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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:15 pm 
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My catch-up impressions:

Under the Age - Formally, this is a throwback to the format of the Half Hour Stories, but in terms of Clarke's confidence, and the material's strength, it's in a different class entirely. It's a chamber piece that's dominated by a weird, abrasive mix of menace and jocularity, with queer bartender Susie dominating his tiny domain in a manner that's both sadistic and oddly defensive. He's a million miles away from any contemporary queer stereotype I can recall, and Paul Angelis delivers one hell of a performance in the role. The short play builds to a shocking, but hardly unexpected, conclusion that makes the character seethingly complicated.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
I read the ending quite differently from the writer of the book essay, as I didn't see Susie's last words as being motivated by envy. For me, they revealed that he was acting throughout out of fear, and fully expected that the inevitable violence at the end of the evening would be directed at him. That he willingly offers up the girls as 'sacrificial victims' remains a catastrophic failure of empathy, but it's a more understandable one. It means that his provocative, flirtatious behaviour throughout the encounter would actually have been intended as a kind of intimidation (or, possibly, as an attempt to 'turn' the thug that seemed to be more pliable). The reading offered in the essay assumes that Susie has a desire to be raped, which I find extremely problematic, and not really supported by what else we see of his character.


Horace - We're solidly in a phase where just about every film seems like a great leap forward for Clarke in terms of confidence and complexity, and this peculiar character study is expansive, troubling and brilliantly observed. As is frequently the case with his 70s films, there's a pervasive note of sadness that society is ill-equipped to deal with certain kinds of people, which is a decisive reversal of the normal orientation of films about outsiders.

The Love Girl and the Innocent - This Solzhenitsyn adaptation is by several measures Clarke's most ambitious film to date, with a sprawling cast and an alien setting. It's fascinating to watch him deal with this new challenge, but I found it the first film where the paucity of means really harmed the film, and the script was far less attuned to nuances of character than the domestic collaborations he'd been working on. Thus I found it much less engaging than the surrounding films despite some powerful sequences.

Penda's Fen - I'd seen this a long time ago, but I'd forgotten just how delightfully strange it was. Clarke tackles Rudkin's mystic whimsy in a burly, matter-of-fact way, and somehow it works brilliantly alongside the more characteristic Clarkean elements (the deconstruction of a masculine institution; sensitive and nuanced queer characters; yet another bunch of sympathetic and complex Christians).

A Follower for Emily - For all that this looks like a typical, earnestly well-meaning BBC play, the deeper you look the more extraordinary it becomes. Clarke's gaze is continually distracted by everything that's going on around our geriatric lovebirds, and the expected happy ending is flatly refused without being overtly undercut.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Rather than there being any decisive break, the couple simply start immediately growing apart the moment after they're at their closest - or, more cruelly, the moment Harry finally gets to screw Emily.


Diane - I'd actually seen this long, long ago, but I must have blocked out just how devastating this film was. Maybe as a coping mechanism. Put as bluntly as possible, this is one of the finest British films ever made.

(Non-explicit spoilers follow.) The structure is sheer, brutal genius. The film is divided right down the middle into a mismatched pair of standard British dramas about a young girl dealing with the kinds of things young girls in standard British dramas deal with: family strife, school, work, boyfriends. The girl in each half is Diane, but despite a shared spark of playful sarcasm, she's not quite the same character in them. Her character also doesn't quite conform to the standard expectations of standard British dramas about young girls, and some of her behaviour in both the younger and older sections surprises us: a family fight over a misplaced magazine has a striking air of undermotivated acrimony; sincere romantic overtures are met with a weird bitterness. The reasons for this behaviour are buried in the handful of scenes that divide the two halves and which colour every other second of the film in the most astonishing fashion.

The effect is most striking in the second half. My wife wandered in and watched most of this section of the film and had absolutely no idea why I was responding with shudders of dread or suppressed yelps to what appeared to be entirely innocuous exchanges, and had no idea why I found the film so harrowing.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
The brilliance of this structure is how it forces us into kind of the same headspace as Diane: denying the events of the central scenes and acting as if everything is normal. Diane's only triumph is to be a survivor, but that's enough, and I found her acknowledgement of this in her final speech to her father a moment of amazing heroism on her part - as is, I hope, her disappearance at the end of the film.


Janine Duvitski has been in everything over the years, and is probably best remembered for Abigail's Party, where she gives a perfectly calibrated comic performance for the material, but her work here is stunning, and in most scenes she's playing two different levels of the character at once.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:04 pm 
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zedz wrote:
Janine Duvitski has been in everything over the years, and is probably best remembered for Abigail's Party, where she gives a perfectly calibrated comic performance for the material, but her work here is stunning, and in most scenes she's playing two different levels of the character at once.

I've not seen it but apparently she is in Malick's The New World!

Beyond Abigail's Party, I most remember Duvitski for her supporting roles in two of the best 1990s BBC sitcoms, as the foil to cantankerous elderly people in One Foot In The Grave and Waiting For God.


Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 3:50 pm 
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colinr0380 wrote:
I've not seen it but apparently she is in Malick's The New World!
I want to say she's one of the women in the settlement who help Pocahontas when she first arrives to live there, but it's been a while since I've watched it.

zedz wrote:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
I read the ending quite differently from the writer of the book essay, as I didn't see Susie's last words as being motivated by envy...The reading offered in the essay assumes that Susie has a desire to be raped, which I find extremely problematic, and not really supported by what else we see of his character.
I don't think the essay author assumes that Susie
[Reveal] Spoiler:
has a desire to be raped, but I do think the author has surmised (and I agree) that Susie is fond of rough trade, where a bit of violence is to be expected in an otherwise consensual act. There's that part early on where Susie says something like "I had a rough night last night. Very rough," and touches his ass while looking back knowingly at one of the toughs at the bar. He's basically saying, "I don't mind it a bit rough."


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 7:19 pm 
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colinr0380 wrote:
zedz wrote:
Janine Duvitski has been in everything over the years, and is probably best remembered for Abigail's Party, where she gives a perfectly calibrated comic performance for the material, but her work here is stunning, and in most scenes she's playing two different levels of the character at once.

I've not seen it but apparently she is in Malick's The New World!

Beyond Abigail's Party, I most remember Duvitski for her supporting roles in two of the best 1990s BBC sitcoms, as the foil to cantankerous elderly people in One Foot In The Grave and Waiting For God.

For me she will forever be pushing a pram alongside Helen Mirren in Potter's Blue Remembered Hills.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:23 am 
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peerpee wrote:
FWIW, Rolinson believes the "ROAD (Alive from Off Center, 1990)" listing on imdb was just the US transmission of the 1987 UK version of ROAD, but we'd both love and hate to be proved wrong.


Here is some further information to corroborate Rolinson's assertion, including a contemporary review from The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/1990/09/14/arts/tv-weekend-a-bitter-indictment-of-thatcherism.html

https://www.paleycenter.org/collection/item/?q=meet&p=30&item=T:38104

So, yes, a U.S. broadcast of Clarke's BBC production of Road, as part of the long-running PBS visual arts showcase Alive from Off Center (later renamed Alive TV).

The Paley Center link gives the length as 0:57:14, so it looks like the PBS broadcast was trimmed slightly to fit a one-hour time slot. Alive from Off Center usually ran for 30 minutes, and primarily featured American artists. Road broke from the usual format, and was shown as the 1990 season finale.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:24 am 
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Thanks for that, Ste! I've passed the info on to Rolinson.

Also, there's the 25fps > 24fps (29.97 NTSC) issue, so looks like quite a few minutes were trimmed...


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 2:34 am 
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The Digital Fix reaches the end of its Alan Clarke survey with reviews of Christine and Road.

Which is an excellent opportunity to post a single set of links to the entire 30,000+ word opus.

1. George's Room + The Last Train Through Harecastle Tunnel + Sovereign's Company
2. The Hallelujah Handshake + To Encourage the Others
3. Under the Age + Horace
4. The Love-Girl and the Innocent + Penda's Fen
5. A Follower for Emily + Diane
6. Funny Farm + Scum
7. Bukovsky + Nina
8. Danton's Death + Beloved Enemy
9. Psy-Warriors + Baal
10. Stars of the Roller State Disco + Contact
11. Christine + Road
12. The Firm + Elephant
Bonus DVD: Half-Hour Story


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:37 am 
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Some great write-ups in this thread on the films that I've made my way through so far.

I noticed a brief audio dropout on my copy 1:45:15 into Love Girl and the Innocent. Is anyone else experiencing the same thing? I suppose it could be down to the source.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:48 am 
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The amusing performing monkey calling himself 'Alan Clarke' has tragically turned out to be no more popular at Blu-ray.com than he was here. I suspect they'll probably ban him soon as well, so enjoy his last flare-up while it lasts.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:01 am 
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Alan Clarke wrote:
Rossellini is foreign, Dreyer has no commercial appeal whatsoever, unlike Clarke

A+ analysis


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:09 am 
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I almost stopped reading at the suggestion that Rossellini hasn't influenced any filmmakers (along with other pesky foreign filmmaker like those other hacks Truffaut, Godard, Dreyer, et al.), while Clarke has influenced everyone in the world, apparently.

But I'm glad I did continue as the pay off is pretty good. Also, I'm glad to see he has now seen a few of Clarke's films, so his Annie Wilkes "I'm your number one fan" thing is a little more passable.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:14 am 
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While I'm 90% sure he's just pulling sales figures out of thin air, I wouldn't be surprised if someone was having a go at him by claiming to be a BFI employee and feeding him nonsense as a lark-- he exhibited extraordinary gullibility and inability to distinguish sarcasm here, he'd be an easy target for anyone looking to kill time (note: do not actually do this if you're not already doing it, I'm not saying this to goad someone into doing it)


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:18 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
While I'm 90% sure he's just pulling sales figures out of thin air, I wouldn't be surprised if someone was having a go at him by claiming to be a BFI employee and feeding him nonsense as a lark-- he exhibited extraordinary gullibility and inability to distinguish sarcasm here, he'd be an easy target for anyone looking to kill time (note: do not actually do this if you're not already doing it, I'm not saying this to goad someone into doing it)

Yes, I was very curious to know who he'd been speaking to, but not curious enough to actually ask.

Ben Stoddart, on the other hand, most definitely is the real deal, and by far the leading authority on BFI BD/DVD sales figures, what with this being a key part of his job.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:44 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:24 pm
"The greatest British director."

After having spammed this board for months, didn't this person admit to having only seen a couple of Clarke's films?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:36 pm 
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Adam there is right though : it IS such an odd thing to lie about. Maybe somebody was indeed having a ball playing him, or maybe he wanted to pass as a big guy with insider's knowledge ?

cdnchris wrote:
Truffaut, Godard, Dreyer, et al.


Who are those ? Did they make anything worthy ?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:31 pm 
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Lets keep in mind that any info about the set's performance from BFI staff and their cronies is coming from people who are getting paid, in money, for their involvement with this most important of all box sets, so whether that was their sole motivation or not, they have a financial stake in all this and are hardly objective. Info made up by Clarke's biggest fan (and fellow filmmaker) is likely to be closer to the truth.

cdnchris wrote:
his Annie Wilkes "I'm your number one fan" thing
Funny, yesterday I watched this video of Annie flipping out at a B&N store, and I couldn't help but connect it to Alan_Clarke's, er, impatience about receiving his set in this thread.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:37 pm 
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He apparently said that the set was selling really well and that only three hundred copies were left. Until the BFI rep said they had plenty in stock. Naturally I have no idea why he'd even say this but I thought I'd pass on this information. :roll:


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 2:23 pm 
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...and the Blu-ray.com moderators have intervened in their usual sledgehammer fashion.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 2:41 pm 
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Can we take him back?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 4:25 pm 
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tenia wrote:
Adam there is right though : it IS such an odd thing to lie about. Maybe somebody was indeed having a ball playing him, or maybe he wanted to pass as a big guy with insider's knowledge ?

Given his performance here, I'd say the latter. Don't forget he was posing as a Clarke expert for a long time before we managed to establish that he'd only seen two films. He's extraordinarily ignorant about film culture but has a pathological need to assert an unearned authority in all his statements. You could make a strong argument that Rossellini is the single most influential director of the post-war period, given his pioneering of Neorealism and subsequent changes of style, which directly influenced the Nouvelle Vague and several of the more austere strands that followed it. He's still a direct influence on films being made today (the Dardennes, Certified Copy, The Death of Louis XIV).


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 4:33 pm 
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My highlight was "Rossellini is not as famous as Alan Clarke, trust me"


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 4:52 pm 
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zedz wrote:
tenia wrote:
You could make a strong argument that Rossellini is the single most influential director of the post-war period, given his pioneering of Neorealism and subsequent changes of style, which directly influenced the Nouvelle Vague and several of the more austere strands that followed it. He's still a direct influence on films being made today (the Dardennes, Certified Copy, The Death of Louis XIV).
Definitely. And let's not forget pretty much all of Italian cinema after him - Fellini, Antonioni, Pasolini, Bertolucci and what we might call the "post-neorealists" of the late 50s/early 60s and beyond (Rosi, Pontecorvo, Bellocchio, the Tavianis). Not including Satiajit Ray, Scorsese, scores of others. He was also a top favourite of both Rohmer and Rivette.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 4:58 pm 
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zedz wrote:
tenia wrote:
Adam there is right though : it IS such an odd thing to lie about. Maybe somebody was indeed having a ball playing him, or maybe he wanted to pass as a big guy with insider's knowledge ?

Given his performance here, I'd say the latter.

But his story is so convincing:

Alan Clarke wrote:
I have a bunch of friends who work at the BFI. I meet up with them on a weekly basis and they tell me how it's selling.


This is also great:
Alan Clarke wrote:
Blu-ray.com user wrote:
Alan Clarke wrote:
The BFI Best List should be taken with a grain of salt. I doubt even the BFI staffers take such lists seriously. What is in the top 10? Let me guess, Citizen Kane, Vertigo. Pandering to other lists and cinephiles is what they are doing. The BFI have often considered Clarke to be among the best of the best, they don't need to put his films into some hokey yearly list in order to signify that.

I think you are understating Clarke's popularity. Gus Van Sant, Paul Greengrass, Antonia Bird, Samantha Morton, Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Phil Daniels, The Dardenne bros, Michael Haneke, Danny Boyle...I mean the list goes on and on...these men/women have gone record as saying that Clarke is a big influence on them.

How many filmmakers have been influenced by Rosselini??

Thankfully the BFI's Directors list gives us an insight in to this too.

http://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/s ... /directors

Dreyer features very heavily, Rossellini is in there too. No Clarke tho.

Historically the BFI list has been seen as a solid barometer for where film culture stands at any particular time. It's not compiled by BFI staff, rather 846 important people from within and around film culture (academics, filmmakers, critics, programmers, festival directors, etc).

Ok well that doesn't change my opinion of how I see Alan Clarke. It does sound like 846 'important' people need see more films though, but thanks for statistical data lesson.

Implying that they need to see more films by Alan Clarke. And then two posts later he mentions that he still hasn't even watched Road!
Alan Clarke wrote:
I'm really looking forward to Road. Like you, I have no idea about it and don't know what's it's about, but I believe it's considered top tier Clarke so should be interesting to see at the very least. My favourite so far has to be Scum. It just reminds me so much about myself that it's terrifying.

Note: I'm partly preserving posts here in case the Blu-ray.com mods delete any more of them.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:05 pm 
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Sorry if this was posted here before, but here's Nick's work-in-progress list of real Alan Clarke's favourite films.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:08 pm 
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rwaits wrote:
"The greatest British director."
Then post 243: People can either buy it or not, but if you want to live in a fantasy world where the greatest director of all time's limited edition blu ray boxset won't sell out, then please do.


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