Posts Tagged ‘Natalie Press’

A brief post, because you don’t get much time on public computers and the library is about to close. The shameful lapse in blogging is a combination of those fuckwits at PC World keeping my laptop in enforced limbo for the last month. It’s coming back next week (“Possibly Tuesday, but don’t take my word.”) actually more broken than when I sent it off. Brilliant! I’ve been using my limited access to launch this baby too.

Never fear though- I am working on some exciting and insightful posts for you. They’ve been thrashed out longhand and will be arriving in your inbox/iPhone/headspace in the near future.

In the meantime however- to keep you scintillated and attentive, I will hash out some random thoughts with little structure or purpose :j

The festive season, [alas] is upon us already, the Coca Cola ad was on Sky on Thursday, which means it’ll be on real telly soon enough and then the headlong dash begins. So, I would like to make tribute to the greatest seasonal films in my personal collection. ‘Of all time’ seemed greater scope than I can muster in present circumstances.

1. Christmas: Bad Santa  (Terry Zwigoff) Billy Bob Thornton as an alcoholic, shagging, swearing department store Father Christmas. What’s not to love really? They play on consumerism and the Capitalist assimilation of a Christian assimilation of the pagan winter festival of light, there’s digs at political correctness and America’s obsession with its Coke-funded folklore. Then there’s redemption, unconditional (and utterly irrational) love and the True Meaning of Christmas. But it’s true, not all saccharine and Hollywoody. One of the few Christmas flicks not to give me tooth and/or stomach ache, this is a modern classic.Billy Bob Thornton and Mrs. Santa

I’ll give honourable mention to Burton and Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is a feat of animation, visually impeccable, Jack Skellington and cocompellingly charcterised, with a tearing plot and one of Elfman’s best ever efforts. I really do love it. Some of our cousins over the pond might argue that it’s a Halloween film, but as far as I’m concerned All Saint’s Eve isn’t a festive occasion. It is also probably the most merchandised film in cinematic history. Bad Santa wins for its subversion and begrudging heart.

2. Easter: The Wicker Man? My selection transpires to be somewhat limited. I rewatched The Hole recently (tenuous I know, but it was set over Easter weekend) and it’s actually pretty darn good. I thought it was great at the time, then it didn’t really stand up to repeat viewing. A few years’ distance though and it has aged well I’d say. Plus, teenage Keira Knightley shows all that promise of the actress she could have been.

3. Summer: My Summer of Love Yes, it’s deeply flawed in many ways, but the performances are solid, good British talent at play. It’s a coming-of-age and psychological thriller that really captures the internal turmoil of being that age, when adults turn out to be no use after all. An early big screen outing for Emily Blunt and Natalie Press (Song of Songs, Wasp) by renowned director Pawel Pawlikowski, based on a novel by Helen Cross, it was so full of promise.Mona and Tamsin look serious on the moped

Joint winner in this category is legendary Spike Lee joint Do The Right Thing, a little overlong, but this perfect cross section of eighties racial tensions in Bed-Stuy on the hottest day of the year is single-vision filmmaking as good as it gets. Powerful, educational and morally ambiguous.

Mookie and the Boombox fella exchange words

Fight the Power

That’s all I’ve got time for. Let me know your favourites. Feel free to throw in more seasons too! Sx


SONG OF SONGS (Appignanesi, 2005. UK)

I vaguely recall reading a good review of Song of Songs round about the time of release. I was paying attention to Natalie Press back then; after the critical success of Wasp and a respectable showing in My Summer of Love she was looking set to become something of a darling of the British indie crowd. It had a very limited release however and after finally catching it on iPlayer I can see why. Press is perfectly acceptable in her performance, all the actors do the best that could be expected with the source material, but the whole enterprise just begs the question ‘why?’

Billed as a domestic drama exploring the tensions between an Orthodox Jewish family when the matriarch falls ill, SOS is in fact nothing so routine.

While it was interesting to see the rituals and behaviours of Jewish orthodoxy (for example the stock character of the estranged son who rebels against his upbringing is recharged here in the articulate and complex David who, despite his rejection of the Orthodox creed, compulsively adheres to the proscribed ritual hand washing)- not often portrayed or described in popular media- this claustrophobic play is imbued with a sense of unease that had me squirming in my seat twenty minutes in.

Despite a lean running time of eighty-one minutes Song of Songs rapidly becomes infuriating. I’m no stranger to glacial development, but here we are endlessly subjected to two steps forward, one step back. The implied sexual tension which repeatedly builds between siblings David and Ruth is undermined by distracting, but presumably deliberate, loss of focus before being diffused yet again by a slow and baffling fade to white.

The film is riddled with odd behaviour and obscure, if not opaque motivations, including the brother moving back into his family home, ostensibly to tutor his sister, ‘deprogramme’ her of religious indoctrination if you will, but concealing his presence from their ailing mother who is crying out to see her alienated son before she dies. The course and purpose of David’s instruction is impossible to second guess and somewhat sadistic and Ruth’s submission to him symptomatic of her inability to place herself within the insular Orthodox community of London.

In all this film is deeply unsatisfying and fails to be either shocking or profound. The queasy denouement is a moment which should probably have come halfway through, if at all. The final scene was frankly incomprehensible. If you’ve got a flatmate with dubious personal hygiene whom you cannot entreat to shower under their own volition, perhaps showing them Song of Songs will do the trick. Otherwise, steer well clear.