Burns Night, Filmspot style!

Hello Filmspotters!

With Burns Night tomorrow, we thought we’d bring you a blog with some recommended viewing that Rabbie would approve of (maybe…) – so here’s just a few of our favourite films with a distinctly Scottish flavour…

Small Faces [1996]

Set in Glasgow in the 1960s, this coming of age drama came out around the time of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting. Gorgeously shot, well written and finely acted, the film stands up well to the test of time – 20 years later, it’s well worth a revisit (or a discovery if you haven’t seen it already!)

Gregory’s Girl [1981]

Our love of Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl has been well documented on this blog before. Uplifting and rather wry in a way you wouldn’t expect from a film about teenagers set in a secondary school. It’s also now deliciously dated – in a very endearing way!

Whisky Galore [1949]

No Scottish film list would be complete without the Ealing Comedy, Whisky Galore! Focussing on a group of wily islanders in the outer Hebrides who have an unexpected windfall in the shape of 50,000 cases of whisky from the wreck on a sinking freighter – a battle of wits ensures between the island inhabitants and a stuffy English captain of the homeguard, who wants to confiscate the loot!

Under the Skin [2014]

An unexpected entry on the list, but Jonathan Glazer’s tale of an alien disguised as a woman, who preys on unexpected Scotsmen from a transit van, somehow captures Glasgow in its vibrant, rackety glory.

Red Road [2006]

Definitely not a film for the faint of heart, but Andrea Arnold’s gritty Red Road is a stark thriller that feels undeniably Scottish. Partially shot on the now demolished Red Road estate in Glasgow, the film was filmed in Dogme 95 style, using handheld cameras and natural light. Although bleak in concept and story, the film ends with a feeling of redemption.

For a bonus, just thought we had better mention Sunshine on Leith [2013], featuring the songs of the Proclaimers, Mrs Filmspot has yet to inflict this upbeat musical on Mr Filmspot.

…and so, with that all that remains is to pour yourself a wee dram and have a very cosy Burns Night!

We’ll be back later this week with a big update – and details of our first exciting Filmspot event for 2016!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Filmspotters! We have a very exciting year ahead with some new venues and exciting ventures planned. We’re currently working on a brand new website, and a new ticketing system so soon you’ll be able to buy tickets for most of our events over the web. Final versions of two of our workshop films will also be launched online shortly.

We have some great events already booked, including a special charity dance screening of Jacob Krupnick’s debut feature, ‘Girl Walk // All Day’ at Alive Fitness in Brighton; and a gala performance of ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ with Joss Peach performing his own score of the film, live, at the stunning All Saints Chapel, Eastbourne. More details on both of these screenings – and more – to come later in the year.

We thought we’d kick off the year with a cinematic party, though! So, here are some picks of our favourite parties on film:

Labyrinth

We thought we’d start with every 80s child’s dream: Jim Henson puppets made to Brian Froud’s magical designs, Jennifer Connolly in a big ball gown with even bigger hair… and David Bowie in spandex. What more could anybody in their right mind want or need?

Dazed and Confused

Richard Linklater, one of our favourite directors, is responsible for one of the finest coming of age films. Set on the first day, and night, of summer vacation in 1976 for the kids at Lee High School in Austin, Texas, it follows their revelry to an impromptu keg party, which looks pretty much as any get-together with practically an entire school’s worth of kids would look.

Mood Indigo

L’Ecume Des Jours – Dance scence from Barazzi on Vimeo.

Another of director Michel Gondry’s cinematic daydreams, based on the book ‘L’Ecume Des Jours’ by Boris Vian, ‘Mood Indigo’ features some impressive dance moves…

Mad Monster Party

Ok, so this isn’t exactly a ‘classic’, but it is silly and fun… and has some delightfully stiff stop motion dancing!

All About Eve

I think any party featuring the razor-tongued Bette Davies warning attendees to ‘fasten your seat belts’ would qualify as one to go to….

Well, whatever you were doing for New Year, we hope you had a great one – and are sending you all our best wishes for the new year ahead: maybe we’ll see you soon at one of our screenings!

Late summer season

Hello Filmspotters!

A quick update, as it’s been a while! We’ve been keeping busy here at Filmspot HQ – planning for our upcoming late summer season, which is all happening over the next couple of weeks. Listings of all our upcoming screenings follows at the end of this post.

On 22 August, we’re continuing with our series of screenings at Isfield Village Hall, with Wes Anderson’s delightful ‘Moonrise Kingdom’. Here’s the trailer:

Due to this upcoming screening, and being at the height of the school holiday period, we have been thinking about camping in films! Here are some of our favourites:

Nuts in May [1975]

Ah, Nuts in May – I’m sure we have mentioned this elsewhere on the blog, but this is certainly a favourite here at Filmspot HQ. Surely everybody knows of someone (or a couple) as irritating and odd as Keith and Candice Marie? Before any camping trip, it’s always worth warming up with a couple of verses of the Zoo Song. Mike Leigh has a lot to answer for…

Blair Witch Project [1999]

It’s difficult to fathom now, after seeing so many copy-cat ‘found footage’ horror films and spoofs, but this was once a startlingly good, and frightening, film. Definitely not one to revisit before a woodland camping trip!

Stand By Me [1986]

This classic 80s coming of age film perfectly captures the atmosphere of almost never-ending summer holidays – very like the Italian thriller, ‘Io non ho Paura’ (not about camping, but also definitely worth a watch).

 

Familia Rodante [2004]

This is sort of the Argentinian version of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. This film makes you wonder how you would get on with 12 members of your family, travelling 1000km in a beaten-up camper van?

Sightseers [2012]

Ben Wheatley’s ingenious comedy horror definitely channels ‘Nuts in May’ – but somehow he takes the ‘irritating know-all happy campers’ characters to the next level.

…so now you’re in the mood for a camping trip? Possibly not! Well, why not join us as Isfield VIllage Hall on Saturday instead, for a very good movie? Tickets for Moonrise Kingdom cost £6 each on the door, with the event starting 6.45pm for 7.30 film start. Drinks and nibbles are being provided by Isfield Village Hall.

Our other upcoming Late Summer screenings and events:

5 September: JAWS in the Isfield ICE Field (with animation workshops taking place throughout the day)

10 September: DAS CABINET DES DR CALIGARI with LIVE SCORE from Partial Facsimile at Fabrica Brighton

Full details are on our website.

We hope to see you soon!

 

A night at the opera with Filmspot

Hello Filmspotters!
We are getting tuned up and ready for our screening of Mike Leigh’s delightful ‘Topsy Turvy’ this Saturday at Isfield Village Hall (6.45pm for 7pm screening, tickets £6 on the door, including wine and nibbles!). Telling the story of Gilbert and Sullivan while they were creating ‘The Mikado’, it has got us in the mood for opera!

Here are a few of our favourite opera-related films
Tales of Hoffman (1951)


We are huge fans of Powell and Pressburger here at Filmspot HQ. In this sumptuous adaptation of Offenbach’s fantasy opera, they brought together many of the team who worked on ‘The Red Shoes’. Their audatious, theatrical style works beautifully. Celebrated director Cecil B Demille is said to have written ‘For the first time in my life, I was treated to Grand Oepra where the beauty, power and scope of the music was equally matched by the visual presentation’.

The Magic Flute (1975)


Considerably lightly than many of this director’s other works, Ingmar Bergman has created an adaptation of one of Mozart’s best-loved works that is undeniably his own: a celebration of love, forgiveness, and the brotherhood of man.
Rigoletto (1993)

A shortened telling of Verdi’s masterpiece – the only criticism of this exquisite rendering of the opera is that its 30 minute run time does not do it justice. That said, it is too beautiful to overlook – Barry Purves is the master of detailed stop motion animation, sadly less known than he should be outside the animation world.
Ruddigore (1964)


British studio Halas & Batchelor’s take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Ruddigore’ is notably the first UK animated TV special, as well as being the first operetta to be animated. Made with the co-operation of the D’Oyle Carte Opera Company, who provide the voices, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who provide the music, it tells the story of a line of British baronets are cursed to commit a crime every day…or die!
Night at the Opera (1935)

Ok, possibly not an ‘opera film’ as such, but we had to include the Marx Brothers hilarious farce, in which they sabotage an opening night of an opera. A box office smash, the film is also considered to be one of the Marx Brothers’ finest films, being selected for inclusion in the US National Film Registry in 1993.

We hope to see you at Isfield Village Hall this Saturday!

Magical realism in Isfield

Happy springtime, Filmspotters!

We’re looking forward to two film screenings in April – the inaugural screening in partnership with Isfield Village Hall, as well as our upcoming screening of ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ at St Nicholas Church, Brighton, with live score from local pianist Joss Peach. More details next time for the St Nicholas Church screening – today we are concentrating on our Isfield event!

You may remember that last month we asked visitors at the Isfield Open Day to vote for which film they would like to watch at the first film night, on 18 April. The winner was Ang Lee’s visually stunning  ‘Life of Pi’, with ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ coming a close second place. Details of how to book for the screening follow below, but in honour of the winning film, we have been considering some of our favourite ‘magic realism’ films…

1. Pleasantville (1998)

This charming directoral debut from Gary Ross is a good example of the ‘what if…’ brand of magical realism. It is one of those rare beasts – an intelligent ‘mainstream’ American film, which hasn’t dated to be totally cringe-worthy, instead it uses its element of magic to great effect, with the ‘colour’ two modern day teenagers bring to an 1950s soap opera hinting at something a little deeper…

2. Zelig

You could write several articles on magical realism in Woody Allen films, from ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’ to his more recent ‘Midnight in Paris’. We have chosen ‘Zelig’, though – a pseudo-documentary about an unusual character who merges into his surroundings by changing his persona and appearance completely.

3. Russian Ark

Another Filmspot favourite, this beautiful film covers 300 years of Russian history through a tour of the Winter Palace, at the Russian State Hermitage Museum. Filmed entirely in one single shot, the film brings both real and fictious characters from Russian history to life, as if they have leapt off the paintings on the walls. Visually stunning, the film plays out like a decadent dream.

4. Afterlife (1999)

Hirokazu Kore-eda is another director who has been known to dabble with magical realism throughout his career. ‘Afterlife’ presents a small group of recently deceased characters, in limbo. They are told they will recreate one single memory from their lifetime, and when they pass on to the next stage, this memory will be the only thing they take with them. A touching and poignant film, much of the emotional pull of ‘Afterlife’ comes from the fact that the memories people cherish the most are the ones that highlight the magic of the everyday.

5. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

This indie gem is a futuristic vision of the deep south, with flourishes of magic. The most important element of the film, however, is the relationships between the two main characters, a man called Wink and his daughter Hushpuppy. With beautiful cinematography, this is a film that both transports and enchants you.

Life of Pi: 18 April, doors at 7pm

Tickets are £6, and can be purchased from the Laughing Fish public house, Isfield, or by emailing

Bring your own refreshments to this first screening, we shall be surveying the audience to see if there is interest to provide a bar at future events.

We hope to see you all at this first event in Isfield Village Hall. We shall be back on the blog in a couple of weeks with details of our upcoming live soundtracked screening of ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’!

Alternative fairy tales

We’re really excited about our screening of Jean Cocteau’s gothic masterpiece, ‘La Belle et La Bete’ this evening (Saturday 25 October) at St Michael’s Hall, Brighton. Full details follow at the end of this blog – there are very limited tickets available for this screening, so get in quick!!

In honour of this, we’ve concocted a list of five rather alternative fairy tale films! So here goes…

5. Little Otik, 2000

This film is certainly not for everyone (particularly not for anybody planning to have children in the near future!), but Czech auteur Jan Svankmajer created a dark masterpiece which is in turns brutal, tragic and absurdly funny. It is based on the story Otesanek by Czech writer, poet and historian K.J. Erben, about a childless couple who bring a baby-shaped tree stump to life with horrifying consequences.

4. Tideland, 2005

Terry Gilliam’s dream-like Tideland plays out like a quirky, morbid update of Alice in Wonderland. Based on a book by Mitch Cullen, the story centres around Jeliza-Rose a girl who is left abandoned when her rockstar father dies of an overdose. She descends into a world of her own imagination, accompanied by her dolls (which are really just the heads of a selection of Barbie dolls) and her neighbours, Dickens, a mentally handicapped young man, and his rather eccentric sister, Dell.

3. The Singing Ringing Tree (Das singende, klingende Bäumchen), 1957

Here’s a nice piece of retro-kitch for you! This colourful German children’s film was originally serialised in the UK on the BBC in the mid-60s. It really is the archetypical fairy story, but with the madness turned up several notches. It follows the fate of a beautiful but haughty princess, who says she will only marry a prince if he brings her the fabled ‘singing ringing tree’ – along the way, the prince comes a cropper to an evil dwarf, who turns him into a bear!

2. Kirikou and the Sorceress, 1998

French animator/ director Michel Ocelot’s enchanting ‘Kirikou’ films are a refreshing antidote to  the rather heartless manufactured films that seem to be churned out one after another for children these days. Based on elements of folk tales from West Africa, it entries on an extraordinary newborn boy called Kirikou who saves his village front he evil clutches of Karaba the Sorceress. Although an enormous success in France, his work has not had as much exposure here in the UK – partly because of TV networks being reluctant to show a ‘family’ film which features realistic nudity. It’s a shame, because the film is delightfully upbeat, colourful and unpatronising.

1. Kwaidan, 1964

To end on something both relevant for our fairy tales theme, and also Hallowe’en, coming up at the end of next week. The title of this translates as ‘ghost stories’, and is a series of four short films based on the Japanese folk tales collected together by Lafcadio Hearn. Directed by Mitsaki Kobayashi, the films have many fairy tale elements, for example, the etherial appearance of Yuki-Onna (a ghostly apparition who resides in snowy landscapes). This hauntingly beautiful compendium of folk tales is definitely one to watch if you haven’t already!

Hopefully you are now feeling inspired for some fantastical cinema, so why not join us for our special screening of Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bete tonight (25 October) at St Michael’s Hall, Brighton? There are limited tickets left, so it is advisable to book in advance  by emailing info@lja.uk.com – tickets are £5 in advance, and a limited number will be on the door for £6. Doors open at 7pm, for a 7.30pm film. We hope to see you there!

Endless Summer…

Hi Filmspotters –

I hope you’re all having as enjoyable a summer as we are here at Filmspot HQ. We’ve just completed our the first leg of our summer screenings, and we’re now looking forward to a quick regroup before our August events kick off!

We ran our first Deaf Community Cinema Night, in support of the Brighton Deaf Diaspora on 21 June. We screened the short film, ‘Retreat’ by deaf filmmaker, Ted Evans, followed by a screening of ‘Gravity’ – both films featured subtitles for the hard of hearing. We feel it was a great success, with some great feedback from attendees, including:

Nice valance with deaf film andHollywood – next time I way to watch a long deaf film!”

“I enjoyed very much and [am] looking for more!”

“An excellent idea to create a community event”

Both films were very popular, but judging from the positive response we got regarding Ted Evans riveting film, I think we will be on the look out for more works by deaf filmmakers in the future.

Nadia Nadarajah from the Deaf Diaspora group gave an introduction to the event.

Nadia Nadarajah from the Deaf Diaspora group gave an introduction to the event.

Everybody in the audience really responded well to Ted Evans atmospheric short film, 'Retreat'

Everybody in the audience really responded well to Ted Evans atmospheric short film, ‘Retreat’

 

Last Saturday evening, we tagged our latest CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club event, with a screening of Ealing’s wonderfully dark Kind Hearts and Coronets. Again, the feedback from the event was great, including many people who admitted to never having seen the film before!

The audience settling in to watch 'Kind Hearts and Coronets'

The audience settling in to watch ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’

In honour of last weekend’s new Ealing comedy fans, we thought we would give you Filmspot’s top 5 Ealing Comedies, to get your collection started! Here goes…

5. Whisky Galore! [1949]
Alexander Mackendrick’s wonderfully subversive comedy based on the true story of the SS Politician which was wrecked in near the Hebrides.  Boats from the nearby islands soon set upon the wreck, rescuing some 7,000 cases of Scotch from a watery end! This was filmed in the same year as Kind Hearts and includes the same rather dark, biting humour.

4. Hue and Cry [1947]
The first of the post-war Ealing Comedies, Hue and Cry takes its inspiration from the children’s story, Emil and the Detectives. The story follows a group of East End children who foil a gang of robbers, and director Charles Crichton uses the chaos of the bombed streets of London after the Blitz for fascinating backdrops.

3. The Ladykillers [1955]
Perhaps the best known of the Ealing comedies (unfortunately in part to the completely unnecessary and baffling 2004 remake), The Ladykillers boasts a brilliant cast, led by the ever-charismatic Alec Guinness, and a splendidly twisted sense of humour.

2. The Man in The White Suit [1951]
Mackendrick’s deliciously cynical The Man in The White Suit appears simple on the surface, but the film gives real pause for thought. Alec Guinness is at his understated best as an idealistic young inventor who creates an indestructible, dirt-repelling fabric the threatens to overturn the entire textiles industry. Mackendrick said of the film, “Each character in the story was intended as a caricature of a separate political attitude, covering the entire range from Communist, through official Trades Unionism, Romantic Individualism, Liberalism, Enlightened and Unenlightened Capitalism to Strong-arm Reaction. Even the central character was intended as a comic picture of Disinterested Science.”

1. Kind Hearts and Coronets
Of course, Kind Hearts had to feature – this black comedy started a run of what we now see as the ‘classic’ Ealing Comedies. Remembered for Alec Guinness’s incredible performance as all eight doomed members of the D’Ascoyne family, it is Dennis Price, who plays Louis Mazzini – the murderous, yet extremely elegant lead character, who holds the film together. 

If we haven’t convinced you yet, here is the wonderful John Landis, singing its praises as only he can!

 

….We’ll be back in a week to give you full details of our August screenings!