What I Peeped: Day Eight

April 11, 2008 at 2:20 pm 1 comment

The End (Nicola Collins. UK): My mistake: turns out Nicola Collins’ sit-down with a cadre of retired East End gangsters wasn’t shot on impossibly grainy 16mm – just B&W video that was beaten up in post à la Grindhouse. Either way, it radiates pure menace, a feeling that’s a touch misleading as Collins’ film is neither sensationalistic nor teeming with the absolute worst things you’ve ever heard. Instead it’s well-rounded and non-judgmental, which I suppose you could argue was even more disturbing given the horrid shit these blokes have done. One of Collins’ interviewees is her own dear dad, and the rest are his friends – people Collins has basically known all her life and who, for the record, only hurt fellow villains, not innocent bystanders. Their frank – but not tooooo frank, for obvious reasons – accounts are wisely rooted in class and life in a violent part of London. It could stand to be longer than 74 minutes and I wish it delved even more into their rationalizations for what they’ve done to live what looks like a life of middle class comfort.

Heavy Metal in Baghdad
(Eddy Moretti & Suroosh Alvi, Canada/USA):
The title, as it turns out, is slightly misleading: there is no heavy metal in Baghdad, even for the film’s subjects, thrash metal band Acrassicauda. Found by the filmmakers at the outbreak of war, the band – who covered the likes of Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden in addition to writing their own tunes – soon after split for a multitude of reasons, chief among them being the destruction of their rehearsal space by a scud missile and their inability to, you know, actually walk around in their native country. Heavy Metal checks in with them a couple years later when they’ve one by one decamped for Syria where, as refugees with no connections and no family, they arguably stand even less of a chance. Though it begs for a sequel, the film gains much from its wry outlook – the filmmakers marveling at the near platoon of armed bodyguards that follow them when they’re shooting in Baghdad – and its unassuming verité, whose home movie-ness snowballs into something truly, tragically gutting.

Violent Saturday (1955, Richard Fleischer, USA): Recently dug up from deep within the insanely prolific rap sheet of animator Max Fleischer son Richard (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, made for his pop’s arch-nemesis, no less), this ‘scope heist pic is really only a quarter bank heist pic, maybe less. A proto-Altman survey, it lumps the invading hoodlums (among them Lee Marvin, introduced stomping on a kid’s hand) in with the rest of the town, who aren’t so decent either. (The exception is a remote Amish family lorded over by – yes! – Ernest Borgnine.) In his introduction the great Irv Slifkin described this as “Reservoir Dogs meets Twin Peaks meets Peyton Place,” which is pretty accurate shorthand for what goes on. It’s a strange film, starting off as a portrait of pure rot and then abruptly turning into a rumination on chance and chaos in the universe.

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Entry filed under: Reviews.

Picks, Pans, All That – Day Eight: Thursday, April 10 Picks, Pans, All That – Day Nine: Friday, April 11

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