Thursday, 30 April 2015

YOU'LL WANT TO STAY FOREVER











































THE SHINING, d. Stanley Kubrick (1980)

As chaos takes over at The Overlook Hotel, the past begins to give up its secrets, and Wendy finds herself in a world of horror. Almost comically so, in some ways, as every corner she turns seems to provide another nightmarish vision, and another variation on screaming whilst maintaining a goggle eyed expression of terror.

This sequence, cut from the original British release,  perhaps takes it one step too far. It's scary, certainly, but it doesn't make any sense. Who are these people? We know they didn't die here like this, so why would they appear in these ghoulish tableaux? Why would their skeletons still be on the phone, or serving drinks? It's all a bit gratuitous, and it doesn't feel right. This is a Stanley Kubrick film, after all, not a ghost train. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

LONESOME VAMPIRE BLUES















A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT d. Ana Lily Amirpour (2014)

Promoted as an ‘Iranian spaghetti western vampire story’, and filmed in moody black and white with a carefully selected soundtrack, ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’ sounds specifically designed to appeal to a hip audience, the sort who moisten their selvedges at the thought of being first on the ghost train to cultsville. Beyond the hype, however, the film is a startling deconstruction of cliché, and provides some indelible scenes and images, not least the instant iconography of the girl vampire, dressed in a Breton top and a black chador and riding a skateboard. It may be hip as hell, but it’s also a powerfully original piece of work.   
An interesting element is the emphasis on its identity as Iranian. It is actually an American film, made in California, produced by (amongst others) Elijah Wood. The director, cast and setting of the film are Iranian, however, and the dialogue is exclusively Farsi. Could this be a new direction for Hollywood, not simply ripping off and retooling but actually making 'foreign' films?  

Saturday, 25 April 2015

ON A HEAD TRIP









































































THE SUNS OF EASTER ISLAND, d. Pierre Kast (1974)

One by one, six people across the globe experience hallucinations of social unrest and glimpses of ancient stone heads, before waking up to realise that they now have a small disc permanently grafted to the palm of their right hand.

Driven my forces they don’t really understand, the six people (and a spare boyfriend) all make their way their way to Santiago (it means ‘whales vagina’ in Spanish) in Chile, the embarkation point for Easter Island, their ultimate destination.

Easter Island is probably the most amazing film location on Earth: small (62 square miles) remote (2,000 miles from the next inhabited land mass), with three volcanoes (inactive), hundreds of caves, thousands of petroglyphs, very few buildings, hardly any trees and, of course, 887 moai, ornamental statuary between 900 and 300 years old.

When they arrive, now firmly and rather smugly established as a group, they wander around taking in the scenery, before convening in a cave where an ancient, almost unseen presence tells them their mission: every five hundred years, aliens come to Easter Island to commune with the chosen with a view to setting up a permanent bridge between themselves and humanity. The travellers make their way out and align themselves with a row of moai. The aliens arrive as dazzling balls of light and make contact, searching the human’s minds for a picture of life on Earth.

Sadly, the alien visitors are not impressed by the long stream of images of death, destruction and horror, and promptly go back home. They will return in another half millennia and, maybe next time, we might pass the test.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Monday, 20 April 2015

SAND SPEED RECORD



















































































Here's The Flash and Kid Flash, whizzing through the desert at several hundred miles an hour, passing a suprising amount of pyramids, careening to a stop every now and again to strike a pose and show off their matching outfits.

This incarnation of The Flash was created in 1956, and Kid Flash arrived in 1959, which is why they are called Barry and Wally, respectively. Aquaman was called Arthur; Batman, Bruce (see also The Hulk); Thor, Donald. I very much like the fact that, no matter how hard and cool and dark and trendy they might become in contemporary reboots, the most legendary characters of the comic world have old men's names.    

CALL ME LIGHTNING


























The Flash must be a bastard to animate. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

COMICS IS AN ANAGRAM OF COSMIC



'Space Riders' (published by Black Mask) is only one issue old but already seems to be leading the pack in a welcome renaissance of scuzzy, hippy trippy psychedelic soaked sci fi comics. I couldn't be happier, and I don't usually like talking mandrills.   

Friday, 17 April 2015

LET'S PUT ON THE YELLOW, OR A PHASE I'M STILL GOING THROUGH




















PHASE IV, d. Saul Bass (1974)


Yellow is a powerful insecticide, sprayed over a target area as the secondary stage of the human war against the alien ants. It kills thousands of them, as well as three people who weren't supposed to be there. The ants will regroup, breed immunity and carry on the fight. The people stay dead, and that's why the ants will win.

A PHASE I WENT THROUGH






























PHASES OF THE MOON (2012)