One of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history receives a thorough examination and analysis in Alexandre O. Philippe’s intriguing yet overlong documentary 78/52. The film’s title refers to the 78 camera set-ups and 52 cuts which Alfred Hitchcock used to capture the infamous shower scene in Psycho. Assigning a full 7-days of a 30-day schedule to filming the short sequence, Janet Leigh’s brutal murder in the shower at Bates Motel is renowned as one of the most bold, shocking and influential scenes dedicated to film. 78/52 extensively explores every aspect of the sequence from its context, construction, and impact.
Month: October 2017
One of the unofficial laws surrounding biopics is the more complex and rich the subject, the more reductive and superficial the treatment of the life. Redoubtable is ostensibly about a great cinema revolutionary, Jean-Luc Godard, but his life and art are alas interpreted by Michel Hazanavicius, a director who wears his slim talent for pastiche heavily.
Hazanavicius is best known for The Artist, one of the least deserving Best Picture Winners in recent times. The Artist was an amusing idea for a short film inflated into a bland caricature of silent film comedy. Before The Artist, he was best known in France for the OSS117 films, the kind of James Bond parodies that make a rainy Sunday afternoon bearable when there are no real James Bond films on TV. After The Artist, Hazanvicius reached for the stars and fell from his stepladder with an unwieldy remake of Fred Zinnemann’s The Search. Not without ambition (or humility) he now gives the world his take on Godard’s mid-sixties period and marriage to actress Anna Wiazemsky with a few rear-view glances of the political ferment of France in 1967/68.
There has been something of a resurgence of horror in recent years. As a genre that for decades has been riddled with cliche and repetition of the same archetypal characters and cookie-cutter plot lines, it’s just in time. These modern horror movies are characterised by the fact they are uncategorisable — they defy the conventions of the genre within which they reside and bring each bring something new to the table, whilst integrating plenty of the tropes of the horror genre.
In the stillness of a Norwegian winter, a father and child go hunting. They walk across a frozen lake, towards the woods. The child, a little girl, perhaps four years old, stops on the ice and looks down. She can see fish swimming, below the frozen surface, under her feet. What happens next is disquieting, dark, and unexplained. Much later, the full horror becomes clear.
Favourite ten horror movies of the last ten years?
Ah, the good old days: younger, more afraid, less jaded; staying up to participate in the pleasure mum took in those vintage horror classics once purveyed by Hammer and RKO pictures. Knowing who Bela, Boris, Christopher, Lon, Peter and Vincent were, by the age of ten.
Often disappointed with how un-scary some films turned out to be; wanting to be spooked witless. Titles that promised so much, but in execution seemed tame. Not much in the way of cowering behind the sofa at that age; plenty of, “Is that it?” And yet there was enough intrigue to ensure that I would remain a horror devotee into adulthood; a true believer.
In Joseph L Mankiewicz’s All About Eve, the character Addison de Witt describes a moment in the theatre – the arrival of a great star – for which all true believers wait and pray. Year by year, waiting patiently for the next great horror. A rare thing these days when taste-makers are less convinced that they can get bums on seats with the supernatural; viewing monstrous violence and vulgar CGI as better box office guarantors. On occasion, it behoves horror fans to be more creative in their thinking.
These movies enthralled me on first viewing, and did the same on subsequent viewings.
The bitterness of separation, divorce and the all too common legal battles between former spouses has made for familiar terrain at the movies. Shoot the Moon, Kramer Vs. Kramer, The War of the Roses, Blue Valentine and Boyhood are a few titles that spring to mind and of course, television drama would be crippled without domestic strife as convenient narrative fodder. Given the countless variations on a theme, Xavier Legrand’s stunning first feature is even more of an achievement and will resonate with a wide audience.
Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film Terrifier at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event on Sat 23 Oct, director Damien Leone talks about the ’Art’ of extreme clowning, his debt to Tom Savini and a terrifying Halloween experience.
Art The Clown initially appeared in your 2008 short The 9th Circle, then the 2011 award-winning short Terrifier and in your first feature All Hallow’s Eve. What made you decide to give him a fourth outing?
DAMIEN: Up until this point I never felt like I fully showcased Art’s potential. I believe between the short films and All Hallows’ Eve, there only exists about 20 minutes of Art the Clown screen time. For a character who’s done so little, he seems to really resonate with horror fans. After all of the positive feedback, a full length film that focused solely on Art was inevitable.
In 1977, William Friedkin was riding high from the critical and commercial success of The French Connection and The Exorcist, two of the biggest hits of The Hollywood New Wave. He was about to release Sorcerer, his remake/remodel of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 thriller, The Wages of Fear, shot on four continents for $22 million. Then Star Wars happened, and George Lucas’ sur-prise blockbuster almost obliterated the taste for brooding films with conflicted anti-heroes. Sorcerer was a flop as was Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York, Sam Peckinpah’s Cross of Iron and John Boorman’s eccentric sequel to Fiendkin’s original, Exorcist II: The Heretic.
120 BPM is a film you tend to admire rather than love. Robin Campillo’s film deals with the rise of Act Up in France in the late 80s and early 90s as the activist group tackled the complacency of government, medical and pharmaceutical establishments in dealing with the crisis. If the film veers towards being a polemic at times, it contains many scenes that remind one of the anguish and rage the early years of the epidemic unleashed across the LGBT community world-wide.
Anyone who thinks protestors just blindly show up to cause trouble will have their consciousness seriously expanded after watching this film. Campillo’s camera plunges the viewer into the centre of the practical and ideological debates that drive organisations like Act Up. Like Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom, 120 BPM features several scenes of young adults in meetings refining and discarding ideas and arguments as they move towards political action. When an intervention at a medical conference doesn’t go as planned, the activists hold a post-mortem to determine what went wrong.