Tiny Beam of Light

Shining a tiny beam of light on some great films you might not know existed (and the odd blockbuster too).

Nowhere Boy (2009) dir: Sam Taylor Wood

Sam Taylor Wood’s latest music themed film is an account of the relationship between a young John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) and the two influential women of his early life Julia (Ann-Marie Duff) and Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas).  I had no particular expectations for the film and I had to get up at the crack of dawn (for me) to see it – especially as I was feeling guilty about not having yet seen a single film at the London Film Festival (too busy working on my own film). And today is the last day! Anyway it was worth it.

I was momentarily thrown by Aaron Johnson as he was clearly a lot older than the character he was playing at the start of the story (a couple of years is an eternity for a growing teenager) so I couldn’t orientate myself to when the story was set. However, once  the film began to move through the story I got over it – he gives a cracking performance that has an essence of the public persona of John Lennon. Aaron Johnson is going to be huge when Kick-Ass opens next year.  I don’t know how accurate the film is with regard to John Lennon’s life but without these two women it implies that John Lennon songwriter, musician and Beatle may never have existed. I also have to say that I was genuinely moved by the story and characters. Call me soppy but it was weirdly emotional.

Almost forgot. The score by Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory was really interesting too – it was kind of traditional but with hidden ‘Beatlesque’ elements – I liked it.

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Filed under: drama, film, music, , , , , ,

Le Donk and Scor-zay-zee (2009) dir: Shane Meadows

Any movie from the Shane Meadows/Paddy Considine team-up is always welcome and here they go back to their roots and the character of ‘Le Donk’ who has been around for about 10 years.

Self funded (with help from Warp) and shot in 5 days with no script and no idea how it would turn out, this mockumentary features Shane Meadows playing a ‘Martin di Bergi’ version of himself as he follows Le Donk (Paddy Considine),  a music industry loser and abuser who you kind of like and his new 20 stone rapper protégé Scor-zay-zee (played by himself) going up to Manchester to roadie for, in Le Donk’s words: ‘The Arctical Monkies’.

I watched this all the way through with a smile on my face – I was pleasantly surprised at how well it all worked – it could easily have been awful.  Enjoyable stuff. The whole audience left happy. Can’t say fairer than that.

Oh – don’t leave as the end credits start – you’ll miss a very funny monologue from Le Donk.

Filed under: film, mockumentary, music, Not Heard Of, , , ,

When You’re Strange (2009) dir: Tom DiCillo

It was late, nothing else to do, there was a queue – so I joined it. Got ticket and sat down. I had no idea what I was about to see.

Go on surprise and entertain me!!!

A minute or two later the director comes out to introduce his film and to apologise for a title card that was going to come up at the start of the film. Something along the lines that: ‘No actors were used in the making of this film.’

Apparently a few critics had walked out during a previous screening, thinking that actors stood in for The Doors in some of the scenes in the film we were about to see. (Either that or it’s part of a PR stunt).

So, the film starts: Someone who looks like a (bearded) Jim Morrisson out and about in the desert. He turns on the radio in his car. A DJ announces: ‘Today Jim Morrisson was found dead in Paris’.

Okay. Interesting. What’s this about?

And so begins a really interesting documentary about Jim Morrisson and The Doors.  How they got together, how they made their music, concerts, politics – the whole shebang – all with original 35mm footage.

I did not know that Jim Morrisson was a film student and had made some short films – outtakes of one were used to frame this film. And also what’s really amazing was that a friend of Jim Morrisson’s, filmmaker Paul Ferrara, followed The Doors around for years filming them. And so some of his footage is used by director Tom DiCillo to create this new documentary which he also narrates.  Apparently Tom’s narration may be replaced by Johnny Depp who saw the film and offered his services – which may help get the film a theatrical release.

I know a few of The Doors’ most famous songs but that’s about it. So for me most of the music as well as the story of this band were new to me.  If you’re a Doors fan, enjoy, if not you’ll still enjoy.

One thing though, according to the director their music has never been used for a car commercial. Not true. I definitely remember hearing ‘Riders on the Storm’ used for a TV tyre commercial.

Anyway, I’m off to buy some Doors tracks.

Filed under: documentary, film, music, , , , , , , ,

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