Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Autumn Program March to May 2009


Do you miss cinemas like the Lumiere, the Carlton Movie House and the Valhalla as much as I do? Well come along to Shadows, a screening of unusual and unavailable films every Friday (from May 8th). Bursting with opinions? Stay afterwards for good music and a drink around the bar.

ABC Gallery 127 Campbell St Collingwood (See map at end of post or follow link to Google Maps with street view picture of the Gallery)
Melway Ref. 2C G8

Dvds projected on to a white wall. A selection of couches and tables. A bar with reasonable prices and a coffee machine.

All but one of these screenings will be accompanied by an episode from the original Rod Serling Twlight Zone and something from the bizarre verite 90s series The Forbidden Files (or Documents Interdits, if you drink coffee from a bowl in the morning and smoke secretly imported Gauloise cigarettes).

"This ain't multiplex, this is gold class art house!" -- David Bowie, Diamond Dogs (paraphrase).

All that for a gold coin donation?
"Holy guacamole in a bowl of ravioli!" Pope Pius XV Celestine Decree (paraphrase)

Friday March 6 9pm.

SECONDS (USA 1966 100 mins)
Arthur, an American white-collar fading into old age is called by a long dead friend who offers him a second go at youth. Like a Twilight Zone episode that grew into a movie when no one was looking, Seconds uses the extra time to add depth to what easily might have been left as a fable. While the story does go where you think it will, the ending plays like Kafka.

The film that spooked Brian Wilson so much that he stopped work on the Smile album and didn't see a film at a cinema until E.T. came out almost 20 years later (well there were a few things contributing to that but this was one of them).

Screens with:

The After Hours(Twilight Zone episode) 25 mins.

The Extra Terrestrial(Forbidden Files episode) 6 mins.

Friday March 20 8 for 8.30.

KOUREI (USA 1999 118 mins)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's take on Seance on a Wet Afternoon saw him inverting the central plot point with unnnerving results. Junco, a genuine psychic, is trying to start a career helping police investigations. This isn't easy as she faces skepticism from all sides including from within her strained marriage. When fortune throws an opportunity into her lap to reverse all of this the slow fuse of disaster is lit.

Another filmmaker might have been happy to plug into the then emerging J-Horror genre and leave it there. Kurosawa (no relation to Akira) dug deep into the realistic human side so that when bizarre things happen they look like natural phenomena. Made for TV but you wouldn't know it.

Screens with:
Little Girl Lost (Twilight Zone Episode ) 25 mins.

The Witch (Forbidden Files episode) 3 mins.

Friday April 3 7.30 for 8.00 pm

THE CONFORMIST (Italy 1970 100 mins)
Marcello has a compromising past which he tries to escape by folding himself into respectable bourgeois society. Trouble is that society happens to be Mussolini's Italy. Digging in deep enough to try a career with the secret police his first assigment is to assassinate his old mentor (now living in exile in Paris with one of Marcello's old flames). Toeing the line was never so difficult.

Europe was not quite in the clear in 1970, despite general appearences. Bernado Bertolucci's tale was told within living memory of Italian Fascism and current memory of the May 68 uprising in Paris. The terrorism-plagued Munich Olympics were less than two years away. This film joins The Damned and more extreme fare as Salon Kitty and Salo in offering a tough reminder of what has lain beneath the civilised exterior of Europe.

Screens with:

And When the Sky Was Opened (Twilight Zone episode) 25 mins.

The Crowns and the Youngs (Forbidden Files episode) 5 mins

Friday April 17 7.30 for 8.00 pm

THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE(Spain 1973 99 mins.)
Spain late 1930s. Ana and her sister Isabel go to see Frankenstein at the village town hall. Ana is haunted by the scene where the monster first plays with the little girl and then throws her into the lake. Trying to sleep that night she is teased by her sister who tells her that the monster lives in an abandoned building on a nearby farm. So, Ana, five years old like the actor playing her, goes looking for him.

A film as quiet and patient as a child's concentration but with all the colour and wonder as well. Victor Erice's strange tale of childhood is set just after Franco came to power in Spain and made just before his death released the country from Fascism.

Screens with:


Friday May 1st 7.30 for 8.00 pm

THE UGLY (New Zealand 1998 93 mins)
Silence of the Lambs ushered in Hollywood's 1990s and at regular intervals the new(ish) serial killer genre fell into formula with each new entry featuring a viler human monster and a more maverick genius detective. The best of any genre are its exceptions. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer left the police out and kept the realism grim. Seven loved being mainstream but kept the puritanical moralising in the mouth of the monster. And then there was The Ugly.

Scot Reynolds' late 1990s film starts so far in formula you can almost smell the packaging it came in. But after the cliches of the opening scene have settled a new film starts to emerge as though coming out of a shed skin. The weedy Simon's account of his crimes is told in an increasingly involved stream of consciousness that is not always anchored by visual references to the present. Soon enough it's difficult to say how much of what we are seeing is intended as real and how much is derangement and, if so, whose derangement. The ending, told with a single old fashioned effect but mostly light and shadow, refuses easy answers.

Screens with La Jetee Chris Marker’s short film told mostly in stills. The inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (France 29 mins.)

Friday May 8th 7.30 for 8.00 pm

The Beguiled (USA 1970 105 mins)
A wounded Union soldier wanders into the grounds of a school full of giggling southern belles. Sounds like a porno but it’s one of the creepiest westerns ever made. Crime and action director Don Siegel and action hero Clint Eastwood take a slower path here, through a tale of increasingly dark areas (I guess that sounds like a porno, too, it still isn't, but).

The late 60s and early 70s saw a lot of changes made to the western movie. So much that they are considered their own genre, the revisionist western. Films like McCabe and Mrs Miller pursued an iconoclastic path to something more like the real old west at the same time as bringing the moral complexities of the traditional western into the light of the Vietnam War generation. Well, this isn't one of those.

PS -- not that I should know but doesn't Clint look like Wolverine in the still of the clip below?

Screens with:


Friday May 15 7.30 for 8.00 pm

LITTLE MURDERS (USA 1971 110 mins)
Alfred, a young self proclaimed apathist, is wrenched by an overachiever girl into society. He goes along with this, suffering one of the most intimidating meet-the-folks scenes outside of the one in Eraserhead. He even accepts her proposal of marriage. The city they live in is breaking down, power outages take on a kind of rhythm, victims of assault fall down subway steps like litter, and the homicide rate is rising to epidemic levels. Flight or fight? The choice has never been less obvious in a film, even a comedy as black as this.

Directed by Alan Arkin (gloriously over the top as a detective soaring into hysteria)and featuring a young Donald Sutherland as a hip priest. Arkin had starred in Catch 22 the year before and Elliot Gould and Sutherland in MASH (also 1970). These two films heavily criticised U.S. involvement in Vietnam through the filter of other wars. Little Murders might well be thought of as the home front version of those.

Absurdism verite? Romblacom? You decide.

Screens with:

It’s a Good Life (Twilight Zone episode USA 1962) 25 mins.

The Picnic (Forbidden Files episode) 5 mins.

Friday May 22nd 7.30 for 8.00 pm

Another Heaven (Japan 2000 132 mins)
There was once a terrific taut sci-fi thriller called the Hidden in which a young FBI agent pursued a nasty body-hopping entity with a taste for ultra-violence and power. Then a few years after J-horror was born, this film comes out which tells the story of a nasty body-hopping entity with a taste for ultra-violence and power. But this is neither remake nor ripoff as it diverges from the path of the earlier film into far more complex territory. Hell of a ride.

Screens with:


Friday May 29th 7.30 for 8.00 pm

Network (USA 1976 120 mins)

“Because you’re on television, dummy.”

Howard Beale goes from failing news anchor to ratings-ruling prophet in a tale from over thirty years ago that could be about the pre-packaged reality of today’s tv. The reason that Paddy Chayefsky’s tirelessly witty script does not fail as a futuristic scenario is that he wrote it from the anger left him by his past experience in network television rather than anything he had to forsee.

The mid-70s dream cast of Peter Finch (a posthumous Best Actor Oscar) William Holden (elegant gravitas) , Fay Dunaway (connoisseur wickedness and scary vulnerability), Robert Duvall (about the same time as his star turn in Apocalypse Now, a bull in charge) and Ned Beatty (fatherly and terrifying) give everything they have as actors with such a treasury of great dialogue.

This one *is* available locally but as it’s one of my favourite films that less than half of my friends have seen I’m putting it up for Shadows for your delectation. Seen it? See it again. It only gets better.

Oh, and watch for a very young Tim Robbins towards the end of the film.

Screens with:


ABC Gallery Location

Google Maps with picture of Gallery