As a fan of both disco music and cult cinema I was surprised to never have heard of this, and now I’m wondering if any of our readers have seen it? In case your memory needs jogging, it stars Casey Kasem and some dude called Fabian, and a lot of the action seems to revolve around a discotheque which is onboard a jumbo jet. Here’s the original trailer for further investigation (this film may just be so bad it’s good, or it may just be so bad):
There’s a line by Neil Innes, which Richard likes to quote:
There are no coincidences, but sometimes the pattern
It’s from “Keynsham” by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, who were on here recently, and well, there’s just something in the air as here’s another fine documentary from Jonathan Ross, this one from 1988, when he interviewed the “Pope of Trash”, the “Anal Anarchist”, the “Ayatollah of Crud”, the fabulous Mr. John Waters.
Shown as part of Ross’s series The Incredibly Strange Film Show, and recorded not long after Waters’ co-conspirator Divine died, this superb documentary contains one of the best and most revealing interviews Waters has ever given.
Starting with the opening of Hairspray in Baltimore 1988, with interviews from key Dreamlanders, a chewy selection choice clips, background skinny and some fabulous archive.
And what can we learn from this all? As Waters explains, without Divine there would be no John Waters’ films, for Divine represented the rebel who could win. Nice, but that’s a line which is also true of Mr Waters - for he is the rebel who won.
Luis Buñuel was one of cinema’s greatest film directors. From his first short, the Surrealist classic Un Chien Andalou in 1929, through The Exterminating Angel in 1962, to Belle de Jour in 1967, and his last, That Obscure Object of Desire in 1977, Buñuel created a brilliant body of work, which has rarely been equalled.
But film wasn’t his only passion. In his autobiography, My Last Breath, Buñuel gave his own special recipe on how to create the perfect Martini.
‘To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of the dry martini. To be frank, given the primordial role in my life played by the dry martini, I think I really ought to give it at least a page. Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative power of the Holy Ghost pierced the Virgin’s hymen “like a ray of sunlight through a window-leaving it unbroken.”
‘Another crucial recommendation is that the ice be so cold and hard that it won’t melt, since nothing’s worse than a watery martini. For those who are still with me, let me give you my personal recipe, the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results. The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients-glasses, gin, and shaker-in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don’t take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Stir it, then pour it out, keeping only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, stir it again, and serve.
‘(During the 1940s, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York taught me a curious variation. Instead of Angostura, he used a dash of Pernod. Frankly, it seemed heretical to me, but apparently it was only a fad.)’
This wasn’t the first time, the genius director had shared his favored drink, in his Oscar-winning film The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Buñuel had his actors prepare the perfect Martini.
This was no affectation, as Buñuel had his cocktail everyday and once remarked:
“If you were to ask me if I’d ever had the bad luck to miss my daily cocktail, I’d have to say that I doubt it; where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead.”
As discussed in his essential autobiography, Buñuel’s passions for drinking, smoking and a love of handguns, defined who he was. It was a combination which would, you would think, make Buñuel the perfect choice as a director for one of those 1960s or 1970s James Bond movies. David Cairns, over at his excellent film blog, Shadowplay suggested this idea a couple of years back, proposing a Bond movie cast from some of Buñuel’s previous casts, with Dan O’Herlihy as Bond and Fernando Rey as the villain. Cairns also proposes:
Could we resist Catherine Deneuve as Bond girl Anne Dalou, and could she resist playing it if the high priest of cinematic surrealism were in charge? Zachary Scott, fresh from THE YOUNG ONE, could play Bond’s CIA counterpart Felix Leiter. Oh wait, he died in 1965. Damn. OK, Bernie Hamilton then. Sean Connery always thought Felix should be black — I presume on the basis that it was the kind of thankless part where nobody would object, and therefore you should make the effort.
Ken Adam, I submit, would have had a great time building sets for Bunuel, who loved “secret passages leading on to darkness”.
THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL would make a great title for a Bond. Imagine what Shirley Bassey could do with a lyric like that. Much better than QUANTUM OF SLOSH, anyway.
But let’s call our imaginary Bunuel Bond GRAN CASINO ROYALE. The globe-trotting narrative will take us through Spain, the U.S.A., Mexico and France. Bond will battle tarantulas, snakes and flesh-eating ants, and face enemies armed with razors, rifles, burlap sacks and buggy-whips. All in search of a mysterious box with undisclosed, buzzing contents…
I can’t say I was much of a fan of Indiana Jones, the first and third films were okay, but second and fourth - o boy. Hey, but what do I know? After all, I like Zardoz. So, if you like Henry Walton Jones jnr. Ph.D, then you might be tickled by this rather fab, behind-the-scenes film of artist Matt Busch making the illustrated Indiana Jones World Map:
... showing all of the locations that Indy has made archeological discoveries- not just the movies- but the novels, the comic books, the Young Indy TV shows, the video games, and more.
Years in the making, there are 36 different archeological artifacts displayed with legend sections listing info on the items. The Key chart lets you decipher symbols for each artifact to see how the story was presented, be it film, novel, TV Episode, etc… Here, Busch shares some insight into the extensive research and detail he put into illustrating this monumental image.
Based on twenty-five interviews with Kurt Cobain, About A Son recreates the singer’s early life and career, through the intimacy of Michael Azerrad’s recordings, and director A J Schnack’s ambient portraits of the landscape that Cobain called home - Aberdeen, Olympia and Seattle.
I started reading Pinter when I was about 12, and found his work strangely reassuring, for here was the dialog of the adults all around me, full of peopled silences and casual menace. Whether it was The Caretaker or The Birthday Party, it all seemed so normal, only as I gained a year, did I realize that perhaps it wasn’t meant to be so normal after all.
Pinter observed and refracted the world around him through the prism of his experience - a repertory actor caught in digs, mixing with landladies, traveling salesman, became The Room, The Basement, and The Birthday Party. As Pinter told his biographer, Michael Billington:
“I went to these digs and found, in short, a very big woman who was the landlady and a little man, the landlord. There was no one else there, apart from a solitary lodger, and the digs were really quite filthy ... I slept in the attic with this man I’d met in the pub ... we shared the attic and there was a sofa over my bed ... propped up so I was looking at this sofa from which hairs and dust fell continuously. And I said to the man, “What are you doing here?” And he said, “Oh well I used to be…I’m a pianist. I used to play in the concert-party here and I gave that up.” ... The woman was really quite a voracious character, always tousled his head and tickled him and goosed him and wouldn’t leave him alone at all. And when I asked him why he stayed, he said, “There’s nowhere else to go.”
Or, the start of family life, married to the actress Vivian Merchant, living together in a threadbare flat in Chiswick, the location which inspired The Caretaker:
“a very clean couple of rooms with a bath and kitchen. There was a chap who owned the house: a builder, in fact, like Mick who had his own van and whom I hardly ever saw. The only image of him was of this swift mover up and down the stairs and of his van going . . . Vroom . . . as he arrived and departed. His brother lived in the house. He was a handyman . . . he managed rather more successfully than Aston, but he was very introverted, very secretive, had been in a mental home some years before and had had some kind of electrical shock treatment . . . ECT, I think . . . Anyway, he did bring a tramp back one night. I call him a tramp, but he was just a homeless old man who stayed three or four weeks.”
Then there was his sexual and romantic relationships Landscape, Silence, Betrayal; and even his influences - a moot point that without Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane, he wouldn’t have written The Homecoming.
In 1963, Pinter wrote an essay about his theater and his plays:
I’m not a theorist. I’m not an authoritative or reliable commentator on the dramatic scene, the social scene, any scene. I write plays, when I can manage it, and that’s all. That’s the sum of it.
I’ve had two full-length plays produced in London. The first ran a week, and the second ran a year. Of course, there are differences between the two plays. In The Birthday Party I employed a certain amount of dashes in the text, between phrases. In The Caretaker I cut out the dashes and used dots instead. So that instead of, say, “Look, dash, who, dash, I, dash, dash, dash,” the text would read, “Look, dot, dot, dot, who, dot, dot, dot, I, dot, dot, dot, dot.” So it’s possible to deduce from this that dots are more popular than dashes, and that’s why The Caretaker had a longer run than The Birthday Party. The fact that in neither case could you hear the dots and dashes in performance is beside the point. You can’t fool the critics for long. They can tell a dot from a dash a mile off, even if they can hear neither.
Nigel Williams directed this superb two-part film biography on Harold Pinter for BBC’s Arena strand, which explores:
Pinter’s life, work, and political passions - from his East End childhood to his work as an actor, his experience of both early critical rejection and adulation, his screenwriting, and his love of poetry and passion for cricket.
Part One explores Pinter’s key theme - the room - through the very rooms in which he wrote his first great series of plays. Arena reveals the links between the plays and places, and meets the people who live there now. We visit the East London terraced house room where Pinter grew up and first wrote poetry; the theatre dressing room where he began to formulate his ideas about playwriting and language; the sitting room in the London cold-water flat where he wrote his first hit, The Caretaker, and his study in the bow-fronted house in Worthing, where he lived in the sixties with his first wife Vivien Merchant, and wrote The Homecoming.
Harold Pinter has given Arena exclusive access to personal recordings in which he talks frankly to his biographer Michael Billington. Presented for the first time on television, they tell Pinter’s story in his own words, as he remembers it.
In part two of this film biography, Arena explores the relationship between the public and private dimensions of the famous playwright and actor’s life and work; the intimacy of his plays since the seventies; his work in films and television drama; his passion for poetry; and his fervent ‘political engagement’.
Arena accompanied Pinter for two years to film plays and events in America and all over Europe. The wildly funny Celebration features a group of friends celebrating in a restaurant and, over the course of the evening, revealing details of their private lives in this very public space.
Arena reunites members of the cast, including Lindsay Duncan, Andy de la Tour, Susan Wooldridge and Indira Varma, who discuss their working relationship with Harold Pinter.
Other contributors include his wife Lady Antonia Fraser, journalist John Pilger and Pinter’s biographer Michael Billington.
Part 2 of this excellent documentary on Harold Pinter, after the jump…
You will have seen the beautiful Gillian Hills before - in A Clockwork Orange with Barbara Scott, sucking on an ice lolly, getting chatted-up by Malcom McDowall’s Alex in the Melodia Diskbootik; or perhaps in Blow-Up posing, wrestling and getting intimate with Jane Birkin and David Hemmings; or maybe looking like a teenage Brigitte Bardot doing the hippy-hippy-shake with Oliver Reed in Beat Girl.
Born in Egypt, raised in France, daughter of a writer and adventurer, grand-daughter of a poet, Gillian Hills was discovered by Roger Vadim, who thought he’d found his next Bardot, he gave her a small part in his film version of Les liaisons dangereuses, (1959) with Jeanne Moreau. It wa senough to attract interest and led to the teenage Hills starring, alongside Christopher Lee and Oliver Reed in Beat Girl (1960).
An auspicious start, which should have brought bigger and better, but Hills switched direction and signed a recording deal with Barclay Records, who released her first EP “Allo Brigitte..ne coupez pas!”. Over the next 5 years Hills concentrated on her singing career, which saw her headlining at the Olympia Theater with the legendary, Johnny Hallyday, and working with the brilliant Serge Gainsbourg.
Even with such A-list names, Hills jolly toe-tapping tunes had mixed success and she was eventually dropped by Barclay in 1965. Hills then signed for AZ Records and released a cover of The Zombies hit “Leave Me Be”, she also returned to films with appearances in Antonioni’s Blow-Up, the film of John Osborne’s Inadmissible Evidence, Three and the Kubrick classic A Clockwork Orange. Her acting career never took off, and after a final leading role in the Hammer horror Demons of the Mind, Hill retired and moved to New York, where she started her career as an artist and illustrator.
Now Gillian Hills lives in England (with apparently the manager of AC/DC), but thanks to the wonders of YouTube, we do have some of her hit Euro-songs and career highlights to look back on. Bliss.
Gillian Hills - “Zou Bisou bisou”
Gillian Hills - “Les jolis coeur”
Gillian Hills - “Mon coeur est prêt”
Bonus clips of Gillian Hills with Oliver Reed and Serge Gainsbourg, after the jump…
Julien Temple directed Mantrap, an under-rated and often considered “lost” featurette starring 1980’s New Romantic group ABC. Like a lot of Temple’s work it’s full of quirky originality and style, which compensates for the lack of script. Mantrap can be best summed-up by its Wikipedia entry:
Martin Fry is asked to join [a] band as they embark on tour heading east through Europe. But at the height of their popularity the band tries to secretly replace Fry with a Russian spy in order to sneak him back behind the iron curtain. It is then up to Martin to battle his doppelganger and make the world safe for New Romantic Synth Pop.
Temple is a true maverick, who has more than a touch of genius about him. His films always deliver great visual imagination as disguise for a weak script (Absolute Beginners), but when Temple has a good script, like Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Pandaemonium, or is working with straight non-fiction narrative Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, the superb documentary on Dr Feelfgood, Oil City Confidential, or The Filth and the Fury, his talents soar.
Though slight, Mantrap is well worth watching for 101 reasons, from its classic soundtrack by ABC, its style, its visuals, its concert footage, Martin Fry’s good looks, its silliness, its joie de vivre….etc.
Seminal New Romantics ABC and punk filmmaker Julien Temple pay homage to 50s espionage flicks in this hour long folly from 1983. Martin Fry has the look of a Hitchcock protagonist, but by his own admission, his acting was a little “mahogany”. Temple captures the isolation and paranoia of the former Communist Bloc, but forgets to tell a story in the process.
Nonetheless, this curiosity from the naive dawn of pop-video has enough to keep fans and casual viewers entertained. The 6th form script about some Cold War double dealing will occasionally make you wince, but is padded out with some wonderful footage of ABC’s (sadly never repeated) World Tour.
B-Movie regulars and wannabes try their best amidst the ensuing nonsense - but it’s pretty much in vain, so don’t expect John le Carré! But do delight in a soundtrack taken from arguably the greatest debut album of all time - “The Lexicon of Love”.
The film consists of three home movies: Warhol at the Whitney, May 1, 1971, George’s Dumpling Party, June 29 1971 and Warhol revisited, May 1971 which show scenes from the opening of a Warhol retrospective, followed by footage of Warhol, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and founder of the Fluxus movement, George Maciunas at what looks like a fondue party in 80 Wooster St., Soho, before returning back to the Whitney.
The narration is by Mekas, who talks about the relationship between Warhol and Maciunas, Pop Art and Fluxus, which he says are the same, as both dealt with nothingness - “both took life as a game and laughed at it.” Warhol standing on the side, never a part of it, with George “laughing, laughing all the time.”
These beautiful short films are like water-colored moments from pop history, which as Cima points out:
1. History. You can’t have a one-night-stand role model. No one can become a role model in 24 hours. It helps a lot if you knew them when you were young, so they sort of grow or fester with you, like Johnny Mathis was for me.
2 Be extreme: all my role models have to be. They have to be braver than I’ve ever been. Even to survive success is hard, no matter if it’s widespread success like Johnny Mathis had, or Bobby Boris Pickett, who his whole life just had to sing one song [The Monster Mash]. Today too many people are trying hard to be extreme. For the people I admire it was natural, and they turned it into art.
3 Style. You can have bad style, but you have to have some style. That’s why I wrote about Rei Kawakubo, who reinvented fashion to be damaged and to be everything you hoped it was not when you bought an outfit. And she quadrupled the price. That’s a magic trick.
4 Be alarming – I think that’s important. And it’s different from being shocking. Alarming threatens the very core of your existence, it doesn’t just shock you – but you don’t know why it makes you nervous at first. You know, St Catherine of Siena drank pus for God. That was important to me because I thought: I want to be her, I don’t want to be half-assed! If I was going to be a Catholic, it would have been before the Reformation.
5 Humour. It’s very important to be well-read, but I never understand why people are so sure their partners have to be smart. What kind of smart do they mean? I’m not interested in talking about literature in bed! I like people who can make me laugh. Humour gets you laid, humour gets you hired, humour gets you through life. You don’t get beat up if you can make the person that’s going to beat you up laugh first.
6 Be a troublemaker. All art is troublemaking, because why go through all the trouble of making it if you don’t cause a little stir?
7 Bohemianism. Bohemia saved my life. And by bohemia I mean all sexualities mixed together, and people who do what they do not to get rich – freedom from suburbia. People who want to fit in but don’t are losers. Bohemians are people who don’t fit in because they don’t want to.
8 Originality. Someone unique like Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West, is an easy role model to have. She could fit into any of these categories – her outfit looked like Comme des Garçons, and anybody who could scare children like that… The problem was, I wanted to be her. And as I turn 65, that has sort of come true.
9 Neuroses. I think it helps to be neurotic. Neurotic people always end up being in the arts. If your kid fits in while in high school they’re going to be a dull adult. I still see a few people I went to high school with, but the other ones, when they come up to me I say: “I’m sorry, I took LSD, I don’t remember you.” It works, because then they aren’t offended personally. It’s really just manners.
10 Be a little bit insane. That’s different from neurotic. You can stay home and be neurotic. You have to go out to be insane. You can be a little bit of both, but both need to be joyous. As long as you can find a moment of joy in even your worst behaviour, it’s something to be thankful for.
John Waters will be discussing his book Role Models on Saturday at the Hay Festival at 8.30p, details here.
An interview with Bob Dylan dating back to when he was working on the Hollywood movie Hearts of Fire, in which Dylan played a retired rocker called Billy Parker. Hearts of Fire co-starred Rupert Everett, Ian Dury and Fiona, and was written by overblown Hollywood scriptwriter, Joe Eszterhas. The film bombed, and was sadly the last feature from director Richard Marquand (best known for Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Jagged Edge and Eye of the Needle), who died not long after completing the film.
This interview with Dylan formed the basis for a rarely seen BBC Omnibus documentary called Getting to Dylan (1987), directed by Christopher Sykes.
It’s been thirteen turbulent years since Tony Kaye’s controversial first feature American History X nearly finished his career. Now the man who once described himself as “the greatest English director since Hitchcock,” is continuing to confound, surprise and impress with his latest film, the powerful and uncompromising Detachment, starring Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden, Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu, James Caan, Blythe Danner, Tim Blake Nelson and William Petersen.
three weeks in the lives of several high school teachers, administrators and students as seen through the eyes of a substitute teacher.
It will hopefully be on national release soon.
When not making his excellent films and documentaries, or painting and campaiging, the bearded, Biblical-looking Kaye has been recording and gigging at various venues in LA and NY over the past few years with his own distinct and original songs, of which these are just a selection.
This is rather good: An Examination of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’, with Malcolm McDowell, looking like a beautiful fallen angel, and Anthony Burgess, looking like a slightly suspect Classics teacher, discussing A Clockwork Orange.
Made a year after the film’s release, this informal discussion avoids much of the controversy surrounding the film, focussing instead on the book’s genesis, its themes, the making of the film and McDowell’s experience of working with Kubrick. All jolly interesting stuff, but a few more probing, difficult questions would have been real horrorshow. That said, it’s an important historical and cultural record, and there’s also a brief section on the film’s music by Wendy Carlos, together with a fine selection of clips, which makes this well worth watching.
This, as DM pal, film-maker Alessandro Cima, writes: “might be the most beautiful film you will see all year.” It’s Derek Jarman’s Broken English, his superb interpretation of three tracks by Marianne Faithfull - “Witches Song,” “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” and “Broken English”.
As Mr Cima writes:
The montage and superimposition going on in this film is simply stunning. It’s full of dark pagan ritual, sex, violence, romance, adoration, and mystery.
Described as the first documentary film on the creation of Techno Music, High Tech Soul is also an examination of the cultural history of Detroit, its birthplace.
From the race riots of 1967 to the underground party scene of the late 1980s, Detroit’s economic downturn didn’t stop the invention of a new kind of music that brought international attention to its producers and their hometown.
Featuring in-depth interviews with many of the world’s best exponents of the artform, High Tech Soul focuses on the creators of the genre—Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson—and looks at the relationships and personal struggles behind the music. Artists like Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, Eddie Fowlkes and a host of others explain why techno, with its abrasive tones and resonating basslines, could not have come from anywhere but Detroit.
With classic anthems such as Rhythim Is Rhythim’s “Strings of Life” and Inner City’s “Good Life,” High Tech Soul celebrates the pioneers, the promoters and the city that spawned a global phenomenon.
The film features: Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Eddie (Flashin) Fowlkes, Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, John Acquaviva, Carl Cox, Carl Craig, Blake Baxter, Stacey Pullen, Thomas Barnett, Matthew Dear, Anthony “Shake” Shakir, Keith Tucker, Delano Smith, Mike Archer, Derrick Thompson, Mike Clark, Alan Oldham, Laura Gavoor, Himawari, Scan 7, Kenny Larkin, Stacey “Hotwax” Hale, Claus Bachor, Electrifying Mojo, Niko Marks, Barbara Deyo, Dan Sordyl, Sam Valenti, Ron Murphy, George Baker, and Kwame Kilpatrick.
The film’s soundtrack includes: Aux 88, Cybotron, Inner City, Juan Atkins, Mayday, Model 500, Plastikman, Rhythim Is Rhythim, and more.
“Bredow’s cast of alumni—the holy trinity of Atkins, May & Saunderson at the front—fill out this tale with passion, pride and, oddly for music of the future, nostalgia too.”
- Dazed and Confused
‘An enjoyable education into the music, the city and the main players past, present and future.’
‘Defines the myths and the magic of Detroit techno from its beginnings right up to how it has evolved to become High Tech Soul.’