Archive for August 2011
IFC Films is set to release screenwriter Rowan Joffe’s big screen directorial debut “Brighton Rock” in the United States. The limited debut run begins on August 26, 2011 in New York (Angelika & Lincoln Plaza Theaters) & Los Angeles (The Landmark Theater) and will be followed by a general release and con-current IFC On-Demand access. The story is based on the 1938 Graham Greene novel and was previously filmed in 1947 from the author’s own script (with Terrence Rattigan). Re-titled “Young Scarface” in the United States, the original film was a tour de force for a very young Richard Attenborough as “Pinkie” Brown, a 17 year old, murderously working his way up the ranks of a local graft mob. Sam Riley, who was simply amazing in his channeling of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis (Control, 2007), similarly inhabits Pinkie. He is a ruthless baby faced killer, who has no intention of waiting in turn to take the reigns of his faltering gang. The titular stick candy sold at the resort is metaphorically, “hard on the inside as it is on the outside”.
Is He Bad? Mmm… He’s Good – Bad
The accidental killing of Pinkie’s gang boss and father figure by local rivals triggers a series of vengeful events that force the young hood into feigning romantic interest in a young waitress, Rose. Their marriage would legally silence her potential as a witness against him. Rose on the other hand is truly enamored and sees Pinkie as a tarnished saviour of sorts. They seemingly share only one certainty through their mutual Catholic faith; damnation as a reality, though Rose believes in the forgiveness of God as well.
Joffe trades the highly stylized visuals of the earlier version for a gritty realism. The juxtaposition of seaside holiday resort vs. back alley grunge is certainly what Greene had in mind when he told this story. It works in the scenes of the gang’s apartment – about as grimy and deteriorated a place as has ever been lensed – but loses something in the aesthetic translation with Pinkie’s brutal killing of the hapless “Fred” on the beach vs. the highly memorable cinema of the same character’s funhouse demise in the ’47 version.
Once I Ran To You, Now I Run From You..
Whereas the original film offers Runyonesque (Greenesque?) caricatures, especially in the form of Hermoine Baddeley’s scenery gnawing Ida, the revisit displays much more depth and shade of characterization. Helen Mirren’s Ida portrayal, though dialed back about a billion suns, is no less tenacious in her citizen sleuthing and attempts to save Rose from Pinkie, and herself. Andrea Riseborough’s Rose goes miles beyond what could even be suggested by ingenue Carol Marsh in 1947. As Joffe’s script unfolds we discover Rose to be a determined, prayerful, innocent with a masochistic streak. She clings to Pinkie in a bid to escape her home life, a father who can “get his temper up”, but it’s a frying pan to fire maneuver. The scene where Pinkie barters with Rose’s father for her hand in marriage while she watches in the doorway is excruciating and their love scene presents a choreography of muted violence.
Is It Me… For A Moment?
Behind the gangland thriller trappings, the real core of Greene’s focus is the theme of personal transfiguration. Each character here is trying to reinvent their lives, escape the now and move into the future as an idealized remake of themselves. Pinkie aspires to be a modern gang leader like his rival nemesis “businessman” Colleoni (Andy Serkis), Rose redresses herself as a Mary Quant “dolly-bird”, next-in-line gang leader Spicer (Phil Davis) simply wants a “buy out” to purchase a small town pub. To that end Joffe moves his adaptation ahead in time slightly. We are placed at the Brighton Amusement Pier in the transitional year of 1964, when expectations for the future and social mores were poised to take a radical leap toward liberalism. In some ways Britain experienced an extended 1940’s while trying to rebuild itself after the Second World War, making the transition all the more jarring. Joffe shows the historical times a-changin’ by staging a recreation of the clash of the trendy Mods (“modernists”) and leather clad Rockers during 1964 Bank Holidays (i.e. “spring break”), which is used as a backdrop for an ensuing gang fight.
Unfortunately the director chose to ignore the sounds of the times believing that introducing familiar pop tunes into the film would “snap the audience out of the story”, but in truth pitting the Mods’ favored R&B and Ska against the Greaser Rock of Gene Vincent on the soundtrack could have offered an additional layer of insight into the dichotomies of the narrative. Richard Hawley’s excellent end credits tune “There’s A Storm A Coming” gives a clue to what might have been had it been decided to create some faux period music to inject.
Though not as impenetrable and idiomatic for the casual American viewer as let’s say 1979’s “Quadrophenia”, “Brighton Rock” will still require some knowledge of post war Britishness to truly understand its characters’ motivations based on historical setting. That said, Riley and Riseborough’s performances are universal in scope and are worth the price of admission.
Watch the Brighton Rock Trailer.
My name is Victoria Winters… well, no, it’s not, it’s Andy Melendez but it was a dark and stormy night over the Great Hotel Marriott, where Skeleton Pete and I attended the Dark Shadows Festival held here in Downtown Brooklyn this past weekend (August 18-21). It’s been a while since I’ve attended any kind of convention, but I have to admit, there was a feeling of “homecoming,” at least for me, when we arrived. These are my people. The Festival was celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the legendary cult TV series, created by the late Dan Curtis.
I was surprised by the number of attendees for a Friday night alone (opening night tends to be light and a fun time to just explore without feeling too claustrophobic). I was even more surprised to learn that half of them had never been to a DS con before. Ah, “Convention Virgins,” I lost that distinction at 15 and have been a proud con-geek ever since… but I digress. For many others, it was like a family reunion… laughing, reminiscing and reconnecting with old friends.
I loved the setting created for the series’ stars onstage. It was a charming replica of the original Collinwood sitting room. I almost ran up there myself just to have a seat on the sofa and pretend I was having tea by the fireplace with the late Joan Bennett (Elizabeth Stoddard) or Grayson Hall (Dr. Julia Hoffman). The dealer’s room looked a bit sparse, but they were literally still unpacking as we arrived. I dare say most attendees were less concerned with memorabilia and more concerned with the honored guests in their midst, some of them already there, meeting convention goers and signing autographs.
Dark Shadows Memories
Fan favorites Lara Parker (Angelique Bouchard), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans, Josette du Pres), Roger Davis (Peter Bradford, Jeff Clark), Jerry Lacy (Reverend Trask, Tony Peterson), Marie Wallace (Eve, Jenny Collins), Christopher Pennock (Jeb Hawkes, Sebastian Shaw), and Kathleen Cody (Hallie Stokes, Carrie Stokes), were all there to meet and greet the fans on Day One, many with new projects to talk about. Unfortunately, we missed Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins) and David Selby (Quentin Collins), as both were only scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Both Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott have new books coming out (both have been authors for some years now) — Lara has a third Dark Shadows novel coming out, and her first, “Angelique’s Descent,” is going to be re-released with a new 35-page chapter. Kathryn has been busy as well and her book, “The Bunny Years: The Inside Story of the Playboy Clubs and the Women Who Worked as Bunnies,” about her experience as a Playboy Bunny, has been co-opted for use in the upcoming NBC series, “The Playboy Club.” Lara and Kathryn noted rather cheekily, now is time to strike while the iron is hot, as things ramp up for the May 2012 theatrical film release of the Dark Shadows movie starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. I have to admit, I was terribly excited to finally find out a release date for the film, as I hadn’t heard much since the news first broke. It was lovely to hear that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp asked the original series stars to film cameos for the movie. Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott, and David Selby were flown out to London to film at the legendary Pinewood Studios where they had a blast.
I was thrilled to learn the first two theatrical releases of the Dark Shadows films, “House of Dark Shadows” starring Jonathan Frid and Kathryn Leigh Scott and “Night of Dark Shadows,” starring David Selby and Kate Jackson, were coming to DVD. Stars from the original film were invited back to do Foley work on “Night of Dark Shadows” so they could include 30 minutes of lost footage on the new DVD as part of a long-time plan to restore the film since the footage was recovered in 1999. That is set to coincide with the release of the 2012 film.
As a veteran of these things, the highlight of the evening for me was seeing the unfinished, never-before-aired pilot of the 2004 remake of Dark Shadows. I’d only heard about it and had exhausted all avenues to obtaining a copy (and believe me, I have many). The remake had been intended as a replacement for the WB series “Angel.” It was more than fitting, as Angel and many other repentant vampires owe their fangs to Barnabas Collins. Dan Curtis was also involved after his 1991 “resurrection,” with Ben Cross and Joanna Going, was tragically cut short after only one season. However, sadly, part way through filming the 2004 pilot, they lost their Director and with it, their direction.
Associate Producer, and convention organizer (as well as marketing director for Dan Curtis Productions and consulting producer on the new film), Jim Pierson, explained what happened with the pilot and I was sorry to hear it never saw the light of day. It was a shame, as it showed promise, had some creepy special effects and if it had kept the intention of the original series and Dan Curtis’ gothic vision, I think it would have found a home, and would have rivaled newcomers “Supernatural” and “Vampire Diaries.” A glaring omission, however, was the loss of the original series music. I don’t know if they intended to replace it later on, but the classic title theme was missing, along with “Josette’s music box,” and to me, as a fan, these are too precious to lose.
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Eagle Rock Entertainment would like to ensure you have a very Deep Purple summer and to that end have begun a product roll-out that includes Purple Mark I expanded remasters, four remastered live albums and a couple of early David Coverdale solo albums. Along with the reissues Eagle Vision offers something new in the form of a long overdue focus on Purple Mark IV in the form of a DVD/CD documentary set. It’s called “Deep Purple, Phoenix Rising” and features the Coverdale, Hughes, Bolin, Lord and Paice era. It’s a loaded package of goodies and includes the previously unreleased Budokan film from 1975, visually spruced up and 5.1 remixed. I really dig it and tell you exactly why in my review at PiercingMetal.Com.
Just a heads up that Adriana “Andy” Melendez and I will be covering the Dark Shadows Festival in Brooklyn NYC tomorrow (August 19th, 2011). Information on the weekend long convention can be found here. Expect pix and words from us in the coming week.
In the meantime, the folks at Hermes Press gave us the OK to afford you a sneak peek at the “Dark Shadows Story Digest”, which reprints a long lost DS collector’s item with some nice extras. It will be available for the first time at the convention. Andy’s review of this new release can be found here.
Hermes Press will be at the show on Friday and Saturday also featuring the first two volumes of their sumptuous Gold Key Comics reprints “Dark Shadows: The Original Series” at a discount for convention attendees.
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Didn’t It Rain…
It never stopped raining over Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, only came down harder as the evening progressed, but an impressively large crowd of soul music enthusiasts attending the final show of the 2011 Out Of Doors concert series would not be deterred by the record breaking deluge. What they received for their stalwartness was a night of superlative performances and a historical sense of the music that they love. Sponsored by Toyota, the 28th Annual American Roots Music Festival held in Lincoln Center’s bandshell offered four groups; each performing their unique slice of the soul and blues genre.
Opening act Big Funky Sam, fronted by Trombonist Sam Williams (Dirty Dozen Brass Band), warmed up the audience with grooves of their New Orleans hometown also dipping into some Sly & The Family Stone style funk and even a snippet of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” to keep it current. I think the great set by BFS convinced the tentative crowd that this would be a night worth weathering. The North Mississippi Allstars’ Luther and Cody Dickinson, having paid tribute to their father Jim during a panel discussion earlier in the day, served up a set of electrified “hill country” blues, and The Barkays Revue featuring founder member James Alexander on bass guitar gave a pocket history of 60’s and 70’s soul. They performed everything from “Sweet Soul Music” to “Theme From Shaft” and their own eternal crowd pleaser “Soulfinger”.
I’ll be featuring festival panel discussion details and more information on and photos of the opening acts as the week progresses. Keep an eye out.
Dedicated, The “5″ Royales Tribute
The festival headliner was Steve Cropper, the guitarist of Stax Records house band Booker T. & The MG’s, that you know from his stinging “Soul Man” notes (“Play It Steve”) and his sweet melodic slides on Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay”. Cropper debuted music from his new release “Dedicated”, a look at the music of the pioneering “5” Royales and guitarist Lowman “Pete” Pauling. “You are truly dedicated” he told the crowd huddled under umbrellas, ponchos, slickers and plastic bags. Cropper was surrounded by a stellar stage cast including bassist David Hood, drummer Anton Fig and producer Jon Tiven on guitar and saxophone. Tiven co-produced and co-wrote much of the music on the Cropper and Felix Cavaliere album “Nudge It Up A Notch” from 2008. Aside from Fig, this was a totally different line-up from the “Music of Stax Records” show covered here recently. They kicked off the set by launching into a monster version of “Green Onions” with Leon Pendarvis drivin’ the Hammond B3 that quickly lit any dampened spirits. As the performance built Cropper and band made every drop of rain the audience had sponged up worth the experience.
Singers Ellis Hooks, Dylan LeBlanc, with special guests Bettye Lavette and Maxine Brown took turns at center stage singing classic numbers like “(In The) Midnight Hour”, “99 and a Half Won’t Do”, “(Sitting on the) Dock of the Bay”, along with selections from the “5” Royales tribute. Bettye came on stage surprised to see all the “crazy people” still out in the rain to sing “Say It”. “Give me a chance here” she said “I learned these songs when I was about 2 years old.” She was joined for a call and response version of “Don’t Be Ashamed” by Ellis. Dylan was given a healthy hunk of the middle of the set, getting a chance to sing the “5” Royales torch song “Someone Made You For Me”, gospel inspired “Come On and Save Me”, as well as “Dock of the Bay”. Dylan, just turned 21, grew up around the Muscle Shoals music scene, spending time at FAME studios where his Dad had a publishing deal and it’s clear that he has an innate intuition for the style.
It was a thrilling moment to hear Maxine hit the a-cappella opening line of “Dedicated To the One I Love” as she entered the stage. The song is given a quirky spin on the “Dedicated” album behind Lucinda Williams’ drawl, while Maxine rendered it in sparking girl group fashion. Ellis returned to the stage stomping through the puddles at the edge and intoning “let it rain, let it rain”, like a gospel preacher. He closed out the evening with the Royale’s “30 Second Lover” and Eddie Floyd’s “Knock On Wood”. The band mercifully didn’t make the sopping crowd wait for the encore with Ellis getting his wish to sing “Soul Man” with Cropper. Steve exited with a wry quip to the audience as they dispersed. “I prayed for good weather, looks like I got it”, and it truly was fair skies in the hearts of everyone who participated in the gathering.
Kudos to festival producer Spike Barkin for putting together such a great line up of acts that gave the audience a taste of the varied flavors of soul music as presented by many of the people who invented it as well as those who have followed in their footsteps. A huge round of applause also needs to go to the Lincoln Center Out Of Doors stage crew who managed to get this show presented to a faithful crowd under the worst of weather conditions. Thank you, all.
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Click below to purchase Steve Cropper’s “Dedicated, A Tribute to the “5″ Royales” on Amazon.