Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Well the Sydney Film Festival has finished for another year. As always there was a wonderfully eclectic mix of films on show with something for everyone. Amongst my favourites this year were Greg Araki's Mysterious Skin, the documentary Inside Deep Throat, You, Me and Everyone We Know, Kontroll and Mean Creek. The Rock film selection was a joy; it was great to see Wattstax, The Love-ins and The Girl Can't Help It up on the big screen and any festival that schedules a screening of Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is good with me. A special mention must also go to One Night in Mongkok, B420 and 36 Quai Des Orfevres, all offered a new perspective on tried and tested genres and were thoroughly entertaining in their own right. Documentaries were the big thing this year and played to packed houses, in fact it goes to prove that while the Sydney Film Festival may well miss out on the big films its diverse range of movies continues to get more popular every year. During the festival I also interviewed Fenton Bailey, co-director of Inside Deep Throat and the fascinating chat will be appearing soon, watch this space. Click on the links to read my reviews at www.cinephilia.net.au.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Directed by Greg Araki, USA, 91 minutes, Rated R
Those familiar with the work of Greg Araki will know what to expect. The Doom Generation was a wild road movie full of graphic sex, cheesy gore and a career defining performance by Rose McGowen and Nowhere introduced the directors obsession with aliens and vaporized Christina Applegate and Traci Lords in the process. Mysterious Skin is the director's most assured work; it retains the explicit sexual drive that runs through all his films but adds an unexpected maturity to the proceedings.
Mysterious Skin is beautifully crafted, light years beyond his early work like Totally F***ed Up. Every scene looks perfect and the uninhibited performances are breathtaking. The leads are astounding; those who recognize Joesph Gordon-Nevitt and Brady Corbet from Third Rock From the Sun and Thunderbirds respectively will be amazed. The supporting cast also do wonders, Elizabeth Shue gives one of her finest showings since Leaving Las Vegas as Neil's mother and Michelle Trachtenberg, Buffy The Vampire Slayers little sister, is all grown up as Neil's best friend Wendy.
The film shows the boys early lives using their adult voices that make the shocking storyline even more disturbing. No matter how they decided to show the scenes as the baseball coach seduces the nine year old Neil with Atari's Asteroids and Kellogg's cereals, it was going to be squirm inducing and the film ranks as possibly the most disturbing film I have watched since the similarly themed Happiness. Like Todd Solondz's film, Mysterious Skin handles one of cinemas taboos with pitch-black humour and is an incredibly brave piece of cinema.
For full review check out www.cinephilia.net.au
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Monday, June 06, 2005
The next issue of Filmink will feature a report about the forthcoming film Ra Choi - Coming Out to Play directed by M. Frank. I'm going to handling some of the publicity duties on the film so look out for more news soon. The issue will also include more of my interview with House of Wax star Elisha Cuthbert. I have also recently interviewed Jessica Harper, the star of Dario Argento's Suspiria and Brian DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise and Lloyd Kaufman, head of Troma. Both interviews will be appearing in a future issue of Filmink.
In Under Andy's Shadow related news I've just interviewed Geraldine Smith, she featured in Paul Morrissey's Flesh, Spike of Bensonhurst and Mixed Blood as well as Scorsese's Raging Bull.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
With his work often over shadowed by his association with Warhol, it's a pleasure to see the volume of worldwide DVD releases of Paul Morrissey's films. With the wider availability of his movies maybe now he will be respected as the independent and innovative filmmaker he truely deserves.
The director approved French four disc box set of Morrissey's La Trilogie puts the individual US discs of Trash, Flesh and Heat to shame. Each film is given a new transfer and Morrissey provides commentary on a selection of little seen deleted scenes and out-takes. Three rarely screened Morrissey shorts, All aboard the Dreamland Choo Choo, Like Sleep and The Origin of Captain America round off the main features but it is the fourth disc that provides the most interesting extras. Each of the films is given a short making of featurette and Morrissey's career is profiled in series of revelatory interviews. Various aspects of Warhol's infamous Factory are discussed, from fashion to The Velvet Underground, a wild array of footage has been sourced by the filmmaker and the disc makers Carlotta. The disc also features Morrissey's About Face, excerpts from the Jonas Mekas documentary Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol and remarkable footage of The Velvet Underground performing in Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Raro Video in Italy have now produced their own box set of the three films along with a double bill featuring the first ever DVD release of The Velvet Underground and Nico and Vinyl.
The Chelsea Girls has also been released in Italy by Rarovideo in a glorious two platter set. The packaging features a deluxe 66 page booklet featuring essays in both Italian and English by Silvia Baraldini and Mario Zonta. The feature looks glorious using widescreen split screen methods to depict its original twin projection method. The main extra is the complete documentary by Jonas Mekas only exerted in the French box set. A delightful additional interview with Mekas by Morrissey is a sweet reminiscence of a long gone age. It's a must for every Warhol aficionado or independent film scholar alike.
Morrissey's Blood for Dracula and Flesh for Frankenstein have been released in a double disc set by Germany's Marketing Film. The prints and extras match those of the now deleted Criterion discs at a much cheaper price. There are however additional promotional materials and a fine gallery of foreign video releases included. Bizarrely the discs also include the running commentary by Morrissey and star Udo Kier that was originally used on their laser disc release of the films.
The UK is the next port of call with the release by CDA Entertainment of his much-maligned spoof on British comedy in The Hound of the Baskervilles. This bizarre combination of Carry on slapstick, Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore's own surreal comedy and Morrissey's New York cool never quite works but the disc provides both the UK and US cuts of the movie to help us better understand what the director was trying to do. The widescreen print looks good and Morrissey is interviewed about his take on the great British literary sleuth. A trailer completes the extras.
Morrissey's low budget foray into the seedy side of New York prostitution, Madame Wang's is being given its worldwide DVD debut in Australia by Force Video. Part of a release of seven of the director's films by the company, all bare bones releases; a seven disc box set including a bonus disc of supplemental extras has also been released.
It will be interesting to see in which part of the globe will release the rest of Morrissey's catalogue as many of his later film's barely made it to video. Beethoven's Nephew, Forty Deuce and Mixed Blood aren't too far away.