d. Jack Messit / 2008 / USA / 82 mins
Low budget, independent genre pics are a notoriously difficult thing to get right. Midnight Movie doesn’t quite achieve that winning formula, but it is a valiant enough effort.
d. Floria Sigismondi / 2010 / USA / 106 mins
Screen 4 @ Apollo Piccadilly Circus (London, UK)
The infernal/eternal catchup continues with a film released into UK cinemas back in September, Canadian photographer, filmmaker and music video extraordinaire Floria Sigismondi’s feature-length directorial debut, The Runaways.
Following the exploits of a rag-tag gang of young ladies in 1970s California, fashioned into a rock ‘n’ roll sensation by shamanic impresario Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), the film focuses largely on the band’s dual-pronged attack of Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and Joan Jett (Kirsten Stewart), and blends the coming of age narrative with a long and troubled tradition of rock ‘n’ roll biopics.
d. Aaron Rose & Joshua Leonard / 2008 / USA / 89 mins
An interesting, if rather slight, contemporary art documentary, Beautiful Losers introduces a diverse group of artists/filmmakers/agitators who coalesced around the Alleged Gallery on New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1990s. Co-directed by Aaron Rose, who also ran the gallery itself, the film traces the lives, loves and careers of the Alleged gang, from graphic and street artists like Geoff McFetridge, Thomas Campbell, Stephen ‘ESPO’ Powers, Barry ‘Twist’ McGee, Shepard Fairey, skateboarder Ed Templeton and the late Margaret Kilgallen, to filmmakers and photographers like Cheryl Dunn, Mike Mills and Harmony Korine.
d. John Waters / 1988 / USA / 91 mins
Despite the hype and hoopla surrounding the recent musical remake, this is the first time I have watched Hairspray (or any John Waters film, for that matter) in a number of years. And what really stands out (and holds up) for me, is Waters’ brilliant grasp on the absurdities of suburban life, and the typically strange brand of humour which hovers around his films through a canny mix of off-the-wall absurdity and excruciating mundanity.
This is just a great film – with a good, simple story and such a great cast – that it is really no wonder that it became such a highly successful stage musical and Hollywood feature. But if it’s a raw shot of entertainment that you seek, forget the candy-coated musical remake and head straight for the original (and still the best).
d. Noah Baumbach / 2010 / USA / 107 mins
Viewed at: Cinema 1 @ Barbican (London, UK)
Certain sections of mainstream US Indie (if you’ll pardon the rather vague oxymoron), have become rather tiresome of late. Far too much upper-middle-class anguish over minor trivialities, and not enough on the screen with which audiences can truly connect. And I’ll happily admit that I approached Greenberg, the latest offering from regular Wes Anderson co-conspirator Noah Baumbach, in precisely this spirit.