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COVER ILLUSTRATION BY Paul Willoughby WORDS BY Matt Bochenski


“KILL ME, BUT SAVE MY BROTHER. HE DID NOTHING.”

003


DIRECTED BY Alejandro González Iñárritu STARRING Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal, Rinko Kikuchi

RELEASED January 5

005


Four continents, multiple tragedies, one vision. In Babel, Alejandro González Iñárritu has made the finest, and angriest, film of his career.

“Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven. And let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands.”

In Genesis, the children of Adam get a righteous slapping for their act of God-bothering hubris. Just so, two films in to a rocket-powered career, Alejandro González Iñárritu finds himself perched atop a mountain of awards, just about ripe for a good old-fashioned critical smiting. There’s one problem: Babel is an eloquent deconstruction of modern times that defies almost any label or category save ‘genius’.

006 THE BABEL ISSUE


Alongside regular collaborator Guillermo Arriaga, Iñárritu is no stranger to fractured stories and broken lives. Both Amores Perros and 21 Grams traded in narrative and emotional acrobatics, and at first glance Babel is covering similarly artful ground. Don’t be misled. Where Amores Perros was experimental and exuberant, and 21 Grams was a muscular tussle between the fleetness of its structure and Sean Penn’s

gravitational pull, Babel has an altogether different feel. At a time when almost every studio is thinking in trilogies, Babel is a film that illuminates and enriches Iñárritu’s previous work because it feels less like a conclusion than a culmination. In its dexterity, its sophistication and certainly in its sense of moral outrage, Babel is by far the most important work of Iñárritu’s career. ▼


In Morocco, slate skies kissed by barren mountains lend the landscape an oppressive magnitude. Everything is endless, depthless and ancient, especially the people. In a tiny village a Berber with a face like chasms carved on leather and fathomless black eyes trades a hunting rifle for a goat. On the tourist trail to Tazarine a coach winds through the valley, selling pre-packaged parts of the country’s culture, fit for consumption like bottled water. Richard and Susan stare at the space between them, as frozen as the ice that Susan won’t drink – fearful and bitter, as lost right there as later, after that ice is shattered by the crack of the rifle. In Mexico, a housekeeper approaches the US border with her nephew and two American children, returning to their home in San Diego. They are stopped and searched – an everyday act of humiliation that accretes like dirt beneath the skin. In Tokyo, in the raucous mayhem of that high-tech metropolis, Chieko is cocooned in silence – a deaf-mute searching for a language that she can only find physically.

From this tangled web emerges a narrative at once humbling in focus and breathtaking in scope.

It’s about grief, love and loneliness, about the choices we make every day – to fear, to hate, to distrust – and the consequences that stretch beyond imagining. But more than that, these personal tragedies are a patchwork – individual skeins which, taken together, form the global narrative of the war on terror. While deft and elegant, Babel is thunderously political, painting a picture of a world in which some of us are victims of accidents, but all of us are victims of the systematic cultural violence enshrined in the tenets of Western imperialism. ▼

009


Five years after the declaration of war, filmmakers have finally found the courage to engage with its consequences. But it’s taken two Mexicans – two immigrants on American soil – to express what the Americans themselves couldn’t see; that it wasn’t 9/11 that changed the world, it was America’s response to it. In a film about the differences between language and communication, words are imbued with new power and meaning. In its evocation of terrorism, a word that costs an innocent Moroccan child his life, a word whose brutalising effect leaves a trail of fear and violence across cultures and continents, Babel is about the most powerful and the least meaningful of them all.

The film’s thematic power is of a piece with its stunning composition.

Iñárritu described the process of shooting in three disparate countries, often with non-professional actors, as “method execution”. Photographed by Rodrigo Prieto (who shot both of Iñárritu’s previous films, as well as Brokeback Mountain), each landscape is represented by subtle differences in texture and grain. But it goes deeper. Iñárritu took an “observe and absorb” approach to shooting his disparate locations and the result is not just a singular story told from multiple perspectives (though Babel is that), but three quite separate stories altogether, three different genres almost, each quite brilliant in its own right. In the starched scrub of Morocco, a claustrophobic marital drama evolves into an expansive polemic. Caked in dust and dirt, Pitt and Blanchett seem to seep into their surroundings. While Brad Pitt may not have undergone a physical transformation exactly, he looks every one of his 43 years, and more: there are grey flecks to the beard and crows’ feet reach out from his eyes like trees taking root. Iñárritu knows exactly what he has with Pitt, and exactly what to do with him; he breaks him, and suddenly those famous, flawless features disappear in an avalanche of grief. It’s Blanchett, dying on the floor of a squalid hut, who carries the weight of the film’s emotional metaphors – power and helplessness, the illusion of safety, but it’s Pitt who represents the betrayal of trust. The other tourists on the coach eventually abandon them in the village, terrified by the breakdown of comfortable boundaries, fearful of the too-real life to which they’ve been exposed. In their wake, Pitt’s “thank you” to the local guide who has stayed with him is a moment of quiet significance.

010 THE BABEL ISSUE


Returning home, Iñárritu shoots Mexico and the Sonoran desert as a rebuke to the racist-romantic myth-making of John Ford and The Alamo, powered by the feral intensity of Gael García Bernal. The border is a place of bleak, dehumanising nihilism, but Mexico itself is an undiscovered country, seen through the eyes of the American children. At first they echo the fears of their parents, but, uncorrupted by cynicism, they see past the unfamiliar and the superficial to the people beneath. But the most distinct of these three films is Iñárritu’s Tokyo story – a superbly crafted study of dislocation; intimate, jarring, wild and stylised. As Chieko, Rinko Kikuchi gives a performance of heartbreaking honesty, stripped raw, inside and out, the depth of her emotional void sharply contrasting with the tiny frame of her naked body. To her, as to us, Tokyo is a city of blinking lights and alien noises so fast-paced, so hooked-up as to be every bit as impenetrable as a North African village. But even here, in the

techno temple of the communication age, language and intimacy have a flawed and uncertain meaning. At first Rinko lashes out with the only unambiguous expression she has – herself, her own availability. But Iñárritu will break her too, and when he does, under the flashing strobes of a Tokyo club, it’s one of the very best scenes committed to film this year. In as much as it bears comparison to its contemporaries, think of Babel as Crash without the sanctimony, or The Constant Gardener without the sermonising. But think of it as more than that as well. It’s a film of extraordinary subtlety as much as it’s a film of righteous anger. Yes, it’s structurally familiar, but, really, there hasn’t been a film like Babel for years. Not from Iñárritu. Not from anybody  Turn to page 32 for an exclusive interview with Alejandro González Iñárritu and Gael García Bernal.

Anticipation. A winner at Cannes, but whispers suggested that Iñárritu had failed to move on from his first two films. Four Enjoyment.

Absorbing, powerful, evocative and emotional, Babel is gripping filmmaking. An utter, unqualified triumph. Five

In Retrospect.

Does it have flaws? Well, there weren’t many good jokes. Doesn’t matter. Five

011


“It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.” Alexis de Tocqueville

018 THE BABEL ISSUE


LWLies: What do you love about movies? Iñárritu: About movies? LWLies: About movies. Iñárritu: Wow. There are so many angles. What do I love about movies? I think a way to put it is that, besides the fact that I can eat popcorn without guilt, I think that it reminds me of and reveals to me things about the human condition that I’m not aware of until that moment. It brings me closer to the things that I should be close to, but I have forgotten. When a film touches me on that level, it reminds me of my own life, and it gives me a justification for this complex life that we are living. It puts me in touch with the source and the reason and the meaning of life. LWLies: Gael? Bernal: I have a very concrete answer thanks to the objectivity and the nature of a 17 year-old girl from Brazil that told me this. She lives in Rocinha, a big favela in Rio, and she’s doing some great workshops with Fernando Meirelles about filmmaking in the favelas. She said, ‘Ultimately, I don’t know if I want to dedicate myself to cinema. But what cinema has given me is the opportunity to know about the Other, and to know that the Other is not much different from what I am.’ So if I had to choose one sentence to show what cinema is about, it is that. It has allowed me to see the world – making it or watching it – it has allowed me to see the world, noticing that the Other is not much different than I am.

019


Honest, passionate and unmerciful. www.littlewhitelies.co.uk

Managing Editor Danny Miller

Matt Bochenski

danny@littlewhitelies.co.uk

matt@littlewhitelies.co.uk

Creative Directors

Editor

Paul Willoughby paul@littlewhitelies.co.uk Rob Longworth rob@littlewhitelies.co.uk

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david@littlewhitelies.co.uk

jon@littlewhitelies.co.uk

adrian@littlewhitelies.co.uk

monisha@littlewhitelies.co.uk

ShortJamesFilm Editor Bramble james@littlewhitelies.co.uk

Sub Editor

Staff Writers

Adrian Sandiford sandiford@littlewhitelies.co.uk Neon Kelly neon@littlewhitelies.co.uk Andrea Kurland andy@littlewhitelies.co.uk

Website Editor Daniel Cullinan

Fashion Editor Heather Whyley heather@littlewhitelies.co.uk

Contributing Editors Kevin Maher

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cullinan@littlewhitelies.co.uk

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Editorial Assistant Ailsa Caine Words, pictures, thanks...

Tom Atkinson, Adam Benzine, Mel Bezalel, Sandow Birk, Mike Brett, Dan Brightmore, Sam Christmas, Helen Cowley, Andy Davidson, Paul Fairclough, Nick Funnell, Clare Geraghty, Georgie Hobbs, Jess Holland, Adam LeeDavies, Kayt Manson, Jonas Milk, Emma Paterson, Lieu Pham, Morphy Richards, Dan Stewart, Emma Tildsley, Piers Townley, Natasha Tripney, Eva Vermandel, Rob Warren, Steve Watson, Jason Wood, Mattia Zoppellaro

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Published By

The Church Of London Publishing Ltd. 45 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3QB tel: 0207 7293675 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. Thanks to all LWLies staffers for their excellent goats.

Š TCOLondon Publishing Ltd. 2006 / 2007 020 THE BABEL ISSUE


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*!-%3,)+%353 Spent yesterday evening devouring Marie Antoinette. Not the shit ďŹ lm, but your ďŹ ne latest issue. Do congratulate everyone; you’re going from strength to strength. Cheers. *AMES

3(/0&,/0 I really enjoy how different your magazine is; the reviews are great and so is focusing on one ďŹ lm every issue. I also love the innovative and exciting design. But in the Marie Antoinette issue, articles about shopping started to creep in. Could you please stop it? Truth & Movies, that’s what we’re here for. !NGELA

&//$&/24(/5'(4 Little White Lies is usually pretty spot on when it comes to complimenting the feature ďŹ lm, and I like the balance of more ‘heavy’ features and lighter stuff, but I was a little confused by your take on Marie Antoinette. I was

-//QEB?>?BIFPPRB

with you on the review, and really enjoyed the Marrakech piece. Gang of Four are one of ‘those’ bands, so that was pretty much a given, but two articles on food? Nice connection and I liked both bits, but I was a little surprised you decided to dedicate so much attention to what was, arguably, one of the more frivolous aspects of the ďŹ lm. $EAN0ARKINSON

%!5$%,7,)%3 Thank you for producing the ďŹ nest magazine available right now. Not since the heady days of Cinefantastique has a ďŹ lmrelated magazine so captivated me. I love the fact that you focus on a theme each issue. PLEASE DON’T CHANGE THIS. The ďŹ rst thing I do when I get a copy is open it up, bury my head in the pages and take a long, deep breath, Wonderful! 2AHEEL

4//3-//4( Why the new shiny cover? I suppose in some ways it is

better. But it makes the magazine look cheap! If it’s a cost thing then it’s okay, but if it was a choice of vanity, then please go back to smooth matte... Mmmmmatte. !DAM

4/0/&4(%#/003 What an intriguing family the Coppolas are. The Roman Coppola interview showed what really creative people can achieve if they’re allowed to do whatever they choose. I’ve heard Roman Coppola dismissed in the past as overly privileged, but Special Projects seems a genuinely exciting idea. However interesting Roman was, why did you not haul his sister to account for her over-indulged ďŹ lm about big-wigged losers which was as dull as anything else I’ve seen this year? +ATIA&EA

2%15)%-)3!$2%!Having read LWLies for a while now I know how sparingly your ďŹ ve out of ďŹ ve score is given out, so when Requiem

got ďŹ ve for Enjoyment and In Retrospect, I’m thinking that that this ďŹ lm should be worthy of my attention. What the hell did you send me to? I’ve still not recovered from the 90-minute mind-fuck. My head, still full of confusion, can’t make sense of all the emotion and desperation that came off the screen. Cheers for that. -ARLIN*OHNS

).4%26)%77(/ I was surprised to see that even though you sported a rather ďŹ ne-looking Kirsten Dunst on the cover of the Marie Antoinette issue, you didn’t actually interview her in the mag. What’s up with that? -ARK%ALING We wanted to chat with Dustin O’Halloran and Patricia Colin because, in our opinion, their work on the score and the costumes respectively was one of the creative high points of a awed ďŹ lm. As such, we felt that they fully deserved the recognition they receive in the interview.


024 THE BABEL ISSUE


Jason Wood, author of The Faber Book of Mexican Cinema, tackles the social, political and cinematic roots of Mexican movies’ Buena Onda.

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The turn of the twentyfirst century ushered in a thrilling new wave in Mexican filmmaking. This Buena Onda was not the first such wave, but it broke upon the global cinema scene with an unprecedented energy. The international success of Amores Perros and Y Tu Mamá También alerted the eyes of the world to an embarrassment of new talent in Latin America, from directors Alejandro González Iñárritu, Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón, cinematographers Rodrigo Prieto and Emmanuel Lubezki to the electrifying screen presence of Gael García Bernal. Their rise to prominence – aided by a new entrepreneurial spirit amongst Mexican financiers and producers – coincided with an emerging generation of Mexican cinemagoers thirsting for intelligent, identity affirming, locally made product. Having endured a period of relative famine throughout the ’80s and early part of the ’90s, Mexico once more had a national cinema to shout about, and global audiences sat up and took note. However, though these films and filmmaking figures rose to prominence through a series of alchemical factors, they did not emerge from a cultural or historical vacuum. Mexican cinema has followed a pattern of boom and bust; a prolonged period of aesthetic and economic success followed by a period of famine, quite often aligned to changes in government, reduced funding, and a general hostility towards the arts. Indeed, this tradition stretches right back to the earliest days of the medium. One of the belle époque’s success stories, Mexico was prosperous and politically stable in the 1890s so it’s no surprise that the movie projectors and early films produced by the Lumière brothers appeared there shortly after they became popular in Europe. Mexican audiences greeted this new form of entertainment just as enthusiastically as their European counterparts. While it is not well documented, there was certainly a silent film era in Mexico, with the origins of cinema there linked to Salvador Toscano Barragán, an engineering student who opened the first Mexican movie salon and began to create some of the country’s first film productions. By 1900 the popularity of cinema within Mexico – and particularly Mexico City – was well established, with new salons opening and new equipment being imported. In this formative period, the majority of ‘entertainments’ were locally produced documents of momentous national events, such as the opening of new railroad lines or

026 THE BABEL ISSUE

Presidential excursions. However, in 1907 one of the first major films to be produced from a script was completed: Felipe de Jesús’ El Grito de Dolores. After a surge, there followed a period of decline in the ’20s as Hollywood established itself as the dominant force in filmmaking. With audiences turning increasingly to imported newsreels originating from America, film production in Mexico – which was not supported by the state – suffered a rapid downturn, while the more sophisticated Hollywood films successfully offered fantasy and escape. This rejection of localised product would repeat itself many times. Moreover, the established Mexican film artists (such as they were) were not averse to overtures from the North, and so figures such as Delores del Río and Lupita Tovar set sail for pastures new. It was the coming of sound that allowed Mexico to regain ground as a filmmaking entity, and although in 1932 (a few years after the arrival of Sergei Eisenstein) only six films were produced, two were by directors who would make a valuable contribution to the country’s cinema: Fernando de Fuentes (El Anónimo) and Soviet émigré Arcady Boytler (Mano a Mano). Buoyed by renewed private investment (wealthy distributor Juan de la Cruz Alarcón had formed the Compañía Nacional Productora de Películas), Mexican cinema was once again at the forefront of Spanish-language film production by 1933. Developing its own genres and styles (such as the comedia ranchera) and enjoying a largely healthy relationship with the Cárdenas government (there was a drive towards populist as opposed to artistic fare), Mexican cinema continued to flourish right up to the end of the ’30s and the declaration of World War II. Commercially successfully and now fully industrialised, Mexican cinema took full advantage of the opportunities presented by the war, and although the more conservative administration of Avila Camacho came to power in 1940, it coincided with one of the country’s most culturally creative periods. With the war effort leading to a decline in American production, Mexican cinema gained a strong foothold both at home and abroad, exporting its films for the growing Latin American market and establishing international stars such as Mario Moreno ‘Cantinflas’, Pedro Armendáriz and María Félix, and genres such as the family melodrama, and patriotic historical epics. Mexican cinema began to achieve the difficult task of establishing a self-sustaining film industry capable of producing pictures that bridge the gap between art and commerce. This was the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, El Cine de Oro. It coincided with the administration of Miguel Alemán from 1946-1952, and was inextricably linked to unprecedented economic growth and prosperity, proving to be a high point both in terms of production and profits. A major contributing factor to its filmmaking status at this time was the courting of Mexico as a valuable ally against Axis countries by the US. Revenues increased and access to technology became widely available. Similarly, the period saw an increased attention to filmmaking by the state as it sought to protect what was becoming a valuable cultural and economic asset. Thus, in 1942 the Banco Cinematográfica was founded to facilitate the funding of film production. A law was also passed in 1946 that protected the film industry from income tax. Thriving in the shade of state protection and subsidy, Mexican cinema found itself in the midst of a Golden Age, an epoch of big stars (Germán Valdez ‘Tin-Tan’, Ninón Sevilla), quality films and high output that continued into the late ’50s. Sadly, the involvement of the state was to contribute to the increasingly conservative and middleclass nature of Mexican cinema. Rising production costs were also problematic as films stuck to tried-and-tested formulae (dance fads, broad comedias rancheras, and increasingly syrupy melodramas) to ensure that they were a commercial success. The country’s intelligentsia and university film clubs began a quest for quality filmmakers and the encouragement of younger filmmaking talent, but to little avail. In 1958, with the coming to presidency of Adolfo López Mateos, Mexican cinema was to enter its very darkest days. But there was a ray of light. The early ’60s would witness the birth of a new generation who would take Mexican cinema into a new century of extraordinary vitality n


Vamonos con Pancho Villa (Let’s Go with Pancho Villa) (1935) Director: Fernando de Fuentes Starring: Antonio R Fraustro, Domingo Soler, Ramón Vallarino During the Mexican revolution, a group of farmers, known as the ‘Lions of San Pablo’ are united to the army of Pancho Villa. However, their initial enthusiasm and optimism soon gives way to disenchantment and death. Standing apart from the many movies made about Villa in that it portrays the man and the revolution in all its cruelty, this is a classic tale of soured idealism, and still the most potent celluloid portrait of the Mexican revolution in existence. Shot on a lavish budget, the film, part of a trilogy by de Fuentes, was the first government-sponsored super production. Pueblerina (Town Tale) (1949) Director: Emilio Fernández Starring: With Columba Domínguez, Roberto Cañedo, Arturo Soto Rangel Framed for murder and sentenced to jail, Aurelio Rodríguez (Cañedo) returns home following his release, only to find that he is still considered a pariah. The ex-convict exacerbates the already tense situation by falling in love with the girlfriend (Domínguez) of the town’s feared political boss (Luis Aceves Castaneda). Echoing Fernández’s own life (he narrowly escaped a jail sentence for revolutionary activities), Pueblerina merges aspects of the melodrama and the western to original effect. Fernández also makes the most of the geography, setting his ‘town tale’ in the shadows of twin volcanic mountains Popocateptl and Iztacchuatal. Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) (1950) Director: Luis Buñuel Starring: Estela Inda, Miguel Inclán, Alfonso Mejía Set in the slums of Mexico City, this classic film follows the crime-filled lives of a gang of juvenile delinquents, focusing on the ultimate destruction of Pedro (Mejía), the menacing gang’s youngest member. Shot on location with non-professional actors, it’s a caustic and unsparing account of cruelty, exploitation and neglect, mixing documentary realism (it evolved from Buñuel’s Land Without Bread) with sequences of surreal, poetic intensity. Los Olvivados earned its maker the Best Director and the International Critics’ Prize at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival, returning Buñuel to the public eye and establishing his reputation as a world-class director. El Vampiro Director: Fernando Méndez, Paul Nagel Starring: Abel Salazar, Gérman Robles, Ariadna Welter Utilising magnificent sets, this is perhaps the best of the vampire films from the ’50s. Travelling back to her childhood home, Marta (Welter) meets a mysterious doctor (horror stalwart Salazar), who insists he accompany her. When they arrive, they find that her aunt is under the control of Count Luvad (Robles), an evil vampire who has come to the area to bring his dead brother back to life. Beautifully photographed and full of Gothic atmosphere, El Vampiro predates Hammer’s Dracula, and features a performance by the veteran Robles that many rate as highly as that of Lugosi. Cult viewing and ripe for rediscovery. The Faber Book of Mexican Cinema (Faber & Faber, 2006, £15.99) is out now to buy. Check out the review on www.littlewhitelies.co.uk

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028 THE BABEL ISSUE


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While Mexican cinema suffered under the rule of Adolfo López Mateos, Alfonso Cuarón was too busy watching cheesy comedies to notice. “In the ’60s I was just a kid. I watched a

very small percentage of Mexican cinema – I was more about Hollywood, American films. It was only at the end of the ’60s that I discovered Italian cinema.” This discovery would prove to be a turning point for the young cineaste, and in that respect, perhaps a seminal moment for modern Mexican film. But Cuarón remembers the tale of his fiery introduction to the world of European movies with the relish of a naughty schoolboy. “One night when I was eight my parents went to a party, and my cousin and I sneaked downstairs to watch TV. We switched on the television and there was a movie which was described as being ‘for adults only’, so we thought it would have lots of titties in it, you know?” As it turned out, the pair had stumbled on late night Italian horror. “I remember my cousin and I just crying all the way through it.” ▼

029


to direct Harry Potter, but I was so passionate

established Mexican filmmakers spreading their

then on, I wanted to explore Italian cinema,

about Children of Men that I didn’t want to lose

influence through Hollywood and beyond, there’s

I wanted to see anything that was Italian. I

the project, so I allowed the studio to employ

certainly plenty to celebrate at the moment. But

remember seeing one Antonioni film, but I didn’t

a hack to work on some rewrites while I was

what does Cuarón think the future holds once

really get it. But then I saw a de Sica movie

away.” This uncharacteristically harsh language

the current crop of his compatriot directors

and a Monicelli comedy, and I really enjoyed

betrays his attitude to the mangled script which

begin to fade from the limelight?

those. It took me a while later on to see another

awaited him when he finally returned to the

Antonioni movie – I think it was The Eclipse

project. “I remember meeting this guy and I’d

cinema “has lots of problems”, but is

– which I really, really loved. It’s like that; one

say, ‘I completely disagree with this. I’m not

nonetheless ebullient about its prospects for

film leads you to another.”

going to do this. You can’t put this in the script.’

the future. “I’m very excited about the next

So this hack says, ‘But it was in the studio

generation. I’m not even talking about the

notes’. And I say, ‘I don’t care. It’s a bad note.’

[Fernando] Eimbcke/Reygadas generation, I’m

And he says, ‘Look, it’s okay – I’ll write one

talking about the kids in their early twenties,

script for them and one for us’. And I said, ‘No,

who I think are going to come out and do

adamant that he would be a filmmaker. “Do

you don’t get it: it’s one for me, and another for

huge, huge things.” Many critics think that the

you remember in Goodfellas when the narrator

me, and another for me and another for me.’”

support Cuarón and his contemporaries have

says, ‘As far back as I can remember I always

Why so protective? “I’m a filmmaker. If you

offered to upcoming Mexican directors is an

wanted to be a gangster’? Well, ever since I can

were to go and have open-heart surgery, would

impressive show of altruistic solidarity. The

remember I’ve always wanted to be a director,

you follow notes from your accountant? You’d

director himself is characteristically sceptical of

to make films.” But what sort of films would

never do that.”

such a simplistic interpretation. “You could say

Still, the experience left its mark: “From

Piecemeal though it was, Cuarón’s cinematic education had started early, and he was

be made by a young man who was as happy

Although Cuarón has always had the

He is ready to concede that Mexican

that supporting a new generation is an act of

dissecting experimental European cinema as

self-belief to go his own way, he is full of praise

generosity, but for me it’s an act of selfishness

enjoying the latest Billy Wilder? As the director

for fellow filmmakers Guillermo del Toro and

– I want to learn from them. I want to learn how

of such disparate productions as Harry Potter

Alejandro González Iñárritu. “We happen to

cinema is going to be in the future. I want to be

and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Y Tu Mamá

be really close friends, and together with that

a part of cinema in the future.”

También clearly appreciates, a never-say-never

we’re huge fans of each other’s work. For me,

attitude to genre has broadened his own palette.

I can’t take a step in my filmmaking process

“Growing up – particularly in my early teens

without consulting and talking with them.”

– I would love to see a nice adventure, a nice

Cuarón is unfailingly appreciative of this close-

Western, and then go and see a Bergman movie

knit “support group”, as he styles it, which has

or a Buñuel. I enjoyed absolutely everything – for

been integral to the three directors’ concurrent

me it was about the film form.”

releases: Children of Men, Pan’s Labyrinth and Babel. He describes them as ‘sister films’:

Such has been Cuarón’s impact on Mexican – and indeed world – cinema in his relatively short career, that it is already difficult to envisage the industry without him.

tempered his receptiveness to the widest

“Even though they are so different, they deal

Even so, he is ready to refresh and reinvent his

possible spectrum of influences with a shrewd

with the same theme of how ideology hinders

approach to film in order to reach out to a new

personal vision of his art. “I’ve always done

communication between people.” Although the

generation of audiences. “The thing is that we

what I want. I’ve always chosen my own

three friends are increasingly apart due to their

are now of an age that we have been following

projects. Sometimes in the past I haven’t been

respective schedules, they still rely on mutual

the old masters for so long, and there’s a point

able to do things I wanted to do, but then I’ve

input to shape the films they conceive. In a

where you become stiff. There’s a time when

always ended up doing something different

recent editing session in Rome, Iñárritu and del

you need to turn around and seek the help of

that I also wanted to do. I don’t believe in

Toro cut several minutes from each other’s films.

the young masters to come, the people who are

compromises. I cannot compromise, in the

Even from across the Atlantic, Iñárritu found

coming through with new techniques and new

sense that if you compromise and things don’t

time to suggest the ending for Cuarón’s own

cinematic languages. It’s so important if you

go right, you would blame yourself all the time,

Children of Men.

want to keep on going.”

As his career progressed, Cuarón

thinking, ‘What if?’”

It’s tempting to suggest that Mexican

Cuarón is already looking forward to

cinema has never had it so good, but the

the next Buena Onda of Mexican cinema, even

a film isn’t approached lightly: “The films

director is quick to criticise those who attribute

whilst the current Golden Age is in full flow: “So

I have made, for good or for ill, I take full

its renaissance solely to the prodigious Cuarón/

many amazing filmmakers have been surpassed

responsibility for. If they are lousy, that’s my

del Toro/Iñárritu triumvirate. He describes the

by history. They had a career of maybe 10 or 15

fault.” Sometimes, however, his unwillingness

oft-overlooked Carlos Reygadas, director of

years making masterpieces, and then their films

to let a project slip from his grasp has caused

Battle in Heaven and Japón, as, “Not only one of

became old. In the end, the future of cinema

unforeseen difficulties. “When I wrote Children of

the best directors in Mexico, but also one of the

doesn’t lie with us anymore. It belongs to the

Men, right after Y Tu Mamá También, I then went

best in the world.” With a growing handful of

next generation.”

For Cuarón, the decision to take on

030 THE BABEL ISSUE

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The true story of the man who infiltrated Spain’s largest terrorist organisation. and lived to tell the tale

OUT NOW ON DVD FROM Also includes Exclusive DVD Extras


032 THE BABEL ISSUE

Words by Matt Bochenski Photography by Sam Christmas

Alejandro González Iñárritu and Gael García Bernal are the poster boys of a resurgent Mexican film industry. They talk exclusively to LWLies.

Artist & Muse


It’s been six years since Amores Perros broke into Western cinemas like a Guadalajaran gunslinger. Here, in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s vision of a Mexico City numbed by the pains of the modern world, was a country stripped of the border town whores and hombres of American cliché, replaced instead with a seething, teeming metropolis. Building on the successes of Guillermo del Toro and Walter Salles, Iñárritu and his muse, 22 year-old former TV star Gael García Bernal, opened a door for Latin American filmmakers that has transformed perceptions of the continent, and its contribution to world cinema. They talk to LWLies about the temptations of Hollywood, the polarised politics of Latin America, and why they wouldn’t waste the power of cinema on assuaging American guilt.

On Babel:

“We are trapped in this fucking world where nobody is able to listen.” (Alejandro González Iñárritu)

LWLies: Some of the criticisms of Babel, particularly in America, have been that it’s too brutal – too fatalistic. What do you make of that? Iñárritu: Any time you make a film there are people that will like it, people that will hate it and people that don’t give a damn. I don’t think that Babel is trying to explain, trying to preach, trying to make propaganda. I think it goes beyond that. I’m talking about the human condition in different cultures, different religions and different countries, and I’m saying that what happens between nations and cultures is exactly what happens between individuals. Nobody is right or wrong, bad or good; we are just trapped in this fucking world where nobody is able to listen. Is this microcosmic world a reflection of what is going on around us? Yes. Is that uncomfortable for America? Yes. Can they presume that this is an attack against Westerners or the United States? Yes. Was that the intention of the work? No. Bernal: There’s also another side. People from other parts of the world say, ‘This is an attack to show that the whole world is dangerous except the United States’. There are two different interpretations, but it depends on your context. It depends where you’re living, and it depends what you’re fed day-to-day by the media. But also I think that there is a positive side. In the Biblical myth of Babel, of the tower, of people trying to achieve something together and get close to God, God punished them by making different languages so that people couldn’t understand each other. But the positive side to that is the fact that diversity was the spark that made people interested in the Other as well. There is that joy of interpreting what another person is saying, what another person is feeling, and of sharing those emotions and empathising with the Other. It is not a punishment on ▼ 034 THE BABEL ISSUE


the whole; it is actually an incentive to understand one another. That is what you see in the film.

On America:

“They assume immediately that if a bullet hits someone from the United States then it must be an act of terrorism.” (Gael García Bernal)

On Politics:

“When the consequences of your government hit you in your house, that is when people go out in the streets.” (Alejandro González Iñárritu)

LWLies: In the UK and the US we’re considered an apathetic political generation, and yet Latin America is so radicalised. Do you feel more politicised?

LWLies: Was there an irony in America’s reaction to Babel? And do you think it’s taken an outsider to see that 9/11 was not the problem,

Bernal: Being born in a poor country gets you more in touch with the

the problem was the response to 9/11 – that actually the people who

realisation that anything you do carries a political complexity to it. You

are culpable are not just the terrorists, but those who responded to

are aware of that because politics has a day-to-day effect on you. If you

terrorism as well?

come from an even poorer country it is way more palpable. And I’m talking about the pure political form, which is the humane one, not

Iñárritu: Some American people react the way George Bush reacts, which is to say, ‘If you are not with me, you’re against me’. They feel

the structural one. My own opinion about Amores Perros or Babel is that they

that anything that discusses or points out certain things that they

carry a political complexity without wanting to, you know? Because it’s

don’t like must be an attack. That’s what I call guilt. It’s an over-

there, it’s part of the relationship between mother and son, between

reactive response.

one person from one country and the other person from another

I think that there are better ways to make a case against

country, between languages. It’s very difficult to not recognise it. And

America than spending three years of my life making a film about it. I

also it’s part of the complexity that comes from a project that’s as

will not waste the power of cinema talking about that. This film is not

ambitious as this one – that carries across different countries – there’s

about the United States.

a political line to it, you know? A political argument.

Bernal: I think there’s a semiotic problem – a dialectic problem – that

Iñárritu: But I want to add something to that. Half of the United States

sparked as soon as September 11 happened, which is that now every

is against George Bush, right? Why haven’t these people manifested

issue can be combined with the argument of terror or protection,

themselves more aggressively in the streets? The big difference is, when

you know? That’s why they assume immediately that if a bullet hits

the economy and the consequences of your government hit you in your

someone from the United States then it must be an act of terrorism.

house, in your pocket, in the school of your kids, that is when people go

It’s understood like that automatically. That’s why they are building this

out in the streets. The thing is, this country is so rich. The other day it

wall on the border between Mexico and the United States. Everything

was Halloween in LA and the houses have, like, $20,000 of Halloween

is combined with the issue of security – about protecting yourself from

shit on them, and I was like, ‘This is a country at war!’ They are at war,

the Other – and it’s a semiotic problem I think because these issues

right? But because they are not personally affected it’s hard to mainfest

don’t have anything to do with each other.

yourself. When you’re in a Third World country, the economy is so thin that any decision hits you, so that makes you more aware.

Iñárritu: There’s a point in the film that is about how different the life of an American is worth, and how much an African life is worth. It’s

Bernal: You are more aware and it’s more palpable. But also it can

like this balance of when an American is killed it’s huge news, but when

be argued that in the political system of the United States, these

200 people are killed in a wedding in Iraq ‘accidentally’, it’s just a

people who are against George Bush have no real representation in the

small news story, you know what I mean? Or there are these massacres

government. Like, right now with the wall and everything, the Democrats

in African countries and nobody really gives it a lot of attention, but

were the ones to sign off the deal. It’s all electoral games in America,

when one bomb in England goes off it’s like a whole other issue. It’s the

but in Mexico for example, we’ve personally lived through two big

perception of what a life is worth.

devaluations, no?

036 THE BABEL ISSUE


Iñárritu: I see my father all the time crying because he can never recoup

Perros, which was released in a very specific time in the world, where

that money, never. We never had money in our life. We were really poor.

that year there weren’t so many good movies. It opened a huge pathway,

Why? Because it was every day, every year, ‘Again the dollar is blah blah

and now we can identify the change by just seeing how many Mexican

blah...’ So since I was a kid I am aware that that thing that that stupid

films were in competition this year in Cannes, and not just Mexican but

asshole in government was doing was getting my father depressed and

Latin American. Because it carries the whole continent – we share the

poor, and resulting in me having nothing. So I’m conscious of politics.

same problematics, the same context, you know?

On Mexican Cinema:

see Mexican films opening here in England, and it’s not a big surprise.

“I think Gael, Alfonso, Guillermo or Carlos Reygadas, or Rodrigo Garcia or me have been inspiring young filmmakers.” (Alejandro González Iñárritu)

LWLies: Gael, you described the current vogue for Latin American film, and Mexican film in particular, as a ‘fad’. Do you think that it’s translating into material change in the film industry in Mexico, or is it just about your individual success? Is it making a difference?

And there has been a practical change in that nowadays you Before it was like, ‘Wow! One film opened in England? Wow!’ It’s unheard of, you know? But now audiences all over the world and in Mexico are more open to the possibility of seeing a film in Spanish. That is an industrial change that the audience has provoked.

On Hollywood:

“I think we’re all open to the possibility of doing whatever story interests us in whatever context it comes from.” (Gael García Bernal)

Bernal: I think it is. I think it is. LWLies: Given the success that you’ve had – both together and apart Iñárritu: In my eyes, it hasn’t been a big change. I think there’s a

– does it become easier to pursue this kind of independent ethos? Or is

polarised vision of it. Some say, ‘Oh, these guys are betraying Mexico

there more pressure on you to take a Hollywood payday?

by working outside. They are selling themselves – this is not Mexican cinema. Fuck them.’ There are others, you know, who say it’s great and

Bernal: I think that because we’re doing the things we want, you might

we are really helping. So it’s polarised.

as well just keep doing that all along. At the same time, I think we’re all

Facts show that there is not much the government is doing to really help and promote young filmmakers. Some things have happened, like some tax reductions, but not as much as you would have thought six

open to the possibility of doing whatever story interests us in whatever context it comes from. The whole Hollywood experience carries a different weight on

years ago. I think the most important thing – more than the government

a director or on an actor, no? As an actor, you know, if you do a big

– is that Gael, Alfonso, Guillermo or Carlos Reygadas, or Rodrigo Garcia

Hollywood movie it doesn’t only imply the movie itself, but also the

or me, have been inspiring young filmmakers, in order that they say,

promotion and the type of burden that you have to carry.

‘You know, there is a way to make films in this way’. I think that, for me,

But take Babel for example; it is the most un-Hollywood film

is the most valuable thing. And Gael has been opening the doors for

you could think of because it’s in different languages, and yet at the

many actors to say, ‘Fuck it. I’m not trapped in this TV soap opera life.

same time it was done in the studio system. That’s what’s great about

I can be an actor, and I can expect more in my life.’ Or directors are not

finding those loopholes.

going to feel trapped – they can think a little bit. Iñárritu: I sold the rights to distribute the film, but it wasn’t Bernal: Six years ago Amores Perros was this little film that we made

developed or decided in a studio. They bought the rights but I made it

with no experience whatsoever, and we arrived at Cannes with no

independently. It’s about working with what is good about the studio

invitations to any parties or anything, you know? We arrived at Cannes

system – working with them, but not ‘with’ them. And something that I

for Critics Week, which isn’t even part of the official selection. So a film

think is amazing about Gael is that he has become a world recognisable

like Amores Perros created a huge wave, along with Central Station, Y Tu

actor without ever doing a Hollywood film. He has broken the paradigm

Mamá También, City of God of course.

that if you want to be recognised worldwide, you have to be in a

More recent movies have been reaping the benefits of Amores

Hollywood explosion. It’s not true

037


Alejandro González Iñárritu does not like borders. “In a considerable part of the

US – Mexico Sonoran Desert

planet, borders and airports have become a carnival

Primarily set up to combat the growing traffic of

of distrust and degradation,” he sighs. “Freedom is

illegal narcotics, the US-Mexican border is now the

exchanged for security, X-rays are the weapon and

most frequently crossed boundary line in the world.

otherness the crime.” But the Mexican director believes

According to the US government, 350 million people

he has the solution: “By filming Babel I confirmed that

move legally between Mexico and the States every

real borderlines are within ourselves and, more than a

year. A statistic the Land of the Free is less keen on

physical space, true barriers are in the world of ideas.”

is that its border is also crossed illegally more than

That may well be the case if you find yourself in the rather fortunate position of making a living by

any other. In May 2005, the Minority Staff of the

ordering Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett around, but try

Committee on Homeland Security published a report

telling that to one of the many unfortunate people who

snappily titled, The US Border Patrol: Failure of the

are unable to escape the sheer terror of residing at

Administration to Deliver a Comprehensive Land

the point where hostile countries collide. Because,

Border Strategy Leaves Our Nation’s Borders

let’s face it Alejandro, barriers in the physical world are

Vulnerable. By its own admission, the US Border Patrol

very, very real. And some of them are bloody terrifying.

only catches one alien in five crossing the Mexican

Join us as we take a front-row seat at the carnival of

border. Statistics suggest that puts around 800,000

distrust and degradation.

people a year slipping unnoticed into America. It may be the world’s most-run gauntlet, but it’s not easy. With the US taxpayer spending $29 million a day on military controls, avoiding secure checkpoints requires immigrants to travel through remote stretches of desert where their guides – paid big bucks to lead them to safety – often abandon them in the scorching 45-degree heat. George W Bush has decided to make things that bit more challenging by giving the go-ahead for the construction of a 700-mile double-layered fence. Reports that the contractors have been asked to put up a big ‘Keep Out’ sign remain unconfirmed.

038 THE BABEL ISSUE


And for those who insist on trying to get into

guards’ view. As the tree was being felled, 30 North

respect and discipline, others say it trivialises the

the US to start a new life as an under-paid and over-

Korean soldiers confronted them. Things swiftly got out

issues and the lives of those who have died trying to

worked taco chef, the president has this message: “We

of hand, an order to attack the work detail was given

protect their country. Recent peace talks between the

have a responsibility to secure our borders. We take

and two US soldiers – Captain Arthur Bonifas and First

two have resulted in Pakistan toning down the ferocity

this responsibility seriously.” Or, as put a little more

Lieutenant Mark Barrett – were horrifically hacked to

of their stamping, although witnesses have noticed

bluntly by Gloria Chavez of the US Customs and Border

death with their own tree-trimming axes. If that’s what

“little difference”.

Protection agency, “If you decide to come here illegally

the army does with gardening equipment, imagine what

and cross through these high-risk zones, you will die.”

leader Kim Jong-Il’s got planned now North Korea’s

North Korea – South Korea 38th Parallel

gone nuclear.

India – Pakistan Kashmir Line of Control

Yet another victim of the power games played by the

Democratic Republic of Congo Goma With the world’s boundaries ostensibly delivering death at every turn perhaps it’d be safer to stay at home. Not so if home happens to be Goma. Residents

US and USSR during the Cold War, Korea was carved

Since the 1947 subcontinent partition of Kashmir, the

may well live in a Democratic Republic, but the border

in half in 1948 following the establishment of separate

435-mile mountainous border region known as the ‘Line

town has suffered tragedy on a Biblical scale.

governments with diametrically opposed ideologies

of Control’ (LoC) has become infamous for separatist

– one, backed by the Soviets, in the north; the other,

militant conflict. Dubbed by ex-President Clinton as “the

poverty during the reign of kleptomaniac president,

backed by the Americans, in the south. The move led

most dangerous place on Earth”, if simmering nuclear

Mobutu Sese Seko (1965-1997), who spent his

to the brutal three-year-long Korean War, which ended

disaster is what you’re after then look no further. Both

entire time in power exploiting the country (formerly

in a cease-fire in 1953, and firmly fixed the border

countries claim the territory as their own and neither of

Zaire) and stealing from the people. Goma was

along the peninsula’s 38th parallel.

them is going to give up the fight in a hurry.

specifically targeted in the early ’90s when soldiers

The 155-mile long Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

The LoC has been the venue for full-scale

First, Goma’s citizens were thrown into

who hadn’t been paid by the thieving dictator turned

that separates the two countries may only be two-and-

war between India and Pakistan in 1947-8, 1965 and

a-half miles wide but, since they are still technically

1971, but low-level hostilities continue. In 1989 an

at war, it has the dubious honour of being the most

armed separatist insurgency began against Indian rule,

destinations for neighbouring Hutu Rwandans fleeing

heavily armed border in the world. As such, there are

and over the past decade the area has been subject

the aftermath of the genocide committed against the

no Mexican-style immigration dashes to be seen here.

to intensified shelling. This increases during spring

Tutsis. Over the course of two days in July of that

This time it’s the border guards who live in fear.

when the snow melts and forces can advance across

year, 12,000 refugees per hour crossed the border

the inhospitable terrain – sometimes digging into the

into Goma. In the end, over a million refugees arrived.

manifests itself in troops taking potshots at each other

mountain less than 100 metres apart. A typical month

The result? A humanitarian crisis – a deadly cholera

from time to time. It’s unsurprising, then, that blood

of shelling sees over 400,000 rounds ping ponging

outbreak and the death of tens of thousands.

was notoriously spilled at Panmunjom, the only place

across the hills.

The tension between the two sides often

where North Korea and South Korea actually connect

A less violent but no less significant conflict

to looting the villagers. Then, in 1994, Goma was one of the main

If that wasn’t enough, Hutu militiamen then began to use the Goma refugee camps as a base from

takes place daily at Wagah, between military personnel

which to continue their bloody war. After a couple of

either side of an ornate wrought-iron fence. Highly

years, Goma’s besieged neighbour decided enough

and South Koreans were sent into the Joint Security

specialised, choreographed routines, consisting of

was enough and invaded. Things unexpectedly began

Area at Panmunjom to cut down a tree that blocked the

goose-stepping marches, flag lowering (at equal rates

to look up when the Rwandan army overthrew the

on both sides) and gunfire are the formal face to the

problematic Mobutu. However, they swiftly fell out with

border discord. Hundreds of people visit the ceremony

the man installed in power, Laurent Kabila, and again

to cheer on their side. Some claim this spectacle

invaded – via Goma – in 1998.

across the DMZ buffer zone. In August 1976, a small team of Americans

puts the border dispute in a favourable light of mutual

Mother Nature decided to finish the job. In 2002, the volcano situated on the outskirts of Goma erupted. The lava that spewed forth from Mount Nyiragongo destroyed 40 per cent of the town. It’s enough to make you leave the country – just watch out for those borders. 

039


040 THE BABEL ISSUE


Words by Andrea Kurland Photography by Mattia Zoppellaro

Rinko Kikuchi blasts o into hyperspace . . . . . . . . . .

041


Japan. The home of schoolgirls in sailor suits, all bare thighs and giggles; of men who mean business and read comics for kicks. A place where cartoonists make porn, a people rooted in impeccable etiquette, shaken by teen-punk excess.

We’re here to chat, but we don’t share a single word. Between us, a woman scribbling on a pad is denigrating Rinko’s fluent soliloquies to a few irreverent symbols. This abyss of communication is the world that Rinko brings to life in Babel. As Chieko, the deaf-mute teenager haunted by her mother’s suicide and imprisoned by a need for human connection, Rinko’s raw physical intuition makes scripted speech look like a crutch for the inept. In a city she cannot communicate with, her frustration is our culture shock. She won the part after a gruelling, year-long audition. Originally, director Alejandro González Iñárritu wanted an authentic deaf actress, but was won over by Rinko’s commitment to the role

This isn’t Japan. This is Soho, London. Yet sitting

– impressed that she learned sign language from scratch. Why did she want it so badly?

across from Rinko Kikuchi, breakout star of Babel, and slender dose of impenetrable J-cool, is to feel

Rinko Kikuchi: “For me, cinema is like a Bible: I learn so many things from films,

lost. Chain-smoking her fourth cigarette, all black

especially from Alejandro’s films. Amores Perros and 21 Grams inspired me. After seeing

motorcycle leather and designer boots, there is

them I felt hope – that I would survive tomorrow, that I would keep on living. Then I heard the

no girlish naïvety here, no Kawaii cuteness. On the

news that Alejandro was making a film in Japan, and they were looking for a young actress.

table lies a Hello Kitty bag, ergonomically tailored

I knew I had to take that opportunity because it might be the first and the last chance for us

for a toddler, yet home to a pair of designer

to work together.”

sunglasses and box of Marlboro reds; serious cigarettes for a serious woman.

Silent, aggressive, drugged-up, strung out, Chieko is our ticket to the inner-circle of Japanese youth. Bleak techno hits and drug-fuelled teen kicks divide a generation hell-bent on rebellion from a city built on good-for-business conformity; this is Gonzalez Inarritu’s – Babel’s – Tokyo. But just how real is it? Kikuchi: “That image of youth culture in the film may exist, but it’s not like that all the time. Some parts of society are like that, some not, it depends. Individual people have their own culture, their own world, and belong to their own society. The important thing is that you should see the world created by filmmakers, even if it’s not real, not just stick to and recreate the reality and society of Japan. It’s more important that we create the world that’s desired by the filmmaker.” ▼

043


Tokyo is a beacon of maverick style. Gwen Stefani understood the power of the hip-factor

Kikuchi: “Fashion is a way for a person to form

oozing from the girls of Harajuku when she co-opted their style into her own brand of

their identity. It should depend on your personality,

superfunk. But while we stock up on Japanese fashions, teenagers in Tokyo, kicking Nikes and

and on the individual. Individuals have their own

sipping Starbucks, are taking break-dancing tips from their cousins in the Bronx, or dreaming of

way to express and find their identity, and for

David Beckham. So who, exactly, is loving whom?

some people what they wear makes them feel part of a special world. Or if you want to make

Kikuchi: “I am not sure how trendy Japanese culture is because I never think of it in that way.

an artistic expression, you may try and look very

Japan is very different to Western countries, because all the time we must think about how to

different to other people. Japanese people are very

live together with other people, not just by ourselves. How people think about us, how they

fashionable, conscious of how to wear and show

watch us, is very important to us. It’s like we’re looking into a mirror of ourselves. All the time

off their clothes, and that’s a form of expression. If

we are really conscious of how our image projects to other people, and maybe that’s different

I wear very elegant clothes I feel, ‘Oh, I’m quite cute

to Western cultures. I’m surprised so many people love Japanese culture, and see our youth as

today’, but I’m sure that’s the same for girls in the

trendsetters. For us Japanese, we look to Western cultures – they are trendsetters to us.”

West; you can express a different personality from inside with what you wear.”

The Shibuye District in Tokyo is a melting pot of crazed up fashions; individualism on steroids. But look a little closer and independence wears a group identity. The Ganguro gals’ uniform

Every nation, including Japan, is lumbered with

is a California tan, Barbie-blonde curls and six-inch platforms, while Gothic Lolitas take their

its fair share of stereotypes. Some are worn with

lead from Victoriana fetish dolls. Why, then, have Tokyo’s fashion subcultures come to define a

pride while others breed hatred and mistrust.

certain brand of non-conformist conformity?

Chieko is mediated to us through images and icons from anime, hentai and dark rumours of Japanese schoolgirls as fetishised, sexualised and objectified creatures. But in a world that erects walls to divide nations, aren’t all stereotypes simply prejudice in disguise? Kikuchi: “Many people think of Japanese girls in a way that’s different from reality. Some people think Japanese girls obey the opinions of other people, are polite, quiet and very feminine-like. Some of them are like that but some of them are completely different. When people think strongly in a certain way, that’s a problem. We can’t say that each country has a different type of people. If you have prejudice it’s difficult to communicate, because prejudice is an obstacle to communicating properly. That’s why travel is such a good thing: if you speak with people who have different cultures and languages, they don’t have a fixed idea of what, say, a Japanese person is like. If they do still have prejudice then it’s difficult to communicate.” Rinko leaves in a cloud of dissipating cigarette smoke; an Eastern, alien, icon – the living embodiment of a world that flashes past our eyes in a neon blur. But it’s good to know, as two youth cultures gaze admiringly at each other over vast distances, that not everything gets lost in translation n

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Jacket

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1940s Nasso jacket | Sweater >>

Pink Lemonade | Trousers

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Pink Lemonade


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T-shirt

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Kid’s item | Skirt

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Candy Stripper | Bag >>

The Body Shop | Accessories

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Shirt

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Hollywood Ranch Market | Skirt >>

Jill Stuart | Shoes >>

Anna Sui | Bag

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Luis Vuitton | Cap

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Marui


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Suit

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Vivienne Westwood | Shoes >>

George Cox


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Dress

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Second Hand | Trousers >>

my younger sister’s | Skirt >>

Chicago | Shoes

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Adidas | Bag

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Barbie

Fresh Fruits Postcards, Phaidon Press, 2006


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WORDS BY NEON KELLY IMAGES BY MORPHY RICHARDS

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Legendary fashion label A Bathing Ape is part of the cultural dialogue between East and West. But over 10 years after its conception in the streets of Harajuku, we ask James Lavelle if the brand is just one more monkey business? For many Westerners, contemporary Japan is a marriage of Oriental otherness and Occidental consumerism. Even when we poke fun at the country’s eccentricities, we do so with a veiled respect. Across the world’s media, the unspoken agreement is that Tokyo is the global capital of cultural cool. The problem is that geographical distance confuses our sense of impartial judgement. When some new trend ships in from Japan, we rush to embrace it, to get in on the act before the excitement cools down. What the Harajuku scenesters do today, we’ll do tomorrow, but sometimes we forget to ask ourselves: ‘Why?’ In the dog days of the twentieth century, A Bathing Ape established itself as the hottest export around. Producing designer hip-hop clothes in strictly limited editions, BAPE’s wares were only available from a smattering of official stores – mainly in Asia – where customers were restricted from buying more than two or three items. This embargo is enforced for a good reason: these days BAPE T-shirts have been known to fetch up to $1000 a piece. A Bathing Ape was created by Nigo – a DJ and designer who, at the start of the ’90s, was an 18 year-old student and Run DMC fan chasing a career in journalism. Whilst studying fashion editing at Tokyo’s Bunka Fukuso Gakuin college, he became friends with Jonio, the man behind the Undercover brand. His new buddy introduced him to the industry’s heavyweights, and together the pair developed a taste for clubbing. While Nigo’s

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academic attendance suffered, a busy social life saw him clinking glasses with the likes of Hiroshi Fujiwarea – the successful DJ-cum-designer whose own style would later heavily influence BAPE. After leaving college the two men found part-time jobs on long-running fashion mag Popeye and Olive. Nigo got his break as a stylist, but he and Jonio were also put in charge of monitoring the latest trends – a position that placed their fingers on the pulse of Tokyo’s youth. Armed with this knowledge the duo went into business, and 1993 saw the opening of what was essentially the first BAPE outlet – a quiet little shop in the chic Harajuku district. They called it ‘Nowhere Ltd’, a name that aptly foreshadowed an empire of hard-to-find stores; even today BAPE’s official ‘Busy Work Shops’ are notable for their subtle appearance and near total lack of branding. Their locations are scantly publicised, betrayed only by a line of glammed-up shoppers waiting to get in. For its first few months, Nowhere simply sold other designers’ labels, but poor sales prompted the partners to start their own line of clothing. Here was the true birth of A Bathing Ape, christened in response to Nigo’s obsession with the Planet of the Apes films. He and Jonio would knock out T-shirts in limited batches of 30, selling half the stock and giving the rest to friends. Even at this early stage, Nigo knew a smart opportunity when he saw one: through a mutual acquaintance, he began passing on BAPE kit to Kuyamada, singer with the punk band Cornelius. Kuyamada wore Bathing Ape at his gigs, and the brand’s profile rocketed even as the actual clothes remained near-impossible to acquire – a business model that Nigo has used ever since. It didn’t take long before people began to notice BAPE. Graffiti artists Stash and Futura 2000 were early visitors to Nowhere, swiftly followed by Beastie Boy Mike D, and James Lavelle – DJ and creator of the Mo’Wax record label. Soon these figures had formed a loose collective; a gang of creative minds whose output encompassed everything from hip-hop nights to collectible vinyl toys. “We just used to feed off each other,” recalls Lavelle. “We were trying to change the world, trying to do things that we believed in. It was basically a very small group of people that were trying to start their own creative enterprises where there weren’t any rules. There was me here, there was Mike D doing Grand Royale in LA, and there was Nigo doing Bathing Ape in Tokyo. It was about people sharing certain ideas, trying to make them happen where those ideas weren’t usually able to happen in the past – basically seeing what you could get away with.” In the eyes of some, this was BAPE’s golden age. By the end of the decade its reputation had spread to fashion cognoscenti in the West, but the label itself remained a distinctly Japanese property, embedded in the roots of Tokyo street culture. A Bathing Ape was certainly no longer an underground


“We were trying to change the world, trying to do things that we believed in. Trying to start creative enterprises where there weren’t any rules. It was about people sharing certain ideas, basically seeing what you could get away with.”

phenomenon, but few people could have predicted the way in which the brand would explode across the first years of the new millennium. “I think it was very cool when it first came to Western eyes at the end of the ’90s,” says Lauren Cochrane, deputy editor of i-D. “Then it had a bit of a wobble – it became associated with Stussy, which is a bit of an old man’s skater brand. Now it’s been re-invented in this shiny-shiny bling background. I think that Nigo, or whoever it is that actually designs the things these days, totally plugs into that Americana-with-a-Manga-twist thing. It’s kind of like hyper-Americana – Andy Warhol would go nuts for it.” Since the turn of the century, Nigo’s projects have included a separate clothing line for ladies, the founding of the Footsoldier shoeware chain, and an advertising campaign for Pepsi. There’s a BAPE salon, a BAPE café – even a BAPE-sponsored pro wrestling event. Most significantly of all, 2003 witnessed the creation of the Billionaire Boys Club, a new fashion label founded by Nigo in conjunction with producer Pharrell Williams. But for James Lavelle, this widespread success has come at the cost of the label’s original spirit: “I always thought it was going to be slightly more subversive, to be honest. It’s become, to me, of late, more about commerciality than it has been about treading new paths. And at the time when I was involved, what was unique about Bathing Ape, and what was unique about all of the things we were doing, was that no one could understand what it was. I don’t think in the early days anybody could

have expected what has happened. I don’t know if Nigo did or didn’t, I don’t know if that was his game plan. It certainly didn’t feel like that at the time.” How are we to judge the development of BAPE? It’s certainly tempting to draw parallels between the company’s growth and the evolution of hip-hop itself – from the old school, anti-establishment vibes of Public Enemy and the Beasties through to contemporary gangsta rap and its materialist obsessions. On the other hand, Nigo’s naysayers could just be the fashion equivalent of possessive music fans, bitching and crying when their favourite band attains commercial success. Maybe there’s truth on both sides. It doesn’t help that Nigo himself remains something of an enigma. As a businessman and designer he is clearly at the top of his game, yet earlier this year he decided to have his teeth covered with diamonds – hardly the best indicator of a guy with his feet on the ground. The name ‘Bathing Ape’ is itself partly derived from the Japanese expression nuruma yu ni tsukaru: ‘to bathe in lukewarm water’. In a 2003 interview, Nigo explained the reference to a reporter from Japan Today: “It’s a comment on kids in Tokyo. They’re shallow; they take things for granted and they’re not street savvy. It’s sort of ironic for them to be wearing my clothing. I’m trying to show how incapable they are of being independent-minded. They have no plans, no goals, because they’re just too comfortable. Like bathing in lukewarm water.” Do we praise his honesty, or condemn him for using his blinged-up teeth to bite the hands that feed him. “He has a point, doesn’t he?” argues Cochrane. “It’s all about creating sheep, but for sheep to come you’ve got to give them something they want. He’s taken their obsessions and blown it up. That’s why I think BAPE is so successful – it’s not built on something he doesn’t know.” When somebody shells out for one of Nigo’s T-shirts, they’re paying for more than an item of clothing; it’s the cultural caché that BAPE fans want, and this arrangement is really no different rom any other high-end designer label. If nothing else, A Bathing Ape has retained an identity of its own, even if it’s one that lacks its former jagged edge. “I completely understand where Nigo’s at, and that’s really cool for him,” concludes Lavelle. “He’s my friend and I admire his achievements massively, it’s just not necessarily where I would want to personally be with what I’m doing. Nigo has a great ability to mutate and I’m sure that at a time when it makes sense to him, there will be another Bathing Ape mutation. I think he’s a very clever man.” 

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FUR GAME

WORDS BY PIERS TOWNLEY ILLUSTRATIONS BY COUNT LEOPOLD VON BERCHTOLD

hunting: crime against nature, or the ultimate expression of man’s mastery over the beasts? either way, if you get your kicks from killing our fur-clad friends, here’s some helpful slaughtering suggestions. Taking up arms against animals is a thriving pastime. Should you wish to decorate the space above your mantelpiece with the head of something beautiful, rare and defenceless, the only limit is your imagination and your wallet. Everywere you look there’s no shortage of organisations and countries ready to accept your cash in return for the chance to satisfy that bloodlust. The question is, with so much choice, which wildlife are you going to annihilate first?

seaLs

Where: canada / norWay The truly intrepid hunter wants to pit his wits against nature’s greatest predators – animals of razor sharp teeth and gimlet-eyed cunning. Only then can he justify his place at the top of the food chain. Or, he could just club a seal. Until recently the annual Canadian seal cull had been a victim of the outrage it provoked in Europe and America, banned by forces in favour of more peaceful human-animal relations. That all changed in April 2004 when the government gave the green light for up to 350,000 harp seals to meet their blubbery maker. It was the intensity of the cull that shocked – over 2,500 hunters using 250 boats massacred 10,000 seals per daylight hour. Though this year’s quota has been reduced to 325,000, such good intentions have been largely offset by recent reports of seals being clubbed and skinned alive. If this sort of thing floats your boat, take a long hard look in the mirror, then contact NorSafari. This Norwegian company specialises in seal hunting trips, encouraged by Norway’s Minister of Fisheries Svein Ludvigsen’s 2001 plans to make seal killing a tourist attraction. Greenpeace branded the plans “an embarrassment”, but if blushes don’t scare you, £650 will guarantee at least two pelts.

www.norsafari.com

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Leopards

Where: Afghanistan / Namibia Rare, threatened and infinitely better looking in the wild than as a rug on your floor, leopards nevertheless remain (un)fair game. In July of this year, in the Pamir mountain regions of north-eastern Afghanistan, the slaughter and sale of a snow leopard’s body parts on the black market caught the attention of the region’s press. This incredibly rare animal is now seen as a lucrative bounty for Afghan poachers and, indeed, unscrupulous foreign hunters in the lawless provinces of this war-torn country, despite the five-year ban on big cat hunting imposed by Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. If you don’t fancy the visa difficulties, however, you could always join a more relaxed and organised leopard hunt in Namibia. Though thankfully limited to two or three jaunts a year, Ozondjahe Safaris will pander to your bloody demands over a 12-day spree. They’re also able to organise bow-hunting trips should you want to get all medieval on some big cat ass. Of course, bringing your catch back home requires strict permit controls and a bit more cash, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.

www.africahuntingsafaris.com

Radioactive Wolves Where: Chernobyl

Why not up the stakes and combine your love of wildlife extermination with man-made environmental disaster? Since the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl reactor explosion in 1986, the landscape around this hell on earth is still lethal to most forms of life. Despite this, reports of wolves and bears returning to the area are becoming common. “There is no emptiness in nature,” explains zoologist Viktor Dunin, “it is the wolf that rules in the reserve.” The 200 wolves in this, the world’s first radioactive nature park, complete with radioactive boars and radioactive mice, have radioactive internal organs. As they terrorise the livestock and families who eek out a living on this barren wasteland, rumours of poaching have also arisen. There are those who claim that if you have the cash you can hunt wolves from the comfort of a bribed Russian helicopter, in plentiful supply from the tourist operators who run grisly trips to the area. If you’re prepared to persevere, start your journey with the Ukraine-based CAM organisation, though we’re in no way suggesting they offer the chance to hunt a radioactive wolf. So it’s purely a matter of speculation that our advice is to head there at night and see if they really do glow in the dark.

www.ukrcam.com/tour/tour_3.html

Cows

Where: Cambodia The Cambodian bazooka myth is now of such traveller legend that you almost hope it’s true. If you have the patience to negotiate the bad directions, head for the Thunder Ranch Shooting Range, Phnom Penh, located off the road towards Pochentong airport. Here, they’ll be only too happy to let you rip from a head-spinning collection of hardware including AK-47 machine guns, the US stockpile of M60s acquired from the country’s bloody past, and a seemingly endless supply of knock-off Chinese hand grenades (a mere $15 to risk an ER-worthy misfire). It’s here that you’ll encounter the bazooka-cow legend. In times past (and even now, allegedly, if the bribe’s good enough) there was a sliding scale of ordinance versus livestock, starting with a colt pistol and a chicken, and going all the way up to the anti-tank bazooka and a tethered water buffalo. Though a B40 rocket-propelled grenade is still a pinch at $200, urban myths, and common bloody human decency, hint at not pursuing this enquiry.

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WhaLes

Where: norWay / Japan If there was a league table of public outrage, harpooning whales would be up there at the top. Even so, the planet’s biggest mammal has a long tradition of ending up on the dinner plate or in alternative medicines. If you don’t fancy actually pulling the trigger, you could hedge your bets at getting up close and personal with an act of whaling violence by joining a Norwegian whale watching expedition. In July 2006, a group of tourists travelling to the Artic Lofoten Islands were merrily admiring a peaceful minke whale, until a whaling trawler pulled alongside and speared it in full view of 80 horrified passengers. “It wasn’t a pretty sight,” explained a stunned Leontien Dieleman, and then, with the mother of all understatement: “This really wasn’t what we came to see.” Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993, and by 2006 they’d bagged a whopping 1,052 minke, 30 per cent up on the previous year. Unsurprisingly, they rejected the 1986 ban issued by the International Whaling Commission. But if you’re determined to kill at least one whale before you die, you might want to contact Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd, the company that owns and charters scores of whaling boats, but is still reeling from a lawsuit issued by the Humane Society. Perhaps you can start as a deckhand before working your way up to the business end of a harpoon. The Japanese Whaling Society might also be able to help with enquiries 

www.whaling.jp

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Words by Vince Medeiros

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ArTisT sAndoW birK’s neW eXHibiTion TAKes A LonG HArd LooK AT THe dePrAViTies oF THe WAr on Terror. Sandow Birk wants you to think about war. And he wants you to think about it hard. Following his groundbreaking re-creation of Dante’s Divine Comedy – with a dystopian America as its burning backdrop – Sandow’s now turned his attention to the Middle East. His new collection, ‘The Depravities of War’, references actual images from the war on terror to portray Iraq in all its ghastly, unspeakable and dehumanising horror. LWLies: What’s the main inspiration behind ‘The Depravities of War?’ Sandow Birk: The project relates to works of the past; to the universality of war and suffering through the ages. Many people know the Goya prints ‘The Disasters of War’ from 200 years ago - the late 1800s - with all their gory depictions of cruelty and suffering. But what is much less known is that Goya’s work was inspired by the work of a French artist, Jacques Callot, who was working in the late 1600s, 200 years before Goya. Callot did a series of prints entitled ‘The Miseries of War’. So you get Callot doing a series of prints about war that inspired Goya to do a series of prints about war 200 years later, and that led to me doing a series of prints about war 200 years later than that. ▼ 067


LWLies: Where do the images in the project come from? Birk: They come from real events. Even though they are a bit crudely rendered by the print making process of woodblock cutting, all of the buildings and trucks and postures of people and scenes of humiliation and warfare are all taken directly from real photographs of events. They’re not scenes that I made up, they are just recomposed by me into more interesting images. LWLies: Do you think artists have a responsibility to be vocal about war? Birk: The romantic myth of the artist is that they are the conscience and the voice of society. Think of the question in terms of music, which is a good analogy. Does a band have an obligation to sing about the war? Of course not. A band can sing about whatever it wants to sing about. A band can choose to sing about the war if it wants to, though. It’s a valid topic in the sea of things to sing or paint about. LWLies: Are Abu Ghraib and the horrors of war inspiring in any way? Birk: The events of this war and of Abu Ghraib are inspiring to they make me so angry, so disgusted. It’s an appalling war for reasons, and it’s sickening to me, and that feeling of despair helplessness and futility are in some sad way inspirational to wanting to make work that addresses that. n

me in that so many and me - in

’The Depravities of War’ consists of 16 large-scale woodcut prints, each measuring 48 x 96 inches. The exhibition opens at the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco on March 22, 2007.

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drop in at www.littlewhitelies.co.uk to read exclusive features and interviews, enter competitions, check out our back issue archive and generally bathe in up-to-theminute info on festivals, events, and all the latest film and DVD releases. but that’s not all. our online store sells subscriptions, back issues, t-shirts and limited-edition screen prints of classic LWLies artwork. yes!


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.

Anticipation

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.

Enjoyment

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.

In Retrospect

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.

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fLAgs of our fAThErs So you’ve seen Jarhead. And Saving Private Ryan. Full Metal Jacket too. You’ve even caught The Battle of Algiers on DVD (kudos). You know, secretly, that war movies are just a series of stylistic tropes, archetypal scenes and jaded ciphers. You know about the Sergeant, the first timer, the battle, the bedlam, the chaos, and the sappy ‘War Is Hell’ sermonising that makes a victim out of every soldier, and a scapegoat out of some ineffable evil that’s suspiciously devoid of political will. ‘Yes,’ you say, further convinced, ‘war movies suck.’ But then along comes one from Clint Eastwood. Yes, Eastwood. That 76 year-old Republican buzzard. It’s called Flags of our Fathers, and it’s about the men who were famously photographed raising the US flag on Iwo Jima’s

RELEASED December 22

Mount Suribachi. You can see the breast-beating already, and you know you’re going to hate it. But then the opening credits roll, the Warner logo hits the screen and something strange happens. Eastwood’s frail falsetto trembles through a few bars of World War II anthem ‘I’ll Walk Alone’ (the end credits list the singer as one ‘Don Runner’, but you’re not buying it). You’re unnerved. The movie proper starts. Three soldiers climb a duff-looking Suribachi. ‘Typical,’ you think. ‘Can’t even shell out for some decent sets.’ But then a pullback reveals a deliberately ersatz mountain in the middle of a packed football stadium. You’re lost. Eastwood, it seems, is one step ahead of you. He’s jumping, you soon discover, all over the

DIRECTED BY Clint Eastwood STARRING Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach

chronological map. One minute we’re out in the Pacific with our boys Doc (Ryan Phillippe), Rene (Jesse Bradford) and Hayes (Adam Beach). The next minute we’re back in the US on a fundraising tour for the Army. Then we’re at the end of the war. Then the start again. And then back in the Pacific. It’s deftly done, and you’re finally convinced. You see what he’s doing, or at least, you think you do. He’s turning the war movie on its head. He’s liquidising it. He’s shooting it in gorgeous greys and bomb blackened shadows. With multiple narrators, with CGI, with blood-squibs, weeping mothers, dying fathers and the latent political rage of obedient cannon fodder. He’s searching for something, on screen, right in front of your eyes. The truth, perhaps.

He doesn’t quite get there. But then no one ever does. And still you feel, by the end, that he’s done something impossible. He’s made an angry political war movie, in this time of times, that somehow has a soft sympathetic heart. And even more impossible, he’s made a war movie that matters. Kevin Maher

Anticipation. Great. Another war movie about our boys, and stuff. Yay! One Enjoyment. Can’t think. Bamboozled, intrigued, provoked, stirred and, finally, moved. Five

In Retrospect. Awardfriendly? Yes. Worthy? Yes. Conscientious? Yes. But sometimes, really, these aren’t bad things. Five 071


the upside of anger

RELEASED December 15

Denny (Kevin Costner) is a Bud-swilling ex-baseball star who, when not in front of the TV with one hand down his pants, hosts a radio talk show. He lives in a pit surrounded by boxes of baseballs that he signs and sells online – a bittersweet reminder of the dreams he once had. Around the corner of autumnleaved suburbia, Terry Ann Wolfmeyer’s (Joan Allen) husband has left her for his secretary. Denny kindly offers to be her drinking buddy, even though Terry’s four daughters (“One of them hates me, and the other three are working on it”) form a conglomerate of

ghosts

DIRECTED BY Nick Broomfield STARRING Ai Qin Lin

Even though he’s put his trusty boom-mike and headphones aside for this recreation of the 2004 Morcambe Bay cockling tragedy, the posterboy of British documentary, Nick Broomfield, has certainly retained his sense of social justice and a dedication to uncovering the roots of small-scale corruption. Not a million miles from Michael Winterbottom’s In This World, which itself documented the ordeals of immigrants choosing to take the arduous and often painful journey to Europe, Broomfield’s film successfully dramatises the blighted dreams of a group of Chinese labourers whose only intention was to make money while retaining a sense of dignity and self-worth. Though the performances from the non-professional cast (especially Ai Qin Lin, who has first-hand experience of the sixmonth clandestine trek from China to the UK) are uniformly

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RELEASED January 12

excellent, the problem lies with the fact that Ghosts would have perhaps worked better as an enquiry into the aftermath of the tragedy than this well-meaning, if by-the-numbers rendering of its preludes. That said, Broomfield’s subtle and objective treatment of the material certainly shows another, perhaps more plaintive, side to a director who’s not particularly known for his restraint. David Jenkins

Anticipation. Love him or hate him, Broomfield is an important filmmaker. Three Enjoyment. Well made

if a little ho-hum. Three

In Retrospect. Michael Moore’s foray into fiction filmmaking (Canadian Bacon) killed John Candy, so Broomfield’s done well. Another string to his bow. Three

DIRECTED BY Mike Binder STARRING Kevin Costner, Joan Allen, Erika Christensen

surrogacy to their mother, who lives each day through a new cocktail. But as they continue life in a kaleidoscope of teenage angst, it’s Denny who becomes the padded cell that buffers her from torment. As tradition dictates, they become lovers, and nurse each other through life’s longest hangover. The Upside of Anger is Allen’s stage. She shows the full fury of a woman scorned while retaining a wonderfully dry humour with a dull but detectable twinkle in her eye. Costner is gently endearing, giving a compassionate performance that proves he shines when he steps


An interview with Mike Binder, writer and director of The Upside of Anger. LWLies: Where did you get the idea for the film? Binder: Well, the very first idea came when I was acting in a

out of the spotlight. The film oozes more oestrogen than a morning-after pill, but Denny uses the support of his friend Shep (Binder himself) to escape the female world he orbits. Shep slimes into the story as a rattylooking scumbag whose life is dictated by his groin, but as his outer layers fall away, we see Shep is harmless – a pathetic benchmark to measure how far Denny has gravitated from his former self. Though the usual clichés – pregnancy, unrequited love, sexual deviance and sudden illness – are scattered throughout a film that would be better

balanced without them, Binder still makes smart use of them to exemplify the serendipitous nature of life, and he tops it all with a beautiful ending that leaves a silently wistful Terry on her knees in despair. Monisha Rajesh

Anticipation. Kevin Costner as an ex-baseball player? That’s novel. Three Enjoyment. Huge peaks

and troughs of tears and laughter. Four

In Retrospect. Stop, look, listen and think. Five

film with Joan Allen called The Pretenders, and she asked if I would ever write a comedy for her. I told her I would love to. I started writing this particular piece and it became more of a dramedy than a comedy. I wanted to write a piece about divorce, sadness and misplaced anger – but really the whole film was written with Joan in mind from the start.

LWLies: Did you write the character around her, or did you make her become the character? Binder: I kind of merged the two. The character of Terry became a real person for me, and I wanted Joan to become all those things that I thought she could be – funny, warm and sexy, but also very real. I feel the film is very much a fable about misplaced anger. It came out in America and some people got what I was doing and some people didn’t because they took the ending very literally and started debating what really should have happened. LWLies: Do you think that somewhere along the way Terry realises what has happened to her husband? Binder: She spends a long time being really angry about a lot of things she knows nothing about, and I think that’s a very common thing that happens to all of us. On a personal, global and political level, we all do that – we’re all just human and we never know the real story about anything. LWLies: Did you write Kevin’s role with him in mind? Binder: No, not really. I was in a restaurant in Hollywood

once at the height of his stardom and he came up to me and told me he liked my stand-up. I was really flattered that Kevin Costner, ‘the movie star’, liked my stuff. He gave me his home number and told me that if I ever wanted to get together to work he would. I never called him, because I thought, ‘What do you say to Kevin Costner?’ But when I first wrote the script, I wrote in a couple of my favourite baseball players, and it kind of reminded me of some of Kevin’s other roles. But then I assumed he wouldn’t want to do it as he has already taken on so many baseball player roles before. So I decided to make the baseball a background story, and called him up.

LWLies: What made you write yourself into the character of Shep? Binder: I’m the best dirtbag that I know. I love to act,

but I don’t really like acting in other people’s movies. The days are too long, and so if I can think of an offbeat role I’ll go for it. Also I didn’t want to fight with some actor who was going to sit there and tell me how to make the character more likeable. I didn’t want another soft guy. There’s a moment where he refers to one of the girls as, “a piece of ass”, and he tells Denny not to be mad with him. Not long before Denny probably would have been fine with that, but not anymore. I needed that character to show Denny’s growth.Monisha Rajesh Hit up www.littlewhitelies.co.uk for the full transcript of this interview.

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shortbus RELEASED December 1

In the opening five minutes of Shortbus, director John Cameron Mitchell rams the viewer’s face right between the thighs of his movie in a way that gives short shrift to the sexual introvert. It’s a brave, heady sequence which lays down the gauntlet for the ensuing sexual freakery as one character ejaculates directly onto an abstract painting, while another disproves the old schoolboy theory that you need to have a rib removed to suck your own dick. However, if this provokes images of the philosophically impenetrable Euro-smut in which enlightened elders can’t rut without block-quoting Baudelaire, then

DIRECTED BY John Cameron Mitchell STARRING Sook-Yin Lee, Paul Dawson, Lindsay Beamish

you’re in luck. Shortbus is a witty, wise and – most crucially – human portrait of the sexual lives of a group of bewildered New Yorkers. Relationships councillor Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) has never had an orgasm. When she admits this to gay couple Jamie and James, they invite her to Shortbus, a club that deals strictly in the art of sexual liberation, whose clientele ranges from transsexual Jewish performance artists to the aging, homosexual, ex-Mayor of New York. What follows is a Technicolor odyssey into the realms of her darkest cravings via the lives of a number of crisisridden individuals.

With a superbly collated script and resourceful direction, not only does the film allow you to successfully befriend this group of genuinely lovable characters, it proves that there is depth to the current penchant for intertwined ensemble narratives if the focus is kept tight enough (in this case, the nature of human connection). With the Big Apple innovatively rendered as a digitally animated sexual playing field, and the brilliant use of New York free-folk quartet Animal Collective on the soundtrack, Shortbus insouciantly emits bursts of orgasmic energy which really get under your skin, and

make up for the somewhat half-baked denouement of ‘we all get some in the end’. David Jenkins

Anticipation. Muck

in the multiplex? We’ll have some of that. Four

Enjoyment. If you

don’t enjoy this you’re either celibate or infertile. Four

In Retrospect. About as convincing a portrait of modern New York as Friends with porn. But still, that’s not so bad. Three


us vs John LEnnon RELEASED December 8

DIRECTED BY David Leaf, John Scheinfeld STARRING John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Gore Vidal

With a panoply of interviews, news footage and music video-bites, US vs John Lennon is a hyperkinetic composition of assorted media, which journeys choppily through 10 years of political unrest. The film both documents and celebrates the anti-war activism of ‘the intellectual Beatle’ during the turbulent political milieu of the ’60s and ’70s, and traces the eponymous hero’s perilous transition from famous pacifist to enemy of the state. There are recordings from anti-Vietnam rallies and peace concerts; interviews with radicals such as the Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, and activist Ron Kovic; as well as a series of in-depth, confessional accounts from Yoko Ono, who shares her memories of Lennon’s persecution at the hands of the US government. Yet beyond the impressive catalogue of interviewees, the zesty editing and the nostalgic revisiting of long hair and free love, there’s little narrative development. As public anger towards the Vietnam War escalates, Lennon proves an increasingly hazardous threat to the Nixon administration, and the target of the CIA’s sinister observation. In an age of Watergate, secret surveillance and wiretapping, this should be an unsettling thought, but the tension never rises, and feelings of disquiet fail to unfold. What could have been a disturbing study of Orwellian control by a government in crisis, never reaches beyond a cursory record of a pop star gone serious. In fact, accusations of the superficial could well be directed at Lennon himself. As a principled,

witty and charismatic agitator, Lennon provides the documentary with its central voice of dissent. But it is also revealed to be the voice of starry-eyed idealism with little substance behind it. Though we are told repeatedly that this is a man who sacrificed his own safety for the sake of peace, just how John and Yoko intended to establish it is never revealed. This comes to a head in a heated battle of wits between Lennon and a journalist at The New York Times, who accuses him of empty utopianism. He is, for once, outsmarted by her attacks and begins to flounder. But of

course, he still comes out on top because he’s John Lennon and she’s not. US vs John Lennon sits well in the current climate of antiAmericanism, but there is a vast gulf between the dissidence of a Michael Moore and the simple make-love-not-war-values of the hippy generation. The film is in fact at its most engaging when it shows us the private Lennon – not the activist or the musician, but the doting father or the worshipping husband. Idealist or not, this is a man who cared, and as a protagonist, Lennon is likable, and

impossibly cool and that’s where the real appeal of US vs John Lennon lies. Emma Paterson

Anticipation.

Watching one man take on the world. Four

Enjoyment. Great

soundtrack, and it’s fun to watch Nixon fall from grace. Three

In Retrospect. As a dissident extraordinaire, Lennon is all talk and no action. Two 075


hollywoodland Placing itself in the long line of Hollywood movies about Hollywood, Hollywoodland is based on the mysterious death of George Reeves, television’s first Superman, who died in 1959 in his own home from a single gunshot wound to the head. A verdict of suicide was officially recorded, but as Coulter’s film demonstrates, there were plenty of characters who wanted him dead. Ben Affleck is a handsomely portly Reeves; his physique plumped up by the chubby padding of his Superman suit. Reeves felt limited by the role, which brought him national fame but restrictive typecasting, and the extra weight helps Affleck to appear at once

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RELEASED December 1

vulnerable and comic, playing the Superman scenes in particular for knowing laughs. Adrien Brody is Louis Simo, the private detective who initially treats the investigation as just another payday, but gradually becomes personally involved when he discovers uneasy parallels between Reeves’ life and his own. Simo is a man on the slide, but although his frustrated ambitions echo Reeves’ own, an emotional link between them is never fully established, making it hard to believe that Simo has indeed switched from cynical PI to selfless crusader. The distance between characters isn’t helped by the fact that the film itself is so simple in its mechanics. A team of journalists

DIRECTED BY Allen Coulter STARRING Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody, Bob Hoskins

is never far from the action, but they’re no more than puppets to be manipulated by anyone with an axe to grind. Whether it’s Reeves the unknown ducking into photographs to increase his exposure, or Simo feeding reporters pieces of information to keep the pressure on his various adversaries, it’s a world view of basic cause and effect that serves for little more than propelling the plot forward, fairly unconvincingly. It is widely held that Reeves was killed either by his jealous girlfriend or the husband of his mistress, or that he killed himself in a fit of depression. Each of these scenarios is dramatised in the film, but merely seeing the various alternatives doesn’t make them any more real when

the characters involved seem so remote from one another. Indeed, Hollywoodland brings nothing new to the sad story of George Reeves, and the film eventually lumbers to its conclusion like the man himself; shambling drunk in his bloated suit. Steve Watson

Anticipation. Ben Affleck’s career lurches on. Three Enjoyment. A solidly

told tale caught uneasily between noir and knowing comedy. Three

In Retrospect.

Well intentioned, but too simple-minded to matter. Two


venus Venus, the goddess of sexual healing, has warmed the blood of men for centuries; men who live by their desires, men who denounce restraint to embrace temptation. Men like Maurice (O’Toole) – a doddery 70-something with one leg firmly in the grave, and the other strapped to a catheter. Maurice and Ian are ailing British actors, bound by an ageold friendship and a thespian sense of their impending mortality. Having chased the big time and settled for bit parts, they provide a dose of wit and old boy warmth in one another’s

DIRECTED BY Roger Michell STARRING Peter O’Toole, Leslie Phillips, Jodie Whittaker

RELEASED January 26

twilight. Jessie is Ian’s grandniece – a pink-tracksuit-toting, Pot Noodle-slurping chav, who left her small-town life in the North for the promise of bright lights. She’s also just the Venus to reignite Maurice’s libidinous impulses. Ploughing headlong into a generational gap, Maurice becomes drawn to Jessie’s ‘Am I bovered?’ ethos. The relationship that forms is both curious yet ordinary – in her youthful tease, he finds escape; in him, she finds something she’d sooner deny. Despite being eligible for a slot on Jerry Springer, what ensues is strangely neither sick nor

sweet, as a quiet mutual affection makes for a convincing tale of geezer-meets-girl, littered with the usual insecurities and broken pasts. And yet, black around its comic edges, this is far from the saccharine affair one might expect. In a single voyeuristic swing, Venus will somehow restore your faith in the destiny of soul mates, while your inbuilt social morals cower at an old man’s sexual reawakening. At its core, Venus is a simple coming of age tale, both young and old, and a stark reminder that we may never truly understand

ourselves – no matter how long we stick it out. Andrea Kurland

Anticipation. Ready for a good old dose of English sweetness. Two Enjoyment. Did he just sniff her? Ewwww! Three

In Retrospect. It won’t rock social value systems, but genuine wit and a delicate sense of the human bond offers some much underrated light entertainment. Three


old joy How do you set about finding something when you don’t know what it is you’ve lost? This is the question facing Kurt (Will Oldham) and Mark (Daniel London) as they set off for a weekend camping trip in the Oregon mountains. Both men are quietly stunned to find themselves facing 40; Mark is shuffling toward fatherhood while Kurt insulates himself with drugs. So they head

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RELEASED January 26

DIRECTED BY Kelly Reichardt STARRING Will Oldham, Daniel London, Tanya Smith

for a hot spring in the woods in a bid to resurrect the husk of their relationship. This scant biographical information is largely inferred from the dribble of non-sequiturs that pepper their journey; there is no cloying back-story, no big revelations. A sense that a friendship has been outgrown, and all that remains are vague, unformed recriminations, is

conveyed in naturalistic pauses, grunts and glances. An intimate story set amongst the sullen grandeur of Oregon’s woodland with a restrained soundtrack by Yo La Tengo, Old Joy occasionally recalls Five Easy Pieces. Like Jack Nicholson’s Bobby Dupea, these men seek no epiphany, no valediction, merely the subtlest connection and the strength to feel joy once again.

It’s mournful stuff, dripping with pathos and singularly lacking in humour, but Reichardt’s film still somehow manages to be vibrant and warm. The characters are never reduced to the ciphers they could so easily have become, and the film’s long periods of silence come to impart as much meaning as the few words shared between them. The landscape is beautifully


An interview with Daniel London, star of Old Joy. LWLies: The film premiered at Sundance – how did you find the festival? London: There’s a lot of extraneous stuff that’s going on, and lots of people are just trying to get their film shown. There’s also like a Hollywood/spring break feel to it where all the Paris Hiltons of the world show up and go to parties and don’t see any films. I think it operates on two levels: you get the people who are serious about film; and the other more mainstream crowd who think that it’s just an important social event. LWLies: What is it that appealed to you about starring in Old Joy? London: The space appealed to me, but even beyond the

specifics of the story I felt like it was very clear from the first time I met Kelly that this was going to be an experience that was very much outside the work I have done in film. Reading the script you kinda feel, maybe there’s something there, maybe there’s not. I felt like it was very much a leap of faith in terms of the material, but it was clear that the people Kelly had assembled were interesting, quality people.

LWLies: You’ve done a lot of work in theatre, but your performance here is more natural. London: That’s the kind of acting that appeals to me the most, the notion of bringing yourself to the piece – acting as a form of hyper-reality. As naturalistic as the style of Old Joy is, the experience of making it felt more like being in a play. There was this space where Kelly allowed me and Will [Oldham] to figure out what a scene was about when we were in the middle of it. LWLies: What’s next for you? London: I always liked doing smaller films, but they

just don’t seem to pay the rent. I’d certainly go for more films like this. The next thing I’m doing is another smaller film by a director called Emily Hubley, who actually introduced me to Kelly, and she’s a really interesting and cool woman. She’s an animator and this is going to be her first feature – it’s a live action and animation hybrid. David Jenkins

photographed by Peter Sillen, and slowly emerges as a third character, gradually enfolding Kurt and Mark as they search for their wellspring. We briefly return to civilization for a short coda that suggests, in the very smallest way, that some unknowable resolution has been reached in the mountains, and while the sense of purposelessness that has dogged

the characters remains, they may at least have made a little peace with it. Adam LeeDavies

Anticipation. A definite curiosity. Three Enjoyment. Ease on down the road. Four

In Retrospect. A

real haunter. Four

infAMous RELEASED January 19

Dissecting a six-year period in Truman Capote’s life, leading to the publication of groundbreaking non-fiction tome In Cold Blood, Infamous follows Capote (Toby Jones) and a preMockingbird Harper Lee (Sandra Bullock) as they document the aftermath of a grisly murder in a small Kansas town in the 1950s. Once described by Gore Vidal as having, “the voice of a Brussel sprout”, Capote – as styled by Brit-actor Jones – is a writer descending from happy-go-lucky Park Avenue wag to a spent literary force seeking solace in pills and booze. And it’s the shift from the triumphant to the tragic – setting it apart from the ‘other’ Capote – that Infamous chronicles so well. It’s worth noting that the two movies are adapted from different books about the writer. The persistently cold and cleverly cynical tones of Hoffman’s character are replaced here by Jones’ gradual journey into darkness, augmented by all-star

DIRECTED BY Douglas McGrath STARRING Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig

support from the likes of Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels (look out for a stunning cameo from Gwyneth Paltrow too). In the pursuit of ‘New Journalism’ Capote is torn between the outcome of a murder trial and a good ending for his book. As the drama deepens, Daniel Craig is superb as murderous muse Perry in a series of prison scenes that are all caged intensity, where the veneer of Capote’s wit is stripped bare to reveal a broken man whose cutting intellect was won over by his heart. Funny and compelling, this film deserves to stand alone. Dan Brightmore

Anticipation. Not another film about Truman Capote. One Enjoyment. From high

society to the gallows, it’s an absorbing arc. Four

In Retrospect. Hoffman still just shades it. Three 079


Gone RELEASED December 15

Should you rely on the kindness of strangers? As a backpacker, there’s nothing like meeting a fellow traveller and hitting it off, particularly one who offers you a free ride. But rather than affirming the joys of such happy encounters, Brit director Ringan Ledwidge’s debut feature, Gone, warns against taking such risks. This ominous story is played out in Australia where British couple Alex and Sophie (Shaun Evans and Amelia Warner) meet the mysterious and enigmatic Taylor (Scott Mechlowicz, who does creepy outsider with disarming skill). After a brief friendship, Taylor unexpectedly

DIRECTED BY Ringan Ledwidge STARRING Shaun Evans, Amelia Warner, Scott Mechlowicz

invites Alex and Sophie to join him on a road trip, and with some apprehension the couple accept. The travellers decide to head off the beaten track to explore the hidden terrain of the Outback, but as the weather becomes both unbearable and volatile, so do the characters. Alex becomes increasingly aware of Taylor’s interest in his girlfriend and is convinced that Taylor’s calm demeanour belies a more sinister sensibility. His fears are realised when Taylor uses blackmail to drive a wedge between the young couple. The whole ‘what-can-go-wrongwill-go-wrong’ adage is a tired one in dramas, so Gone’s psychological tilt is refreshing for those who can

smell a plot twist a mile away. It’s also an outstanding example of how to create tension; when to let it brew, build up and break out. This is strong work with an interesting premise, and that should always be rewarded. Lieu Pham

Anticipation. Aussie Outback dramas are always worth watching. Three Enjoyment. Like walking a tightrope that’s about to break. Three

In Retrospect. Good, but The Proposition and Wolf Creek are hard acts to follow. Two

smokin’ aces Smokin’ Aces goes to show that, even for the good guys, things can still go bad if enough people want them to. Buddy ‘Aces’ Israel (Jeremy Piven) is the mob member moonlighting as an FBI informant. Now Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin), his deathbedridden nemesis and rival gang leader, wants him dead. Protected by hero cops Ray Liotta and Ryan


DIRECTED BY Joe Carnahan STARRING Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck

RELEASED January 12

Reynolds after a million-dollar price tag is placed on his head, a race to his Nevada hide out ensues. The film rattles along at an alarming pace in the lead up to an almighty shoot-out, picking up random characters and subplots along the way, one of which includes a karate obsessed, eye patch-wearing ADHD kid with hormonal fluctuations. As a

result Smokin’ Aces leaves you wondering just when the story is going to begin, but a script which is littered with ‘I’m gonna bust yo’ ass’ phrases leaves you in no doubt that this is a gangsta’ film through-and-through. However, once the anticipation of violence is sated, it becomes apparent that Messner (Reynolds) is to be our one reference point

in this incessantly back-flipping world, and his quest for clarity returns the film to an altogether saner place. His plea for everything to just “make sense” is the film’s turning point, just when everything seemed to be sliding dangerously out of control. And by the end, make sense it does, but by that time you can’t help but feel that it’s too little, too late. Ailsa Caine

Anticipation. Working Title do Pulp Fiction. Brace yourselves. Two Enjoyment. Blink and

you’ll miss the plot. Two

In Retrospect. You’ve seen it done better, but you’ve definitely seen it done worse. Three 081


stranger than fiction DIRECTED BY Marc Forster STARRING Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal RELEASED December 1

Imagine, if you will, the sweet blossom of Charlie Kaufman in full bloom. Imagine this mingling with the flowers of Spike Jonze, in the garden of David O’Russell, lapped by the waters of Michel Gondry. Wouldn’t that be paradise? Now imagine, if you can bear it, that dream turned to nightmare. Imagine the creative ethos that invigorated cinema at the turn of the century blended, pulped and squeezed through a studio juicer. Imagine it repackaged, genre-fied, painted beige and made fit for general consumption. Imagine Stranger Than Fiction, Marc Forster and Will Ferrell’s lifesapping bear hug to Generation Y. Harold Crick (Ferrell) is a taxman. He lives in tasteful minimalism, surrounded by lowkey CGI, which helpfully illustrates his state of perma-zapped consumer angst. But Harold has a problem. He has a voice in his head – the voice of reclusive writer Kay Eiffel, narrating Harold to his death. With the help of aging professor Jules Hilbert (Hoffman), Harold must find the source of this voice, before his demise concludes the final chapter of her book. Stranger Than Fiction looks great. It’s as clean and pretty and sweetly anaemic as an IKEA catalogue. And perhaps, separately, these were two fascinating stories: the writer struggling with greatness; and the question of literature’s relationship to the real world. If the characters we create are alive, to what extent must we take responsibility for their, or our, actions? But fatally, in one disastrous

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scene, Forster collapses these two distinct strands into one narrative. And in the dust of that decision, you realise that he just doesn’t dig it – that detachment you need to make a film like this work. Forster wants to be in the hipster gang, but at the same time he wants to make a sensible movie – a proper movie, with comfortable shoes. But even as he fails to embrace the ambivalence and complexity that could have saved this film, you realise that, actually, this isn’t even a proper movie

anyway. There’s nothing going on here – no depth, no subtlety, no meta-textual analysis of, you know, meta-textual stuff. It’s about a guy who can actually hear a voice in his head, for real, but not only is he not crazy, he gets Maggie Gyllenhaal into the sack. What gives? There are flashes of talent along the way, not least the great use of The Jam’s ‘That’s Entertainment’, but Stranger Than Fiction is a shallow disappointment and a meaningless stab at being cool. Matt Bochenski

Anticipation. Will Ferrell goes straight, and Marc Forster reinvents himself as a man of the moment. Four Enjoyment. Tasteful,

well photographed, nearly clever. It’s good, but it’s not right. Three

In Retrospect.

Muddled, mundane, internally and infernally inconsistent. Two


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Perfume – The Story of a Murderer It was the film they said couldn’t be made. Patrick Süskind’s bizarre story of a nasally gifted murderer passed through the hands of Ridley Scott, Tim Burton, Martin Scorsese and even Stanley Kubrick. Somehow it ended up with Tom Tykwer, director of Run Lola Run. The result is a stunning success: never have flavours flooded from

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DIRECTED BY Tom Tykwer STARRING Alan Rickman, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Whishaw

the screen with such poisonous panache as Tykwer delivers in this eye-watering, thrilling and horrifying story. Born in ungraceful circumstances under a table in a fish market, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is an outcast from the moment he slithers to the floor. He does, however, possess an unusual

RELEASED December 26

ability: his quivering nostrils are able to absorb the sweet smells of youth, virility, beauty and innocence. But he has no smell of his own, and seems destined to live a life of scentless solitude until, one fateful night, he has a run-in with a stunning red-head who possesses an aroma so enchanting that he inhales the life out of her. Struck

with an insatiable desire for more, and instructed in the olfactory arts by the farcical Baldini (Dustin Hoffman), Grenouille embarks on a murderous, scentinspired spree. A comforting voice-over, allied to the film’s visual power and evocative nature, makes this fabulous fairy tale somehow definite and tangible. Indeed,


An interview with Tom Tykwer, director of Perfume. LWLies: Perfume was always going to generate huge expectations. Was it hard to approach the film using just your own feelings about the book? Tykwer: That was a difficulty. It’s a book that people are mesmerised by, which is different to a regular best seller. So many books are bestsellers because you can easily consume them, like blockbuster movies. This book was different; people call it part of their biography, it’s very close to them. And if you consider what Perfume is about, that’s very interesting and very disturbing too. You don’t want to disappoint these people; but at the same time everybody expects an individual perspective and vision, so that was challenging. LWLies: Did you feel this was Grenouille’s story or were you concerned with addressing more universal themes? Tykwer: I think the only way to get to the universal themes of the book is to be radically close to the guy – to his perspective, his emotion – even if it is quite disturbing and partly distorted. That’s something mysterious about the novel too; you just stay with him until the very bitter end, you can’t let go and there’s a seductive part about him that taps into the darker sides of us. He’s maybe the darkest hero in cinematic history. LWLies: He is dark but he’s also a victim of society; they’re all responsible for him. Do you think that’s a theme relevant to a modern audience? Tykwer: He’s like a classical literary or cinematic exaggeration of ‘the average’, the nobody who longs to be a somebody. The universality of his problem comes from the fact that everything he is struggling with we know about; we understand complex life experiences. He’s down in the chain of social existence, which is also something that I like; finally a period movie that’s not set in the aristocratic world. We, and the book of course, are depicting reality in a way that is drastic. every ingredient in the film – from the casting and lighting to the acting and directing – has been distilled to a rare purity. And that makes Perfume a truly incredible experience down to the very last drop. Monisha Rajesh

Anticipation. The

scentless apprentice brought to the screen. Three

Enjoyment. For a

film about smells, Perfume is about as far from a stinker as you can possibly imagine. Four

In Retrospect. Like the best perfumes, it’s subtle, rich and intoxicating. Five

LWLies: Perfume was a huge film in terms of costs and production. Was there as much scope for creative freedom? Tykwer: It blows up the creative room; there are more creative decisions to make, giving you more room to be inspired. Nothing gets less complex or challenging. And you’re not alone, I’m working with the same DoP, Production Designer and all the people around them, so I feel faith in that family because we all grew up together into larger-scale productions. It’s not like everybody feels completely confident, everybody’s just as nervous as me and that makes things much more bearable, and also more exciting. Ailsa Caine 085


big nothing DIRECTED BY Jean-Baptiste Andrea STARRING David Schwimmer, Simon Pegg, Alice Eve

RELEASED December 1

Charlie (David Schwimmer) is a would-be writer in a backend town that seethes with small-time success stories and big-time failures. After taking a dead-end job as an IT phone monkey, Charlie meets Gus (Simon Pegg), a low-rent crook with a high-end plan: a no-lose blackmail scheme that promises each of them a six-figure payday. What happens instead involves multiple homicide, a blond bombshell, a family crisis, dirty cops, a serial killer, a bag full of cash and some cuddly toys. Big Nothing is, if nothing else, a head-spinning ride. You can see what director

Jean-Baptiste Andrea had in mind here: a throwback to the late ’90s Tarantino trail of talky, high style dramas, trodden by the likes of Danny Boyle, John Herzfeld and Gary Fleder. For its part, Big Nothing is an energetic and inventive piece of filmmaking, but like Gus’ plan, it’s far from flawless. Shot on the Isle of Man, it suffers badly from a sense of geographical ordinariness. In

conjuring a vision of Anyplace, USA, Andrea has made a rootless, isolated film, which makes a mockery of Pegg’s excruciating American accent. Brit actress Alice Eve does better, but you can’t help wondering what the likes of M:I:III’s Michelle Monaghan might have done with the role. Still, once you get your head around the fact that Big Nothing is in essence a comic-fantasy-

Kate Winslet adds the expected air of Hollywood glamour (even if it’s Sir Ian McKellen’s pantomime performance as the nefarious Toad that steals the show). The soundtrack is also surprisingly solid, with Billy Idol’s hymn to masturbation ‘Dancing With Myself’ kicking things off in admirable style. On the visual front, it’s nice to see that the rendering process has been

taken to such lengths that even the fingerprints and smudges that would appear on plasticine models have been included on the character renders. There may be no great surprises here, but the sharp script and visual gags mean Flushed Away keeps its head above the rim. Andy Davidson

animated-heist-thriller-with-atwist, it’s decent enough while it lasts. Matt Bochenski

Anticipation. Where’s

Nick Frost? Two

Enjoyment. Still can’t see him. Three

In Retrospect. When’s Hot Fuzz out, again? Two

Flushed Away DIRECTED BY David Bowers, Sam Fell STARRING Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Sir Ian McKellen RELEASED December 1

A largely uninspiring trailer made Flushed Away look like the very poor relative of next summer’s Pixar hot ticket Ratatouille. That Aardman had stepped away from claymation and into CG seemed like a move that could only backfire. The first 10 minutes of Flushed Away do nothing to suggest otherwise, but gradually the Aardman pedigree begins to assert itself. An ace screenplay penned by Brit-com veterans Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais avoids the usual DreamWorks problem of sacrificing humour for an endless slew of pop culture gags, while the A-list attraction of Hugh Jackman and

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Anticipation. The

trailer suggested something best left floating in the bowl. One

Enjoyment. A successful

first foray into CG for the claymation kings. Three

In Retrospect. Will work on DVD for kids and still be a guilty pleasure for adults. Four


Esma’s Secret In the most striking scene in Jasmila Zbanic’s emotive and well-judged study of the human aftermath of war, a long pan around a room full of women reveals each one in turn, all listening intently as one of their number sings a traditional folk song. Each of their faces speaks of traumas survived and loved ones lost, but they never say a word. It’s 10 years since the massacre in Srebrenica – the darkest episode in the Balkan conflict – and, understandably, the region is still raw. But life goes on, and normality re-asserts itself. Esma is a single mother with a wilful young daughter, Sara, with whom she has a turbulent but ultimately tender relationship. However, it only takes something as innocuous as an impending school trip to

DIRECTED BY Jasmila Zbanic STARRING Mirjana Karanovic, Luna Mijovic, Leon Lucev

RELEASED December 15

unearth hidden pain and the bitter reality of recent years. When it turns out that the children of men who were killed during the war will be exempt from the costs of the trip, Esma appears reluctant to give her daughter the necessary certificate, and instead takes a part-time job in a seedy bar to help her raise the money. Bosnian director Zbanic presents a plausible picture of life in her country now that the fighting has ceased and the news crews have moved on. She also draws a phenomenal performance from the young Luna Mijovic in her debut role as Sara. Alternating between aggression and bratty indifference to her mother’s troubles, this scowling, angry child commands the camera throughout, and more than holds her own

alongside the restrained and dignified Mirjana Karanovic. Esma’s Secret manages to be well observed and socially relevant without ramming its worthiness down your throat – something that raises it a notch above most ‘issue’ cinema. Zbanic’s seemingly everyday scenes echo with resonance as the truth of what happened to Esma during the war, and why she grows so tight-lipped every time Sara asks questions about her father, slowly emerges. Esma’s tentative relationship with a local heavy is touchingly handled, and though the addition of a pistol in the inevitable mother-daughter collision towards the end of the film threatens to tip things over into melodrama, the combined skill of Karanovic and Mijovic ensure that while

the scene is distressing, it is not unrealistically so. This is an undoubtedly bleak film, but it is shot with real warmth and, on occasion, a welcome lightness of touch. More importantly it has opened the door to the pain that still affects the people of the former Yugoslavia today. Natasha Tripney

Anticipation. A film about the emotional aftermath of the Bosnian war? Sounds well intentioned but dull. Two Enjoyment. A harrowing

yet subtle portrait of a country still healing. Three

In Retrospect. Well acted, intelligent and genuinely powerful. Four


Bobby RELEASED January 26

It’s apt that disgruntled Americans should have flayed George W in the recent mid-terms, just as this long-awaited biopic of their favourite liberal poster boy was preparing to hit cinemas across the country. Bobby Kennedy would have been proud of the election result. That is, had he not been murdered in cold blood in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel during the presidential primaries of 1968. This bloody instalment of the Kennedy curse is the event which brings together an eclectic bunch of 22 men, women and politicians who all find themselves in the Ambassador on the fateful night of June 5. Anthony Hopkins’ retiring doorman looks back on decades of service whilst playing the longest and least eventful game of chess Harry Belafonte has ever

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DIRECTED BY Emilio Estevez STARRING Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, Lindsay Lohan

been involved in; William H Macy’s otherwise principled hotelier turns a blind eye to his own adultery as he upbraids his staff for racial discrimination; Lindsay Lohan plays the blushing bride to a man she barely knows, just to keep him away from the front line in Vietnam. But as sub-plot after sub-plot stacks up, the awful realisation emerges: there is no main plot here at all. As the film progresses, Sharon Stone, Helen Hunt, Joshua Jackson and Elijah Wood compete for ever-decreasing slices of screen time, overloading and ultimately unbalancing the film’s fragile tapestry. By the time Bobby eventually mounts the stage for the final act, it is too late to save this hugely ambitious project from damning mediocrity. In the end, there simply isn’t

enough script to go around a production which appears to have been cast solely from names on the director’s Christmas card list. For his part, Emilio Estevez seems content to fall back on the circumstantial unity of place holding the disparate elements of his story together, but by doing so he tacitly admits that they have precious little else in common. Worse, Laurence Fishburne’s painful ‘once and future king’ speech removes the film to a realm of ideological fantasy which betrays the political simplicity at its heart. Shia LaBeouf does his best to salvage the show with a searing slapstick turn as an LSD-addled campaign volunteer who craps in a cat litter tray. Sadly, his virtuoso display of defecation just serves to

hammer home the feeling that Bobby, well, kinda stinks. Mike Brett

Anticipation. A stratospheric cast getting their collective teeth into the greatest untold story of recent political times. Hang on though, is that ‘Estevez’ written on the back of the director’s chair? Four Enjoyment. Isn’t a plot

supposed to move things along when your actors get stuck in a quagmire of half-baked storylines? Two

In Retrospect. You know how fine wine just gets better with age? Never forget that cheap plonk doesn’t. Two


black book

DIRECTED BY Paul Verhoeven STARRING Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman

Bleak truths are a currency Paul Verhoeven enjoys dealing in. From the fighting and fucking that coloured early work like Spetters, right down to the square-jawed Übermensch of Starship Troopers, he is dogged in his mission to provoke, tease and offend by making the viewer seriously question who they’re rooting for. Now he’s back on Dutch turf for the first time in 20 years, and the result, Black Book, is a delightful mélange of the quasi-exploitative Verhoeven who produced such rough gems as The Fourth Man and Soldier of Orange (which this film most clearly resembles), and the shrewd, calculated master of thrills who brought us Robocop and Total Recall. This is a highbrow blockbuster, but, as always with

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RELEASED January 19

Verhoeven’s work, there’s a cruel twist to be had. Star-in-the-making Carice van Houten plays Rachel Stein, a Dutch Jew in Nazi-occupied Holland who, upon witnessing the murder of her entire family in an elaborate sting concocted by the uproariously wicked Nazi officer Franken (Waldemar Kobus), decides the best thing she can do is join the resistance movement. There, whilst moonlighting as a cabaret singer, she falls in love with a sympathetic member of the Nazi top brass, an unwise move that thrusts her into a gulf of moral uncertainty, where a rigorous questioning of personal affinity becomes a matter of life and death. Van Houten’s performance is almost worryingly committed, as she turns on a dime from sardonic

and sassy while fending off the numerous sexual advances of her male cohorts, to throws of genuine anguish when she is stripped and covered in human shit as punishment for her suspected involvement in Nazi dealings. More a thriller than a war movie, the action is still coloured by a sense of vivid historical recollection (that of the director’s own youth) and rip-roaring, narrative-driven adventure. By turns violent, sexually frank and deeply engaging, the plot twists barely stop, even until the horrific Planet of the Apes-esque finale, which forces us to realise that our plucky heroine is far from safe, while also ushering in Verhoeven’s almost dutiful sense of moral needling. But where a film like Starship

Troopers wore its allegorical subtext on its sleeve, Black Book seems the more studied, insidiously bitter film as we leave the cinema in a state of dissatisfied satisfaction; hating ourselves for enjoying it. For two hours we’re at the director’s total mercy, and boy does it feel good. David Jenkins

Anticipation. The follow-up to Hollow Man? No ta. Three Enjoyment. The master

is back at the top of his game. Perhaps his best film to date. Five

In Retrospect. Would you want to see it again. Yes. And no! Damn you, Verhoeven. Four


deep water

DIRECTED BY Louise Osmond, Jerry Rothwell STARRING Jean Badin, Clare Crowhurst, Donald Crowhurst

Deep Water is the story of Donald Crowhurst, and the darkness that consumes him as he mentally sails over the precipice in the 1968 round-the-world yacht race. It is a sympathetic portrait of a man drowning in the fabrications he creates to protect his family. Signing a pact with the devil to get the means to make his own boat, the inexperienced Crowhurst must finish the race or face humiliation and financial ruin. But haunted by his debts on land, he finds no solace at sea. As the relentless

RELEASED December 15

ocean begins to cripple his boat, he hatches a flawed plan; to cheat in the race. The psychological strain of his situation soon takes him to breaking point. With its fable-like qualities and other-worldliness, Deep Water mirrors the sailors’ own experiences, floating alone in the middle of the ocean. That lonely landscape is captured with rich, 16mm film, as well as the journals and audio diaries from the voyage itself. Mercifully, the material gleaned from archive footage and

talking head interviews means there is no need for any hammy dramatisations; the story and the film’s contributors – family, witnesses, reporters of the time and old sea dogs – make Deep Water enthralling enough. It is such an emotional and troubling story that there is an argument for leaving this disturbing tale of one man’s mistakes alone. But Deep Water has an enduring effect, and deserves to be seen as a captivating analysis of how persistent stress can affect

someone mentally and physically over time. Worse things do indeed happen at sea. Rob Warren

Anticipation. Sailing doc? Hand me a life jacket. One Enjoyment. An adventure that descends into the heart of darkness. Four

In Retrospect. A poignant journey presented with compassion. Four


the last king of scotland Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, ‘Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea’, and the focus of Kevin Macdonald’s The Last King of Scotland, was anything but modest, but he’s a charismatic figure, and this is a scorching take on his life. Set during Amin’s murderous reign in the ’70s, the film follows naïve young Scot Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) who arrives in Uganda with a taste for adventure and a desire to put his newly-acquired medical skills into practice. A chance encounter with Amin (a career-best Forest Whitaker), catapults him from village doctor to the President’s personal physician, placing him squarely in the lap of luxury and,

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RELEASED January 12

DIRECTED BY Kevin Macdonald STARRING Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Gillian Anderson

eventually, the line of fire. Initially, Garrigan is oblivious to the antics of the man who reportedly murdered over 300,000 of his countrymen, instead seduced by his impressive stature, and the apparently sincere conviction that Amin is the man to lead Uganda out of its postcolonial haze. But as Amin’s closest confidant, he becomes all too aware of the unseen power that the leader wields. Garrigan is a refreshingly flawed character; a clear antihero whose artless and ultimately deadly actions blur the boundaries between right and wrong, and highlight the implicit nature of the Westerner in Uganda. After the workaday whimsy of Narnia and

the ugly sentiment of Starter For 10, this is a testing role for the breezy charms of James McAvoy, and in truth his young shoulders don’t quite flesh out the character enough to convince. Much of the film’s vibrancy can be attributed to the outstanding performance of Whitaker. Amin is a complicated historical figure; supported by the international community on his accession to power (the Brits are alleged to have called him, ‘A splendid type and a good football player’), until his brutal and irrational nature became clear. Whitaker makes a compelling, corrupt leader, whose flippant moods alter like a child’s, switching from euphoric to violent in a heartbeat.

Director Macdonald’s first (semi) fiction outing is neatly executed. He spins a gripping enough yarn with some genuinely affecting set pieces – one particularly nasty torture scene stands out – that conveys the violence and complicity of Amin’s regime. Helen Cowley

Anticipation. The new Constant Gardener? Is that good or bad? Two Enjoyment. Forest Whitaker owns the screen as the charismatic Idi Amin. Three

In Retrospect. Gripping in places, it serves as an eye opener to a dangerous time. Three


An interview with Kevin Macdonald, director of The Last King of Scotland LWLies: Before The Last King of Scotland you were thinking of doing another film set in Angola. What is it about Africa that attracts you? Macdonald: There is something in the zeitgeist that means people are more interested in Africa. Globalisation has had a strange effect on us, in that we think there is a free flow of capital around the world and yet somehow there isn’t a free flow of morality. That contradiction has become too glaring to ignore. Places like Uganda are just an eighthour flight away, and we should be aware that people are dying needlessly from poverty, disease, civil strife. It’s just much harder to pretend it’s not our business. LWLies: Were you wary of not allowing Africa to play into a Hollywood stereotype? Macdonald: In lots of ways I wanted to get away from the stereotype. The most important decision was that we filmed in Uganda. I wanted to show a side of Africa people haven’t seen before; this quite sexy, cool, sophisticated city. It’s exciting to show people a world they aren’t familiar with, and get away from the normal cinematic cliché of savannahs, roaming zebra and giraffe, or a slum in Soweto. LWLies: Did you feel that you had be there to experience the socio-political climate? Macdonald: Absolutely. There were people all around me who had friends and family that died under Amin. My Ugandan cultural advisor helped me to get the dialogue to feel authentic. I think the influence of being there affected everyone. Forest spent time with Amin’s ministers and family, ate the food he ate, and even had to stand in front of four thousand Ugandans who’ve seen the real Amin speak. That put fire into his performance. LWLies: How did Ugandans respond to the film? Macdonald: Funnily enough they were utterly open to it.

Their only concern was how we were going to portray Amin, whether we would show him as a cardboard cut-out villain. In certain ways they felt he should be portrayed as a human being, not a cardboard cut-out villain. Most people have an ambivalent attitude – he made them feel proud to be African.

LWLies: The filming of both Touching the Void and The Last King of Scotland must have involved huge obstacles? Macdonald: Yes, but I think I rather like that. I find it stimulating to be somewhere that’s hard. It makes you less indulgent because you’re not thinking of irrelevant things. You’re thinking, ‘Bloody hell, how am I going to do this?’ Your focus is solely on the film. LWLies: So when you choose a project, is it all about the challenge? Macdonald: It’s about showing people a world they will be

surprised by. Filming Touching the Void in the mountains in a crevasse is something most people haven’t seen before. That keeps me interested as I get easily bored and need to prick myself with a challenge. Andrea Kurland Check out the full transcript at www.littlewhitelies.co.uk

dEAd MAn’s cArds

RELEASED December 15 DIRECTED BY James Marquand STARRING James McMartin, Samantha Janus, Mark Russell

Directorial debuts are tricky affairs, especially when it’s your script. You are inside the film, part of its fabric; its twists and turns represent the inner deliberations of your mind, the outcome is your soul laid bare. Get it right and it’s your career starterfor-10. Get it wrong, and your filmmaker’s card is marked for life. Cards is a strange debut: a modern western set in Liverpool detailing the soul-searching tribulations of Tom (co-writer James McMartin), an ex-boxer who’s fallen on hard times. Sparring partner Paul ‘Denzil’ Barber introduces him to the Liverpudlian bouncer scene, while a rival protection racket led by Chongi (the current three-time heavyweight world kick-boxing champion Mark Russell) try to test Tom’s allegiance to Paul with the prospect of foldable fortunes. Marquand’s vision is a stylised and remarkably complete debut; a gem hewn with tangible passion from the hard, independent film coal-face, which benefits greatly from an enigmatic performance by the late Tom Bell as Billy the Cowboy. The pacey story is peppered with banjo-scored drivebys, stand-offs and fistfights, as

opposed to the modern fascination for the quick, clinical executions of pistols. Marquand and McMartin’s script – honest, determined and informed – never betrays the inexperience of its creators, but its biggest failing is the insignificance afforded to the back-story – where Tom’s impotence with his wife, Kris (Samantha Janus), mirrors the flailing end to his boxing career. That said, this film is a solid hand dealt from a tricky deck. A gangster grit-flick of raw emotion, Dead Man’s Cards delivers the brutality of club violence, set against the backdrop of emotional turmoil and the search for a feeling of worth in the face of adversity and loss. Marquand’s card is definitely marked, but luckily for him he’s holding an ace. Adrian D’Enrico

Anticipation. Lowkey, low budget, low quality? Two Enjoyment. Fraud,

fisticuffs and fracas. Four

In Retrospect. Not an indie champion, but a heavyweight entry nonetheless. Three 093


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en Verhoev Pa u l Verhoeven sive.” Although because it’s offen erican system when it comes t ou ke ta ld ou u sh e Am em up yo n values that se gs about using th has no misgivin rtain type of film, the Republicats mean he has lack Book, opensn B of or ct ce uc re a od g di pr in n, to produc t cultural ip and his ow Paul VerhoeveE in America. For ost mass-marke urope, censorsh to linger over m wouldn’t have made Black Book shot in realistic be “I to LWLies on being bombed. to ry that had e to be realistic: s also an antidot cal European sto experience of me, it was a typi h of the story is its realism. It’ of growing old cts pe as ng ni gt earte terms. The stren ovies I was doing.” symptom of old t enriching/dish One of the mos n of memories. Perhaps it’s a their twilight to all the sci-fi m io in at ul ns m ria cu had as many sto is the ac rector who has into amateur hi wouldn’t be the first name rn tu y an m so to form for a di e of strong stuff, and far ly rn ab tu ob re age that , pr a n is on ve ok rti oe se Black Bo n is mad , harine as Paul Verh wever, Verhoeve ses, he moves on years. Director ind when considering this sacc to the Dutch flops as hits. Ho limelight and counting his los is was the case up e Th th that springs to m the passage of time has caught . g rd re in ca the futu from shirk e ILM charge st but focusing on up in The Hagu but it seems that ally decided to put down the der to impart a mindful of the pa e when he was being brought “There was not fin or . ag ar ag gravator; he’s d diaries and photo albums in gly assured even at an early rows of the Second World W survival. Things ol with his stunnin th and pick up his om on the world during the final . A lot of people had to work on living in The sd wi l na rso pe rn . little ou ok m Bo to k e place I was ac tim Bl , e th riller ies flattened the and the coWorld War II th different. The all mistakenly rotating the map et launch at our re es we riv ar n ve oe er ck aft ro Verh bs V2 at m th by bo , ar en th ne th e wi e e, Hagu ctionist surpris pposed to hit th . It was terrible, but it was su re we It comes as little g a well-thumbed copy of redu d Delusion: ey Th . an area ordinates in e Go they hit the civili ed in the attacks be interview clutch d Dawkins’ new bestseller, Th pads, but instead ink about how many people di that these things al film it might ar Th se . rottweiler Rich ces words or ideas. “For a festiv ot with thriller ali of d re s ne should not unhear e pl example. Everyo y and Holland wa neither man min ining. It clearly has a detectiv layers are there. on Dresden, for itude of the people in German my opinion.” e ta nr ter ge en e o th to all tle so in e att lit , o, a th happened. The rds survival than compassion ll never receive me adventure to elements and so se that everyone likes it, but it’ ‘artistic’ if you more geared towa e ca or e m th t bi lly a ua be films and his It’s us al. You have to his early Dutch tiv fes a at e iz at runs though g of bleak truths about people th s main pr ea id e th of sin One films is the expo in the way he want that.” tic’ is not later Hollywood It’s even evident in Black Book t what is it m output, ‘artis nct ea str ain es. Bu . m ro s ce he n’ t tan and abou tch Resis , Basic Insti g Verhoeve e When considerin d couple with films like Robocop y he makes films presents the dark side of the Du “It’s the reality of life. Open th sa u’ out. ths? ab tru ng k ki ea bl tal to I’m really a term yo essed, you’d probably have to er have sex with m at that draws hi you’ll see wh pr y morning and r left, right and and Showgirls. If e-in with your best gal, then lat d then stab her newspaper ever ation, people killing each othe sically is now an iv p, dr a -u ck at pi tch ur wa ul yo ba to pick). But his Betrayal, manip ss in the back of the highest level . Corruption at are not a doomed species. Even her on the mattre a screwdriver (or, indeed, an ice bo) has allowed als nd sca , re nt ce lim g. However, we tch resistance, in the heart with (after six years in green light eate a considered an everyday thin ... let’s say ‘shadows’ in the Du she is not ese n, return to Europe r to collect his marbles and cr th a certain th ea m all t no ow if I sh cto wi is positive. She is but it’s for a reason. She ist on time for the dire e of work that is shot through to worry about ag ot pr side, the main ed ec es to the German and personal pi ility. “In Europe you don’t ne deceptive. She go in terms of what ib ” lf. continental sens g artistically or structurally, or all the elements rse sacrifices he in – for hours about what you’re do supposed to sympathise with n film market. r. He could talk the list goes re eu ica u’ nt er yo co s Am ra e ter ter th ac as in ar e, s m e ch Verhoeven is a story, ethics, politics, literatur he’s experienced most importanc ings are much les hi at that are of the ut dity, the violence, all these th th g, s, in m ew hi ak vi to re iem e ng ov th m ad nu e, would be a ling from speaki The morals, the , to the point that when you re g to tell me that . You get the fee r, should he choose to write on to him, but on in pe go ro is Eu e in on o oi N ed . em en em an issue m pp s th o hi ha to on e at ve ts ar th ha a lot, ings e scenes commen se beauty. Bad th . The world is constantly no one actually nudity in the movie or that th thing of perver h a him down t ge em there is too muc th let t His new film is he doesn’ t.” fluctuate at will. Boris Akunin’s spy s ne rtu fo violent. It’s grea d an changing, tation of aled to the pe. So, Paul, xt film, an adap particularly appe , which even he triumph. His ne Queen, will also be shot in Euro se. For the something that di ra ter This freedom is mainstream misfire Hollow Man : “Even though novel The Win rld is a little pa s air ? “For me, the wo director after hi very much a join-the-dots aff the studio to do gs in th ’re w ho g m ay.” describes as bein t, there is so much pressure fro ey don’t agree time being, anyw th you have final cu and remove the elements that too ‘strong’. You ge 90. y is is reviewed on pa it in a certain wa ey often use is that something y prescribes what Black Book th all rd sic wo ba e d], which with. Th [the censor boar have the MPAA

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ors of s, directg. lerie Fafiri and Vaeg in n ak to m ay lm D an in th o na Jo ne, on Little Miss Sunshi s about asking , self to the fore. It’

ing ng your ght come at someth g is not about putti FARIS: Filmmakin ution to this creative problem?’ I miit’s not about my idea t ‘What’s the best sol might come at it from another, bu really be working on ld from one angle, he o becomes an issue, then you shou eg versus his idea. If your own. ?’ It’s about, about something hat do I have to say you give are subjective, as ‘W t, ou ab t no s the answers DAYTON: It’ uire?’ Of course, f-image. ‘What does this req em through the prism of your sel th rked you’re refracting le who haven’t wo use so many peop ct. Who do they go ca be y, wa a in helps expe FARIS: It kind of before don’t really know what to at we come to the set s th with two director als with what? When they realise either of us and they’ll de really talk to n ca and talk to? Who ey the th ow kn ion, they t experience with with the same vis s with an ego. We had such a grea llaboration happening ad co a he ’s ng eady, there not be butti er for and we felt like, alr t is the best answ actors on this film be part of this collaboration. ‘Wha be your answer, it to uld t tantly ask. It co and they just ge ’s answer. e question we cons eating a sandwich r focus the problem?’ is th answer, it could be the PA sitting ou ere wh s it’ m; fro ’s could be an actor us where the best solution comes to It doesn’t matter s is that matters. rs its head. That’ e right answer rea gth there that is th en wh e nis og ’s a stren r job to rec DAYTON: It’s ou th think something is right, there bo the key: when we working alone, at least for us. m very different fro cistic. FARIS: It’s less fas u’ll find that most hind the scenes, yo n, or the script be er pe u yo if e, ma ra e flip sid writer, or the came DAYTON: On th nfidante – a screen directors have a co producer. supervisor, or their le who don’t ink there are peop . However, I do th Stone probably doesn’t need me ho at se ou sp r FARIS: Or their . I would think that, say, Olive n’t think filmmaking. I do need a collaborator nality and it’s a different style of is a less ego-driven form rso do one. He’s a big pe e other, but I just think what we urself in your film. th with putting yo g one is better than on wr ing th no ere’s of filmmaking. Th s in the film. It’s s not our ego that’ in the film, but it’ d think, ‘Wow, that bit was my ’re we ink th I : DAYTON the film an le. I don’t watch our values as peop terrible. be uld idea’. That wo sic our films and mu at each of us do on friends, it’s the ones that wh ask tly tan ns FARIS: People co that with couples or brothers or no signs of ego in their videos, and I think er for a long time that really show that they say, ‘We both in have worked togeth d the Coen brothers are the same rea filmmaking. I’ve look at them. d do everything’. An ry 22. D on Janua ne is released on DV Little Miss Sunshi

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FULTON: It has always been our inten tion between documentary and fiction. Docu to abolish the arbitrary distinction mentaries always seem to be ghettoised: ‘Oh, they’re the truth so there ’s them than there is with fiction.’ Yet both less artistry involved in creating forms rely on good storytelling. We’ve always looked at filmmakers like Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog, who have achieved a mixture of both throughout their careers, and it’s a path we also want to travel. You get to play around with elements that you can’t in fiction filmmaking. PEPE: We were also talking about docu mentaries by the Maysles brothers, Pennebaker, Lech Kowolski and Robe rt Frank and trying to root out the essen ce of what they captured and how they did it. FULTON: With the actors, we used a total immersion technique so they could have the chance to improvise. By putti ng the actors through this process of really creating the characters, they know them inside-out, so when we would go and shoot a scene it wasn’t like, ‘And action!’, we’d actually get them to start acting then just turn on the cameras and shoot in a documentary style. PEPE: So much of what happens when people talk about rock ‘n’ roll is that people often craft the history as if they were part of it. You talk about the first Sex Pistols gig in Manchester and there were only 40 people there, yet you meet more than 40 people who claim that they were one of those 40 people. Can we really know an event or a person even if we’ve had contact with them? We talked a lot about Citizen Kane, which build never understand a man’s life by just one s up to this statement, ‘Oh, you can word’ and then, of course, they boil down his entire life with just one word . Part of the pleasure of documentary, as well as the shortcoming of all these types of storytelling is, if you feel you’v e successfully summed up someone’s life you’ve probably got a very naïve impression of what you’ve actually captu red.

Brothers Of The Head is released on DVD

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s ople with shotgun ’s also plenty of pe think overall it’s a industry, so there I . sts ali vironment who argue with en I think it’s probably a little purple. of Old Joy, director tually, Ac eichardtd,lib te. sta e . blu m is Kelly Rer eral locations for the on Am ica an ill Oldham about I was talking to W holes and hot springs because he of Vermont, when n tio cep ex e th ith ng o a sprawl of all film like swimmi them when he’s not touring or REICHARDT: “W America you get int ts me you leave a city in goes on for miles and miles: the Ho d regularly frequen be calling him up on the road and an t making records. I’d where to go and what to check ou the usual crap that lls, the Burger Kings, etc. But Portl d an Be ds and en fri ing him ideas of th giv Depots, the Taco they don’t have it. You leave Portl wi off es this ed d rson who go n’t barraged with because he is a pe trips. Will’s just a very quick-witt has fought this an hway and you are actually plans these eady worked together before on a and you hit the hig and fast food joints. res person and we’d alr lled Ode. He did the music for that flood of chain sto ca re ce, pla ng wi t lef ly short film I made e more we talked about it, the mo th ew on isn’t a particular. They’re organised d kn eg an , he Or e ne of us mi te ca of sta be e film Th him to be in the film s like a stronghold it seemed right for lls. but Portland is. It’ ry much geared towards private in Portland, and ve and-pop coffee shops. I think they eir these backwood idy mth America will businesses like mo where they collectively held back e how the middle of e It’s hard to know like this. Especially with indies, organised a schem they didn’t want money going to th e respond to a movie in certain cities, but then in others tax dollars becaus a kind of liberal safe haven. e they can have a lif ck hole. Just like with music, you Iraq war. It’s really bla big le a t op jus pe t ’s bu ere , there are usually th ere the scenes are and ist community th ere art wh ge an t s hu spo a It’ d s. ’s an job ere try Th no scenes.” tilised. There are or corresponding film are really under-u ce but there are not a lot of jobs pla s ul lot tif d au e 78. an , be pag gh ely on thou insan Old Joy is reviewed are lots of bands, g employment. There tside the city there’s a big log gin . Ou of filmmakers too

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le s God laugh? Peop ROEG: “What make Look Now is not n’t who make plans. Do e film. It’s about fat a horror film; it’s a o knows when Wh the horror of fate. or what’s going to you go through a do happen next. e as something you d I don’t think of tim nts go backwards an can chop up. Mome , tick tock, tick tock. ck forwards like a clo autobiography about Buñuel writes in his s. Our entire life we ng the repetition of thi get up, we go to work. repeat ourselves, we ens in your life to pp Then something ha You don’t know that y. change it completel Those are things that . it’s going to happen I think that Don’t Look . we don’t like facing that about it. of ing eth som s ha w No

watching the film It was very strange ntary. Memory me com the again for are very curious. and remembrance so all-embracing. I it’s t tha It’s curious at I felt like at the wh r be tried to remem ntary is the right me time. Whether com know. One thinks word or not, I don’t plaining , but it ex of commentary as than explanation. r was comment rathe ngs that weren’t thi It reminded me of een. It was like scr necessarily on the version of myself. looking at a younger ite r ine who said, “I wr fore going to dinne I think it was Verla them happen to me”. They make love be r – it’s natural. let ne books, and then I attitude too. It’s alive, instead of after din shes her hair, he’s t wa I think film has tha With this film it’s She has a bath, she ey’re not thinking it. to rn tte pa Th no th. s ba er, it ha g washing the en now, 33 years lat ng on the bed readin an active process ev g with it, talking about sex. She’s lyi says, ‘Look at this’, gin ga en it, she watching out a magazine, then nding things out ab and he touches her about it. I’m still fi and she touches him d make love. And then an it even now.” and they roll over she gets made up and on DVD. d cial Edition is out now they get dressed an Time is a pendulum, Don’t Look Now: Spe r. ne din to t ou they go k tock. back and forth, tic

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us, r of Shortb to c e ir d , ll itche I eron M a play, and Camth ies. v o working on contained frank Johnex m as e w I ch In on s in Europe that d the Angry

wig an ating out of ng a fascin s I made Hed ere coming L: “Before e of the films that w and Romance were usi out two dozen film L E H C IT ab ey M m oi th en so t -m be g se bu e in ai av k, ch B h ea at e was also w just thought films like at one point; ther e of them are very bl as a fantastic w em sexuality. I here was a rash of th sed real sex, and som respect. À Ma Soeur! y that was u or language. T two years that have are powerful in that use sex within a st to d st over the la y what they want an I found it interesting tl . all do exac not my worldview g an st e and doin film, but ju p of tea. sexual scen all very good a g n oi d cu in more my n tension me, and we’re now that was ti was a certai tbus, there king for a very long a very rigorous systemcreate characters or Sh g in them to When mak ene. We’d been wor eigh works, he has em in and he gets sc L emotional u know how Mike s very trained actors r histories then put thover. yo ei se d u If th an e h s. h d it er n at w ov th frie up these scenes om ours in then come different fr at they know. He’ll aracters then repeat amplify h ch w son ted them to -a based tions. I wan ff. We played games, other actors h ea it cr w al s n rn io situat to be exte did all kinds of stu the call-backs characters e ’t want the e the richest, and w prov. At the time of d we had one of n id d I , se In our ca their lives that wer s, we did straight im lled Shortbus, an s of mine. So ca d the parts of ts, we watched movie monthly dance party dreds of other frien le. n tt we did spor s, I had been doing a e along and meet hu game of spin the bo g m n bi io co a it d ld as u au w co r e fo er ey was at night th night so th know who those that environment and th e needed to would rate each w as n s fu pe a ta as it w audition here people . We were all going eryone the et ballot w e showed ev e. We also had a secr ble couples together aracters had sex, w ay d t ex e ch mpati patibl The n pened. Som sexually co xually com possibly se could put the highly , the unexpected hap e ed w ct as expe other so word, and u will and on people’s . metimes yo ’t Spanish: so ds. Sex is like another k ea sp to some didn ing able few wor in the film, it would a bit like be ly know a on screen is d sometimes you on if we hadn’t used sex – a marketing tool.” x se g in av an H itt retrospect, you won’t, our Brad P sometimes use in film. Oddly, in released. It was like to en e be ag e hav langu less likely to have been ge 74. Shortbus is

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Pa Gatrriiceel Chéreau, le d filmbm aki,nognaFrencihreficltor of n d critic ms, Chéreau ism. : I do n to m

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ot co ake backgro theatre, and thme from the w u orld of en ope n d th in Fren a ch cine n the others, a ra, so I have a film. I used ma. I do differen nd I ha v n’t wan t I watch t to be a e very few frie v nds e p r a y r t of it. few Fre betwee nch film n film, I’ll an English film s. If I h a probab choose the Sp , a Spanish fi ve the choice ly it’s not because I fee anish or the E lm and a Fren n c l th weakne at I’m not in myself to be v glish one. I th h in te is a big sses in film, th rested, but I ery French, an k e tr r being in adition in Fr weaknesses w ecognise our d ench film e share. r e a li ty nourish . ment in And because I of abstractio There n, share th other c ultures. at I try of not There is to find a my n o th er thing films of : th I e a m not tou That’s so Nouvelle V c a not inte mething I can gue, which is hed at all by th a favourit rested. I was 1 not say in an in crime in Fran e But Cah 8 from be e cinema was years-old in th terview. I am ce. now ha iers du Cinéma, Americ fore the e s ’60s, bu an war, or what cin awful review who these dir e s. Orson W, or the Germa t my My tast like tha ema should b Terrible. Th ctors wrote fo n cinem elles. e ey are st e, and if r, t, they sa a France s were pushin is y y e o x y u a o c y do not m uck in u are no tly my you are ou need to be g me in anothe c t C a a m se a k h e a . ie k fi T rs d ing lm he they say not, you are... the son of Fra r direction, bu like me u Cinéma and re are two ma cinema, whic s n gazines Positif. h – and C Franco , ‘You want to Nobody under cois Truffaut. t in F P a in o o h si r ie F tif is a g them, I rs du Cin rance, is Truff o a o aut?’ make films an stands. You kn If m é d m r so e a o a n a m l film e – th ttack eon d you d I don’t on’t lik ow, Probab . So, I don’t li e who was ne s me all the ti ey sa e ly becau ke them ver able me. not my y that they a th se , to a ink it’s r the mainof the Nouvell nd they don’t make a were cr world. But the e not good; I ju eV lik stream it Check o dogma ague. It’s a do e me. were ve ics before – T directors of th st say that it is gma. I in Fran and a re ut www.littlew ce. view of they wr ry good critics. ruffaut and G e Nouvelle Vag hitelies. Gabriell co.uk fo o u e. r the fu in Hitchote about Hitc I am very hap ddard – and th e ll transc h ript made li cock of course cock – I am e py to read wh ey at ke that. xtreme , even if ly inter cinema est now ca nnot be ed

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realise the importance of a an beings, I think; we don’t it, and we can evaluate hum two of ure nat the It’s CEYLAN: to think about ut en we lose it we are forced age especially, wonders abo ain thing before we lose it. Wh ain cert a at , er. I think man cert the importance of things bett self better; he’s not content so he throws himself on es him this crash who he is. Sometim himself. He wants to know and tries to understand from girl he begins to see the girl as an circumstances and people, a h ut himself, and if he is wit sibilities he has many questions abo full of potential, full of pos ity himself better. He sees a life real ing h and wit d erst face und ’re to e you n tacl obs whe ts to get rid of the girl, but lities or and things like that, he wan ands that the world doesn’t offer that many possibi lm. fi erst of his girlfriend, like in the after this separation he und miss innocence in the form potential. Then he begins to by the lm’s main character, played ng – he are separated and Isa [the fi When the couple in the film girl can live without him – she is on her own feet, stro ent end the him, he feels that she is dep not director himself ] sees that soon as the girl comes to see will begins to respect her. But as t moment he doesn’t want her any more; he feels it tha en are not on him and weak again. At to be the same as the old days again. Of course, wom g think. I l, goin is sou d ing nce ryth bala eve e and work have a mor different in that sense; they s more of a sense of mission to men, like that, women are a bit give Life gs. thin ulders. rmation, less heavier weight on their sho They can live with less info from them. So they have a society expects more success ry in this sense: it shows the ent, n Isa and an ex] was necessa mom I think the sex scene [betwee er. Actually, the man doesn’t feel like any sex at that hopeless, characteristic of the man bett rid of the violence inside him. He feels desperate and hes get pus to he e t enc tha of viol e rid som get ds to er nee he dle in his soul, and in ord after han But not y. can awa he go ng can e ethi enc som is viol there t with the violence another enough, and after a kind of tha ing hop e, enc viol into himself the girl even worse if you don’t love er girl more, the innocence. He the sex, you generally feel n misses the oth eve he sex the ises what ing dur felt dirty feeling he things like that, and he real is innocence, cleanness and these are the kinds of feelings I know thinks that what he needs es; tim y kinds of things man he’s lost. I think I felt these t men feel the same way. very well, and I think mos d in LWLies 10.

uary 9 and will be reviewe

Climates is released on Febr

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Bruneau was approached by a Japanese More than 20 years ago, a French toy importer named Phillipe tique!” he probably spat as his Japanese “Fantas . market as Christm the slay to kit designer with a piece of with a very traditional looking figure of Jesus cohort presented him with a prototype – a simple crucifix a few twists, the designer transformed the with er, Howev here. attached to it. There was nothing new “He was sure it would sell,” said Bruneau, robot. r monste crucified Christ into a rampaging, heavily armed “because it made Christ into a winner.” after Japan had its economic cherry This story tells us two things. One is that nearly 150 years the rest of the world with a mixture of surprise view still e Japanes the wa, Kanaga of treaty the by plucked . The other is that, as The Reverend Jonathan and avuncular indulgence of our childlike, barbaric culture in a way Jesus was a heavily armed monster know, “You Day, The For t Though 4’s Dundee said on Radio him. with agreed long have movies the robot. In a way.” Well, at least Stood Still as Klaatu, an emissary from Yorkshire man Michael Rennie starred in The Day The Earth human race’s appetite for destruction the over it ng browni are a distant world where advanced civilisations clear he isn’t quite cut out to be a it’s but era, new a at the height of the Cold War. He has come to herald wholesome fondness for children. In true biblical saviour despite his pompous philosophising and perfectly silver penis, Klaatu’s robot, Gort, is a presence style, it’s the servant who is the master. Like a monumental t destruction. Even when he’s not on incipien of juice the in end to ng beginni from movie that soaks the save the galaxy from the human race but to come has Gort word. every s Klaatu’ in screen, we feel his power a massive platinum knob-bot whose He’s . manger no s, donkey no are there he doesn’t turn the other cheek; scale if you don’t put the bombs inable unimag an on e genocid of message of peace comes with the threat writ large, the Greek Christos Messiah Hebrew the of notion down and play nice. Gort is the pre-Christian era armed with the sword new a in usher to comes He that was common currency in the ancient world. equivalent). (death ray) and not the olive branch (cup of tea, or local for Armageddon in the face of yet Of course in the ’80s, the population of the world was begging Steve Guttenberg washed up in a called creation ous monstr a worse, matters make To sequel. another Rocky just another cash-in on the computer-club market, piece of schmaltz titled Short Circuit. It should have been

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but director John Bad ham Ally Sheedy, who made turned in a new take on Oz’s Tin Man-i n-s in The Breakfast Club thousands of indie kid virgins mess themselv earch-of-his-soul. The presence of wa (read: middle class libe s a definite bonus in this tale of a US Army es with her dandruff-sex-shakeout kill ral in Sheedy’s burger van values). The arrival of Number Five, the ing machine discovering its ‘soul’ newly peace-loving me is much to the disappoin clearly inspired by the visit of the Archan tment of fanboys everyw gel Gabriel to the Virgin chanical hippy her. Not on screen any Mary. Though here, the half-tracked wa the kind of jaw-dropp y. Star turn is Fisher Stevens as Guttenbe peacenik doesn’t actually impregnate ing comedy Hindu tha rg’s Indian sub-conti nen t would have got him ’70s TV race-com Mi nd Your Langu kicked off the set of Len t stereotype in i Riefenstahl’s ace It was with a nod to the age. Garden of Ed space weepy, Silent Ru nning. This 1972 mung- en that special effects kingpin Donald Tru mball spewed outer the last of Earth’s veg bean handwringer find eta by slaughtering the res tion on a curiously unpopulated starship. s rogue ecologist Bruce Dern tending to Bruce, it transpires, has t of the crew in a garden wanted to kill them all done a naughty ing disagreement (th wit named after Donald Du h a shovel). At the film’s heart are Huey, ey wanted to ditch the greenery, he De that the rest of the cre ck’s revolting , grasping nephews, and conver wey and Louis, three boxy robots w drones begin to achiev are being used as fertiliser. As Dern floats ted by Dern to tend the garden now on e in the end with one of a state of child-like goodness, it becomes cle through the cosmos and the little the most tragic, beauti ar that things can’t end tends the last trees in ful well. We’re sce nes of space-gardening in the film history, as a single left forever through nothin universe with a battered old watering can drone like God alone in His gness. garden, drifting Of all the metal saviou rs to have graced the dreamed up by some screen it’s an oddity tha Ind t the most remarkable his children to the pas ustrial Light and Magic whizzkid but by wasn’t an English poet attem sing of their mother. pting to reconcile Ted Hughes’ epic poe 1999 film that returned m, The Iron Giant, wa to the roo ts of ani s the source for the mation with a stylised, town paranoia. All of painterly evocation of the ’50s discovers a huge metal elements of the mechanistic Messiah com e together as the father American small man crucified on pow er cables and comes to less his rescue, showing him boy Hogarth the beauty and

weakness of humanity wh ile allowing the giant to overcome his own des tru the process. Director Bra ctive tendencies in d Bird stripped away the ambiguity of Hughes’ orig heart of the matter; “What inal to get to the “a gun didn’t want to be if,” in his words, I, roBot (2004) a gun? What if a gun... had a soul?” It’s imp Dir. alex Proyas ossible to ignore the religious overtones – Android Sonny, it transpir the es, actually is The Chosen become human, he becom Giant doesn’t One, but no one cares bec es more perfect than ause the movie’s designers that. His transformation hav e ma de him look like a big jerky is from a machine sperm. Asimov’s designed for destruction ideas are in there somewh to ere but they’re hard to see self-sacrifice is an unregr a being for whom for all the flying glass. ettable destiny; a colossal tractor-chewing Christ in the shape of a robot built for war. BICentennIal man (1999) Dir. cHris columB In the end, Bruneau’s Jap us ane se toy maker had got it the Tha t Rob in Wil liam wro s is a robot is incidental to this The great tales of man-m ng way round. family interloper feel-go ade life are about od drama. The theme was the journey from inhum tack led wit h more depth and matur anity to god-like ity in Bigfoot and transcendence. The ability the Hendersons. to piercing shells from conven fire armourien tly plac ed nail wounds doesn’t come into ...and most definitely No it. Our desire for t The Messiah redemption as revealed in the stories we tell shears the mechanical of heartBeePs (1981) its and leaves a being that dem destructive potential Dir. allan arkusH ons trat es the hei ght s to which man can aspire, Andy Kaufman and Bernad transforming machine into Messiah. Happy Chr in love and on the lam? Sho ette Peters as robo-servants istmas. gold but actually ended Kauuld have been fried comedy fman’s big-screen chance s.

messianic tenDencies...

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20th Leeds International Film Festival Round Up LWLies was invited to sit on the jury of the Golden Owl competition at the 20th Leeds International Film Festival. The competition, open to entries from around the world, judges which international art house movie most deserves to be distributed in the UK, in a difficult and crowded alternative market. That meant three days, 11 films and one almighty judging headache. Check out the results and reviews below...

Lenz Dir. Thomas Imbach Switzerland Inspired by the sturm und drang era of German writin intriguing, if overlong, examination of the overw g, Lenz is an helming power of our emotions, and whether the core of art is to mute or mediate that power for our own good. Death Rode out of Persia Dir. Putyi Horvath Hungary Punishing account of a dying writer’s wine-soaked memory of happier times, which, against the odds, evolves into a fantastical and near poignant piece of myth-making. Several People, Little Time Andrzej Baranski Poland Based on a true story of the friendship between poet Miron Biaoszewski and his blind assistant Jadwiga Stacza kowa, this ought to have been a touching drama, but is let down by an untidy, unforgiving script. Heresy that it is, the Hollywood remake would surely be great. Analife Dir. Goda Kenji Japan Pathologically pretentious Japanese student flick, which, although artistically and philosophically moribund, puts a smile on the face by its sheer commitment to anal rape. You have to laugh. Kind of.

Winner

Comes ow Never If Tomorr in e r a C ’t n ndr I Do ume Mala Dir. Guilla aneke, and Michael H m Belgiu nnes brothers ister film that de ar D e th th k ama is a sin Evoking bo sfunctional dr ily spend a wee Malandrin’s dy settling ambivalence. A fam ght. Whatever ri un embraces an deep down something isn’t ion in a t at on holiday, bu ft to the audience’s imagin le film. that may be is ic et po lly na sio powerful, occa

n le Mentio Honourab Ahlaam radji med Al Da Dir. Moha ay not war drama m Iraq ji’s intense Iraq nvincing , but in giving ad ar D Al ed ally co Moham most cinematic ting a portrait have been the trations of Iraqis, and pain by the West, ed us at fr ri e en approp voice to th history has be actically as of a city whose gnition. Ahlaam was shot pr Baghdad, and co he deserves re itish bombs were falling on h threats. Al at Br American and lves faced abduction and de m. se hi em of th d ea ew ah cr re the important futu Daradji has an

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rder s of Diso The Hill ea Tonacci irú, r ory of Carap Dir. And g the true st use célèbre in liv re il ry z ta a ca en Br ured docum ho became a white Poorly struct Brazilian tribesman w mily and living with a ss us fa s no hi ge of progre of e ry cr an indi go sa le as al m g inatin hite ing the after surviv should have been a fasc through black and w og t family. Wha ty becomes a difficult sl und footage. and moderni lour interviews and fo co recreations, Bardo ou Lin tle is taken Dir. Tay-j birth (the ti an death and re ’) is an uneven affair , e, Taiw lif of ga r hour things part sa This three- krit for ‘between two e imagery. Part amateu ns from the Sa by some truly grotesqu held togethere chin scratcher. part art hous Ryna enide andra Z ung girl Dir. Rux a story of a yo Romania beautifully acted, this her father benefits from in e d by tl d an lit se s ot es er sh repr t off Well and sexually e Danube, bu oteea emotionally tion on the banks of th p an eye on actress Dor ca ee lo K s. er ir m gorgeous ad s it pe for the way of ho . Petre, though e sica Hop Khadak er Brosens, Jes Dirs. Pet th r the rlands Woodwo Germany / Nethe Mongolian steppes and / e m th iu of e ly takes off s ap en sc Belg m dd ea su dr at ning rhap ent th Visually stun Communist resettlem ve and moving, but pe . ti ne nightmare of of the magical. Evoca the sudden shift in to m rn into the real ork hard enough to ea w didn’t quite


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(most lik try days in Janua el ry not? Join y the latter) at th , Londoners wil l m e Curzon S outhy organiser fourth annual H get the opportunit s a oho, Rox y Bar and The Projector Wit lloween Short Fil y to be tricked or tr m h Screen, a The Curz nd ICA. Teeth in pledging Festival. Why Jan eated o ua ‘Death to suitably fi n will kick start fe Short Fil ry? Why m!’ at the FourDocs endish selection o stivities late Frid ay f will screenday. As week one new horror short night, where Dea d s, VJing fro , followed by a b evelops, the best o while Sunday ha d by Dawn will sh it m docs by in Animate! Also, ex of spirited punk f the annual horr s been set aside fo ow a r o fr favourite dependent filmma pect a couple of C om ’50s femme ro r shorts competitio a live band kers the B in ck n s. laine Bro ema Extreme scre ers The Priscillas, entries thers to p enings, a and live Hotly tip re s w ce el de a rauco p us night o l as music Ellen Pag ed US/Canadian f their fe e alongside – last seen gettin ature Mouth to M g ou get to sali Beatrice Brown o medieval on a m th premieres on f a Ja v the ICA in ate over a star ap East London ban n’s bits in Hard Ca nuary 14. Lead a pearance d BeaStell ctress n tr dy – wil o d u ci n fr showcasi ng explici g his own 38-minu om boy-who-nevaBeast. Meanwhil l be in attendance e, fans of and Marc t shorts b te contrib er-grew-u U y o sampled Brambilla. Weig seven controver ution to Destricted p, Larry Clark. H S indies sex shots sial artists hing in a , e’ll be a th e re ce t just und sourced fr n su t ch p o rt as Gasper manteau t er two m om old blu N film in o Back this e, u e te S m a s, m ovies. Mis B y s it at you rambilla’s Sync co Taylor-Wood caution; y ear: the VX Auteu r m p p er o r ri u T il se must hav . h s composer e played eory competit Arnold o or set/costume des three of the foll ion. Beware, ama f Wasp an te o ig u w r auteu ing role d recent R ner – and have submitte s – writer, directors should enter w ed Road fa d your sh ith With load m e w il l o judge. Win rt by Dec r, editor, actor, artistes T s more lined up, ex em n er b er s g 1. et h Andrea 750 notes. will cut sh e Light Surgeons, pect a few tips an d retrosp and Soho ort his UK ec -b ti to v a es se u r da fro to show h www.short films.org.uk is images nimators Sherbet m past winners, visual . Artist/ too. See y / www.mou o thtomouth u in the front filmmaker Matt movie.com Hulse row. / www.des tric ted.com

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The Qu a The Sh y Brothers o : Direct rt Films 19 7 o Steph rs: Timoth 9-2003 y Quay e , Availa n Quay ble No w For those – Stephen who don’t know , 59-year- and Timothy – the Quay brother o a who for ld, Philadelphia- re shockheaded, s th b Southwa e last 30 years h orn, identical tw a rk stop-mo , London, makinve been ensconce ins, ti d MittelEu on animations st g intricate, ballet in eeped in rope. Th the cultu ic – Institute eir outpu re of Earthqu Benjamenta (199 t includes two fea of 5) tu Krispies akes (2005) – ad and The Piano T res a v classic ‘S nd Doritos, parts erts for Dulux, R uner le in a Peter dgehammer’ vid of Peter Gabriel’s ice it’s their Greenaway film eo and an appeara ( shorts fo r which 1980’s The Falls) nce th T , Artificiala hirteen – from 19 ey’re best know but n collected to 2003’s The Pha 79 debut Nocturn . each is m in this impeccable ntom Museum – a a re et This Unn iculously assem BFI double DVD a b , and the S meable Little Bro led. Key works li and om ti of re-eng lle Nacht series fe , Street of Crocod ke medical ineered found ob ature a grotesqu iles equipmen e je t and scie cts – dolls, diagracast ntific spec ms, – animate im ens musical a d in richly render can be ov ccompaniment. T ed interiors to a interpretaerwhelming and he deluge of deta th il like some tion – first time e films frustrate round th k in d o f mesmeris baffling B ey can se easy em challeng e, beckoning you agpuss – but they ing you to back for also a g n et o th a er look, han A commen handful of inter dle on them. ta v pointing ries from the bro iews and o thousand ut details you’d thers aid explora st tion, of a bead viewings: in Stree ill miss after a some mec of water plummett of Crocodiles a sh o a saliva d hanical contrapti ing into the jaws t ro private v plet, the price o on turns out to be of ie f unfolds. wing machine w admission to the A accompa n inspired ‘Quay here the main act n of influen ying booklet lure s Dictionary’ in a ion n animators ces, from Kafka s you into a labyri a Borowcz such as Jan Svan nd East Europea nth n y like Brun k to more intrig kmajer and Wale u ri Sonnenst o Schulz and Frieding figures/madm an least, it a ern (see opposite rich Schröder- en ) rg films them uably fascinates . Indeed, initially se lv es . it or read But whet even more than that h there are it, the Quays’ wo er you want to w e rl far wors e places to d is waiting , and atch get lost.


er twins created by Pet D PULAT – fictional 80). FALLARI, IPSON AN opedic 92-part feature film The Falls (19 ycl via Greenaway for his enc re played by the Quays, albeit exclusively we identical of es rol the m The Fallari brothers the d d eenaway later offere still photographs. Gr ld and Oliver Deuce in his 1985 film A Ze y wa itel Os pol ists ays on Qu tag the pro t in tw m tha opportunity for stardo and Two Noughts, an rebuffed. describe d by Bruno Schulz to IVOCA – a term use auna, the o-f ud pse of GENERATIO AEQU d kin a ly half organic, d from “a species of beings on ntation of matter”. The term is source me that result of a fantastic fer own as abiogenesis), which postulates from so kn ists (al ent ory sci the gh s ou tle’ Th sto r. Ari erge from dead matte cally disproved his em can s sm ani org ati living y onwards have system tions of the seventeenth centur h the fictions of Schulz and the anima bot in on e liv y breathing life into y ngl mi claims, the see d un aro rk revolves the Quays, whose wo es formerly organic) objects. etim inanimate (and som rsity the Psychiatric Unive rks ECTION – based at wo LL art CO 0 N 500 e OR ZH som IN ses PR pri rg, this collection com titutions. The psychiatrist Hospital in Heidelbe ted in mental ins era arc anded inc ts ien pat by created 1933) significantly exp ns Prinzhorn (1886Emil Kraepelin or ess and art historian Ha dec pre d she istry his distingui a collection started by tualised it via publications such as The Art lo tex Pab (1856-1926), and con . It fascinated Paul Klee, Max Ernst and 22) rrealists, though the of the Mentally Ill (19 Expressionists and Su was Picasso, as well as the as clinching proof that avant-garde art it n’ aso cite Re er d lat yon uld ‘Be wo w zis sho y Na . The Hayward Galler and it was there that the ane ins ally ent dam n, fun rks from the collectio (1996-7) exhibited wo letters of Emma Hauck. the red nte ou Quays enc

SCHRÖDER-SONNENSTERN, FRIEDRICH (1892-1982) – Lithuanian-born, German-based artist who followed a troubled childhood with several periods of incarceration in both criminal and psychiatric facilities, interspersed with wild ambitions to become a clairvoyant and create a new religion. He began to draw in 1930, after being imprisoned for medically related fraud, and specialised in fantastical, often sexually charged images. He is considered one of the key figures in ‘outsider art’, alongside Heinrich Anton Müller and Adolf Wölfli, all three of whom were the intended dedicatees of This Unnameable Little Broom.

tHe quays’ Dictionary a FeW BrieF Forays into tHe WorlD oF tHe BrotHers quay. BOROWCZYK, WALERIAN (1923-2006) – Polish graphic artist, poster designer, animator, filmmaker and eroticist, whose work ously (along with that of compatriot Jan Lenica) has had a conspicu tly cited greater influence on the Quays than that of his more frequen artists Czech counterpart Jan Svankmajer. Borowczyk was one of the and Quays, the on ion impress nging life-cha a made whose posters on fired their discovery that he had subsequently moved into animati Quays their own ambitions. Despite their reverence for his work, the Poland never met him, the closest near miss being when they were in at the time that Borowczyk was filming The Story of Sin (Dzieje Grzechu, 1975), and left him a postcard at his hotel.

HERISAU – a town in Switzerland famous for its asylum, in which the writer Robert Walser spent the last 23 years of his life occupied with menial tasks such as gluing paper bags after a diagnosis of schizophrenia that was later found to be erroneous. Herisau is referred to in the opening titles of Stille Nacht I, a film inspired by the fact that Walser was found frozen to death on Christmas Day, in a field near the asylum. BALTRUŠAITIS, JURGIS (1903-1988) – Lithuanian art historian and critic, the son of the poet of the same name. His book Anamorphosis (1969) is considered the classic text on the subject of this visual phenomenon, and the Quays originally planned to involve him in the production of their documentary of the same title, but he died on the day their letter arrived. SCHULZ, BRUNO (1892-1942) – Polish writer and artist who, alongside Kafka and Walser, has been the biggest literary influence on the Quays’ films. A highly distinctive and richly imaginative prose stylist, his short stories were collected in the anthologies Cinnamon Shops (Sklepy Cynamonowe, 1934) – which included the classic Street of Crocodiles – and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass (Sanatorium pod Klepsydra, 1937). He was strongly influenced by Kafka, creating a fantastical universe that relies more on its own internal logic than conventional narrative. Schulz’s literary career only lasted a decade: he was shot dead in 1942 by a Gestapo officer.

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tIon war ColleC ComPlete us o ri war movies va : ht place. The 12 Directors ve come to the rig d Niven, Noel Coward and u’ noW yo e , Bl ter af la re ai u’ vi av makes aronis yo such as Da mmies and Mac d-school icons John Mills’ omnipresence that If it’s Jerries, To superb collection showcase ol er, it’s ev w Ho le. is ro th s first screen bundled into an ice tenborough in hi son, dreaming of even Richard At ing up. olic Captain An party” he wryly observes oh alc e th as ck at this set worth pi In Alex sees Mills feeling the he t. “Dames and mines – lovely minefields in a pair of Ice Cold exandria, Egyp rikaans captain across desert Germans showing aiting him in Al Af the cold Carlsberg aw guiding a pair of nurses and an blowing up vital bridges and ambulance ‘Katie’ dies, y en d before drunkenl tle else. But, with his own m rspiration prevails, his belove e a Hyde park floozy, lit short shorts and his patience soon wears thin. Pe es? “Don’t just stand there lik man, right? lin , sh up at every turn , the dialogue never does. Best sh!” Only mad dogs and Engli Jim Perry (Niven) t us but, luckily for mind your ruddy make-up – pu orth Africa, pitting Lieutenan orale boosting was the m N pull!” or “Never ed’s The Way Ahead returns to sinclined to fight. So good at hat di ew . Carol Re m 83 so 19 s til soaked od eb alian officers un ories, in the seaof hapless hom against a bunch movie was used to recruit Austrlmic montage of maritime mem ary, playing Ordinary is fi e ‘n’ pears estu old charmer, th ward and David Lean direct a y voice for appl Noel Co his once plumm honourable Captain Kinross. s hes ap sw s ill M e. John -from-the-trenc as the In Which We Serv Blake, whilst Coward charms oss of Iron, a bullet heavy view ’s free thinking ’ Cr rn s bu rty h’ ho Co pa ‘S Seaman includes Pecken ke pops at James Alberto Other favourites of comedy Nazis queue up to ta The Day Well?, from director ed. nt g uc in We od s. str pr a as er ch eir ev hi s th Britain ha a bullet in classic parable in w lly end up with greatest war film e near the top of Captain and usua considered by many to be the nd mix of films you’ll often se o Cavalcanti, is als orthy box set with a duty-bou bbs Ho In all, a w reason. Georgie for damn good film polls – and

02) IrréversIBle (20 noÉ Director: GasPar out: DecemBer 4 tale of love, rape Gaspar Noé’s controversial y the most extreme sibl pos te qui is e and reveng through the first 30 film you’ll ever see. Getting ematic endurance cin a of ing minutes is someth t 27-hz tone ringing test – Noé has a constan r with the specific throughout the first hou feel nauseous. It’s intention of making you ys the complete essa lm fi e Th . ff stu otic cha ple’s relationship in cou ng you a of n ctio destru n getting his head ma a h wit g nin reverse, ope fire extinguisher. a m fro ws blo 22 crushed by scene in the film. rst wo the n eve And that isn’t however, it evolves , elty cru nt Beyond the morda mination exa ng chi into a really rather tou g from chaos and of human affection, movinlight. It’s a divisive darkness into serenity and ly a real cinematic ted film, but there is undoub positive aspects, worth here. But for all its ays be known as alw ly bab pro l wil Irréversible e minute-long rape nin the h wit lm ‘that French fi take in as much and try d, min in scene’. With this watching ; en wh e sibl pos as of Noé’s technique ’ll only you lm fi t lian bril it’s probably the most Adam Benzine e. onc tch wa to nt wa r eve

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Céline and Julie go Boating (1974) Director: Jacques Rivette Available Now Céline and Julie is the point where critical and public opinion met in appreciation of French director Jacques Rivette. We watch two actresses (Juliet Berto and Dominique Labourier) playing, respectively, a magician and her librarian accomplice who run around Paris on a merry game. Or are these two friends, who happen to be actresses, who fill their lives with made-up stories? It is immediately bewitching, and their fine performances are complemented by another pair of female leads, Bulle Ogier and MarieFrance Pisier; they’re in a cyclical country house drama based on Henry James, which could, finally, exasperate. Extras include a couple of extremely short vintage films, by contrast, plus a lovely little booklet. Jonas Milk

Two Avenge But One of My Eyes (2005) Director: Avi Mograbi Available Now mentary Avi Mograbi’s compelling docu shot in Avenge But One Of My Two Eyes, to expose the Occupied Territories, seeks inian the reality of the Israeli/Palest situation. Mograbi draws parallels haps between the myth of Samson (per ber) bom ide suic first ld’s the wor ies. and his Palestinian contemporar draws Mograbi’s confrontational style of life at together different perspectives ing and the height of the Intifada. Stirr onal powerful, the film exposes a nati call for vengeance which was deep s to aten seated in the past, and now thre ghty Gera e Clar re. futu the lf engu

3) erka) (196 er (Pasaz Passeng Andrzej Munk : Director Now in 1961, he ) le 5 b 0 a 0 il (2 in a car crash a . v A th Ways zej Munk diednfronting the Holocaust pick dr An or ct re Look Bo : Sarah Watt co di to k n or ed he w lv W e so et re pl r incom siewicz andDirecto ary 22 left behind an and colleague Witold Lehe result is a unique mix vent is triedu t A Tragic E writer/director Sarah ute. T s friend ns Out: Jan ib k’ ai tr un a ag M the blanks as y or off e had left a love st ch embraces to Aussi y (and up where he ry and speculation, whi them in. On board a Juxtaposing flick mana, but props m that simultaneousl Look of documenta Munk instead of filling figure from her past, tested chick ing a charming romcorelationship and death.a local ar bequeathed byLiza encounters a famili r while serving as an SS Watt for mak ) explores the human lives intertwine when th fo bo ly luxury liner, ner she was responsible rough Liza’s flashbacks, convincing llows six people whose otographer Nick are ith Marta, a priso schwitz. As we weave th n the story she tells and Both Ways fos. Witness Meryl and ph just been diagnosed w o grow s overseer in Auous inconsistency betwee s a rare insight into ‘the train crashe h death already: he ha ’s funeral. While the twemories g there is a curi unts her. Passenger offer e in power. The missin obsessed wit fresh from her father reams and painful m rayola os ha is yd the one that d the vulnerability of th been an important cancer; she oser, their morbid da ills and stop-motion C t the cl other side’, an ns that what might have tionships instead leaves tentatively e screen in rapid-fire st kward remarks abou ed lover, la aw narrative mea concentration camp re ial, but it nonetheless flicker on th ding new meaning to ked train driver, bereav ple of observation sense of unfulfilled potent el Bezalel scribbles, ad nwhile, the guilt-rac workaholic editor, grapct but, ea a frustrating e in cinematic history. M weather. M ssed journalist and his ds like a grim prospe make un ac to suicide-obse n sorry lives. This so e verve and humour deserves its pl th with their ow, Look Both Ways has Jess Holland like Magnolia y a delight to watch. er tales of mis 116 THE BABEL ISSUE


Death of a Pr esIDent (200 Director: Ga 6) Br availaBle no iel ranGe W It’s October 2007 an assassinated in Ch d President George W Bush has be ica en entertaining mock go. A few years on, and this umentary review s the killing and ensuing investiga tio under rising press n in which the security services we ur re a burning nationa e to find the culprit and scald him l un legacy seems to ha spotlight. Bush’s ‘leap before you loo der ve reconstructions are survived him, and the interview k’ s an just how plausibl chillingly realistic, making you rea d e a Bush assassina lis tio its ‘who dunnit?’ n could be. At tim e fee conspiracy-theory l is somewhat reminiscent of those es, satellite channels documentaries that air on obscure lik and the conclusion e E!, but when the evidence is draw nigh, you’ll be ple n Mel Bezalel ased you persevered .

Keane (2005) Director: loDGe kerriGan out: january 22 Keane is one of the finest films of the year, and a glowing example of the joys thoughtful character stud of low budget cinema. This y follows William Keane, a man on the edge of sanity six months after his daught er was abducted from the New York City Port Authority. Keane lives an isolated life, estr ang his every waking hour sear ed from his wife, spending ching for his daughter and dealing with his explosive bouts of schizophrenia. Damien Lewis gives a ma ster with emotion, making eve ful performance that brims ry nervous glance, every frown and every grimace count. In a bar, singing to Four Tops, he becomes a the cita to distract himself not onl del of desperation as he tries y from the voices in his hea but the reality of his situ d, atio over plot, Keane is essentia n. If you value character l viewing. Jonathan William s

Check out www.littlewhite with director Lodge Ker lies.co.uk for an interview rigan.

the toyBoX Director: Paolo seDazzari availaBle noW There is little to praise in this ill conceived, unconvincing effort. From the writing, to the script, the acting and the film’s premise, The Toybox has few, if any, redeeming features. A child becomes convinced that he is the reincarnated spirit of a mythical serial killer, and then goes on a killing spree with a hook stuffed up his sleeve. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the film had built up any suspense or fear, but the lack of these means the whole thing is entirely feeble. It all seems rather too much like a kid with a camcorder. Clare Geraghty

BoB le flamBeur (1955) Director: jean-Pierre melville availaBle noW Monsieur Bob introduced the ‘American methods’ to the streets of Paris, but now the aging gangster has decided to turn over a new leaf and set his hand to gambling. But the man who believes, “I was born with an ace in my hand” has decided on one last job: to rob the impregnable vault in the casino at Deauville. It is a moment of changing mores, even for criminals. Bob rescues a very pretty young blonde from the streets, and refuses to help out a violent pimp – so setting up the confrontation that may bring down his carefully wrought plan – but he also blackmails a colleague for info. It’s a striking portrait of the Montmartre scene, all decked out in black-and-white checks and accompanied by a jabbing jukebox soundtrack. Jonas Milk 117


Brothers of th Directors: Ke e Head (2005) Out: Januar ith Fulton, Louis Pepe y 22 If this fake docume in a punk band is ntary about conjoined twins me freak-show that is ant to make a point about the th so far beneath lay e music biz, the satire’s buried ers of claustrophob it’s unlikely to rai ic verité that se who tracked Terry a smile. Directed by the team Gi llia m’ s do wn fall in Lost in La Mancha, Brothers of that follows the liv the Head is a sweaty glam odyssey es of Tom (sensiti Barry (angry twin) ve twin) and members and a me through the eyes of family, band ddling girlfriend. in the sticks, the tw Growing up exploitative (hen ins sign their lives away to an ce pencil-moustac hed) manager, and soon make th e groupie-snog ging, transition to coke-snorting, detriment of their fucked-up punk gods, to the relationship and th delicate handling of the characters’ eir sanity. The psychological problems as well as impeccable acting the realist cinematography and raises Brothers we ‘rockumentary’ far ll above shlocky with your cockles e. Just don’t expect to come away warmed. Jess Holla nd

006) essons (2 Driving L Jeremy Brock : r to Direc nuary ,” Julie out: 26 Ja ing bastards utterly cunt ing to prune some u yo , on e “Com tempt nglish eks whilst at Walters shri g the tone for this very E by the same ed in tt nn se , pe story p foliage r-repression as kooky thes triumph-ove Brown. She’s hilarious high om fr ly rs ild M unces w writer as udly about alton, who bo Dame Edie W wing car keys, talking long into her lo to low (sobbi pses). It’s spirits (swal on the bus) lla “bent gents” d boozing until she co hristian an C Shakespeare at Rupert Grint – as a s prissy th hi just a shame e manages to pry out of ops of an teen who Evi e charisma and acting ch rack (Sufjan dt shell – has th unit. A gorgeous soun on) helps to ng IKEA shelvi Drake, Richard Thomps Holland k ss Stevens, Nic emark gurn bearable. Je make his trad

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n (1937) e Illusio La Grand Jean Renoir : tieth Director Now t of the twen e ental momen sion captures um Availabl on m e Grande Illu the eve of on Released on Renoir’s masterpiece La opean conflagration, ur an E Je r ie y, rl ur ea nt at o French ce rought by th esnay are tw ’s the change w Jean Gabin and Pierre Fr man internment. There World War I. ined to escape from Ger tion, distribution of ia rm officers dete ction (potential asphyx ards from the theatre se a tunnelling kitchen garden, use of bo alogue on why they di e the soil in th e work) and wonderful d how the preserves of . to shore up th , the Tour de France, an ever more mainstream g pe want to esca as syphilis, are becomin d the Kommandant, Erich nobility, such tions between Fresnay an Extras include a couple . The conversa , are especially poignant r to what is essentially oi von Stroheim an introduction by Ren m won a prize at the 1937 us of curios, pl t, explaining how the fil Italy. Jonas Milk in a director’s cu , despite being banned al Venice Festiv


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Hack mystery writer and ghoulish voyeur Phil Blackwood (Tom Selleck) impersonates a priest in order to spring a suspected Romanian murderess from chokey just so he can have sex with her in this absurdist Cold War sex-trafficking parable from the director of the ‘dingo ate my baby’ film. Upon giving her an alibi for a crime she almost certainly committed, his muse returns and Phil resumes clacking out his latest potboiler. All the while, she struts about the house in a pair of white cotton panties earnestly beginning every sentence with the words, “In my country...” Hardly Ossie and Harriet, but an odd sort of domesticity descends. Phil initially laughs off suggestions that being six feet under (and thereby unable to retract his feeble, pandering testimony) would mean the Russian doll would be home free. Indeed, so warm for her form is he that the laughs don’t turn to whimpers even when she shatters his pelvis with a bow and arrow; Phil simply puts the whole unfortunate episode down to culture clash high jinks. His delusional sex-pestering continues to helter-skelter as he finds lame excuses for such horseplay as her throwing bowie knives at him, trying to run him over and, ultimately, poisoning his whole family. Also in the mix are some Romanian agents who believe the babe from Bucharest can lead them to the staple Maguffin of the romantic-comedy-chiller-spy movie; a pair of superannuated Slavic acrobats. Luckily for Phil, these Eastern Bloc-heads have spluffed all

S IE AV ED lE

Film: her alIBI Director: Bruce BeresForD starrinG: tom selleck, Paulina Porizkova releaseD: 1989/availaBle noW

their rouble s no wriggle-r on sharkskin suits and a oom for the m weapons of purchase of id-priced rent-a-car, le an su drive in four y kind. Instead they se rveillance equipment aving tt or -d past, when so oor Hyundai luxury, le for sitting at the end sc of have proved me matches, a paper ba arpering every time he his g dr infinitely m ore intimidat and some dog brown w ives After ould misgivings ab failing to land the part ing. of the nasal Wel out shaving his moustac Han Solo in Star Wars due to he, and his re screen career sh accent he had prepar ed for the ro fusal to abandon se em ed pr em le because it pr , Selleck’s bi aturely hobb ed Innocent Man ated cable television. B led, only limping alon g ut (i w ts it co h m th panion piece is film and An g only reinvent of twin demon ed himself for multiplex the same year), Selleck no s ’80s period; that seem to have bedevi audiences, but exorcise t th d futility of C e need for wholesale pr led him throughout his the old War host le ison reform ilities. and the incr an Why easing ‘begorrah’ hi else would he masquer ad credentials ths way into a maximum-s e as Father Muldoon, ec en un co nv in Was it to drum cingly squaw urity prison with no the Molotov up some priest-on-esca k, “She was with me”? m more concer inx, or to expose a top- ped-convict-rumpo wit ne h rehabilitatio d with freeing up cell heavy judicial system space than w n? it h pr is oner How against the ba else are we to view the fi Perestroika, ckdrop of the understa lm’s nutzoid finale whe nd th re shit out of ea e whole cast dress up in ably hesitant detente of , ch tit-for-tat, or other? A biting satire clown costumes and beat of the filmmak a disingenuous attempt the degeneration of C the er ol the end of A s gave up on the did sh to distract us from the fa d War e/didn’t she ct Two? ct that bu si ne ss towards All th in 1989, and at can be said for sure is be it as he was, fuddled, sexually misal that there was a war at ho Tom was a so igned and en ldier. tirely unawar me e of 119


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Magicians.

Dir: Andrew O’Connor

300.

Dir: Zack Snyder

Hellraiser One.

Bug.

new

Dir: William Friedkin

The words ‘Ashley Judd’ sitting glumly under the title of a film have rarely inspired much in the way of hope, but with William Friedkin’s blistering new chamber piece, Bug, in which Judd delivers a ferociously nuanced central performance, all that should change. This psychotropic horror yarn was adapted from an off-Broadway play by author Tracy Letts, and it details the meltdown of a pair of life’s have-nots as they slowly succumb to a deadly bout of paranoia in which they think their motel room is infested with insects. It’s been on the festival trail for the last year where it has picked up many fans, LWLies now among them. ETA: 2007 new

Dir: TBC

One of horror’s greatest villains - Pinhead - looks like he’s heading back to the big screen in a remake of the original Hellraiser film that may, God-willing, banish the memory of the hideous sequels (we’re up to seven) for good. Horror re-makes are, however, notoriously inferior to the originals (see: Ring, The Grudge, Pyscho) but this might be different. Why? Because the creator and master, Clive Barker, is returning to writing duties. As he has said himself, “If I don’t do it, it will be done in some way that I probably won’t like”. It probably didn’t hurt that the Weinsteins are promising a significant budget, but the film is Clive’s - it always was. ETA: 2008

new

Ancient Greece meets Glaswegian hooliganism (at last!) in this adaptation of Frank Miller’s ultra-violent graphic novel. It’s 480BC, and the Persian hordes of Xerxes have descended from the East. All that stands in their way is a force of 300 Spartans at Thermopylae - the Gates of Fire - where they will fight perhaps the most famous rearguard action in history. The trailer is mental; a green screen riot of violence, slo-mo, goblins and lesbians that’s sure to bring a smile to your face even if it does look like yet another exercise in style over substance. Still, the casting of Gerard Butler as a King Leonidas straight out of Ibrox looks inspired: “This is Sparta, ya wee cont!” ETA: March 2007

new

After surviving speculation that Channel 4 was preparing to ruthlessly axe their show (which has now been commissioned for a fourth series), the Peep Show team are preparing to bring their own form of magic to the big screen. A competition forces two rival magicians Karl (Robert Webb) and Harry (David Mitchell) to come face to face after falling out over a guillotine ‘incident’. Could this be the British equivalent of The Prestige? Unlikely. Doubts persist over the TV pedigree of many of the participants, but keep your fingers crossed and Magicians might just turn out to be the comedy to rival Hot Fuzz in 2007. After all, ‘franchise’ is the magic word. ETA: April 2007

125


Sweeney Todd.

Dir: Robert De Niro

new

Having managed to pull a scene stealing performance out of the bag in The Departed, Matt Damon stays within the law and within the reflected glow of the Scorsese inner circle for The Good Shepherd. With De Niro at the helm, both on and off camera, the plot follows one man’s involvement in the birth of the CIA. The trailer promises lots of glasses on/glasses off political tension, and the kind of cast studio dreams are made of. With a subject concerning the very fabric of his fair nation’s history, can De Niro possibly go wrong? ETA: April 2007 126 THE BABEL ISSUE

Dir: Tim Burton

Burton’s penchant for Gothic aesthetics looks set to get a good airing in this grim, Victorian-era London tale of a demonic barber intent on rupturing your trachea with a straight razor, rather than giving you the old back and sides. Favoured male muse Johnny Depp will bring maniacal twitchiness and posturing to the role of Sweeney, whilst the equally enigmatic Bonham Carter will fill the role of Mrs Lovett, Sweeney’s human pie-serving accomplice. Burton’s twisted vision should ensure $150 million of DreamWorks’ petty cash is well spent on a cutting-edge period musical, provided Depp is his usual razor-sharp self. ETA: 2007 new

The Good Shepherd.


28 weeks Later.

Dir: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

new

Ah, how we love the undead. You can knock them down and wipe them out, but still they return, skulls a-peeling and eyes a-popping, to create vengeful havoc. And all whilst shedding skin. Therefore, it’s no surprise that filming for the imaginatively titled sequel to 28 Days Later is in full swing around London, with Intacto director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo at the helm. This time, London is being repopulated after the decimation of the first movie, but - you guessed it - something goes wrong. The infected find a way in and before you know it, there’s a full-on epidemic. Unfortunately, Fox are funding this one, meaning the Yanks save the day, but with original director/writer combo Danny Boyle and Alex Garland producing, alongside star and long-time cohort Robert Carlyle, this should be an all-British success. ETA: May 2007

Inland empire.

Dir: David Lynch

UpdaTe

Finally, some concrete information on David Lynch’s much-promised, long-delayed, ultra-mysterious Inland Empire. Much like the rest of his work, this one’s shaping up to be a dreamscape of plot tangles and intrigue from the master of twisted cinema. Married actress Nikki (Laura Dern) and her co-star Devon (Justin Theroux) are directed by Kingsley (Jeremy Irons) in Lynch’s ‘film within a film’ story. As the co-stars’ relationship develops off screen, their lives inevitably disintegrate into a world of life reflecting art and back again. Unlike his other work, however, Inland Empire is shot entirely on DV, and not the high-end stuff pioneered by the likes of Cameron and Rodriguez. Can Lynch’s painterly stylings survive the transition? And will it all make any sense anyway? ETA: Summer 2007

Stardust.

Dir: Matthew Vaughn

new

The vogue for graphic novel adaptations continues, although it’s difficult to decide whether Stardust is just another bandwagon jumper, or a legitimate fantasy story that will play well on the big screen. Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) has already roped in an impressive cast including Robert De Niro, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Peter O’Toole and even Ricky Gervais cameo whore that he is. Originally published by DC Comics, Stardust tells the story of a man who goes to retrieve a falling star from a magical land to win the heart of his beloved. So far, only some stills of Pfeiffer looking like Cathy in Wuthering Heights have been released, but this film has a lot of promise. Then again, they’re currently filming in Norwich - judgement reserved. ETA: March 2007

Dir: David Fincher

UpdaTe

Fresh from Babel, the Pitt-Blanchett movie-machine ploughs onwards through F Scott Fitzgerald’s Benjamin Button, courtesy of an Eric Roth adaptation. Shooting’s underway in New Orleans, with all-digital sets provided courtesy of the not-so-meagre $150 million budget. Julia Ormond has jumped aboard the gravy train, while Tilda Swinton looks set to follow suit and swell the qualityquotient further. Paramount’s faith in Fincher looks well founded, provided he can maintain focus and remember that it’s all about the Benjamins. ETA: 2008

Dir: Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen brothers have only themselves to blame for the scorn piled on Intolerable Cruelty and The Lady Killers. While both films stopped short of total disaster, they also appeared pretty damn shoddy when compared to the siblings’ own superlative standard. The good news is that the bespectacled pair appear to be returning to their bloody, thriller roots: No Country is the ’80s-set tale of a Vietnam vet who stumbles across a pair of dead bodies, a stash of smack and $2 million in hard cash. So far, so Coens, but what remains to be seen is how closely Joelº and Ethan will stick to the gist of Cormac McCarthy’s book of choice and chance. The film entered post production back in August, so here’s hoping for bloody success in the summer. ETA: Summer 2007 new

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

no Country For Old Men.

127


Fräulein.

Dir: Andrea Staka

new

First, an unassuming Swiss film about the Serbian immigrant population of Zurich scoops the top prize at the Locarno Film Festival, then, not a month later it wins big at the prestigious Sarajevo film festival. Well, Fräulein very much deserves its dual victory; this is a tender and heartbreaking study of isolation, both personal and political. It’s the third feature from upand-coming Swiss director Andrea Staka, whose elegantly captured and flawlessly scripted film is spearheading a huge resurgence in German-language cinema, and will hopefully get a release in the UK some time in the coming year. Screened at this year’s Times BFI London Film Festival, it was easily one of the best things we saw. Fräulein, wir lieben sie. ETA: 2007

Streetfighter II.

Dir: Unknown

new

Imagine the pitch: “It’s great, we’ve got Kylie, Jean-Claude van Damme, the game’s famous, they’re famous, and...” “What about the script?” “The script? Oh, yeah. Did I mention we’ve got Kylie and van Damme?” The abomination may still fester in your soul, but salvation could be at hand. Justin Marks (the dude who wrote Voltron - an epic story of robot lions) has been tasked with penning that fabled ‘script’ for a Hyde Park/Capcom collaboration, centring on Chun-Li, the highkicking 16-bit beauty. Some may pour scorn over the timing - cashing in on the gaming IP’s twentieth anniversary. The question is, will this episode be a high-kicking success or another Hollywood hundred-hand slap in the faces of the series’ fans? ETA: 2008

Halo.

Dir: Neill Blomkamp

Update

Is it Halo or goodbye? Though untested director Blomkamp and Lord of the Ring-king Peter Jackson remain attached to Microsoft’s space marine saga, the money men may have succeeded where the Covenant failed, and finally put an end to Master Chief. Fox and Universal, the project’s two co-financing studios have both pulled out, reportedly due to the burgeoning $140 million budget, Jackson and Microsoft’s profit-participation deals, and Blomkamp’s unproven track record. And although initial counter rumour from Bungie, the Microsoft-owned development studio and creative geniuses behind the game, suggested they remained confident that the film was on track, it’s now official - the movie is on the shelf for the foreseeable feature. This is one Halo that’s definitely slipped. ETA: 2008

Iron Man.

Dir: Jon Favreau

new

The Iron Man’s been surprisingly malleable since speculation surrounding his cinematic adaptation first appeared in 2004. First, Nick Cassavetes was directing. Fans wept. Then Timberlake was pencilled in as Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). Fans wept. Then Jon Favreau was handed the baton. Fans wept some more. Now Robert Downey Jr’s en vogue, he’s first choice to play the ferrite hominid. Guess what? The fans can stop weeping. In the comics, Stark has more demons than, well, Downey Jr - a bitter alcoholic who loses control of his vast economic empire and is paralysed by a former lover. Who better than rehab-friendly Robbie to capture that inner angst? Comic adaptations are fraught with frustrated fanboy expectations, but sometimes the filmmakers get it right. Favreau is even using MySpace to request casting suggestions to keep the faithful onboard. ETA: May 2008 128 THE BABEL ISSUE

Hot Fuzz.

Dir: Edgar Wright

new

Shaun of the Dead did for Brit-coms what Spaced did for sitcoms: it kicked them up the arse with a pair of squeaky shoes. That was two years ago, and our buttocks throb in anticipation for Edgar Wright’s follow up. Hot Fuzz is the story of supercop Nick Angel (Pegg) who is relocated to the country after a bust-up with his peers. It turns out that a small village can hide big problems, and soon assorted villains are queuing up to offer him a bullet sandwich. Wright and co. were born to parody the action genre; if the current trailers are a good indicator of form - and they certainly should be - then Fuzz could be the biggest police-riot of 2007. ETA: February 2007


Dir: Steven Soderbergh

new

Cigarette smoke, a crusading journalist and George Clooney. We’ve been here before, except a healthy dose of Nazis, Ruskies and Yanks in post-World War II Berlin serve to ensure that this latest black and white film from the Clooney/Soderbergh partnership is a long way from Good Night, and Good Luck. The poster is a homage to the moody masterpiece that is Casablanca, hinting at the sort of style Soderbergh has in mind. The trailer’s whetted our cinephile appetite and rekindled our lust for ultra-clean green screen noir. That, and Cate Blanchett. ETA: March 2007

evan almighty.

Dir: Tom Shadyac

The sequel to Shadyac’s Bruce Almighty sees Freeman reprise his role as God - something we’ve all known was his destiny since The Shawshank Redemption - and Carell starring as a Congressman commanded to build an ark and fill it with animals. But Shadyac’s boat is taking on water fast: the budget’s swelled to $200m plus distribution costs, with work still to do before it’s fit to set sail. Carrey and Aniston are long gone, the original was only good, not great, and big budget comedy’s in a lull. “This movie is a great bet,” said Universal Chairman Marc Shmuger. Yes Marc, if you like betting on three-legged horses and ships made of lead. ETA: July 2007 new

The Good German.

129


Shebulba

next issue on sale january 27

130 THE BABEL ISSUE

“Do you reckon Laura likes lava lamps?”


         

          

  

  



 

 

       

      

          

           


065/08 ON PSP © 2006 Rockstar Games, Inc. Rockstar Games, Rockstar Leeds, Rockstar North, the r logo, Grand Theft Auto and the Grand Theft Auto logo are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Take-Two Interactive Software. Rockstar Games, Rockstar North and Rockstar Leeds are subsidiaries of Take-Two Interactive Software. “”, “PlayStation” and “” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Corporation. All other marks and trademarks are properties of their respective owners. U.S. AND FOREIGN PATENTS PENDING. All rights reserved. The content of this videogame is purely fictional, and is not intended to represent or depict any actual event, person, or entity. Any similarity between any depiction in this game and any actual event, person, or entity is purely coincidental. The makers and publishers of this videogame do not in any way endorse, condone or encourage engaging in any conduct depicted in this videogame.

Little White Lies 09 - The Babel Issue  

LWLies is a bi-monthly, independent movie magazine that features cutting edge writing, illustration and photography to get under the skin of...

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