July 28, 2005

The DIY International Film Festival

Hey, readers,

Want to become a film buff? Can't wait until cool film festivals like SLIFF? Have time to burn, but money is tight? Then grab your library card, head to your local branch, and create your own international film festival! It's fun, easy, and you'll get to check out some cool films you might not normally see!

First off, if you want a suspensful, rather creepy piece of British cinema, let me recommend Peeping Tom, a 1960 thriller reminiscent of Psycho. There's a lot of film school discussion about how it "reveals the secrets of cinema" because Michael Powell, while filming, used himself as the protagonist's father and had his own son play the younger version of the title character. While this may not be Powell's "masterpiece", it is still a solid piece of filmmaking, and the final twenty minutes will have you cringing in anticipation. (It was so shocking that it effectively "ended" Powell's career in England - however, it is a really taut thriller that everyone who claims to like films should see). Just avoid the commentary - it's more dry, academic, and will remove the power from the film.

Had this movie been made and released in America, it would have been considered blaxploitation. However, The Harder They Come was made in Jamaica, and was the film that "introduced" reggae to the world. It's a tale of a "country boy" (Jimmy Cliff) who enters the big city, and finds himself in the worlds of crime, the record industry, and religion. It reads more like a documentary than a drama, and the music - "Many Rivers to Cross", "You Can Get It If You Really Want", "Pressure Drop", the title cut...another gotta-see.

Rodney Bingenheimer is the least likely rock-and-roll dude, but as The Mayor of Sunset Strip points out, it wasn't accidental. I was lucky enough to see it both in a theater and on DVD, and it reads very well as a study of celebrity - how to get it, what you do with it, and what lengths people will go to in order to acquire it. (The man who dresses up like an astronaut and sings love songs about Jennifer Love Hewitt is one example of many). Crossing over decades, this film about a nice-guy-made-good is enjoyable, even if it's non-stop celebrities. (Personal favorite moment in the DVD - in the bonus features, a discussion between Elvis Costello and Brian Wilson. Too cool to be true).

(Also, note to Greg - when you become dictator, can you make Kim Fowley Wanker of the Millenium. Consider this and Edgeplay your evidence. I'll back you. Honestly.)

Finally, Angels with Dirty Faces - James Cagney. Ann Sheridan. Humphrey Bogart on the way up - do you need better reasons to see this? Didn't think so.

So, kids, go to your library. Check out something you wouldn't normally watch. Expand your horizons. Rock the house!

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