26 December 2006

Real Location # 5 - The House on Telegraph Hill

"The house on Telegraph Hill, as seen in the film, did not excist. The mansion was superimposed photographically on an actual site in Telegraph Hill, at 1541 Montgomery Street. As in the film, the property sits on a dead end cliff at the edge of Telegraph Hill."

From 'San Francisco Noir: The City in Film Noir from 1940 to the Present' by Nathaniel Rich, 2005.

Rich goes on to describe Julius Castle, the building that is actually on the site and has been since 1922 and how the decor of this restuarant resembles that of the house in the film. Sadly when I visited, as can be seen below the building was closed for refurbishment which was a real shame. However I was very pleasantly suprised at how this location was in close proximity to another delightful Noir location...

The view from 'The House on Telegraph Hill'.

Gene Tierney

Film and stage beauties # 19: Lola Jensen

Reverse reads:

A series of 54, No. 45 Lola Jensen.

A series of real photographs now being issued with Black Cat Medium Cigarettes. Carreras Ltd (ESTD 1788) Arcadia Works, London, England.

IMDB entry for Lola Jensen, link.

More on 2006, a year in review

Thanks to all those that took part in this. I'm going to work on trying to put the results on here in the next day or so.

In the meantime if you feel like another survey Edward Copeland at Edward Copeland on Film wants to know your best and worst best actress winners Oscar winners ahead of the Oscar nominations. For me it's just a feeble excuse to post a picture of Julie Christie, who I saw walking around the National Film Theatre the day Kenneth Anger gave an introduction to his films.

Edward Copeland's latest Oscar Survey, link.

I just took a quick look at the listings, aside from 'Flags of Our Fathers' and 'The Wizard of Oz' there is little else on. Looks like the better new releases are being saved for the New Year. I'm not complaining, Eureka/Masters of Cinema brought out a nice box set of every Buster Keaton short spread over four discs, I'm currently half way through disc 2.

Coming attraction: Esma's Secret

10 December 2006

Jack Cardiff at Goethe Institut

Jack Cardiff interviewed by Richard Leon.

Jack Cardiff had worked as Assistant Cameraman on ‘Knight without Armour’ for which Marlene Dietrich was the star in 1937. To publicise the new Marlene Dietrich Collection (18 DVD’s, Universal) from the Goethe Institut screened ‘The Devil is a Woman’ which I hadn’t seen so I thought I’d attend, as I’d thoroughly enjoyed the Jack Cardiff event at the National Gallery earlier in the year.

Jack Cardiff shared recollections of working with Dietrich. By his early 20’s he was now behind the camera, having started in films as a child actor. Cardiff was intrigued by Dietrich’s devotion to Josef von Sternberg, Cardiff felt that the devotion almost manifested itself in a religious way. Cardiff was keen to learn about, for the example the overhead lighting techniques employed by Sternberg who he respected.

Sternberg had been the person most associated with lighting and photographing Dietrich and thus in turn her fascination with lighting and how she would look was picked up on by the young Cardiff for this 1937 British made film, after all the Cameraman and his team would be the ones to make her look beautiful.

Cardiff recalled how in one bath scene Dietrich decided not to wear the customary skin coloured costume normally used for nude scenes and instead preferred to play the scene naked. He further recalled that she fell out of the bath and landed on some newspaper which he cut out in the shape of her behind and that she signed for him, which he still has somewhere.

Cardiff’s view was that Dietrich wasn’t one of the great actresses and by this I understood it to mean perhaps he didn’t think much of her technical ability and that she wasn’t a studious in rehearsals and getting underneath the skin of the role as some.

My thanks to my friends at the Powell and Pressburger Appreciation Society for bringing this screening to my attention. I had never attended a screening at the Goethe Institut, the cinema is quite basic in terms of comfort but the programme is varied. Tickets for this event were £3, which has to be one of the cheapest screenings I have ever attended in London. Jack Cardiff was intervied by Richard Leon, a publicist.

Goethe Institut, link.
IMDB entry for 'Knight without Armour' link.
Marlene Dietrich: Movie Collection, link.
My earlier post; Jack Cardiff in Conversation at the National Gallery, link.
The Powell and Pressburger Appreciation Society's website, link.

03 December 2006

2006, a year in review

Seeing as all the magazines, newspapers, websites will conduct a poll of their critics favourite films of 2006 I thought that I might do something similar but poll the film blogging community, those to visit and those who edit film related blogs.

What qualifies?
Any film realeased theatrically or commercially during 2006.
Films shown at film festivals in 2005/04 that then were released in 2006 would qualify.

Please exclude
Re-releases, such as 'L' Armée des ombres' (Army of Shadows) as I'm trying to understand which of the new films that came out are seen as the better ones. Although I fully appreciate that often a re-released film from Jean-Pierre Melville will be a lot better than the mainstream fare.
If you saw a new film at a film festival this year but it hasn't been released yet then please exclude that.

If there are any fellow film bloggers out there willing to help promote this then please email me and I will send you the code so you can put it on your site.
I'll close the survey at 00.00 on 25th December and announce the results shortly thereafter.

Vote for your favourite films in 2006, Click here to take survey

More on real locations

Earlier this year I'd read an article in The Times about the growth of film location tourism. It seems several of the West London borough council's have clubbed together to produce this leaflet highlighting locations used in mostly recent films.

My earlier post, link.
Hounslow's council's link, sadly the PDF link is broken but the article is still live, link.

29 November 2006

November spawned a monster

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of my first blog post, which can be found here.

26 November 2006

Film and stage beauties # 18: Georgie Butler

Reverse reads:

A series of 54, No. 44 Georgie Butler.

A series of real photographs now being issued with Black Cat Medium Cigarettes. Carreras Ltd (ESTD 1788) Arcadia Works, London, England.

Coming attraction: Female Prisoner # 701: Scorpion

Actually it's out now on Eureka DVD.

21 November 2006

R.I.P, Robert Altman

Edward Copeland, link.
Tom Sutpen, link.
BBC Newsnight obituary, link.

12 November 2006

Gene Tierney

Film and stage beauties # 17 : Betty Benson

Reverse reads:

A series of 54, No. 41 Betty Benson

A series of real photographs now being issued with Black Cat Medium Cigarettes. Carreras Ltd (ESTD 1788) Arcadia Works, London, England.

Coming attraction: 9th Festival of German Films

23rd -26th Novemberat Curzon Soho, link.

Coming attraction: UK Jewish Film Festival 2006

UK Jewish Film Festival 2006, link.

05 November 2006

Gene Tierney

Film and stage beauties # 16 : Jackie Gately

Reverse reads:

A series of 54, No. 40 Jackie Gately (Paradise Restaurant)

A series of real photographs now being issued with Black Cat Medium Cigarettes. Carreras Ltd (ESTD 1788) Arcadia Works, London, England.

Coming attraction: John Huston at NFT

NFT's John Huston retrospective continues throughout November and into December.

John Huston retrospective at NFT, link.

03 November 2006

Coming attraction: Wild Japan: Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film

3rd - 30th November at NFT, from the reverse of the above; "The finest line-up of classic Japanese cult films ever screened at UK cinemas....".

Wild Japan: Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film, link.

Coming attraction: The Page Turner

IMDB entry for The Page Turner (La Tourneuse de Pages), link.

Czech Film Theatre

30 October 2006

Dream Double Bill # 17 ‘Martin’ and ‘The Addiction’

Or my personal thoughts on two films portraying modern day Vampires in America.

For the purpose of today’s Vampire Blog-a-thon I decided to put some thoughts down on what I consider to be the two most interesting modern day Vampire films.

‘Martin’ aka ‘Martin, the Vampire’ (British title)

Martin Madahas - “And that’s another thing about those movies; Vampires always have ladies, sometimes lots of ladies. Well that’s wrong too. You don’t need all that.”

Radio Talk Show Host “You don’t need all that?” [Laughs]

Martin – “No, you really don’t. I mean if the magic part was real and you could make ‘em do whatever you wanted to, well that would be different. In real life, in real life you can’t get people to do what you want them to.”

Martin may or may not be a Vampire. I don’t know it really matters to the viewer, certainly Tada Cuda (played by Lincoln Maazel in, according to IMDB his only ever film role) his elderly relative believes him to be one.

Martin appears to be lacking is the physical strength, charisma or fangs for a Vampire.
From earlier Vampire films we understand that garlic, exposure to the crucifix and the Vampires reflections are all things to be avoided, these do not seem to cause a problem for Martin at all. Nor does John Amplas who portrays Martin bear any resemblance to Bela Lugosi nor Max Schreck for that matter.

However he does however prefer to wear sunglasses during daylight, and lest I forget does have a taste for blood. Aside from this Martin, at least outwardly appears to be, what could be construed as a troubled young man, often seen spending long periods of time alone and without many friends. He is awkward in female company but through his errands develops a friendship and his first (for his partner) conscious sexual experience.

Is he a troubled loner or is he a 84 year old “Norsferatu” as Tuda asserts?
He confesses to a phone in radio show, whose presenter dubs him ‘The Count’ his penchant for blood. We see him sometimes melancholically kicking around the town of Braddock, PA, sometimes delivering groceries for Tada.

Tada -“Vampire! First I will save your soul, then I will destroy you!”

For me what struck me most about the film and why I liked it when I re-watched it again recently was this ambiguity, the tone of the film, the very mood of the film just comes together perfectly, I also like films that end unexpectedly. According to Romero it’s the favourite of all of his films..

It’s the concept of the acts rather than the visualisation which is so prevalent in modern horror films that is more shocking, contemplate if you will for a moment being drugged, feeling the needle pierce your body, you turn to Martin, as do his victims and he offers comfort by assuring you that you will not feel pain, will you even awaken? What is he going to do to you? For me at least that’s were the fear comes in and why it’s my favourite of all of Romero’s films too.

‘The Addiction’

I first saw this on its theatrical release hot on the heels of ‘The Funeral’. I still liken ‘The Funeral’ to ‘The Outsiders’ and ‘The Addiction’ to ‘Rumblefish’. Both were made and released back to back and the second films by both Coppola and Ferrara were both shot in crisp black white whilst their first and generally wider seen and better known shot in colour.

If ‘Martin’ gives us suburban America in the mid to late 70’s ‘The Funeral’ gives us early to mid 90’s Manhattan. The youth in ‘The Addiction’ is the urban street savvy, hassling Kathleen Conklin (Lili Taylor) and her friends on the street.

Whereas Martin doesn’t outwardly display signs of being a Vampire, philosophy student Kathleen has all the mirrors in her apartment covered up, she also has to wear sunglasses and in one beautifully lit sequence in the film when she steps out of college into the bright sunshine has to retract into the shadow immediately. If we are not sure if Martin is a Vampire we are certain that Kathleen is. Where Martin may be 84 and Romero uses flashback sequences to show him remembering being pursued, Kathleen is just beginning her new eternal life.

Kathleen – “What do you want from me?”

Piena – “No! What do you want from me? You came after me, you took my hand you tried to force me into some alley. Isn’t that how it went?

[Angrily] You think you understand things? You know nothing! You understand nothing!

I’ll show you what you are. I’ll teach you what hunger is.”

If Kathleen is the urbanite student victim turned predator then Piena is her newest teacher, of sorts. He provides amongst other things reference points in modern literature for her understanding of her new lifestyle, he also tells her that he has his hunger under control.

Kathleen [Voice over] – “There is a dull nature to the addiction. It satisfies the hunger which evil engenders but it also dulls our perceptions so we are helped to forget how ill we really are. We drink to escape the fact that we’re alcoholics. Existence is the search for relief from our habit and our habit is the only relief we can find.”

Nicholas St. John and Abel Ferrara brilliantly place this Vampire tale against a back drop of New York and layer it with the horrors of genocide, questions of philosophy, concerns about AIDS and issues around addiction. For it’s New York setting, Kathleen’s admissions to hospital and subsequent diagnosis or rather non-diagnosis of her Vampire condition make this a bizarrely almost realist take on the Vampire film genre. It is very different in my view from something like ‘The Lost Boys’ or ‘The Hunger’ or even ‘Near Dark’, It’s a great film, perhaps one of my favourites of Ferrara’s.

Sit back, relax and enjoy today’s double bill.

Go to Film Experience for full list of contributors to today’s blog-a-thon, link.
IMDB entry for Martin, link.
Wikipedia entry for Martin, link.
Locations used in Martin, link.
IMDB entry for The Addiction, link.

Wikipedia entry for Vampire fiction, link.
Wikipedia entry for Vampire, link.

Martin, written and directed by George A. Romero (1977).

The Addiction, written by Nicholas St. John, directed by Abel Ferrara (1995).

28 October 2006

Coming attraction: Lights in the Dusk

Last night I attended the LFF screening of 'Lights in the Dusk' (Laitakaupungin Valot), the third in a loose trilogy from Aki Kaurismäki. Sadly, owing a very slow tube I missed the start so I don't feel comfortable writing too much on this film. What I can tell you is that what I saw I enjoyed as much as the other Kaurismäki films I have seen.

Maria Järvenhelmi as Mirja and Janne Hyytiäinen as Koistinen in 'Lights in the Dusk'.

'Lights in the Dusk' deals with lonliness and isolation, the first in the loose trilogy; 'Drifting Clouds' (Kauas pilvet karkaavat) dealt with unemployment and the second and only other one I'd seen; 'The Man Without a Past' (Mies vailla menneisyyttä) dealt with homelessness.

After the screening, the lead actress who plays Mirja in the film (Maria Järvenhelmi) above with was briefly interviewed by critic Geoff Andrew, mostly about how she and Kaurismäki worked together on the film. The tone was quite light and not analytical with a few questions from the audience, most of which seemed to really enjoy the film. The sort of topics that were touched up included a discussion of Kaurismäki, according to Järvenhelmi, prefers to capture the shot in one take and scorns on improvisation. How he is against the anti-smoking lobby in Finland which is one of the reasons everyone seems to smoke in 'Lights after Dusk' and that he wants to make at least 20 features (he’s currently made 16).

My friend Neil, who attended the showing with me tells me the UK release will be in Spring/Summer 2007 so I will have to wait until then to catch the start of this film and see what I missed.

Maria Järvenhelmi and Geoff Andrew at last night's London Film Festival Screening of 'Lights in the Dusk'.

IMDB entry for 'Lights in the Dusk', link.
Listing on LFF website, link.
You Tube clips of part of the interview, here and here.

26 October 2006

Coming attraction: Kenneth Anger comes to London

Okay, I had completely missed this in the London Film Festival guide but Kenneth Anger will be at the National Film Theatre this Sunday to introduce; 'Fireworks', 'Rabbit's Moon', Scorpio Rising' and 'Kustom Kar Kommandos'.

Kenneth Anger at LFF, link.
A new film on Anger; 'Anger Me' is also showing as part of the LFF, link.

24 October 2006

Coming attraction: Hombre Kabuki

This looks like a very interesting short film, showing tonight and tomorrow as part of the London Film Festival's 'Nuggets' programme. It has already scooped a couple of awards when it was entered at other competitive film festivals, LFF is not a competitive film festival.
If you can't catch it there then it's showing at several other film festivals around the world, be interested to know what you think if you do happen to see it.


IMDB entry for Hombre Kabuki, link.
Listing on LFF website, link.
Official website for the production company, including trailer, other film festivals where Hombre Kabuki will show, link.

22 October 2006

Gene Tierney

Film and stage beauties # 15: Grace Adrian

Reverse reads:

A series of 54, No. 39, Grace Adrian.

A series of real photographs now being issued with Black Cat Medium Cigarettes. Carreras Ltd (ESTD 1788) Arcadia Works, London, England.

21 October 2006

Real Location # 4 - Vertigo

'Vertigo' is very much a film set in San Francisco, the city is intergral to the film. I had a spare few hours as was in town for a conference and managed to visit Mission Dolores, a Spanish mission in, more or less the downtown area of San Francisco. About a year ago I'd bought a copy of Nathaniel Rich's book 'San Francisco Noir' which I'd recommend to anyone. I suppose this is where the inspiration for my visit came from.
Inside the book lists some of the great Film Noir's made in San Francisco and some of their locations. As I had been to the city twice before I was keen to explore some different sights with what little spare time I had.

Mission Dolores itself as I hope the below sequence of photographs demonstrates really hasn't changed that much in the 48 years since the film was released. The trees are certainly a lot larger and they've changed the entrance but it's very easy to trace, as I did the scenes filmed in and around the mission with the exception of the grave where Madeleine Elster played by Kim Novak stands. This I had trouble finding, I think the very helpful young lady that worked in the gift shop on the day of my visit (last Saturday: 14th October) explained that there was a grotto, at least I believe that's what she called it, which has subsequently been removed. I was able to spot one headstone that is quite clearly identifiable in the film as a reference point.

Interestingly in Rich's book he states that the headstone of Carlotta Valdes constructed for the film stood for a further twenty years after the film was shot. The helpful lady did not know anything of this.

For those who remember this sequence in the film you'll remember that the cemetery is filled with flowers, roses specifically stood out in my mind. Last week, some roses were in bloom and although my camera could not match the outstanding Technicolor of the original film I was pleased to be able to spot a couple of landmarks and come close to creating a kind of then and now blog-scrap book.

Little did I realise that this had, in part been done before. Fellow film blogger Brian who run's the excellent 'Hell on Frisco Bay' pointed me to a wonderful site called 'Vertigo...then and now' which I thoroughly recommend, there are many more wonderful San Francisco locations to be checked out on this site, it's almost like you can do a tour without even having to go there and really see the locations as they were in the late 50's and as they are today.

Location: Mission Dolores, Dolores Street at Mission Street, San Francisco, California.

Below the information leaflet given to visitors about the history of the site.

Brian's Hell on Frisco Bay, link.
Vertigo - Then and Now, link.
IMDB entry for 'Vertigo', link.
Vertigo Movie Tour of San Francisco, link.
Book: San Francisco Noir by Nathaniel Rich, link.
Official website for Mission Dolores, link.
Wikipedia entry for Mission Dolores, link.

The entrance to Mission Dolores