Saturday, February 9, 2008

Shane's World

It's not an enthusiasm I've shared on here before, but I'm a huge fan of the film-maker Shane Meadows.  I was very pleased to see that, not only did his most recent film This is England win a South Bank Show Award last week, but also that the film's success is enabling him to start work on his long-planned feature, King of the Gypsies, about the bare-knuckle boxing champion, Bartley Gorman.  Meadows is apparently working on the script with his long-time associate, the great Paddy Considine.

If you haven't discovered Meadows' work, it's time you did.  His films are witty, moving and focus on a part of English society that's generally ignored.  Oh, and his film Dead Man's Shoes is perhaps the best British film of the last ten years. 

And much of his work is set in that fine city of Nottingham, which - as I think I've said before - is a place that never quite lets go of those of us who were brought up there.   The city is a major character is Meadows's films just as it is in the novels of John Harvey and the unjustly neglected Stanley Middleton

Mind you, never one to rest on his proverbials, Meadows has just completed a new film, Somers Town, which is set in London.  And he's also made a feature-length film, shot in five days without a script and starring the aforementioned Mr Considine, called Le Donk.  Not to mention a short documentary about another long-term associate, the musician Gavin Clark - another unjustly ignored talent.   I'm exhausted just writing about it all. 

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Devil gave birth before God...

There seems to be an increasing number of intriguing films emerging from Mongolia.  I suspect it will be a while before Let's Serve for Mongolia gets a Western release (and that title perhaps loses something in translation), so we'll have to be content with this account of what sounds like a potentially fascinating account of the country's period of independence in the 1920s and 1930s. 

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Not your average Christmas movie

The Observer newspaper's veteran film-critic, Philip French, contributes a weekly DVD club, typically extolling the virtues of classic movies.  Last week, his review focused on a film that's certainly in my top half-dozen favourites - Charles Laughton's extraordinary Night of the Hunter.  French describes the film better than I ever could, but misses one detail.  I recently saw Night of the Hunter included in a list of great Christmas movies (a little way above Fred Claus, anyway).  That took me aback at first, as the majority of the film takes place in high summer - but, yes, the ending and resolution of the film does indeed take place at Christmas.  So that's an excuse to watch it again over the next few days. 

Incidentally, while French is certainly correct to ascribe much of  the film's power to its director,  Charles Laughton, when I finally got around to reading Davis Grubb's original novel I was surprised to find that almost everything that makes the film remarkable was already there in the book.  Laughton did a wonderful job of bringing it to the screen, but the vision undoubtedly came from the now rather overlooked Grubb. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Sublime Revolution Ensues

On a rather more profound note, I've been meaning for a little while to draw your attention to a remarkable-sounding film, Khadak.  I can do no better than to give you the directors' own synopsis:

"Set in the frozen steppes of Mongolia, Khadak tells the epic story of Bagi, a young nomad confronted with his destiny to become a shaman. A plague strikes the animals and the nomads are forcibly relocated to desolate mining towns. Bagi saves the life of a beautiful coal thief, Zolzaya, and together they reveal the plague was a lie fabricated to eradicate nomadism. A sublime revolution ensues."

The long synopsis provided on the Khadak website is wonderfully impenetrable, but the film's cinematography is apparently  extraordinary, as this review from the New York Sun indicates.  The film is receiving various screenings in the US over the next few weeks.  As far as I can see, no news yet about when we might get a chance to see it in the UK.