I hardly go to the films anymore. I live in a country town. It has a cinema and it's kinda cute, but it doesn't get movies until they are out on DVD. 'The Reader' opens here next week.
I did however see the Star Trek film last week. It was alright.
But my thing these days is watching DVDs which I buy on Amazon at very cheap rates, and I've started to build up quite an impressive collection of movies that nobody really cares about, even me.
I want to like Godard, Antonini and Fellini so that I can fit in at parties filled to the brim with filmy chattering classes, goatees and confident women who can wear dresses with spots, but a) I never get invited to these parties, and b) but I'm struggling to get what's so good about these directors anyway.
Can you go to a party with people who slept at Vali Myers' joint and know the difference between Surrealism and Dadaism, and say, "Oh, 'La Dolce Vita' wasn't as fun as 'Star Trek'?"
So anyway, I recently bought a shitload of arty DVDs in an attempt to get them.
First cab off the rank was a film called 'A Day At The Beach' and I figured I'd like it because it was written by Polanski in 1970 (now he's a favourite of mine that I can talk endless wank about), but he didn't direct it because his pregnant missus Sharon Tate was killed by the Manson Family and understandably he wasn't up for directing a flick. So, this honour was given to Simon Hesera. Never heard of him? Little wonder. This was his first and last film, and the reason for this is that it was directed horribly. I've seen better direction at Eastland Christmas Pantomimes. Like really really shithouse directing. Ham acting - on a par with Warwick Capper's performance in 'Neighbours', awful sound production, shit lighting and although the characters were stuck in the pouring rain, they seemed to be dry again at the start of every scene.
But despite the ham acting, bad production and the often convoluted script, the film was pretty good. It had that Polanski kook about it.
Bernard, an alcoholic, decides to take his estranged 8 year old daughter to the beach for the day in the pouring rain - (he promises his ex-wife he'll stay sober).
The film is all set on that day as Bernard gets drunker and drunker and drunker and drunker and he leaves his little girl outside the bars and pubs and leaves her in the rain and alone on the beach in the dark and in cars and he's rude to everyone and he steals and lies and it just gets worse and worse as the day goes on - kinda like Leaving Las Vegas, in that you want him to sober up but he just doesn't. But unlike Leaving Las Vegas, which was Hollywood schmaltz and where we feel pity for the soak, Polanski's script is realistic. Bernard is a cunt, and we mainly fear what will become of the daughter.
Although all characters and actors are very British, it wasn't set there, but I couldn't work out where. I saw some French, and then some Polish I think, and there were Swedish names in the cast/crew, and that made it all the more weird. If it was deliberate, then, wow, how arty! But if it was just shit location management, well, fuck 'em.
Star cameo for about two minutes by Peter Sellers as a creepy gay souvenir salesman (he steals the show in his brief scene... man, he's good) and the 8 year old girl was fucking awesome. Perhaps one of the best child-acting performances ever (up there with the Bicycle Thief* kid, and maybe the creepy kids in The Innocents**).
It is advertised as 'The Lost Roman Polanski Masterpiece' but I suspect the only reason that it was 'lost' is because Polanski or Paramount hid it in a shoebox somewhere. It really is badly made, but if you can get past the shit production qualities, it's a shockingly engaging film, and if anyone wants to borrow it, email me and I'll send it to you.
In the Polanski canon, it comes second last ('Pirates' with Walter Matthau being his worst film), but I argue that Polanski's second worst film is still better than watching 'So You Think You Can Dance'.
And more importantly, if I ever bump into Margaret or David, I now might have something to say.
For anyone here not acquainted with Polanski - here's five films to see before you die.
*My favourite ever film
** One of my favourite horror films