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Branchage Film Festival Review & Interview with the UK Festival's Philip Ilson & Xanthe Hamilton

Posted by Billyjam, October 13, 2010 06:25pm | Post a Comment

It may only be in its third year but the UK's small and fast growing Branchage Film Festival has already become a guaranteed fun four days that's unlike most other film festivals out there. With an idyllic location in the quaint town of St. Helier on the small island of Jersey in the UK's Channel Islands (off the coast of France), this year's Branchage Film Festival (September 23-26th) offered a richly diverse program that included documentaries, features, animation, and shorts, plus some classic films presented in entirely new ways. In addition to its picture-perfect & historic location, what sets Branchage apart from most other festivals is how it nicely weaves a wealth of live music (as both opening acts to films and/or its soundtrack) into its program. Equally important is how it magically transformed so many of its film screenings by taking them out of the stereotypical cinemas & screening rooms and onto screens in site specific locations in St Helier and around the historic island.

At last year's festival, which was the first time I attended, unique screening locations included Castle at Gorey (picture above) and the German War Tunnels (closer to France than England, the Channel Islands, including neighboring Guernsey, were the only parts of Britain occupied by the Nazis). There were also screenings in churches, something that was repeated this year with such films as Tatsuo Sato's Japanese anime Cat Soup, which was screened in All Saints Church (a functional church on loan at no coast from the Methodists). Japanese psych-metal group Bo Ningen replaced the original score of this gory 2001 animation with an amazing new score that went from quiet, soothing hushes to crazy wild n'loud screeching guitar and vocals. This year's other novel locations included the screening of Superman at a dam and The Battleship Potemkin on the deck of a tugboat in the St. Helier Harbour with an ever engaging live soundtrack provided by French electronic duo Zombie Zombie, who, as Branchage creative director Xanthe Hamilton told me with a delighted chuckle,"had sailed in from France to do their set." Truly this is a special kind of film festival.

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John Woo's Well Deserved Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award at Venice Film Festival + New Reign of Assassins Trailer

Posted by Billyjam, September 6, 2010 05:47am | Post a Comment

John Woo
, the director of both Hollywood blockbusters (Mission Impossible II, Face/Off, etc) and Hong Kong action films (Hard Boiled, The Killer, etc), was honored at the Venice Film Festival the other day when the 64 year old Chinese film director was given a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. The festival also screened Woo's new martial arts tour de force, Reign of Assassins.

Reign of Assassins (see trailer below), which was filmed in China and is set during the Ming Dynasty, is unique in that it is the first time that Woo has had a woman as a protagonist and it is also the first time that a Chinese film has had a real female hero. Michelle Yeoh plays the martial arts expert who is an assassin falling in love with the son of a man killed by her gang.

At the Venice Film Festival on Friday, the clearly pleased Woo told the press, "I want to make movies that will incorporate the good things from the West and the East." Reign of Assassins is the 35th film that Woo has directed in an impressive career that began back in 1968. Check out the DVD section of Amoeba for Woo's work and also check out these websites: God Among Directors.com, Media Circus, YahooMovies/JohnWoo, IMDb and Cinema of China.

Aux Catacombes: Documenting Art in the Belly of Paris

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, June 17, 2010 08:20pm | Post a Comment
Dead Space documentary catacombs paris psyckoze grafitti artist underground dvd

If it can be said that the freshest of the fresh artistic creations bubble up from "underground," then it should come as no surprise that the vast network of tunnels that comprise the coiled entrails of Paris' infamous catacombs has long served as a place where creative Parisians bent on escaping the trappings of society, hemmed in by signs and signifiers girding the city's surface, retreat to the "freedom" of the damp and hard-cut, cramped lawlessness that thrives beneath the streets, expressing themselves with dim-lit abandon. Veteran graffiti artist Psyckoze has spent more than 25 years traversing, tagging, sculpting and mapping the catacombs beneath Paris, a perilous proclivity that makes the documentary Dead Space infinitely watchable.


The Parisian catacombs have always held a certain fascination, whether it be a fear of the dark-generated late night creepshow vibe (must be because of all those skulls 'n' things down in there) or a more sensationalist ghost-hunters of "reality" television programming feel, the mere mention of the mdead space documentary dvd paris catacombs psychoze art artist graffiti undergroundysterious, bone littered underworld beneath the French capitol always stirs the imagination. In following Psyckoze on several adventures throughout the underground maze, documentary film-makers Marielle Quesney and Jean Labourdette nearly destroy their camera (they claim it was held together by duct tape by the end of shooting) and find themselves lost on more than one occasion while Pyschoze, or Psy, encounters graffiti and scrawls of years (sometimes hundreds of years) gone by, often stopping to update his own tags with the fresh designs of his evolved artistic style, and discovers a myriad of threats and claims laid bydead space documentary paris catacombs feature psyckoze psy art artist graffiti sculpture relief freehand candles stone various catacomb clans, gangs (like the Rats, who were prominent in the eighties) and wanderers who have at one time or another called the catacombs home. There is even a faction of preservationist catacombers who seek to stop taggers like Psy, arguing that the tunnels should be cleaned and restored to their natural sandstone tones (which is not unreasonable, really, when you consider the quarry origins of the catacombs, which were once used to mine and transport building materials as far back as 1000 years).

Shot on a shoestring budget over the course of two years, Dead Space follows Psy as he conducts a surprisingly cohesive tour of the catacombs below Paris (clad in his habitual rubber boots and mining helmet catacomb gear), stopping here and there to highlight several of the more famous subterranean hang-outs like "the Beach" (a large, sandy chamber with a huge painting of a wave --- styled after Hokusai's famous woodblock print --- where parties often rage underground for days) and revealing Psy's personal secret hideaways, including his "castle" --- a sprawling freehand relief sculpture of breasts, faces, battlements and turrets comprising what has to be Psy's ultimate psychedelic masterpiece, laden with personal significance (example: Psy carved a turret in the castle for paris catacombs dead space documentary psyckoze psy bones candle graffiti art every year his good friend and fellow catacomber spent locked up in a Thai jail, nine altogether). However, it is clear that most folks who venture down into the catacombs have something other than artistic creation and personal reflection in mind.
It would seem that those crazy enough to descend to navigate the dank and muddy tunnels of the catacombs have serious partying in mind and, apparently, those who do go down there to indulge in dark and lawless soirees get so completely wrecked that they usually lose track of when and where they are. In one room Psy laughs gleefully when he discovers a block of severely dried hash, speculating, while he makes ready to smoke it, how completely high and disoriented the owner who left it behind must have been. After all, there are but a few maps of the catacombs and it would seem that the ones that exist aren't that reliable. Perhaps that accounts for Psy creating his own map, or Plan des Catacombes. Even still, Psy himself often gets turned around and has, in his longest stint underground, spent over 72 hours in the maze.
dead space documentary paris catacombs psyckoze art artist graffiti bones candles
It was really lucky for Psy to find a thick, if aged, stash of weed in his underground haunt, because there are so many more unsavory things to be found in the vast blackness of the Parisian catacombs. The makers of Dead Space discovered and captured on film Psy encountering all manner of human elements from lost, sleeping and partying catacombers (and subsequent piles of puke) to tunnels riddled with the tea-stained remains of Parisians of years gone by. The "bone room" sequences of Dead Space are so jaw-dropping that this viewer could barely keep her trap shut. The image of Psy as he crawls carefully, stopping every six feet or so to light a candle and plant it in a skull or fixture of bones, through a tunnel way so stacked with human remains that he can barely fit though the open spaces is burned into my brain forever. This may look like Goonies, kids, but this is the real shit.

Film Noir Festival Final Weekend

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, April 15, 2010 11:01pm | Post a Comment

So the final weekend of the film noir festival is upon us! Friday features a couple of hard boiled crime films, including a prison break film featuring Perry Mason star William Talman and a revenge film featuring location shots filmed in 1950's Alaska! Saturday gives us a double dose of The Whistler and Sunday closes things out with a Femme Fatale double featuring the legendary Cleo Moore.

Egyptian Theatre

6712 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood, CA
(between Las Palmas & McCadden)
(323) 466-3456

$11/$7 for members
all showings start at 7:30

Friday April 16th- Crashout / Cry Vengeance
Saturday April 17th- Power Of The Whistler / Voice Of The Whistler
Sunday April 18th- Strange Fascination / The Come On

Week Two of The Film Noir Festival at The Egyptian Theatre

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, April 8, 2010 11:10am | Post a Comment


So it seems that the Film Noir Foundation folks have another great week of programming lined up for us! It starts off on Friday with an intense double featuring one of Robert Mitchum's rarely screened gems The Locket along with The Bodyguard, which happens to be Robert Altman's first big writing credit. Saturday brings a Broderick Crawford mid 50's double feature that includes a spectacular Gloria Grahame performance in yet another film based on Emile Zola's La Bete Humaine. Sunday brings a "crooked world" double that includes Mickey Rooney's great Drive A Crooked Road, a quick paced film written by Blake Edwards and featuring some great old arcade footage. I will definitely make it to this one, as it's paired with something I've never seen-- Walk A Crooked Mile, described as an anti-commie / atomic scare flick featuring Raymond Burr and Dennis O'Keefe set in San Francisco. Wednesday brings a Neo-Noir featuring an all mannequin cast entitled Eve's Necklace. Thursday rounds out the week with a Gothic Noir double from the early 40's featuring Albert Dekker, Susan Hayward, Francis Farmer & Elisha Cook Jr!

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