Archive for December 11th, 2008


by Allan Fish

(USA 1943 16m) DVD1

The Mayan enigma

p  Maya Deren  d/w  Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid  m  Teiji Ito

Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid,

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?  We’ve drifted off to sleep in the afternoon sun and dreamt of something not altogether linear.  That may sound like stating the obvious, but what I mean is that you feel you’re caught, like a fly in a spider’s web, like a mouse on a wheel.  We want to get off, or in this case wake up, but we can’t.  We feel like we’re going round and round in ever decreasing circles.  So much so that, when we finally do wake from our slumber, for just a few seconds you’re convinced that what you dreamt had really happened and that, for that brief period, everything was not as it was.

            Alright, so what does this have to do with Deren’s avant garde piece?  In truth, everything and nothing because you construe as much or as little about the dreamy nature of this short as you see fit.  Interpretation and experience is in the eye of the beholder.  And through these two eyes Maya Deren takes you on a strange journey which I will attempt to describe up to a point.  (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1947 92m) DVD2

Calling Colley Cibber!

p  Roy Boulting  d  John Boulting  w  Graham Greene, Terence Rattigan  novel  Graham Greene  ph  Harry Waxman  ed  Peter Graham  m  Hans May (including “The Hebrides” by Felix Mendelssohn)  art  John Howell

Richard Attenborough (Pinky Brown), Hermione Baddeley (Ida Arnold), William Hartnell (Dallow), Carol Marsh (Rose), Nigel Stock (Cubitt), Wylie Watson (Spicer), Harcourt Williams (Prewitt, the lawyer), Alan Wheatley (Fred Hale), George Carney (Phil Corkery), Charles Goldner (Collecni), Reginald Purdell, Constance Smith, Marianne Stone,

Brighton Rock is one of those great British institutions, not just of cinema, but of literature.  Of course, it’s never going to be as crucial to those who haven’t known or lived through the days just before the war, when the film is set, and especially to those who do not know Brighton well.  I myself have never been to Brighton, and all bar one of the people I know who did once live there had never heard of Greene’s novel.  One, however, did know it and know it well, and for him, Brighton Rock was something spoken of in whispers and its hero, Pinky Brown, the essence of myth.  He would say that he could almost feel The Lanes around every corner, the old quaint Brighton that would forever be lost after the war.  Here was a film that predicted both the teen violence of A Clockwork Orange and the gang warfare of the Mods and Rockers on the Brighton beaches, immortalised in Quadrophenia.  For too long, Brighton Rock has been overlooked, looked down upon by a critical fraternity too long dominated by American sensibilities.  It should, however, be cherished as one of the truly great British films noir of the forties, superbly shot on location in the streets, piers, sea front and racecourse at Brighton.  It’s also the best film the Boultings ever made.  Ironically, their other masterwork also told of a rock, Thunder Rock.  That was a lighthouse on Lake Michigan, far from the rock hard (hence the name) confectionary so long a staple at British seaside towns.  Just as Gracie Fields’ Sing as We Go preserved the “Kiss me quick” mentality of that long gone institution for the North that is Blackpool, so did Brighton Rock for the south.  David Thomson has said that Rock contains “an authentic tang of fish and chips.”  He’s right, but it’s a tang with an unmistakably strong tang of vinegar.   (more…)

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