Friday 29 December 2017

We Don't Go Back #73: Doctor Who, twice more

The thing that few commentators on Doctor Who outside of the hard-core fan communities ever properly get across is how it isn't really one show. When its entire cast, production crew and writing team change every few years, this is inevitable. Pretty much every sweeping "Doctor Who is/does" statement you can make, even on the most fundamental level, in terms of theme and content, needs to be suffixed with "except when it isn't/doesn’t" to be true.

I think the one real exception to that rule is only this: Doctor Who is a cultural artefact that reflects the prevailing atmosphere of the time, and because it's science fiction (except when it isn't) it can comment on the milieu it's in more freely, and with more feeling.

Saturday 23 December 2017

On a Thousand Walls #10: Possession (1981)

This post is also The Question in Bodies #6.
Possession – a film that was banned for some years in the UK, butchered in the US and only finally released in its intended form in 2013 – feels for me like a low-key simulation of trauma.

It has that irrational, raw feeling, is all about the confusion, the moment where you freeze up and nothing makes sense, and you can’t form a thought, and you react in ways that afterwards leave you deeply ashamed and humiliated and messed up for days or weeks afterwards. You see it happen, the way that characters try desperately to find some reason in the ways they’re behaving, in the time they give each other, only for the fight-or-flight reaction to kick in and drive them to do wildly inappropriate things.

It's trauma. It feels like you’re watching a trauma happen in real time.

Thursday 14 December 2017

On Patronage
For about a year and a half now, I've benefitted from the modest support of a profile on Patreon. I'm glad it's there. For one, without my Patreon backers, I couldn't have reviewed quite as many films as I have. Last week, Patreon decided to ramp up its fees for contributors. The result of that was that many, many supporters across the board jumped ship, so much so that Patreon reversed the decision. But it didn't bring the supporters back. As a creator with only a modest support and a Patreon I've neglected, I decided that it was time to start figuring out how to improve things. So from now on, patrons get to see my writing posts before anyone else, and I'm asking support for the work I've done rather than a general monthly subscription (so think of it as a regular tip jar that keeps my work going), which means that in quiet months, I won't ask for so much cash. The new model begins with the next post I do, and if you're supporting me already and you're thinking, this isn't what I signed up for, that's OK, there's no rancour involved. 

If you don't want to support me financially (even if it's just the occasional quid), that's OK too. I'm going to post everything here eventually – just, after the patrons see it. It'll encourage me to be more circumspect with my work anyway, and more careful about saving it.

If you can spare a few quid every so often, please feel free to help me out. But even if you can't, thanks for coming here. My blog's readership has grown from me knowing the names of everyone who read it back in 2015 to me seeing hundreds and occasionally thousands of people visiting.

And I'm grateful for every reader I have, every share, every bit of support I receive.

You can support my Patreon here, or via the button on the top of the web version of the page.

Edit: there's an early access post at the Patreon now, onPossession (1981). Start as you mean to go on, right?

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Come, They Told Me

Some things wound us, things so trivial to others. Wounds so deep and so abiding. Some things open them up. This is the worst time for that.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

We Don't Go Back #72: Photographing Fairies (1997)

I first saw Photographing Fairies during its brief cinematic release in 1997. I'd just graduated university, in that weightless time when I had decided never to go back to my old home town. I saw it on my 22nd birthday. My future wife was one of the people who came with me.

I don't know if it was the sort of film that you go to see with your mates on a birthday outing. But I think, even then, I knew it was the sort of film that I seemed to gravitate towards. I don't remember thinking it was the greatest thing I'd ever seen, but it haunted me, and looking at it now, I can see why.

It's a very theosophical film; my fractured, ambivalent relationship with theosophy has informed much of my writing over the years, and the film's own equally fractured and ambivalent relationship with the ideas of the movement resonated with me, I suppose.

Monday 11 December 2017

Perplexed Music

Yesterday I was lucky enough, thanks to Jon Dear, to take advantage of an invitation to attend the premiere of Mark McGann's new short film Perplexed Music at the BFI's National Film Theatre 1. It was good to see Jon again (and to catch up with several friends who were also in attendance).

Tuesday 5 December 2017

On a Thousand Walls #9: Dead Man's Shoes (2004)

(Most of my film posts contain spoilers. This one contains complete ruiners. You have been warned.)

Film genres are an arbitrary thing; their balkanisation isn't as intuitive as we think it is, and every so often a film comes along that proves how silly they are. Get Out has already won an award for Best Comedic Performance (this year's MTV awards, for LilRel Howery) and already people are struggling to categorise it – is it a horror, a thriller, a vicious social satire?

Shane Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes goes even beyond this: could it be a kitchen sink drama, Ken Loach-style? Is it a psychological revenge thriller? A slasher horror? It doesn't just defy these categories, it actively leans in to them. It's a haunting, gut-churning watch, tense and funny and desperately sad.