20 July 2019

Advice for omnibus passengers, 1836

Omnibus Law

1. Keep your feet off the seats.
2. Do not get into a snug corner yourself and then open the windows to admit a north-wester upon the neck of your neighbour.
3. Have your money ready when you desire to alight.
4. Sit with your limbs straight, and do not let your legs describe an angle of forty-five, thereby occupying the room of two persons.
5. Do not spit on the straw, you are not in a pig-sty but in an omnibus.
6. Behave respectfully to females, and put not an unprotected lass to the blush, because she cannot escape from your brutality.
7. Reserve bickerings and disputes for the open field, the sound of your own voice may be music to your own ears - not so, perhaps, to those of your companions.
8. Refrain from affectation and conceited airs. Remember you are riding a distance for sixpence, which if you made in a hackney coach, would cost you many shillings.

- The Times (1836), quoted in Ivan Sparkes, Stagecoaches & Carriages, Bourne End, Bucks., 1975, p.145-6.

05 July 2019

Iggy Pop's zombie grunge

The makeup is, they're hovering over you with these latex guns, shooting this weird latex all over your body. They would spray this cold spray to make it set and you'd shiver, and then you'd get hot because your skin can't breathe. They just cover the costume in grunge and filth, and there's filth in your hair, in your ears, giant contact lenses in your eyes. Because you're a flesh-eating zombie, there's guys constantly coming up between takes [to] squirt zombie grunge into your mouth and wipe it on your gums.

The first time that I had to get down on my knees and eat [another character's] guts [laughing], I did not want to do that. I wanted to do it intellectually, but I had a dry heave. After that, I got into it. 

And I did get a free William Murray golf shirt out of the experience. I don't play a lot of golf, but it's an amazing shirt, and I wear it around Miami here; I fit right in. It's polyester.

- Iggy Pop on Jim Jarmusch's The Dead Don't Die, in Melena Ryzik, 'An all-star zombie cast comes to life', New York Times, 12 June 2019 

04 July 2019

Film Festival 2019 lineup

Another year, another 20 films to relish in this highly promising 2019 Film Festival programme, which runs in Wellington from 26 July to 11 August. I'm most excited about seeing the peerless 1949 Alec Guinness comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets on the big screen for the first time, and while it ain't an IMAX the Grand is the next best place to see the eye-popping imagery of the 50th anniversary documentary Apollo 11, particularly given the thrill I experienced visiting NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston last year.

La Belle Époque (dir. Nicolas Bedos, France, 2019)
The latest in that never-ending quest to recapture the heyday of French film farce; the omens are positive as this time-travelling rom-com caper features both Daniel Auteuil and Fanny Ardant.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (dir. RaMell Moss, USA, 2018)
A fascinating glimpse into modern black communities in their own words, shining a light on an often-neglected facet of rural Alabama life.

Apollo 11 (dir. Todd Douglas Miller, USA, 2019)
Finally making great use of contemporary 65mm footage that has sat in film canisters for nearly a half-century, this promises to be a beautiful anniversary present for those of us still enthralled by the 1969 Moon landing.

Bellbird (dir. Hamish Bennett, NZ, 2019)
A local comedy-drama! This urban snob is looking forward to gaining a greater understanding of bucolic pastimes such as treading barefoot in cowpats on cold winter mornings, and the correct way to wear a Swanndri.

Capital in the 21st Century (dir. Justin Pemberton, NZ, 2019)
Ideal for those of us with good intentions but lacking the follow-through to actually read French economist Thomas Piketty's famous 2013 text.

2040 (dir. Damon Gameau, Australia, 2019)
Charting a course to a positive vision for future societies two decades hence, as an antidote to the grim environmental news we face today. 

Beats (dir. Brian Welsh, France/UK, 2019)
As ably promoted on Mark Kermode's MK3D live show, this affable black-and-white snapshot of Glasgow teen life in the mid-1990s follows two lads enthralled by rave culture, seeking the ultimate night out throwing shapes or whatever it is people who can dance do.

Daguerréotypes (dir. Agnès Varda, France, 1976)
A slice of life from Varda's own neighbourhood, delving into the lives and livelihoods of the many shopkeepers in the Rue Daguerre.

Amazing Grace (dirs. Alan Elliott & Sydney Pollack, USA, 2018)
Another great archive find, made possible by the restoration prowess of modern technology: a 1972 Aretha Franklin live concert film shot in Watts in the same year as the iconic Wattstax festival.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (dir. Robert Hamer, UK, 1949)
A comedic tour-de-force from Alec Guinness playing eight - count 'em - different roles in this murderous black comedy, here restored to pristine condition for its 70th anniversary.

We Are Little Zombies (dir. Nagahisa Makoto, Japan, 2019)
Must-see Japanese orphan teen pop musical extravaganza!

Andrei Rublev (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 1966)
Perhaps a daunting prospect due to its unflinching depiction of medieval squalor and cruelty, this legendary, once-banned epic 15th-century epic biopic is still a drawcard.

The Day Shall Come (dir. Chris Morris, UK/USA, 2019)
A match made in heaven - the scabrous vitriol of director Chris Morris and the comedic talents of Anna Kendrick unite to satirise the war on terror.

A White, White Day (dir. Hlynur Pálmason, Iceland, 2019)
Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur
It wouldn't be a film festival without an Icelandic film, and this drama of an ex-policeman finding out too much about his dead wife's hidden life sounds intriguing.

This Changes Everything (dir. Tom Donahue, USA, 2018)
Film documentary capturing the spirit of reform demanding an end to the male-dominated boys-club Hollywood system of old.

High Life (dir. Claire Denis, UK, 2018)
French director Denis' English-language and sci-fi debut, featuring Juliette Binoche and Robert Pattinson on a convict vessel in the depths of space.

Koyaanisqatsi (dir. Godfrey Reggio, USA, 1982)
Hugely influential feature-length timelapse imagery with a famed Phillip Glass score.

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (dir. Midge Costin, USA, 2019)
Another film doco, this time on the the audible craft of cinema, by a veteran film sound editor, illustrates the pivotal importance of how the sound of a movie defines our experience viewing it.

Peterloo (dir. Mike Leigh, UK, 2018)
A valuable historic document of the 1819 massacre in Manchester that claimed the lives of 18 demonstrators calling for democratic representation for workers.

Loro (dir. Paolo Sorrentino, Italy, 2018)
Braving a second film in one day on the notoriously uncomfortable Soundings seats for Sorrentino's unmissable Berlusconi portrait.