Friday, 18 September 2009

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND

Ah, Anti-Nowhere League! Saw this band on many occasions, ranging from small capacity sweaty clubs to London's Lyceum. This is the one they'll be remembered for so enjoy the show as Ralph McTell's song gets a serious kicking.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

HANNIBAL TURNS BLU


Florence, Italy. Hannibal Lector, now masquerading as Dr. Fell, continues to haunt the dreams of Clarice Starling (beautifully played by Julianne Moore)and soon attracts the attention of local cop Pazzi who has an eye on the considerable reward being offered for Lector's capture.With a high maintenance wife in tow, Pazzi resolves to obtain the necessary fingerprint required to bag the cash, while deformed peadophile Mason Verger (the excellent Gary Oldman doing his best James Stewart impersonation) pulls the strings that he hopes will eventually ensnare his quarry.

For my money, HANNIBAL is easily the best of the Hopkins Lector flicks, and is pretty damn close to being Ridley Scott's best to date. Here, the beautiful city of Florence appears dark and menacing, stained by the presence of Lector who holds sway throughout the entire film, even though some 30 minutes elapse before we first set eyes on him. With a heady mixture of scholarly insight, gallows humour and a palpable sense of menace, Anthony Hopkins locks horns with his pursuers while any romantic aspect is delivered by "suggestion rather than assault".
Sad to say, HANNIBAL received pretty short shrift from many SILENCE OF THE LAMBS devotees; some of whom felt that HANNIBAL was worlds away from their expectation of a sequel, and Jodie Foster's absence may have been to big a pill to swallow for those who found a 'newcomer' too big a jump. Maybe those same people have now got a little more time for Moore as, like the film, her performance gains with age and moves like a symphony through the rich script.

The standard definition DVD - laden with extras - has long been an essential part of my collection, and another in a line of Scott on disc that really increases understanding and appreciation of the film in question. The release of HANNIBAL on Blu-ray seemed to good to turn down, so is the hi-def version a worthwhile upgrade?
This region-free Blu-ray is easily the best I've seen this film look, though the detail seems less than sharp in certain instances. Overall, it handles colours and black levels very well, enhancing Scott's painterly approach to this film.
Happily, most of the extras from the SD DVD have been ported over, though the multi-angle fish market shoot-out and title sequence design have gone missing, together with the marketing gallery and trailers. With Blu-ray boasting such impressive storage capacity, the inclusion of the aforementioned would not have hurt, so someone clearly dropped the ball on this occasion. Apart from that, HANNIBAL comes highly recommended.

Friday, 11 September 2009

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND. PRIME TIME JAM

Lucky enough to see The Jam on many occasions, and never saw them deliver anything other than a great gig. They always used to close the show with this one, leaving us gasping for air before they came back on for the encores.
This, I believe, is very close to being their finest song and always reminds me of the hundreds of tube trains I've taken on London's famous underground network. Some of them at midnight.

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2009.

Just got word of the 2009 programme for the Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival and, as usual, it's a real corker.

Over 14 days, the festival will be screening 191 features and 113 shorts with the promise of many guests and special events. I've already mentioned the opening night film previously on this blog, but it's worth highlighting again. Wes Anderson's FANTASTIC MR. FOX will open the fest, and will be presented by cast members including Meryl Streep, George Clooney and Bill Murray. The closing night film will be Sam Taylor-Wood's NOWHERE BOY, which will certainly be a must-see for all you Beatles fans out there.

There's so much to look out for during the course of 14 frantic days, but here are a selection of films I'll certainly be interested in catching up with in the very near future.

A BFI restoration of Anthony Asquith's UNDERGROUND with live musical accompaniment.
Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner, THE WHITE RIBBON
Steven Soderbergh's THE INFORMANT
Gasper Noe's ENTER THE VOID
Ang Lee's TAKING WOODSTOCK
Jane Campion's BRIGHT STAR
Harmony Korine's TRASH HUMPERS
Julien Temple's OIL CITY CONFIDENTIAL
Claire Denis' WHITE MATERIAL
Todd Solondze's LIFE DURING WARTIME
Jim Jarmusch's THE LIMITS OF CONTROL
Joel & Ethan Coen's A SERIOUS MAN
Andre Techine's THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
Patrice Chereau's PERSECUTION
Atom Egoyan's CHLOE

Festival-goers can also look forward to personal appearances from: Clive Owen; Julianne Moore; Ray Winstone; Aaron Johnson; Nick Park; Catherine Breillat; Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Emma Thompson, Matthew Beard, Olivia Williams, Dominic Cooper; Nick Hornby; Lu Chan; Juno Temple; Alex Etel; Eliza May Bennett; Hugh Bonneville; Pauline Collins; Kwyedza Kureya; Federico León; Anurag Kashyap; Tarik Saleh; Josh Harris and James Schamus with many more still to be confirmed.

Unfortunately, we're once again unable to afford to attend any of the screenings, but hope the festival is another resounding success. Look out for further updates before and during the festival.

You can check out further details by clicking HERE
The festival beings 14th October.

Friday, 4 September 2009

SOMETHIN FOR THE WEEKEND: MAGAZINE



It's a great pleasure to include a clip from Magazine on this blog.
The band have started touring again and, according to a friend via Twitter, are on great form.
Sit back and watch and listen to this classic, and lament the fact that the late, great John McGeoch is no longer with us.
You can read my tribute to John by clicking HERE

SPOTLIGHT ON THE BLOGS

Check out this really nice piece on David Lynch's WILD AT HEART, over at RADIATOR HEAVEN.

Just click here

DEATH OF A GHOST HUNTER


I've always been a sucker for haunted house movies. THE STONE TAPE, THE HAUNTING,THE INNOCENTS, THE CHANGELING... golden oldies that have been joined by more recent fare such as THE OTHERS and THE ORPHANAGE. Sad to say, those good old fashioned spookers have always been a bit thin on the ground, perhaps relegated to also-ran status by populist box office hits that go for the jugular rather than subtle chills.
So, the release of a relatively recent film bearing the title DEATH OF A GHOST HUNTER immediately made me sit up and take notice.

Shot in 2007, Sean Tretter's second directorial project appeared on a UK DVD rental site with the minimum of fanfare, and it was available for free streaming as part of my rental package.
The film concerns a renowned ghost hunter named Carter Simms (Patti Tindall)who will be paid $5,000 to investigate a house that once played host to murder and suicide. Simms is contractually obliged to share house space with a cameraman and a reporter, who will attempt to bring balance and accuracy to any manifestations that may occur.
The trio are soon joined by a bible-thumping young woman, who turns out to have a vested interest in the house and its bloody history.

For most of its running time, DEATH OF A GHOST HUNTER does a more than reasonable job of detailing the science of paranormal investigation, with a clutch of believable characters staying well in tune with the script. Taking into account the nine day $10,000 shoot, the end product is a credit to all involved, though some aspects of the production fall a little bit short a little too often.
While some of the ghostly effects certainly convey the necessary chills for this genre, there are a number of instances where the supernatural imagery is anything but scary and this does impact on proceedings.
There's also a key scene early on that may render the finale less-than surprising, although the last 10 minutes are still a powerful experience, even if you got the 'twist' way ahead of time.

With nods to THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE EXORCIST and a cringe-inducing BLAIR WITCH piss take, DEATH OF A GHOST HUNTER is a mostly absorbing low-budget entry in the haunted house stakes, and its 'true story' tag did (I'll admit)compel me to search online for further details.

Tretta's film can be found to view online at http://www.lovefilm.com/welcome/beta.html and has just been released on DVD in the UK for just £2.99. Also available on Netflix.