Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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colinr0380
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Re: Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

#676 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:56 am

The fourth episode of Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema, on sci-fi, was excellent. After that shaky start with the Rom-com and Heist episodes, this one plays much better. It is still Kermode taking the viewer on a skim through the big trends of the genre but I was particularly impressed here with the writing and choice of clips that felt as if it made some great linkages, not just between films (though the emphasis on the floating pen moment in 2001 resonates with the, chosen but uncommented on, scene with the floating pen in Gravity later on) but between sections of the programme itself. I particularly liked the way that Interstellar gets used to transition across the 'inner space' and 'outer space' section. Or the way that in the opening section on time travel we jump immediately into making the case for Vertigo being a kind of time travel film before jumping to Twelve Monkeys (and the scene from Vertigo in the cinema shown in that film) and then making the jump back to La Jeteé as the key intermediary between the two, which sort of mirrors the overshooting back and forth time traveller of Gilliam's film!

Another moment I liked, which could have been more bluntly handled but was left a bit subtler, was the discussion about computerised motion control cameras in the 1977 Star Wars film almost feeling as if "the cameraman had been sent out into space to capture a scene, much as they were sent out into Monument Valley in the classic westerns", which in its split screen of TIE fighters on one side and Indians on horseback in The Searchers on the other underlines the explicit point being made but also implicitly suggests that science-fiction are kind of the modern day westerns, exploring (and exploiting) new frontiers and encountering (and usually fighting to the death with) other races!

It was little touches such as these in the way that the footage is being edited and the commentary structured that makes this particular programme stand out from the previous ones, as it sort of feels as if it got an extra couple of passes and finessing that especially those first two episodes lacked. After the couple of asides by Kermode in the Coming of Age episode last week, this one also features a few more personal touches where you can see the passion for this particular genre coming through. Especially in the Silent Running section, of course! But also in tracing the evolution of the shape of UFOs in Jungian versus Freudian terms!

This also felt like the first episode to venture deeper into the past of cinema, or at least beyond the 50s, which also helped it to feel a bit more comprehensive, even if the series is still primarily functioning as a sweeping overview. The programme of course has to tackle Metropolis, but also finds time to show a clip from the 1930 sci-fi musical Just Imagine (as an example of a contemporary film being heavily influenced by the style of Metropolis) as well as Lang's The Woman In The Moon during the section on the serious depictions of space travel, which also brings up the Soviet film The Road To Space (as well as the more fantastical Aelita)

It was also interesting that although there are a few darker and depressing sci-fi horror films mentioned (of course Alien, the 1980s version of The Thing and the 50s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The film noir style of Blade Runner and its recent sequel. Ex Machina), as well as alien invasion films (Independence Day) and films that use science-fiction as a metaphor for contemporary views of the world (The Brother From Another Planet, Born In Flames, District 9 and its original short. Though strangely no mention of 1988's Alien Nation at all!) that there is a bit more emphasis on the more uplifting and forward-looking aspects of science fiction films in this programme. I guess that must be where Kermode and Kim Newman's interests may lie, though there is a general tone to the entire series that appears to be seeing film less as individual pieces than for where they sit in representation and progressive politics, which feels a bit restrictive in some ways, but means that we get the female leads of Arrival and Gravity (and Ex Machina, as an example of noir-style femme fatale using her sexuality in a liberating way!) celebrated (though also the Ghost In The Shell remake described as 'controversial'), as well as a section at the end taking in "Afro-Futurism" as represented in the 1970s by Sun Ra in Space Is The Place (which belatedly revealed to me what this piece of music was named after!) moving up to Black Panther's technologically advanced world.

That is a nice and positive take on science fiction but it does mean that the more dystopian aspects (as a cynic, my favourites!) are shortchanged a little because they suggest that there is no escape from some of the forces of the human world that crush both other humans and aliens in its implacable forward march. I suppose Kermode's paired discussion of The Man Who Fell To Earth and Under The Skin is a bit of a nod to that though (and Kermode does talk a lot about the sentimental sadness of environmental loss in Silent Running and WALL-E), but I really miss the idea of political sci-fi in this programme, from 1984 to THX-1138 (which is the truly egregious missing reference here). Let alone something like Annihilation, which might have been too recently released to feature here.

I suppose wishing this episode was half an hour longer rather than being concerned that the episode was padded by half an hour with irrelevant digressions to reach its hour length (as in the Heist episode and the fantasy tangents in the Rom-Com one) is a good feeling to have been left with! I am much more hopeful that the final episode, on horror, will be a strong one now.

Oh, and I timed it at 24 minutes before Kermode brings up The Ninth Configuration!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

jlnight
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Re: Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

#677 Post by jlnight » Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:34 am

Seven Men from Now, starts Thu 9th Aug (tomorrow), 5Spike.

Plaza Suite, starts Sat 11th Aug, Paramount Network.

Night of the Living Dead (Romero), Tues 14th Aug, BBC4. Preceded by Secrets of Cinema and followed by Hitchcock's Shower Scene: 78/52.

Ten Little Indians (1974), Thu 16th Aug, London Live.

Night of the Demon, Fri 17th Aug, Talking Pictures. Also Tues 28th Aug.

Close My Eyes, Sat 18th Aug, London Live.
Cal, late Sat 18th Aug, London Live.
Hell is a City, very late Sat 18th Aug, Talking Pictures. Also Fri 24th Aug.

Town on Trial, Sun 19th Aug, Talking Pictures. Also Wed 22nd Aug.

I Walk the Line (1970), Mon 20th Aug, Talking Pictures. Also Sat 25th Aug.

EDIT: Close My Eyes and Cal added to list. Close My Eyes always turns up on Film4 now and again but Cal hasn't been seen on TV for a while.
Last edited by jlnight on Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

#678 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:40 am

jlnight wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:34 am
Night of the Living Dead (Romero), Tues 14th Aug, BBC4. Preceded by Secrets of Cinema and followed by Hitchcock's Shower Scene: 78/52.
Amusingly, and this might have been intended by Film4 all along as the climax of their zombie film season, but at the exact same time as the Secrets of Cinema episode on horror and Night of the Living Dead is screening on BBC4, Film4 are screening the Joseph Fiennes starring biblical epic Risen at 9 p.m. on Tuesday 14th!

Aside from Risen the other premiere is also on Film4 - Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is on at 11.20 p.m. on Wednesday 15th.

Continuing with the laugh a minute theme, next week BBC2 is showing the documentary Sylvia Plath: Inside The Bell jar at 9 p.m. on Saturday 11th, with a repeat screening of the Gwyneth Paltrow starring Sylvia at 2.30 a.m. (!) in the early hours of Sunday 12th.

The reason for the big gap between the Sylvia Plath documentary and film there is because BBC2 are also starting a season of films and programmes about Indian culture and are screening the 2002 version of the oft filmed story of Devdas at 10.45 p.m. on Saturday. It has been shown three times before on UK TV but never in such a prime time weekend slot before, so that is interesting! (A few scenes shot in the UK probably helps a bit there too, I guess!). On BBC2 at 9 p.m. on Monday 13th there is also going to be the first in a two part documentary Bollywood: The World's Biggest Film Industry.

In terms of other repeats Film4 has lots of Studio Ghibli throughout the weekday schedules: My Neighbour Totoro, From Up On Poppy Hill, Laputa: Castle In The Sky, Porco Rosso, Ponyo and When Marnie Was There. And BBC2 has a few screenings of classic Ealing films with Hue and Cry at 12.20 p.m. on Wednesday 15th, The Maggie (directed by Alexander Mackendrick) at 12.15 p.m. on Thursday 16th, as well as Scott of the Antarctic at 12 noon on Friday 17th.

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Re: Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

#679 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:23 pm

This is not TV but it was difficult to know where else to put this (do we not have a dedicated short film section as yet?): the BBC's Film Programme on Radio 4 (and on podcast) had an episode a week ago in which Patrick Kennedy and Rosamund Pike came in to talk about their recent short film adaptation of The Human Voice, based on the play by Jean Cocteau. Following up on this, I also found that the 1966 TV adaptation starring Ingrid Bergman is also on YouTube for the moment!

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Re: Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

#680 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:46 pm

The fifth and final episode of Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema was as good as the sci-fi episode, though this one seemed a bit more spoilery than the others (the endings of The Brood and Night of the Living Dead feature), perhaps necessarily so because of showing all of the jump scares and violent scenes! Of course The Exorcist gets mentioned (with a walkthrough of the dream sequence and subliminal demon flash as Kermode's favourite sequence in horror) but it was nice to see the jump scare from Exorcist III noted as well. There is a lot that gets skimmed over (for instance you would be forgiven for thinking that Carrie was only notable for its final dream sequence jump scare, or George A. Romero only made Night of the Living Dead!), but this episode also gets into silent cinema with Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, and keeps returning back to the 1931 Dracula in each of its separate sections. Lots of emphasis also on how modern horror is flourishing at the moment with Insidious, It Follows, Unfriended, Get Out, et al. I'll just post up my viewing notes from this episode:

"Are horror films a rite of passage for generations of filmgoes, contemporary evolution of gothic literature, a reprehensible exploitative spectacle cashing in on the most depraved instincts of humanity for quick profit, or the most challenging and creative field of filmmaking where the lowliest filmmakers with a scary idea can have a breakout hit while the best backed big studio production is not guaranteed a box office return. Or is it all of the above?"

A recognisable horror style. Comparing the 'techno-thriller' prison of Manhunter with the gothic dungeon of Silence of the Lambs

Speaking of which, as with the other episodes this is divided up thematically:

1. The Journey - traveling from ostensible normality into the older world, another mind, or another dimension - examples here: Psycho, Angel Heart and Lisa Bonet's chicken blood dance (which along with the blood sex scene caused her to get fired from The Cosby Show), the 1931 Dracula, opening of the Evil Dead, opening of The Wicker Man and opening of The Shining placed together.
2. The Ominous Atmosphere - "you're all doomed" characters from Friday The 13th and Get Out. A nice focus on Carnival of Souls, the opening of Suspiria, the hammering on the door in The Haunting
3. The Scary Place - Edgar Wright's "Don't" trailer from Grindhouse, the first death in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, British public information film, the toll on the frail psyche in The Haunting
4. Sound - Eraserhead, Paranormal Activity (which only exists as a horror series because of loud bangs), The Orphanage
5. The Jump Scare - Psycho Exorcist III, the dream sequence(s) in American Werewolf in London
6. The Monster - Leatherface. The Universal monsters. In the 80s Werewolf effects occurring in 'real time' and full view - The Howling. Body horror. Tetsuo: The Iron Man. The Exorcist moving from 'witch makeup' to wounds that could have been self inflicted. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The terror of the 'normal looking person' with the Ed Gein inspired figures, including namechecking Deranged. Masks: Onibaba, Eyes Without a Face, Halloween, Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera and He Who Laughs. Scary clowns resurgence: It and Poltergeist. Childhood fears moving to adult issues of sex (Room 237 in The Shining). Namechecking the 'Vietnam era' of American indies with Last House on the Left and contrasting against the invasion and infection paranoia 'fake news' of It Comes At Night. Modern techno-fears with Unfriended (though I would have chosen Nerve!)
7. The Savant - the knowledgeable figure who knows what is going on and how to combat evil - Peter Cushing as Van Helsing; Zelda Rubinstein in Poltergeist; Lynn Shaye in the Insidious films moving from support to lead over the series; Donald Pleasance in Halloween. "Experts bringing respectability to a disreputable genre", then twisting trope in Witchfinder General, Jaws and so on
8. The Chase - Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead. Development of Steadicam through Halloween, The Shining, The Evil Dead. It Follows.
9. The Final Girl - Alien, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Catherine Hadwicke's Red Riding Hood(!), Halloween, The Babadook, the Iranian film Under The Shadow moving from neo-realism to abstraction(which I really want to track down now!)
10. The Exorcism - combating the menace, whether that is vampires, the Devil, the living dead or the black survivor of the living dead. Shock 'downbeat' endings becoming a trope, "mutating into the sequel hook with Halloween" - Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday The 13th never ending. Carrie's jump scare from beyond the finality of the end of the film, living on in her classmate's mind. Life after death.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

#681 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:10 pm

Next week's big films are all clustered together on Sunday 19th: BBC1 are showing the 2016 adaptation of Swallows and Amazons at 5 p.m., which is a film that I have been avoiding like the plague because of the egregious crime of changing one of the main character's names from Titty to Tatty to spare sensitivities. Perhaps even more concerning though is that apparently this new version has 'sexed up' the material by making the reclusive uncle writing his memoirs on his houseboat, who the children go about making up stories about, actually being part of a spy plot tied into wartime secrets! It would seem that the entire point of the story is about the power of imagination, so making everything literal with actual danger seems to rather miss the point somewhat. (It kind of seems a bit reminiscent of a period remake of Alex Garland's The Beach from that trailer!) It would be as wrongheaded as making a film of the Dad's Army series where they actually have to fight off a German invasion! :wink:

I guess that whatever happens, we will always have the 1974 version!

The big schedule clash happens later in the evening: at 9 p.m. Channel 4 have the first showing of Bridge of Spies (lots of spy plots going on during Sunday night!), whilst at 10 p.m. Channel 5 have the premiere of Straight Outta Compton, and both of those are still playing and clash with the film showing on BBC2 at 11.15 p.m. that features the incongruous image of Emile Hirsch in the Welsh Valleys, Just Jim!

The most interesting film of the week is tucked away on the Horror Channel though, with Bernard Rose's 2015 version of Frankenstein at 9 p.m. on Saturday 18th.

BBC2's afternoon repeats continue with Whiskey Galore! on Monday 20th at 12.25 p.m., a A Hard Day's Night at 12.20 p.m on Wednesday 22nd and In Which We Serve at 12 noon on Thursday 23rd. Following Waiting To Exhale a few weeks back, Film4 are screening the other rarely shown Angela Bassett film How Stella Got Her Groove Back, at 11.15 p.m. on Thursday 23rd.

Speaking of Film4, they continue their Studio Ghibli film over next week with The Wind Rises, Castle In The Sky, Porco Rosso, Ocean Waves, Howl's Moving Castle and two separate screenings of Whisper of the Heart, one on Monday morning at 11 a.m., which is definitely the dubbed version, and one at 1.40 a.m. (!) on the morning of Friday 24th, which perhaps might be the subtitled version.

Also Film4 have a Brian De Palma double bill of The Fury and Dressed To Kill on Friday 24th from 11.15 p.m.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat Aug 18, 2018 5:10 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

#682 Post by Mr. Deltoid » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:46 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:46 pm
The fifth and final episode of Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema was as good as the sci-fi episode, though this one seemed a bit more spoilery than the others (the endings of The Brood and Night of the Living Dead feature), perhaps necessarily so because of showing all of the jump scares and violent scenes! Of course The Exorcist gets mentioned (with a walkthrough of the dream sequence and subliminal demon flash as Kermode's favourite sequence in horror) but it was nice to see the jump scare from Exorcist III noted as well. There is a lot that gets skimmed over (for instance you would be forgiven for thinking that Carrie was only notable for its final dream sequence jump scare, or George A. Romero only made Night of the Living Dead!), but this episode also gets into silent cinema with Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, and keeps returning back to the 1931 Dracula in each of its separate sections. Lots of emphasis also on how modern horror is flourishing at the moment with Insidious, It Follows, Unfriended, Get Out, et al. I'll just post up my viewing notes from this episode:

"Are horror films a rite of passage for generations of filmgoes, contemporary evolution of gothic literature, a reprehensible exploitative spectacle cashing in on the most depraved instincts of humanity for quick profit, or the most challenging and creative field of filmmaking where the lowliest filmmakers with a scary idea can have a breakout hit while the best backed big studio production is not guaranteed a box office return. Or is it all of the above?"

A recognisable horror style. Comparing the 'techno-thriller' prison of Manhunter with the gothic dungeon of Silence of the Lambs

Speaking of which, as with the other episodes this is divided up thematically:

1. The Journey - traveling from ostensible normality into the older world, another mind, or another dimension - examples here: Psycho, Angel Heart and Lisa Bonet's chicken blood dance (which along with the blood sex scene caused her to get fired from The Cosby Show), the 1931 Dracula, opening of the Evil Dead, opening of The Wicker Man and opening of The Shining placed together.
2. The Ominous Atmosphere - "you're all doomed" characters from Friday The 13th and Get Out. A nice focus on Carnival of Souls, the opening of Suspiria, the hammering on the door in The Haunting
3. The Scary Place - Edgar Wright's "Don't" trailer from Grindhouse, the first death in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, British public information film, the toll on the frail psyche in The Haunting
4. Sound - Eraserhead, Paranormal Activity (which only exists as a horror series because of loud bangs), The Orphanage
5. The Jump Scare - Psycho Exorcist III, the dream sequence(s) in American Werewolf in London
6. The Monster - Leatherface. The Universal monsters. In the 80s Werewolf effects occurring in 'real time' and full view - The Howling. Body horror. Tetsuo: The Iron Man. The Exorcist moving from 'witch makeup' to wounds that could have been self inflicted. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The terror of the 'normal looking person' with the Ed Gein inspired figures, including namechecking Deranged. Masks: Onibaba, Eyes Without a Face, Halloween, Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera and He Who Laughs. Scary clowns resurgence: It and Poltergeist. Childhood fears moving to adult issues of sex (Room 237 in The Shining). Namechecking the 'Vietnam era' of American indies with Last House on the Left and contrasting against the invasion and infection paranoia 'fake news' of It Comes At Night. Modern techno-fears with Unfriended (though I would have chosen Nerve!)
7. The Savant - the knowledgeable figure who knows what is going on and how to combat evil - Peter Cushing as Van Helsing; Zelda Rubinstein in Poltergeist; Lynn Shaye in the Insidious films moving from support to lead over the series; Donald Pleasance in Halloween. "Experts bringing respectability to a disreputable genre", then twisting trope in Witchfinder General, Jaws and so on
8. The Chase - Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead. Development of Steadicam through Halloween, The Shining, The Evil Dead. It Follows.
9. The Final Girl - Alien, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Catherine Hadwicke's Red Riding Hood(!), Halloween, The Babadook, the Iranian film Under The Shadow moving from neo-realism to abstraction(which I really want to track down now!)
10. The Exorcism - combating the menace, whether that is vampires, the Devil, the living dead or the black survivor of the living dead. Shock 'downbeat' endings becoming a trope, "mutating into the sequel hook with Halloween" - Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday The 13th never ending. Carrie's jump scare from beyond the finality of the end of the film, living on in her classmate's mind. Life after death.
Cheers for these write-ups over the past few weeks Colin. I was mixed on the series overall, but since it is the only programme on British TV that is having a discussion about Film (as rare these days as a tropical fish on a trout farm!) that still made it a must-watch in my book.
Overall, it provided a good overview of Genre for novices (I don't mean that patronisingly) but for seasoned film fans it probably felt a little thematically light-weight (for instance, is there a Horror Film fan left who doesn't know that Night of the Living Dead is a barbed commentary on the racial and social turbulence of '60's America? But hey, maybe I'm being presumptuous?)
Lots of clips (especially the Horror ep.), made it sometimes feel like the list-every-example! televisual equivalent of Newman's Nightmare Movies book. But where that book paid off by breaking down genre into sub-sections (and multiple sub-genres, so we get a detailed account of the evolution of, say, the Mutant Animal Rampage Movie for instance!) here there simply wasn't enough time for such esoteric digression.
Perhaps that's asking too much, though the brief section on the fear of clowns (and whatever the technical term for that was!) made me think what a fascinating lineage something like that has, going from He Who Gets Slapped, It and spilling over into the wider culture (that Scary Clown Sighting craze a few years back!) I'm sure Newman could fill up an hour with that easy!!
Anyway, cheers.

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Re: Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

#683 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:26 am

I would agree and one of the problems I think comes up a lot with the series, probably due to time constraints, is the way that we are constantly being shown parts of films (with somewhat clunky “Now look at this scene…” transitions, which is also an aspect that gets better as the series progresses and the exhortation to look feels like it is coming from Kermode’s personal interest rather than an admonishment to pay attention! But I still think that all of those “Now look at this..” moments could have been removed without consequence and allowed five extra minutes in total for more films to be discussed!) and while it is quite fun to see moments of film picked out and celebrated, it can sometimes feel as if they are being pulled to make a point that might be quite different from the way that a moment was intended to play in the film itself.

For example Interstellar gets used (really well, I think) in the sci-fi episode to bridge the gap between time travel films and outer space films, with a nod towards the way that Christopher Nolan always plays with time in his films. But that also runs the risk of reducing Interstellar to ‘just’ being a space travel film with a time dilation gimmick, which kind of misses the core themes that make it so special, of the pursuit of knowledge and the cost of that: the potential insularity that damages those around you if the pursuit becomes single minded or selfish set against the need to explore for the sake of all, both family and humanity as a whole. But that is too specific a theme to Interstellar itself, and a bit too complex to get into in an hour long programme that is sketching in the wider themes of the sci-fi film. Instead it is used more as another time travel/space travel film because those aspects are what allows it to fit into the structure of the programme, removing the film’s more unique aspects and turning it into one more film amongst many that have dealt with the general themes. The special qualities are lost in the need for a sweeping overview.

Similarly something like the Rhianna scene from Girlhood is removed from its delinquent outsider, through being inducted into and feeling part of a gang, to eventual gang boss trajectory of the main character, instead just becoming in the “Coming of Age” episode a group of girls having a moment of fun lip synching together. It is a great scene, but without wider context of how it works in its particular film, it is used as a moment that could just have come from Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, et al!

I talked about my concerns about the use of Quick Change a few posts back, that kind of missed the idea of the film being about the perils of escaping ‘the City’ post-heist, which is a wonderful twist on the heist film, but kind of gets overlooked just to show a moment of Bill Murray as the explosives covered clown at the beginning. Similarly a lot of the other films used in the Heist section sort of lose their unique qualities and become a montage of car chases, threatened bank tellers and so on. (When Baby Driver and Drive can look like the same film, it ignores their specific qualities. Plus there is no past context, especially no mention of the 70s film The Driver)

In the horror episode, the moment of the militia shooting Ben dead at the end of Night of the Living Dead is focused on, but that kind of ignores that the entire film is about certainties in relationships being brutally ripped apart, often literally! The murder of the mother by her daughter; the brother coming back for his sister; the young lovers being incinerated; the two older men fighting for control of the situation that neither of them have control over; plus the white militia shooting the black survivor dead. But in the episode it just focuses on Ben’s death, juxtaposing and resituating the film as part of a trend with It Comes At Night and Get Out, at the expense of all of the other things the film is doing. Making it just one things works for the political point that the episode is making, but its not getting entirely at what makes the film a true classic.

But then it is also a episode that uses a number of clips from It Follows without ever mentioning it is kind of an STD transmission metaphor, providing a new take on the common horror trope of sex=death! And so on…

But I do not want to be too harsh on the series for this, because this is really an ‘issue’ that arises with any documentary piece, but feels especially obvious in a piece on cinema when the audience can often be as familiar with the imagery on show as the presenter is: that selection ‘bias’ is always present, if just because certain things play well together or edit better into each other for the flow of the piece, and it might be very tempting to let that flow take precedence over original context. (Histoire(s) du cinema feels all about the ‘flow’ of imagery to create a new work above all else, for example)

The split screen moments are perhaps the least problematic and the most superficial, as they often play on easily graspable juxtapositions, such as Salem’s Lot and Let The Right One In both having child vampires outside the window. Though I do think that the juxtaposition of Monument Valley in The Searchers and the TIE fighter in Star Wars works really well, mostly because it raises parallels that are a bit more complex about seemingly entirely different genres (one grounded in real location; the other literally manufactured, even in pre-CGI days) sharing a lot of core thematic similarities. And also because those ideas are not underlined in Kermode’s commentary but are just implied by the juxtaposition.

It is also important to note that the intention here is focused on the particular ‘genre’ rather than the individual film. This is about how individual films feed into that wider genre, subverting elements to provide new twists but always remaining subordinate to the rules of the particular genre as defined in each episode. It also perhaps provides a warning to the viewer (as with unyielding adherence to the auteur theory) that frameworks through which to view a subject are very handy as an organisational tool for structuring a conversation but can lead off into more detached from the source material areas as well. This perhaps makes the Rom-Com episode the most interesting one, as it feels like a number of films focused on would not strictly fit a definition of ‘rom-com’ and more be romantic fantasies, even romantic dramas, but the strict need to define everything as a ‘rom com’ leads to the definition of the genre itself in the episode falling apart under the strain (whilst all the other genres focused on feel widely enough defined to accommodate some of the flights of fancy and tangents)

And there is also the issue of running time. An hour for each genre is not really enough to provide any more than a literal bullet point list of the common themes of each genre and a few quick clips of films to illustrate them in practice, looking similar to each other perhaps more because they have to be breezed past so quickly. This is the one area in which Mark Cousin’s Story of Film is superior, in that it focused in depth on single films, or a cluster of three or four films at a time and explored both their similarities and their unique aspects in detail. But that is something you can do with a dozen or more hours to play with! (And even there Cousins was not immune from spectacular misreadings, reducing films to soundbite clips and his own particular arguable polemical tastes. Which, like the Kermode series, plays better when Cousins is forthright about having a particular personal take on a film rather than trying to make a point by omitting details, or focusing on extraneous ones. Personal journeys, especially through cinema, are much more appealing than trying to appear objective and failing)

I think a great documentary on film should be sort of about bringing it back to respecting the individual qualities of a work as well as putting it into a bigger context. But a film should be able to stand or fall on its own merits at the core of things. If it works as an engaging experience, who cares that it is not following the rules, or is difficult to pin down within particular genre conventions?

It also goes without saying that more documentaries on film would help here (or maybe a second series on other genres?), as instead of every new series having to carry a maybe impossible burden of tackling the whole of cinema, which they may or may not be intending to do anyway, there would be a wider variety of takes on the medium out there. To me that would be only a good thing, not just in getting more ‘diverse voices’ out there in a current trendy kind of way, but in also getting away from the idea that every programme has to function as a kind of ‘final word’ on its subject, due to how rarely it gets tackled on television.

But for all my nitpicking, just this series having been made and broadcast should be a cause for celebration in itself. If it raises awareness of particular films that people will then try and track down (if I am being perhaps overly charitable, maybe that is the reason for not going too in depth on the actual themes of films like Interstellar, so that there will still be a surprising and interesting thematic twist left to discover on watching the full film?), then that can only be a good thing.

jlnight
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:49 am

Re: Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

#684 Post by jlnight » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:35 am

The Hireling, Sat 25th Aug, Talking Pictures. Also on Wed 29th Aug.
Breakout, Sat 25th Aug, Talking Pictures. Also on Tue 28th Aug.
Bone Tomahawk, Sat 25th Aug, Film4.

Before Winter Comes, Sun 26th Aug, Talking Pictures. Also on Thu 30th Aug.

Fragment of Fear, Mon 27th Aug, Talking Pictures. Also on Sun 2nd Sept.

Seoul Station, Wed 29th Aug, Film4.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Upcoming Movies on TV (UK)

#685 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:16 am

Seoul Station of course being the animated prequel to the recently aired Train To Busan. Interestingly Train To Busan is sort of the outlier here, as director Sang-ho Yeon has more of a background in animation with The King of Pigs and The Fake before his live action debut.

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