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diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #14

Posted: October 10th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted October 2002)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

So hey yeah, there’s been a lot of great movies on television lately. And I’m not even talking about super-special they-beam-it-from-space satellite TV either, just those regular five channels are keeping me furnished with film treats… Maybe I’ve just never noticed before but it’s in your interests – every one of you – to scour the television listings on a weekly basis. You’ll be surprised at what you may find. You can then go on to videotape films you like, cover them in dust and show off to your friends about how long you’ve had such cool films on tape for – like, “what, you’ve never seen Alice In Acidland?“. But never, never make the mistake of actually letting those friends watch your videos, or they’ll immediately place their recording with a kind of modern carbon dating, through the adverts and so on, and show you up as the lying movie one-upper you always suspected you were.

So, er, anyway, I’ve watched on television recently films including Boogie Nights, Clueless, If…. and Casino, and due to the decaying moral structure of the country, such films are being cut less and less as time goes by, avoiding that whole “I’m sure there was a bit more violence in this film”-type scenario. Why, it’s like a cinema in your living room! Well, if you like your cinemas with a fake wooden surround and a thirty year old screen, it is (at least in my case). Comfortable chairs, though – they should definitely install sofas in cinemas.

It’s worth paying particular attention to the late-night TV listings too, as that’s where you’ll find all the weirdy indie flicks, 1950s B-movies and classic Hammer horror films, tucked away at 3.30am on a Wednesday morning. God bless the video recorder timer facility! It’s a whole galaxy of fun trying to work out whether a film is worth taping and watching or not from the 5-word (at a push) description of it. I favour the date/genre snap judgement; as in “1968 sexploitation”=hurray!; “1994 erotic drama with Shannon Tweed”=boo, and so on.

Of course, the more technically gifted amongst us (which will include all of you, who have at least managed to turn on a computer and find the internet) use the mighty www.imdb.com to find out more about those unknown films which don’t immediately reveal their worth, and to enjoy a badly-worded review of those films from challenged weirdos from around the globe. Those reviews are especially enlightening in the case of horror movies from the early 1980s: “not enough kiling! [sic] but there’s a lot of brests [sic] :)” and so on. God bless the internet as well as the video recorder timer facility. IMDB never fails to impress me, with its breadth and depth of information. You’d be hard pushed to find out NOTHING about any film you could care to choose, on there. But beware! The danger of this is that you can stumble across a lot of fascinating sounding films which you’ll find harder to track down in this country than a mint condition copy of ‘Pristine Christine’ with the original insert. (A little Sea Urchins humour there).

www.blackstar.co.uk and its ilk are good for getting a lot of movies on video and DVD, but anything particularly old/weird/controversial you’re after may prove more difficult. eBay is always good, and www.findthatfilm.com seems good too. I have something of an unnatural interest in the aforementioned early 1980s horror movies, and especially the list of those which were originally banned in 1984 amongst Daily Mail-style “This film turned me into a gibbering murderer!” headline madness. The trouble with those kinds of films is that you have to get them in their original uncut form, to see what the fuss is about, and it’s that uncut form which is obviously the hardest to find. That’s where the fun of tracking things down comes in, if you find that kind of thing fun. The same dimwit record collector mentality comes into play, going far, far out of your way to secure a copy of ‘Anthropophagus the Beast‘ in its original form. But look at it from another angle, and you’re living on the edge, man, skirting the line between criminality and art just like Nic Cage in ‘8MM’. Or something. And there’s still no better feeling than stumbling across that old video or record you’ve been looking for for EVER in a tiny charity shop in the middle of nowhere – and picking it up for 20 pence. It’s those moments which make life a constant thrill ride! Keep your sex and drugs, I’ll take charity shops every time. Er – I’ve said too much.

As a footnote to this column, I’ll mention the last two films I saw proper, like – in the cinema. ‘Insomnia‘ took a standard killer-hunt storyline and gave it the novel twist of the main detective (Al Pacino) going slowly loopy through lack of sleep. Unfortunately the movie drags on quite considerably too long, and maintains a certain sleepy pace which begin lulling me to sleep at an unfortunately early time. It looks fantastic though – the Alaskan scenery shot with great expansive wide-angle shots, and an interesting light/dark thing going on (Pacino’s black clothing against white snow, etc) echoing the good/evil storyline in a clever clever way.

Last night I saw ‘Signs‘ which has kind of cemented my ideas of M. Night Shyamalan as a director who got kind of lucky with ‘The Sixth Sense’. This newest film of his, whilst being better than ‘Unbreakable’ (gah, that was terrible!) is still a mighty, crushing disappointment, especially with some oddly-placed comic moments which are neither funny enough to count or odd enough to unnerve. I could see the potential for this film to be terrifying, but it all dissolved into a weird cross between The Twilight Zone and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (and not in a good way). It’s no ET: The Extra Terrestrial!

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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