Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

Wolves may lurk in every guise...

Today I sat down to devour a childhood favourite which I recently rediscovered at a charity video store - a piece of bug-budget technicolour fluff, responsible for the catchy musical hook "I'm Hans CHRIST-IEN AN-derson!" which has been bottling around my head for years, without ever resolving itself because I'd forgotten the rest of the tune. Inevitably, the memory plays tricks. In my mind, the lead role had been played by Dick Van Dyke, and I recalled a scene which was absent completely.

Now I revisit it, I recognised it for what it was - the child of an unholy alliance between Oliver! and Les Enfants du Paradis.

Seriously, stay with me for a moment. The Copenhagen scene, with it's overlapping songs from various tradesmen, was so similar to "Who will buy a wonderful morning" that we actually checked to see if it had been made after Oliver! (incidentally, it hadn't - and I feel that the HCA version of the scene had more musical merit)

At the same time, there's something rather more adult going on here. Like two movies - one, with the happy storytelling Hans cheering up children and singing; the other, a tale of twisted love with domestic abuse, in a harsh world everybody but he can see. Happy ending? No sir...

Hans, such a happy innocent that his apprentice talks him into leaving town before he's thrown out to spare him the heartbreak. Who's the only person who thinks he's in with a chance with Garance - sorry - the lead ballerina (HCA's lead romantic couple were even a dead ringer for
Baptiste and his love...) Speaking of ballet, the Little Mermaid dance sequence between the Prince and heroine at the ball is one of the most beautiful things.

I particularly liked the relationship between Hans and his young assistant Peter, in which Peter was by a long shot the wiser and more grown up. I suppose this is what fanfiction is for...

Maybe this is just another case of reading too much into kids films, just as my "child's eye view" theory attempted to excuse the innocent racism of Song of the South. But wheras that was probably a step too far, I think I'm genuinely onto something here. All in all, perfect for a girl on the irritating cusp between wanting to believe as a child and be enchanted, while desiring all the realism and nasty irony of a cynic grown up.

Speaking of magical realism, nasty irony and cusps, I also discovered The Company of Wolves. Kneel and pray, folks, kneel and pray this is the one I've been looking for, just as Tideland was my dream film last year, and one so low rated on IMdB that I voted it an angry 10/10, even though I usually reserve that for Godfathers and JFK, and in my right mind maybe it deserved an 8 or 9...

There are things I just love. Decaying buildings. Fairy tales. Things which are scary not because they are dangerous, or threatening, but just downright wrong on a subtle level. Despite Friend 5's theory that I love violent movies, I love them best when it's just the threat of violence just around the corner. Girls in floaty white dresses. Gentlemen with long dark hair. And wolves.

Mix them all together, and you've got an alternate blend to the perfect movie I found in Millar's Crossing. Little Red Riding Hood, with werewolves, sex and suited-devils who drive in white vintage cars. Throw in some truly alarming special effects, and the grotesque fairy tale horror that is Terry Gilliam on a good day, and you have a brilliant movie.

In short, it's love, and may the relationship be long. I'm now particularly interested in Neil Jordan, who has not only made me a tailor made movie, but also made me love a biopic - a genre I've never had time for - Michael Collins. A stonkingly well made film. He's definitely a director to watch out for - we got his Mona Lisa free with a paper, so maybe I'll give that a spin.

Incidentally, let me introduce you to Eugenio Recuenco, currently my favourite artist, certainly my favourite photographer, and one of the reasons Company of Wolves was such a hit:

His imagery is very in line with my own imaginings, and it's often right there on the line between creepy and beautiful. His way of shooting, his use of light - I don't know how he does it, but he can fill a photo with the ingrained dust and dimness of a renaissance religious painter. Like what you see? The rest of this collection can be viewed here, and come running if you ever see a film which reminds you of them:

PS - you may recall a few months back I was feeling faintly embarassed about overreacting to seeing an ex-Doctor on stage. I had considered what I would do if ever I met someone famous, and had always hoped that I'd react with some decorum...I really didn't, but I hoped and assumed it was a one off thing. Because on an intellectual level, they are just ordinary people, nothing special, and I never approved of people crushing on the Doctor anyway...this weekend I was fortunate enough to see my other favourite band, the Guillemots, on stage at our cruddy local concert. Being that it was local, we were the only hardcore fans, so we got right in the middle, right in the front. We had the word Guillemots painted across our faces, and were all wearing the band t-shirts we had bought half an hour before. To cut a long story and a lot of boasting short, after a good half hour of bouncing, hugging and squealing, I must put paid to my hopes of ever reacting well when meeting my idols, because I've been hopelessly starstruck both occasions. Maybe it's a proximity thing...after all, we were only three or four meters away from the Fyfe himself, a little further from the other members of the band...

The Guillemots, because I feel like talking about them, are an experimental four-piece, who never lose sight of what makes great pop - they sing about birds, mountains and the cutest sort of true love; they use everything from sampled screaming to typewriters, with a very strong ethnic-y and inventive use of percussion. You might have heard "Get Over It", being played on Radio 1 all the time. And like all the best bands, they're better live.

They lit up the stage in a festival wholly made up of fuzzy indie-kids playing two guitars and a drum, and pretending to sing about something relevant in obvious repetitive verses. Occasionally three guitars. Certainly not dashing between keys, acoustic guitars, double basses and cowbells...

In any case, all this drooling doesn't bode well for a career in showbiz.


Catherine said...

Wait, you LIKED Michael Collins?

Ninquelosse said...

Ooops. Ah well.

I blumin loved Michael Collins, when I naturally didn't expect to. I thought the period detail was fabulous, as was the direction -
acting wasn't half bad either. On the other hand, I also thought the music was amazing - and good music can wash away any number of sins., what did you think?

Catherine said...

It's been a while since I saw it, but the main things I remember were Julia Roberts' accent floating around aimlessly, stupid historical blunders, no discernable atmosphere and an unfair demonisation of De Valera.

I agree about the acting, though.

Ninquelosse said...

Ok, to be fair, those are all very valid comments.

Rob said...

I managed to catch "Les Enfants du Paradis" in theatre tonight, and it was just phenomenal. It's been far too long since I've seen a film that good.

I knew I'd read about it here, somewhere :D

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