Posts from 12th April 2006

Apr 06


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 375 views

Since my first trip there, I kind of fell in love with FACT in Liverpool. The “arts space” concept is often a really bad grab bag of unsuitable rooms to do theatre, art and a few cafes desperately trying to make up the shortfall. FACT seems to buck this kind of trend by having a well run cinema and genuinely nice bar at the heart of the concept. Indeed one of the nice aspects was that a room which last time I had been there was used for displaying art, had been converted into a cinema. Of course I would like that, but I particularly liked how it had been done. Basically forty squarish sofas had been plonked in a room, a curtain pulled up and that was your cinema. Not only was it extremely comfy, and different to the standard film experience, it would also be a matter of minutes to convert the space back into a gallery or all purpose art space.

Cinema is a paying business and an otherwise empty room could be converted into a regular money earner with the outlay of a projector, and £4000 worth of seating – which from an arts council point of view is next to nothing. More importantly as with the cinemas in the ICA, you can also pop in to see the art while you are in there. I find a lot of art not really worth the trip – twenty minutes of trying to decide whether or not I like something. The cinema gallery (as long as it separates both) is ideal for me. And FACT does it perfectly.


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 292 views

There had been some talk about the return of Rentaghost, in the hands of no less a personage of Joe Pasquale. What I had not realised that this was not for television, not even for a low rent satellite company. Instead it was for the stage. Though not the West End stage. A touring company flushing out I suppose the few Rentaghost fans in seaside towns around the country. Oh, and it’s a musical. Well, in for a penny… I can’t see any Rentaghost fans being put off by a few songs. After all the first description pretty much identified the state of their critical judgement.

Hostile – DO YOU SEE

Do You SeePost a comment • 270 views

Hostel would be a pretty good film if it was not for its blood splattered excesses. Its blood splattered excesses are what make it a brilliant film. Part allegorical condemnation of US foreign policy, part justification for US foreign policy, part excoriation of European snootiness, part Bratislavian tourist board film, part porno and big part gratuitous slasher movie: Eli Roth has made the kind of horror film you could talk about for hours. It stands out primarily for being a very male horror movie – with barely a female lead to follow through the cycle of sexual prudery, and redemption. It is a film though which is more than happy to link sex and drugs and death.

It is playing with a number of second hand ideas though. Whilst it may owe a few nods to Assayas’s Demonlover and some Takeshi Miike (who cameos) it is clearly a much more commercial effort. It efficiently gets to the first of its climaxes within an hour, and threatens to offer a nihilistic last half hour of sawing and poking – used up and worn out by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That it then invokes thrilleresque chase sequences is to its credit. The blurring of genres that it then settles with may be seen as an attempt to defeminise its male American leads. It is too late by then – and even a final moment of revenge is not enough to assert any sort of US dominance – in the film or in the world. Much like Syriana (but with more optic nerve chopping) the film can play nicely to both political extremes. The US kids are murdered because of their boorish behaviour, their treatment of Europe as some sort of decadent sexual Disneyland. Alternatively the conservative can equally read that Europe is indeed that decadent and that stepping outside the country will end up with a fair number of fingers chopped off. Either way Hostel is an exploitation which is happy to exploit everything thrown at it: and have yet again the evil rich as the bad guys. Like I said, a film even a radical socialist can get with. And be made squeamish about too.