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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.

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diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #12

Posted: October 3rd, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted August 2002)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

Okay. OKAY! right. Moving on up! Woo. Here we go. I’m hoping that this column will be something of a halfway house between the shameless debacle of the last one (wherein I did write about nothing but gibberish), and those of the future (wherein I will cover interesting films in the hope of enlightening you to some non-Blockbuster fare.

I am now in Oxford, land of arty people and independent cinemas (or so I hope…) and yes! I have bought myself a shiny new silver space-age video recorder. This means that once I’ve got over slight agoraphobia and not-so-slight laziness, I will be making regular trips out to little steam-powered cinemas to catch all the weird and wonderful offerings available, and also scouring Blockbuster for the one or two good tapes they generally seem to have hidden behind the latest hit (with an ‘S’) movies. But this is yet to happen. So for now, I can do nothing more than present you with some reviews & opinions of the latest few films I’ve been seeing on video, which generally (although not exclusively, I hope) fall into the I’ve-already-seen-that category. Before I get going, a minor aside: is it just me, or has the quality of films being shown on television rapidly diminished lately? There used to be several ‘better tape that’ offerings I’d notice in the TV guide each week, generally on in the middle of the night, but just lately there doesn’t seem to be any action. Maybe it’s the gradual takeover of the airwaves by SPORT which is to blame. Grr.

First up: here’s an odd film which I felt compelled to buy upon seeing it cheap. GET WELL SOON (2001), starring Vincent Gallo (he of BUFFALO 66 fame) and Courteney Cox (of some programme called FRIENDS, apparently). According to the box, this is ‘a twisted romantic comedy in the spirit of There’s Something About Mary’. According to me, this is ‘a somewhat offensive attempt at making a quirky comedy, and simultaneously a waste of talent’. The premise is this – Gallo is a successful TV chat show host (in the mould of Leno, Letterman etc) who suddenly cracks on air, and decides to track down his childhood sweetheart (Cox) in New York, with a notion that getting back together with her will make his otherwise shallow, meaningless life take a fulfilling course once more. Not wanting to spoil the subtle, twisting plot, he does find her, and everything does turn out OK. Is that a surprise? It’s not a bad idea for a story – the weight of fame and adoration pushing a star to the brink of wanting to lose it all – but it’s strangely handled; Gallo’s particular reasons for losing it are not really explained, Cox’s initial reluctance to see him is not really explained, and the supporting characters are one-dimensionally ‘weird’. Several of the minor characters in the film reside in some kind of mental institution, seemingly for no other reason than to get some cheap ‘mad’ gags in there, and to reinforce all kinds of straight-jacket/mad-people-talking-to-themselves stereotypes. (Or maybe – hey – they’re sane, and so is Gallo, and everybody else is crazy. Huh ? No.)

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I like this animation

Posted: October 2nd, 2008, by Stan Tontas


I can’t imagine the work that went into this, first animation to make me slack-jawed since Princess Mononoke. I have an idea that it’s already been ripped off for a car advert but that’s hardly their fault.

Made in Argentina by some people / thing called BluBlu.

Mid Nineties Gold

Posted: September 30th, 2008, by Chris S

You Tube Gold, having something of a nostalgia-trip today but how cracking are some of these tunes?




Love this song. The guitar is so bendy. I think I saw Scarce once but unfortunately my brain is shot through like Swiss Cheese and I can’t decide if I dreamt it or not. Phil Welding swears he saw Page & Plant play the Ballroom in Nottingham and there is NO WAY that happened. Mind you, I only know I saw the Jesus Lizard because I can pick me out in the footage from TV show The Beat.




If these guys had done less speed and cider and slowed it down they’d have sounded like Neil Young. Of course that means I wouldn’t have dug them in 1993.  More from The Word in a moment…

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diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #10

Posted: September 26th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted July 2002)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

This’ll be an interesting movie column if for no other reason than my complete lack of movie-watching action over the past month. But hey – don’t use this as a reason to hate me, or to follow me down the nearest dark alley in order to assault me whilst my mind is on other things – because I AM NOT ENTIRELY TO BLAME FOR THIS SITUATION.

Here’s the deal, see: up until recently, I shared a house with two of my friends, and many a happy evening was spent watching videos, or going down to the cinema, or indeed simply sitting around discussing the post-modern Brechtian tendencies of so much of the work of Don Simpson as producer AND ALSO actor. Then, just as life couldn’t be any more perfect, one of my friends decided to move away down to Brighton, where the pebbles are smooth and the hair is styled, and as he moved out I came to realise exactly how many items of furniture, electrical equipment and cutlery in the house he actually owned. Can you see where this is leading? Correct. My video recorder – and I do consider it MY video recorder, simply as a result of having shared a house with it for about five years – now lives in Brighton, which means a three-hour train journey simply to watch crap like ‘Jeepers Creepers’ or ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’, let alone the exciting new ‘Apocalypse Now Redux’ edit or ‘Psych-Out’ once again. And that’s like, too much, man.

You might be thinking “why doesn’t he just go to the cinema, like anybody else?”. But to be honest with you, if you’re thinking that, you obviously haven’t been reading all my previous columns and hanging on my every fucking word like I expect you to. Let me run through it once more, though, for those of you not paying attention: I live in Reading, where there are two cinemas within easy distance – one walkable, one not – but both of these cinemas show, pretty much consistently, THE WORST KIND OF HOLLYWOOD SHITE THAT EVER WASTED VALUABLE CELLULOID. So, are there any other options? Well, one: the local university has a film club kinda thing which shows your more art-house and your more obscure films, which is a short car journey away.

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diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #8

Posted: September 19th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted May 2002)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

Mulholland Drive. The Devil’s Backbone. Storytelling. Bully. What do these films have in common? They’re all interesting-sounding films, films which seem to offer something aside from the norm, and all films which I’ll be watching over the next couple of months! That, you may notice, is the future, and currently we are in the present, or at times the past, and so I’ll have to make do with telling you about some other, less interesting movies instead, but still, movies which I’ve actually seen. Damn you Reading, and your shoddy selection of cinemas! Stay awake at the back. It begins.

First up in this rollercoaster ride of low-quality, second-rate programming we have LEGALLY BLONDE. To be fair, however, this isn’t really so low-quality or second-rate. It’s very Hollywood, very safe, very ‘nice ending’, and yet it’s still very watchable and I enjoyed it. Okay? I can hear your cries of “but it’s a girl’s film!”, but you know what? If this is a girl’s film, then goddammit, I’m a girl. No, hold on, I’m regretting saying that now. I’m not a girl. But I enjoyed this. It’s just further evidence of the world being screwy at times. Anyway, this ain’t no trial, and I ain’t no defendant, so get off my back, alright? I can’t control my likes and dislikes any more than I can control my drunken limb placement, and it just so happens that I like these cutey-pie, heart-warming, troubled-teen type movies. I own records by both the Fat Tulips and Bouquet, for Christ’s sake, and if you know who either of those bands are, you’ll understand what it means to own them. But I ain’t no cutie pop fan no more. It’s ROCK all the way for me, oh yes, a souped-up V12 RockMobile is what I drive to the video store and back. Right on. But I digress. This film is about a Valley Girl-type Californian ‘dumb blonde’ who, in order to attract the affections of her straying boyfriend, successfully enrols at Harvard Law School to impress him and spend more time with him. “With hilarious, and emotional, consequences”. You can guess how it turns out. But in the same way that CLUELESS seemed to avoid any over-sentimental nightmares of cheese, LEGALLY BLONDE seems also to tread a fine line between stupid and clever. Er. Whatever that means. And Reese Witherspoon is just great in the lead role, playing dumb-is-cleverer-than-you-really-think with exactly the right combination of sassy and naive. Aah, if you don’t like this, you’ve got no heart.

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diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #6

Posted: September 12th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted April 2002)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

I’ve been experiencing this strange phenomenon lately, whenever I see movies. I keep looking for evidence of the good side of humanity in celluloid situations, and find myself getting weirdly choked up at any vaguely emotional or bittersweet scenes – leaving myself thinking ‘ah, so everything’s not so bad, after all’. So, this I presume must mean I’m either experiencing movies on a different level recently, or I’ve become more hyper-sensitive to things, or I’m having some kind of emotional breakdown. I strongly suspect the latter. But fingers crossed, eh?

Example one: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), whilst ostensibly a bizarre and sharply-defined comedy, seemed to throw in a couple of moments of pure heartbreaking poignancy within the jokes, to great effect. It turned what at first I suspected of being a lightweight humourous movie into a real, deep, affecting movie, in much the same way as American Beauty was. The storyline is, on the surface, pretty basic – an aging father (named Royal Tenenbaum) tries to bring his strange family back together and at the same time repair his guilty feelings about not being a good parent for most of his life. But the collection of characters in, and related to, the family are drawn with a Coen Brothers-style eye for quirky individuality, developing the one-dimensional nature of the storyline into something more complex: the childishly naughty Royal doing his best to understand family members including a recently-widowed financial genius son who is obsessively over-protective of his two sons, whom he dresses like miniature versions of himself, a failed writer daughter with a finger missing and a secret smoking habit for 25 years, and an ex-pro tennis star son who happens to be in love with his sister. The characters could have been annoyingly over-defined if they weren’t played so well by a brilliantly understated cast including Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anjelica Huston and Ben Stiller. The gradual resolution of how the family all feel about eachother slowly develops through the film, and whilst nothing particularly major happens to twist or confuse the plot, the richness of the characters and their relationships sustain the movie without any problem.

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la Sconosciuta

Posted: September 8th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

Lots of sound and fury over “piracy” of music and films. One situation where there’s no grounds for compliant must be those films that hardly get shown in cinemas in this country, i.e. anything with subtitles. Picking random torrents off of the Pirate Bay isn’t for the faint-hearted but it does turn up some gems.

La Sconosciuta is an Italian thriller from a couple of years back, more indebted to Hitchcock than the giallo / Argento tradition. Has a very muted palette for one thing and the similarly-murky morality makes it a more mature piece of work.

A woman arrives in an Italian city, blank and hollow, with a number of secrets in her past. What’s her motivation for inserting herself so determinedly into the life of, first this apartment block then this family? All standard thriller stuff, but what makes the film stand out is the shifting sands of your sympathies for the main character. Is she victim or villain? Why is she stalking these people and what does she want with the child?

That relationship with the child is the (rather cauterised) emotional heart of the film, fascinating and disturbing. There’s a lengthy scene where the child is being taught to be stand up for herself by being pushed over with bound hands and feet. It goes on and on, the kid gets more and more upset and is extremely uncomfortable to watch. Yet at other times it’s clear that she cares deeply for the child. The ambiguity introduces tension over and beyond the whodunnit? aspects and makes the film one that would probably repay repeat viewing.

Without the Pirate Bay, would it be possible to see this film in this country? It might’ve got a couple of showings on the arthouse circuit, I don’t remember it. Otherwise I think you’d have to wait for a Hollywood remake where the “difficult” parts would be removed to make it a story of redemption and you’d find yourself wondering what the fuss was about.

So I’m with the pirates. AAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgh!

diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #4

Posted: September 5th, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted February 2002)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

Well, I started 2001 with the high-hoped New Years Resolution of going to the cinema at least once a week. Needless to say that plan fell by the wayside pretty quick. So, 2002 started with the same resolution but with my fingers secretly crossed behind my back. When I say ‘going to the cinema’, you must understand that this can be extended to mean ‘getting a video out’ due to the exceptionally fuckwitted policy of my local Warner Village cinema (the only cinema I can get to easily) of only showing the most mainstream and popular films. So last year and this year so far has meant no ‘Ghost World’, no ‘Mulholland Drive’ and no ‘My Neighbour the Totoro’ but all the romantic comedies and action shitebusters I can stomach.

But it’s not all bad, you understand. I do get out into more than a five-mile radius from time to time, and am blessed with an ACTUALLY GOOD QUALITY Blockbuster nearby, so no need to start killing and burning stuff just yet.

This is supposed to be some kind of roundup of things that rocked my tiny, insignificant world last year (in a cinematic sense), so I’ll start incorrectly by frothing over LORD OF THE RINGS, even though I didn’t actually see it until this year. I expect most people have seen this by now? If not, you gotta. Yeah man you gotta. I know it’s more than three hours long; I know the books are hard going, but it’s a great great film. It follows the book (book one of the trilogy – the second two books will follow as two further films) pretty closely, and keeps just the right side of cutesy goblins’n’hobbits fun by never failing to take its subject matter seriously or pay it the respect due. The plot could seem scant (where’s that magic ring gone? let’s go find it) but there’s depth and philosophy there if you want it, and if you’re not consistently blown away by the beautiful magical settings and exquisitely executed set pieces then your seat’s facing the wrong way. There’s special effects aplenty, but this is no special effects movie, it’s one of the few to use effects to complete the vision of the director (Peter Jackson – he of ‘Bad Taste’, ‘Braindead’ and ‘Meet the Feebles’, bizarrely, and later the somewhat sinister ‘Heavenly Creatures’, which is worth checking out) rather than to round out the trailer with arbitrary explosions and monsters. I can’t really write about Lord of the Rings without slipping into ‘it’s ace! you have to see this!’ over and over again so I’ll leave it there.

Another ‘ace! see! etc.’ movie of 2001 was AMELIE; one for all your romantic fools out there. ‘Charming’ is the key word here in this French-made-and-set story of a naive young woman arriving in Paris and deciding to help out strangers in random ways, along the way finding friends, delight in her own actions and, of course, love. Aw. Does it sound like a load of old sentimental toss? I imagine so. Somehow it manages to skirt around sickbag territory though, partly because of the nice playing of the lead character (by Audrey Tautou) as a scatty, cheeky joker with a ‘naughty’ sense of humour, partly because of the bizarre situations set up along the way (which come together by the end of the movie in a surprisingly unexpected way) and partly because of the beautiful filming of the story – all rich warm colours and subtly off-the-wall angles and styles. Maybe it’s because I saw Amelie on my own at the cinema, keeping out of the cold, but it’s what the oft-used phrase ‘heart-warming and compelling’ was written for.

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Informational Update

Posted: August 23rd, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Some things of note:

1. Yes, sorry, that was the last of the Chris Summerlin columns. You can still read all his other blog posts here, or how about a nice interview we did with Chris about Reynolds.

2. So, who’s up next? Simon Minter, that’s who. Simon was actually the editor of our columns section and did such a good job he even persuaded himself to write two columns, one about music and one about films. I’ll start posting these up as of next week. He also did all the cute column banners, did you know?

3. Don’t forget you can still buy our 10 year anniversary zine which has content not available on the website and can be read on the bus without the use of a fancy iPhone or whatever. It’s just one pound, people! Buy it here.

4. There’s something of a zine resurgence going on, have you noticed? This of course is A Good Thing and I will write more later.

5. And finally, PROOF that the diskant 08/08/08 party did actually happen thanks to this lovely video by Alice. Be amazed by the indie tombola, Findo Gask’s video projections and Sunnyvale driving a very long distance. Luckily for you, Alice didn’t document the part where we all got woken up at 8am by an orange march outside my house + torrential rain. Rock and Roll.

a long way to Glasgow from Alice Peapods on Vimeo.