Monday, 29 September 2008

MEMENTO: LFF FAVES









With The London Film Festival almost upon us, I thought I'd console myself over not being able to attend by looking at back at some of the highlights from my time at previous fests. The following are ten films that still give me a warm glow of pleasure, and ones that I will forever associate with Odeon West End and The National Film Theatre.




CRASH




David Cronenberg's twisted love story was on the verge of being banned almost up to the morning of its UK premiere. Thankfully, festival organisers stood firm and the screening went ahead, with DC introducing his film and staying on for a Q&A afterwards. One of those magical evenings that stays with you.




THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.




While I don't count myself as one of those who proclaims this to be one of the greatest films ever made, Shawshank still left a considerable impression on me and I've never seen such a reaction to any film at any cinema. The packed auditorium simply stood up and the end, and gave Darabont's film a standing ovation that seemed to go on and on.




SNAKE EYES.




Ferrara's DANGEROUS GAME (as it soon became known) was screened without fanfare or the presence of cast and director. Disappointing maybe, but this absorbing film-within-a-film features sterling work from Keitel and a more-than decent turn from Madonna, with a psychotic James Russo on top form. More than enough to make it one of Abel's best.




ALMOST FAMOUS.




A gala opening film, with onstage appearances from director and cast members. As we couldn't bag Gala tickets, we opted for the repeat screening the following day. No Kate Hudson to be seen, but we didn't altogether mind as this film simply took over our senses and left us with grins as wide as Cheshire cats. Now, where's my Stillwater CD?




EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN.




Ang Lee's deliriously delicious feast of impeccable acting and the finest of, ahem, fine dining. I'd already demolished a pre-film mixed grill at a nearby pub, but half an hour in, those pangs of hunger returned. Gordon Ramsay eat your heart out!




REQUIEM FOR A DREAM.




So, we'd caught Darren Aronofsky's PI and raved about it. When we heard his latest would receive its UK prem at the LFF, applying for tickets was a no brainer. To be honest, we'd read practically nothing about the film prior to the screening, and turned up with no idea what to expect. When Darren introduced the film, his warning that "In an hour and three quarters from now, you are all going to hate me" didn't cause too much concern. Nor did Ellen Burstyn's declaration that "You're going to feel a lot of pain". Phew! By the closing credits, we could barely move a muscle, after this assault on the senses. As we left the cinema, desperately in need of a JD pick-me-up, I spied Aronofsky in the foyer, and decided to 'congratulate' him for reducing me to a nervous wreck with his brilliant and gruelling film. He simply smiled, slapped me on the back and yelled "Live it. Love it. Feel it". With that he was gone, disappearing into the mild London evening.




GOSFORD PARK.




Yet another missed Gala prem, so we again settled for the second screening after missing Robert Altman and cast onstage (why don't some of the cast stick around for the next day repeat?). No matter, this is a wonderful production, bursting with some terrific actors (as was always the case for Altman films) and remains one of my favourite Altman movies. Whenever I think of this film, I remember the late Sir Alan Bates and the many times I was fortunate enough to talk to him. A real gentleman, I miss his cheery greetings and cherish the memories.




KILLING ZOE.




I'm a big fan of Roger Avery's heist movie and, for me, this is one of those films where the law of diminishing returns does not set in. I'll aways remember that closing scene where Stolz tells Delpi about the blood. A truly downbeat ending if ever there was one.




AUTOFOCUS.




We arrived at the cinema to view Larry Clark's KEN PARK, only to be told the screening had been cancelled due to the mother of all rows between Clark and a film exec. Some 20 minutes into Schrader's film, Clark and KP had been forgotten.




I love "Hogan's Heroes" and this tale of the dark and destructive nature of fame - by way of the history of the vidcam - got under my skin in seventeen different ways.




THE FUNERAL.




Another one from Uncle Abel, with a great cast joining forces to make this one of the great mob movies. While the film was -still is- a powerful experience, an interview with Ferrara at the same cinema some 2 days later also remains in my head, with just as much resonance. Here, Ferrara showed clips from half a dozen of his film, including around 50 minutes from the aforementioned mob classic. The reason we almost got a complete re-run was that Abel simply walked offstage and didn't return for the best part of an hour. I heard, months later, that he went off in search of a beer and eventually found a pizza parlour who could legally serve him booze at that time on a Sunday morning. If anyone reading this knows different, let me know.




Just a few of my LFF memories. For me, London has a magic all of its own and my times at the fest are some of the many highlights of my time there.

















Sunday, 28 September 2008

THE 52ND LONDON FILM FESTIVAL

Wednesday 15th - Saturday 30th October sees The Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival take place, with several venues primed to screen an exciting mix of the best in world cinema. As mentioned previously on this blog, opening night will see the premiere of Peter Morgan's FROST/NIXON, while the closing Gala screening is Danny Boyle's SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. As usual, film fans are faced with an embarrassment of riches, including: TYSON, Terence Davies' OF TIME AND THE CITY, Uli Edel's THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX, Steven Soderbergh's CHE (PART 1 & PART 2), Steve McQueen's HUNGER, Oliver Stone's W., Delphine Kreuter's 57000 KM BETWEEN US (a retuning of French bourgeois comedy for the digital age), The Woodster's VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, Palme d'Or winner THE CLASS and BRONSON, which is a brutal portrayal of the UK's most violent 'lifer'. The latter is part of the New British Cinema Strand which includes films from Richard Jobson, Mike Figgis, Justin Kerrigan and Pat Holden's AWAYDAYS, based on Kevin Sampson's cult novel. There's also a screening of TELSTAR, which will be a must for Joe Meek buffs and a bunch of restorations including ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, THE TRESPASSER (Gloria Swanson's first talkie), THE LAST WAGON and COVER GIRL.

Sad to say, our presence at the festival would be financially prohibitive this year ( in other words, we're skint!) but we'll be there in spirit and hope everyone has an enjoyable time.

For full details, check out the festival site http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff/films

Friday, 26 September 2008

MARQUEE MEMORIES










Following on from my blog on The Marquee, I thought I'd do a short piece on the 10 best/most memorable gigs I attended there, in no particular order of merit.




Generation X. 20th July 1977.




As I mentioned previously, Gen X were never favourites of mine, but this was the first gig I took in at The Marquee and was therefore responsible for many future trips to this wonderful London venue.




The Lurkers. 7th November 1979.




It was so foggy when I left home early morning that you would have been hard pressed to hit a cow's arse with a banjo! Things were little better when I arrived at the club early evening after walking down Wardour Street, barely able to see more than one yard in front of me. Not exactly ideal conditions but the prospect of seeing The Lurkers had kept me going throughout the day. I'd seen Howard Wall's boys before, but this was the best gig I'd witnessed from them, with the crowd joining in on all their classic tunes including 2 renditions of 'New Guitar In Town'. For me, The Lurkers were on of the most underrated punk bands, along with The Adverts and ......




Chelsea. 17th October 1978.




My first encounter with Gene October's outfit. Some great tunes amongst their repertoire, and a real shame their light didn't burn a bit brighter in punkdom. If you wanted rabble-rousing songs with high octane energy, these were the boys to go and see.




The Skids. 1st November 1978.




Ah, this one was truly wonderful! I'd later check out The Skids in far bigger venues, but this Marquee gig remains my fondest memory of Richard Jobson's band. The club was packed to the gills and beyond, the atmosphere hot and sweaty as we sung-alonga-Skids, high on booze and the joys of real audience participation. Wish I could have caught them there again.




The Human League. 21st & 22nd July 1979.




The Human League! Back in the days before those two birds joined the band and when their slideshows provided a stimulating backdrop to the music. Those two nights were the most enjoyable I spent at The Marquee, and were made even better by support band Spizz Energi who played a blinder on both evenings. Classics such as 'Clocks Are Big, Machines Are Heavy', '6000 Crazy' and 'Where's Captain Kirk' were all present and correct, making these two gigs pure heaven. They were also the hottest conditions I can recall experiencing there, with the 'Soho Sauna' working overtime in the old weight loss department.




Penetration. 21st August 1978.




One of my favourite punk bands who gave us a scorching debut album, and boasted one of the finest female lead singers of the decade. Anyone who can cover Patti Smith's classic 'Free Money' and draw honourable comparisons with the original deserves our most earnest attention. That's what Pauline Murray drew from audiences,and I'm more than a little ashamed to declare this was the only time I saw them live. Another top-notch gig, with great versions of La Smith's song and their own classic 'Don't Dictate'.




UK Subs.




Unsure of the date for this gig as I caught Charlie Harper's United Kingdom Subversives on many occasions, at various venues country wide. I can recall the gig was in Winter, that the house lights were kept on for the entire evening and leaping onstage to grab Chaz's microphone and bellow out a few lines of one of the encores, which ended with punters jammed together on The Marquee stage. A very rough collection of punks on that particular evening but everyone entered the spirit of things and not a hint of any problems which is how things should be.




The Rezillos. 9th June 1978.




"Everybody's on Top Of The Pops" sang Fay Fife! The Rezillos certainly were and our screens were certainly livened up by their antics. 'Can't Stand The Rezillos' still stands up as a classic album, and their Marquee gig produced hyperactive versions of much-loved songs. A great night, spent exactly how a hot Summers evening should be.




John Cooper Clarke. 4th April 1979.




The punk rock poet with his wickedly humorous accounts of life in our dark satanic mills. Oh to see him do 'Evidently Chicken Town' and 'Beasley Street' again, while I quaff a pint of the Marquee's less-than salubrious beer.




Flesh For Lulu. 12th October 1987.




Not a particularly inspiring gig, but notable because it was the last time I set foot in The Marquee at its Wardour Street venue. All good things must come to an end. It was a real pleasure while it lasted!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

BC: A LEGEND SADLY MISSED



4 years ago today, Brian Clough passed away. With a film in the pipeline about the great man's time at Leeds United, I thought it would be nice to remember him here. Although he was fired after just 44 days in charge at Leeds, he enjoyed great success at my own club Derby County, and also at our bitter rivals Nottingham Forest.


He often said the biggest mistake he ever made was resigning as our manager, and we can only speculate as to what would have happened had he remained there with assistant Peter Taylor. While his man management style was unorthodox to say the least, he built some great sides full of players who would run through a brick wall for him. During his memorial service at Pride Park, Derby, there was a ferocious thunderstorm the like of which hadn't been experienced for several years. How fitting that this should occur throughout the service, given Brian's dislike for fuss.


On this day, I'll remember him with affection and gratitude for taking us from the second division to the top of the first and into Europe, taking on and beating some great sides. Thanks, Brian.

Friday, 19 September 2008

THE MARQUEE, LONDON: GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN




The Marquee Club. It was a legend long before I'd even dreamt of going to gigs, and drew tens of thousands of people to its main home at 90 Wardour Street, London. It would take me several weeks to list every band to tread those hallowed boards, but the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Ultravox, Sex Pistols, Joy Division, Iron Maiden, Led Zep, The Jam, Genesis and The Police are names that demonstrate the club played an important part in live music on the UK circuit.



The Marquee opened April 1958 in Oxford Street, and established itself as a live showcase for Jazz and R&B with Sonny Boy Williamson and Cyril Davies just a couple of artists to appear regularly. The Oxford Street tenure would last for 6 years, boasting The Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters amongst an increasingly impressive roster of acts. At the fag-end of 1963, club owner Harold Pendleton was given 6 months notice to find new premises by the building's owners. In March, 1964, the club relocated to nearby Wardour Street where it would remain for 24 years. '64 proved to be a pivotal year, with the opening of Marquee recording studios and a long residency by The Who announcing that London had a very important club for music lovers. Over the years, The Marquee played host to the Psychedelic Scene, Progressive Rock, Punk, Mod, Heavy Metal and chart-orientated acts, moving with the times while also casting an eye back to 'old friends' who would often drop in to play 'secret gigs'. Those of you wishing to read the full history of the club are directed to http://www.themarqueeclub.net/index.php which includes a year-by-year record of most of the gigs that took place there. I was lucky enough to take in scores of gigs there, and the rest of this piece contains some of my memories of this club.


When Punk reared its ugly head, my taste in live music underwent a real sea change. Up to then, I'd stayed firmly put, in and around my home county of Derbyshire, hooking up with friends to see rock bands such as Man, Budgie, Curved Air and Streetwalkers amongst others. Now, it was time to venture further afield; both geographically and musically. I'd read and awful lot about the London music scene in magazines. Sounds and the NME both painted an exciting picture of life in our capital city, with venues such as The Music Machine and The Nashville playing host to a never-ending succession of live acts. So, on 20th July 1977, I found myself London-bound to take in my first gig at The Marquee. I'd already gained a fair idea of finding my way around London via trips to follow my local football team, and had little difficulty in getting to Wardour Street. Before long, I caught sight of that famous exterior and joined a long line of punks queueing for tickets to see Generation X. While Billy Idol's mob were never really on my list of bands to see, I had little doubt that the gig would be a real experience; a feeling that proved to be entirely correct. Just before I entered the club, two doormen turned away a couple of rough-looking individuals who were apparently banned from the club for fighting at previous gigs. Obviously not a place for the faint-hearted but once inside, I immediately knew this was my sort of club.

After paying for my ticket, I soon located the bar where I had my first pint of Marquee watery beer in a plastic glass. From the bar area, I watched drum kits and mic stands being assembled, followed by Gen X running through a couple of numbers for their soundcheck. Soon, it was time to head out from the confined space of the bar and enjoy a tip-top set from The Lurkers. In truth, Howard Wall and his boys took the honours that evening, but my dislike of Gen X certainly receded as I watched them battle through their set under an assault of plastic beer glasses, cans and shower upon shower of spit. I'd already seen a good many bands walk off stage during the same type of audience abuse but Gen X never took a backward step. Respect!

So, my first visit to The Marquee was over but I already loved this small, ramshackle club with its sticky floor and cramped conditions; the bar at the back offering the chance of a quick queue for a drink for those disinclined to barge through the packed bodies en route to the main bar area, and a selection of hot & cold snacks just to line your stomach for the next alcoholic onslaught. With a capacity of roughly 300, the club often crammed in over three times as many, making the nickname of 'The Soho Sauna' entirely accurate. On many occasions, we were dripping sweat and I swear the walls were having much the same problem. Nobody seemed to mind though, and if anything, it added to the atmosphere. Over the years, I noticed the doormen actively contributing to the numbers of folks attending, ushering in extra punters upon receipt of a premium charge. Fortunately, I never had to pay over the odds, preferring to grab a ticket in the afternoon of any gig where I knew demand would exceed supply. Then, I'd sometimes call in at the nearby pub called The Ship where I spied Siouxsie Sioux holding court on a number of occasions. The Banshees were an absolute legend way before 'Hong Kong Garden' shattered the airwaves, and a piece of graffiti on the Marquee entrance wall remained for many months after their vinyl debut: 'SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES. SIGN THEM UP. DO IT NOW!' This impassioned plea greeted me on many occasions until I arrived there one night to find it gone, and with it went a part of the Marquee's character. I know the great lady herself visited the club as performer and audience member but I never saw her there. Lemmy from Motorhead, Phil Mogg, Joe Strummer, Phil Lynott, Howard Wall, Gaye Advert, Vic Goddard, Pete Shelley, Malcolm Owen, Paul Weller, Gene October and John Cooper Clarke were just a few of the faces I saw in the bar (the latter still looks much the same as he did 3 decades ago): a punk paparazzo's dream!

As far as crowd trouble was concerned, The Marquee was usually a hassle-free night out when compared to The Nashville or The Electric Ballroom. Sure, there were a few flare-ups but the only problem I ever encountered was at a Nine Below Zero gig when someone kicked me and tried to rip my watch from my wrist. A swift right hook to the jaw and he was down, leading to me facing the exit until an onlooker explained to the bouncers that I'd acted in self defence. The Marquee was actually safer than concert halls close to my home in Derbyshire, and I never felt threatened there. Over the years, I spent many, many enjoyable nights there and it remains my favourite venue for live music.

Years after the club shut down, there are still things I miss about my time there. The walk down Wardour Street, past film companies whose window displays were once home to posters for THE CHANGELING, CALIGULA and BLUE VELVET; past strip clubs and brothels where you really did quicken your step in case some over-zealous employee dragged you in, only for the doormen to relieve you of every penny you had, and then catching sight of the amusement arcade just down from Marquee on the right where fuck-knows who was hanging around outside in search of lost souls and their cash. Then, there are many memories of the club itself: the stage barely big enough to contain the band and equipment, the sights and sounds of the gathered masses drinking in the rock 'n' roll stench and finally departing the club in search of a good night's rest before doing it all over again the following evening. I honestly believe I would not be here now if I'd lived in London during the 70s and 80s but am glad I took the chance to visit on so many occasions during holidays from work.
In 1987, time caught up with 90 Wardour Street. A commission undertook a study of the premises and discovered that years of loud music had caused the facade of the building to slip towards the pavement. The last gig there was by Joe Satriani on 18th July 1988. The building was demolished , and it's place was occupied by a restaurant last time I ventured down Wardour Street. The Marquee re-opened in Charing Cross Road in the Summer of '88 and stayed put for 7 years. During that time, I took in several gigs there but it was simply not the same. Since then, The Marquee has re-appeared at several London locations and, at the moment, has ceased to exist. Apart from Charing X, I never bothered to seek it out. For me, it was over.
I'll be listing my 10 most memorable Marquee gigs sometime next week.

Friday, 12 September 2008

TWITTERING ABOUT

Just added a Twitter widget to this blog. I'd never heard of this message service until I checked out Ian Smith's excellent Irascible blog. If you have yet to encounter his work, please hit the link on my list of blogs over on the right. Ian's knowledge of all things computer-related never fails to amaze me and he's got a keen eye and a way with words for the world of movies, too. I'm just going to use Twitter as a record for my wanderings, to maybe swap messages with fellow users and also to record blogs I visit whenever there's something I want to share with you all.
Next up on The Last Picture Show will be a piece on my all-time favourite music venue: the Marquee Club which, for many years, made its home in London's Wardour Street.

MAMMA MIA! ANOTHER CONVERT!

When my wife suggested we check out a certain box office smash, my mind went back several years to the time I attended the London stage show just a few months after it opened in 1999. While I enjoyed the music and choreography, the storyline did very little for me (I had pretty much the same problem with CHICAGO) and though I'm not averse to booking repeat performances of certain shows, I never had the urge to give MAMMA MIA! another whirl. Now, we have a stage-to-film adaptation on our hands and I initially feared I'd be facing the same scenario.

For the opening 15-20 minutes, my reservations seemed pretty much on the mark, as the opening histrionics surrounding preparations for the wedding of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) echoed your worst teen-movie nightmares. Sophie has invited three of her mother's former lovers to visit the island, hoping to learn the identity of her father. When her mother (Donna, played by Meryl Streep) learns of their presence, the stage is set for a journey towards the truth. It's quite a journey too, as Donna reforms her old group - Donna And The Dynamos - with several subplots punctuated by their own interpretations of songs from Sweden's finest. Streep is absolutely splendid here, with solid support from Julia Walters and Christine Baranski who join her in more than decent renderings of Abba gold. Yes, the film is decidedly lightweight, but it put a smile on our faces and a spring in our steps which makes it hard to knock, in my book.

MAMMA MIA! will be released on DVD in the UK on 24th November, and I'm sure we'll be giving it a spin not too long after it comes out.

Just before the film started, we were delighted to see a trailer for the Coen Brothers latest, BURN AFTER READING. Oh my word, this one does look delicious!

Monday, 8 September 2008

DANNY BOYLE'S LFF CLOSER

Danny Boyle's latest film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE has been chosen to close this years London Film Festival. The story concerns an orphan boy who was accused of cheating on the Indian version of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' and his subsequent interrogation by police. Boyle shot the film on location in Mumbai, and will introduce the screening as well as give an interview in the LFF's 'Screen Talks' series.

The festival opens 15th October, and I'll be selecting promising titles from the programme soon after it's announced. Unfortunately, it looks extremely unlikely we'll be able to attend any of the screenings, but hope the festival is a success.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

NEXT ISSUE OF VIDEO WATCHDOG


I've been purchasing Tim Lucas' Video Watchdog right from the very first issue. I was browsing the shelves in London's Forbidden Planet when I spied a magazine cover and immediately knew this was a publication that had only previously existed in my dreams. After handing over the dosh, I sat down in a nearby pub and devoured the entire contents in one sitting. Tim's 'How To Read A Franco Film' was (and still is) a particular delight, and from then on I was hooked. Over the years, I've collected around 98% of the issues - only missing a handful when money was tight or my suppliers screwed up - and still fully intend to subscribe when cash flow permits. I've done the VW book, the special editions and, of course, Tim and Donna's magnificent Bava book which I pre-ordered and was particularly moved by Tim's decision to print a list of patrons in the finished product. If you have yet to purchase this astonishing tribute, I can promise you it's worth every penny and more. In fact, it still seems more of a gift than a purchase and let me also say that the organisation regarding packing and dispatch to me here in the UK was nothing less than customer service of the very highest order.

Tim has recently announced details of the latest issue (#144) which is now at the printers. Contents include a Dabbs Greer interview, Tim's full length review of Zulawski's THE IMPORTANT THING IS TO LOVE and Doug Winter reviewing a feature film for the first time in his Audio Watchdog column. Here, Anton Corbijn's magnificent CONTROL comes under the spotlight and he'll be writing about the music of Joy Division in the very next issue.

Friday, 5 September 2008

WALK AWAY IN SILENCE: JOY DIVISION

Following on from Anton Corbijn's excellent biopic CONTROL, comes this 95 minute documentary on one of our finest bands. JOY DIVISION crams in interviews and anecdotes from key figures in and around the group, together with concert and TV footage which tell a remarkable story.






A Sex Pistols gig at Manchester's Free Trade Hall led to the formation of a band called Warsaw (their name inspired by a track on David Bowie's excellent LOW album), and the seeds were sown for the emergence of a vital force in music. Soon, the band would take on a new name, which caused a good deal of controversy in the press and practically none amongst their followers. This documentary sees band members joined by the late Tony Wilson, writer Paul Morley and other members of the JD story to provide an authoritative and often sad commentary on a key period in music history. Here was a band that broke down the barriers of punk, moving from the days of The Electric Circus and a debut EP (An Ideal For Living) to a first album which eventually turned out to be one of the finest to come out of this famous city.






While I'd long held the opinion that CLOSER contained their best work, UNKNOWN PLEASURES has lately got under my skin in ways I'm unable to describe and may well become my JD drug of choice. With doom-laden bass, mesmeric guitar play and those magnificent vocals, UNKNOWN PLEASURES gives us dance tracks, mini anthems for doomed youth, rabble-rousing concessions to their more boisterous followers and moments of icy beauty that still leave me totally stunned. If UP really was like imagining a sci-fi interpretation of Manchester from a speeding car, then CLOSER (which really was a closer for the band) took us to a different place. Look at the album cover, listen to the music and absorb the lyrics. This is a journey of despair, but also one of great beauty and it leads to the tomb.






Memories of these moments in time are punctuated by recollections of Ian Curtis; the lead singer who was tortured by the onset of epileptic fits which got progressively worse. His relationship with Annik Honore (who also features in this doc) formed a part of Ian's final days and her presence in his life, together with his suicide and the aftermath, are recalled here with refreshing honesty by some of those who knew him best. It's hard to pick out highlights from this engrossing documentary, but the concert and TV footage are of exceptional value, with the likes of 'Transmission' and 'She's Lost Control' showing a band at the peak of their powers. Of course, this footage will bring back memories for those of us lucky enough to see them perform live. I saw them on two occasions. The first was a gig at Derby's Assembly Rooms on 22nd October 1979 as support to the mighty BUZZCOCKS. While my memories of many gigs have been diluted by the passage of time and by the number of beers I consumed at certain gigs, this is one I remember well. I can still see Ian Curtis onstage, his antics both physically and mentally exhausting to watch as he danced, twitched and twisted to the music. My second experience came at Derby's Ajanta Theatre; a rundown club where the likes of BAUHAUS and KILLING JOKE trod the boards before a rabid audience who would eventually lay waste to the seating area while THE DAMNED exhorted us to 'Smash It Up'. This concert - on 18th April 1980 - turned out to be JD's penultimate gig: exactly one month later, Ian Curtis committed suicide. Memory tells me JD were supported by SECTION 25 that night, and that JD were really on fire. The sound system was sorely lacking compared to the Assembly Rooms equipment (which itself was never the best) but somehow this smaller, more intimate venue suited their music down to the ground. Sure, The Ajanta was a far cry from more famous venues such as London's Marquee Club (look out for a feature on The Marquee in the near future) but it had an atmosphere all of its own. That night, JOY DIVISION's music again took us to a very special place and I recall vacating my usual place amidst the pogoing throng down the front, and instead standing on a seat to actually watch the band. I'm glad I did because I never saw them again. After Ian's tragic death, JOY DIVISION became NEW ORDER who I caught live on two occasions but, as they say, that's another story.






This documentary shows that the heady days of the late 70s/early 80s were really special times but also contained great sadness. For many teenagers, the news of Ian's death - along with Malcolm Owen from THE RUTS and Sid Vicious - showed us that people sometimes died young when they should have had the rest of a long life in front of them. Jon Savage makes the point in Deborah Curtis' book 'Touching From A Distance' that a large part of the audience had yet to experience death in their family and their hero's passing hit home particularly hard because many of them identified with Curtis. I hope and trust that Ian went to a better place, free from the fear and pain he experienced during his last few years amongst us.






This documentary charts the highs and lows of an extraordinary band whose influence still looms large some three decades. When Dave McCullough wrote about Ian's life and passing in Sounds magazine http://www.new-order.net/terminal1.demon.co.uk/JoySounds5-80.htmorder.net/terminal1.demon.co.uk/JoySounds5-80.htm the resulting piece ended with the words "That man died for you, that man saw the madness in your area". At the time, the article caused an outcry, and I still think it was OTT with regard to this closing line. Maybe Ian was driven to take his own life because he was tired and frightened. Please click on the link and read Dave's piece, and then raise your glass to an absent friend.

HITCH ON SUNDAY


UK film buffs should look out for The Times and Sunday Times newspapers from Sunday onwards. To celebrate the launch of a new arts and entertainment rewards programme called 'Culture +', The Times is giving away 7 Alfred Hitchcock DVDs, which will be available to all readers. On Sunday, you'll find THE 39 STEPS inside your copy of the paper. Then, you simply pick up a copy of a Hitchcock DVD at WH Smith newsagents each day from Monday to Friday. The running order is:

Monday - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH

Tuesday - SABOTAGE

Wednesday - THE SECRET AGENT

Thursday - YOUNG AND INNOCENT

Friday - JAMAICA INN

Saturday - THE LADY VANISHES which will be in your copy of the paper. The Times promises many more free DVDs and special offers to those who choose to subscribe to the paper.

LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT UNCUT!


At long last, our moral guardians at the BBFC have seen fit to grant LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT uncut status for home viewing. This controversial film has a chequered history here, being rejected on it's 1st submission for cinema release in 1974 and turned down again for theatrical screenings in 2000. It was submitted again - this time for DVD/video - in 2001, and was finally passed 6 months later with 16seconds worth of cuts. Following an appeal by Blue Underground in 2002, the Video Appeals Committee doubled the cuts to 31 seconds and cult horror fans were forced to resort to importing uncut DVDs from abroad. Now, the BBFC have sanctioned a uncut release for home viewing and fans can look forward to a 3 disc special edition which replicates many of the features on the 2 disc Anchor Bay release, with a few additions.

Disc one will include a commentary track from Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham, and a second commentary from David Hess, Marc Sheffler and Fred Lincoln. There's also 'Celluloid Crime Of The Century' making of… documentary (40 mins)- 'Scoring Last House…' featurette with David Hess- 'Krug Conquers England' charting the theatrical tour of the first ever UNCUT screening of the film in the UK- 20 mins of outtakes and dailies- US theatrical trailer- TV spots- Radio spots.

The second disc features 'Krug & Company': a rare alternate version of the film, and an interview with Carl Daft of Exploited Films who took the BBFC to court over the films banned status. This second disc will also contain world exclusive never before seen footage that has only recently been discovered.

Disc 3 contains: Going To Pieces: The Rise & Fall Of The Slasher Film" feature length documentary on the 'slasher' film phenomenon that followed "Last House…".- Filmmakers' commentary,- Deleted scenes- Horror film quiz.

LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT will be released on 13th October by Second Sight, and distributed by Metrodome. You should be able to pick this one up for around £14.99. I've long ceased trying to work out the kind of logic that operates within BBFC headquarters, but it's good to see them regain their collective senses and do the right thing at long last. Full marks to Second Sight for putting together what looks like the ultimate package.