Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Severance (Smith, 2006. UK)

Severance- headless suit***Minor Spoilers****

Standard splatterstock and largely predictable but with a few proper laughs. It’s almost a corporate Battle Royale, except the initial corporate downsizing storyline was written out and transplanted with a bizarre Revenge of the Hungarian War Criminals backstory. Which is apparently a comment on corporate responsibility and the culpability of the Western Arms Trade. Personally I think it’s just an excuse to kill off suits in varied and increasingly gory fashion while That Twat Danny Dyer blunders about making ‘comic’ lewd comments in his ludicrous mockney drawl. What Laura Harris Laura Harris stares pensively from windowcould possibly see in him is unfathomable. The male directors’ Wish Fulfilment Rule again. You know the one where no matter how old/aesthetically repellent/ socially incompetent you may be, the beautiful, intelligent and well-adjusted woman will fall for you, just because you’re the main character. Just like in life. Harris is a likeable actress and usually worth a watch, however her purpose here appears to be chiefly to act as an object of lust for the various derisible or simple two dimensional male characters. (more…)


Here it is folks. I haven’t even read back what I’ve written, but this is the first Liveblogging attempt. It’s pretty long, so I’m going to trial using  exerpts intead of full posts on the home page. Hope you enjoy!

********Warning Full SPOILERS*********

Sugarhouse (Love, 2007. UK)


A not quite middle aged white man traverses real London, beyond the City and the tourists, and though he is almost certainly a native, he seems uncomfortable out here, maybe in the heart of the city, perhaps as far afield as Zone 3. The graffiti tag stylising of the opening credits set the genre quite distinctly. British, urban, almost certainly gritty, dealing with class and poverty. Your standard inner-city drama/thriller I’d say. Oh, and Gollum’s in it as someone called ‘Hoodwink’ who I’ll bet is a kingpin drug dealer or gang lord type. Three to One.

Just in case we hadn’t noticed this man’s out-of-placeness, the handheld DV flags it up for us. His eyes light on a series of grotesques and caricatures as his unease becomes ours. Directed by Gary Love. He is accosted in a market café by Ashley Walters out of So Solid who earned his stripes and showed his chops in Bullet Boy. Here he seems to be playing some demented delinquent version of himself again. Less world weary than his lead role in that film.

As the altercation ends we see our man did intend to meet this capering rood boy Caliban, so what is he up to? He’s clearly involved in something over his head, that much is clear from the office attire and the way he gazes up at the high rise tower block they come to. A visually striking crane shot presents the block as something more than poorly-planned social housing for a moment, it is Hockney or one of those great American print artists. Then we snap down to ground level and it’s just somewhere you hope you won’t have to live. Or visit. (more…)

Love In Thoughts/ Wäs Nützt die Liebe in Gedanken (von Borries, 2004. DE)

The defining image of Love In Thoughts is that of  a butterfly delicately balancing on the trigger guard of a cocked revolver. “Dear Universe,” writes our protagonist and thus begins a hazy elegy to youth and summer and a maligned land, suspended in a historically condemned time, where it is easy to forget young people who played no part in the last war and had not yet anticipated the next. Young people who must still come of age, regardless of politics, where the wealthy and the privileged still occupied unsullied, beautiful spaces.

This film is a visual poem, a dreamy recollection of a bygone age, in a land caught like a fly in amber. The written poetry, which weaves throughout-binding together snapshots, clearly loses something in translation, but the point is still clear- what is the value of a life lived in ideas?

Noble theories and poetic notions have their place, but they are a dream and the poet is a sleepwalker.

The delicate balance between the thoughts and actions of impetuous, idealistic youth mirrors the wider situation in Europe- precarious equilibrium; before the full might of the Soviets is reached, before a resentful Germany is sunk into a crippling depression. (more…)

An Economy of Violence: Thoughts on the prevalence of violence in British Cinema


In the process of starting this blog and planning what to write about, I have been making lists of relevant films, thinking about what they have to say and what they have in common and I started to notice a surprising trend. As I wrote synopses to see what there was to say the same word kept recurring: violence. Always couched and confounded with other phrases, but brutality is almost omnipresent in the Brit Flicks.

If you’ve studied film censorship at all you’ll know that America’s MPAA is far more tolerant of violence than Britain’s BBFC (with the Brits more permissive of sex, especially between same-sex couples). For exemplification, check out Andy Dick’s cracking documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated. I’ve never much questioned this received wisdom, but a simple collation of keywords demonstrates that it may not be quite so clear cut.

Once I had made this observation it became increasingly obvious how integral violence in fact is to our national cinema, to our view of ourselves. When I say this I am mostly referring to Insider Cinema, by and for Brits and people who can get inside British culture. Not so much your made-for-export Tourist London, but what we think of as (to any extent that cinema can be) the real us. Representation with the dirt left on if you will.

The films I was calling to mind- Pure, Scum, Stella Does Tricks, Dirty Pretty Things, Guy Ritchie’s back catalogue, The Hole, Trainspotting, Kidulthood, Donkey Punch, Land of the Blind, Everything by Shane Meadows, The Warzone, Straightheads, Sweet Sixteen, Hallam Foe even, anything featuring Big Daddy Winstone or that twat Danny Dyer, the list goes on. Obviously not all of these films are supposed to be real or even realist; there are a genre considerations, a horror or gangster flick will necessarily have bloodshed and butchery, but that does not account for the prevalence of aggression in the films above. (more…)

Straightheads: (Reed 2007. UK)

Largely a two hander betwixt repatriated ex-colonial defector Gillian Anderson and that twat Danny Dyer. It’s an odd little film, it feels almost like a Sarah Kane play. We get to know very little of the characters before who they are is utterly undone by a shocking and brutal act of random violence. That will read like a lot of synopses you may have come across for revenge and horror type dreck, but this is a truly brutal few moments of cinema and even though you know it’s coming (I was almost cringing in apprehension of the moment when it eventually arrived) it does still manage to be shocking in the very humanness of their anguish, flailing before an incomprehensible lack of compassion. A rare occurrence given that we are an age who have truly seen it all, within the bounds of legality.

The fractured aftermath of the attack is where Straightheads stops coasting, transcends voyeurism, power games and dirty, loveless sex, and the film proper begins…

An indeterminate amount of time has passed since the two opportunist lovers were bound irreversibly together by shared trauma, by guilt and obligation. It goes without saying that they are together now, despite the age difference, the class barrier, their emotional incompatibility. Perhaps they would have holed up in her high-end, high-security London flat indefinitely had not fate and the gods of screenplays drawn Alice back to the locale of the attack. This happenstance draws the pair into a confounded but dogged revenge quest which takes up the remaining half of the runtime.

This is not your standard rape-revenge narrative. Not only is the process unclear, they do not have the unswayable moral conviction of those eighties (anti)heroines. They are not a united front- their damage, both physical and psychological, continues to take its toll- and they take some measures which are hard to condone, even hypothetically.

I’m not really sure how I feel about Straightheads. All I can say is that it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. A mature drama (not quite a thriller) with a surprisingly sage perspective on people.

An interesting note about the film is the strikingly American attitude to the respective threats of town and country. To Brits the urban sprawl is breeding ground for violence, for rape, for senseless rage, and that most objectionable contagion, the working class. The countryside means escape, the civility and increasingly quaint detachedness of the lingering gentry and simple country folk portrayed on either side of the salt-of-the-earth/ laughable bumpkin dichotomy. Across the Atlantic however, with those wide, wild uncharted expanses, rural space is threatening, crawling with cannibal hillbillies, where mysterious disappearances are rife.

The irony then, of Alice investing so much in securing her home with the latest technologies and remote systems, only to be defiled miles from civilisation, is yet another little chip in the rock face that is Britons’ sense of ourselves and our world.

For all their difference, polished Citywoman Alice and rough diamond working lad Adam are inarguably products of metropolis (despite Alice’s privileged country upbringing, she has embraced London and all it represents.)  On a Venn diagram they’d be squarely in the urbanite circle. Speaking of squares in circles, they are the unfit pegs when it comes to survival away from civilisation. They are ill-equipped to resist the unrefined brawn and brutality of the outdoorsmen they encounter on a remote rural road.

Taking a step back from the emotional tumult, this film presents us with a pretty efficient working model of Darwinism, in all its terrible symmetry.

Watch this space for a full post on that theory.