Michael Powell – The Phantom Light (1935)

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synopsis

Three talented screenwriters collaborated in adapting Evadne Price and Joan Roy Byford’s play The Haunted Light to the screen as Phantom Light. This British chiller-diller-thriller begins with the mysterious murder of a lighthouse keeper. After his death, the region is plagued by shipwrecks, each heralded by a “phantom light” beaming from the lighthouse. Female detective Binnie Hale teams with new keeper Gordon Harker and navy officer Ian Hunter to solve the mystery. Directed with a sure and steady hand by Michael Powell, The Phantom Light is infinitely superior to the quota-quickie melodramas then flooding the British film market.- Hal Erickson
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Mark Locke – Crust (2003)

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Guy Hands, chief executive of U.K. buyout firm Terra Firma, lost nearly $34 million as a result of investments in films including the bizarre tale of a seven-foot boxing shrimp.

Hands is one of 75 investors who were encouraged to invest in a number of films through a company called Little Wing Films, claim tax relief and make an almost immediate profit. Hands said he had to repay more than £15 million in disallowed relief to the Inland Revenue, plus £2.3 million in interest, after the investment failed to achieve the intended tax benefits. Hands invested in three projects in 2001 and 2002, including a comedy called “Crust” featuring a seven-foot mutant shrimp washed up on a British beach and taught to box by a drunken pub landlord. Continue reading

Michael Winterbottom – Butterfly Kiss AKA Killer on the Road (1995)

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Winterbottom’s theatrical feature debut Butterfly Kiss was released into UK theatres in August 1995. Set in a dystopian environment limited almost entirely to motorways, service stations and motels, it charted the dysfunctional lesbian relationship between the violent and erratic Eunice (Amanda Plummer) and the credulous Miriam (Saskia Reeves). In so doing it offered up a portrayal of Britain that had not previously been seen on its cinema screens. Although the film garnered mixed responses, a couple of reviewers such as Derek Malcolm seized on it as heralding the arrival of a remarkable new talent in British cinema (2). Indeed, the film was to lay out many of the themes and techniques that would come to define Winterbottom’s oeuvre.
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Ron Athey and Lee Adams – Visions of Excess (2009)

“It’s basically terrorist porn.”
–Bruce LaBruce

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“Visions of Excess was a non-stop, 12 hour voyage into the heart of darkness, a communion with the ragged spirit of Georges Bataille, exploring the philosophers key themes of death, eroticism and the forbidden. This DVD features documentation from Visions of Excess London. Easter Sunday, 2009. Commissioned by SPILL Festival.

“Curated by Ron Athey and Lee Adams, and hosted by David Hoyle the event featured live performances, installations, film screenings and DJs. This dvd features excerpts from work by Lee Adams, Ron Athey, Franko B, Gio Black Peter, Bruce La Bruce, Christophe Chemin, Peter Christopherson, Zackary Drucker, Flawless Sabrina, Dominic Johnson, Mouse, Kira O’Reilly, L.Gabrielle Penabaz, Lazlo Pearlman, SmaxXx, Suka Off, Samantha Sweeting, Julie Tolentino and Veenus Vortex.” Continue reading

Terry Jones – Life of Brian [+Extras] (1979)

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Synopsis
“allmovie” wrote:
On a midnight clear 2,000 years ago, three wise men enter a manger where a babe is wrapped in swaddling clothes. It is an infant called Brian…and the three wise men are in the wrong manger. For the rest of his life, Brian (Graham Chapman) finds himself regarded as something of a messiah — yet he’s always in the shadow of this other guy from Galilee. Brian is witness to the Sermon of the Mount, but his seat is in such a bad location that he can’t hear any of it (“Blessed are the cheesemakers?”). Ultimately, he is brought before Pontius Pilate and sentenced to crucifixion, which takes place at that crowded, nonexclusive execution site a few blocks shy of Calvary. Rather than utter the Last Six Words, Brian leads his fellow crucifixees in a spirited rendition of a British music-hall cheer-up song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” The whole Monty Python gang (Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, and Terry Gilliam) are on hand in multiple roles, playing such sacred characters as Stan Called Loretta, Biggus Dickus, Deadly Dirk, Casts the First Stone, and Intensely Dull Youth; also showing up are Goon Show veteran Spike Milligan and a Liverpool musician named George Harrison. Continue reading

Richard Attenborough – Oh! What a Lovely War [+Extras] (1969)

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The film, a thoroughly enjoyable ‘odd duck’, with a typical quasi-political artistic stance on the follies of war. Highly entertaining and, at times, touching.

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WHEN Joan Littlewood’s London improvisation, “Oh! What a Lovely War,” opened on Broadway five years ago, it had a cast of 18 men and women dressed as Pierrots and Columbines. In the pit was an orchestra that managed to recreate the nostalgic musical sounds of World War I and to comment on them—sometimes simultaneously.

The show itself, described as “a musical entertainment,” was a jolly satire on the madness of the First World War, done mostly in period songs and sketches in which the Pierrots and Columbines slipped in and out of almost invisible disguises as emperors, generals, nurses, music hall stars, Tommies, wives, nurses and spectators, some appalled, some bored. Continue reading

Scott Barley – Polytechnique (2014)

Polytechnique is an audio-visual collaboration between Italian ambient/drone musician, Easychord and UK filmmaker, Scott Barley.
The film is best viewed in a dark room with a quality sound system or headphones.
Guided by Easychord’s haunting, bodily piece, the visuals attempt to explore and invoke the concepts of prisoner’s cinema, stream of consciousness, repetition, the primordial body, fundamental entities, and astral planes. Continue reading

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