SEPT / OCT 2005
THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE THE LONDON EXORCIST LORDS OF DOGTOWN ROCK STARS CHEAT DEATH BROKEN FLOWERS ZOMBIE REVOLUTION A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
LITTLE WHITE LIES Truth & Movies
COVER ILLUSTRATION BY Paul Willoughby WORDS BY Matthew Bochenski
THEY CREEP ME OUT.”
CHAPTER ONE IN WHICH WE DISCUSS LAND OF THE DEAD 04 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
DIRECTED BY George A. Romero STARRING Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, John Leguizamo, Eugene Clark
RELEASED 23rd September
SCREENPLAY BY George A. Romero
Bush, Blair, Baghdad and Bin Laden: there’s been a lot to chew on since Night became Day. Now the zombies are back, and it’s feeding time in George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead.
Some movies feel like a warning.
This is the cinematic equivalent of DEFCON One. George Romero is back behind the camera, the undead are reanimated and body parts are ﬂying. Somebody, somewhere, fucked up bad. Welcome to the Land of the Dead. It was the same story in ’68. Set against a tapestry of nuclear crisis, Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was a revolting and revelatory parable of social disintegration. It ached with disaffection and a bloody radicalism born of Cold War nightmares.
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But times change. Though the Cold War is over, something inﬁnitely hotter rose from the ashes. We still live in a world of paranoia, the only difference is it’s been given terrifying immediacy by fanaticism, bombings and the very real threat to everyday people leading everyday lives. The generation of students who took to the streets of Paris shouting ‘No God! No Master!’ did so under the cloud of a distant threat. Today, the War on Terror
“IF YOU’RE GOING TO COME OUT SWINGING AFTER 20 YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, YOU BETTER MAKE SURE YOU LAND YOUR PUNCHES. BUT FOR ALL ITS TEETH, LAND OF THE DEAD HASN’T THE BITE, THE BALLS OR THE BRAINS OF A TRULY GREAT HORROR MOVIE.” 08 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
is global, and global war means your own back garden becomes a battleground. So if you’re going to come out swinging after 20 years in the wilderness, you better make sure you land your punches. But for all its teeth, Land of the Dead hasn’t the bite, the balls or the brains of a truly great horror movie.
A zombie epidemic has swept mankind aside, leaving an outpost of survivors in the compound of Fiddler’s Green. Protected on three sides by water and fortiﬁed by electric fences, at its heart is a giant skyscraper – a last, totemic symbol of 21st century America and a juicy-ass target for any self-respecting zombie horde. The city is governed by Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), a ruthless suit, murderously protecting the interests of the rich. Part CEO, part Roman Emperor, he turns Fiddler’s Green into a gilded cage, stratiﬁed by wealth and policed by a private army.
Outside, the world is abandoned to the undead. But these are no ordinary zombies: after all these years, Romero has back-tracked on old allegiances. There is a melancholy to their sad lives – a last memory of living that throws their tragic imitation into painful relief. They are guileless,
Land of the Dead is Romero’s attempt to confront our post-9/11 landscape. But in its confusion, naivety and lack of moral complexity, it reﬂects an image of contemporary America that is subversive only in its unintentional honesty.
innocent even, whether rasping pathetically at old instruments or clutching useless tools. These are the real victims of the apocalypse, no more guilty of their nature than a rabid dog. They are cinema’s most unlikely anti-heroes.
Perhaps this is inevitable. In ’68, campus riots and civil unrest created a platform of debate that encouraged radical, abrasive ﬁlmmaking. But that America died in New York. Its centre of gravity shifted decisively to the Right, while its focus internalised. Far from being a wake-up call, 9/11 spelt the end of alternative national opposition.
But their melancholy is shattered by the human militia. Gangs of survivors sweep the towns like rednecks on a turkey shoot, searching for food and supplies. Led by Riley (Simon Baker) and the irascible Cholo (Leguizamo), they kill without conscience, until the unthinkable happens: after one brutal raid, the zombies mobilise under Big Daddy, a black garage attendant, and take the ﬁght to Fiddler’s Green.
this drastic change in the dynamics of American life removed the platform that sustained his ﬁlmmaking. What seemed incendiary in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s is unconvincing today. He wants to engage with big ideas – occupation, oppression, revolution – but he’s doing it in a climate of liberal fear. If there is legitimate opposition out there, it’s no longer attuned to Hollywood where the grubby inﬂuences of
lobbying, money and the everpresent threat of the SEC cut the throat of intelligent political ﬁlmmaking.
Oh, but there are ﬂashes of the old ﬁght. In ’68, Romero attacked the concept of Us versus Them that deﬁned the Cold War struggle, showing his audience that terror itself could be just as dangerous as the enemy you think you fear. Now he wants to go a step further – to argue that the real enemy isn’t the massed army on your doorstep, but the structures and behaviour of the society that put it there. Our society. Big Daddy inherits the history of occupied people in armed struggle. Struggles that stretch from Algeria to Afghanistan. To Romero, the zombies are a ﬂesh-eating Civil Rights movement, an undead insurgency, a deﬁantly un-nonviolent popular uprising. But where Martin Luther King had a dream, what does Big Daddy have? These zombies
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think, therefore they are... what? They’re not conscious, politically or otherwise. You want human attributes to deﬁne them? Fine: they’re sociopathic lunatics with an insatiable instinct to feed. What this isn’t, is an insurgency, and the zombies are not revolutionaries. A revolution without the bedrock of higher ideals is a riot. And no matter how Romero spins it, there’s no higher ideal when it comes to zombies: no principles or politics; no tragic misunderstanding or cruel oppression. Where the radicals of his youth were hungry for freedom and justice, zombies are just hungry. So who cares if feckless corporate hierarchies hurt their feelings? Better to survive in the greasy embrace of capitalism, than to be torn apart by an army of homicidal corpses. Ironically, this is exactly the attitude that America’s Right wing hacks apply to the War on Terror, so why, with so many legitimate targets, so many questions unasked, is Romero wasting his time on this ill-conceived crusade? Even if they were revolutionaries, at a time when occupation and insurgency are emotive words, it’s incumbent on Romero to be clear about his sympathies. Hoary it may be, but one man’s freedom ﬁghter
is another man’s terrorist. These zombies are abused and impotent, forced to mobilise against an enemy that views them through a lens of ignorant misunderstanding. Strap a bomb to their back, and they’d shufﬂe off to the nearest tube station. Is that reactionary? Is Romero being subversive? Doesn’t he see the implications? The ambivalence is debilitating. Fiddler’s Green itself is more fertile allegorical ground. Here, anarchists stock-pile arms in deﬁance of the police state, while Kaufman’s army ﬁght a dirty war of imprisonment and assassination. Zombies are tortured for the amusement of survivors, and prostitutes are thrown into cages as food. It is a sly evocation of Abu Ghraib, but what resonates more clearly is the last gasp of a society in freefall: where a veneer of entertainment masks cruelty as an outlet of mass relief.
This is more like the Romero of old, but even here some of his ideas are suspect. When the walls crumble, the movie’s grizzliest treatment is meted out to the idle rich. Few are spared a gruesome end. But more disturbing than the gore (seen one disembowelment, seen them all), is the feeling that they deserved
it. Witness, by contrast, the miraculous survival of the workingclass anarchists. Forget the dead, when did America become the land of class-conscious hypocrisy? It’s not hard to imagine pop culture scribes 30 years from now looking back on Land of the Dead as a movie that captured a sense of frustration at the abuse of power by wealthy elites. Where words like
‘terrorist’ and ‘jihad’ were manipulated and abused. It’s no surprise to hear that the script was rewritten post-9/11, but in reality, its attempt to reﬂect a broader, international outlook never gets off the ground.
You wonder if the Romero of 1968 would recognise the ﬁlm he’s made today. But worse, you wonder if we, looking back 30 years ourselves, heap false praise on his earlier ﬁlms. Were they really incendiary? Did they capture the mood of a generation? Or is that what we’d like to believe? Maybe they’re just cool zombie ﬂicks that gained a cult of admirers, and maybe that’s enough.
But though we can question Romero’s legend, in the end, it doesn’t matter. Legends have a life of their own. And though Land of the Dead has neither the chills of recent classic The Descent or the memorable lines of its predecessors, it’s a solidly crafted action ﬂick, ﬂush with violence, relentlessly paced and just that bit demonic to boot. What it lacks is a sense of occasion – that this is the long-awaited return of the genre’s master craftsman. It feels like a studio picture, like the extra budget came at the price of Romero’s special brand of crazy. Without the jagged edges, it doesn’t really feel like Romero at all.
Land of the Dead is a disappointment, but only because we expected so much. In ’68, Dylan sang that the times were changing, but perhaps we get the times that we deserve, and in its own way, the zombie movie follows. Ultimately, the equivalence that Romero was searching for, that link between the world of his movie and our world is best expressed in an experience shared by victim and viewer: eventually, it all comes down to being gutted 12 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
An interview with George A. Romero LWLies: In your own words, what do you feel Land of the Dead is about? GEORGE A. ROMERO: I wrote it before 9/11 when it was about AIDs and poverty and the vanishing middle class. Of course, after 9/11 everybody wanted to make friendly movies. So I waited about a year and a half then took it off the shelf and adjusted it. I put in more imagery that related to 9/11 and this new post-9/11 era. But I don’t try to put it in your face. You know, I think... Hopper – who is he? Is he Rumsfeld? Is he Bush? I don’t know. Most American teenagers are just gonna go for the blood and guts.
LWLies: How would you characterise the years between Day of the Dead and making Land of the Dead? Do you wish things had worked out differently? Was it a frustrating period for you? GAR: Very frustrating and disappointing. There were projects that I really wanted to do. The Mummy was actually greenlit, but then MGM wouldn’t let me out of my contract on a project called Before I Wake. I had all these projects, I was making a lot of dough, but nobody was making any movies. So I ﬂed. I ran away and I went to Canal Plus and they ﬁnanced Bruiser.
LWLies: Who do your sympathies lie with in the ﬁlm: the zombies, Cholo or the anarchists? GAR: My sympathies always lie with the zombies. They’re becoming more and more human, and the humans are becoming, you know, dehumanised and more cruel as time goes on. But the social references are more just my impressions, I look on it as instinctive. I don’t know, I think I’m more of a... a sort of chronicler.
LWLies: Do you worry that your low proﬁle over this period stuck you with a certain image? And that it’s straitjacketed you in a way? GAR: I’ve been straitjacketed for a long time, you know, and I don’t really... I don’t worry about it man. I’m not a Hollywood guy. I don’t care. I’m happy to be allowed to do what I’m doing. They don’t trust me, they don’t get me.
LWLies: When NotLDead came out in 1968 it was a time of political agitation, there was a feeling that politics mattered. Can you make a movie like that in the climate that we have today? GAR: No, well you’re not supposed to. Luckily I’m under the radar, I’m not Michael Moore. You know, I’m just some guy they don’t really care about, it’s not like I have anybody watching my house. I think really those of us who were involved in the sixties thought we were successful in making some permanent changes but, you know, we failed.
LWLies: Do you feel like the 28 year-old director of NotLDead would recognise the George Romero of Land of the Dead? GAR: I don’t think that I would recognise myself, no, but I’m comfortable. I’m feeling pretty chilled about it. LWLies: If you could give one piece of advice to the 15 year-old George who got arrested for throwing a burning dummy off a roof, what would that be? GAR: I’d say get out and do something. My advice is always get out and fucking do it. Check out the complete, unabridged transcript at www.littlewhitelies.co.uk
Anticipation. Romero is a legend, not least because he makes Terence Malick look proliﬁc. This promised to be a ﬁlm to deﬁne an age. Five Enjoyment.
Pacey and energetic, but lacking true thrills. You won’t trouble the edge of your seat, but dammit if you won’t be wincing from time to time. Two
In Retrospect. Its
inconsistencies are maddening, and if it provokes you to serious thought, it won’t be to the ﬁlm’s ultimate beneﬁt. Two 13
“And so when man and horse go down Beneath a saber keen, Or in a roaring charge or fierce melee You stop a bullet clean, And the hostiles come to get your scalp, Just empty your canteen, And put your pistol to your head And go to Fiddlers’ Green.” American Cavalry Song, Trad.
CHAPTER TWO IN WHICH WE INTRODUCE OURSELVES 16 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
LWLies: This is a question that we’re going to be asking all the people we interview. It’s kind of the spirit that sums up our mag. So, what we would like to know of you is: what is it you love about movies? George A. Romero: About movies? LWLies: Yep. George A. Romero: Can you give me a couple of days? No, you know, what I love about movies most is that it was my escape, man. I grew up in the Bronx, we never had any dough, I was a Spanish kid getting beat up by the Italians. It showed me another world, it gave me new thoughts, it opened up worlds to me. I mean, that’s why. It’s a medium that... I was a kid that never, you know, I never studied the arts, you know, I was lucky to get through geography. To me, it opened the world up to me, and it was also private. It was something that I could go and do and think about on my own and call up my own thoughts, and it was a way to escape family, and a way to escape the streets. You know, I grew up in West Side Story, so that’s what it did for me. And then I started... I never thought I would become a filmmaker – I thought you had to be born royalty or something. But I just loved it, I mean, it opened up the world, that’s really what it is.
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Words, pictures, thanks...
James Bramble, Max Brooks, Sophie Cartwright, Dominic Clifford, Andy Davidson, Rob Drake, Mickey Gibbons, Chris King, Lucas Krull, Kayt Manson, James Martin, Kate McMorrine, Vince Medeiros, Lisa Miller, Lieu Pham, Caroline Richards, Sami Seppala, Anthony Strange, Michael Sullivan Jr, Ruth Tierney, Emma Tildsley, Daniel West, Laura Wilkinson, Nick Yates
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The Church Of London Ltd. Editorial, Little White Lies magazine, Suite 286, 14 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 1JY The articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinions and attitudes of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or editorial team.
ÂŠ TCOLondon Ltd. 2005 18 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
< Te^qalvlre^sbqlp^vclovlropbisbp bafqlof^i=ifqqibtefqbifbp+`l+rh ,7,IES STRIVES TO BE A FORUM FOR THE CREATIVE PASSIONATE DISCUSSION OF MOVIES !ND NOW WE WANT YOU TO HAVE YOUR SAY )TS A WORLD OF IDEAS AND WE WANT TO HEAR THEM 7RITE SOMETHING THOUGHT PROVOKING AND WE MIGHT JUST SEE lT TO GIVE YOU ONE OF LIMITED EDITION ,7,IES )SSUE @:OMBIE 0OWER T SHIRTS SEE ABOVE PRINTED EXCLUSIVELY FOR US BY 3UPREME "EING
In an issue that is based around celebrating comic books and comic culture, why did you have to perpetuate the outdated and prejudicial idea of comic book fans being geeks? Even though you discuss (brieďŹ‚y) why comic book fans are considered nerdy, you still perpetuate these outdated stereotypes with headlines like â€œGeek Loveâ€?. Surely with Watchmen and V for Vendetta on the way, itâ€™s time that comics got the respect they deserved? +ĂĽ'REAVES ĂĽ.EWCASTLE
Our review of Sin City stressed the fact that it was time for comics to stand up and demand respect on their own terms. They are a legitimate art form and an independent cultural touch-stone. The Sin City issue challenged rather than perpetuated outmoded stereotypes, though it did so at times with ironic headlines. Hello LWLies team, I wanted to subscribe to your magazine but the obsessive compulsive that sometimes screams from within wouldnâ€™t allow me to rip out a page. I wondered therefore if you still offered that /-QEBI>KALCQEBAB>AFPPRB
subscription and also if there was any other way I could sign up? Sorry if Iâ€™ve woke you by the way. +YLE ĂĽVIAĂĽEMAIL
Good man Kyle - you should never deface a quality magazine, it just isnâ€™t right. Stick some details on an email and a cheque in the post (see page 114) and weâ€™ll sort it out for you. And no, donâ€™t worry, you didnâ€™t wake us. I think you were a bit harsh including Rio in your top ďŹ ve worst cities in the world. I lived in Rio for six years and experienced very little violence or crime. Since moving to London however, I have been mugged twice in eight months. 'ĂĽ,AMB ĂĽ,ONDON
Weâ€™ve seen City Of God, you canâ€™t fool us... I canâ€™t believe you have fallen (like everyone else at the moment) for Frank Millerâ€™s sexist, misogynist, and gratuitously violent worldview. The man is a sex-obsessed pervert with a nasty schoolbully like cruel streak in him that he pushes on to kids in
his simple-minded comics. There are some great people working in comics, but Frank Miller is nothing but a dirty old man rehashing the same simple story again and again.
the pub can be as a forum for creative discussion. Occasionally you get a tape full of randomness, but weâ€™ll carry on taking our chances.
What the hell was up with your review of Sin City? If this Bochenski guy wants to pick on comic-book movies, maybe he should take a look at shit like Elektra or Daredevil instead of spouting off about Sin City, which was absolutely awesome.
Frank Miller deserves his place in the pantheon of great comic writer / artists, but weâ€™d be the ďŹ rst to agree that Sin City isnâ€™t his most broadly accessible work. That it apes the style of â€™40s noir doesnâ€™t excuse the graphic misogyny and gleeful violence. However, his work on Batman in particular did as much as anybody to rescue a creatively stagnant industry and haul the medium closer to the limelight. Hello. Iâ€™m not sure about your conversation interviews. Them two who wrote the one about The Jacket, were they pissed or something? I donâ€™t want to read reviews about movies by people who are mortal drunk. No more. 3USIE ĂĽVIAĂĽEMAIL
Anybody whoâ€™s ever been for a drink after a ďŹ lm and heard one of the most honest, piercing analyses never committed to paper knows how fruitful
LWLies merely refused to buy into the hype that great technical breakthroughs and slavish adherence to the source material makes for a compelling movie experience. In short, our argument against Rodriguezâ€™s ďŹ lm was that, while enjoyable to a degree, it offered no cinematic vision of its own to savour. And while attempting to recreate the spirit of the comic, it simply shone an unforgiving light on the differences between the two media â€“ of pacing, dialogue, stillness and setting. Yes, it had ambition and creative freedom, but both were ultimately misguided.
HONEST, PASSIONATE, UNMERCIFUL. Check out our new website:
WWW.LITTLEWHITELIES.CO.UK for more exclusive news, reviews and interviews. 21
CHAPTER THREE IN WHICH WE DISCUSS THEMES OF UNCOMMON INTEREST INSPIRED BY OUR FEATURE FILM 22 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
THEXORCIST FORGET THE HEADLINES AND IGNORE THE HYSTERIA, LWLIES BRINGS YOU THE TRUTH ABOUT LONDON VOODOO – STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE. WORDS BY MONISHA RAJESH ILLUSTRATIONS BY ROB LONGWORTH
“The first time I saw a zombie I was nine years-old. It was late at night, in a cemetery, with my father and grandfather, and I watched it coming slowly out of a coffin.” Malcolm Poussaint raises his drink, his hand glinting like he’s just raided Mr T’s jewellery collection, and smiles. It’s midday, warm, and George Michael’s pink hotpants flash briefly on the TV screen in a quiet Maida Vale pub. Poussaint’s eyes are closing in the sun and he yawns, adding, “I asked them what it was but they replied that I was too young and it was too complicated to explain to an unformed mind. After that I regularly saw zombies when we went to the cemeteries to help people.” Poussaint is a 77 year-old houngan, a Voodoo highpriest, descended from the first liberators of Haiti who led the fight for independence from France in 1804. The Haitian rebels used Voodoo against the colonisers, altering the Western world’s view of the tiny Caribbean island and its African slaves. They could only watch as Voodoo dug its heels deep into black culture.
initiated by his grandfather at an early age, so his mind could grow within the religion and its ideologies. He shifts on his little stool and mutters in quiet Creole to his interpreter, Colin, who looks over his shoulder a couple of times before whispering: “It’s really not for the squeamish – you see things that you shouldn’t see, you go to places you shouldn’t go.” He pauses as a small gnarled hand touches his knee, and the priest adds as an afterthought: “It can also bring death as well if you are not careful.” He does not consult with the ordinary public – his services are recommended through word of mouth. He does not want to be recognised by people, and even his children are unaware that he is so deeply immersed in the religion. Spiritually, he claims to be capable of almost anything. Turning to his interpreter, he taps gently on his knee and tells him to let me know that if I ever want a promotion, help with my love life or anything for that matter, to go to him. Holistically, Voodoo is a religion of the elements. Combined with a unique sense of spirituality, it forms a cosmic amalgam of the ancestral ideals that came out of Africa in the 18th century (and ages before). Immersion of the mind, spirit and body is paramount, as is an extra large dose of bravery – this is no place for the light-hearted dalliances of the inquisitive. Contrary to popular belief, Voodoo is no mere cult. Poussaint explains how black people resorted to Voodoo to defend themselves from persecution and colonisation. It was used as an unknown defence that the Western colonisers could not comprehend. He says: “When the soldiers were fighting against us, they were actually fighting spiritual beings on the battle field. When they fired bows and arrows, nothing happened to our Haitian soldiers. France was defeated as the houngans were able to defend their country with the help of zombies. It’s horrific for anyone to have their country under occupation and the only means we had were so successful in winning the war, that Voodoo was immediately condemned.
“It’s a black thing.
The black man is hated by this world, which is why Voodoo was so feared. When we found a way to liberate ourselves and protect ourselves through Voodoo, the Western world panicked. We were slaves, we were nothing, and suddenly we avenged our people, and their reaction was to undermine it and bring out the worst aspects. Voodoo empowered us and brought success, so the Western world typically condemned what they feared. Because it is exclusively black and they cannot work their way into it, they chose to condemn it.” Dispelling the myths surrounding Voodoo, Poussaint is amused by the misconceptions around Voodoo dolls – though he admits to having used them before, to tie the tongue of someone who was speaking evil of him. Voodoo dolls are an effigy of a victim made from clay. Pins signify the weapon or object intended to bring them harm. Like Voodoo as a whole, you have to be initiated into their use, and be trained to use the correct incantations, pins and spirits. Colin admits that the dolls are only used for evil and explains: “If someone doesn’t want you to have kids they will tie up the reproductive organs or put the pins in that area and say they want them destroyed. If they want to blind you, they will stick them in the eyes. It really isn’t for the faint-hearted and you must be mentally prepared for it.” Poussaint explains that the spirits are nothing like human beings, and Voodoo is used for good as well as bad: it can just as easily be invoked benevolently.
Unfortunately, Voodoo is largely synonymous with all things dark, evil and sinister, conjuring up images of human sacrifice and rubbing chilli powder into little girls’ eyes before drowning them in sacks. That’s not Voodoo, though, but Kendoki – a very devilish form of witchcraft seen in the fifth Bond film, Live and Let Die. Popular culture, and film in particular, have anointed extremist cults with the same oils, casting a false light on the Voodoo religion. Poussaint scowls and shakes his head explaining that the two are poles apart – Kendoki is worse than any fundamentalist extreme of Voodoo. It comes from Jamaica, is still practiced in Africa and is purely used for evil.
Despite the omnipotence and omnipresence of the Voodoo spirits, and their ability to do good, Poussaint stresses that, in layman’s terms, you still shouldn’t mess with them. As the spirits should never be irritated or disturbed, there are three windows for communication, at 6pm, 9pm and midnight. These should always be respected if you value your own life. During these times, four main spirits can be contacted for specific purposes. Baron Samedi (Baron of the Cemetery) – most famous as the ’70s Bond baddie played by
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Geoffrey Holder, Yemanja, an androgynous silhouette, Shango, the god of lightening who controls the earth, and Oshun.
Colin takes the reins
as the gents’ beckons the priest and his second pint of Stella. He looks around again, as a small, scowling old man with a carrier bag emerges from behind a pillar by our table only to back away, eyes on stalks, and make for the opposite side of the pub, staring at us in confusion as he picks up pace. Evidently, talking about Voodoo isn’t for the faint-hearted either. Now, certain that the vicinity is clear of eavesdroppers, and with the priest looking rejuvenated, Colin explains that Shango would be contacted if someone needed to be acquitted during a court case. He explains: “He is a black man, very dark in appearance who wears a grass skirt.” The priest suddenly grips his arm and says in Créole: “Elle n’a pas peur?” I understand that he’s worried I’m being frightened by the ideas. Intrigued maybe, but certainly not frightened. Colin continues: “Oshun is the ocean as well, and can be either pink or orange. If you’re having an operation, he takes control of the doctors to make sure everything goes according to plan and the tools are okay. They all do similar things, but you have to go through one to get to another. They give you visions or speak to you through the runes.”
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self-assurance and articulacy are prerequisites of the religion, particularly while performing rituals, as the spirits act on their own will, and ill-fated outcomes have been known to cause more harm to those who invoke them than their intended victims. Itching to ask about human sacrifices, my enthusiasm is knocked back as quickly as the priest’s third pint. Human sacrifice was rife in the olden days of Africa and, while they still occur, nowadays animal sacrifices are deemed more beneficial. Only the highest quality gifts must be offered to the spirits. If a bull is sacrificed, the blood must be offered to the spirit, and its meat used to feed the whole village. The spirit is satiated and in turn, the whole village is happy. That’s how modern Voodoo operates. Simple though it sounds, there are still a few holes into which the unsuspecting can fall. The animal must be one that the spirit approves of and above all, must be absolutely perfect and blemish-free. Poussaint adds as an afterthought: “The spirit will soon show you displeasure if you don’t offer them the best. If they don’t kill you, they will do things to you like instigate car crashes and unexplained illnesses. They have the power to do things like that.”
This is grand stuff,
but forget Africa and Haiti, what happens in Poussaint’s North London flat? After a few more quick scans and unsubtle swivelling on stools, we all lean in closely. When calling upon dark spirits, he dresses in black, but to call a pure spirit for something good, he dresses in white. He fashions himself into the dress of the spirit he needs to call and recites certain incantations, depending on the individual spirit. Clients can’t just arrive unannounced, demand a promotion or the birth of a child, and expect it to be plucked out of the skies overnight or handed over in exchange for a tenner. They must be quizzed repeatedly as to why they want something and they must give a solid, stoic response, without faltering or uncertainty. To undo something once it has been asked for is next to impossible, and the spirits don’t take kindly to having their powers abused. Another issue of contention that has brought the world of Voodoo into recent scrutiny is the disappearance of numerous young, black children thought to be victims of Voodoo sacrifice. Poussaint shakes his head and looks appalled. He growls something angrily and Colin translates: “He abhors human sacrifice and says the people who kill children should be taking the children to professional exorcists to rid them of the energy possessing them.” Unable to see why a child would be possessed, he explains to me: “When kids are possessed someone may have put a hex on the parent, which has passed onto the child because the parent is too strong to be affected. It bounces off them onto a vulnerable, weaker relation. They start wetting the bed and acting abnormally, lashing out, screaming aggressively and manifesting signs of being consumed by another energy. The priest will only treat a child who is brought to him by a parent or legal guardian. The child is given a calming bath with herbs and ointments and then anointed with oils and a series of prayers are performed. An egg is broken and rubbed over the child’s body because it symbolises the positive energy of a new life, which is used to extract the negative energy in the child.” The priest’s first exorcism was soon after his father’s death and he has been doing it ever since. He specialises in helping people with problems and Colin points out that although he is very capable of killing people, he never will. “It is easy to put curses and hexes on people and poison your drinks or food. In fact, he can make anything happen. You can get a spirit to interfere with someone and cause a car crash. He believes Princess Diana was killed by a force such as this. Mohammed Al Fayed used to live in our town in Haiti, and he got his power through Voodoo. He was there for five years, and the priest there who helped him achieve his success was never thanked for what he did. That’s why the curse passed from him onto his son, who was more vulnerable. That’s why he was killed.”
As I leave, the priest takes my hand again and reminds me that if I want him to help me in any way at all, to let him know. I thank him and promise that I will 27
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HE’S FOUGHT A 30-YEAR BATTLE AGAINST STUDIO SUITS, BUT IF GEORGE A. ROMERO IS THE WINNER, WHO ARE THE REAL LOSERS? WORDS BY ADRIAN SANDIFORD ILLUSTRATION BY PAUL WILLOUGHBY
The screams ricocheted off celluloid, into the cinema and back again; the piercing shrieks lost in the breathless, delighted squeals of the audience. It was 1985 and George A. Romero, the father of modern horror, the knight of the living dead, had arrived with the long-awaited third part of his celebrated zombie trilogy. The master was back in control, returning to his tried and tested formula of zombie schlock and social allegory. Romero’s modus operandi, first flexed in Night of the Living Dead, catapulted him to fame in 1968 and instantly secured his cult status. It was hailed as a brilliant work of cinematic art, respectfully interred in the vaults of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Two decades later, here he was again, back to the dead. And then? Nothing. Fast-forward 20 years, and hell is set to spill over a fourth time. The 65 year-old Romero is revisiting his past glories. But why the wait? The original conceit of making one Dead film every decade, to reflect the period it was filmed in, dried up in the ’90s, with the rights tied up between various companies involved with the series over the years. But Romero persisted, refusing to do things unless they were on his terms.
For his fans, the latest instalment of the series signifies the final victory of Romero as a Hollywood outsider. And that he is. This is a man who has looked stubbornly askance at the mainstream, insisting on doing things his way. The New York-born director has consistently fought for his independence. Control is the defining characteristic of his approach. After finishing his studies at the CarnegieMellon Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
Romero stayed in the area to shoot commercials and industry promos with his own production company, Latent Image, set up with his friends. As the company’s president, Romero could call all the shots, including the curious decision to have a monkey, owl and cat running around reception. Night’s success followed eight hardened years of working in commercials. But where most directors would have gladly abandoned the ’Burgh for Hollywood, Romero snubbed the lucrative studio offers that attempted to lure him to the coast. Generous overtures for a sequel were rejected. Romero was staying put. Romero wanted to make a light romantic comedy. Romero wanted to keep to his Deada-decade plan. While his 1971 rom-com, There’s Always Vanilla, flopped horribly and 1973’s The Crazies – an indictment of belligerent Nixonian America disguised as an apocalyptic sci-fi action thriller – did slow business; whenever Hollywood came knocking, Romero resisted. Staying in Pittsburgh meant he could remain independent, beat the system and make films his way. His first three films went into production without a distribution contract. The First Rule of George Club: do not surrender creative control. Romero’s distrust of the studio system can be traced back to his early years as a grip on major movies around New York, including Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. The experience left a battered impression of Hollywood and its star system. His cynicism and frustration were cemented when he looked to secure a distributor for Night, only to have AIP turn the film down, demanding a happy ending. But the decision to maintain his position as an outsider, rather than capitulate to market forces and the pressure of Hollywood, led to Romero’s
missing years. His attitude towards the studios, and need for control saw project after project slip through his fingers over the last twenty years. The Mummy, Resident Evil, Scream. Romero was set to direct them all. Success with just one would have boosted his career, but moreover, with Romero at the helm these films could have been special. But his obstinacy, his persistence in trying to preserve his vision, in wanting to maintain control, led to him being replaced, time after time.
Surely then, this is a triumph of the principled director over the bastard studios? Hardly. Even if Romero has never compromised himself or his fans, every time he lost out on a project so did we. The obsession with control and freedom have left him perversely powerless. What did we get in return? No one cares about the three films he managed to squeeze out in the 20 years between Day and Land. Bruiser, anyone? Where Romero wanted to make independent, message-heavy films (Bruiser’s faceless protagonist satirises anonymous corporate greed, and represents the post-modern loss of identity), he pushed himself into a corner where he’s only known for the success of the Dead films. When the independent vision of Bruiser bombed, and the big studios shunned him, Romero finally found himself forced to return to the one thing that has made his name: zombies. Romero has been caught between not being able to make a success of things his way, and not wanting to do things the studios’ way. And now, all he can do is zombies: wheeled out to assist on a 1990 remake of Night, the director of a 30-second Japanese zombie commercial for the Resident Evil 2 computer game, scribe of a six-part zombie comic for DC, and now Land of the Dead. The man’s not free; he’s trapped in a genre, ensnared with nothing but screams 29
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DEAD RECKON ING GEORGE ROMERO’S DEAD TRILOGY IS AN ICON OF THE HORROR GENRE. WHY?
WORDS BY DAVID JENKINS
a Pittsburgh local by the name of George A. Romero took his trusty 12-gauge and shot cinematic convention between the eyes. Over the next 20 years, he would go on to produce a series of three pioneering and politically loaded films which, to this day, stand out as one of the most complete trilogies within the horror genre. The trilogy lent itself to an era of textbook cineastes who thrived on the dissection of politics and subtexts. However, watching the films now, some might feel an unerring sense of unjust appreciation. They might even feel (whisper it) cheated. With the imminent release of Land of the Dead, now is as good a time as any to ask whether George Romero’s Dead trilogy is anything more than a Media teacher’s wet dream?
In the tradition of EC Comics (producers of Mad Magazine), Night of the Living Dead was an iconoclastic and unyielding introduction to the splatter genre. To its fans, it was a devastating critique of a society whose morals had been traded like junk bonds by a rampant capitalist system. A film which broke down conventions like the soft limbs of its zombie protagonists. Though on initial release it barely recouped its minute budget, it was the toast of a small-scale crowd of horror enthusiasts and late-night drive-in audiences. Through word of mouth, it was given a national release, striking a chord with the American public.
emerging genres such as Blaxpolitation were spawning films like Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song, Black Caesar and Shaft which, although challenging and original, marginalised a movie
industry unschooled in the notions of reverse-racism and gender politics. Movies of the period which explicitly tried to tackle social injustice, such as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and In The Heat Of The Night, pandered too obviously towards liberal rhetoric, and were produced solely for mass market consumption. In Night, the role of Ben (a black man) was given to Duane Jones because “he gave the best audition”. Nowhere in the film is the colour of his skin referenced in any way, giving Night a subversive and refreshing subtlety. It doesn’t try to be a moral film: it just is. Night is an emotive and iconic part of movie history. From the spine-chilling echo of “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” to the explicit (and pioneering) scenes of human flesh eating, it’s a film that has passed the test of time. It circumnavigates the extent of what a horror film can be. Forget the AmDram acting and amateurish action, Night is a movie on a mission and, most importantly, it scares the Christ out of you.
The subtext of Romero’s trilogy took a more abstract and macabre bent with his ’72 follow-up, Dawn of the Dead. This time, his target was the vapid excess of consumerism. Where some audiences got a kick-ass zombie flick with exploding heads and disembowelment, others spotted the digs at the great shopping mall that is America. Garishly shot with a throng of B-movie actors, with make-up maestro Tom Savini redefining on-screen grotesqueness, Dawn relied much more on high-wire thrills than it did on dialogue and human interaction.
Dawn of the Dead is a film which strives too hard for admiration. At the time of its release, it was celebrated for its daring use of primary colours and graphic gore effects (another nod to EC Comics), but in retrospect it looks more like a budget TV soap opera with a wholesale supply of red emulsion. Though horror aficionados will tell you that’s what it’s MEANT to look like, man, it’s a film whose décor is so steeped in the ’70s (quite aside from the risible soundtrack provided by Dario Argento’s band, Goblin), that the cynical message it delivers feels just as dated. The reason why Dawn is so seductive is because the allegory of a consumer society is broad enough to analyse to the bone. But while the script is rich with lines about zombies “returning to a place they once knew”, even in the framework of the horror genre it eludes any semblance of reality. It’s not subtle enough to be smart and not dense enough to be penetrating. There’s no doubt that the film’s commitment to satire raises it above most of the Hammer shlock that the ’70s produced, but it’s difficult to agree with critics and fans who cite it as the best horror film of all time. Dawn of the Dead is an inventive indie pic, but it’s nothing more than that. Though it makes an overt political connection, the message is forced at the expense of the human drama.
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Zombies are now the dominant species on Earth at a ratio of 400,000 to 1. The city streets are dormant, their only purpose now to collect the rubbish blown through them by sonic winds. That is until nervous human breaths break the silence, and rouse an army of decaying zombies from vacant buildings. Day of the Dead (’85) opens on the cheery declaration that the human race has already lost, only a tiny group of humans (perhaps the last on Earth) survive amidst an unfathomable army of flesh eating zombies. The final, much maligned episode in Romero’s original trilogy is a long, clunking, complex film that laces visceral effects with heavy-handed symbolism. However, it embraces the idea that zombies are more than just a mechanism by attempting (both physically and metaphorically) to dissect them. Dr Logan (Richard Liberty) is the scalpel-happy scientist who tears specimens apart in order to see what makes them tick, as well as trying to discover whether domestication could be an option. All this is to the abhorrence of Captain Rhodes (Joseph Pilato) who does not abide the feeding of his dead troops to the zombie subjects by way of a reward.
ideas into the pot, at once makes Day a richer and more rewarding film than Dawn. There’s more to think about (and to care about) in between Savini’s suppurating gore effects. Also, because there is less focus on cultural mores, Day feels the more timeless movie. Sure, it’s full of cheesy lines and a cast of unknowns who could barely out-act a treehouse, but Day is a more perceptive film than its predecessors. It has its faults, but it has depth and originality to warrant its deconstruction by the horror hounds. The Dead Trilogy is exciting and fresh, and if you enjoy your horror with hidden depths, it’s ripe for revisitation. But George Romero isn’t Emile Zola, he’s not Baudilaire, Dawn of the Dead isn’t a Candide of the ’70s. They’re good films. Just go watch them. 33
Urban Zombie words by michael sullivan jr. illustration by lucas krull
Oh dear God save me from this melting carnage. I’m surrounded by the living dead. Was I not warned? I am turning into one. I am one. Please God help me. I am an Urban Zombie. At the tender age of 29 I have lost the sense of real life. It is nothing but a distant dream, impossible to achieve. Too many bills, not enough holidays, council tax, mortgage. Stuck in the same job without enough money to break through. I am dead. Like most of the zombies I am well educated. I went to an institute that made me believe in certain goals, in life. They gave me a pattern to live. But after achieving their goals (set by the standards and the common expectations while I was alive) I felt the last drops of life draining from my body. I dropped happily dead behind an office desk, appointed to me by the Vice President himself, who shook my hand and was friendly to me. For a week. Now I’m stuck in the patterns and routine of my undead life. My life is my prison. But I do not cut corners. I am an urban zombie and I have my strengths. I queue. I spend my existence in queues starting at the morning tube. Lunch hour queue is my favorite (the bank, a sandwich). Hello, how are you sir? Pretty good. Fuck off. Afternoon queue in a supermarket is not as rewarding but I sneak a peak at Heat magazine and it warms my aching heart. I like to queue to go home and watch the telly, and queue during the ad breaks to get another glimpse of Big Brother.
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Sometimes I take a stroll to queue outside a nightclub for recreational purposes. The better clubs let in only a handful of zombies at once to create a queue outside in order to attract more zombies to queue, often to a half empty place of the brain dead. If I go out in the nighttime I numb my brain with substances, anything from alcohol to cannabis to cocaine will do the trick. House music or cheap pop is excellent in numbing me further. Chic. Funky. Furthest from life I ever experience. Every now and then me and the other zombies are forced to leave our work and daily patterns. I normally head to the same locations with everyone else (to queue for some ice cream) or just stay at home and play PS2. Maybe I should buy a car. To be funky and free. One of those hatchbacks and be playfully sexy. (Zombies are told that in order to be ‘sexy’ and ‘funky’ they can express themselves by purchasing things.) See, zombies don’t get enough queuing on their feet, but they like to get into their moving sofas and queue on the streets, block by block. And because zombies hate life, their moving couches are equipped with devices that slowly but surely will kill all the life from this disgustingly green planet. Oh my God, a new Coldplay album to fill my soul. Uhh give me a second. I do not believe in all of this. I do not need to believe in anything because I don’t question in the first place. And that’s how I ended up here. In the hot carnage of dead dreams. Uniforms. Suits and tie. Army. Police. Cool. Chic. Crazy. Extreme
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FRIGHTENERS GEORGE A. ROMERO ISN’T THE ONLY MASTER OF THE GENRE WHOSE MOVIES YOU SHOULD BE CHECKING OUT. WORDS BY JONATHAN WILLIAMS ILLUSTRATIONS BY ROB LONGWORTH
F W Murnau.
Murnau’s films had everything. His techniques, his characters, his ideas, were so ground breaking and potent that he was recently acclaimed one of the greatest directors of all time. Rumoured to be seven-feet tall, Murnau was a fighter pilot in WWI, afterwards making Faust, Nosferatu and Four Devils, as well as pioneering new cinematic techniques, both artistic and thematic. Murnau often blurred the line between dreams and reality in his films, creating a spooky atmosphere that is complemented by the absence of talking. His famous phrase, “Don’t act, think!” was last uttered in ’31, the year he died in a car crash in Southern California.
As one of the grandfathers of horror, Whale’s life beyond the camera was as noteworthy as his contribution to modern cinema. He spent time in a prisoner of war camp in WWI where, unusually, he developed a penchant for musical theatre. He went on to helm momentous pictures like Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man; in the process establishing some of the most enduring archetypes of the era. More recently, as details of Whale’s private life have been revealed, many have seen homosexual themes in his films, and they are considered especially noteworthy in gay and lesbian studies. Towards the end of his life, Whale suffered memory problems as a result of a stroke and became deeply depressed. In ’57, he committed suicide by drowning himself in his swimming pool; apparently never overcoming the horror of his wartime experiences.
The definitive B-movie horror director, the titles of Adamson’s films speak for themselves: Blood of Ghastly Horror; Satan’s Sadists; Horror of the Blood Monsters; and Five Bloody Graves. These were brilliantly realised, simple horror fair that were hugely popular in drive-in theatres across America. Adamson never took the genre too seriously, and was still happily making his gloriously bloody movies when he was murdered in ’95. His corpse was buried under the freshly laid tiles of his bathroom by a contractor who assumed his identity for weeks afterwards.
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Argento is an artist with an eye for beauty in a genre where imagery is paramount, saying; “I like women, especially beautiful ones. If they have a good face and figure, I would much prefer to watch them being murdered than an ugly girl or man.” This position has served him well over the years as he collaborated with George Romero twice, and undertook horror remakes of Macbeth (called Opera) and Phantom of the Opera. It proved less useful in a disastrous campaign for political office in Italy in ’97. Argento’s eye for cinematography is his most famous asset, but his films deserve deeper deliberation. He has dedicated his life to understanding the psychology of fear, and each of his films represents an effort to articulate this in as pure a way as possible. Now retired, he has his own store and museum in Rome, and supports his daughter Asia’s film career.
Fulci’s films are unadulterated horror and, for many, the yardstick of what great horror can achieve. Often considered the goriest filmmaker ever, Fulci’s best movies drip with blood and brutality from start to finish. Screaming women, mutilated animals and perverted priests all feature in his work, the finest of which include Zombie, The Gates of Hell and The Beyond. Fulci was heavily influenced by George Romero and Dario Argento, and Zombie was an unofficial sequel to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Blacklisted and despised in his native Italy, the diabetic Fulci died in mysterious circumstances after inexplicably forgetting to take his insulin. Some believe this was suicide; just at a point when he was starting to get the respect he deserved.
Barker had a lot to live up to after being hailed by Steven King as “the future of horror”. In truth, the reprehensible plundering of his Hellraiser franchise has done little to enhance his reputation in recent years, and it is easy to forget how startling this debut was when first released in ’87. Hellraiser unleashed one of the most frightening villains in horror – Pinhead – and the concept of pain as pleasure. The cenobytes (demons) in the Hellraiser films are not traditionally evil, angry or insane; they simply love torturing people in the most hideous ways. Stemming from Barker’s personal fascination with bondage, the series is terrifying, yet remains gleefully rooted in B-movie shlock. Nevertheless, this trilogy (along with Barker’s other work, the Books of Blood and the Candyman films) remains a benchmark in 20th century horror.
Fascinated with flesh and the workings of the human body, David Cronenberg’s films use the dichotomy between the body and the mind to sickening effect. When the two combine, often literally, with his interest in technology, a world of bizarre possibility is created. The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch and Scanners are synonymous with graphic images of human disfigurement, but are rarely thought of as traditional horror. However, Cronenberg’s idea of the “new flesh” (the human body transformed by a machine into a new organism) as represented in the majority of his films, is a long way from family entertainment. Weird science, indeed.
Hideo Nakata sent a shocking message to the world when his deeply unsettling and hugely frightening Ringu crawled its way from Japan to the West in ’96. After a period of stagnation in Western horror, Nakata gave audiences something they hadn’t had in years: a truly fearsome experience. Ringu, Ringu 2 and Dark Water have a clinical style, rooted in traditional Japanese spiritualism. The recurring theme of spirits entering the world is coupled with a distinctive soundtrack, based on Nakata’s understanding of the “aesthetics of substance”. His work may since have been shamelessly ripped off and homogenised for Western audiences, but his original films have disturbed like nothing else in recent years
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ROCKY HORROR BUcKLe UP for a whiStLe StoP toUr of horror’S DefiNiNg fLicKS; aN ever chaNgiNg Story of vamPireS, aLieNS, aND ZomBieS that StretcheS from germaNy to JaPaN via the gooD oL’ US of a. weLcome to horror hiStory 101. WORDS BY ADRIAN SANDIFORD
NoSferatU, eiNe SymPhoNie DeS graUeNS (F.W. mUrNAU, 1922) The first and best screen Dracula is the film that kick-started a genre. Max Schreck is the definitive Count – utterly ghoulish and truly terrifying; quite unlike the suave aristocrat of later legend. Using chills and darkness instead of meaningless screams, this is one of the finest silent films ever made, a true classic that secured German Expressionism’s place in cinematic history. Nosferatu opened the way for the gothic terror of the ’20s and significantly influenced later Hollywood films – particularly Universal’s ’30s horror series that popularised the genre in the wake of Murnau’s iconic beginning.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956) Universal’s take on horror continued throughout the ’40s, eventually degenerating into a spate of sequels, spin-offs and nonsense. But with the end of WWII, and the introduction of a new world order, the focus of fear shifted from gothic ghouls to the terror of nuclear destruction. Siegel’s Cold War allegory, filled with trepidation and unease – in which invading aliens surreptitiously take control from within – played on anti-Communist paranoia and blurred the line between horror and science fiction; an approach that dominated the ’50s. It’s a telling snapshot of its time, a turning point away from gothic tales of monsters and towards the modern. Mainly an American obsession, the Brits plugged away, via Hammer, with the traditional Dracula/ Frankenstein/Mummy stories of yesteryear. Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968) This zombie fright feast is a keystone in horror. While continuing the implicit social commentary of the ’50s horror/science-fiction movement, albeit it in a form more attuned with ’60s sensitivities, Romero’s masterpiece also contains elements of psychological horror. This was a style the genre had evolved during the ’60s – as seen at the start of the decade in Hitchcock’s Psycho. While blending slices of past and present, Night’s raw gore also predicted the charge of the schlock brigade that would come to swamp the genre. Meanwhile, the Brits were still Hammering away. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978) While Friedkin’s notorious tale of demonic possession, The Exorcist, is a landmark in the growth of the occult as a popular subject within the genre; and Tobe Hooper’s infamous The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a terrifying prototype to the slasher pic; it is Carpenter’s story of an unstoppable psycho-killer that really defines horror’s next move. The director’s use of framing and chilling subtleties are masterfully displayed in a film that smashed the box office, crowned Jamie Lee Curtis as cinema’s Scream Queen, and set the new horror rules. Halloween brought the teen-slasher to the mainstream and blazed a trail for a succession of sleazy imitators. The exploitative pics that followed, notably Friday the 13th, significantly upped the graphic excess.
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Scream (Wes Craven, 1996) While the ’80s were characterised by bowelprolapsing gore and mayhem, a theme that eventually climaxed in the James Bulger “video nasties” debacle of ’93, where fright flicks like Evil Dead were blamed for debasing society’s morals, Scream’s arrival breathed new life into a flagging formula. Craven’s return to the teen slasher, at a time when horror was hurtling into straight-to-video hell, refreshed the over-familiar concept with Kevin Williamson’s satirical, tongue-in-cheek script. With a perennially arched eyebrow, in-jokes, and characters that endlessly reference horror movies and its clichés, it’s a product of the achingly cool, postmodern ironic smugness of the ’90s. Pop begins to eat itself.
The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002) Having raided its vaults, horror has nowhere left to turn but East. Verbinski’s lumpen retread of Japanese maestro Hideo Nakata’s Ringu is indicative of millennial horror’s new vogue – the diluted Hollywood “J-Horror” market. The Ring’s success, despite its disappointing insistence on rationalising and explaining, has encouraged further Nakata plundering with American versions of the Japanese director’s Dark Water and Chaos. The horror, the horror
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Hollywood has long been obsessed with Voodoo, zombies and the dark secrets of Haiti. But what is the truth of this shattered islandâ€™s cultural heritage? words by matt bochenski illustrations by paul willoughby
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to the west,
Voodoo is a religion mired in blood: an arcane ritual of savages, fuelled by child sacrifice and magical rites. at best, it is an object of curiosity, from the cannibals and witch doctors that littered the language of us occupation, to 70-years of hollywood exploitation, to the nakedly racist attacks of religious fanatics. but this outpouring of fear and loathing is just the latest act in a long history of oppression, denying Voodoo its rightful place at the centre of haiti’s cultural experience. by the turn of the 18th century, half a million slaves had been dragged to the island in chains from their homes in west africa. with them came Voodoo, the religion of their ancestors. Forbidden by the colonists, it became the touchstone of a people who suffered indiscriminate abuse, and a link to the past in a country that brutally eradicated any sense of identity. the penalty for carrying a fetish included castration, disfigurement and being buried or flayed alive, but it survived underground – practiced at night, its beliefs and rituals jealously protected. according to one houngan, “any white that ever stumbled across the secrets of a sacrifice deep in the jungle wouldn’t live to tell the tale.” the roots of Voodoo are deeper than memory. depending on your perspective, it means “spirit of god”, “to dance” or “the persistence in hayti of abominable magic, mysteries and cannibalism, brought originally by the negroes from africa.” (The New York Daily News, 1855) it is a religion of rural spirituality in which ancestral loa watch over their descendents, and protect them from harm. these loa are family spirits, inherited from one generation to the next. they bestow favours on their children, ensuring a continuous, unbroken bond that can be traced not only across generations, but across continents – from the caribbean to benin, togo, cuba and brazil.
that the christian colonists tried to stamp it out with such cruelty was a mark of the simmering racial tension that characterised the island. the whites were a tiny minority who protected their interests with sadistic brutality. though a middle class of ‘free blacks’ provided a bulwark against the slave majority, by the mid 18th century, the tenor of the country was an unstable mix of fear and resentment. in 1751 this tension erupted into bitter violence when disparate bands of runaway slaves united under Francois macandal, and waged a six-year campaign of barbarous retribution. after his capture in 1758, macandal was burned at the stake by the French army. not just a practitioner of Voodoo, but a boko, or sorcerer, he inspired terror in his executioners. like the houngans, bokos are the intermediaries between two worlds who take the many aspects of the spirits – anthropomorphic, abstract, capricious and demanding – and make them manifest. but where a priest will invoke a spirit for the protection of its family, a sorcerer manipulates their power for darker ends.
this is the face of Voodoo that has terrified and fascinated the west for over two hundred years, and has been the justification for bloody suppression. that suppression has often been led by the catholic church,
“in the eyes of westerners in the 19th century, any element of african culture smacked of barbarism. in Haiti, the agitators who emerged from the rebellion and the revolution were used as proof of a connection between Voodoo and savagery... turning the island into the land of the living dead.” Laennec Hurbon, Anthropologist.
culminating in the violent ‘Anti-Superstition Campaigns’ under American occupation in the ’40s. With the tacit backing of the US government, missionary sects desecrated shrines and burned idols in an attempt to intimidate the peasants into abandoning their beliefs. That they failed belies a curious paradox in Voodoo worship. Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Haiti, and most of the islanders see no conflict between their two spiritual poles. Buoyed by the political strength of the Evangelical movement, Catholics continue to be less accommodating. One Christian website, pointing out that, under slavery, Haiti was known as “The Pearl of the Antilles”, describes how it became the poorest after “selling its soul to Satan.” Though Haiti was officially excommunicated for most of the ’60s, repressive efforts continued, and even now, Catholic and Conservative news sites carry anti-Voodoo stories and salacious allegations (according to the Canada Free Press, Bill Clinton performed a Voodoo rite to curse George Bush, and Saddam Hussein summoned evil spirits to do his bidding). Yet for all that the sorcerous myths of Voodoo have been subjected to sustained abuse, they continue to exert a grip on fascinated Western onlookers. This exotic allure is best summed up in one word: zombies.
As any movie fan knows, a zombie is an undead corpse,
capable of physical actions like walking and feeding, but possessed of no real cognitive
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abilities. Yet in reality they are not the accident of some lab test gone wrong, escaped virus or infection from a bite. Though Hollywood has transformed the zombie into a figure of cult and almost comic appeal, its roots in Haitian folklore are quite different. Traditionally, Haitians believed that sorcerers used dark rites to possess the soul of a body, replacing it with a captured spirit after raising it from the grave. For a long time, the nature of these rites was unclear. The common belief among islanders is that bokos use the hair or blood of their victims along with a Voodoo doll, to perform an ancient ceremony that traps the soul in a jar. This jar is wrapped in a piece of the victim’s clothing and then hidden in a place known only to the bokos, while an evil spirit is given possession of the empty corpse. As such, the dead were traditionally buried face down with the mouth sewn up to prevent the spirit from entering, often holding a dagger to kill any sorcerer who came calling, or surrounded by other distractions to prevent the corpse listening to magical incantations. If all this sounds unlikely, it’s thrown into sharp relief by Article 249 of the Haitian Penal Code: “It shall be qualified as attempted murder the employment which may be made against any person of substances which, without causing actual death, produce a lethargic coma more or less prolonged. If after the person has been buried, the act shall be considered murder no matter what result follows”. The existence of zombies in Haiti is a documented fact, but though they exert a powerful grip on the island’s religious experience, more recently they have been understood scientifically. In 1988, anthropologist Wade Davis travelled to Haiti as part of the National Geographic Society’s Ethnosphere Project. He had heard the story of Clairvius Narcisse, an islander who had ‘died’ in 1962 only to reappear 18-years later with no
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memory of his life over the last two decades. it is claimed that narcisse had fallen foul of a sorcerer, been zombified and sold into slavery on a sugar plantation. after the sorcerer who ‘owned’ his soul died, the spell was broken and narcisse had simply walked away. he was discovered by chance in a local market by his sister.
the boko would simply dig him up and give him another poison containing the plant datura stramonium, whose alkaloids scopolamine and atropine would cause amnesia as well as acting as an antidote to the original toxins. the zombie could then be sold into slavery or manipulated for whatever nefarious scheme the sorcerer had in mind.
using narcisse as the springboard for his research, davis made a series of remarkable claims, published in two books, The Serpent and the Rainbow and Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie. his conclusion was that zombies are not a myth. they are created by sorcerers working for secret ‘bizango’ societies that predate independence, and which represent an alternative, underground haitian government dedicated to preserving the island’s ancestral, african heritage. Zombification, davis claims, is the ultimate consequence of running afoul of haiti’s secret government, and one means of maintaining social control in rural communities.
unsurprisingly, many disputed davis’ findings, claiming that the level of tetrodoxin in his sample was too low to have any real effect. equally, the whole area of ethnobiology – the interplay of cultural and biological factors in determining the efficacy of a pharmaceutical – is a controversial science. For davis, key to the creation of zombies was not just the contents of the potion, but the “set and setting” required for the powder to work – that is, the victim’s expectations of what the drug will do, and the physical and social environment in which the drug is taken. in truth, he didn’t do himself any favours when he sold the rights to one of his books to hollywood, and wes craven produced a movie that was everything davis had gone to haiti to dispel.
the magic rituals invoked by the sorcerers are explained in pharmacological terms. davis acquired a potion used in an actual zombie ceremony, and sent it back to the us for testing. he found that zombies are not raised from the dead, but created from the living. the potion contained three main elements – the crushed bones of a human, a toad and a puffer fish. the puffer fish contained the chemicals ciguatoxin and tetrodoxin, while the toad (bufo marinus) contained a chemical which has also been found in african arrow poison. in the correct dose, the balance of these three elements causes parasthesia, a chemical disposition which advances from a tingling sensation round the extremities, to gastrointestinal and cardiovascular pain. higher doses will cause death from respiratory paralysis. davis believed that his potion could, in some circumstances, induce a zombified state where a victim would appear clinically dead for several days. once buried,
disputes aside, davis’ work questions two centuries of rancorous myth-making. but even though the prevalence of black rites in haiti has no doubt been exaggerated, their influence on the island’s evolution can’t be overstated. back in 1751, macandal used his position as a boko to gather an army of thousands. yet his uprising was merely the tremor that presaged the shockwave of rebellion. a new haiti was to emerge from the flames of a Voodoo revolution.
Voodoo – the religion of resistance
– reached its apogee in 1791,
in the stagnant pools of the Alligator Woods, where a band of slaves gathered to seal a pact of rebellion. According to one source (the admittedly biased and wildly unreliable Conservative News), “They sacrificed a pig in a voodoo ritual at which hundreds of slaves drank its blood. In this ritual [they] asked Satan for his help in liberating Haiti from the French. In exchange, the voodoo priests offered to give the country to Satan for 200 years and swore to serve him.” Days later, the country erupted with the fury of vengeance. Atrocity piled on atrocity as the slaves, marching beneath the carcass of a white baby impaled on a stick, scoured the countryside, annihilating all traces of the white population. The towns burned for months. Haiti became the first free black republic, “and thus began a new demonic tyranny.” The influence of Voodoo has scarcely waned, nor has its association with a society plagued by violence and oppression. In the ’60s, Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier recruited Voodoo specialists for his tonton makouts, a brutal private police force charged with stamping out sedition in the island’s interior. Tonton makout is a Creole bogeyman, and, dressed in the blue denim and red neck-tie of a Voodoo spirit, they more than lived up to this reputation. Duvalier was a keen student of Haitian history, adroitly using the language and influence of Voodoo to manipulate the people. He encouraged rumours that he was a houngan, and nurtured extensive links among priests and bokos alike. He dressed in the black top hat and coat of the powerful spirit Baron Samedi, and it has even been alleged that he murdered one rival for the presidency and ate his brains and heart. It is a mark of Haiti’s sad story, after enduring so much violence and exacting so heavy a price in the fight to regain its
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history, that so much of the modern country feels unchanged – still yoked to its bloody past. It is the poorest state in the western hemisphere, still suffering from the legacies of slavery and political violence. In 2004 the government issued a press release decrying the actions of former president Aristide’s ‘Beheading Army’, a heavily armed militia dedicated to restoring their power base. Violent gangs led by former MPs conducted what they called “Operation Baghdad”, burning cars and torturing farmers, chanting “Aristide or death!” and performing their special ‘Necklace Torture’ (a flaming tyre around the neck) on captured opposition members.
Yet there is still hope for the future of Haiti. There are signs of economic recovery,
but more importantly, while Voodoo flourishes at the heart of the island’s society – free of the cruelties that have been imposed on it by outsiders – there is a viable chance that Haiti’s rich cultural heritage will be allowed to thrive. Voodoo is not just the religion of zombies and blood that Hollywood purveys – it is so much more than that. In the words of the anthropologist, Harold Courlander, Voodoo is the religion of “emotional release, dance, music, theatre, legend and folklore, motivation, placation and invocation, protection of fields, fertility, and a continuing, familiar relationship with the ancestors.” Just don’t expect to see that movie any time soon
zombie survival guide It’s finally happened: outbreak; war; defeat. Zombies control the earth, so what’s next? Author Max Brooks has the answer...
On the Attack What if those we pay to protect us are nowhere to be found? In this case, responsibility for eradicating the undead menace is up to you and those you can convince to join you. Every tactic in this section has been carefully tailored for just such a contingency. All have been taken from actual combat. All have been tested and proven battle-ready for that moment when retreat has ended and the time has come to hunt the hunters. Strategies 1. Lure and Destroy Use one or more vehicles, large pickup trucks, or SUVs to enter an infested area. Once inside, make as much noise as possible to draw the undead to you. Exit the area slowly, matching the speed of your pursuers. Like the Pied Piper, you will soon acquire a tail of zombies, a
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grisly parade slouching after you. At this point, sharpshooters posted at the back of the vehicles can proceed to take them down. The pursuing ghouls will not realise what is happening, as their primitive brains will not notice that their comrades are falling all around them. Continue to lead them from the area, thinning their ranks until none are left. Use this tactic in urban zones (when the roads are clear) or where natural environments allow long vehicular journeys. 2. The Tower Find an area high above ground (a tree, building, water tower, etc.). Stock this position with enough ammunition and basic supplies for a protracted battle (longer than one full day). Once all these tasks have been accomplished, do everything you can to attract the dead. As they gather around your position, begin the slaughter. Be careful when using incendiaries, as fire may
spread to the tower or smoke may become a health risk. 3. The Cage If you don’t believe in cruelty to animals, don’t try this on a sweep. It involves placing an animal in a cage, positioning your team within weapons range of that cage, then picking off the zombies that come to devour said animal. Of course, several factors need to be considered for this tactic to work. The live bait must be loud enough to attract any nearby ghouls. The cage must be strong enough to resist an attack and anchored well enough to resist being pushed. Your team needs to be hidden so as not to attract zombies to its position. They must also take care not to hit and kill the caged animal. Silent, dead bait will quickly foil the cage strategy. Environments least suited to a cage approach are those with little or no cover for your team. Avoid its use in
Last man standIng LWLies grabs 30 seconds with Max Brooks...
LWLies. if a zombie outbreak was declared right now, how prepared would you be and what would be your ﬁrst thought? Max Brooks. Dude, I’m ready! I’ve got my go-kit packed, my machete sharpened, I’m only a few blocks from the East River. Most importantly, I know the signs, so long before we hit Class 3 I’ll be kickin’ it in Greenland. LWLies. What’s your favourite zombie movie? MB. Dawn of The Dead, the original, no contest. Not only is it a great apocalyptic movie, not only does it show humans fighting back against their fears (finally), it’s infused with the kind of social commentary most films today could only dream about. LWLies. if you had to choose between dealing with a class 4 zombie apocalypse or an alien army on a war of extermination, which would it be? MB. Depends on the aliens; if they’re like the kind in John Carpenter’s They Live, so devious that they can conquer you without firing a shot, I’d rather fight the zombies, but if they’re the kind from the new War of the Worlds, the kind that are so stupid that in 1,000,000,000 years of planning they forget to test the air, bring ’em on! LWLies. Where did the book come from? MB. What, other than protecting my fellow humans? I’d have to say it was the Y2K scare. There were so many survival guides coming out and not ONE of them dealt with zombies. In short, I wrote it to read it. LWLies. if you could give one piece of advice to somebody in a zombieinfested area, what would it be? MB. Don’t panic! The one great advantage we have over them is the ability to think. Use your head: cut off theirs!
plains, tundra, or open desert. 4. the stampede Of all hunting methods used against the dead, this is perhaps the most theatrical. The “process” involves dividing your party into teams, boarding a number of motor vehicles, driving through the infested area, and running over every zombie they find. Despite the image of a modern-day stampede, it has been all but abandoned by knowledgeable hunting groups. Hitting a ghoul with a vehicle rarely results in a kill. More likely, the animated corpse is left crippled, crawling around with a shattered spinal column and useless legs. Always plan to follow up your “high-speed chase” with hours of mopping up by a team of dismounted hunters. If you do decide on the stampede tactic, use it in plains, desert, tundra, and other wide-open areas. Urban zones present too many obstacles,
such as wrecked cars or abandoned barricades. Too often, stampeding hunters have found their paths blocked and their situation radically reversed. Avoid swamps or wetlands entirely. 5. aIrborne sweep What could be safer than attacking your enemy from the air? With several helicopters, couldn’t your team cover more ground in less time with no risk at all? In theory, yes; in practice, no. Any student of conventional warfare will acknowledge the need for ground troops, no matter how superior an air force is. This applies tenfold for hunting the undead. Forget using air attacks in urban, forest, jungle, swamp, or any other canopied terrain. Chances are your kill rate will drop to under 10 percent. Forget also the idea of a clean, painless sweep, even in a high visibility zone. Your team will still have to mop up no matter how secure it appears... What about
parachuting hunters into an infested zone? This theory has been suggested many times although never put into practice. It is daring, it is courageous, it is heroic, and it is utterly insipid! Forget being injured on impact, tangled in trees, blown off course, lost on landing – forget all the possibilities associated with normal parachute jumps in regular peacetime conditions. If you want to know the true danger of an airborne attack against zombies, try dropping a square centimetre of meat on a swarming anthill. Chances are, that meat will never touch the ground. In short, air support is just that: “support.” People who believe it to be a war-winner have no business planning, orchestrating, or participating in any conﬂict with the living dead The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks is out now, published by Duckworth, priced £8.99
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THE LIVING DEAD
DRUGS, DEBAUCHERY, HAM SANDWICHES: ALL HAVE THEIR PLACE IN THE RAUCOUS PANTHEON OF ROCK CASUALTIES. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GUYS WHO DIDN’T MAKE IT – THE LUCKLESS FEW WHO SURVIVED THEIR DECADES OF SELF-DESTRUCTION? SHUFFLING, DEAD-EYED, UNEARTHLY... WE SALUTE ROCK’S LIVING DEAD. MUSICIANS, MAN, THEY CREEP US OUT.
WORDS BY ANDY DAVIDSON ILLUSTRATIONS BY DOMINIC CLIFFORD
Ex-Hendrix roadie and Hawkwind bassist Lemmy Kilmister is the original dirty old man of rock. Chucked out of space rock outfit Hawkwind after being arrested in Canada for possession of coke, he went on to found Motörhead: “the dirtiest rock and roll band in the world”. Motörhead had little going for them except speed, both musically and chemically. Lemmy lived on a diet of amphetamines, Jack Daniels and acid – “I saw people as animals, I saw ’em as rats and dogs... All the flesh melts off your face,” he once said. Unswayed, Lemmy survived a two-week chemical bender on two
fruit pies and some yoghurt. His defining words: “We do rock and roll about chicks and panties and fucking roaring, killing, blood-smeared death.” He sang it ’cos he lived it.
Mick Mars, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee have committed more atrocities in the name of rock than even they thought was possible. Sixx and Lee were the chief hellraisers: both hard drug users, groupie abusers and alcoholics. They spent the ’80s drinking, fucking and shooting up from one corner of
“The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom – for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough” William Blake
In a ’96 LA Times article the sad fate of John Frusciante was revealed. Missing most of his upper and lower teeth, shaven headed, with black, bruised and burnt skin and dots of blood on his trousers, Frusciante was living a twilight half-existence at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was a hermit – painting, playing guitar and shooting up heroin after quitting the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The replacement for Hillel Slovak, who died in ’88 from a heroin overdose, Frusciante was just 17 when he joined the band. After the recording of Blood Sugar Sex Magik in ’91, Frusciante became disillusioned with his rock star role and eventually left, consciously choosing to become a heroin addict. Resurfacing in ’97 after ridding himself of his habit and getting shiny new dentures, Frusciante rejoined the Chilli Peppers the epitome of a man born again.
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Few in the annals of rock history can hold a light to “depraved moral terrorist” Ozzy Osbourne. Where now we see a shaky drug casualty, the Ozzy of his youth was something far more monstrous. The ex-Brum burglar quickly let fame go to his head – bat and dove eating being only the tip of the demonic iceberg. In ’82 Ozzy was busted in Texas for urinating on the Alamo while wearing one of his wife’s dresses. He was charged with defiling a national monument. Later, after a vodka binge, he attempted to strangle Sharon, claiming, “We’ve decided you’ve got to go”. Sharon hit the panic button and Ozzy was packed off to rehab. His first question: “Where’s the bar?” In ’86, three kids killed themselves, allegedly after listening to Sabbath’s Suicide Solution. Ozzy lives on.
Kicked out of school for possession of acid and pills at a tender 14, MacGowan made an auspicious start on the road to long-term substance abuse. At one point in his career he claimed to be taking 50 tabs of acid and drinking three bottles of whisky every day. As famous for his pitiful dental state as for his drug use, and to a lesser extent his music, The
Pogues frontman puts his bad teeth down to drunken fights, police brutality, the use of crack and crystal meth and a lack of regular brushing. MacGowan was attacked and beaten by an assailant wielding an iron in 2004, but remains alive.
Jesus Christ Allin.*
‘GG’ Allin – frontman of Scumfucs, Texas Nazis, Drug Whore, Afterbirth, AIDS Brigade and Toilet Rockers, lyricist of ‘Fuckin’ The Dog’, ‘Drink, Fight and Fuck’, ‘Gypsy Motherfucker’, and ‘Expose Yourself To Kids’ – was a sick, sick man. His crazed live performances normally included bloodshed (either belonging to or caused by GG), nudity and on stage defecation. Fans risked getting the crap beaten out of them by a short, naked, skinhead punk rocker, getting faeces thrown at them or simply having to watch a grown man slowly work a microphone up his arse. Between gigs he lived in prison or the gutter, spending every penny on drugs, booze and whores. Allin claimed he would blow his brains out on stage, but sadly this was not to be. Allin died from a drug overdose in ’93, having previously invited fans to attend his funeral and shit on his corpse
*Technically dead, but qualifies because we’re not sure he was human in the first place.
the globe to the other. In a notorious contest of depravity with Ozzy Osbourne, Sixx snorted live ants off the pavement, only to see Ozzy drink his own piss off the floor. When Sixx let fly, Ozzy lapped both his and Sixx’s urine off the floor like a brain damaged hound. Nikki Sixx twice suffered near fatal overdoses and was known to inject whisky into his arm when no heroin was available.
work, rest, press play
stores throughout the UK. see website for full details
DUCK AND COVER
BEHIND EVERY ZOMBIE OUTBREAK IS A LAB EXPERIMENT GONE WRONG. BUT THAT HASN’T STOPPED SCIENTISTS CREATING SOME OF THE MOST DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES EVER DEVISED. WE TAKE A SNIFF OF SOME OF THE WORST. WORDS BY SOPHIE CARTWRIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS BY KATE MCMORRINE
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Phosgene (Carbonyl Chloride) Chemical Symbol: COCI2 Military Designation: CG Type: Chemical Choking Agent
shock-like symptoms with weaker circulation, pale clammy skin and a rapid heartbeat. Death occurs within 24 hours. There is no antidote.
Responsible for 80% of all chemical fatalities during the First World War, phosgene is one of the most dangerous man-made choking agents. Regularly used in pesticides, paint stripper and dry cleaning agents, it is widely available, and may be cooled, pressurised and transported as a liquid. Once increased to room temperature however, the liquid becomes a poisonous gas, which in high concentrations has devastating consequences for the body. Immediate effects of exposure to phosgene include irritation to eyes and throat, coughing, choking, headache, nausea and vomiting. Exposure to very high concentrations of the gas means death within a few hours, caused by a fatal pulmonary oedema (the accumulation of fluid in the body). As the oedema advances, the victim produces frothy sputum and displays
Sarin (Isopropyl methylphosphonoďŹ‚uridate) Chemical Symbol: CH3-P(=O)(-F)(-OCH(CH3)2) Military Designation: GB Type: Chemical Nerve Agent Sarin (GB) is 500 times more toxic than cyanide. Developed by German scientists during the 1930s as a pesticide, it was later recognised by the Nazis as a potentially lethal weapon, though it was never used as such. In its pure form, GB is a colourless, odourless liquid at room temperature, but as a gas it is the most volatile of the nerve agents. It suffocates victims by paralysing the respiratory muscles. One drop of sarin will kill an adult in minutes March 1988 saw the worst reported sarin attack to date, when Saddam Hussein killed 5000 Kurds in the village of Halabja, leaving ď š 65000 maimed, with respiratory diseases,
cancer and birth abnormalities. Most recently, sarin was used in an attack on the Tokyo subway on 20th March, 1995, in which representatives of the Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikyo, killed 12 and injured over 3000 in a rush hour attack. VX (Methylphosonothioic acid) Chemical Symbol: CH3-P(=O) (-SCH2CH2N[CH(CH3)2]2)(-OC2H5) Military Designation: VX Type: Chemical Nerve Agent Known only by its military designation, VX is the most lethal nerve agent ever created. The ‘V’ denotes its long persistence, making it more dangerous than sarin. It has the appearance of oil and is an excellent adhesive – some forms are virtually irremovable after binding to a surface. VX attacks the nervous system, attaching itself to the enzymes that transmit signals to the nerves, and rendering them inactive. A fraction of a drop absorbed by the skin is fatal, but it’s
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as a gas that VX is most effective. Once inhaled, the pain is immediate: vomiting; diarrhea; stomach cramps and involuntary defecation are assured. Unless an antidote (a mix of atropine and pralidoxime chloride) is administered immediately, victims of VX will die in minutes. Creating VX is an incredibly dangerous pursuit requiring the handling of toxic and corrosive chemicals at a very high temperature. The mass threat of VX is therefore not a very realistic one at present, as the danger of producing the chemical in small quantities alone is too great a risk for most to take. Sulphur Mustard (Yperite) Chemical Symbol: n/a Military Designation: HD/HT Type: Chemical Blister Agent Sulphur Mustard (HD) was introduced to the world as a weapon against soldiers in the First World War. Though it killed less than 5% of those who sought medical assistance, it
“DEATH OCCURS WITHIN 24 HOURS. THERE IS NO ANTIDOTE.” is a potentially devestating chemical. HD is a vesicant, a blistering agent that attacks the skin through burning on contact. It also effects the eyes, mucus membranes, lungs and bloodforming organs, corroding them internally. If a high dose of HD is inhaled, the victim will be assailed by mechanical asphyxia from obstructive non-living tissue in the throat and lungs. Death will follow. The only way to avoid infection from an attack of sulphur mustard is to kit yourself out with full protective clothing and breathing apparatus. Smallpox (Variola Major) Chemical Symbol: n/a Weapons Designation: n/a Type: Biological Agent Possibly the most dangerous biological weapon ever discovered, smallpox dates back some 3000 years. Immune to antibiotics, it is one of the most feared infections the world has ever seen. Smallpox was first documented as a weapon
during the French and Indian war of 17541767, when British soldiers gave contaminated blankets to Native Americans. Up to half the population in many tribes died, assisting the British in their attack. Today, we live in a smallpox-free environment, after an accident in a Birmingham lab in 1978 prompted a WHO clean-up operation the following year. Having killed up to 500 million people in the 20th century alone, the virus now exists in sample quantities in just two laboratories in the world. Spread through the air, and highly contagious, smallpox proliferates as easily as the common cold. The commencement of skin lesions marks the beginning of the contagious period, which does not end until the last scab has fallen off. When weaponised, the virus can be spread through structural ventilation systems, which would rapidly cause an epidemic. Although vaccines are available and prove useful if caught immediately, once the disease
“VOMITING; DIARRHEA; STOMACH CRAMPS AND INVOLUNTARY DEFECATION ARE ASSURED.” advances your best bet is to start praying. Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) Chemical Symbol: n/a Military Designation: n/a Type: Biological Agent Found naturally in soil, and created in military laboratories, anthrax is considered an ideal biological weapon. Tests on the island of Gruinard off the coast of Scotland resulted in its evacuation for 30 years, while in 2001, four contaminated letters in the US poisoned senators and media personnel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 23 became infected and five died. Anthrax needs only the tiniest lesion in the skin to enter the body, causing a bite-like growth which forms an ulcer. Inhalation of spores poses the greatest threat as the bacteria find the perfect breeding conditions in the lungs, where they secrete poisons into the surrounding body tissue. It would take only a few thousand spores
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released in the air to prove fatal. Cipro currently appears to be the most effective antibiotic. However, it is not widely available, and, if used continuously, would become ineffective, as the spores would build up a resistance to the drug. Botulism (Clostridium botulinum) Chemical Symbol: n/a Military Designation: n/a Type: Biological Agent The botulinum germ has a paralysing effect, making its derivative, botox, ideal at smoothing out wrinkles. Botulism itself, however, causes lethargy, drooping eyelids, slurred speech and floppy limbs. If left untreated, paralysis of the arms, legs and body follows. The most famous use of botulinum as a biological weapon of war was the preparation of cigars by the CIA to assassinate Cuban president Fidel Castro. The attempt was never carried out
A LWLies review will not be inhibited by any perceived rules. Just as movies are about more than the two hours you spend sitting in the cinema, our reviews are a chance to talk about much more than the immediate experience of the film in question. There are many different aspects of the movie-going experience and we will embrace them all.
Ever waited six months for a boxoffice behemoth? Read a book that you loved and nervously watched the adaptation? Been pleasantly surprised by an off-the-radar independent? Anticipation plays a crucial role in your reaction to a movie. Rather than ignore it, we think it should be measured and acknowledged as part of the moviegoing experience. Marked out of 5.
All other things aside, how did you feel for those two hours? Were you glued to your seat? Did the film speak to your soul? Was it upsetting, disappointing, or just plain boring? Were you even awake? Marked out of 5.
Great movies live with you; you carry them around wherever you go and the things they say shape the way you see the world. Did this movie fade away or was every moment burned into your retinas? Was it a quick fix action flick, good for a rainy Sunday afternoon? Or the first day of the rest of your life? Did you hate it with a fury only to fall in love with a passion? Or did that first love drain away like a doomed romance? Marked out of 5.
CHAPTER FOUR IN WHICH WE DISCUSS THE LATEST FILM RELEASES 64 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
R-POINT One of the most frightening things about new South Korean horror film R-Point is how brazenly derivative it is. The set up: a platoon of soldiers is sent on a top-secret mission to locate some colleagues who went missing at the titular location during the latter stages of the Vietnam War. R-Point has nothing to offer other than snail-paced genre scares and a plot which goes round in circles. From films such as Ring, to Blair Witch, Poltergeist and even Full Metal Jacket – R-Point cheats, steals, rips and ruins without a care in the world. R-Point writes the rules as it goes along, carelessly abandoning logic and common sense. The derelict building in which the soldier’s mettle is put to the test is a great piece of location
DIRECTED BY Su-chang Kong STARRING Woo-seong Kam, Byung-ho Son, Tae-kyung Oh
RELEASED 16 September
work, and the actors handle the ridiculous demands of the script with gusto and verve. However, the editing and sound are disappointing and there are subliminal flashes of a longhaired girl in a white garment who seems to crop up in just about every Asian horror film released in Britain. Like R-Point itself, this is a film you should do your best to keep away from. David Jenkins
Anticipation. South Korean cinema is on a roll at the moment. Four Enjoyment. What does it all mean?
In Retrospect. The emotional impact of an episode of The A Team.
THE INTRUDER RELEASED 26 August
Obscurity and a delicate lacing of uncertainty can often add more weight to a film’s credibility by allowing open interpretation to satisfy an audience. Little question marks are exciting to ponder, argue, even seethe silently over. But when The Intruder shifts violently from modern day Alps to 1940s Tahiti, artistic license is being abused. Thin plot threads are woven carelessly throughout the rest of the film: Swiss bank accounts, long lost sons, human hearts sold on the black market, corpses hidden under lakes... the threads come together in one huge inextricable knot that tightens around the neck of anyone still left in the cinema. Auteurism descends into autism as Denis’ film opens with a Swiss border-patrol officer hunting
DIRECTED BY Claire Denis STARRING Béatrice Dalle, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin
a suspect package. The plot moves rapidly to an elderly naked man lying side by side with his huskies. Lingering shots of trees, leaves and tall reeds bowing their heads as the bubbling brook gurgles past, are sprinkled in with as much coherence as the next few plotlines that appear with as much alarming rapidity as they disappear. After backtracking over the debris left by Denis’ cinematic hand grenade, the real intruder is, in fact, the film itself – an unwelcome violation of the brain for 130 minutes. Monisha Rajesh
Anticipation. Denis’ Chocolat was delicious. Four Enjoyment.
In Retrospect. she thinking? One
INTO THE BLUE DIRECTED BY John Stockwell STARRING Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan
The ﬁrst naked ﬂesh that appears in Into The Blue is a fat man’s sub-aqua belly, a nottoo-subtle joke at the expense of audience members who may have been drawn in solely on the basis of Jessica Alba and Paul Walker’s toned torsos. From here, the film gets lost in a straight-to-video plot involving drug smugglers, a ship-wreck and double-crossing Bahamians. The early glimmer of wit is wholly misleading, and you soon realise that if the film is to succeed, it had better put out like there’s no tomorrow.
DIRECTED BY Gus Van Sant STARRING Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento
Last Days is the consummation of Gus Van Sant’s somewhat tedious musings on the final moments of Blake, a man who very much resembles Kurt Cobain. Yet by avoiding all biographical reference to the troubled musician’s life, the film at least escapes being classed as yet another Cobain-inspired rockumentary (Hype, 1996, and Kurt and Courtney, 1998). Van Sant’s vision translates into a collection of extraordinarily plain sequences. At a poetic (read, painstaking) pace, we encounter Blake making macaroni cheese, apathetically watching television and being harassed by his freeloading friends (Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Scott Green) for money. Van Sant romanticises the seemingly mundane to deliver an experience that is sensory as well as intimate. Yet
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RELEASED 2 September
despite the film’s lyrical depiction of the inner-workings of a soul in transition, Last Days fails to satisfy the more rational dimensions of our morbid curiosity, leaving us thirsty for a more factual account of one of the most complex and enigmatic figures of the ’90s. Lieu Pham
Anticipation. With Cobain dead and buried, it’s the Van Sant factor which will draw us in. Three Enjoyment.
Van Sant’s style won’t gratify. Viewers who are accustomed to more conventional techniques.
A rather indulgent artistic departure from the traditional forms of storytelling. Two
RELEASED 21 October
Into The Blue’s greatest failure, therefore, is not its facile plot but the fact that, despite some gratuitous, leering shots, the film is as sexually torpid as it is narratively tepid. James Bramble
Anticipation. Jessica Alba. One point for each word. Two Enjoyment.
After Alba, there’s really not much else. Two
with all hands. Two
THE BUSINESS DIRECTED BY Nick Love STARRING Danny Dyer, Tamer Hassan, Geoff Bell RELEASED 2 September
The Business seems to be confused by its ambition; is it trying to be a gangster flick (not ’ard enuff) or the next version of Lock, Stock (not funny enough)? It’s sporadically amusing, but settles up as a late-night edition of “Grant and Phil Mitchell on tour”. Writer/director Nick Love, of The Football Factory fame, apparently knocked up the script for The Business in four weeks but a little more time would have been well worth it.
Frankie (Danny Dyer) performs credibly enough as a charming rapscallion/loveable rogue (delete as appropriate) who flits over to Spain in the midst of the Thatcherite ’80s. Like so many before him, he gets sucked into the gangster life but, shockingly, it all goes bad for him in the end. The rest of the cast are fine, but two Cockney scoundrels, Charlie and Sammy (Tamer Hassan and Geoff Bell) get the best lines and are ultimately the most convincing.
Where The Business shines is in its attention to detail, particularly in recreating the extradition-free “Costa-del-Crime”. The soundtrack is a perfect fit, and the ’80s style is nicely evoked (look out for the scene where Frankie goes out to buy some evening wear). The film suffers from a lack of sex, drugs and violence – pretty much essential to this genre – but in doing so, achieves a kind of naive charm. Mark Mills
Anticipation. Nick Love still hasn’t been given a proper budget to work with. Two
Passable enough, but suffers from tired dialogue and formulaic montages. Three
Still haven’t decided whether to pluck it out of the bargain bin when it appears. Three
DIRECTED BY Don Argott STARRING Paul Green, Napoleon Murphy-Brock
Essentially a real-life version of 2003’s School Of Rock, Rock School follows the escapades of self-styled guitar messiah Paul Green on his zealous mission to teach a class of nine to 17-year-olds how to play Sabbath, Floyd and Zeppelin. A là School Of Rock, Green is a failed musician. But unlike Jack Black, Green revels in making teenage girls cry. First-time director Don Argott is smart enough to realise that pointing the camera at nine-yearolds and getting them to talk freely will always produce killer material.
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RELEASED 9 September
The film’s climactic performance is therefore a moment that’s more heart-warming than it really has any right to be. Adam Benzine
School Of Rock minus Jack Black? Yawn. Two
Funny and unusual, the kids shine through. Four
A potential bonus feature turned into a decent film. Three
ONE NIGHT IN MONGKOK RELEASED 23 September
Shot in black-andwhite with a handheld style reminiscent of TV dramas such as 24, this fast-paced chase film constantly delivers while dodging some familiar cinematic pitfalls. Set in the seedy underworld of Hong Kong, the smells and sights are vivid to anyone who has spent time in an Asian city. The opening scenes jerk you out of the real world, though the characters take time to show their full potential as they battle the sheer darkness of their plight. In simple terms, this is a straightforward tale of cops tracking down an assassin in a triad-run landscape. However, under the veneer of the inevitable stereotypes there are strong performances from the police posse, the assassin and a variety of larger-than-life criminal characters.
GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE The unprecedented ascendancy of Japanese animation offers the genre a stark choice. Though it remains refreshingly averse to the remake fever that infects so many of its Oriental stablemates, its very inimitability poses a thorny problem for Western admirers. While the post-apocalyptic polish of recent releases (Appleseed, Sky Blue) has razzle-dazzled, they’ve also been alienated by an otherworldly provincialism. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence does little to redress this balance. Possessed of
DIRECTED BY Tung-Shing Yee STARRING Cecilia Cheung, Daniel Wu, Alex Fong
The vicious nature of the film’s climax brutally ends a journey comparable to a heavy night of drinking. It begins slightly nervy, unsure where to start; humour and belligerence follow as the characters find their feet; giddiness as shots are downed (well, fired) and the emotional fallout of the various relationships is measured; finally hitting the wall as the hero gets it, and the carnage is complete. Steph Pomphrey
Anticipation. Hong Kong cop films have a good track record. Three Enjoyment.
Tense, violent and stark. Four
Unusually arresting and well worth another look. Four
DIRECTED BY Mamoru Oshii STARRING Akio Ôtsuka, Atsuko Tanaka, Kôichi Yamadera RELEASED 28 October
jaw-dropping CG visuals, Mamoru Oshii’s sci-fi sequel is, nevertheless, a brain-hurting jaunt through the principles of existentialist philosophy, that’s crying out for some life of its own. It’s pretty as a picture, but just as two-dimensional. Matt Bochenski
Anticipation. Oshii is a giant of anime. Four Enjoyment.
Baffling but occasionally brilliant. Two
Maddening, beguiling and moreish. Three 69
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
DIRECTED BY David Cronenberg STARRING Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt, Ed Harris RELEASED 30 September
CRONENBURG’S CANNES-CONQUERING EPIC IS A SEARING SLICE OF POST-MODERN AMERICAN DYSFUNCTION. IT’S A COMIC BOOK, JIM, BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT.
We had no right to expect anything like this from David Cronenberg. Nothing in his canon so far, from body-horror beginnings (Shivers, The Brood) to garish commercial experiments (Scanners, The Fly) to reflective arthouse distractions (M Butterﬂy, Spider), has even hinted at this. A History of Violence – a comedy, a satire, a love story, a sensual postmodern tchotchke and a balls-to-the-wall pump-action extravaganza. All of this and more. “It works on all those levels,” said Cronenberg at Cannes. “The personal, the national, the universal. They’re all being discussed without it being too overt.” And it never is. Instead, it slips sweetly from genre to genre, drifting in and out of form and function until gore-blown face and wifely embrace, comedy punchline and sinister sex scene tumble and roll together as one towards a shamefully cathartic high-stakes face-off finale. And there he is at the centre of it all. Small-town, clean-living Tom Stall. Family man, diner owner, hatchback driver and picker-upper of litter. Says, “Holy cow!” and “See you in church!” As
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played by Viggo Mortensen, Tom is a beautiful soft-touch revelation for an actor who often seems disdainful of his craft even while he’s chewing scenery – someone who acts like he’d rather be elsewhere. Violence is different. Here Mortensen’s occasionally weedy adenoidal voice hints at a whinnying vulnerability, while he wears his thundering bottom jaw like an affliction. He’s never been more real, more delicate and more heroic at the same time. Tom doesn’t like violence but, like the fantastical reality of all good Westerns (like Shane, in particular) when the bad men ride into town, he has no choice. Smashed coffee pots and stolen handguns blaze. The blink of an eye. Like Alan Ladd, Alain Delon, Eastwood, Reno, Mr Shhh or Arnold Terminator, he tripswitches into the role of murder machine, blasting and breaking through the deftly edited movie violence. Who knew that Cronenberg and visceral action heroics would be such a good match? Choreographing with gusto, the director executes it like a rapid-fire chopsocky veteran. In fact, for a movie about violence,
the effects of violence, the roots of violence and all elements of violence on every Cronenbergian level imaginable, it’s when the movie actually depicts violence that it gloriously overplays its hand. For here’s the rub: A History of Violence LOVES violence. It doesn’t say so at first. No, at first, it gives you the heady ruination of Tom’s home life. Violence as infection. Tom’s son Jack (Ashton Holmes) punches the high-school jock to a pulp. Tom slaps Jack across the face. Even Tom’s sex life is infected, as his fulsome intercrural romps with sprightly wife Edie (Mario Bello) are sublimated into one clumsy, brutal staircase hate-fuck. “See!” says the movie. See what violence does to the sanctity of the family unit?! And it’s not just the family either. The family is a metaphor. Tom’s town is a metaphor. Tom himself is a metaphor. For what? For nothing less than the foundational moment of American society. And yet. And yet. A History of Violence LOVES violence. Tom’s high-stakes face-off finale is as accomplished a slice of orchestrated screen mayhem as
you’re likely to see all year. Was this in the original graphic novel, the movie’s source material, from Dredd co-creator John Wagner? Cronenberg says that he doesn’t care. That he didn’t even know about it until it was too late. And thankfully, unlike Sin City, he didn’t resort to translating Violence illustrator Vince Locke’s spindly sketchy drawings to the screen. No comics for Cronenberg. Instead, what he’s made, what he’s done, is something unique. He’s taken violence off the streets and put it back into the heart of the American family. And in the process, he’s made his most commercial, most effective and most subversive movie to date. Kevin Maher
Anticipation. Not ANOTHER comic-book movie! One Enjoyment. Relentlessly compelling. An everchanging relationship with the screen. Five
In Retrospect. Felt like the best Rambo movie ever. Only not. Four
FAMILIA RODANTE DIRECTED BY Pablo Trapero STARRING Liliana Capurro, Graciana Chironi, Ruth Dobel RELEASED 28 October
Put an episode of Eastenders in a camper van, add the spicy heat of South American temper tantrums and throw in one small dog... and you’ve got Familia Rodante. Pablo Trapero traces the journey of Emilia, an 84-year-old grandma from Buenos Aires as she travels to her niece’s wedding on the border of Brazil. She is accompanied by four generations of her “Rolling Family” – plus her granddaughter’s horny friend. As a result of being forced together in the stifling heat of
ASYLUM RELEASED 9 September
Anyone arriving at Asylum geared for 90 minutes of flinching and gasping needn’t worry. Despite attempts to create a sinister setting in a secluded ’50s mental asylum (urgent footsteps and distant wails on long bleak corridors), the film is never more than a string of dull incidents and stilted conversations. Max Raphael (Hugh Bonneville), the new deputy superintendent, arrives at a suitably uninviting granite fortress with his wife Stella. The oppressive atmosphere induces Stella to embark on an affair with Edgar (Marton Csokas), a burly,
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their refugee conditions, the uncontrollable nature of human carnality is torn open, pushed to extremes and revealed with brutal honesty. Emilia’s grandson has recently crossed the testosterone threshold and lost his ruddy pre-pubescent glow, becoming something of a stud to his cousin. Much to her distress, he sees the downside of getting intimate with her and opts for sex with her best friend in the toilet – only making way for his mother and uncle to take their
DIRECTED BY David Mackenzie STARRING Natasha Richardson Ian McKellen Hugh Bonneville
sultry patient. Max’s colleague, Dr Cleave’s (Ian McKellen) warnings to Stella are futile, and they give in to passion and selfabsorption. Asylum fails as a film; a twopart mini-drama for TV would have been much more fitting. Laura Wilkinson
Anticipation. Ready to
Enjoyment. Not scared, just bored.
In Retrospect. Hasn’t kept me awake at night. One
turn. Hormones seep through the cracks of the rusty old van by the bucket load. Remaining true to the haphazard beauty of family trips, the family arrive half way through the wedding ceremony after what feels like a month of travelling, but the sudden liberation from the van blows a breath of calm over the film and the furious pace slows to a contented, foot-tapping beat. Trapero’s omniscient narration allows for a quietly unbiased observation of each family member, without forcing
the audience into pre-determined alliances with any one character. The film leaves the audience in high spirits, but with little left to chew on once the credits roll. Monisha Rajesh
Anticipation. A South American version of Road Trip? Three Enjoyment. Unpretentious and honest.
In Retrospect. Best watched stoned on DVD.
HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE You will probably hear the words “magical”, “breathtaking”, “imaginative”, and “magical” being thrown around upon the release of Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki’s latest animated epic. As it happens, it’s a pretty dazzling spectacle that marries a predictably odd Japanese interpretation of Victorian Alp-chic with Miyazaki’s usual procession of flavoursome characters. The principal character, Sophie, has plenty in common with the heroines of Miyazaki’s previous outings and Howl (the owner of a splendid moving castle) has that rare sensitivity we look for in heroes, as well as a startling
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DIRECTED BY Hayao Miyazaki STARRING Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, Lauren Bacall RELEASED 23 September
resemblance to David Bowie in Labyrinth. The adventure is also underpinned by a bizarre romance between the principal characters, but despite that, there’s plenty to suggest that Howl is in fact gay. A massive amount of magic is feverishly flung around as Howl’s castle stomps from lush green hillside to craggy mountain pass. The castle itself is perhaps the most entertaining thing about the film – an enchanting, Pythonesque mix of Mary Poppins’ handbag and a Bavarian dungeon. Under-12s will want their own. That said, the film falls down as all of these whimsical contrivances are horribly overplayed. Meaningless
spectacle piles up to the point where it becomes frustrating and uncharacteristically colourless. After an hour or so, the film is little more than a dazzling drone staggering towards its final message, the tantalisingly incisive notion that, sigh, war is bad. If cinema ever becomes the industry of cool that some people are desperate to make it, Miyazaki will deservedly be installed as its CEO. But the truth is, for all the baubles garnered by Spirited Away, and the clamourous accolades of awe-struck admirers, the Miyazaki who made the tender and thunderous epics of the past 10 years has been missing since the West came calling. His
imagination remains an instrument of limitless fantasy, but his sensibilities have lost the whiff of danger that defined his early work. Perhaps it’s Miyazaki himself who’s been spirited away. Paul Willoughby
Anticipation. Massive. So much is expected from the majestic Studio Ghibli. Five Enjoyment. Isolated
flourishes of charming oddity. Little else. Three
In Retrospect. Will Miyazaki ever deliver the quality of Mononoke again? One
An interview with Alessandro Nivola, star of Goal!
LWLies: You’re from LA – where most actors get their big break – so how did you end up acting in England? Nivola: I’ve kind of done the opposite. People come to LA to get their big break and London’s been my opportunity. It was very random. I met Tim Winterbottom who cast me in the role of a Hastings ﬁsherman. I was living in LA and my neighbour asked me to come over because he wanted to show me something. He went rummaging in a cupboard and took out this crumpled piece of paper containing a phone number and told me to get in touch with this girl who he’d met at a Moulin Rouge audition. When I came down to do the ﬁlm, I took out this girl’s telephone number (British actress, Emily Mortimer) and realised she was in the production (Love’s Labours Lost). Two weeks later, I asked her out. And it’s sort of all started from there. LWLies: Filming Goal! must have been fun. Did you get to play much football? Nivola: Just a bit! It was funny because during the making of the ﬁlm, I had to run out after some of the Newcastle matches and throw my arms around the footballers. I was number 10, that was on the back of my jersey, and people were confused because number 10 had just been let go. On the Newcastle website the next day, there was a picture of the back of me wearing the shirt and a big red question mark as to say, ‘Who the fuck is this guy?!’ LWLies: You’ve played some deviant characters in the past – tell us more about your role in Goal!? Nivola: I play an English footballer called Gavin Harris. I am basically the purveyor of bad education for Santiago. I have a decadent lifestyle and, not by any malevolent motives, but rather out of generosity, I want to include Santiago in my lifestyle... I want him to enjoy himself, but he ends up getting into all sorts of trouble. LWLies: What do you think you would do if you weren’t acting? Nivola: I don’t know. Acting is such a fucking hard job. It’s only by virtue that I don’t know what else to do. I don’t take anything else seriously. It gives me a chance to indulge my hobbies. For Laurel Canyon I got to be a musician and for Goal! I got to kick around a football. It’s good to dip in and out of hobbies. If I wasn’t acting, I’m not sure what I would do with myself. Lieu Pham
RELEASED 30 September
Director Danny Cannon (of CSI fame) took a risk when he decided to make a film about English football. Football films have been done before (Green Street, The Football Factory) and generally done pretty badly. His film debut Goal!, runs the gamut of a tired and over-sentimental paradigm as a poor boy makes good and, in doing so, fails to distinguish itself. It’s a story about Santiago (Kuno Becker), a down-and-out Mexican boy who has a passion and a God-given skill for soccer. On the say-so of an English scout, Santiago travels to England to try out for Newcastle United. Hereon the story moves to a predictable trajectory as Santiago struggles to prove his worth. Despite the inevitable clichés that ensue with such a narrative,
DIRECTED BY Danny Cannon STARRING Kuno Becker, Stephen Dillance, Anna Friel
Goal! is enjoyable enough, with a solid acting ensemble which includes Stephen Dillance, newcomer Kuno Becker and Alessandro Nivola, who brings comic relief with his cheeky character, Gavin Harris. There are cameos from David Beckham, Raul and Zinedine Zidane, but little else. Goal! is what it is – an easy story for hardcore football fans only. Lieu Pham
Anticipation. Football films have a poor track record. Two Enjoyment. The critics will slash it but the punters will love it.
In Retrospect. Like a
DIRECTED BY Jim Jarmusch STARRING Bill Murray, Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange
RELEASED 21 October
JIM JARMUSCH’S NEW MOVIE IS ABOUT NOTHING AND EVERYTHING. IT’S ALSO 2005’S FIRST BONA FIDE CLASSIC.
Every decade, America spawns a clutch of directors who, to a certain extent, make movies on their own terms. The Coen Brothers, Spike Lee, Todd Haynes, Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch are some of those who in the ’90s dedicated themselves to non-conformism. Their movies often elude the mainstream, but when the Doomsday Book of movie history is written, these are the guys that anyone who gives a fig about film will remember. Jim Jarmusch is the creative force behind an intimidating oeuvre – additions such as Dead Man, Mystery Train and Down By Law make his a veritable rogues gallery of originality, integrity and emotion. Broken Flowers may at first seem like a new direction, but this is vintage Jarmusch. Pure gold. There was a point where it became de rigueur to window dress a movie with ironic, inane banter that has no relation to the main narrative. Jarmusch takes these slight, elliptical “stories” and fleshes them out into movies, realising the simple truth that interesting stories make for interesting films. Broken Flowers opens with the ever mesmeric Bill Murray, as Don, opening a note he finds on his doorstep that claims to be from an (un-named) former lover saying that whilst they were together
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she became pregnant by him and gave birth to a son who is now 19years-old. Don and his neighbour Winston (Jeffrey Wright) go on a road trip to visit his ex-girlfriends and ultimately discover who sent the letter. With Johnston, Murray’s cinematic transcendence from comic relief bit-parter during the ’80s and ’90s to leading man and embodiment of dramatic subtlety, has hit its apogee. It’s a performance which combines the haughty mystique of Steve Zissou and the world-weary painted smile of Bob Harris to heartbreaking effect. The trip commences and Don reconvenes with four of his ex-girlfriends. Each reunion gives clues to Don’s back-story. All parties, without exception, remember Don (a sign he hasn’t changed in over 20 years) and, perhaps as a result of meeting him, have made drastic changes to their own lives. Laura (Sharon Stone) is a widower with a daughter named Lolita, Dora (Frances Conroy) is a frigid real estate dealer, Carmen (Jessica Lange) is an animal communicator and Penny (Tilda Swinton) is trailer trash. Far from using their seemingly bizarre lifestyles as a springboard for Murray’s sardonic quips, Jarmusch makes it clear that these are the people living in America
today. Parody and caricature are outlawed from the off. The outcome of Don’s Americana-strewn journey echoes Jarmusch’s commitment to the ideas of randomness, chance and coincidence delivering an altogether more thoughtful and true-to-life ending. In many ways, Broken Flowers feels like an unofficial sequel to Lost in Translation. You could feasibly view it as what Bob Harris did next. In this respect, Broken Flowers, appropriately, feels the more mature film. As is now standard for Jarmusch, the soundtrack selection is impeccable (especially Holly Golightly singing The Kink’s “Tell Me Now So I Know” over the closing credits), the photography is simple and expressive and the editing is unhurried and elegant. In short, it’s a film which bubbles with understated style and pathos. It’s the whole package. Broken Flowers will not only get under your skin, but into your soul. David Jenkins
Anticipation. You’ll never beat Jarmusch. Four Enjoyment. And that’s being unmerciful.
In Retrospect. Go and see a better film this year. We double dare you. Five
FOUR PEOPLE DISCUSS LORD OF WAR. J. So what did you think? Hold on, your burger’s coming. (Loudly into microphone) Ant’s burger’s massive. Tell you what, that start sequence was fucking awesome – reminiscent of James Bond. D. Also another scene in the movie that was brilliant was when they stripped the plane. A. I really enjoyed it, but it’s weird how the film begins with Nic Cage selling one Uzi from a hotel room, and then suddenly he’s in Sierra Leone or somewhere selling rocket launchers. R. But it was almost a trait of the film – how scenes jumped around. D. I think it was a good thing. It kept the film moving along at a fair old whack. All Cage’s story was... he was just a great character, how he reacted to everything that happened. He was just a heartless bastard – he didn’t give a shit. J. Yeah, he was completely amoral. He knew precisely what he was doing but chose to continue
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DIRECTED BY Andrew Niccol STARRING Nic Cage, Jared Leto, Ian Holm, Bridget Moynahan
anyway. He was like a child, driven by base instinct. But everyone else was complicit in his actions. His wife, his brother, the rest of his family, his uncle even. The only decent guy in it was Ethan Hawke’s character – he was the only one with any morals. D. At the end, what’s the movie trying to say? That good men will be made to look like fools and evil will prevail? A. I was bored by Ethan Hawke, he was about as substantial as a piece of paper. Jared Leto was shit as well. I hated him in American Psycho and I hated him in this. He had the same haircut all the way through and the same jacket. There was a really unconvincing passage of time. J. So your main objection is his haircut, and his jacket? D. That’s a good point though because the film is set over 20 years, so you expect something vast or epic, but it just felt lightweight. J. Maybe having Nic Cage be
RELEASED 14 October
so charismatic and making these wise cracks in the voice over, only killing someone once, and reluctantly – he comes across as a pretty likeable character. But maybe in doing this, the film is trying to subvert the audience and force them to look a bit harder at what is happening and what he is doing. He is making these jokes while selling arms to children and providing the means for genocide and ethnic cleansing. He’s a funny guy, he looks out for his brother... D. But he sells guns to kids. He keeps saying that if it was’t him, someone else would be doing it. He abdicates responsibility again and again for what he’s doing. Is it saying that we’re all responsible for what’s happening – that we’re all apathetic bastards? J. I’m not sure about that, I never sold guns to kids. Something Matt was saying recently after watching Land of the Dead, was about how there is no radical or alternative political thought left in America, which I’m not sure I agree with, but
one of the defining characteristics of our generation is an indifference and apathy that I think is much stronger than has ever been seen before. Maybe Nic Cage represents a society that just doesn’t give a fuck about anything. A. It was a great two hours of entertainment, but for me, there was no moral message, or if there was, it was overtaken by the guns and action. D. It feels like it ought to be a film that gets me talking about issues and politics and morality, but it just won’t. So anyway – anticipation? R. Can you do half marks? J & D. No! R. OK, I’m gonna say 4 then. J. 4 for me too. A. 3 for anticipation. And for enjoyment, 4. R. I’ll say 4 and a half. J. What the fuck! What did we just say? You know, giving four people’s marks is going to be way too complicated. D. Yeah. Fuck it. TAPE ENDS.
Read our full conversation at www.littlewhitelies.co.uk
LORD OF WAR
oliver twist There are a few characteristics which should make a memorable Oliver Twist movie. No singing, Bullseye, Nancy, and crucially, Fagin. Ben Kingsley is truly magnificent in his portrayal of the Jewish master criminal; subtle, songless and with a passing nod to Alfred Bramble’s Steptoe. His disturbing, almost perverse elation as he rubs and sniffs golden pocket watches and strings of pearls from a box hidden in the floor, is wonderful. Fagin loves his boys alright, but all they really are to him are theivery machines. Fagin doesn’t bat an eyelid when Bill Sykes decides to
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DIRECTED BY Roman Polanski STARRING Ben Kingsley, Barney Clark, Jamie Forman
throw Oliver in the Thames like a kitten in a sack. This is not the “You’ve got to pick a pocket or two...” Oliver Twist that whistles its way across schools nationwide. Polanski’s Dickensian vision is darker and more hostile. There was a genuine sigh of relief when the magistrate refuses a monstrous looking chimney sweep permission to take Oliver away from the workhouse. The harrowing description of how he would light fires underneath boys to stop them from skiving off scared the living shit out of Oliver, and was indicative of the brooding atmosphere the film creates.
RELEASED 7 October
Oliver, like all Olivers, cries a lot, is very cute and barely speaks 50 words in the entire film. Oliver really is the plum role for lazy but precocious stage school drop outs. Nancy provides Oliver with the first love of any kind from a woman since his mother’s death, and Leanne Rowe shows some real venom in this rarely-remembered role. She shows real hatred whilst beating Fagin because he wants to consign Oliver to the same life of crime as he did to her. In this depressing tale of London lowlifes, themes of killing, stealing and starving are a gift for Polanski’s pessimistic world
view. He strips away the sugary stickiness the story has gathered over the past century and shows us that life for some in Victorian Britain could be a grim struggle indeed. Mickey Gibbons
Anticipation. Not looking forward to seeing another musical. Two Enjoyment. Polanski’s
typically darker point of view is a joy to watch.
In Retrospect. We hope it scares your kids. Four
BORN TO FIGHT DIRECTED BY Panna Rittikrai STARRING Chupong Changprung, Nappon Gomarachung, Santisuk Promsiri RELEASED 2 September
Panna Rittikrai, the fight choreographer of Ong-Bak, brings his trademark high-risk stunt work and hardcore mayhem to the screen with Born to Fight. The plot is wafer thin and horribly contrived, but then how else do you get a maverick cop, the Thai National Sports Team and a village of martial arts superstars, to take on an army of gun-wielding, drug-trafficking guerrillas on the Thai-Burmese border?
The few moments that are given over to character exposition and plot development are shoehorned into what is essentially one long, incendiary, beautifully choreographed and completely thrilling action sequence. Once the set-up is in place it’s time to cutloose. The action is unrelenting, with a mixture of outrageous stunts, hilarious set-pieces, athletic ability and thrilling martial arts – including small kickboxing children
and a one-legged cripple who delivers one-hell of a roundhouse. The finale is drenched in patriotic symbols and Thai nationalism, the heroes rallying around the anthem and carrying the flag into battle. If this were a Hollywood flick it would be schmaltzy and sickening, here it’s sweet and inspiring. This could be a hypocritical, narrow-minded, and possibly condescending European viewpoint, but then in Thailand,
everyone’s born to fight. Adrian Sandiford
Anticipation. Thai martial arts? Always. Four Enjoyment.
There’s a footballer kicking flaming coconuts at a man. Four
A paucity of deep thought but a great adrenaline fix. Three
RELEASED 16 September
Slasher ﬁlms are still coming thick and fast despite the Scream franchise’s best efforts to kill the genre. But despite staying within accepted horror rules, Wolf Creek succeeds where so many have failed. Loaded up with booze and party spirit, three feisty young backpackers set off to visit meteorite crater Wolf Creek for a quick Kodak moment. But when they’re kidnapped by the skullcracking, bush-wacking Mick Taylor (think Crocodile Dundee gone bad – with a bigger knife), what follows is a game of bloody cat-and-mouse. After making you wait so long for the screams,
DIRECTED BY Greg McClean STARRING John Jarratt, Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi
helmer Greg McLean doesn’t disappoint. Wolf Creek sets the benchmark for horror films this year: see it, go home, lock your door, draw your curtains and cancel your gap year. Rob Drake
Anticipation. Word of mouth shot this low-budget horror to the top of slashers to see this year. Four
Enjoyment. Not one for the kids.
In Retrospect. One day, all horror films will be made this way. Three 81
NIGHT WATCH (NOCHNOY DOZOR) One of the cold hard truths you learn from your school days is that there are no marks for effort. You can put your heart and soul into your work, but if what you’re doing is crap, you’re going to damn well fail. Nightwatch fits this truism perfectly. There’s plenty of dedication on display, but from the off, it feels like a doomed enterprise. For starters, the plot of Nightwatch is so convoluted that attempting to paraphrase it is almost impossible. The action opens on an old fashioned bullettime battle, overlaid with the ponderings of a hoarse-throated narrator who introduces us to the elemental beings known as “light
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ones” and “dark ones”. Naturally, they are at constant war with each other until, one day, they arrive at a truce. Inevitably though, things begin to strain when light one Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) kills a vampire (a dark one) to protect a small boy. Sub-plots about mystical vortexes, people with the ability to meld into animals and rocket powered lorries are played out for a lengthy and overwrought 116 minutes. In its defence, Nightwatch contains some interesting effects and director Timur Bekmambetov does his best to keep the pace rolling along – a pulled-back exposition shot of the final rooftop
RELEASED 7 October
DIRECTED BY Timur Bekmambetov STARRING Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valeri Zolotukhin
battle is particularly noteworthy. However, the action is hampered by an over-reliance on time-lapse photography and seemingly random bouts of spastic camera movement. For those who don’t find the plot complicated enough, the subtitles have been integrated into the action so they move and pulsate in syncopation with the camera and the syntax of the speech. Annoying doesn’t even begin to describe it. In the days of the Soviet Bloc, severe infringements were placed on the output of Russian cinema, but this is not the start of the revolution. Nightwatch tries its darndest to disassociate itself
with Mother Russia in the hope that it can be used as a Hollywood calling card, but in doing so, misses something to link the story to the real world. Ultimately Nightwatch has no sense of place, and consequently has no sense of soul. David Jenkins
Anticipation. The trailer looked like Tim Burton doing the Matrix. Four Enjoyment.
Suspension of disbelief, and then some. Two
In Retrospect.So much happened. So little mattered. Two
LORDS OF DOGTOWN LUNATIC FIN AND ADRENALIN SKATE ED SAMI SEPPALA BEGS AN AUDIENCE WITH THE LORDS OF DOGTOWN. HE LOOKS LIKE STACEY PERALTA TOO, SO YOU CAN TRUST HIM.
It was entertaining to read how film reviewers from the Guardian to The Daily Telegraph put their weight and authority behind the history of skateboarding. They were analysing the birth of the sport as laid down in the press release of Lords of Dogtown. It made me realise that a reviewer doesn’t need to form their own opinion, or know anything about the subject, as long as they believe those stapled sheets. “Imagine; kids in the sixties had no homes, no nothing and they came up with this new sport – skateboarding! – and damn were they crazy or what?!” You shouldn’t read Lords of
DIRECTED BY Catherine Hardwick STARRING John Robinson, Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk, Heath Ledger
Dogtown as a history book (that “inspired by true happenings” statement in the beginning is only there to cover the loopholes), but it is an entertaining take on an era, and how the things that followed were shaped. A bit like Top Gun and modern air combat. Stacy Peralta – original Dogtown skater and the man behind the project – made a major, award-winning documentary of the same subject not too long ago (Dogtown and Z-Boyz, 2001). So, I have been wondering why this movie exists. Here’s a few reasons: great soundtrack; injokes that you only get if you know your skateboarding; footage of some modern skaters
RELEASED 16 September
skating old-school style; Skip Emblom; make money and sell more seventies Vans. Lords of Dogtown is just another film about adolescence (with added skateboarding) and it’s not that bad when fighting in its own league (second division for high-school movies). It’s embarrassing, entertaining, a little bit nostalgic, and a great reason to rewrite the press release in a newspaper, if you have nothing else to say. And, If you are one of those “I used to skate” guys, you’re gonna love it. Sami Seppala Give it two skateboards out of five or something ’cos I love that shit. 83
SARABAND RELEASED 7 October
We’re all guilty of reflecting on past romances and wondering, if given our time again, how we would do things differently? A film that evokes the complexity and futility of these musings can be a wonderful and touching experience. This is Saraband’s intention, but it never manages to make the necessary connection. The film opens with Marianne’s (Ullmann) decision to revisit her ex-husband Johan (Josephson). The fact that she has not seen him for 30 years is of little consequence and some bunnyboiler behaviour drags Marianne into a family rift that wouldn’t look out of place on Jerry Springer. Saraband is filled with unrelenting and shrill
DIRECTED BY Ingmar Bergman STARRING Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson, Borje Ahlstedt
cello music, pretentious acting and claustrophobic close-ups. Bergman’s latest opus isn’t offensive, disturbing or upsetting, even though it could be, given the subject matter. Rather it evokes nothing more than indifference. Caroline Richards
Anticipation. Bergman’s intimate insights into complex lives promises some magic. Three Enjoyment. Impossible to enjoy in any conventional sense. One
In Retrospect. Annoyance that complex issues were not addressed in a more ‘real’ fashion. One
THE ARISTOCRATS DIRECTED BY Paul Provenza STARRING Billy Connolly, Hank Azaria, George Carlin, Carrie Fisher
The Aristocrats (v.1): 100 high-profile comedians and entertainers tell the same filthy joke in an astute, insightful and side-splittingly hilarious look at professional comedy and its creative process. While the not particularly funny punch-line is the same, the structure of the gag allows each performer to display their individual talent and technique.
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RELEASED 9 September
Sit back and enjoy a comedy extravaganza which celebrates the art of improvisation. This is comedy as jazz, free of constraints, everyone bringing their own riff and melody to the party and trying to outdo each other in the laughter stakes. Enter the inner circle of entertainment as this legendary joke, a “secret hand-shake” among comedians, is exposed.
The Aristocrats (v.2): A bunch of comedians spit out an offensive tirade of scatological, paedophilic, incestuous, bestialitybased, racist, fist-fucking, filth. The Aristocrats is a misguided attempt to document an abhorrent, outrageous joke of unspeakable obscenity. Adrian Sandiford
A stellar line-up of comedians,
including Robin Williams and Eddie Izzard should guarantee a laugh-fest. Four
Some genuinely funny performances but many will walk out. Three
Basically, one long joke about poo and family abuse. Two
THE BACK SECTION
E DISCUSS WHICH WIN IN , ve fi R S E PT A H C M OF FILMFORIT S. M THE MEDIU G IN MANY MESMERIS Here lies:
GWNORTH NCT OSE L ’ G N O G E H IO ‘T B RO designer OF THE BACK more “designed with
DAVID JENKINS & RD OIO DIF SAEN IAN N ADROR CT SE CK S OF TH BA EDIT
FORD TANNER E BACK BY BU “SHOT IN TH 80 OF DOLLARS” OVER A MATTER
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luck thAn judgment
CITY OF GOD DiRECTOR fERNANDO MEiRELLES LAUNCHES HiS fiRST EvER ENGLiSH LANGUAGE fEATURE, THE CONSTANT GARDENER
? er budget than City of God I could , which had a much bigg shoot as The Constant Gardener producer, as soon as we finished the such ure feat a ociated do to ass a the problems Is it very different ce I wasn’t h easier for me. Sin story. I didn’t have to deal with all everything much easier. It made things muc e the mad ut ch abo whi nk , thi ble ila and ded was readily ava go sit at the pool s, everything I nee with production. Plu y want to have. gh? thou the more control the film. It only dom free tive ll people invest in it, Did it not affect your crea market this is a sma it. The more money an ect ric aff Ame ld the wou In it , dget film. In theory of freedom. dener isn’t a big-bu they gave me a lot But The Constant Gar ch in Hollywood is a small film. So ed them all down except whi of City of God. You turn ess succ cost $25 million, the wing where follo else and od ywo Holl stant rs from script for The Con You received many offe . Why? ce. . But when I got the for The Constant Gardener I wasn’t looking to work on any films set in Kenya, which is an amazing pla but was A few I got many offers . First of all, it I find fascinating. t eye tha my me ght the cau a ly is ate ch e to offer cheaper Gardener it immedi tical industry, whi patents and be abl with the pharmaceu t’s battle to break men Secondly, it dealt ern gov the . ed ble elieva y follow bying power is unb years ago I closel harder? drug industry’s lob e? Did you find it much drugs in Brazil. The British not your native languag is h es typical of the whic lish, Eng in do a film guistic idiosyncrasi s and language, which I to lin like of it was lot t a wha had And script accent al on gin ed ori bas ds the e oun people’s backgr It was hard becaus e meant to establish se details out. class system. We wer with. So eventually I had to edit the ar aware of that? In you wasn’t very famili e e the right breed. em in England is. Wer not. in it unless you hav stratified the class syst you’re respected or you’re not allowed It’s quite shocking how r and the b whe clu s a ine s erm It’ ia. fame that det England is like Ind r bank account and with the issue of you deal s all it’ y , The . zil ener Bra Constant Gard the US and in s, City of God and The atic link connecting Maid apartheid within the There seems to be a them reason for that? ds dealt with the bal a Mai e on. ther Is g segregati deals with the glo social exclusion. sted in understandin apartheid and The Constant Gardener ere itant int n bee ays alw I’ve an activist or a mil sed social I’m res n add mea t God sn’ of doe y t e. home in Brazil, Cit the First and Third Worlds. But tha g e comedy, for exampl apartheid separatin be doing films on these themes. I lik na gon ays alw I’m the and ted to shoot along on in Kenya. I wan g in Africa? to shoot on locati What was it like shootin ted ce. wan pla I s: ing and tak e is only dem w and where real lif That was one of my ry, with a small cre lines of a documenta I had a in Rio or in Kenya? ot, sho to directing. In Kenya us gero dan more There’s no ducing as well as Where was it harder and and where I was pro eets and in the slums was much safer. de tra g dru s re’ in the str In Rio, where the and the environment m tea n tio duc pro massive re is. Kenya. In Rio, the ty organised crime in from poverty in Rio? ng water, electrici a? Is it much different slum there’s drinki ee Afric in like erty pov e to walk two, thr . In the Brazilian What was hav ian zil You Bra er. ’re wat you no n if smoky. But no light and It’s shocking – eve In Kenya, there’s It’s really hot and . es. tem hom sys ir ic er the mus sew s of ide re’ and some kind k with fire ins about it. The get water. They coo Kenya has a beautiful, happy energy kilometres just to e in lif , Rio in ela much like in the fav rs such a to make a film that offe everywhere. orate elites. Was it hard the uK political and corp of on nati dem ipt con Kenya. But the scr The film offers a damning mmes, especially in r British elites? ortant social progra ya doesn’t think the film offers a fai negative portrayal of the imp e som e hav do tish in Ken ibility that I think that the Bri any of this. The High Commissioner lm would offer vis fi the d sai w He . sho does not really agreed to help out they do. Still, he portrayal of what Medeiros p the country. Vince will eventually hel
PROFILES six people
to keep an
MARIA BELLO Yo! My name is Maria Bello. You may not have heard of me, but you can bet your ass that you will soon. I have a spare room going, so here’s a little about me: I was born in 1967 and am of Polish/Italian descent. I am an actor, but only because you can’t say ‘actress’ any more. My first major role after working a long stint in theatre was in the original Mr and Mrs Smith TV series. It was from these humble beginnings that I was able to blossom into the thinking man’s leading lady a la Naomi Watts and Jennifer Connolly. And yes – I was in ER, but only for a bit. Then I did Coyote Ugly which most critics panned, saying things like, “worst film of all time” and “a mangy dog of a movie” (whatever that is?) but loads of people saw it and it meant that I could start being more selective of my roles. Completely off the beaten track, I am a really big fan of the film Arthur – I don’t know why, I just love that movie! And my favourite food is Birthday cake. Anyway, it was from about 2002 onwards that some of the more of the highbrow fair started to materialise. I was brilliant (if I do say so myself ) in Paul Schrader’s savagely underrated Auto Focus. I was also brilliant in Wayne Kramer’s savagely overrated The Cooler in which I played a cocktail waitress who was also Lady Luck (go figure?). It’s probably the way I bring a deep-seated realism to all of my roles that pays the bills. See me next in David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence and following that I’m to play a grieving alcoholic in a film which is, with unintentional hilarity, entitled Aftershock. I’ve also been plucked for a lead role in the new Oliver Stone flick about the events of September 11, 2001, which, I predict, may be quite popular. God bless America and God bless you...
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elevate the most , the rare beauty who can Tilda Swinton is ainto the highest of high art. Thus farly s icle veh of flimsy embered for are Salc” rem be ly bab pro duo of films she’ll ugh erotic period piece (yes, “eroti ht Potter’s breakthro same sentence) Orlando and the slig Gehee and David and “period” in the p End by Scott Mc the tropes of but affecting The Dee a master class in those doleful, ng bei er latt the of Siegel – od. Swinton is one the on-screen motherhoished with praise by the great andly never actual she intense actresses lav en Th ity. , opportun less en the giv ver Ne any at in. d goo s you want to see her g appears in the film cially tearing up the A-list, jug glin ’s offi ’s wis she .Le 5 of C.S as of 200 in both a re-telling with leading roles and the Wardrobe (as the White d The Lion, The Witch the new film by recently discoverefrom Witch, natch!) and Bela Tarr, The Man From London. to Hungarian master,her presence in a movie should signal ed. this day forward, that a trip to the cinema is demand the LWLies reader
ETHAN HAWKE Until recently, Ethan Hawke was just another sucker on the vine. He was a guy who everyone half-knew; a guy whose angular, aesthetically miraculous face you could just about put a name to. Like his namesake, Hawke stood by the wayside, content on surveying from the cusp of the big money landscape, never choosing to embed his (undoubtedly perfect) nails/talons into the Hollywood jugular. And what a fine actor he’s become, with an idiosyncratic and perfectly natural style, he walks the line between charismatic leading man and jittery indie kid. from his debut in the watchit-whilst-eating-your-cornflakes-before-school classic, Explorers, Hawke’s career floundered partially as he settled for roles in semi-successful dramas such as Alive, Reality Bites and Gattaca. it was not until his starring role in Richard Linklater’s now seminal Before Sunrise and it’s doubly seminal sequel Before Sunset that people began to take notice of Ethan Hawke’s goosebump-enducing ability in front of the camera. He truly is one of the most underappreciated talents Hollywood has on its books. After a starring role in the moderately successful remake of Assault on Precinct 13, he can now be seen sharing centre stage with Nic Cage in Lord of War.
Proﬁle zombiﬁcations by Chris King. www.antiknowsbest.com
SOPHIE OKoNEDO To quote the superlative soul/reggae singer/philosopher Jimmy Cliff, “You can get it if you really want, but you must try, try and try, try and try, you’ll succeed at last.” Sophie Okonedo, who is half Nigerian/half European-Jewish but was born and raised in London, has wanted “it” ever since she kicked off her acting career at the age of 18 in a stage production of Troilus and Cressida. Her relentless (if slightly slow) emergence as a world-class screen beauty has meant that Okonedo has assembled a burgeoning CV which includes an enviable variety of roles. These range from bit parts in guilty pleasures such as Ace Ventura 2 and The Jackal to more recent hard hitting dramas such as Hotel Rwanda and the forthcoming Aeon Flux as assassin, Sithandra. Okonedo is the perfect example of talent winning the day and you can bet your ass that in a few years time she’ll be mentioned in the same breath as Kate Winslet and Helena Bonham Carter. Wonderful world, beautiful people.
Danny Trejo Known around the LWLies office as simply “The Trejo”, here is an actor who is a true one-of-a-kind. As a child, he did eleven years in San Quentin for drug offences, but with his coarse, tattooed skin, throaty voice and handlebar moustache he has since become the casting director’s Latino bad guy of choice. The thing that lifts Trejo above most supporting actors is that, although he’s starred in his fair share of stinkers, his presence in a movie will prompt far flung memories of his roles in knuckle-head classics such as Con Air, From Dusk ‘Till Dawn and Spy Kids. However, the most heartbreaking aspect of Trejo’s criminally under-valued career (or under-valued criminal career) as a piece of multi-purpose muscle is that he spends much of his down time visiting American schools endorsing the sappy yet all-too-real notion that “crime doesn’t pay, but acting does. Very well indeed.” From here on in, it’s crossed appendages all round in the hope that Trejo is given that illusive starring roll we’ve all been waiting for. Last words: Trejo is Spanish for awesome.
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DANNy HuSTON Hey there, i’m looking for someone to share a flat with me. My name’s Danny Huston and i was born in Rome, although that was more a result of jet-setting parents than an italian bloodline. By the way, you may recognise some of my immediate family as my sister is svelte Hollywood ice queen Angelica Huston and my pops is the legendary American director, john Huston. Career-wise, i started at the bottom, and i mean the absolute lowest of the low. i acquired my first taste of celluloid when i got the chance to direct a behindthe-scenes documentary for quintessential Christmas flick, Santa Claus: The Movie. After that, i decided to work at the directorial game with mixed results, making a couple of low key dramas which were very much a hang-up of the excesses of the ’80s (even though i made them all during the ’90s). Man, i tried, but i just couldn’t seem to nail this directing game. Well, you know, a couple of years went by and nothing of worth came my way until, in 2000, i bagged the lead in Bernard Rose’s Ivansxtc. The critics loved me, they said it was a performance imbued with desperation and grace, and you know what? for once they were right. Sadly, emotionally shattering performances seldom translate into box-office honey, so i (briefly) became the toast of the art house scene in both Britain and America. Soon after that it was batten down the hatches and full steam ahead. i’ve since had roles in Alejandro González iñárritu’s depression session follow up to Amores Perros – 21 Grams, and a small roll in Scorsese’s The Aviator. i’m currently starring in the new film written by Nick Cave, The Proposition which should be hitting British cinemas around November time, but before that i play a part in The Constant Gardener, fernando Meirelles’ follow up to the art-house crossover hit, City of God. Simply put, i show all the signs of legitmate, hard won staying power. Come live with me. You’ll love it, i promise.
m fil short on lwlies takes at lastf– . james bramble ilm short igates invest
Service of Thanksgiving The Greeting
Dearly beloved – all rise for the short film.
Short-film is healthier than it’s ever been. There’s an awful lot more people making films, and a lot more outlets, there seems to be a festival for every village. (Colin Hutton, director Gravity) More and more interest is being shown in short film by production companies, and broadcasters, with festivals targeted for spotting talent. It’s like football scouts look at under-16s, the big players look at short films. (Jim McRoberts, director Who Do You Love?, winner of Soho Shorts Rushes Newcomer award)
For it was once that opportunities for budding filmmakers were limited to the short-film section of major festivals, and the costs of production were manifold. But it came to pass that with digital video technology, filmmakers were not only making and editing films on tiny budgets, but were exhibiting them through festivals, special screenings, and streaming them to a worldwide audience over the internet.
Prayer of Intercession
Behold, that as websites such as Shooting People support a community of filmmakers in sharing information, competitions such as Straight 8 (where submitted films must be shot, unedited, on a single canister of Super 8), and Nokia Shorts (for films up to 15 seconds long) encourage innovation and accessibility.
Prayers of Penitence
There is a strange paradox – the orthodox way into the industry is to make short films. Yet the market for them is small. A lot of people say that shorts should be shown in front of features like they used to, but that’s complete rubbish. The ads in cinemas are brilliant short films themselves. I’d rather watch the ads. (Don Rice, director Traffic Warden) There is still a lot of rubbish out there, people making short films without anything to say. I would hope that there are so many of these films, that it’ll make people focus on the story again. (Jim McRoberts) New technology has made it more accessible, but what’s also important is the idea. Technology doesn’t make a good film. (Martin Banks, director An Interview with Tony Roberts)
Prayer of Praise
And so, while poor feature films are still as diverse as the stars in the sky, the unprecedented exposure, support, and competition have encouraged an exceptionally vibrant short-filmmaking scene, and inspired the next generation of film-making talent. Yea, the future is so bright, we need a neutral density filter. Amen to that.
The glory of film be always with you All: and also with you. All directors were finalists in the excellent Rushes Soho Shorts Festival, which ran from 30th July – 5th August 2005. www.sohoshorts.com
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LWLies caught up with selecting entries for thea sleep-deprived jamie Greco, in the midst of 2005 Raindance festiva l’s short film section. How
’s this year’s festival look ing? There’s been some good stuff from the UK. I keep thinking everything’s been done but it hasn’t . We reject 90 per films we get. 20 per cent of the cent are good so we I’ve seen some sup have to lose half erb digital shorts of those. where the energy rea bounces off the scr lly een. What makes a good sho rt film? It’s important to hav what format you use e a bold, original idea. It doesn’t matter . Something in the sto Something basic. Gim micks jar a lot. If ry has to ring true. gimmick, go the who you’re going to hav le hog and make a e a pop promo. You hav to a budget, with e to no if you throw someth jib arm, no tracking shots. It doesn’ work ing in because it t work looks good. What’s the state of sho rt film at the moment? Short films are get tin have. People are app g better because of the exposure the y now reciating the craft, just for the fun of guerilla filmmaking. rather than making films a lot of films from A few years ago you people who’d woken ’d get up and decided to something in their sho bed waking up and pressi room – films where it starts with som ot eone ng the button on the much any more. Pro ir alarm clock. Not duction values hav so e increased, not jus director, but the t for the whole crew. What about the impact of digital? The advent of digita l means there are so many films. What is the appreciation mattters of the craft. It’s got a hammer and som like woodwork. If I e nails and tried to knock up a chair, just wouldn’t work. Sho oting on hi-def won it ’t make it look lik But some stuff on e 35mm. 35m Don’t just do it to m doesn’t come across either. look better, becaus you’ve wasted £20-35 e then k, when you could have shot on digi. Use the gra de, colour, grain. Appreciate the for mat get into the craft. , the best film-makers
iMAGES ON THiS PAGE
Top: Gravity Middle: Who Do You Love? Below: Traffic Warden
SHORT fILM TIMELINE RESfEST. www.resfest.com on. 27th September – 2nd October: Lond The 9th annual global tour of the year’s tion anima and s video music , best shorts hits the UK.
RAiNDANCE. www.raindance.co.ukon. 28th September – 9th October: Lond The coolest film festival in Britain, featuring many shorts. BRiEf ENCOUNTERS. www.brief-encounters.org.uk 23-27th November – Bristol. lm Perhaps the most important short-fi festival in Britain. KiNOfiLM. www.kinofilm.org.uk 27th february – 6th March 2006: Manchester.
and Kino’s mission is to create awareness t. understanding of the short film formathe for s ission subm Currently calling for 10th anniversary of the festival.
REGuLAR EVENTS MOBiLE CiNEMA. ema www.shootingpeople.org/mobilecin Nationwide. ,a screen a tor, projec a Three guys with mobile phone and a van. ExPLODiNG CiNEMA. www.explodingcinema.org London. A coalition of film/video makers s of committed to developing new mode exhibition for underground media.
tion Showcases new digital film and anima through global festivals and screenings. STRAiGHT 8. www.straight8.net London. films shot on a single cartridge of super and 8mm film, are submitted undeveloped r share unedited, so that audience and auteu the premiere. fUTURE SHORTS. Nationwide. www.futureshorts.co.uk ry, Shows short-films around the count including at music festivals.
.com ONEDOTZERO. www.onedotzero various locations nationwide.
directors label dvds
route. 4-7 are enabout volumesout more we find behind them the men
Although he would probably deny it, Anton Corbijn has been integral to the evolution of the image we now have of rock music. LWLies met up with the master photographer to discuss his new music video retrospective DVD. What made you want to move into the direction of rock photography and music videos? I really liked music when I was growing up and it was a world I wanted to somehow belong to. Music is something I like to have in front of my camera as it’s a natural subject matter. Though I wouldn’t call myself a rock photographer. With rock photography, the only thing that seems to matter is the person in the photograph, it doesn’t really matter how or why they’re being photographed. What was the progression from your early photographs to music promos? Most of the bands I had worked with, I’d done their album sleeve and band portraits and they’d just say, ‘Why don’t you do the video as well?’ The first time I did it because I was pushed. It was not something that I was dying to do. My first videos are almost like collections of stills. There was no movement of the camera. It was only in ‘86 when I picked up a Super8 and started to film myself that I started to use a moving camera. Who have been your influences? In the ’80s, I felt that I was in between the two T’s of Europe: Tarkovsky and Tati. They might look worlds apart, but I feel I move between those two. I’ve found that my photography is serious, but my filmmaking is looser. It’s easier to be funny with film.
Of the videos included on the DVD, were there any you found particularly easy or difficult to come up with? The old ones were really difficult. I sometimes took four days off to write them. It was difficult to come up with ideas and to trust yourself enough to think your ideas are worthwhile. For Joy Division’s “Propaganda” video, which is in a sense my first video, I took a week off in a friend’s flat in Berlin and wrote the video frame by frame. It only got easier, again, when I filmed myself and I realised the ideas I was writing behind a desk were not working and abstract ideas worked better. It’s like going to the supermarket and getting all your goodies, then you go home and decide how to make your soup.
With the finished product of the music videos, how much of them are the ideas that were initially in your head? Like my photography, it’s the imperfection that works for me. A music video is a breathing thing. It’s not meant to be perfect. The DVD is a collection of things that are far from perfect, and that was my choice. There’s a development and that’s what I want to show. As an artist, the journey is an important aspect. David Jenkins
Photo by Paul Willoughby
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LWLies catches up with Stéphane Sednaoui over t’internet... jonze, Gondry and Cunningham are household names, thanks in no small part to Palm’s glorious Directors Label series, but what about their contemporaries? Stephane Sednaoui, for one, has been a stalwart of the scene since 1991. The TGv of MTv, he’s produced over 70 promos for the likes of R.E.M, Massive Attack and U2 and shot half the world’s A-list celebs; it’s remarkable he’s not A-list himself. This is set to be rectified by his inclusion on the next batch of DvDs in the series, due out this autumn. Sednaoui’s back catalogue is superficially varied. After years as a fashion photographer, he started to shoot videos, a move he describes as an “easy transition, using my photos as a reference”. in a sense, he’s never left that art form, with many promos simply a sequence of elaborately constructed set pieces, trumped up with expensive props and post-production – vague, but not nouvelle. it’s not all bad though; his compositions are occasionally exquisite (Give it Away, Pumpkin), his use of colour equally so (Aqua Natasa). for the main however, his work struggles to deal with the liberation of time-based media. Sednaoui is at his brilliant best embracing the performer, maintaining his preferred “honesty and sincerity” to the material. Hell is Around the Corner and Big Time Sensuality expose the power of his visual flair when balanced by a respect for the artist. He may have only fleetingly escaped fashion’s incessant drive for “la mode”, but what escapes they are. Daniel West
es up with Jo
er over a crac What inspired kly phone lin you to become e... I used to a director? watch films through th with my da em a bit. d and he ki I didn’t ac was 17 or nd of talk 18 tu ed me films which , at art school. Be ally direct anythi ng un fore that, stuck out, get involv I li remember se til I ke Papillon ed in film. eing , and fe would neve An r be a bett d Grease of course eling I wanted to er film ever – I though Now you’re a t made! there fi features or do lm director, does promo work allow yo There’s a es it work both ways? u to try thing different s to bring into vocabulary different me to hours. They thods to tell someth both mediums. You us ’re comple in doesn’t ch tely differ g in two minutes or e ange. I’m two explorator ent animals but my definitely y ap been some cross-fert in both areas; ther proach ilisation. Was it a cons e’s cious decision Birth? to move from Sexy Beast to I didn’t tu the Hollywood rn round an -ised movie.” I d say “right wrote a film only way to and it had , I’m gonna shoot a ge to bi t g be th e sh ki ot in New to work wi Yo th an acto nd of money needed r that puts to make th rk. The enough to at film was ge control. Th t a good one. I won’ bums on seats. I wa s lu e budget mu t other way st suit th make a film unless I’ cky round. e film’s pu rpose rath ve got What do you er than th e When you lo think’s wrong with the Br ok at the a very heal great Brit itish film industry? ish films of thy creati British, bu ve t also stro industry – saying the ’60s, there was American fi lms. We sh ng and poetic. Now something uniquely ouldn’t do th along the line. We’v that. We’v ey look like e entered e been sold a homogeny . Adrian D’En somewhere For the full unabr rico idged interview , go to www.littl ewhitelies.co.uk Directors Labe on this page, lool volumes 4-7 are released Se pte k out for the wo rk of excellent mber 13. As well as the three Mark Romane gentlemen k.
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NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. These days, films
can become “classics” within months and get overblown DVD releases to match. Time has conferred true classic status upon George A. Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead but the years since have seen home entertainment releases of the movie that may as well have been put together by zombies. Living through the ’80s and ’90s meant shuffling through a video hell where widescreen presentation was an oddity, censorship a must and restoration of films but a dream. Bizarrely the only attention Night of the Living Dead got was a hellish colourisation job in the ’80s that left the cast looking vaguely mouldy. For years, a fan’s only hope would be to get hold of a knackered old early ’80s Intervision rental tape of the film. The advent of DVD promised to rectify this situation but thanks to lapsed copyright any old fool could put Night out and the results were gory. Now, finally, the UK is to get a DVD release this old classic deserves. And when it comes, the skies will burn, not with the bodies of the dead, but with the millions of terrible video and DVD releases that butchered Romero’s vision. AH
y ter studll charac a realist ut in ’50s sm rs of o e n . Thssisly hanging mo the early yaecaker sl fro sele s purpo oked classic forerunner to e k I Voitelloni c u b e rlo tion, th ng of y u aly is an ovecareer. It is thalgic observa a cracking d town It s masterful rsweet nost ourishes an stic” film is m Fellini’riven by bittejestic visual fl early “reali later blosso chic, d irector’s ma ta. Even this ts that woulduching , great d om Nino Romier momen wn work. To tras are slim, score fred with drea ro’s best kno rsonality. Ex pepperItalian maest ping with pe edy. AS in the ing , and pop n’t be so gre charm n you should but the
. A second Juliet Of The Spirits lucky people.
remastered Fellini feature, you lucky, 1/2 Following the masterpiece that is 8 and the breakaway from his neorealist origins, the director plunges deeper into his own subconscious with his first full-length colour feature. Drawing on his own trouble-struck marriage, Fellini casts his real-life wife, Giulietta Masina, as a woman slipping into hallucination in the face of her husband’s infidelity. While this leads to some dubious psychology and dated opinions, this is still a wonderful example of unbridled creativity. Pushing aside the failing story it is pure Fellini: a fascinating experiment in filmmaking that resulted in a beautifully composed, gorgeous film. AS
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98 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
ONG-BAK PLATINuM EDITION.
There’s something inexplicably satisfying about watching sweaty men beat each other up, hence the popularity of Weatherspoons on a friday evening. Unlike those knuckledragging numbskulls, Tony jaa dazzles as Ting, the hero of this Thai martial arts flick that reinvigorated the genre. forget the country-boy-goes-to-big-city-to-recover-sacredstatue plot nonsense and hail the jaa as the newly crowned Angel of Death. Watch in adrenaline-dripping glee as this kid goes about his elbow ‘n’ knees bashing business. Go an extra round with over five hours of extras. Makes Bruce Lee look like a dead man, which, upon reflection, he is. AS
THE WERNER HERZOG 7. Oh sweet, sweet cOLLEcTION 2: 1970-7 new collection sparkles with boxed sets, how we love you. This Teutonic genius, featuring five lesser-known films from the greatest German filmmaker of all time. Herzog’s sublimely eccentric vision is on display in the stylised imagining of Heart of Glass, in which the cast performed under hypnosis, and the all-dwarf cast of the brilliantly monikered Even Dwarfs Started Small, an uncompromising allegory about imprisonment and rebellion. Fata Morgana, Stroszek, and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser continue to blur the line between fiction and documentary, fizzing with creativity. AS
etrating , if ROAT. Pen DEEP TH INSIDEmen the first lady tary on the emergence of
infamous slight, docu elace. As a result of her of ’70s porn, Linda Lov g antics, she became an icon for ggin -chu red in, Deep on-camera cock ’70s and the film she star women’s lib during the t profitable film in movie history, Throat, became the mos arious moral panic among the s, Inside as well as the cause of upro d religion. in many way government and organise hing soliloquy for Lovelace, who file it you Deep Throat serves as a touc do : stion 2002. One que died in a car accident in n or your normal movies? DJ with your porno collectio
Easily the most mature MySTERIOuS SKIN.Araki, Mysterious Skin is film from Greg “Totally F**ked Up” still far too ho-hum to be called a classic. The performances are daring (especially new kid Brady Corbett’s gawky nerdlinger) and the story involving paedophilia, gay hustlers and alien visitations is never less than intriguing. The direction rips a few pages from the Blue Velvet school of filmmaking with a dreamy Robin Guthrie soundtrack and glowingly photographed visuals. it should come together, you want it to come together, but it just doesn’t. full marks for effort, but nothing to write homo about. DJ
little else in what SIN cITy. Stylish violenceofand Rodriguez’s output.
many have deemed the pinnacle Where it should be applauded for taking comic book adaptations in a new (if only marginally different) direction, Sin City is essentially candyfloss for the mind. Less a clever tripartite narrative, more three unrelated tall tales of revenge, betrayal and whores (lots of whores), it’s worth picking up the DvD to put expensive home cinema gear to the ultimate test. Mickey Rourke is an awesome Marv – you might say he chews the scenery, but that would be impossible – it was all computer generated. DJ
The Assassination of Richard Nixon. Have you heard the one about the insignificant
loser, alienated from society, who chooses to make a grand political statement by assassinating a grand political statesman? Of course you have, everyone’s seen Taxi Driver. Niels Mueller’s own take on Travis Bickle’s American Nightmare is based on the true story of Samuel J. Bicke who, in 1974, plotted to kill President Nixon. Sean Penn confirms his status as one of the finest actors of his generation with yet another powerhouse performance as the unravelling everyman Bicke. Mueller, however, still has some work to put in; this debut feature saying little before inevitably trudging towards its conclusion. AS
Paranoia Agent Vol.2. The best anime series released this year returns with a second volume of unmissable, dark-as-fuck weirdness and dazzling animation. Satoshi Kon, the highly acclaimed anime film director behind Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress, delivers a psycho (logical) drama that’ll scoop out your brain, chunk-by-chunk, and throw it against the wall. The only rubbish thing about it is the theme tune and even that eventually eats its way into your psyche. Forget Twin Peaks, or new-kid-on-the-block Lost, and immerse yourself in the thrilling, thoughtful, and utterly bizarre world of Paranoia Agent. If you haven’t seen Vol.1, get that too. Lil’ Slugger will get you if you don’t. AS
fast Club. De a Saturday? Even bike sheds at ou the kids who smoked dope behtention on r sch ind the oo l were never pu Fingerless gloves nished tha – if the fad-driv , baseball jackets, Robert Smith t badly! it’d be John Hughen climes of ’80s America were fright wigs a person, es. Alongside Fer Club is a key exam ris Bueller, Th good filmmakin ple of his annoyingly likable, e Breakfast g. soIt’s bad-it’seasy to call TBC with the emerg naïve an Stiller, Vince Vaence of a new Brat Pack (Owend hollow, but Sheedy should, ughn and Will Ferrell), Judd NeWilson, Ben demi-gods. DJ in some ways, be seen as new- lson and Ally age cinematic The idiot. plus . Troy Duffyrtisinagnthe a ch ry ta aints ho Overnight ender w documen ckverS o night, a e Boston bart n. Duffy’s eg O oondo in th ei f f st B for yoursel -rags tale o arvey Wein record the
t, H -to See ed in as to direc -riches ught by le rags-to first script bo being allowedthe bar he work the who had his personic after being offered at everyone, on camera. went su ack and even mouthing off as all caught egotist’s soundtrthe deal. After ily, for us, it w ccount of an e Boondock part of ll apart. Lucked, satisfying a’ll throw in Thot made. AS thing fea well-observ tra fiver they d eventually g This is And for an ex arted it all an failure.the film that st Saints,
100 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
CSI: Grave Danger – Tarantino Special. You know you’re
spearheading the cultural zeitgeist when QT gives his stamp of approval. With his encyclopaedic knowledge of CSI’s entire back catalogue, the big foreheaded legend guest directs the finale to season five, spinning a devastatingly powerful two-hour special. The team is brought together to rescue one of their own, Nick Stokes, buried alive in a Plexiglas coffin (Kill Bill 2 anyone?) by an unknown nemesis. Menacing and tense, yet sprinkled with trademark QT pop-culture chat. A sure-fire hit with hardcore fans and likely to wow any cave-dwellers yet to engage with this phenomenal TV series. AS
Ring 2. Trying to create a niche in the horror market is like trying to write an original pop song – everything’s been done before. The fact that Ring 2 was directed by Hideo Nakata, the man behind original Japanese version Ringu, does not shield it from being rejected as yet another Tinsletown bastardisation. This cash-grabbing sequel just about manages to evoke the right amount of dread to warrant its horror label. And there’s always something reassuring about the predictability of a Hollywood fright flick; you get what you expect, provided of course that you don’t expect too much. LP The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This got an unfair drubbing
on its cinematic release. Director Garth Jennings (he of Hammer & Tongs fame) has a dogged attempt at translating this zany classic to the big screen and his visuals are suitably ridiculous. It’s a bit uneven in places, and some of the jokes fall completely flat, but it’s certainly a bold attempt at bringing a classic of British fictional humour to a new generation. The main problem is that it’s too darn nice. Show it to your Nan on a Sunday afternoon after the Channel 4 racing. She’ll love it. DJ
Downfall. With the nume WWII and the seemingly never-endi rous films about and his chums, you probably think ng TV specials on Adolf you’ve experienced the conflict from every possible angle. German account, shot on location by Think again. This of Hitler’s last desperate days, trappe Oliver Hirschbiegel, d in a bunker with his inner circle as Berlin falls to the Russia of horrendous history. Neither an apolons, is a perfect slice gy nor a thoughtless caricature of one-dimensional evil, Downfall seeks to draw out the idea of Hitler as a human being . It’s an oft-ignored approach because of its chilling reality questions raised by such an admission. and the difficult brilliantly acted, and completely engag This is a fascinating, ing masterpiece. AS
VIc REEVES BIG NIGHT rice, OuT. “Take an old bucket, fill it with some old
put some felt pens in there, fuse wire, zips and a cat and you’ve got yourself a perfect facial exfoliate for when you go dancing down the town hall.” Reeves and Mortimer’s first Tv series for Channel 4 was a droll exercise in fusing down home regional humour with Daliesque surrealism, and when it worked, it was crushingly funny. Both series are presented here with a New Year’s Eve special and documentary to boot. Now sing it loud and sing it long: “What’s on the end of the stick, vic?!!!” DJ
BROTHERHOOD: EDITION. Remind yourse PLATINuM lf tha
t war is hell with the story of two bro the bloodlust of the thers reluctantly dragged into Kor ean Wa r. On e brother tries to save the other by vol missions, but when unteering for a series of suicide love, a shit storm follpersonal glory replaces brotherly without the clear-c ows. Think Saving Private Ryan of Korean cinema, ut morals. Kang jeGyu, the Spielberg against harrowing sets loyalty, heroism and lost love budget epic. “Platinbattle scenes in this moving megayou’re talking aboutum” equals added class (unless coming with extras Bluewater blondes), this edition as long as the war itse lf. AS
ILVER the RDON (SITION). Celebitrah tea de O luxe G H S w D c E si fLA as y cl fi Yes, sciRSAthR E ntomime l-book packaging.with IV pa N is N A n stee tinue sary of
er itio con 25th annivxed in limited ed inside the treats flexed in Get edition bo. And once you’rehing the gritty vibeglowing with steel-book ike Hodges ditc rfully silly story ot forgetting a wonde book campery, n a breakthrough director M favour of w Carter in colours and comic rack. The film sa best-loved primary unbeatable soundt d Brian Blessed’s e of the original an od ’s n is en to ep om al Que e the first commentary fr imothy D role for T ce. Extras includ and a film one. AS performandon ’40s Tv serialorth the money al flash Gorssed – probably w Brian Ble
lesson 1: andrei tarkovsky . Are you lef
befuddled by the witterings tof -brow movie reviewers high to be flaunt who seem ing their own lieu of an origi smarts in nal, criticalfilm reveal the truth ? LWLies can behind the eye of the most namedropped lie in our gu ide people in cinema . Tarkovsky was
unique: the boundaries of what a master of Russian cinema who meddled with accepted by “The Man” you could achieve with film, but was never trul until long after his deat is a particularly weak fram h. Name dropping Tar y quite simply, nothing like e to any discussion of modern film for ther kovsky e is, him. From Solaris, the masterpiece Andrei Rub Soviet answer to 2001: A Space Odyssey, to his lev, Tar kov sky’ s films are allegorical, laye confront the clash betw red tales that een art, His films are statements religion and life itself. designed to provoke. Wit hugely complex tracking h fluid time essays that require mor shots and warped, meandering narratives, shifts, clear. Also, his ability toe than one viewing before their real meaning they are becomes reve al sim ple truths in has been much mimicke d, especially by directorthe most plebeian of imagery and Gus Van Sant. s such as Harmony Kor ine Perhaps Truffaut or the other wildly anarchic mem New Wave match Tarkov bers of the Perhaps Orson Welles’ sky’s wanton disregard for cinema’s convenFrench career, blighted by the works were shattered by studio system, reflects tions. to really be good for thei Soviet censors who saw his epics as too minhow his d-bending r ideologically sensitive subjects Yet stylistically, there are few filmmakers working. compare. Steven Soderbe toda y that interweaving time sche rgh’s lazy, meditative camera work and his mes bring him close. So love of Soderbergh who re-made it’s apt that it was Solaris-lite; a dense rete Solaris. But the 2002 version is lling filtered into generic sci-fi and moralising. Nick Yates Any other name dropped artist you want the low-down on - ema backsection@littlewhitelies il: .co.uk
the director does. he’s the the Everyone knows what the glory. But what about big boy who takes all heroes? Jo Riddell gives us the . industry’s unsungwork in the art department low-down on her
What exactly do you do? I work for the I’m an assistant art director. director in seeing art production designer and the sets, from the through the completion of the the finished product research and design phase to moment I do a lot the At . shoot that we will then beginning to get more of graphic design work and am and drafting. ions involved with surveying locat of work? line this into get ne someo does How much about this kind I don’t think I’d know very degree. It’s quite a of work if I hadn’t done my e are aware that specific job, and not many peopl degree was in . My round it goes on in the backg was basically set Technical Arts Design – which television. I studied at design for theatre, film and was a good course, and Wimbledon School of Art. It path for getting into definitely put me on the right the industry. What was your first professional job? design jobs whilst re I did a couple of small theat some work experience still at college, as well as ctions. My first proper placements on TV and film produ was a TV mini-drama ge colle ng paid job after leavi model making job on called Colditz. I also did a to the team that duced XXX2, which is how I was intro I’m working with now.
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What are you currently working on? e for Granada TV. The new series of Miss Marpl job I’ve done It’s four episodes and the third so I’m working with da, consecutively with Grana quite focussed on a lot of the same people. I’m now as opposed to staying in film and television rent industries and diffe very theatre. They are two tunities available I feel that there are more oppor t. to me where I am at the momen your job? What are the good and bad points about enge is thrown at I love the variety. A new chall dull. I might isn’t tely defini it so you every day, morning, designing be surveying a location in the afternoon and then the in magazines and newspapers the day. The hours are be at a photo-shoot later in If we’re filming – we’re long, which can be difficult. at 7pm. If we’re usually on set by 7am and wrap might arrive even we dressing a set that morning, earlier. ne who wanted to do your What advice would you give someo job? to start at the bottom Be persistent, and be willing d people around you. and learn from the experience of Miss Marple next Look out for the new series year. Seriously, it’s wicked.
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sc th n is . So swing blowing films away fromtreme seaso e films mind- nds of mile tan Asia Ex game and se al, that thousa e. The Tarhead of the ngok and Vit w machinay to stay a Night in Mo about in a fe s st best w-Point, One l be talking or it large urns f er. like R ne else wil l, the UK, ret 9 Octob a o v y i r t e o e s . ev fe th er t lms, s time e filmestival inSeptembeature fi und the month f o danc f Rain ent film from 28ction of om all arkshops, e h T pend uting s fr sele ng , wor inde teenth o s diverse hort filmction of (includi od thir ck out it ies and s n a sele panels. y our go ets – Che mentar o mentioscussion osted b and tick s, plus doculd, not t s and di panel h details f LWLie ists wor terclasse iscussionbsite for people o journal This mas year a d k the we e good selected nalism.)om the this s. Chec itness tharefully ovie journe-up fr e Steve selve come w other c re of m trong li d includ e. then mber of ery natu mises a s g moote Redgrav a nu ct the v nce pro sts bein vanessa you. k disse , Rainda ecial gue am and o should nce.co.u year East. Sp rry Gilli ce, and s w.rainda al in tiv fes lm fi t fes r’s Res far emi, Te ttendan go to ww Check out this yea September to 2nd October. h Busc l be in a rmation London from 27t at some of the excellent We’l more info We’ve taken a look ect to see this year, and For exp can be you to e rts erv sho particular that des discovered two in the creative forces behind seen. We cornered out a little more about these shorts, to find their work...
PACK AWAY THE TENT, UP YOUR EL NG LiES ANDHA CHECK OUT THiSWAU TU M fiLM fESTivAL N’S BEST S
Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier are the creators of stop motion animation, Le Grand Sommeil, an epic in 5 minutes about table-tennis, and time-travel. How did you get into making animated films? We met at the Arts Academy where we were studying cartoon strip illustration. After a while, we found out about animation and the freedom it provided for telling stories and decided to specialise. We started by making a series of classically drawn cartoons (The Pic Pic André Show) but eventually plugged for stop-motion, which allows us to be much more spontaneous and creative.
Where are the main outlets for people to view your films? Le grand sommeil is one of the twenty 5-minute long episodes that together form the ‘Panique au village’ series. The pilot episode Le Gateau was first introduced to the public and to professionals at the Annecy Film Festival a couple of years ago where it won the Grand TV Prize. Various television channels and international sales agents started showing interest in the series and now it’s been sold to TV channels and DVD distributors worldwide. A few episodes, such as Le grand sommeil, Les voleurs de cartes and Le gateau are still invited to festivals worldwide and continue winning prizes. ‘Panique au village’ has gathered a little fan club dispersed across the globe. What does the future hold for you? We are currently working on the screenplay for a feature length ‘Panique au village’, which will hopefully start shooting mid-2006. I suppose our main ambition is to continue making original, funny and creative animation. We’re happy as long as we can spend time telling our own stories rather than having to work on commissioned projects or other filmmaker’s animations.
Oury Atlan and Thomas Bernos are the men behind Overtime, winner of the Vue Animation Award at the Rushes Soho Shorts Festival this August. How did you come up with the idea for Overtime?
We wanted to delve into the muppet show world with serious and poetic themes. I was inspired by L’incompris (misunderstood) by Commencini for the sensitive side of the film, and The Night Of The Hunter for the general feel and the surrealist photogra phy. The musical themes are inspired by Jewish musical folklore, recorded in the 50’s on 33rpm records. The first piece of music is a Hassidic song, the second a Klezmer piece and the third a traditional Yiddish piece. Our aim is to offer up a multitude of characters, of backgrounds in a weird and wonderfully fun world.
What techniques were used in making Overtime?
It was actually relatively simple in the sense that we used 3D Studio Max for everything in 3D, Combusti on for the post-production and Premiere for the editing. For the treatment of the image, we used Photoshop. There were no special 3D effects used, which some people don’t believe!
How do you and Thomas Bernos go about working as a team?
Each one of us has our forté, but generally we share the same tastes and the same cinematographic and artistic references. We have similar technical knowledge and skills so there is an understanding and level of trust between both of us when working on a production. During our studies we worked together on a regular basis, which means that over the months we have really got to know how the other works and now it’s a very natural situation.
What are you planning next?
Plans for the future... we’re going to write and direct a 3D feature with the ambition to then move into live action. Let’s see where it goes!
Contrary to popular belief, Tony Scott makes films equivalent to the cut-price paperbacks you pick up at the supermarket check out. They’re trashy, cheap, self-important claptrap with no passion, no vitality and no originality to speak of. film folk in the dock And before you even think of saying True Romance was good, that film was a one-scene movie. What Defendant: Tony Scott pisses me off the most about Scott Charge: Grievous Bodily the younger is that the trailers Harm (against film) for his films are undeniably amazing. Take Man on Fire (an abortion of a film) – the trailer lures you in so convincingly, it’s only when you’ve shelled out your £10 for a ticket that you realise you’ve already seen every cool line and action sequence from the entire film. Every film he makes follows the Top Gun template of having a handful of quotes, a couple of explosions and a tough-guy lead. In that sense, his films are also plagued by the idea that a story doesn’t need to make any sense, just so long as it looks cool, a notion which characterised so many piss-poor bargain-bin ’80s action flicks. Finally, I hold him personally responsible for those film writers who insist on using the (ghastly) word “helmer” – “Tony Scott to HELM Spy Game”. You helm a car, not a movie. David Jenkins
ve cking lo man, I fu : “Yeah, “No, I hate that n fa ie v o ’t n? type of myou like Top Gu that this fool isn o e a certain There’s vies.” Really? Dknow right therwith the idea of o e u v m o y the he’s in lo d bang , of shit.” Anwith the movies, . A victim e people of people in love ol. m of thes ccess. A victim illion picture. ti co ic v g n a ei is su m b tt 0 d in Tony Scoe no credibility es, helm – a $10e sweat-saturate mak ho se e. m–y people wk it’s easy to helink anybody can f raw adrenalinve with o who thinf people who thhead-fuck rush d yeah, he’s in lo o e A victim oozes with th is De Palma. An that at o S th . g hacks lf cinema , he’s a stylist pielberg. chompin pushing himse Sure y tl s. So is S t from the cigarp an u st tn se co n xt te b his actio at sets Scott aparhe’s a fighter – ple wrong. sive su Wh ve peo is that ld e subver industryup his game, proave disguised th ? And who wou e th er litt course, irectors could h ster no-braineriled, turning a u to change yd t blockb Oliver Stone fa ble? How man ise’s firs e e n as Cru succeed wher reetwise ensemmotifs. But giv g u G op T st to g of pt into a ked him of makin recurrin have bac s Tarantino scri s, his ticks, his he’ll be capable the same? k smart-ashas his gimmic , and you know eron could donski am he He on or $10 k Scorsese or C a car. Matt Boc li il m 0 him $10 vie. Do you thinelm a ship, not o h u m o your d anyway, y An
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you’ve heard the evidence before you. Tony Scott: purveyor of cheap empty trash which violates the good defender of joy-drenched action dramas. You, the jury, name of film or stylish, suave guilty, or not guilty, of sneaking up on cinema in a dark decide. Is the defendant ally and smashing its face in with a rusty iron bar? The first twelve people to respond with their verdict to backsection@littlewhitelies will decide – verdict to be delivered next issue. Who would you next like to see in the dock?
104 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
The sun had just gone told Patrick Swayze, “Idown as Jake Gyllenhaal fucking anti Christ”. A think you’re the small cheer erupted. Stella Artois’ fantasticall show great films in the y successful idea to open air this summer began in August with Don continues this month withnie Darko and chance to see one of the Pulp Fiction. The 5000 people sounds pret great films of ’90s with shows at Heaton Park, ty good. Pulp Fiction Pennines, on Septemberin the foothills of the are a fiver from www.st 3 at 6:00 PM. Tickets ellascreen.co.uk
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CHAPTER SIX future perfect: a look ahead to the best movies coming your way 108 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
Dir. Steven Spielberg
Spielberg aside, this tatty trilogy add-on inspires little faith in its whip-cracking credentials. Ford is too old for this shit, while George Lucas backed his own script over Shawshank-scribe Frank Darabont. Expect sizzling Star Wars-style dialogue, then. ETA: 2007
19 die Hard 4.0.
Dir. John McTiernan
Filming this autumn, Bruce Willis returns for a fourth gig as (retired, disillusioned) NY cop, John McClane. The title suggests some kind of Internet intrigue, but expect explosions a-plenty, a Twinkie-loving sidekick and DIY destruction. Yippy kay ay, motherfuckers. ETA: 2006
18 Inside man.
Dir. Spike Lee
Shelton’s back, penning this tale of a bungled heist, complete with hostage taking and cops v. robbers psychological stand-offs. With Denzel Washington heading an all-star cast including Clive Owen, Jodie Foster and Willem Dafoe, this is shaping up to be another powerful joint from Lee. ETA: April 2006
20 Indiana Jones 4.
17 ghost Rider. Dir. Mark Stephen Johnston
Cage has been eyeing up comic book properties to sink for several years, and he’s finally scored with the dark tale of stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze, who sells his soul to save his dying father. But hey, it could have been worse – at least he’s not Superman. ETA: August 2006
Dir. PT Anderson
Anderson’s latest is an adaptation of socialist scholar Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel, Oil! Expect trademark tracking shots in the story of Bunny Ross, a ‘red millionaire’ oil magnate. Method mentalist Daniel Day Lewis should star, and is probably already living on a North Atlantic rig in preparation. ETA: 2007 109
15 The Chronicles of narnia: The lion, The witch and The wardrobe. Dir. Andrew Adamson
Liam Neeson is Aslan, the kids are unknown, but CS Lewis’ Jesus-loving saga of hooves and hauberks is legendary. The trailers aren’t promising: postRings clichés meet ﬂoppy-fringed posh kids and a smattering of thesps. Bible belt marketing will deliver the God squad dollar. ETA: December 2005
14 The wicker man. Dir. Neil LaBute
Are there no original ideas left in Hollywood? Who cares if we get to watch Nic Cage burn to death? LaBute’s caustic worldview – last seen on the London stage in the David Schwimmer-starring Some Girl(s) - is perfectly matched to the uncomfortable weirdness of Britain’s greatest cult film. An island. Neo-pagans. Human sacrifice. Start collecting the kindling. ETA: 2006
13 Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (and 3).
Dir. Gore Verbinski
The sequel(s) to the selfproclaimed “best film ever based on a theme park ride”, Pirates 2 promises more swashbuckling, more buried treasure and more of Depp doing what he does best: the full-on freak out in a great hat. Watch out for stoner legend and original muse ‘Keef’ Richards as Cap’n Jack’s (presumably drug-addled) dad.
ETA: 2006 and 2007
Dir. Brett Ratner
The SS X-Men could be headed for the rocks now that uber-hack Brett Ratner has wrested the tiller from Matthew Vaughn. Most of the original cast return for a sequel more firmly grounded in the comic’s roots, though Alan ‘Nightcrawler’ Cummins is out, and Kelsey ‘Beast’ Grammer is in. Now rumoured to be filming on Alcatraz, this mutant baby could still be beautiful. ETA: May 2006 110 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
11 The fountain.
Dir. Darren Aronofsky
Is this film ever going to come out? With a resumé that boasts two exercises in brilliance (Pi and Requiem for a Dream), Aronofsky’s latest gushes promise, if only for the man-hours heaped upon it. For those who don’t already know, The Fountain is a futuristic love story about a thousand-year search for the Tree of Life, not a documentary on Marcel DuChamp. ETA: December 2005
10 The lady in the water.
Dir. M. Night Shyamalan
Village idiot Shyamalan writes, directs but hopefully doesn’t star in this story of an Apartment Super who discovers a sea nymph in the building’s pool. Filming is under way, but the notoriously secretive (read: self-regarding and paranoid) M. Night refuses to release a trailer. Don’t quote us, but it might have a twist. Like, maybe the ending wont suck. ETA: July 2006
Dir. David Fincher
After the low-key oddity of Panic Room, Fincher is back on home turf with this biopic of the infamous San Francisco murderer. The movie follows the (real life) investigation of crime writer Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his attempts to inform the police of the killer’s identity. If it manages to be half as good as Se7en (3.5?), this has classic potential. ETA: 2006
08 A Scanner darkly.
Dir. Richard Linklater
Visuals to sell a kidney for and an all-star cast (Reeves, Ryder, Downey Jr, Harrelson) should complement a script, masterfully adapted from the Philip K. Dick short by Charlie Kaufman, set in a California that’s more Schwarzenegger than Steinbeck. We wish they’d release more visuals, if only to stop us drawing on the telly. ETA: 2006
07 The departed.
Dir. Martin Scorsese
After a brief sojourn to make the definitive doc on Bob Dylan’s formative years, Scorsese reacquaints himself with the genre he helped define. A westernised version of Wai Keung Lau’s Infernal Affairs should be a solid slab of cops, gangsters and gut-wrenching violence. Damon and DiCaprio provide the eye candy. ETA: 2006
06 The good Shepherd.
Dir. Robert De Niro
Matt Damon jumped into DiCaprio’s still-warm shoes, stealing the limelight from Angelina’s lips as a CIA agent whose 40-year career through the Cold War takes a heavy toll on himself and his family. De Niro’s directorial return promises an emotional take on ‘The Company’. ETA: 2006 111
05 King Kong.
Dir. Peter Jackson
Sure, we’d miss our mother’s funeral for it, but are we the only ones who felt, well, a little under whelmed by the trailer? Cornball action and fancy FX dominated, leaving little impression of the dark atmosphere that Kong demands. They better not be taking the monkey. ETA: December 2005
04 The Black Dahlia.
Dir. Brian De Palma
Two LA cops hunt a starlet’s killer in De Palma’s take on Ellroy’s ’40s-set novel. Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson star, but does murder and intrigue require more grit than glamour? Friedman’s script is ‘a tale of sexual obsession about the politics of murder and ... the feeding frenzy of the press.’ Feed us, Brian. We’re hungry. ETA: 2006
03 Superman Returns.
Dir. Bryan Singer
Filming in Australia, the Man of Steel has ventured back to earth for his fifth on-screen jaunt in tights. Spacey’s Lex Luthor will undoubtedly sicken and scare, while Brandon Routh looks like a heroic replacement for Christopher Reeve, despite a cape which is more maroon than red. Trust us, these things count in superhero land. A worthy reboot, or goodnight Kryptonite? ETA: June 2006
Dir. Tom Twyker
Tom ‘Run Lola Run’ Twyker directs another literary adap – Sueskind’s Das Parfum. A man with no smell develops unrivalled olfactory senses and puts them to use creating perfumes, but his search for the ultimate scent takes a dark turn. Dustin Hoffman lends a safe pair of hands alongside Ben ‘Layer Cake’ Whishaw. We won’t make any jokes about smelling of roses. They’d stink. Sorry. ETA: 2006
112 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
Dir. Sam Mendes
Any new film about the Gulf conﬂict is going to be viewed through a political lens, but Jarhead (a Marine Corp colloquialism for a new recruit) looks like eschewing the clichés of tired arguments for an old-fashioned feast of guns, tanks, and cigarchomping scenery chewing by Jamie Foxx. It’s about time Mendes was back on the big screen, and the trailer at least is breath-taking. ETA: January 2006
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A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE IN CINEMAS FROM SEPTEMBER 30TH Check out page 70 for our thoughts on Cronenberg’s latest, but in the meantime, for your information: Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) lives a happy and quiet life with his family in the small town of Millbrook, Indiana. But their idyllic existence is shattered when Tom foils a vicious attempted robbery in his diner, saving his customers and friends, but killing the two sought-after criminals. Tom’s life is changed overnight, attracting a national media circus, which forces him into the spotlight. Uncomfortable with his newfound celebrity, Tom tries to return to his ordinary life only to be confronted by a mysterious and threatening man (Ed Harris) who arrives in town believing Tom is the man who’s wronged him in the past. As Tom and his family fight back against this case of mistaken identity and struggle to cope with their changed reality, they are forced to confront their relationships and the divisive issues which surface as a result. To mark the release of A History of Violence we have teamed up with Entertainment Film Distributors to offer you the chance to win all manner of things. All you have to do to be in with a chance is subscribe to LWLies – is that too much to ask? Send in your subscription form (below) and on the 31st of October we’ll put them all into an enormous bin, and pull out seven. The first will receive a brand spanking new hi-fi to go and listen to Jamie Cullum and James Blunt on. The second will win the excellent graphic novel of A History Of Violence, and the next five will each win a copy of the sound track to the film. Here’s your form to complete, in return for which we’ll bung you our next six issues for £15. If you’re after a back issue, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org Name Address
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“Precious? Tit?” 114 THE LAND OF THE DEAD ISSUE
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