Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For those that didn't make it....

....here's your salute.

Devising the programs for Shadows seasons has always been difficult. The goal of offering films that are special to me and I think need to be shared always conflicts with the equally important one of getting people along to the nights.  I wanted the experience to be rare but also shared which often created an internal conflict: could I entice people in sufficient numbers to sit in front of films they'd never heard of and might not take to at all? Was rarity enough? Personally, I like a lot of boring films. Boring films, unwatchably violent films, films that reach far beyond what they are able to deliver and what I tend to dismiss are films that make the experience too cosy for their audiences. I always had to be conscious of the high possibility of failure to attract audiences and then give them something they could take away. So, when I made these programs I tried to mix films of varying accessibility together. The title of this post and it's completion, thus refer not to those people who couldn't make it to the nights but the flicks that fell outside of the programs, having been seriously considered.

James Woods chats to Debbie Harry in Videodrome
Such an original film it ought to be placed wherever you're meant to put things like Eraserhead or El Topo. A borderline case of local availability vs unfamiliarity to younger audiences. Invasion of the Bodysnatchers won against it for local unavailability (at least in the correct aspect ratio and decency of transfer). This is the only iteration of the Bodysnatchers story that hasn't been given a good local release.

Which Program would it have been in? Spring Pt 2 2010

What did it lose out to? Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, a kind of precursor.

Should I have shown it anyway? Probably as I suspect it has fallen by the way and younger audiences might not know it.

Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill recall the good times in Possession

Has high quirk value and ABC has been host to some impressive Zulawski titles like Devil and The Third Part of the Night. I always consider it, it will fit into any schedule as it is so singular (a little like "black goes with anything), but always reject it as it's available locally and I hate Sam Neill's performance in it, however intentional it was. If I consider it I promise myself to watch it afresh but never feel like it.

Which Program would it have been in? Winter Pt 2 2009

What did it lose out to? The Rapture which worked really well.

Should I have shown it anyway? I'll have to see it again ... on second thoughts....

Hausu: where cute meets brute
Weird Japanese horror fable from the 70s. Stumbled upon it in a lateral search, thought it sounded interesting and ordered it. Got halfway through before losing interest (it's very selfconsciously whacky) and then saw that there were two separate other screenings of it at around the same time.  I would've beaten both to the punch but ended up not caring enough. That, and I knew it would be one of those ones where I and the audience would probably be shrugging shoulders at when the lights went up. The guy who runs Cinecult had a full house with it so what would I know? Still haven't finished watching it.

Which Program would it have been in? Winter Pt 2 2010 

What did it lose out to? Noriko's Dinner Table (for a mention of which see next entry).

Should I have shown it anyway? Nah

Jeanne Moreau lies back and thinks of her dental plan
Bunuel piece with a great central performance by Jeanne Moreau in the title role surrounded by the quirky residents and staff of a French country mansion. The more I think of it the better I like it but the initial impression was a shrug. Then again I have trusted a film's subtlety before with frustrating results (Noriko's Dinner Table, a superb deepening essay into contemporary Japanese identity which left most of its audience with the impression that it was too long).

 Which Program would it have been in? Spring Pt 2 2010

What did it lose out to? Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

Should I have shown it anyway? In the right context, yes.

Gene Hackman finds his agent
Superb 70s noir by Arthur Penn with Gene Hackman as a detective on the trail of a missing girl. The ending resolves too much and makes the film outstay its welcome (in my affection, anyway).

Which Program would it have been in? Spring Pt 2 2009

What did it lose out to? The Hospital

Should I have shown it anyway? Right context would have made it pretty popular, I reggon.

Mick and James get together and form David Bowie
Perfect arthouse fare with a very hot Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg and James Fox as well as some real Kray era gangsters and a superb integral song vid of Memo From Turner. Themes of shifting identity and sexuality approached boldly and relevant in the extreme to its cultural context. Parts of it are excellent.

Which Program would it have been in? Spring Pt 1 2009.

What did it lose out to? Love is the Devil which depicted London in the same era but holds more interest for me.

Should I have shown it anyway? No. Dean ended up showing it for Time Capsules later that year which made more sense, given the program he showed. 

David Bennent has a chuckle in The Tin Drum
Outstanding hard edged adaptation of Gunther Grass' twisted bildungsroman with unbelievably sharp casting. Does what a film adaptation of a novel should -- nails the spirit and brings you into the world between the covers.

Which Program would it have been in? Winter Pt 1 2010

What did it lose out to? Werckmeister Harmonies, which is insanely good and unlikely ever to be available locally. 

Should I have shown it anyway?  I think so. It's out locally but no longer very well known.

Godard's rejected initial take on the Brady Bunch title sequence
Jean Luc Godard's mighty return from wilful obscurity in his Dziga Vertov years saw him just as angry as before but with a steadier hand on the helm. A-listers of the time Jane Fonda and Yves Montand play close to their own skeletal units as radicals softened by the failure of the May '68 revolt thrown into a situation that compels them to take a side. Both openly didactic and stylish, this is anti-class with class.

Which Program would it have been in? Winter Pt 2 2009

What did it lose out to? Wise Blood

Should I have shown it anyway? Not in that context with the disruption to the schedule which made the film night really have to sing for its supper. If Wise Blood couldn't draw a crowd, Tout va Bien would have sunk before the opening credits had finished.

Romero never did recover from the solemnity of his zombies
George Romero's second film was a social conscience comedy which involved generational conflicts and the advertising industry that Romero was still part of.

Which Program would it have been in? Winter Pt 1 2009

What did it lose out to? Man of Flowers for its workable quirk and similar themes handled better.

Should I have shown it anyway? Nah. Novelty value as rare non-horror Romero insufficient to bring it out of its own ordinariness as a film.

Eva Renzi listens for her cue
Tight and tough debut by thriller maestro Dario Argento works every time it's viewed and isn't on local shelves (well, it wasn't then, anyhow). White knuckle opening scene rivals the best of Hitchcock.

Which Program would it have been in? Winter Pt 1 2009 
What did it lose out to? Nightmare Alley which was seen by exactly three other people who left with a new favourite in their cinemaginations. Ah well... 

Should I have shown it anyway? Not then, in retrospect, but it's such a pleaser it would easily open a future season.

Tim Roth tries out his Baggy Trousers moves
 Grim and tough tv movie starring a young Tim Roth as a skinhead making his sharded way through the welfare system. Very effective and hard to get to see outside of US or UK. 

Which Program would it have been in? Winter Pt 1 2009 

What did it lose out to? The Face of Another. Rarely scene masterpiece from Japan. 

Should I have shown it anyway? Nah. Too grim for that program or maybe any other.

Queue for the first bullet train. But it still went to Hell
Very odd story of disparate group who go on a kind of retreat or holiday and end up in hell. 

Which Program would it have been in? Winter Pt 2 2010 

What did it lose out to? Kuroneko, which was well received (if not quite as wholly as the previous year's Onibaba, by the same director) 

Should I have shown it anyway? No. When I reviewed it for possible inclusion it had less going for it than I'd first thought. It's reputation rests on the final sequences set in Hell, which are impressive. The build up, involving people bending their ethics and hazarding their souls, is neither solidly melodramatic nor in any real way intriguing.

Dylan McDermott shopping
 Cyberpunk tale of tech has things to say about consumers, environment, complacency and survival as Dylan McDermott (later of tv's The Practice), a soldier, brings his estranged girlfriend, a sculptor, some robot junk he found in the desert. The junk is alive, however. Dylan splits. You can guess the rest. Made for about three pounds fifty of dodgy money in the late 80s, Hardware came long after the Bladerunners and Terminators of the era but had a little extra to say. It continues saying it throughout its short screen time and pumps in plenty of white knuckle suspense, animatronics and stunts. But somehow it just doesn't really fulfil its promises. Don't know why. It's a great entertainment piece, it's just that its essayed ideas are lost in the action and themselves seem a little rushed. 

Which Program would it have been in? Spring Pt 1 2010 

What did it lose out to? Shutter. 

Should I have shown it anyway? It could have held its own and was replaced with a similar horror film but Shutter beat it, having a little more to say and space to say it. If a future season needs some quick oomph, I'd certainly consider it.


There yuz go, that's not the lot but the ones I could most readily think of.  Unless they have really been given the thumbs down I'd recommend each one. If you're inclined to leave comments and would like to see any of these in a future season of Shadows, let me know via the comment feature below and I'll consider it seriously.


  1. Oy. It's Jimmy Fox in Performance.

  2. That's what I meant ... But you're right and I corrected it. Least I got it right in the caption.