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Searching For Sugar Man 2012 (Film Review)

If this review has reached you too late and your local cinema is no longer showing Searching For Sugar Man (SFSM) , make a note of it’s title and keep an eye out for the network premiere, I’m sure BBC4 will be on the case in no time…

The documentary tells the story of Rodriguez, a late 60s/early 70s singer-songwriter who, like so many, recorded some spellbinding music but never managed to shift the necessary units to reward the attention he deserved. Told through the eyes of a South African super-fan, SFSM is the heart-warming tale of music’s transatlantic journey and the power of a curious mind that followed.

Rodriguez was first discovered in a smokey Detroit bar by a well connected Motown producer and within weeks the shy troubadours first album Cold Fact was surrounded by critical acclaim and genuine industry buzz. (N.B. This is a great album for fans of the singer/songwriter genre – equal parts Dion, Donovan and of course Dylan).

The album didn’t sell, at all. His second and final album also bombed, however Cold Fact found it’s way to South Africa, where it instantly became the must-have LP and a soundtrack the troubled protests that rallied against Apartheid. Over the next 20 years the album took on a life of it’s own, selling in huge numbers in SA making Rodriguez an instant folk-hero and “more popular than Elvis”

By 1973, word had spread that Rodriguez had committed suicide by setting himself on fire whilst on stage. It’s not as bleak as it sounds, this is a life affirming story that any music fan needs to see. Like 2008’s Anvil before it, this story stands on it’s own merits as a great film, pulling the audience in from the opening credits whether you dig the soundtrack or not.

In a world where our most popular singers are fame-hungry but talent-lite SFSM goes some way in readdressing the imbalance that continues to smother the modern age.

Full Trailer link here.

Glen.manners

Glen Manners is front-man of SE London’s finest rock combo ‘Dig For Victory’. He is an avid collector of music, especially records between the magical years of ‘66 and ‘73. Over last 12 years Glen has been joyfully soaking up some of the finest indie/mod/hippie hangouts across London. And at the ripe old age of 32, can not envisage a time when he would ever want to slow down.Glen has one eye on the worlds rich musical heritage and another firmly on the here and now, this can give him the most startlingly odd look but that is simply the way he likes it. Glen is a television freak, movie buff, lyricist and ever playful optimist.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Front page Media Reviews Tags:,
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AuthorQ – Dougie Brimson

Dougie Brimson exploded onto the UK literary scene in 1996 and has remained there pretty much ever since. A former RAF serviceman and Falklands Veteran, his first book Everywhere We Go remains a cult classic amongst football fans the world over whilst his fictional work including the thrillers The Crew and Top Dog and the comedy diary Billy’s Log have established his as a firm and best-selling favourite. However, he is perhaps best known as a screenwriter with his most notable success being the multi-award winning film, Green Street.

01. How did you get started in your career as an author?

I fell into it by accident. I’d left the RAF in 1994 with no real idea of what I wanted to do other than I was intent on avoiding any more engineering for a while and somehow ended up working as a TV and Film extra with my younger brother.

Anyone who has ever done any of that kind of work knows how much sitting around you actually do and inevitably, discussions turned to football, violence, casuals and the forthcoming EURO 96. That’s when the idea for Everywhere We Go was born.

So, after gathering a load of ideas and notes together, we finally decided that we best approach a publisher so I walked into WH Smiths, picked up the first football book I came across and wrote to the publisher. I wouldn’t say that they bit our hands off, but within a few weeks we had a deal and an advance in place. It was only years later that I discovered how lucky we’d been and that it doesn’t happen like that for everyone!

Of course after the first one came out, we caned it with another three books in quick succession because we never knew how long it would last. Yet here I am 16 years later, still at it and still wondering how I’m getting away with it.

02. Where does your direction and inspiration come from?

In terms of my books, everything comes from my readership because without them, I don’t really have anything.

Thankfully, they are both loyal and incredibly supportive which is, I think, largely due to the fact that I encourage them to let me know their opinions be it via email or by leaving reviews on the online store sites. By doing that and taking on board their comments, I’m better equipped to be able to give them what they actually want to read as opposed to what I hope they might want. That’s a massive difference and it’s one I think readers appreciate but which too many authors and publishers fail to understand.

Indeed, one thing I always tell budding authors is that if they want to write for publication it is absolutely vital that they get to know who their target readership will be, research what they are reading and then write something to suit. That might sound mercenary but it’s exactly what a publisher will do when they’re deciding if a submission is right for them so why not make the process easier for yourself?

In my case, my target readership is primarily lads and as a lad myself (albeit an older version!) I understand that we’re basically simple creatures who know what we like to read and more importantly, how we like to read.  So I try to give them what they want in a way that’s easily accessible, it really is as simple as that. There’s no magic formula to it.

In that sense the eBook explosion has been a fantastic boon for me because not only does it help the exchange of information to guide me toward what to write, it allows me to publish those books much faster than I’d be able to via traditional means. It’s win-win for everyone.

However, don’t get the impression that I take my readership (be they real or potential) for granted because I don’t. As a professional author my readership is my livelihood and if I don’t keep them happy and entertained, I’ll starve!

There are though, projects which are labours of love and which I do for my own amusement and my last book The Art of Fart was one such book. I had more fun writing that than I’ve ever had with any writing project. It was quite simply hilarious. But then again, farting is isn’t it?

Films are a very different beast largely because whilst in some senses they are easier to write, there are so many hoops to be jumped through before anything gets anywhere near a camera. As a result, you’re often under the control of other people and whilst that can be fun, it can also be bloody hard work. There are an awful lot of major league bull shitters in the movie game.

03. Who were your major influences and passions and who do you despise?

In terms of writing, I don’t have any influences. I know that sounds conceited, but it’s true, I don’t. There are a lot of people I like and admire for sure, but I hope I have my own voice and my own style.

Life is a different thing entirely. My grandmother was and is my inspiration and to this day, if I have to make any kind of major decision I ask her what I should do. She never lets me down. I also have a couple of good mates who are seriously inspirational to me. They are driven, have total belief in their ability and what they are doing and never even think about giving up when things aren’t going well. Legends.

I’m far too much of a gentleman to say who I even dislike let alone despise in public. Besides, I have a limited amount of space and my shit list is extensive.

04. What current projects are you involved with?

Book wise, I’m currently putting the finishing touches to a novel called Wings of a Sparrow which is a comedy based around a football fanatic who inherits ownership of his local rivals. Think Fever Pitch meets Brewster’s Millions. Once I’ve finished that, then work will commence on the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy.

On the film front, plans for the film adaptation of Wings are well advanced with a script, producer, lead actor and director already in place and I’ve also written a movie about a British Muslim soldier who loses his legs in Afghanistan. Again, we have a lead, director and producer attached to that so it’s a hectic time!

But when it comes to movies, I do my best to ensure that wherever possible my involvement is limited to matters relating to the script. I can’t be arsed with the rest of it.

05. What can someone who has never read or seen your work before expect and how may this change in the future?

That depends on what it is they pick up! I’m apparently unique in many ways given that my 14 books range from hard-hitting non-fiction about hooliganism and the culture of football fandom through to comedy fiction about sad losers and even ‘faction’ about farting! That’s some range of work but at least it means there should be something for everyone!

However, if someone comes to me and asks me to suggest one of my own books, I point them at The Crew or Billy’s Log. Very different in many ways but both bloody good reads (I think) and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

And it is what it’s all about. A book should be entertainment and if someone is going to hand over hard-earned money for something I’ve created and spend valuable time reading it, it’s only fair that I do my absolute very best to ensure that they get value for money.  Then again, The Crew is a free download both on Amazon and iTunes so that last bit doesn’t apply!

06. How do you begin your works? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with? Is there anything that you feel you would steer clear of?

Like all things, books start with the germ of an idea and they come from one of three places; my warped imagination, life and the market. For example, the inspiration for Billy’s Log came from a conversation I overheard on the tube between two middle aged women who were blaming men for everything that was going wrong in their lives whilst missing the fact that they were both clearly bunny boilers.

Once I have the basic idea, then I’ll always work on the ending first because to me, that’s the most important part of any book. It’s the bit the reader remembers and it’s the bit which will hopefully leave them wanting more.

If I can develop a decent ending, usually with a major twist built in, then I’ll start to properly build my characters and plot out the rest of the story but it has to be a great story because there’s no point otherwise. At that point, I’ll run the outline past a few mates and if they like it, I’ll run with it.

That might not be the classic way of doing things, but it works for me.

But no matter what it is, be it fiction or non-fiction, I will only ever start something if I think I’m going to enjoy doing it. After all, if I don’t enjoy writing it how on earth can I do it justice?

For that reason, there are two subjects I tend to steer clear of; religion and homosexuality. I’m kind of anti-religion and I’m certainly not homosexual so the idea of researching either subject leaves me a bit cold.

07. Does your personal world view tend to shape your work and if so how do you include this into your finished pieces?

Oh god yes! How can it not? I’m lucky in that I came into writing quite late in life and had already spent 18 years in the RAF so trust me, I’d lived a little! Indeed, someone recently asked me if I’d ever think about writing an autobiography and I said no because no one would ever believe it!

Of course when you experience life then you form opinions on pretty much everything and as anyone who has ever read any of my non-fiction or indeed my blog, will know, I am slightly opinionated. Indeed, one thing that really gets on my tits are people under 30 preaching in the media about this or that as if they know. They don’t know, they can’t know. They haven’t lived.

08. What has been your biggest challenge? Were you been able to overcome this? If so, how?

I think my biggest challenge has been learning to set stuff aside. Not in the sense of getting crap reviews or anything like that, all authors get those and if you can’t take that sort of thing then don’t write.

No, it’s the big stuff that can be the problem. The biggest of all arrived one night when I realised that I was being screwed over by someone I had considered to be the very closest of friends. And I mean screwed over big time. To make matters worse, I then found out that a lot of people I knew and trusted who were working with us on the same project had known what was going on and did nothing to either stop it or even warn me.

That ate me up for a long time and impacted on both work and life generally because the betrayal was so personal. However, I eventually learned to set it aside purely because I realised that the best way to deal with those people was to be better than them. And I hope I have been and will be.

But rest assured, I’ll fuck them all over when the opportunity arises. I’ve already refused to have certain people brought onto projects and even had someone place a proper full-on curse on the biggest culprit. Now I don’t know whether you believe in such things or not but what I do know is that their career has tanked and that will do for me.

And yes, they know what I did because I told them. I also told them what they have to do to get it lifted but they’re obviously happier struggling to regain the status and opportunity they once had because I’m still waiting and their still struggling. That’s fine by me though.

Bare a grudge… me? Too fucking right.

09. Do you feel the British Media in all its forms needs a shake up?

Oh yes. I think it’s such a shambolic mess that even the general public are starting to desert it because it’s too selective, too preaching and too celebrity focussed. That’s why less people watch the news, less people buy newspapers and to be blunt, less people care.

The hope of course, was that the Leveson enquiry was going to shake a few things up and go some way toward rebuilding that trust but I don’t personally think much will change. The truth is that only thing that will actually change anything is pressure from the great British public and I can’t see that happening. They’re far too set in their ways. But once a nation loses trust and faith in its media, it’s screwed. We’re not screwed yet, but we’re getting there.

10. Where do you envisage being in five years time? What types of things do you get offered due to your success?

Hopefully breathing! I’d settle for that at the moment. However, as long as people keep buying my work then I’ll certainly keep doing my best to keep supplying them with fresh material.

I’m fortunate in that I do get a lot of offers of work and I’ve met some fabulous individuals over the years. I’ve also been to some fabulous places with Russia being a particular favourite largely because of the amazing people.

But trust me, the life of an author isn’t full of grandiose parties, glittering openings and trips to 5 star hotels. Well, mine isn’t anyway. In 16 years of writing I’ve been invited to two literary events and both of those primarily involved authors moaning about a certain publisher who I was actually quite happy to be working with!

Most bizarrely of all, I’ve never even been invited to the British Sports Book Awards even though as I type this, The Crew has been at number one on the Amazon and iTunes football charts for over 8 months and of the top 50 football titles on iTunes, 7 are my books! Figure that one out.

11. Who would you most like to work with and in what capacity? Any heroes and zeroes?

I’ll work with anyone who actually gets things done as opposed to people who simply talk about getting things done. But ideally, I’d only want to work with people I like and get on with. Why on earth would I or anyone else want to do otherwise especially when, as a writer, you’re going to be spending an awful lot of time together?

I really liked Elijah Wood when I met him on Green Street so I’d love to work with him again if the opportunity ever arose and George Clooney looks an absolute blast of a bloke so to do something with him would, I’m sure, be awesome fun.

Most of my hero’s are actual hero’s in the proper sense as opposed to being some media or sporting figure who has been hyped up by the media and since they are generally out of the public eye, to mention them would be unfair. But if there was one high profile figure I consider worthy of the term it’s David Beckham. The guy is a quality individual in pretty much every respect.

Zero’s I don’t do. I can’t stand people who are full of themselves and I certainly won’t work with them. Danny Dyer is a good example. The guy’s a total dick.

12. How have you included technology and the internet into your working methods and finished works?

Other than the use of a laptop and a decent internet connection, I don’t really have any need for that much technology. But like all authors, a decent web presence is essential as is social media. I’m addicted to Twitter.

I’ve never actually included much technology in any of my work although I have written a fantastic outline for a book about the five eyes surveillance system called Echelon. The trouble is that kind of stuff moves so fast that it’s probably already out of date now.

Links:

Web: dougiebrimson.com

Twitter: @dougiebrimson

Blog: dougiebrimson.wordpress.com/

Facebook: facebook.com/dougiebrimsonauthor

 

admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Articles Cinema Culture Features Literature Tags:, , , , , ,
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Underwater Love – Third Window Films

From Third Window Films comes ‘Underwater Love’ a strange and zany ‘pink-musical’ from Japan.

A soft-core porn musical! The first of its kind from Japan and from the wild mind of Christopher Doyle (Hero, In the Mood for Love, The Limits of Control) with all original music by German-French synth pop duo Stereo Total Third Window Films will have the UK premiere on Sunday, October 16th at the Rich Mix in Shoreditch (35-47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA) from 6:30pm-Midnight with the film screening introduced by its producer Stephan Holl and then followed by a live gig from Stereo Total. Tickets are £15 available at:

http://www.wegottickets.com/event/132083

and full movie information at http://www.pinkmusical.co.uk

Trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEw0_xKmBkM


admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Cult Humour Kitsch Picks Taboo Visuals Tags:, ,
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Villain – Third Window Films

Villain – Third Window Films Is pleased to announce the CD release of  (Dec 5 2011)

A film by Lee Sang-il (Hula GirlsNOMINATED for 15 Japanese Academy Awards

WINNER of 5 Japanese Academy Awards including:

Best Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor and Music Score

WINNER ‘Best Actress – Eri Fukatsu’ – Montreal Film Festival

WINNER ‘Best Actor – Satoshi Tsumabuki’ – 53rd Blue Ribbon Awards

WINNER ‘Best Japanese Film of 2010’ – Kinema Junpo

Starring: Eri Fukatsu (The Magic Hour, Bayside Shakedown)

Satoshi Tsumabuki (Tokyo!, Villon’s Wife, Pandemic)

Hikari Mitsushima (Love Exposure, Death Note, Sawako Decides)

Masaki Okada (Confessions)

UK RELEASE DATE:  19 August 2011 DVD out to purchase on 5 December 2011

(more…)

admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Cult Modern Picks Tags:, ,
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‘I Start Counting’ (1969) with Jenny Agutter – Q&A NFT2 21/07/11

The synopsis to this film in the July NFT calendar piqued my interest on a number of different levels; that it is a thriller from the late 60’s, that it has a cast of well-loved Brit actors including two of my favourite ladies, that it is set in the ever-malleable home counties hinterland, and is a pressure cooker portrait of strained family life. I felt as if I had already seen the film, so familiar was the setting, but I could not, for the life of me, recall when. It sounded like exactly the sort of film which would have occupied a Sunday afternoon rep-style screening at my hometown fleapit back in the day.

From the opening moments, where a group of boys are skimming stones into a river, oblivious to the body of a young girl just below the waterline on the opposite bank, you know you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Our principal character, Wynne, played by the plum-gorgeous Jenny Agutter, only 16 and in her first major role, gets an early establishment scene as she awakens a little ahead of her ‘Popeye’ clock and dresses for school. It also introduces one of the film’s key symbols, that of Wynne’s tendency to count up to 11 when she feels nervous, most significant later in the film. We learn that Wynne is the adopted daughter in a comfortable, but slightly dysfunctional working class family, and that she has a sizeable crush on her older adopted brother, George, played by Bryan Marshall.Her crush is innocent enough, and unrequited, but any suggestion that she is some uncomplicated adolescent is quickly put aside, as we learn that she is deeply religious, yet with a yen for the mystical side of life, and a sentimental, almost obsessive attachment to her old family home. She takes long, lonely walks through parks, over to the derelict cottage, with her minx-like friend Corinne (Claire Sutcliffe) where she performs mock-séances, evoking the spirit of her adopted brother’s dead girlfriend.

That would normally be enough to be going on with, but we also learn that fatal attacks on young girls of the neighbourhood are becoming very frequent, with seemingly little action by the local uniform to deter them, and Wynne begins to believe that her adopted brother may be responsible for them. Her behaviour toward her brother after formulating her suspicions is all the more surprising; in that she only wishes to protect him from the world, not matter what he’s done.

The subject matter, on the surface salacious, is however handled with extraordinary sensitivity by all involved. There are so manymoments of levity in the girls’ exchanges about the inevitable subject of sex, and their precocious questions about it to the visiting priest at school, is a real gem of a scene.

Wynne’s confession of all her petty misdemeanours to her local priest is truly touching, and she reveals her forbidden love here too, to the usual sentence of Hail Marys. Her honest belief in Roman Catholic life makes her forays into the world of the spirits seem all the more surprising, shocking, even. A particularly effective scene has Wynne at the foot of the stairs of the abandoned cottage, counting to eleven, as a little girl (herself, as a child?) discovers the dead body of an older girl at the last step. It evokes sympathy and disturbs in roughly equal measure.

 

We spot the enormous red herring of the film long before this scene, but the true identity of the killer is hinted at early on, and comes as little surprise later on. I am not so mean that I would reveal any more, but I will say that anyone thinking they are getting a routine stalk & slasher, or a feast of young flesh, will walk away disappointed. The film contains elements of both, but the quality of the acting; the excellent script and the sure direction keep it from descending into the morass of low-end exploitation cinema. Instead, we have a tense, engaging picture of the unbearable trials of adolescent life, and young peoples’ ability to adapt and cope in the most trying and dangerous circumstances.

The screening was enlivened by the presence of the ageless Jenny Agutter, who recalled her early film career in great detail, explaining that her parts in her first few well-known films (The Railway Children, Walkabout) turned up in rapid succession. In response to a question about ‘Walkabout’s script, Jenny denied the long standing rumour that it was only a few pages of vague ideas, mentioning that it was fully and carefully detailed by the time filming commenced. Recalling seeing ‘I Start Counting’s script for the first time. Jenny told us how impressed she was with it from the first, inadvertently answering my own intended question to her.I instead asked about the religious / mystical themes present, and underpinning the character of Wynne, and Jenny recalled her own Roman Catholic roots as being a huge help in playing this complicated girl, particularly the confession scene.

Will & Vic Flipside have once again unearthed a long lost gem of a film, for their monthly slot at the NFT.  If you aren’t a regular already, what are you waiting for?

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Cult Media Vintage Tags:, , , ,
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Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Creative tension, distribution problems and public apathy wrecked Big Star after only three albums.

Somehow, though, the mythos grew and for the first time, filmmakers Danielle McCarthy & Drew DeNicola have made a feature-length documentary on the band.

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me – which climaxes with an all-star performance of Third in New York – will be released next year. I caught up with Danielle last week as she reflected on the ‘curse of Big Star’ and the ‘beautiful Memphis light.’

Nick Wilson: Nothing Can Hurt Me is the first ever documentary on Big Star, what’s it been like making it?

Danielle McCarthy: It’s been an amazing ride so far! We were incredibly lucky to have the blessing of John Fry at Ardent Studios. He started Ardent when he was 16 and was the mastermind behind the recording of the first three Big Star records. Once he was onboard all the doors started opening and now he’s our Executive Producer! Also, getting to know Jody Stephens, Andy Hummel (who sadly passed away last year), Chris Bell’s family and Alex Chilton has been thrilling but it’s been tough to lose Alex and Andy. We really wanted to share the film with them.

How much of the financing was done by pledging?

We used Kickstarter to raise funds for our shoot in Memphis last year. All told we raised just over $14,000 in two weeks. And $6,000 of that we raised in just 24 hours! The rest of the financing has come from our own pockets and from investors. But we might do just one more Kickstarter campaign before the film is done.

Big Star has a sweeping rock n’ roll biography. Was it easy to condense into a feature length?

Yes, the Big Star story is huge and we’re still discovering more tangents as we edit. But the film will be much more than just a straightforward bio of the band. There’s just so many interesting people and music and stories around the band that we want to include. Memphis is a real character in the film as well as Ardent Studios where all three records were recorded. There will also be a section of the film about Alex’s time in New York City in the 70’s. We’re still editing so we’re in the thick of condensing the stories and it hasn’t been easy! Hopefully people will love all the stories we’ve collected.

The 1973 Overton Park concert photographs are great. Did you dig up any new footage of the band?

We have the only known footage of the original line-up. Chris and Andy filmed little vignettes that would have been used as a music video for ‘The Ballad of El Goodo’ and ‘Thirteen’. There’s also footage of the band jamming in Alex’s bedroom. It’s 16mm with no sound but it’s very cool. We also have some footage of Alex recording ‘Like Flies on Sherbert’ that’s very interesting. People always comment how shambolic that record sounds and you can tell in the video that they had fun recording it but you can also see there was a real method to that madness. Seeing Alex record those songs it’s clear that he had pretty much thought everything out and those little ‘mistakes’ or the messiness of that record was fairly produced. I don’t mean to say there weren’t improvised moments but Alex orchestrated the chaos perfectly to create a sound that feels so alive. It’s an incredible document. We have a few other hidden gems but if anyone out there has any footage of the band feel free to contact us: info@bigstarstory.com.

Alex avoided the group’s cult reputation. Did you get any kind of a reaction from him during production?

Alex was very gracious to meet with us but he never really did interviews with the press anymore. That being said, he was incredibly kind to us and we had a great time talking and hanging out the few times we met. We didn’t take it personally. He just wasn’t interested in doing an interview – and believe me, we tried! But we do have access to a lengthy audio interview Bruce Eaton did with him for his 33 1/3 book on Radio City. He speaks at length about the recording of the Big Star records so I think people will love hearing those tapes.

Were there any interviews you didn’t get that you wish you had?

There are a few. We wish we had a chance to do a follow-up interview with Jim Dickinson before he died in 2009. We also wish we had interviewed Memphis musician Tommy Hoehn before he passed away last summer. He played with Chris Bell and recorded at Ardent and had some good stories of the 70’s so I heard. A lot of people around this film have passed away in the last two years so we keep losing people and it’s very upsetting.

Last year must have felt like you were in ‘the eye of the storm.’ (Chilton died on March 17th 2010. A tribute took place at SXSW three days later. Andy Hummel died on July 19th.) What was it like capturing those events?

The last year has been tremendously sad and difficult. We keep joking about the Big Star curse actually. It’s a long story but the tribute that happened after Alex died at SXSW was so raw and heartfelt. We almost didn’t go to Austin but Jody said he wanted us there so we had to document it. It was definitely one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Every performer just poured their heart out on stage. It was amazing. And of course the rest of the tribute shows that have followed have been terrific. It’s just so satisfying to see all these great artists playing tribute to the music. As super-fans we love it. Losing Andy and Alex has been difficult for us but of course it’s nothing in comparison to the loss for their family, friends and music in general. And there have been other members of the Big Star family that have passed away in the last two years. We lost Jim Dickinson who produced Third back in 2009. Carole Manning who designed the layout of the first two records and was close friends with the band died late last year. I mentioned Tommy Hoehn’s passing as well. It’s been rough but we hope the film will serve as a great tribute to the band and the extended Big Star family.

Jim Dickinson talked about the ‘geography’ of Memphis on the Third record. What did you discover about it?

The food! There’s just so much damn good food there. Last summer I gained 5 pounds just in one long weekend there. And it’s one of the most magical places on earth. The light in Memphis is beautiful. I’m not sure why or how to explain it – just look at a William Eggleston photo and notice the light. It’s gorgeous.

http://www.bigstarstory.com/

Nick Wilson

Nick lives in Manchester and likes Big Star, Paul Revere and The Warriors. Thinks streaming is a great idea but still prefers boxes instead.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Interviews Picks Rock Tags:, ,
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The Final Programme (1973) – National Film Theatre 10/8/10

I last saw this bizarre artefact from the 1970’s on TV in the early 80’s, late at night, having wanted to see it since its release. Sadly, I couldn’t pass for 18 in 1973, and I despaired of ever seeing it. My memory of it from that long distant TV screening is perhaps understandably shaky, but my overall impression is the same as today, that of an undisciplined, sprawling chaotic ‘end of days’ picture which may be going nowhere, but has one hell of a time getting lost.

Based on the Michael Moorcock book, the action opens in a country like ours, a dystopian future familiar to cinemagoers of that long, and – some would say – deservedly forgotten decade, the 1970’s. Humanity has been largely wiped out, leaving only a few scientists and a cast of decadents to pick up the pieces. Our ‘hero’ (if we can use that term in such an unconventional story) Jerry Cornelius, played by Jon Finch, is a louche aristocrat, resplendent in a velvet suit and frilly shirt, driving his Rolls-Royce around aimlessly, under the influence of generous measures of whisky, scoffing chocolate biscuits and looking for all the world like a particularly dissolute Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen. Cornelius’ Byronic tastes carry further to his enthusiastic consumption of all manner of exotic pharmaceuticals, and his general love of luxury and home comforts that would make today’s Better Homes subscribers look like lightweights by comparison.

Cornelius drifts through a cast of off-the-wall characters, all keen to sell him whatever the current ‘in thing’ is. Whether they be the corrupt army officer, played with gusto by Sterling Hayden, acquiring armaments by illegal means, or Ronald Lacey’s creepy, pinball-addicted gangster, offering top-up supplies of strange drugs. We see a much-changed Trafalgar Square, with crashed cars taking up the fourth plinth, something Westminster Council might want to consider for a temporary exhibit. The café/night club scene is one of the film’s best, the place resembling a gigantic pinball machine, populated by dancing girls, clowns, gloriously depraved customers, all wasting what little time they have left in this palace of cheap thrills. Figures wrestle in white, chalky mud for the entertainment of the patrons, recalling the ‘Hungry Angry Show’ in the TV play of The Year of the Sex Olympics It is in this scene that the film gives away its 1970’s origins most easily, with an obvious resemblance to other films of the time; Tommy and A Clockwork Orange.

The Art Deco inspired sets and pop art references make this film a delight for the eyes, even if it’s tempered with a pain in the Gulliver … sorry, head, from the constantly shifting storyline. Armed battles are fought with ‘needle guns’, delivering a charge of psychedelics rather than deadly bullets, and three Magritte-like suited men appear, shadowing Cornelius to heaven knows what purpose.

The character of Miss Brunner is introduced, being played with considerable panache by Jenny Runacre, whom some of you may remember as the Queen in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee. Covered from head to foot in the pelts of innumerable dead cats, Fran freezes the air of any room she walks into, and it is at this point that I begin to feel that some filmmakers may have had more than a peek into this country’s future than they wanted. Fran’s resemblance to a certain former Prime Minister make uncomfortable viewing, and it is a sobering thought that her character’s model was, at that time, already gearing up for a stab at high office, from her role as Education Secretary. Fran’s appetites are no less voracious than Jerry’s, and somewhat more inventive, preferring the sexual favours of a stunning redheaded girl, to the dubious delights of designer drugs.

We learn that the characteristically inward-looking scientists have come up with a plan to replace and even improve upon the large section of the human race who are no longer with us, by utilising the knowledge in the preserved brains of former scientists in conjunction with their own, and designing a computer that will help in the creation of an androgynous being. Self fertilising, self reproducing, with no need for pairing up the sexes, as both are combined within one individual. The lucky couple to combine forces to create this homunculus will be Jerry Cornelius and Miss Brunner, assisted by some light and sound wizardry under the control of the inevitable misguided computer. If this is all beginning to sound like The Avengers on acid and aphrodisiacs, then your observation will prove well-founded as our intrepid lovers prepare for the ultimate sexual experience that is The Final Programme, and it suddenly morphs into some technological version of I Am Curious Yellow. I won’t spoil the ending by telling you the results of their labours.

With a talented cast, some stunning sets, and costumes by such luminaries of the fashion world as John Bates, Ossie Clark and Tommy Nutter, it’s hard to see how The Final Programme could have garnered so little media attention and been forgotten so completely by the fickle public. Was it the distinctly non-science fiction references, like Bonfire of the Vanities, or the confusing mass of storylines all going on at once? Was it the refusal to take the subject of the global apocalypse seriously, or the sheer silliness of the plan to produce an androgyne to repopulate the earth? Perhaps it was the changing nature of science fiction itself, soon to be given an almighty seeing-to by George Lucas and his ‘Star Wars’ phenomenon. Whatever it was that propelled The Final Programme into cinema oblivion, I can report that it didn’t deserve its place. Perhaps now, in an age when we are becoming more conscious of the effects our consumer society is having on our fragile planet, and with a world-wide recession still not beaten, the film’s chaotic message deserves a listen.

What made this Flipside screening so special, was the appearance of the author of the original story, the wildly successful Michael Moorcock, to comment upon the film. Confessing that the reservations he had on first seeing the press screening all those years ago have proved justified and have grown more numerous since then, Michael proved a likeable and good-humoured guest for Will and Vic Flipside to quiz. His low opinion of director Robert Fuest, (‘A bum director who wanted to be an auteur’ and ‘Couldn’t direct a number 14 bus’ were among his comments), then fresh from his success at directing the Dr. Phibes films, endure. Not meant maliciously, I am sure, Michael simply voiced his concerns about Robert, in particular, that he was not used to directing crowd scenes, tending to stick to two-character exchanges, and thus delivering an ending that omitted Michael’s powerful scene of humanity being led into the sea by a new Messiah. He went on to explain that his own script for The Final Programme was not used, just bowdlerised, and even star Jon Finch, a friend of Moorcock’s, told Michael at the time that he felt the script was directionless.

Further juicy snippets included the revelation that Mick Jagger was considered for the role of Jerry Cornelius, but he turned it down because it was ‘too freaky’. The book, written in 1965 but not published until 1967, was initially shelved for a similar reason. The ‘rock n roll’ connection to The Final Programme doesn’t end there, for, as some of you may know, Michael Moorcock was a great fan of the sci-fi obsessed 70’s underground rock band, Hawkwind, and for the eagle-eyed among you, they, and Moorcock, can be glimpsed briefly in the pinball arcade section of the film. We can only guess at what the film would have turned out like, if it had stuck close to Michael’s original book, as the pinball arcade/nightclub rejoices in the name of ‘The Friendly Bum’ and the character of Jerry Cornelius is even more sexually ambiguous than Jon Finch’s light-touch evocation. On initial cinema release, The Final Programme was paired with Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan actually a kung-fu picture, as support, but their positions were reversed half way through the run. Faced with a highly pertinent question from the floor about the inspiration behind Jerry Cornelius, which the audience member felt might have been David Bowie in ‘Ziggy Stardust’ guise, Michael was intrigued, but answered that he was in his Notting Hill neighbourhood one day, when he saw a man coming toward him, down Portobello Road. A rare instance of someone fitting the bill perfectly, perhaps?

I was hugely impressed with the Flipside for tracking down a print (however faded and scratchy) of this true 70’s oddity, but what made the evening irresistible was the appearance of Michael Moorcock, surely one of the most engaging and amusing guests to visit the NFT in recent years.

Scenester
12/8/10

http://scenester1964.webeden.co.uk/#/the-final-programme/4543086408

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Exhibitions Icons Reviews Tags:, ,
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Something To Do With Death

American actor Barry Brown belonged to a generation of seventies performers which includes Jeff Bridges, James Woods and John Savage.

A successful contract player for Universal Television, Barry was the youngest ever actor Emmy-nominated for his role as troubled teen in The Mod Squad.

In 1972, he teamed with Bridges for his breakthrough role as a draft dodger in Robert Benton’s Bad Company – a Dickensian western about a gang of young outlaws making their way through the American frontier.

Barry’s brooding performance soon caught the attention of Peter Bogdanovich, who offered him a lead role in Daisy Miller (1974) as Frederick Winterbourne, the upper class ex-patriate in love with the brash but beautiful Cybill Shepherd. (See Clip)

Winterbourne was the ideal part for Barry. He excelled in period pieces. Bogdanovich himself said he was ‘the only American actor I know who looks like he’s read a book.’

But the film was snubbed by critics as a vanity project. Barry and Bogdanovich took the worst of it – somehow Shepherd’s reputation survived and the following year she appeared in Taxi Driver.

Barry’s movie career stalled and he slipped into alcoholic depression – the by-product of a dysfunctional family. His mother had served time for tax evasion. His sister Marilyn, also an actress, jumped off a bridge into the concrete Los Angeles river bed in 1997.

Throughout the seventies, he continued to work and appeared in episodes of Rhoda and Police Woman and on stage in ‘Long Day’s Jorney Into Night’ with Geraldine Fitzgerald – He auditioned for Animal House but didn’t get the part.

In his spare time, he collected obituaries of forgotten B-Movie actors like Rondo Hatton and Bela Lugosi – He is reading death notices in the opening scenes of Daisy Miller.

His last film role – as a comical state trooper – was in Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978). Dante and Barry had written lengthy articles for ‘Castle of Frankenstein’ and ‘Films in Review’ in the sixties.

On June 25 1978, he shot himself at his home. He had appeared in over 30 film and television productions.

Barry’s story is retold in Final Performance and The L.A. Diaries written by his brother, James.  The rights to The L.A. Diaries have been sold and a screenplay is in development.

 

 

Nick Wilson

Nick lives in Manchester and likes Big Star, Paul Revere and The Warriors. Thinks streaming is a great idea but still prefers boxes instead.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Tags:, ,
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Filmplugs from Nick Wilson

This year’s highlights from Fantastic Fest , the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in the latest horror, fantasy and sci-fi from around the world.

I Saw The Devil

Ji Woo-Kim’s latest is a revenge thriller about a secret service agent tracking the serial killer who murdered his pregant fiance.  On every technical level – performances, direction, cinematography – ‘I Saw The Devil’ is a tour de force. The brilliant Min-Sik Choi (‘Old Boy’) returns as a Korean ‘Max Cady’. A 360 degree knife fight inside a moving car and a brutal home invasion soar with sadistic daring.

Julia’s Eyes

This creepy Spanish ‘giallo’ starts with the apparent suicide of a blind woman at home in her basement. Her twin sister, Julia – who also suffers from the same anxiety-blindness – must catch the real killer before she too loses her eye-sight. There are strong, credible performances by Belén Rueda (‘The Orphanage’) and Lluís Homar. Guillem Morales directs with lots of dark lighting and long, voyeuristic shots. But it isn’t ‘giallo’ enough. The kills aren’t shocking – except one – and the killer’s ‘reveal’ is telegraphed early on. Still, ‘Julia’s Eyes’ is an effective Mediterranean take on ‘Wait Until Dark’, even at times romantic.

Drones

Drones is a science-fiction comedy about white-collar aliens plotting to destroy Earth. Written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker – writers for ‘The Thrilling Adventure’ revue in LA – this is a witty, smart film. Directors Amber Benson and Adam Busch handle the office drudgery well. A sparkling cast includes Angela Bettis (always great), Johnathan Woodward, James Urbaniak, Sam Levine and Dave Allen (Freaks & Geeks.)

Golden Slumber

In Yoshiro Nakamura’s wonderful ‘Golden Slumber’ a hapless delivery driver becomes the ‘patsy’ in an elaborate assasination plot. Think ‘The Bourne Identity’ meets ‘Big Chill’ with a great pop soundtrack from Kazuyoshi Saito. Nakamura’s theme of connecting – getting back home – ties neatly with The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’.

FANTASTIC FEST

Nick Wilson

Nick lives in Manchester and likes Big Star, Paul Revere and The Warriors. Thinks streaming is a great idea but still prefers boxes instead.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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The Blacula Series (1972-73)

Blacula (1972) Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

By virtue of the same rampant mad-scientist genre-splicing that would subsequently reach a lunatic peak with the Hammer/Shaw Brothers kung fu/vampire mash up, The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, Blacula was conceived as a means of knobbing both blaxploitation and horror movie fans with the same johnny. However, keen to appeal to the more politically conscious thrill-seeker, American International Pictures grafted on an ‘authentic’ African backstory, gave the lead character an African name (Mamuwalde, rather than Andrew Brown) and pushed the slavery angle on some lobby posters.

Despite the efforts of leading man William Marshall (a Tarzan regular who later turned up in Soap spin-off Benson as the grim reaper) to imbue Mamuwalde with gravitas and dignity, Blacula was never going to be Roots. What the move is, is a lotta fun – as ‘Dracula’s Soul Brother’ (initially created by a racist European vampire who had the horn for Mrs Mamuwalde) gets shipped to the states, where he stumbles across Tina (Vonetta McGee), a dead ringer for his late wife.

Of course vampires need blood, blood – and Blacula soon sets about slaking his undead thirst by draining a selection of extravagantly dressed victims. At this point, whether or not you’re likely to dig the movie will depend on whether you’ve sat down to take in a post-colonial reworking of Bram Stoker’s classic tale, or a slice of classic exploitation cinema – complete with jive talkin’ brothers, funky soundtrack (courtesy of Barry White arranger Gene Page), and acres of lapels. The Hues Corporation also show up as a nightclub band.

Although the specific strain of vampirism affecting Mamuwalde appears to have given him some unsightly facial hair issues alongside the teeth, Marshall’s performance is such that Blacula comes across as having genuine nobility, and an air of believability and mystery. As nightclub habitué Skillet (played by US TV mainstay Ju-Ti Cumbuka) observed of Mamuwalde, ‘That’s one strange dude.’ Aside from an hilarious interlude with a female cabbie, Marshall plays the role with a poker face and by the time he wanders into the sunlight to meet his apparent doom, you’ll be sorry to see him go.

Which is just as well, because the following year American International was back with Blac, for a sequel – Scream Blacula Scream. This time around, in a way reminiscent of Taste The Blood of Dracula, Blacula is brought back to life by a voodoo cultist looking to settle a score with Lisa Fortier, the cult’s incumbent queen, played by the legendary Pam Grier. However, the hapless Willis Daniels’ (Dynasty’s Richard Lawson) plans go belly up when serial loverman Mamuwalde falls for Lisa. Willis becomes a prisoner in his own enormous home (which features some truly migraine-inducing wallpaper), gets turned into a vampire, and ends up as part of a small army of the undead that gets wiped out at the film’s denoument.

William Marshall again takes the lead – the only surviving member of the original cast – and brings the same bearing to his character. Particularly enjoyable is his encounter with a pair of pimps, ‘I am afraid I do not carry any “Bread”, and as for “Kicking my ass”, I strongly advise that you reconsider your actions.” There are one or two genuinely creepy moments, especially when Blacula glides along a corridor (presumably on a dolly) with white eyes and with neat lighting making him seem truly supernatural. On the other hand, some of the make-up and special effects is a bit dicey – it seems that vampirism can turn some African/Americans a funny blue colour, and the animated bat that Mamuwalde transforms into is downright hilarious.

Irrespective what the terminally worthy, obsessive and po-faced might want you to believe, both movies are a lot of fun and available as a double DVD package for less than a fiver. Remember – This is Dr Funkenstein risen from the groove.

 

 

June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Tags:, , ,
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