United Kingdom

Emily James & Mark Lewis – Silk Road: Drugs, Death and the Dark Web (2017)

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The dark web changed how the world takes drugs. Before, if you wanted to buy, say, a gram of MDMA, you had to know someone who sold it, or, like, ask around – which is a fairly conspicuous thing to do when what you’re after is a controlled substance – or just go to a club, scan the room for people actively trying to dislocate their own jaws and hope for the best.

When crypto-markets began to pop up online, however, the drug market was democratised; anyone who could be bothered to work out how to buy Bitcoin was able to scroll through pages of vendors and buy peer-reviewed products, which would then be delivered straight to their door. It’s the kind of thing you can imagine pillheads of the past dreamed of as they fell victim to drug dealer time-keeping, twiddling their thumbs for hours, parked up in some suburban side street. Read More »

Ken Burns – Jazz (2001)

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Quote:

A worthy documentary on the first 60 years of jazz with an emphasis on Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and swing.

Episodes
1. Gumbo – Beginnings to 1917
2. The Gift 1917-1924
3. Our Language 1924-1928
4. The True Welcome 1929-1935
5. Swing – Pure Pleasure 1935-1937
6. Swing – The Velocity of Celebration 1937-1939
7. Dedicated to Chaos 1940-1945
8. Risk 1945-1956
9. The Adventure 1956-1961
10. A Masterpiece by Midnight 1961-2001 Read More »

Ewald André Dupont – Moulin Rouge (1928)

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No relation to the 1952 Toulouse Lautrec biopic of the same name, Moulin Rouge was produced, directed and written by German-filmmaker E. A. Dupont. Olga Tschechowa plays the star dancer of Paris’ famed Moulin Rouge nightspot. Her daughter Eve Gray is in love with impressionable Jean Bradin. Alas, Jean adores another – Eve’s own mother. A blessed relief from the usual turgid, slapped-together British films of the period, Moulin Rouge has visual moments that approach the brilliance of Dupont’s previous backstage melodrama, the German Variety. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Read More »

Daisy Asquith – Queerama (2017)

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Synopsis:
Compilation of archive footage from 1919 to the present, from both documentary and fictional sources, set to music, illustrating the huge changes in LGBTQ life in Britain (mainly England) over the 20th century.

Review:
Sensitive, cheeky and enriched with a healthy shot of self-awareness, Daisy Asquith’s kaleidoscopic Queerama is as much a reflection on the shifting status of LGBTQ people within the UK pop culture landscape – as both subjects and creators – as an ambitious summation of the corresponding societal changes in the last century or so. A loosely structured montage of decades-spanning archive footage, it’s perhaps of little surprise that the film doesn’t have a whole lot new to say but the empathy and energy by which these images and ideas are edited together into a single piece make Queerama an entertaining and often poignant tribute to the progress made, as well as an implicit acknowledgement of the progress yet to be made.
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Nina Danino – Three Diary Pieces (1985-1992)

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Close to Home
“ In the first part, the camera travels around (West) Berlin like a tourist picking out touristic monuments and describing them in terms of their significance to military history….the commentary charts the bleak history of blockade and the cutting of transport links. The filmmaker reads aloud a letter. She is reading it privately to herself but it is the sound of her reading that makes the connection with the viewer. In the second half (in which the commentary also charts the escalation of land frontier sea and air restrictions), a ferry leaves a quayside and sails into the open Strait, it is an image of freedom but also a melancholy image of parting” Helen De Witt, Visionary Landscapes, 2005 Read More »

Leslie Arliss – A Man About the House (1947)

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Storyline
Agnes and Ellen Isit, two poor English sisters, unexpectedly inherit from their uncle a rich estate near Naples, complete with big villa and manly Italian majordomo. The latter, Salvatore, makes use of his Latin charm to seduce Agnes, who soon turns from prim spinster to passionate lover. Ellen observes the romance with amusement first before realizing how little considerate Salvatore becomes after marrying Agnes. Worse, Agnes’s health starts deteriorating. Worried about her sister, she contacts Dr. Ben Dench, a family friend… Read More »

Ken Russell – The Devils [+Extras] (1971)

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In 17th-century France, Father Urbain Grandier seeks to protect the city of Loudun from the corrupt establishment of Cardinal Richelieu. Hysteria occurs within the city when he is accused of witchcraft by a sexually repressed nun.

Alice Stoehr wrote:
With this film, Russell pushed his then-nascent penchant for extreme imagery of sex and violence as far as it could go. It makes up The Devils’ thematic core, expressing myriad ideas about lust, greed, power, etc. through explicit acts of unremitting cruelty. Nothing is here just for the shock value, though certainly that’s part of it. Read More »