March 24, 2014


Fists in the Pocket (Marco Bellocchio, 1965). A heavy atmosphere of disruption, family and home gleefully ruined.

March 22, 2014

“Or like Turner in Performance, with his drugs and exotic rugs”


Mick Jagger as Turner in Performance (1970). Tom Hiddleston as Adam in Only Lovers Left Alive (2013). Blog title from my piece on Only Lovers Left Alive, post-NZFF last year (link). Could have added “and his books and his heroes”, William Burroughs in both. Coincidentally, Only Lovers Left Alive was almost the title of a Rolling Stones film in the 1960s (details).

March 21, 2014

Mick Jagger

Performance (Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg, 1970). All week, since the death of L’Wren Scott, Jagger’s voice has seemed so poignant on the sad songs – “Sister Morphine”, “Memory Motel” – and for the first time ever, he has seemed vulnerable in public. If Keith Richards has become more loved over the years than Jagger (you can’t imagine a Jagger memoir outselling the Richards one) it’s because Richards has had those very human qualities – vulnerability, flaws, a sense of humour – that Jagger buried. There was a very basic polarity established sometime in the 1970s – one as artificial and dilettantish and one as rebellious and authentic; one as a mimic and one as his true self – that has left both playing characters ever since. No one saw Performance in 1970 but it surely had a part to play in the way that mimicry was taken as a kind of reality.

March 17, 2014


David Lynch: “How would you like to be remembered?”

Harry Dean Stanton: “It doesn’t matter.”

March 16, 2014


Bronson (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2008). If A Clockwork Orange had been adapted by Ken Russell.

March 14, 2014

“When you’re nothing, there’s no problem”

Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (Sophie Huber, 2012). Remaining undiscovered, not wanting to be discovered, this many – 170? 200? 250? – films later. Songs as communication and as masks.

March 8, 2014

Their boredom

La Notte (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961). Golf and tennis, cars and parties.

March 6, 2014

The revenge of Iris Steensma

Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2012). This film is Taxi Driver if Iris herself had been encouraged or empowered to take revenge.

March 4, 2014

‘‘Show me the cellar’’

The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013). Horror Retromania. The hauntings in this fact-based (aren’t they all?) early 70s-set horror can feel like a warm-up for the Amityville story that came later in the same decade, with bits of The Exorcist and The Birds thrown in. Creaky old houses, the creepiness of toys and mirrors, sleeping children, mysterious noises, stopped clocks, secret basements, heroic priests, paranormal-research technology: director James Wan (Saw) and cinematographer John Leonetti – great subjective camera set-ups – deliver old-fashioned shocks with intense regularity. But the best feature might be Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga (above) as demonology duo Ed and Lorraine Warren who appear like a Masters and Johnson of the paranormal. You could call it Masters of Ghostbusting and it makes sense that a franchise will follow. Incidentally, this must be the only horror film in which “Caroline, no!” appears as a line of dialogue.

March 2, 2014

Lost moments, rare brilliance

Tabu (Miguel Gomes, 2012). In the shadow of Mt Tabu, in the shadow of film history. Romance and the varieties of storytelling.

March 1, 2014

“I saw us travelling far away together, all the places I’ve always longed to go”

Her (Spike Jonze, 2013). Blog title from Brief Encounter, quoted in The View from the Train: Cities & Other Landscapes by Patrick Keiller.