Amoeblog

Happy (belated) birthday, Joe Orton

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 2, 2013 05:14pm | Post a Comment
Joe Orton

Yesterday, had he not died in 1967, would've been the 79th birthday of my favorite, English, comic playwright, Joe Orton (provided he didn't pass away for some other reason in the intermediate years).

Saffron Lane council estate being built in 1927
Saffron Lane council estate being built in 1927

John Kingsley "Joe" Orton was born 1 January in Leicester to William A Orton and Elsie M Orton (nėe Bentley). Joe's father worked as a gardener for the Leicester County Borough Council whilst his mom was in footwear until tuberculosis (and the subsequent removal of a lung) led to an early retirement. When Joe was two his family moved from Clarendon Park to the Saffron Lane council estate where the family was soon rounded out by the addition of Douglas, Marilyn, and Leonie.

After several serious bouts of asthma, Orton left school and took a position as a junior clerk making £3 a week in 1947. Over the next couple of years he developed an interest in improving his physical stateKenneth Halliwell and Joe Orton and in theater. In pursuit of the former he took up body building, in pursuit of the former he joined several dramatic societies and local, amateur productions. He also wished to continue his education and began attending Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London on scholarship in 1951.

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Gary Oldman Retrospective at the Bridge Theater in SF...and it's FREE!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 6, 2012 02:40pm | Post a Comment
Do you love Gary Oldman?  Do you think he’s insanely underrated and should have his own spotlightGary Oldman Dracula Bridge Theater San Francisco film fest? Well, I love Gary Oldman and am happy to share that the Bridge Theater is hosting a Gary Oldman retrospective this week!  And the best part...it's FREE!!  

That’s right, folks.  You can see all of these amazing films -- all 35mm prints -- for FREE! But you have to RSVP by sending an email to OldmanRSVP@gmail.com and make sure to include your full name, the name of the film(s) you want to see, and the number of people attending in total. 

Here's what's showing:
Sid and Nancy (1986): Monday, February 6th at 6:30 PM
JFK (1991): Monday, February 6th at 9:00 PM
The Contender (2000): Tuesday, February 7th at 6:00 PM
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992): Tuesday, February 7th at 9:00 PM
Prick Up Your Ears (1987): Wednesday, February 8th at 6:30 PM
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011): Wednesday, February 8th at 9:00 PM. 

Backwoods (Bosque de sombras) 2006 Spanish-English-French co-production

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 14, 2008 07:46pm | Post a Comment


BackWoods is set in 1978 and depicts two English couples on vacation in a remote community in Navarre/Nafarroa, Spain. The locals have bad style, are ugly and probably smell bad. They're also suspicious of and rude to the well-meaning and rather annoying city slickers. When you see Gary Oldman's character loading a shotgun you can see clearly all the way to the credits. If a gun shows up in a movie, it's never just to look at.

At first the film treats us to a bit of heavy-handed character development. Oldman's character, Paul, is a know-it-all and yet strangely likeable due to Oldman's considerable charisma. Paddy Considine as Norman is whiney and unsympathetic.  Paul's wife, played by Virginie Ledoyen, is extremely unpleasant and nonsensical (women!) and Aitana Sanchez-Gijon as Oldman's wife is pretty unmemorable. They all bicker and snipe constantly till you're begging the locals to kick their spoiled asses already. One morning, Paul takes Norman on a hunting trip into the beautiful countryside. Norman is too soft to shoot a bunny. Paul says something like, "There's two kinds of things in this word: the hunters and the hunted." Deep. Things take an obvious turn when the two discover a girl with crab hands (Helpful Heloise, what's the proper name for this deformity -ed.) chained up in a shack. They do the sensible thing and abscond with her. When the backward, angered villagers catch on, it's Norman who will have to find his inner hardman if he's going to survive. Did you see that one coming? You did? Good.

If this all sounds terribly familiar and predictable, it's (of course) because it is. The film makes no efforts to disguise its exceedingly well-worn story and debt to its inspirations. It's content to get by on the adequateness of the cast and crew and by the story's sticking to tried-and-tested formula. I reckon it's set in the '70s simply because it's a particularly '70s genre. There are exactly zero surprises to be experienced. When one of the country folk attempts to rape a character, my reaction was, "I was wondering when the leering, greasy one was going to do that!" Because, you know, people in the country just sit around all year round just picking their rotten teeth... waiting for vacationing dudes and their womenfolk so that they can get their rape on.

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