You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby: 2014 Update

Recently we’ve been lucky enough to be spending more time making films than writing about them. Dave has made Woodfalls, Ben is a professional filmographer and I’m currently mid-way through shooting my next feature film Dead Unicorns

http://deadunicornsfilm.wordpress.com

Dead Unicorns Ian Fielding 002

Our original plan was to offer film reviews from a fresh perspective. Discover a different angle about a film that would shed light on its mystery rather than simply serve up a straight good or bad review with a description of the plot. The blog has proved to be very successful, we are nearing 35 thousand views and are very grateful to all of you for sharing your time with us.

Film Ache Ian Fielding

 

You may well see more reviews here in the future as we take a breather between projects – but for now I’d like to mention a handful of films I’ve seen recently that have really struck a chord.

The first is Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty. Sincere film making about a rotten Rome and a man looking for a revelation.

Ian Fielding Film Ache Great Beauty  

Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin is an astonishing phantasm with creeping fingers.

Film Ache Ian Fielding Under the Skin

Blue is the Warmest Colour confronts the walloping emotions of love with immense snotty-nosed force.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (La Vie d'Adele) film still

From the vaults are Rossellini’s Rome, Open City. Currently on big screen re-release. He makes you fall in love with three characters and systematically kills them off. Simple, funny, moving, powerful.

Rome open city  Ian Fielding Film Ache

Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude is kooky and irresistible… with a shockingly powerful stab of emotion in an understated moment on a beach.harold and maude Ian_Fielding Film Ache

Look forward to seeing you in the future.

 

My name’s Ian. I’m a writer and Filmmaker from London currently shooting my second feature film – a detective thriller called Dead Unicorns

To see pics, a trailer and what’s currently happening with Dead Unicorns click here:

http://deadunicornsfilm.wordpress.com


2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


David Lynch New Short Film ‘The 3 Rs’ // Ian Fielding

I’ve just discovered this trailer David Lynch created for the 2011 Viennale. It’s suitably macabre and mundane and presents a return to the stylistic preoccupations of his earliest work and a departure from his recent digital productions.

The film appears to take the form of an aggressive attack on the controlling syllabuses of a schooling system that has no time to inform its pupils of the alternative truths of life. It’s simple and powerful, humorous and disturbing.

Often Lynch is rebuked for constructing so-called ‘student-like’ productions. Like many filmmakers I’ve sat through a multitude of short films, and very few come close to displaying the sheer condensed volume of imagination that Lynch wields in this simple sequence.

As a beautiful reminder here is Lynch’s very first film, The Alphabet. The similarities between this and The 3 Rs are unmistakable.

Before you do I’d like to put a pitch in for my new blog on UK film culture which you can take a look at here, happy Lynching.

My name’s Ian. I’m a writer and Filmmaker from London currently shooting my second feature film – a detective thriller called Dead Unicorns

To see pics, a trailer and what’s currently happening with Dead Unicorns click here:

http://deadunicornsfilm.wordpress.com

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Ben Simpson On The Guinea Pig Film Series

I haven’t written a film review for a long time so I’ve punished myself by watching all six Guinea Pig films. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, much like a ‘gonzo’ porn film that gets rid of all the narrative and focuses solely on sex, The Guinea Pig films do just that with gore and torture.





The Devil’s Experiment (1985)
 is the most serious of the six and makes use of the found footage style we have all got used to over the years. The camera first focuses on a woman dangling from a tree in a bag. We cut to the woman in a room getting slapped around by a group of men. It only gets worse for her as the men grow tired and move on to more painful and degrading things. Pouring maggots all over her, forcing her to listen to unbearable high pitched screeching sounds and getting a bucket of organs in her face. Even with the short running time it outstays it’s welcome but the ‘money shot’ at the end involving a metal spike and an eye made me cringe so the film did what it was set out to do.

Flowers of Flesh and Blood (1985) follows a man in a samurai warrior hat as he stalks a woman on the streets then captures her and ties her to his bed. This installment goes way beyond the first in terms of gore, he chops off all of her limbs while quoting poetry. Full time killer, part time poet. You’ll also notice the strategically placed bed sheet that covers her naked torso. I find it astonishing the Japanese can show this much torture and gore but draw the line on vagina. This installment didn’t outstay its welcome but wasn’t as visceral as the first.

He Never Dies (1986) scraps the torture aspect and indulges in the humorous side of suicide. I didn’t have subtitles for this installment which is a shame because it was one of the more (I say this lightly) plot heavy of the six. From what I can make out a man is having a terrible time at the office and decides to kill himself. To his own amazement he can’t feel any pain as he hacks into his wrist and finds out he can’t die. Inviting the two people that drove him to suicide to his home he scares them by disemboweling himself and cutting his limbs off leaving the two terrified workers to clean up all the mess while his severed head mocks them. This is obviously a step in the opposite direction for the series but it is a welcomed one. There’s only so much you can do with torture before it gets boring.

Mermaid in a Manhole (1988) tells the story of an artist who is finding it hard to cope without his wife who passed on. He finds a mermaid to replace his loss while walking around in a manhole and brings her home to paint her. As he paints his new found love she begins to grow ill and develop boils all over her body. They slowly start to burst showering the room with multicoloured pusswhich the painter uses to finish his masterpiece just in time for the mermaid to die. The man is alone once again but not before we get a twist ending that would make M. Night Shyamalan happy.

Android of Notre Dame (1988) is the worst of the lot. At this point my marathon Guinea Pig watching was taking it’s toll and I was struggling to keep it going. This story went back to the ‘woman on a bed’ scenario but this time a scientist is experimenting on women to find a cure for his ill sister.


Devil Woman Doctor (1986) was filmed as the fourth but became the sixth and final film. Thankfully this took the same approach as the third film and played it for amusement rather than try and disgust it’s audience. We are introduced to our host; a transvestite underground doctor with no license called ‘Devil Woman Doctor’. The doctor shows us seven cases of deadly diseases and how to cure the helpless victims. The diseases are beyond ridiculous but it’s fun watching the patients demise. A family (baby included) has a disease that can’t allow them to get upset otherwise their heads will blow up. It leaves the doctor no option but to yell abuse at them through a megaphone and watch the aftermath. Other cases include ‘Doggy Dog Frog’ disease (a man with a grotesque face on his stomach) and ‘Bloody Face’ disease (a man who sweats blood) among other deranged sketches.

Watching all six films wasn’t easy going but luckily enough each film is around the 50 minute mark. That being said a lot of them could have been shorter. If this was the 80’s it would have made for a more intense viewing for sure but 25 years on and the shock value has almost evaporated. Flowers of Flesh and Blood might be too much for an average film viewer but we’ve seen much worse in films like Hostel. I would recommend He Never Dies and Devil Woman Doctor, as entertaining and at times funny but the others in the series have very little substance or replay value. Only a hardcore gore-hound could seek enjoyment out of the others.

Ben Simpson is the Co – Director of Patrol Men

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Female Orgasms and Ghost Monkeys: Ian Fielding on Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives

Many of the curious effects in the dream-world of the movingly poetic UBWCRHPL derive from Thai filmmaker, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s intent to depict the inner state of his hero, Uncle Boonmee.

Uncle Boonmee is having it rough, he’s terminally ill with a liver complaint, undergoing peritoneal dialysis, and taking metaphysical and spiritual stock of his life as he drifts internally to embrace his final memories. His deathbed pilgrimage unfolds in surreal overlaps of biographical thought – the past lives of the title. These adventures include encounters with ghost monkeys (perhaps representing those killed in the war against communism, and Boonmee’s guilt in the part he played) and dead family members. We also have insights into his previous incarnations as a water buffalo and a catfish – and inner city vignettes situated in a bar, a prayer room and a sparse hotel dormitory. The intimation is that Boonmee’s odyssey is a consoling journey that leads him into a vast tranquillity and a cosmic peace with his own existence.

Many films find their form through the subjective state of their heroes. The bleak and violent jazz of Travis Bickle’s world, or the slow motion, sportsman-like time dilation of Raging Bull’s Jake La Motta, or the off-kilter and fractured editing of Shutter Island’s Teddy Daniels, to enlist a roll call of Scorsese reprobates. In these films the nature of the hero determines the tone and character of the on-screen action.

So what of Boonmee? Like in other dream-like films, for example Mulholland Drive, Mirror and Last Year in Marienbad – it is as if the protagonists (and therefore the film itself) are operating in a kind of theta-wave frame of thought. Theta-wave? As we engage in different activities, the wavelengths of our mental function change to suit what we are doing. These are separate, clear and distinct states, like gears in a car. In alpha state the human mind is at repose, perhaps in meditation, strolling through a garden, or resting after a hard task. The beta state is sharp, one of alert concentration, the state of a politician fielding debate on Question Time or a stand up comedian mid-routine. Theta state is much closer to the dream zone, it is often the state in which artists and business-folk discover their winning ideas. A person who is driving and finds they can’t recall the last five miles is in Theta state. To recognise and control these states within ourselves is to begin to engage in powerful levels of self-control.

In its beguiling and mysterious attitude towards an anthology of moments circulating a theme – Boonmee’s most appropriate neighbour may be David Lynch’s Inland Empire. Events unfold without the audience being given explicit guidance. It is this unpatronising approach that ensures that the film reverberates with a multitude of meanings personal to each spectator.

Boonmee’s objective is perhaps best summed by this letter sent by a woman from Gorky to the director Tarkovsky after the release of Mirror, he had been inundated with letters of cool indifference and heated vehemence on the supposed impenetrability of his film. ‘Thank you for Mirror… my childhood was like that… only how did you know about it… there was that wind and the thunderstorm… and how beautifully the film shows the awakening of a child’s consciousness, of his thought… And lord, how true… I felt for the first time in my life that I was not alone.’ And another letter from a teacher ‘The film is compassionate, honest, relevant… and everyone who spoke said, ‘The film is about me.’

Cinematically, Boonmee’s heartbeats could be traced back to the death-bed ruminations of Bergman’s The Silence or his Cries and Whispers. A more obvious literary precedent is the William Faulkner novel As I Lay Dying. The self-explanatory great American experimental novel that contains a five word chapter that states simply ‘My mother is a fish.’ Uncle Boonmee itself is no stranger to unusual flourishes. In one of the most incredible sex scenes ever committed to film a palanquin borne princess wades into a waterfall pool to have sex with a catfish.

This is a tasetful and elegant handling that rates up there with Henry and the girl next door submerging themselves into Henry’s bed in Eraserhead or the magnificent Naomi Watts ‘angst wank’ in Mullholland Drive, though all these are mere localised clitoral orgasms in comparison to the almighty body-shaking vaginal orgasm that is on display in Weird Science. I always like to think that the scene in Weird Science seems to cunningly represent the female and the male orgasm simultaneously. In the John Hughes film a party goer’s evening is interrupted when ‘weird science’ erupts through the house and a suction vacuum forcefully removes her garments and sucks her up a phallic chimney only to ejaculate her from its top – sending her flying into a nearby lake, legs kicking. It’s the kind of risqué visual pun that fits that type of cinema like a glove.


Meanwhile, there is no doubt that Boonmee is a wonder, a majestical film that relates to a simple life in a balmy corner of the world, a life tangled up in the horrors of conflict but not defined by them. There are voices of descent, but if you try on the emperor’s new clothes, you may find that they fit you.

Other Articles by Ian Fielding

My name’s Ian. I’m a writer and Filmmaker from London currently shooting my second feature film – a detective thriller called Dead Unicorns

To see pics, a trailer and what’s currently happening with Dead Unicorns click here:

http://deadunicornsfilm.wordpress.com


Frightfest Special: Ian Fielding on Rubber

Directed by Quentin Dupieux (aka French electro house musician Mr. Oizo) Rubber would make an effective concept for a music video. A car tyre arises from the desert and embarks on a killing spree across a dusty America town. The tyre dispatches its victims by deploying psychokenetic powers, usually to explode its victim’s heads. These proceedings are observed through binoculars by a crowd of spectators based on a nearby hilltop.

Rubber’s self-referential, ironic and minimalist execution edges it into art house territory. This is a film of ideas, concerned with making the silly, lofty and the lofty, silly. In a pleasing opening sequence a police officer spells out to the audience the central theoretical premise of the of the film – that ultimately things can occur for no reason. ‘In Stephen Spielberg’s ET why is the alien brown? No Reason.’ This hints at a kind of exploration of randomness, whereas the film is more concerned with a playfulness concerning the nature of reality and storytelling.

As this is ultimately a film about ideas, expect to be quirkily amused rather than emotionally enraptured. It skirts around the outside rather than delving deeply into those big ideas. It doesn’t utilise the toolkit of drama to pull out any astonishing turns and so despite its aesthetic purity and playful heart, the film comes over as a little shallow, a little distant and lacking in true dramatic impact. There are hints of potential here though. I can’t help thinking that with a dash more deviousness or a stronger serving of soul that Mr Dupieux could develop into a serious cinematic pull.

My name’s Ian. I’m a writer and Filmmaker from London currently shooting my second feature film – a detective thriller called Dead Unicorns

To see pics, a trailer and what’s currently happening with Dead Unicorns click here:

http://deadunicornsfilm.wordpress.com


FrightFest Special: Ben Simpson on Hobo with a Shotgun

Hobo (Rutger Hauer) has one dream in life, to buy a lawnmower and start up a new business. Unfortunately for him he’s homeless and lives in Scum Town. Riddled with every type of low life degenerate under the sun it isn’t exactly the ideal place to become a Gardner and when some masked men hold up a cashier at the ‘Pawn till Dawn’ Hobo has no choice but to part with his last $50, buy a shotgun and blast them all to hell. With a taste of justice Hobo’s hungry for more and starts cleaning the streets to the dismay of The Drake (Brian Downey) and his forever disenchanted sons who put a bounty on the Hobo’s head.

This is most akin to the cult films of the 80’s such as Street Trash on route through Tromaville without the hyper juvenile jokes that detract me away. The problem I have with Troma films are the characters are set to 11, they all have ADD constantly screaming at one another in hyper situations but there’s nothing going on around them. In Hobo with a Shotgun everything is turned to 11; environment, editing and the acting all working together to create a balance that never slows down until the end credits. The blood never stops flowing and there’s enough imaginative deaths to whet the appetite of the most hardcore gore fan. My favourite being ‘The Glory Hole’.

Seeing Rutger Hauer shooting the shit out of people, breaking down doors, eating broken glass bottles and a whole lot more is a sight to see in itself and at 67 he hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for the bizarre and trashy. He could very well be depicted as a Super Hero, the film has a comic book element to it, characters are black and white and Hobo even gets his own side-kick to fight crime with. A stunning looking prostitute (played by Molly Dunsworth) who together talk about the beauty of grizzly bears when they’re taking a rest from decapitating evil.

Watching Hobo with a Shotgun at Fright Fest was the closest I’ll ever get to the days of the midnight screenings on 42nd Street and I loved every minute of it. DIY effects, over the top lighting, great one liners and a montage that’s somewhere between Evil Dead 2 and Footloose. It’s what Grindhouse should have been and wanted to be. The Director (Jason Eisener) didn’t imitate a cult classic, he made one. In the Introduction Jason said, “We made this film without any rules, so you, the audience, should have no rules watching it. I like watching it without pants on.” and proceeded to take his pants off. That summed up the whole film in one action. Balls out horror.

Ben Simpson is the Co – Director of Patrol Men

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