Friday, 23 September 2016

Devil Girl from Mars.


On a winters evening, an assortment of guests are sitting down to their evening meal at an isolated Scottish inn when suddenly a brilliant light descends. Out on the remote moorlands a spaceship has landed. From the craft descends Nyah - a latex clad dominatrix. When the hotel guests try and get help they discover that not only are the telephone’s down but our Ann Summers clad alien has erected an invisible force field around the house and garden. The reason this woman has travelled 340 million miles from Mars is to replenish the far off planet with male breeding stock following a devastating war between the sexes in which the male population had been wiped out. With the help of Chani a monstrous robot that resembles a fridge on legs, she forces the hotel patrons into a night of terror that demands a sacrifice of one of their number to save the rest.
 
Hazel Court with Latex clad Alien. 


This gem of a British B-movie was adapted from a stage play and has a grand line up led by the wonderful Patricia Laffan as the ruthless ray gun toting Martian who had previously appeared opposite Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr in the 1951 MGM epic Quo Vadis. B-movie queen Hazel Court plays the London model Ellen Prestwick who has escaped to the Scottish Highlands following an unhappy love affair. Also marooned at the inn are Professor Arnold Hennessy a metallurgical expert played by Joseph Tomelty and the special correspondent Michael Carter played by Hugh McDermott. Peter Reynolds is an escaped convict whose girlfriend Adrienne Corri works at the bar of The Bonnie Charlie Inn. John Laurie and Sophie Stewart, who seem to get all the best lines, play the husband and wife who run this remote Inn.


The sensual Patricia Laffan. 

Produced by the American brothers Edward J and Harry Lee Danziger for Danziger Productions, who did not have a good reputation in the British film making circles, and directed by Scottish filmmaker David MacDonald who after some considerable success in the 1930's and 40's was reduced to making B-movies in the 1950's for the Danziger's.
 
Chani the Robot. 
Although Devil Girl from Mars has its faults it is a prime example of high camp 1950's British science fiction at its trashy best mainly, in my opinion, because of the sensuality and erotic nature of the lead character which puts a different dimension on the film which at the time was seen as a warning about letting women's emancipation 'go to far'.  The Monthly Film Bulletin's review from June 1954 opines,  "Settings, dialogue, characterisation and special effects are of a low order; but even their modest unreality has its charm. There is really no fault in this film that one would like to see eliminated. Everything in its way is quite perfect" As another critic pointed out this is one of those cult movies that is loved for its badness, a film that gives a great deal of pleasure to a certain type of appreciative viewer who does not demand high art, but love’s movies like Slave Girls (1967) or Ken Russell's The Lair of the White Worm (1988).


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Irreplaceable (Medecin de champagne)

 Doctors make the worst patients. Doctor turned film director/screenwriter Thomas Lilti must agree with this statement as his latest feature film Irreplaceable (Medecin de champagne) (2016), which got its UK Premiere at the 2016's Edinburgh International Film Festival, deals with just that subject.

Jean-Pierre Werner is a very poplar middle-aged doctor who has dedicated his working life to looking after the health of the local populous. When he is diagnosed with a life threatening illness the Health Authority sends an ex nurse who had recently qualified as a doctor to assist Jean-Pierre who believes that without him everyone in the village will die - in fact he thinks he is irreplaceable. At first this highly experienced local practitioner has little time for the inexperienced Nathalie Delezia but realises that if he does die someone will have be trained to take his place!


This is an exceptionally good French movie, full of great characters all perfectly formed and cast. The movie underlines the serious problem of the shortage of doctors and those embedded in their local rural practices having to work 24/7, generally without any support, even so the movie is still an amusing and enjoyable watch. The two stars of the film are the French actor with the great smile Francois Cluzet who plays Werner with the lovely Marianne Denicourt as his long-suffering assistant both of which give great performances gradually building an on screen relationship that is totally believable. Award winning film and theatre actor Cluzet is probable best known for his roles in Tell No One (2006), Little White Lies (2010) and The Intouchables in 2011.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Forsaken.


When you have an actor of Brian Cox standing introducing the UK Premiere of a Canadian western at the 2016 Edinburgh International Film Festival you know your in for a treat and this genre classic was certainly that. All right I admit I am a lover of westerns and Forsaken (2015) is certainly a good old-fashioned tale of good verses bad. Directed by Jon Cassar, who will be best known for his work on the first seven seasons of the TV drama 24, it tells the story of a reformed gunslinger who attempts to resist violence to appease his preacher father.
 
Will John Henry use his guns again?
John Henry Clayton returns home after ten years away following the end of the civil war in 1865. He has become a man that never hesitates to kill another in a gunfight. The problem with John Henry's return is that since his departure his hometown is now jointly controlled by a vicious gang boss and corporate businessman James McCurdy (a very evil Mr Cox) who are terrifying the local farmers into selling their land. If they refuse extreme violence occurs normally ending in a funeral. Gang boss Frank Tillman (Aaron Poole) seems to relish the violence he is employed to carry out. Also employed by McCurdy is a famous gunslinger known as Gentleman Dave Turner (the wonderful Michael Wincott who played Philo Grant in one of my all time favourite movies 1995's Strange Days). McCurdy knows that if John Henry decides to take the side of the farmers and pick up his guns again then the eloquent Gentleman Dave is the only man capable of facing him in a gunfight. Now married with a young son Mary Alice Watson (Demi Moore) is another temptation for the troubled preachers son as she was the woman he left behind. Will or won't he pick up his guns to help the brutalised farmers, what would entice him back to kill men again after the promises to his father? I think we could all guess the answer to that and by the end of the film you will be gagging for that good fashioned gun battle.
 
Will he have to face Gentleman Dave Turner in a fight to the death?
The film's real strength is in the partnering of father and son Kiefer and Donald Sutherland who play father and son in the movie. Brian Cox gave us some background to their relationship informing us that the turbulent association they had on screen was very much like the relationship they had off screen, both men had not got on very well and this film was a chance to put that right. Tears were shed, voices were raised but all was well in the end. Interestingly the two actors have only previously appeared in two films together, but never in the same scene.
 
Will John henry live long enough to rekindle his affair with Mary Alice Watson?

Shot in the province of Alberta in Canada it had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015 but has not had a general release in the UK but can be found on DVD and believe me its very good example of the western genre and is well worth sourcing.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

To Steal from a Thief (Cien Anos de perdon)


This action packed crime drama is the story of a politically motivated bank robbery that takes place in the centre of a busy rain soaked Valencia. A group of six heavily armed men with bomb vests enter a large bank shortly after opening time. Members of staff including the banks scorned manager (Patricia Vico) and early customers are held hostage while the criminals attempt to open the safety deposit boxes and steal the contents. It's not long before you begin to realise that it's not only cash and jewellery that the thieves are after. Led by a career criminal by the name of El Uruguayo (Argentinian actor Rodrigo de la Serna who you may recognise from his award winning performance in 2004's The Motorcycle Diaries) who certainly has a hidden agenda. With the security forces surrounding the bank it’s discovered that the escape tunnel they have previously prepared is now flooded due to the mornings freak storm and there is now no escape. Tensions mount between El Uruguayo and his partner in crime El Gallegos (the very well regarded Spanish actor Luis Tosar ) leading to a harsh confrontation between the two men that unsettles the other members of the gang and puts the hostages ever more in fear of their lives.
 
The Robbery.

The Hostages.


Directed by Daniel Calparsoro and written by Jorge Guerricaechevarria the movie is set against the Spanish economic collapse with a backstory that includes political corruption and greed. The film holds your attention due to the acting but a lot of credit must also go to the film's tight and solid script, stylishly transferred from page to screen by the director. Its UK première was at 2016 Edinburgh International Film Festival as part of its European Perspective strand and hopefully will eventually get a general UK release.

The Bank Manager.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Chemsex.



‘Party and Play’ (PNP), or as its better-known chemsex, is a subculture of recreational drug users who use drugs to enhance sexual activity. Normally associated with gay men, which places them in a high-risk situation of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by having unprotected group sex with large numbers of sexual partners. The drug of choice is normally methamphetamine known as ‘Tina’ which is used to increase sexual desire and allows users to engage in non stop sexual activity for several days, unfortunately is very addictive and can have severe side effects! Drugs can also include mephedrone, a mild sexual stimulant that has effects similar to cocaine but longer lasting, GBH, known to the general public as the ‘date rape drug’ or liquid ecstasy and GBL which has similar effects to alcohol.  
 
The interviewees. 
William Fairman and Max Gogarty have directed and produced a full on documentary about this rising phenomenon called Chemsex (2015). This very powerful film follows the life of a group of vulnerable men who become trapped in a vicious circle of sex, drug addiction and dependence and how their lives have been affected by this modern trend. With the help of modern technology and various ‘hook-up” apps and dedicated websites, like grindr and Bareback Real Time, these group sex activities are able to be arranged and would not just involve traditional sex but erotic play and experimentation. An increase in HIV rates has been blamed on the growth of PNP activities.
 
'We are the brave'
The idea for the film came from a Vice.com article in 2013[1] and what started as a look at a health care emergency soon evolved into investigation into PNP and sadly as the directors have stated ‘It wasn’t the sex or the drugs that shocked. Neither was it the danger or the consequences. It was the realisation that, for the majority of people, it was intimacy and not lust nor hedonism that was the driving force behind their behaviour’[2].
 
If you don't like needles....
Never an easy viewing experience Fairman and Gogarty’s brave documentary does give a very interesting insight into the dark and sad side of the modern urban gay scene. Those of you with an open mind should increase your awareness and watch this thought provoking movie





[1] http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/the-week-long-meth-fuelled-sex-parties-taking-over-londons-gay-scene
[2] Peccadillo Press Notes.