Aliens!

Yes, it’s that wonderful month. We love Hallowe’en here at Filmspot, and seeing as how we are thinking in an extra terrestrial way at the moment, because of our upcoming ET screening (see below for details), we thought we’d give you a few scary alien picks, ready for Hallowe’en. If these are all a bit gruesome and threatening for you, then fear not! We have a softer, cuddlier, fuzzier alien film list coming next week!

Village of the Damned [1960]

Based on ‘The Midwich Cuckoos‘ by John Wyndham, this film doesn’t explicitly tell us that what we’re dealing with are aliens, but I’m  going along with the assumption that they are. The horror in this one comes purely from the uncanny behaviour of the unworldly-looking children. Martin Stephens, who played David (the leader of the alarming youths), is eerily cold and emotionless – his startlingly precise diction is one of the most unsettling elements of the film.

The Thing [1982]

John Carpenter’s remake of the 1950s flick ‘The Thing from Another World‘ is a gruesome festival of ridiculous gore. The special effects were cutting edge, and the antarctic setting gives the film a strange atmosphere from the very beginning. The alien we are dealing with here is about as horrific as you can imagine – a parasitic, shape shifting monster that assumes the form of every living thing it kills, and it certainly kills a lot during its 109 minutes… I think, given the choice, I’d rather encounter ET, thank you very much (these two films were released in the same year!)

Mars Attacks! [1996]

One of Tim Burton‘s finest, made before he went all family friendly on us. It’s a homage to the sci fi films he loved as a child, and is based on a series of Topp’s trading cards from the 1960s. The cast thoroughly enjoy every minute that they are on screen, playing up the schlock-factor, while the quirky humour, lush visuals and completely ridiculous gore give the film a freshness that Burton’s recent work has lacked. My only regret (being an animation fan) is that the original plans to have stop motion aliens, created by the  masterly Barry Purves, never came to fruition because of the escalating budget.

The Day the Earth Stood Still [1951]

Directed by the wonderful Robert Wise (who directed, amongst many others, The Haunting AND The Sound of Music!), this is one of the original, and finest, alien invasion films. Steeped in cold war paranoia,  the film is surprisingly thoughtful and optimistic. Although I have included it in the Hallowe’en ‘horror’ list, the aliens here are far from evil monsters – in fact, the humanoid Klaatu (Michael Rennie), has come to Earth to give an ultimatum to end our violent ways.  The theremin soundtrack instantly conjures up schlocky B-movie connotations, but bear in mind, this came before all of that. This is the real deal.

Alien [1979]

Alien is probably the scariest extra-terrestrial film of all time. It is almost also the goriest (but misses out to ‘The Thing’, above) mainly from one particular, infamous scene. The film works by playing on the claustrophobic atmosphere of the spaceship, Nostromo. Ridley Scott instructed the set builders to create the ship in dimensions to feel as claustrophobic as possible on camera, and it certainly works. Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is also one of the best female protagonists of all time. Scott’s usual eye for detail together with H.R.Giger’s horribly sophisticated set designs make for a film that looks and feels like nothing else.

So… after all of those, I should think will need something a little bit more uplifting. Well, as promised above, here are the details of our E.T. screening!

Filmspot present a special 30th anniversary screening of
E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial
at Newhaven Fort, 3 November 2012, 3pm (film starts at 3.10pm)
Based on an imaginary friend created while his parents were divorcing, Spielberg’s iconic ‘E.T.’ broke box office records on release, and is one of the most successful science fiction films of all time. The story is centred on the friendship between E.T, a stranded alien visitor and Elliot, a lonely ten year old. Although it has its feet firmly set in the science fiction genre, the film is an utterly convincing portrayal of friendship and childhood – both charming and moving. By the end, there won’t be a dry eye in the house!

The historical setting of Newhaven Fort is the perfect setting for this special film event, which promises to be very atmospheric. There will be some special twists to set the scene, including light projections, 80s film trailers, specially chosen music and themed sweet treats for every audience member.

Tickets cost £6 for adults, £4 for children, and include entry to the Fort Museum. Advance booking is strongly recommended. Telephone Newhaven Fort for tickets: 01273 517622.

 

STOP PRESS: Chariots of Muppets descending upon Eastbourne this weekend – and Willy Wonka report

Hello Filmspotters – lots of news for you in this blog, so I’ll just plough straight in!

Filmspot have helped to organise films for Eastbourne Borough Council’s Great British Weekend, this weekend. The events will take place at the Wish Tower Slopes, and are completely free! The films are to complement two fantastic live events, shown on a big screen, organised by the Borough Council.

On Saturday 8 September, the celebrations kick off at 4.30pm, with a screening of The Muppets [2011], followed by the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, featuring music from Delius, Verdi,Puccini, Dvorak, Richard Rodgers, John Williams Olympic Fanfare and theme and the traditional Henry Wood Fantasia on British Sea Songs together with Edward Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem orchestration.

So, to whet your appetite, here’s a splendidly ridiculous musical moment:

On Sunday 9 September, we will all be getting into the 2012 spirit with Chariots of Fire [1981] at 4.30pm, which will of course be followed by the London 2012 Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony at 7pm, including the parade of athletes, the extinguishing of the Paralympic flame and the passing of the flag to the next host city of Rio de Janeiro, along with musical performances headlined by Coldplay.

Here’s a taster of Sunday’s iconic offering:

There will be a bar and refreshments for both evenings, and dressing in red, white and blue is definitely encouraged! It promises to be a really fun, lively weekend.

For further details, please see www.visiteastbourne.com or call 0871 663 0031.

….and in other news: WILLY WONKA A HUGE, ROUSING SUCCESS!

Yes, apologies for taking a while to post these photographs, but it has taken a few days for the Filmspot team to come back to reality after entering a world of pure imagination at Newhaven Fort over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

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Martyna Dawidowska created a fantastic short animation, especially for the event, which was projected in the Eastern Magazine and at the beginning of the screening

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Two of our wonderful volunteers, Sophie Halas and Alexia Lazou, helped to greet the audience

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….and everybody in the audience enjoyed a Wonka-themed treat – delightful Wonka-esque marshmallows, sourced by Sweet Moments in Seaford, and quirky cake pops

It was a sell-out show!

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Designer-maker Adam Prior did a fantastic job on the brilliant props for the event – even Willy Wonka himself seems to approve!

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As ever, veteran Filmspotter Lukas looked the part! This time, seeming to channel the spirit of Wonka himself!

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So here’s the team (L-R: Alexia, Sophie, Filmspot Co-Directors Rob Cunningham and Rachel Hunter, Designer Adam Prior and Magician David Girt

This great musical has a dedicated following – we had lots of interest in the event, and you may have seen/ heard some of the local media coverage. We were featured on  BBC Radio Sussex and in The Argus and Sussex Express. We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who came along and all our helpers – you all helped to create a really magical atmosphere!

….so that’s it for now! I hope you’re now all off ransacking your wardrobes for your best red, white and blue – and we’ll see you in Eastbourne!

Less Enfants du Paradis, more Lotte Reiniger!

STOP PRESS!

Unfortunately due to unforeseen licensing issues, we are unable to screen ‘Les Enfants du Paradis‘ at the CMP Festival at St Nicholas Church, Brighton, this Sunday 15 July.

The good news is… we have an even more magical event to take its place!

Filmspot will revisit the fairy tales of animation pioneer Lotte Reiniger with a stunning programme of four short films: Snow White and Rose Red, The Magic Horse, Thumbelina and Sleeping Beauty. All the films were created in 1954, and feature charming music and narration, as well as Reiniger’s exquisitely detailed silhouette puppets.

We are delighted that Jake Spicer and DRAW will be providing three 20 minute theatrically costumed drawing sessions throughout the evening. Drawing is optional, but I think most people will find it hard to resist picking up a pencil in the atmospheric setting of St Nicholas Church.

Just to get you all warmed up, here’s a clip of Jake at TEDx in Brighton, talking about his passion for life drawing:

http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxBrighton-Jake-Spicer-Drawin/player?layout=&read_more=1

For further information about DRAW, see their website: http://www.draw-brighton.co.uk/

There will also be delicious galettes and crepes from The French Revolution, as well as a bar.

Doors to the event open at 6pm, with the first short film starting at 6.30pm (we expect the event to finish by approximately 8.30pm).

Tickets may be booked from www.brightonticketshop.com, by telephoning 01273 709709 or be purchased on the door – although we are expecting this to be a really popular event, so we’d recommend advance booking.

This promise to be a fun evening for all ages – we hope to see you all there!

Event report: Lotte Reiniger Fairytales at Eastbourne Redoubt

The Filmspot team had a great time in May at Eastbourne Redoubt‘s ‘Museums at Night event’.

Cinderella silhouette animation

Drop in screenings for Lotte Reiniger’s fairytales took place throughout the evening

Three Little Pigs shadow puppets

Visitors had the chance to try their hand at shadow puppetry, using cut outs for ‘Three Little Pigs’ or ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.

There were some interesting approaches to manipulating the puppets, including the many-legged wolf, who became known as ‘Octowolf’…

…we were surprised at how many alternative versions of the fairytales were performed. There were many wolf-eating pigs – and ninja grannies!

….there were some interesting pairings, too, including a surprise waltz between he wolf and the wood cutter!

Rachel and Rob, Co-Directors of Filmspot, with some of their creations.

We were so pleased that so many people joined us for this fantastic evening – and we thank everybody for their entertaining shadow puppetry performances. I’m sure Lotte Reiniger would have been proud of all of you!

…keen Filmspotters will be excited to learn about our next two upcoming Filmspot events.

We are very pleased to be working with the CMP Festival for the third year. This year, we will present two films at St Nicholas’s Church, Brighton.

7th July, doors 6pm (film 6.30pm): A Tale of Two Cities [1958]
This year, to celebrate Charles Dickens bicentenary, the CMP Festival will present ‘A Dickens of a Day’ – an entire day of Dickens-themed fun, including our Filmspot screening of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.

Directed by Ralph Thomas and starring Dirk Bogarde, this adaptation Dickens’ novel is one of the most faithful to its source text. Made in 1958, it was shot in black and white because the Director felt that the book ‘was written in black and white’. Set during the French Revolution, a disillusioned lawyer, Sidney Carton (Bogarde), finds his life is turned upside down when he chooses to make a sacrifice for the woman he loves.
Crepes and galettes will be on sale prior to the film, by The French Revolution. Tickets: £7 (£5 concessions)

15th July, doors – and life drawing from 6pm (film 6.30pm): Les Enfants du Paradis [1945]
We are delighted to be presenting a very special screening together with DRAW, the Brighton Life Drawing Sessions, headed up by Jake Spicer.

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Marcel Carne’s classic melodrama is set in the teeming theatrical world of Paris of the 1830s. The three main characters are all based on historical figures – the brilliant, moonstruck mime artist Baptiste Debureau, the womanising actor Frederick Lemaitre and the murderous dandy Lacenaire. Each falls in love with, and is briefly loved by, Garance, a beautiful actress who leaves them when her freedom is threatened by their attempts to possess her. Filmed in German-occupied France, the feature is in two parts, because the Vichy government restricted film length to 90 minutes or less.

To complement the screening, DRAW will invite the audience to participate in 30 minute themed drawing sessions prior to the feature and during the interval (materials provided). Models in theatrical costume will create beautiful tableaux inspired by the film. DRAW aim to provide unique, dynamic and exciting opportunities for people to learn to draw – from the complete beginner to the professional artist. For full details, see The Draw Brighton website.

Crepes and galettes will be on sale prior to the film, and during the interval, by The French Revolution. Tickets: £7 (£5 concessions)

For full details of the CMP Festival, please see the CMP website
For tickets, contact the Brighton Dome Box Office: 01273 709709 or visit the Brighton Ticket Shop

Shadows and fairytales after dark!

Firstly, we were really delighted to see so many people at our screening of ‘A Very Long Engagement‘ (Un Long Dimanche de Fiancialles) at Eastbourne Redoubt in April. Thank you to all of you who came along and enjoyed a really lively event with us!

We are very excited to be revisiting Eastbourne Redoubt this coming Saturday evening (12th May), to contribute to their upcoming After Dark at The Redoubt event.

Filmspot will be screening a selection of charming short silhouette fairytales by pioneering animator, Lotte Reiniger – and there will be the chance to try your hand at shadow puppetry with the Filmspot team.

Films on view will be ‘The Magic Horse’, The Ant and the Grasshopper and ‘Cinderella’ [all 1954] – wonderful fantastical stories, just right for bedtime! As well as the Filmspot activities, there will be atmospheric torchlight tours of the museum and free astronomy on the gun platform. It promises to be an evening to remember!

We will be at Eastbourne Redoubt from 7pm until late, this Saturday 12th May. For full details, please see Eastbourne Redoubt’s website: http://www.eastbournemuseums.co.uk/ 

So, in keeping with the theme of bedtime stories, we thought we’d come up with a few other suggestions for fairytale films!

1. The Singing Ringing Tree [Das singende, klingende Bäumchen] (1957)

This German feature-length film for children was originally shown in the UK when it was serialised by the BBC in the 19560s. It has a real cult following, and it’s easy to see why. It features many of the elements that gained some of the fantasy films of the 80s, such as Labyrinth or  Legend, their cults: colourful characters, surreal scenarios and wonderous fantasy landscapes.

2. La Belle et La Bete (1946)

Jean Cocteau‘s fantastical rendering of this classic fairytale is one of his finest films. Although in places the film does look a little creaky because of its age, if you can suspend your disbelief, it does conjure up a childish sense of wonder in the viewer. The haunting soundtrack and beautifully surreal visual tricks create a fantasy atmosphere.

3. Snow White (1937)

The first feature cel animation, ‘Snow White’ was not only a milestone in animation, it was the inspiration behind thousands of other beloved childhood films, such as ‘The Wizard of Oz’. It went on to be an unprecedented success, much to the surprise of a skeptical film industry, with many Hollywood insiders labelling the project ‘Disney’s Folly’ while it was in development.

4. The Princess Bride (1987)

In our opinion, this is the funniest combination of comedy and fairy tale committed to film. You can forget your oh-so-‘witty’ Matrix-style princesses and faux-Scots ogres – this screen adaptation of William Goldman’s book is, quite rightly, a cult classic. It contains sword fighting! giants! a very short Sicilian! rodents of unusual size! heroes being brought back from the dead! priests with speech impediments! Peter Falk! …and that’s just for starters.

5. Hans Christian Andersen (1952)

A musical? With Danny Kaye? As Hans Christian Andersen? Well, that had to make it onto the list! This delightful film reminds us of sleepy bank holidays, as only a big Hollywood musical can. All the well known HCA fairytales are here, in sung form. The ‘Ugly Duckling’ is a particularly catchy little ditty.

We look forward to seeing you this Saturday!