— THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE

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FILMS

Filmmaker Alex Jablonski and cinematographer Michael Totten have, for the last year, filmed a short documentary each and every month, under the auspices of ‘The Sparrow Songs’. These short films create a snapshot of America (and specifically Southern California) in 2010. It reminds me of the 3six5 project in it’s diverse (and sometimes brave) subjects, but also tries to get underneath some of the issues and stories that dominate a society wrestling with it’s present malaise, and it’s future ambitions. These aren’t political caricatures, but are honest, open and fascinating films, whether you are inspired, or confused by the subjects themselves, they are beautifully done. I urge you to explore them all, but I’ve posted the one that fascinated me the most. The Donut Shop.

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These have been about for a while, but as a set they are deceptively simple, and are worth a share. Shot for Film Four, they do two things simultaniously. Cement Film Four’s credentials as a both a producer of films (Jude Law, Kristen Scott Thomas, Daniel Day-Lewis, Tilda Swinton and Bob Hoskins help with that) while also neatly dovetailing with a seriously heavyweight Hollywood cast. But, what’s great about these is that the stars don’t get in the way of the stories, these are personal recollections on film, the process of making, and the satisfaction in creating art in ones craft. Add to that a fine editing style, and simple and effective Art Direction, a very familiar piano piece, and you have a lovely little set of ads. Check ’em out.

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Peter Biskind, has for years, been one of my favourite writers. His definitive book on the New Hollywood of the 1970’s – Easy Rider’s Raging Bulls, is rightly regarded as a key text in rehabilitation of many of the films and directors of the 1970’s. The first chapter of the book deals with the film, and the star, that started it all. The film that scandalized Hollywood was Bonnie & Clyde, and the force behind the film, was Warren Beatty.

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About a month ago, Edgar Wright (director of the fabulously inventive Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz) was the curator of the Curzon Soho Midnight Movies night. Midnight Movies, since way back in the 1970’s have been the perfect space for the obscure and the ludicrous outer reaches of film have gathered, from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo (nuts) to the rather unique charms of Wright’s choice. Death Wish 3. While I had to miss out on the big screening, I took the opportunity to take in this classic of the 80’s B-Movie scene and boy was it worth it.

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So with Sundance just round the corner, buzz is already building around the Banksy documentary (over it) and of course numerous films we haven’t got a clue what they are will no doubt bubble to the surface. However in the meantime, Absolut Vodka has jumped into the fray with a 30 minute short film from Spike Jonze (You know his credit list no doubt). Entitled ‘I’m Here’, the film, a collaboration with TBWA/Chiat/Day (Absolut’s agency of record) it’s an idea that has already been done with Mother’s sponsorship of Shane Meadow’s short films for Eurostar as well as the film Somers Town,and always attracts top talent.

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Photo by Kozology

Well 2010 is here, and to be contrary, I have put together the inevitable list of what moved me, thrilled me and blew me away from films in 2009. Oh and the stinkers as well. So, in the order in which they popped into my head, are my top films…

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The Firm Nick Love FIlm

To American readers, you may not be aware of the work of Director Nick Love, his work, being of a very distinctive class of Britishness. Namely cockney football hooligans, south east london wide boys  and the world of the 80’s casual. So it’s no surprise that Love decided to take on and re-make what for many is the definitive statement on the rise of the football hooligan in 1980’s Britain. Alan Clarke’s The Firm.

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