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Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Street (S2E4)

Last one from The Street for the night: here we got ourselves summat from the second series, and blow me sideways if I can’t remember absolutely nix about it. Soz 😮

Still, nice steady gush going on there.

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Well, let’s stick with The Street. This one features Sean O’ Neill, the unpleasant wife beating crook who lurked in the background of the other episodes thoughout the first series before coming to prominence in the season finale. He’s played by Lee Ingleby, whom you may remember from that memorable episode of Spaced in which he leads a gang of thugs in pursuit of Tim and Daisy during a night on the tiles, culminating in a finger-gun shootout in a Camden back street. Or else you may recognise him from something else entirely… Either way, he’s pretty durn fine.

The Street (S1E4)

Much like a film heralded as “John Carpenter’s” is not necessarily directed by him, “Jimmy McGovern’s The Street” is not wholly written by him, but it is a pretty good series, currently at the second season mark. The premise is simple enough, just the interconnected lives of various households in a single Manc street. Hmmm… Sound familiar? But whilst the storylines are sometimes a little whatever’s-been-in-the-papers-lately, it is meatier than a certain soap.

In this HonkWatch we have the friend of an aspiring young footballer lying beneath an eruption of emesis after a coke binge. It was a while back when I watched it (one month, one day, one hour and one minute since I uploaded the picture, in fact, looking at the timestamp), so excuse my inability to name either character or actor. Pretty impressive puking, though.

The Rules Of Attraction

From the beginning of Roger Avary’s excellent interpretation of Bret Easton Ellis’ The Rules Of Attraction.

We’re at one of the several bacchanalian college dorm parties which punctuate both book and film. A young woman – Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon) – has been half seduced, half knocked out with booze. Her seducer then films her being raped by his friend. His friend, himself thoroughly intoxicated, vomits over her.

Idi I Smotri

If you think war is glamorous, then watch Elem Klimov’s Idi I Smotri.

The Nazi invasion and occupation of Belarus here is one long, terrifying, sickening, depraved carnival of venality.

We see through the eyes of an impressionable young peasant boy, Florya. We follow him as he desperately tries to join up with the partisans. We endure bombings, executions, dispossessions, humiliations, massacres. We are scared, numbed, shocked. This is film as total immersion: movement, colour, shapes, sounds, all conspire to drown us in a growing nausea.

Insomnia (1997)

As a confirmed insomniac myself, I was always going to identify with Insomnia. It’s about a Swedish cop, Engström (Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd), who along with his colleague has been drafted in to help investigate the murder of a young woman in a Norwegian town in the Arctic circle.

It’s summer, so even the nights are illuminated by daylight; and yet it’s a noir thriller. The shadows are ever-present, but only in the mind – all the evidence is hidden in plain sight, under the glare of a sun which never goes down.

Engström is not a particularly likable person, but he is an excellent investigator. Unfortunately he has what in films like these are called ‘issues’; and thrown into a world where the nights never darken, he finds himself unable to rest, to sleep. He is tortured by the brightness, by his own hubris, by his desires and his fallibility – a photo-negative rendering of a classic noir story. He soon uncovers the murderer, but his own actions compromise what should be a simple takedown, compounding the evil rather than mitigating it. All the while, the sun beats down, and he cannot sleep. And as his decisions become ever more poorly chosen, so their consequences lead him further from the path of righteousness. He is a sinner who shuns salvation, a bright sun fast burning out.

In this scene we find him in a back alley, contemplating his mistakes early on, alone but for a dead dog. He has the chance to make amends, to repent, but he will not do that. He has become his own god, and he thinks he can save himself. He vomits, but he does not purge his soul of the growing madness that grips him. He is mortal, and we identify with him, despite his unpleasantness and the horror of his actions.

It’s all filmed with threatening stillness, in cold blue tones, by director Erik Skjoldbjærg and cinematographer Erling Thurmann-Andersen, with the occasional bursts of unexpected but realistically low key action. There are red herrings and MacGuffins, loose ends and loose characters. And there is an amazing electronic ambient score by Geir Jenssen (aka Biosphere). It was remade in an Alaskan setting by Christopher Nolan in 2002. Starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams, this version retains the basic tone whilst tweaking some of the characterisations and plot points, and is one of the better Hollywood retoolings.

But for a more raw exploration of morality and free will under guise of a cop thriller, go with the original.