Friday, 29 May 2009

Here we are stuck by this river, you and I underneath a sky that's ever falling down, down, down

No 480 - The Son's Room (La Stanza Del Figlio)
Director - Nanni Moretti

I knew that this film had done very well when it had been premiered at Cannes in 2001. That, however was the end of my knowledge. I didn't even know it was an Italian film until it began!

It is a really brave film handling a very simple theme and the way that it handles the theme show all the differences between European and American drama.

I have started this blog with two one sentence paragraphs... which is truly awful writing. I promise that I shall now get on with and discuss the film's theme. The theme is death. Not just the notion of death but a family's reaction to it. What I particularly liked about the film is how soft it is, how underplayed. We are never told what to look at, instead it feels like a very real exploration of real people.
Nanni Moretti has not only written and directed this film, but he takes the lead role and he plays it beautifully.The film is set in two halves, both halves following the mundanities of day to day life as it follows a family (husband, wife and two children) through pretty standard family life and - after the death of their son - through a pretty standard mourning.
This is not a film about spectacle. There are no grand set pieces, there aren't even any particularly memorable lines (hence the Brian Eno quote for the title.... but more on that later) but there is a sense of very real emotion throughout.

I want to begin with the first half on of the film. We are introduced to the protagonist Giovanni, a therapist and a father who loves his sport and loves his family. In fact the entire too family are far too sporty if you ask me they're disgustingly wholesome and despite the normal minor tribulations of family life, they are exceptionally happy.
What I also like is just how ITALIAN the family is.. Giovanni reads poetry in bed to his wife before finding inspiration for a bit of rumpedy pumpedy. The daughter, Irene, gets into an excellent fight with pretty much everybody during a game of basketball. That and Giovanni seems to make a particularly excellent Lasagne.

So life is good for the fiery Italians, but something seems strange with the son, he is stealing ammonites from school, having secret girlfriends and eventually dies. It is after the death that the film really comes into its own. Nothing happens (don't expect action) but the exploration of the characters become truly amazing.
The film continues to follow Giovanni, and the importance of the series of events leading to Andrea's death.
Giovanni and Andrea plan to go running
Giovanni cancels for a last minute visit to one of his patients
Andrea goes diving instead (I told you it was a sickeningly healthy sporty family)
Andrea gets trapped in a cave
Andrea drowns...

These events have a crushing effect on Giovanni as he blames himself for his son's death, the latter half of the film occasionally breaking away to fictionalised flashbacks of what he could have done differently to save his son.
Whilst the grief may be horrible, the presentation of that grief is sumptuous. Long and lingering shots of the character's faces allow you to see despair build up in waves. You can see the heart break in their eyes. You can see Giovanni's family gradually lose their fragile grip on normality. Giovanni's resentment for the patient whom he blames for Andrea's death. Giovanni's growing resentment for his job as a whole. It is all there to see in each hollow empty fragile movement, flitting from everything being fine to bursting into tears. It feels like real heartbreak and it is powerful and moving to watch.
It is all beautifully encapsulated by Giovanni listening to Brian Eno. A song that perfectly depicts the elegant fragility felt throughout the entire film.

What I also like is that once Andrea's secret girlfriend arrives, the family is given a sense of purpose and a sense of motivation. She is hitchhiking around Italy, the entire family drives her to France. As they travel in the car watching the relationship between the family and this new person soften and get less awkward, you also see the healing process begin.

When Arianna (The lovely Sofia Vigliar) finally leaves the family you can sense that they are at the beginning of a healing journey. You can sense that things might be OK.

The film never states any of this. It doesn't shout its message from the roof tops, it doesn't really even have a message so to speak. The film presents a family's story in an almost fairy tale level naturalism that makes me think of Wes Anderson or other similar Indie films. Small and character driven, but with the Italian Passion and balls that America just can't muster no matter how hard they try.

Speaking of which....

Do you think Nanni Moretti's Giovanni was inspiration for Steve Carell's character in Little Miss Sunshine...

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A quarter of a century later that piece of cloth from a dead Hun's hat had become famous all over the world. It was the insignia of the First Infantry

No 483 – The Big Red One
Director – Samuel Fuller

I went into this film with no expectations at all, in fact I couldn’t really remember what I had read in Empire magazine – so I really had no idea what I was going to sit down and watch. I had hedged my bets and was pretty sure it was a war film. Turned out it WAS a war film! Hooray for me….. except…. I’m not the biggest fan of war films, they all have a similar message (War is horrible – a message I utterly believe) and they’re all very serious (again, entirely appropriate for the subject matter) which doesn’t make it the most exciting genre in my books.

It was therefore not a surprise to me when the film began with a beautiful, albeit somewhat self important, opening disclaimer (this is a fictional life based on factual death), an artistic palette (black and white and red – the War film colour scheme of choice), religious iconography and a sense of po-faced fatalism on the battle ground of WWI.
We follow a soldier as he hides behind a crucifix listening to a surrendering German soldier who he stabs to death. He returns to camp with a new idea for a regiment stitched to his uniform. A big red one. Sadly, the war has been over for 4 hours, the German hadn’t been bluffing and the death had been murder, not simply killing – a theme which is explored throughout the film.

This whole introduction is quite heavy handed and quite a lot to take in, so luckily we move forward in time and also hit full glorious colour. The soldier of the prologue is now Sergeant (Lee Marvin – an amazing grizzled man, who is perfect for the role hiding a beautiful gentleness under his gruff as sandpaper exterior) of the first brigade – each soldier emblazoned with a big red one.

It is here that the film’s first big surprise leaps out… Mark Hamill! Mark “I’m Freaking Luke Bloody Skywalker” Hamill. I’ve only ever seen him in one other film, and considering it was a very tongue in cheek cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, I hardly view it as real. Yet, here he is as Griff, and he plays the part really well. Well enough for me to forget the whole Skywalker thing. Which is pretty good. It got me thinking, why isn’t Mark Hamill in more films?

So, onto what the film is about – and, in turn, onto my main problem with the film. I can’t call this a proper criticism as it falls squarely into personal taste, but it did affect my enjoyment of the film (which is odd considering I’ve enjoyed films using a similar format). The film doesn’t really have a plot. Instead, we are faced with a series of episodes which occur throughout WWII and we get to see how the team get through each obstacle. Throughout these episodes we focus on the Sergeant and 4 pivotal members of the squad. The ones that never die. Sarge’s Horsemen. It seems strange that this little quintet survive EVERYTHING, especially seeing how almost everyone else in the 1st division dies. In every mission.
This ties in to something that the film does exceptionally well – explore the relationship between the men in the ‘Sarge’s Horsemen’, the quintet share many harrowing moments and grow and blossom and evolve into very real and likable characters.
There are some wonderful moments with in the team – the first mission in Africa leaves the 1st division convinced that the Sergeant had died. His return and their reaction is a beautiful portrayal of the relief and joy they must have felt. Other moments add bizarrely comic departures from the hostile film. An example being when they have to deliver a baby in a German tank. The soldier performing the delivery has a cheese cloth wrapped round his face as a surgical mask and a number of condoms over his fingers, instead of rubber gloves. Meanwhile the other soldiers are huddled round the French civilian and calmly repeating “poussez” in a strange mantra. It is a very surreal scene, and very funny – however, at the same time you could see it happening in real life, one of those strange extreme moments that happen in strange and extreme times.

Each one of these moments helps to show the bond between the group and show why they feel the way they do and act the way they do. It builds a bond between them and you can see why they have become so close, why they have become such a clique. You see, the 1st regiment appears to be made up of two types of people: Sarge’s Horsemen and the Replaceables. The Replaceables are killed and replaced so many times that it gets to the point where the central quintet give up on them, don’t bother learning names, don’t bother interacting. The film portrays the sense of union between the central group, but also goes a long way at showing how alienating it is to the rest of the troupe.

Oddly, the one thing the film doesn’t really portray well is the chaos and the brutality of war. Sure there are explosions, sure there is death but it all feels too neat, too structured. There is none of the insanity. If you just compare the Normandy beach landing in this film with the Omaha beach landing in Saving Private Ryan, you can help but feel that Spielberg has caught the brutality and lack of order in a much more direct manner (I’ve been making a fair few Spielberg war references in this….).

Whilst it may fail to show the physical chaos of war, it does a good job of explaining the moral ambiguity. Both the Sergeant and the Nazis are hears saying that “you don’t murder the enemy, you kill them”.
It is all the more moving when the Sergeant makes his final speech, especially as you know it is fuelled by the events at the beginning of the film, explaining that as soon as that surrender is signed, the killing has to stop...

Finally…. We follow the sergeant as he lays low, attacking a surrendering German – only to find out, once again, that the surrender was not a bluff and that the war was over.

Luckily, this time the German isn’t killed but the final message is clear. Everything is cyclical. People don’t really change. And war…. War never changes.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good

No 170 - La Haine
Director - Mathieu Kassovitz.

I wish to begin with a culinary analogy. The last thing I saw from the hallowed list was Breakfast at Tiffany's. A fondant fancy of a film. Light, fluffy and enticingly pastel coloured. Following Breakfast at Tiffany's with La Haine is like following a fondant fancy with a brick. A big gritty, hard and chunky brick.

I would put this film in the same school as Kids (which came out in the same year), or more recently, This is England. An essentially plotless film which follows the disillusioned youth over a period of time and building a horrific amount of tension.
The plot (whatever plot there is) is very simple. The film follows three Parisian teenagers: Vinz, Saïd and Hubert. Their friend, Abdel, as been shot by the police during a riot. Vinz has stolen a police gun and swears that if Abdel dies, he will kill a policeman.

Over the film, the tension builds as we see the friends come to terms with what is happening within their world.

However, the film is not about the story. The film is about the characters. Specifically the three friends:
Starting with Saïd, played by Saïd Taghmaoui (more recently seen as Caesar in the last season of Lost). He isn't the most popular person, and seems to constantly compensate that - trying to say the right thing, trying to fit in. He is often unnecessarily confrontational, because that seems like the thing to do within that group. His character really is quite sad in how petty and weak he is...

Saïd may be a sad character, but he is in now way as sad as Hubert. Hubert is having doubts about his friends. When we first meet him, rioters have burnt down his gym and he has nowhere to train. His friends may have not been the rioters who did the burning but they certainly are rioters, and are therefore linked to that crime.
For the majority of the film he is the calming influence. Quiet and brooding you're waiting for him to snap, but rather than snap he frequently holds the group back and stops confrontations between his friendship group and the police. The world is his oyster. He is going to leave this town and actually do something with his life.
It is that initial promise which makes the latter end of the film so sad. Gradually, Hubert tires of the system and gradually gets angrier and angrier. By the end of the film he is the real destructive element, inciting vandalism, violence, theft and even murder. It may not be a fall from 'grace' (he is hardly a good person) but it is a fall, and it is heartbreaking to see his hope quashed.

Finally... Vinz. Vinz is a truly messed up and frequently terrifying character, portrayed by Vincent Cassel (each character is played by actors with the same name). Vinz is quite a massive stoner and often gets accused of 'Bogarting' the group's drugs. I didn't know what this meant (I'm not that street) - however Urban Dictionary has saved me.
This excessive use of drugs means that Vinz is also a little bit unhinged. He hallucinates, frequently seeing a cow wandering through Paris. More worryingly, he has fantasies of being Travis Bickle. He recites the 'Are you talking to me?' speech to his reflection, it is matched cinematically, his trips to the cinema echo Travis' trips to the Porno theatre. That is why it is so terrifying when he gets a gun. He explodes so frequently. If anyone ever dares to question his opinion, or if anyone ever dares to be a figure of authority, it led to a horrific confrontations. Threats of violence. Bringing out his gun to emphasise his point. You're just waiting for him to crack and kill a cop.

Vinz is terrifying. It doesn't matter that people frequently try to explain why they need to change. You spend the whole film waiting for Vinz's manic outbreak. So, it is a high credit to the film that when everything kicks off it is a surprise. A horrific, brutal surprise.

Before the final horrors, we are introduced to the plain clothed police. I'm not sure how these police work in France but they're horrible. In just one scene you see why the central trio hate them so much. The group are arrested and subsequently threatened, racially abused and tortured in a horrific police station scene.
It is the only thing we see which supports and explains the mentality of the group and their social scene.

It is a wonderful but truly desolate film. Full of unhappy, impoverished people who have been let down by 'the system'. It is bleak, meandering and at times, horribly violent. However, it does it exceptionally well and the film is fascinating and captivating.

I'm just glad that I also watched The Bird Cage - to leave me with happy silliness.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

I believe you are in league with the butcher.

No 486 - Breakfast at Tiffany's
Director - Blake Edwards.

You say, that we have nothing in common. No common ground to stand on. And we're falling apart. It was once again time for me to watch a massively famous piece of cinema which I have somehow missed. This is the worrying thing about this list, I haven't seen a lot of 'iconic' or 'must see' films. I feel like I'm gradually getting more cultured.

This film is a wonderful romantic comedy. It was made before the formula for romantic comedies was devised, and yet it manages to avoid a lot of the cliches that are now part of our contemporary rom-com scene - there was a brilliant blog about it on Empire Online, which has been inexplicably removed... Anyway, the frantic dash, the contrived argument, the sense of Acts. Each of these elements (which are now so common in our films) could have been in this film, and yet they aren't. The film is fresh and exciting, light and frothy and the script sparkles with a beautiful wit and lightness. It is also helped by one of my favourite elements of cinema from that decade - Technicolor - making each frame as vibrant and bright as the characters and script within it.

I want to begin with the characters, and I really want to start with one particular character. The only thing that this film really does wrong. That way I can sweep it under the carpet and talk about the many things the film has done right.

Mr Yunioshi. Holly Golightly's horribly stereotypical Japanese landlord and a massive example about everything that was wrong with prejudice, racial slurs and film making at that time.
This is not an attack on Mickey Rooney who is a great actor, but the 'Comedy Japanese Man' is not comfortable to watch and is even less so when it is a white comedian blacked up (or Asianed up...). At least in the making of, the whole cast and crew describe this moment as the one thing they really regret and would like to change.

So, with that out the way, I can start to talk about the sheer delight in our two protagonists. Starting with Holly Golightly.

I think Holly is an amazing character. It it really interesting, because she is not a nice person. She is a money grabbing, shallow, lazy, vacuous socialite. A liar and a fraud. It is hinted that she is an escort. She manipulates and uses men and then escapes them when she is bored or when they get too attached. However, despite those damning characteristics she remains adorable. That must be down to Audrey Hepburn. She is stunning (which always helps) and plays Holly with a dizzy naivete and innocence which balances out this cruel streak in her character. She never seems malicious or cruel. She is a bit hysterical. She is a bit insane. She is a walking contradiction managing to be massively over familliar but also a complete riddle of a person. But she is so lovable that you can easily see the attraction through her faults.

Not only that but Audrey Hepburn really is playing the guitar and singing Moon River. Mr Hughes told me and he knows a thing or two about playing guitars.

She is someone who will get you to do unspeakable things that you've never dreamed of doing, but who is fragile enough that you would do everything in your power to defend and protect her. It shows Hepburn's talent in portraying that. But it also explains why Paul would fall so deeply (and quickly) in love with her.

On a personal note, I found it interesting how many of my female friends have modelled parts of their lives on her. Holly's flippant, optimistic, over the top character is something that I've witnessed many times. As are the histrionics and contrived anarchy. Whilst I don't believe they have stolen their characteristics I believe that Holly Golightly may be a great example of the kind of women women would like to be. No real worries, no real responsibilities, no real morals. Beautiful clothes, champagne before breakfast and permanently glamourous.

As Holly moves her never ending line of men (be they clients or fabulously wealthy eligible bachelors or ex husbands) there is one man standing witness. Paul Varjak aka Fred.

The thing that I find interesting about Paul is that he isn't that pure a person either. He does, however, appear to have a pretty sweet deal going on.
  • Firstly, he has a magnificent house. It is completely gaudy and completely ridiculous, but so is everything in this film. He has flock wall paper. He has a gold phone. He has matching pajamas and bed sheets. Matching pale blue paisley patterned silk pajamas and bed sheets.
  • Secondly, he is an author. Surely the noblest and grandest of jobs. Poncing around in your dressing gown all day, searching for a muse. If only it paid well.... although that doesn't matter because
  • Thirdly, he is a kept man. Given regular payments by his older woman mistress.

I think Paul has stumbled into the perfect life ruined by only one thing. The ugly ugly sleeveless cardigan style waistcoat he constantly wears. Besides that, perfect life. However, it is ruined because he falls in love. Bloody love ruining any chance of morally dubious bliss, however it does mean he gets to witness the brilliant early 60s world of the flat below him.

The brilliant thing about Holly and her friends is they fall into a beautiful cliche of the early 60s. They are full of fast talking cool cats and fabulously dressed hip young things. Everyone is a darling and everyone is beautiful. There is a marvellous scene where a party takes place at Holly's house. It is insanity. But it is fantastic and so of its time.

Other things included the fantastic fact that the taxis are Cadillacs (a massive improvement on what New York has today) and one of the greatest lines I have heard for a while in film:
"But I am mad about Jose. I honestly think I'd give up smoking if he asked me."

Overall, I loved the film. I found it light and frothy. Vacuous and morally dubious (the main characters enjoy theft and flouting the rules/law on a regular basis). The film as a whole shares a lot with the main characters. Including the vibrancy and the joi de vivre which is so evident.

It is a very stylish film.

There is only one thing that really depressed me:
Holly brings her breakfast TO Tiffany's. In a paper bag....

I felt a bit cheated by that

Sunday, 10 May 2009

She's a deaf mute and you can do whatever you want with her.

No 467 - Santa Sangre
Director - Alejandro Jadorowsky

So, getting back into the swing of things with a film I hadn't even heard of. I have finished Battlestar Galactica (at last) so expect these to become slightly more regular again.

The film begins with a naked man up a tree. All pretty standard, until you realise that this tree is in a room, with a dog basket at the bottom and our protagonist thinks he is an ape (he even eats fish like Gollum.... gross man).
We follow the man as he gradually flirts closer to normality and ultimately escapes the asylum. Whilst that may sound like I've just given a lot of information, really I haven't. What is important is what happens before and after this moment.

This is a film of two parts and I will tackle each part separately. I shall begin, logically, at the beginning. The tale of Felix, a young circus magician (who looks oddly like Dandy Dan - (this is the best picture I could find of Mr Dandy Dan - Google is loosing its touch)) and his family. His bonkers, messed up family.
Felix lives in a circus, surrounded by his friends (a gaggle of clowns) and Alma, the only other person close to his age and to all extents and purposes his 'girlfriend' (they are 11ish after, it hardly seems the right term. Maybe I should add a space. His Girl Friend. That's better). Alma looks quite creepy in her make up, but is the ultimate example of the helpless victim. She is victimised by her guardian (the horrific Tattooed Lady, the person responsible for my title quote) and is a deaf mute. The friendship she gets from Felix is very important.

As well as being mean to Alma, the Tattooed woman is responsible for everything falling to plot. Sadly everything breaks down because of sex. Sex and violence.

The Tattooed Woman lusts after the fat old knife thrower
The fat old knife thrower lusts after the Tattooed Woman.
The fat old knife thrower may or may not be Felix's dad.... either way he is having some kind of relationship with Felix's mother.

At this point it is important to note that Felix's mum is bonkers. She is a religious fanatic, in a church which has been disowned by the rest of Mexico (it worships a rape victim who had her arms chopped off....). A church with a pool of Holy Blood (which is English for santa sangre.... innit).
She pours acid on people's genitals. She has her arms cut off and she is left to die. Meanwhile Felix's (maybe) dad is screaming in pain, naked, with acid coated balls and cuts his throat. All of this happens in front of Felix. It is no surprise that he ends up in an asylum. Utterly mad mad mad.

The whole first bit of the film feels like a really slow drawn out set up. Nothing really happens plot-wise. It is just a series of quite disturbing events witnessed (or experienced, like a horrific DIY tattoo scene) by a small boy.
There are some elements to this section that I really like - specifically the use of music. There doesn't seem to be any incidental music played over the film. Instead (due to the circus setting) wandering musicians stroll around and provide the atmospheric soundtrack. It is a very lovely touch, but one that is slowly replaced for more conventional movie scoring in part 2.

Part 2 of this film is what happens after Felix escapes the asylum. He finds his mother and becomes her arms and hands. Letting her live out her day to day life. Those of you that have seen Psycho will probably guess what is happening, and it is certainly not played as a twist as Felix goes around befriending women only for his 'mother' to kill them.
There are, however, some truly amazing feats of choreography (originally planned for Marcel Marceau). Felix sits behind his armless mother and provides her arms with motions which are smooth and effortless and truly impressive in how natural they are made to look.
In fact... I'm pretty sure the hands and insanity element is the main influence for an episode of League of Gentlemen. I mean, I'm certain that they would have watched Santa Sangre. They like their dark disturbing horror oddities.

It is only with the return of Alma that Felix can conquer his demons and battle his mother and her control over him.
I found the film became a lot more exciting and interesting when the 'Mother' element of the story kicked in. The deaths were savage and vicious and his desperation to escape is quite tragic, but his battle with sanity is much more interesting than the circumstances which cause him to get there.

I am aware that this film is famously symbolic, and I'll admit that I'm not very good at picking them up. However I'm certain I got one. As Alma searches for Felix, a man peels of his ear and tries to force it into her mouth. Now, it doesn't take a genius to go "hmmm.... ears and mouths.... deaf and dumb...." so I got that symbolism, and the forcefulness shows that because of her position (she can't cry out.... hence why the Tattooed Woman is letting people pay to rape her) she is all the more defenceless. Her character's disability ties in with her white angelic make up. Alma is purity, Alma is virginal, Alma is the innocent.

Only Alma can save Felix.

There are some truly beautiful moments between Felix and Alma, through out both the Adult and Child sections of the film. Their relationship is one of the most entrancing elements of the film and one of the most rewarding parts to watch.

Certainly more rewarding than the asylum scenes which at time feels slightly exploitative to those with Downs Syndrome. Although there is a scene where the most stereotypical Mexican in the world gets a bunch of people from the asylum, feeds them coke, and sends them to see a big fat whore.

That is worth renting the film out for.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The undead surround me. Have you ever talked to a corpse? It's boring! I'm lonely! Kill yourself, David, before you kill others.

No 107 - An American Werewolf in London
Director - John Landis

John Landis is a great comedy director. After all he gave us Animal House and Blues Brothers. Iconic, cool comedies. However, during that time he had a pet project.... this film. A beautiful meld of comedy and horror and bleakness. A celebrated cult classic.
How could I never have watched it? It is the premise of a huge joke in Spaced.... I feel I have cheated Mr Pegg.

Simon Pegg was the first person to introduce me to this film (not in person... I'm not that cool), firstly with Spaced and secondly with a deleted scene from Shaun of the Dead. In the deleted scene the taxi driver talks about how the zombie epidemic Puts you in mind of the great plague of London. Now... I love Paul Putner so was happy to see him in the film (well, deleted... but on the DVD) but was even happier to see that the influence for this scene is SO MUCH COOLER.

I much prefer the line "Puts you in mind of the days of the old demon barber of Fleet Street, don't it?" and it is delivered by a young Alan Ford. Fucking BRICK TOP. I love Brick Top.

This seems like a strange way to begin this blog, but now that I am on the subject of voices, it was not just the dulcet cockney twang of Alan Ford which excited me. For as David lies in his hospital bed, who should visit but Frank Oz.... and Frank Oz is one of the last surviving king of the muppets. Frank Oz sounds EXACTLY like the Great Gonzo. How are you expected to stay involved in the scene when the Great Gonzo is there as a US ambassador......

Now that I have gotten that bit off of my chest.... let me talk about what I thought of the film. I really liked this film. It has a beautiful mix of the funny, the scary, the bleak and the down right bonkers.
The most bonkers elements coming from David's dreams and hallucinations after he has been bit. I love that he can see his friend, Jack, who was killed by the werewolf. I love that his friend decomposes as the film continues. But mostly I love the nightmare where Nazi Werewolves machine gun down his entire family. That was a definite high in the film's inspired insanity. By now you may have clicked on that YouTube link and watched it for yourselves. Let us take a second to just look at the words that formed that sentence. Nazi. Werewolves. Machine gun (well.... Uzi). It is amazing! It is pure insanity! It is no surprise that Rob Zombie took some inspiration from it when making his equally insane Grindhouse trailer.

As we reach the topic of cinematic inspiration, I will hit the obvious topic. Rick Baker's amazing special effects. This film boasts an amazing transformation. One that still holds its own today. One that is still shocking and one that has inspired almost every werewolf transformation since (especially the excellent shot of the face lengthening into that of a wolf).
It was the first film to suppose that turning into a wolf might be quite a painful process.... One that was explored in more detail on the brilliant BBC3 show 'Being Human'. Even Harry Potter referenced it.
Hell! Even sheep have gotten in on the act.

But there is much more to this film than an amazing (and some would say cinematically pivotal) transformation. This film is clever through and through. Each track used in the film references the moon. The clever (and never jarring) mix of comedy and horror throughout - this is an accomplished piece of cinema.

With very cliched views on Great Britain.

I have to begin by saying that I love cliches. I love that in about 80% (probably less these days though....) of Movies or TV from the states Britain still comes off as being very 'pip pip, jolly good' toffs or being 'knees up muvva brahn' cockneys. It is a constant source of amusement. So every cliche in this film filled me with joy.
  • The northern pub. Complete with everything stopping when the strangers enter. I also love that when we return to the pub the doctor asks for a campari and soda. WAY TO BE INCONSPICUOUS! Who drinks campari and soda anyway? What a ridiculous drink to ask for in a remote country pub. I come from the country. This was a pub where you ask for ales. Not campari.
  • The Londoners are either stupid middle class toffs or cheeky cockneys.
  • The Police are proper 'Ello Ello Ello' bobbys on the beat.
  • There is a man, wearing a bowler hat and using an umbrella as a cane.
  • Tea. Tea crops up everywhere. As well it should, because this country was built on tea.
But best of all.... I don't think any of it is ironic. Oh happy days.

But they also get some of it dreadfully wrong.... mainly Nurse Alex Price, played by Jenny Agutter. firstly it is nice to see Tessa from Spooks all young and sprightly. However her character is a nurse. In London. I know nurses in London and they could not afford to live in the type of massive house Alex lives in. Maybe such things were possible in 1981....... No, probably not.

As I start to close this blog up I feel I need to address something. I may have misrepresented the film. I have chosen to focus on the insane moments, the black humour, the strange cameos, the bad cliches. What I didn't talk about is the horror. There is a very good horror mixed into the comedy. Some of Dave's visions are horrific. The wolf itself is a true snarling monster. A vicious predator and not something I'd want to cross.
Whilst the ending is abrupt, dark and shocking.

This is not a film about hope.

(ps.... I'm halfway through season 4 of BSG, then I'm done.... so I'll get my arse into gear and crack up the frequency of these posts)