOURS) airs on the BBC very shortly.

These are the WRONG PEOPLE. I’m basically opposed to the whole idea of death, though I admit it has its uses: it’s important to know there’s something out there worse than THE COTTAGE, for instance. But if we have to have a bunch of film industry deaths, why can’t it be the people ahead of me in the queue for film funding? Not that I wish them any harm, but if SOMEBODY’S got to go…

The Fog

(Explanatory note on the title of this post: in Scots vernacular, for some reason, “dead” means the same as “very” — one might say, “That was dead good,” or “He’s dead nice-looking.” Or, presumably, “He’s dead dead.”)