Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Arty DVD Review Thursday

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.

Rosemary's Baby
The Pianist
The Tenant

*My favourite ever film
** One of my favourite horror films


shitbmxrider said...

I still want to see Warwick Capper's acting performance in the Bill Hunter directed trainwreck(well, sounds like it..Capper, Mark 'Jacko' Jackson, Chopper Reid) called 'Yobbo's Up The Guts'

Ive heard good things about Shortbus too

Melba said...

I loved Polanski's Tess, also he did a good Oliver Twist fairly recently.

I've always liked him, but I think most of it was a fascination with his life rather than any knowledge of him artistically. I love his name, he's an enigmatic-looking character, I'm intrigued by his exile/legal problems, and I read and read about Manson and all that shit - Helter Skelter and all that. Sharon Tate was beautiful and very pregnant when she got killed and I wondered the impact on him psychologically.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Forget it, Perseus.

It's Chinatown.

Lewd Bob said...

I don't mind films being arty and difficult. It's good to have boundaries pushed and questions asked, even if it's sheer wankery. For the most part, I don't 'get' them anyway. But then I also don't get vacuous blockbusters, chick flicks and reality TV.

But you can make art and entertainment at the same time. Take the works of Scorsese, Kubrick or, as you say, Polanski. Or Woody Allen or Hitchcock. Tarantino, Coppola, Jarmusch or the Coen Brothers. I cry with delight watching many of these directors' films. I shake my head in wonder and can watch them repeatedly.

Pepsi said...

I love Fellini, change your drugs, then you might get his oddball take on storytelling. Try I Vitelloni, you might like that one.

But Godard I don’t get – Alphaville, wtf, it certainly was one of Lemmy Cautions stranger cases, the DVD sits in the corner and I still haven’t been able to watch it all the way through.

Nobody did Dickens as well as David Lean.

I've always had a soft spot for the two Kens as well (Loach & Russell).

squib said...
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Melba said...

I agree with you on all those writers/directors Bob, except Kubrick. Mostly overrated in my opinion, and a good example perhaps of where Art meets Wank in an unsatisfying way.

Perseus said...

Kubrick is hit and miss, and by that I mean Strangelove and Shining were hits, and the rest were big, big misses.

Eyes Wide Shut, Spartacus, Barry Lyndon and Lolita are unforgivable. Absolute shit.

I also blame him for 'AI'.

(Insert Bob's defence of 2001)

Melba said...

The only thing I'd defend of his would be Clockwork Orange but then again was it him? And the impact it had on me, was it just a timing thing rather than the story?

The Shining could have been directed by any reasonably competent director, it was the writing that carried that movie. And Nicholson's performance, but the direction, it wasn't Kubrick that made it.

And I didn't like Strangelove, so for me Kubrick is just one big miss.

Perseus, I'd like to borrow that DVD. Maybe at Desci's party.


Perseus said...

Desci's having a party?
Email me your postal address and I'll mail it to you.

Perseus said...

Hang on... Jacko, Capper and Chopper were all in a film together? I have to see it. Have to.

Capper made a porno with his wife recently, and you can buy it on his website. Who, I ask, who on this planet would buy one?

Lewd Bob said...

Bob's defence of 2001:

It was a great movie. GREAT. I jizz my pants every time I see it.

And I'm far from alone (except, perhaps, for the jizzing).

Melba said...

Agree with you there too, Bob. Except I FIZZ. I remember the first time I saw it, it is iconic in my memory, I didn't understand a fucking thing, but I loved it. The dope may have had something to do with that, though.

Saw it again recently with a slightly more critical eye, and a sober mind. It's long, I thought there was something wrong at the beginning when you have sound but no vision, and it goes mental at the end, but I still loved it. All the good bits were still good.

HAL, how could you not love a demented computer?

Lewd Bob said...

Oh, I don't get it.

I read the book, written in conjunction with the screenplay, and it makes perfect sense.

Desci said...

Pers, Melba had the rather excellent idea of me having a Desci Party, since I have so many copies of the same under outfit (aka my exoskeleton: leggins with embellished bonds tee). Narcissistic little fucker I am, I loved the idea. And also the idea of you in a dress; you're invite's good as in the mail.

Cath said...

2001- God, total snoozfest. Arty shmaltz only gets me so far in a movie. In contrast, Dr Strangelove, brilliant stuff. And yes, it is because of Sellars that makes it go from being merely strange to being psychologically amazing.

I saw "The Pianist" dubbed with Polish, in Poland. I had just visited the Warsaw ghetto (well, the site where it was following rebuilding), and saw the movie with an audience full of rather aged patrons. You know, people who had been there during the war. That, I can tell you, kicked it over to a whole new level of brilliant and spooky.

Perseus said...

I've been to one of those parties - a mate of mine, also a goth, had a 'dress as him' party and it was very, very amusing.

But I just don't have the breasts to come as you. Can I come as your boyfriend?

As for 2001, I loved the monkeys, I loved HAL, I loved the music, but didn't like the painfully slow pace, or the 30 minute laser show that looked like a Queen film-clip, or the stupid ending that made no sense unless you read the book.

Desci said...

Pers, therefore risking fulfilling Desci's life-long 'two Boyfriends' fantasy*?

* Only second to Desci's 'Two Descis' fantasy.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I don't know if I want to see Perseus in a dress.

Desci said...


Lewd Bob said...

Not me.

Perseus said...

I wore a dress once and the advantage is going to the toilet and the disadvantage is everything else.

I would like to point out that it was a cross-dressing party hosted by hippies in Eltham, and Lewd Bob was also there in a dress. From memory, we stood together by the fire, drank beer and talked about footy.

Lewd Bob said...

I would freely admit to wearing a dress if I had done so, however I have no memory of it at that godforsaken hippy place you refer to. I did wear a dress to one of our mutual friend's parties (y'know, the cousin of the famous pop star) but that remains, in my memory, the only time I have ever done so.

Perseus said...

No, you wore one to the Eltham party. I remember it clearly. Famous popstar's cousin was there - are you confusing the parties?

Lewd Bob said...

Was it the same party where I juggled fire and set the clothes line ablaze? Cos I was wearing a dress at that party.

Boogeyman said...

Pers, therefore risking fulfilling Desci's life-long 'two Boyfriends' fantasy*?

* Only second to Desci's 'Two Descis' fantasy.

I can just imagine that your "Come as a Desci" party will soon devolve into "Come as a Desci" orgy.

I wore a dress and makeup to a few parties during uni in the early 90s. Ahhh crazy youth. More nerve-wracking was one Sunday morning when my flatmate, trying to avoid an assignment, decided to give me a full makeover and insist I accompany her to bogan-camelot, aka the 7-11.

Perseus said...

"Was it the same party where I juggled fire and set the clothes line ablaze? Cos I was wearing a dress at that party."

No Bob, though I do remember that party as well. It was a 21st, and you heckled her Dad's speech. But you redeemed yourself with the fire juggling, which was the funniest thing I have ever seen. I laughed for months.

I don't think you were in a dress though.

Boogey - surely they stab people for less than that in brisbane.

eat my shorts said...


Warwick Capper was on Neighbours? Why is it that I'm only just now hearing of this for the first time?

Seriously, if you considered myself your friend and knew about this and didn't tell me about it until now, you suck and I hate you.

Did he wear his footy shorts? Was he playing himself?

Oh, and ... what's so important about 'getting' stuff these days. Who cares. I've given up on 'getting' things (people, films, whatever). Who gives a shit. I'm too old to care if I 'get' something or if someone 'gets' me. Let it go, Perseus. Life's a shitload more pleasant that way. Trust, fool (I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course).

Oh, and, just for the record, Eyes Wide Shut was fucking ridiculous. I giggled all the way through it, and not in a good way.

Desci said...

I can just imagine that your "Come as a Desci" party will soon devolve into "Come as a Desci" orgy.Deposited in the spank bank.

Melba said...

I want to be a Desci. And I will. I will be a Desci.

-- Veruka Salt.

disa said...
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