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Archive for April 10th, 2012

by Allan Fish

If there is any facet of being a film buff, especially one as obsessively completist as myself, it’s the problem of chronology.  Namely, ascertaining what year whould be attributed to a film as its release year.  It’s like a minefield in quicksand, dates seem to change by the year as one obscure early screening is unveiled for some classic of other.  In the days of the film guides, of which sadly only the Maltin and the Radio Times survive (one rendered toothless by its preponderence to family viewing and dire coverage of world cinema and the other by too many cooks/reviewers spoiling the broth), they often went by the copyright date, the date we see either on the opening credits of old films or closing credits of newer efforts.

This immediately poses problems.  Take The Silence of the Lambs, copyrighted for 1990, but not seen until Valentine’s week 1991.  Or Reservoir Dogs, copyrighted in 1991 but not seen publicly until Sundance in early 1992.  Even in the classical Hollywood era there were problems.  Most film guides would list In Old Chicago for 1938, but one single showing in the last week of December 1937 qualified it for the 1937 Academy Awards and ensures it should be correctly listed as a 1937 film.  1941 was a difficult year, too, with the likes of Sullivan’s Travels and Hellzapoppin getting one or two single showings in late 1941 but not being seen en masse until 1942.  Or Jane Eyre, which got one showing in December 1943 in Britain – doubtless a nod to Brontë – before a general release in the US in April 1944.  Casablanca was for many years seen as a 1943 film, as that was when it qualified for the Oscars, but the Oscars rely on a Los Angeles release, but Casablanca‘s premiere was in New York in December 1942.  Flipping that particular coin, there’s Val Lewton’s Cat People, copyrighted for 1943, released first in late 1942.  Time to call the first bomb disposal expert. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 2011 90m) DVD2

A frown turned upside-down

p  James Mitchell, Cairo Cannon  d/w  Carol Morley  ph  Mary Farbrother, Lynda Hall  ed  Chris Wyatt  m  Barry Adamson  art  Chris Richmond

Zawe Ashton, Lee Colley, Cornell John, Daren Elliott Holmes, Neelam Bakshi,

Can there be a sadder fate than dying alone?  Carol Morley’s documentary shows that there is indeed a far worse fate; dying not just alone but forgotten.  Joyce Carol Vincent was hardly the first person to die as such; Stalin’s gulags made millions disappear we know not where, millions of ‘undesirables’ were sent to their deaths in the gas chambers.  Yet in even in these darkest of times there was a trail of initial paperwork.

Instead rather imagine that you work with someone for several years; you know them, many people know them.  They befriend various people at work, they’re outgoing, enjoy having fun and everyone is sorry to see them go when they move on.  Then, out of the blue a few years later, you see an article in a tabloid newspaper, a familiar name.  This young woman has died and no-one had even noticed.  It seems so utterly unthinkable – as some people observed online – you’d almost think it a possible hoax.  Yet this is exactly what occurred, when, on 25th January 2006, a repossession order was delivered by a bailiff at a small one bedroom flat atop a shopping mall in Wood Green, London.  (more…)

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