“This is the problem with civilians wanting to go to war. Once you’ve been there, once you’ve seen it, you never want to go again unless you absolutely fucking have to. It’s like France.”
In The Loop
The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: Art
i. Just War
An LUC favourite, this old soviet anti-war film – cut to Just War from the album Dark Night Of The Soul. Brilliantly renders the pointlessness of nuclear conflict in three minutes and 45 stylish seconds.
ii. How Docklands Became Vietnam For Full Metal Jacket
From the venerable Barry Norman on Film ‘87:
“It’s a derelict old gasworks in Beckton, not Vietman exactly but the next best thing for a movie director who doesn’t like to fly”
iii. The Main Casualty of The Thin Red Line Was Adrien Brody
Enjoy a bunch of actors chuckling about how Brody thought he was the lead in Terence Malick’s Pacific war epic, right up until the premiere of the film – that he was mostly cut out of.
iv. The Messy Death Of Hungry Joe
In 1970, a world before CGI, just how do you convincingly show a man being bisected by a low flying aircraft?
“The popular scene of Hungry Joe being cut in two by the airplane and falling into the water was done in two steps. (1) A plane runs into a breakaway dummy that was rigged to spray blood. After a cutaway, the second shot shows an actor or stuntman in front of the sky, holding a mirror in front of him angled to reflect more sky to match what is in back of him, making the top part of his body disappear. He then falls backward into the water making the trick become visible to the camera.”
v. All the people using The Battle Of Algiers as a training aid are probably missing the point
From an article on the Carnegie Council website:
“The Battle of Algiers was based on the memoirs of Saadi Yacef, one of the leaders of the FLN, who also starred in the film as a character modeled off his real-life role in the opposition movement. The film was banned in France for five years after its release.
Yet others hailed The Battle of Algiers, not only as a work of art, but as a model for both insurgency and counterinsurgency tactics, including the use of torture. The film has been used to train members of the Black Panthers and Argentine intelligence units. It has been speculated that Palestinian terror groups and al Qaeda may also use Pontecorvo’s film as a guide.
In 2003, The Battle of Algiers was screened at the Pentagon in order to offer some insight into the challenges surrounding the U.S. occupation of Iraq.”
vi. Did Bill Clinton pull a ‘Wag The Dog’?
From an article via CNN:
“In the movie, the president’s handlers invent a war to distract public attention from his sexual transgressions. In real life, was the Clinton administration doing something similar?
Cynical in the extreme, that was a question that some residents of the New York region could not avoid asking themselves Thursday. And it seemed to reflect not only the bizarre parallels between fiction and fact, but also the profound distrust that some Americans have begun to harbor toward a president who acknowledged misleading the public.”
vii. The Fallen Of World War 2
Sobering and stunning use of data and animation to illustrate the horror of the mind melting horror of the second world war.
viii. Rik Mayall’s SAS try to prevent World War 3
In the marvellously unsubtle Whoops Apocalypse, the world is heading towards nuclear combat due to an escalating conflict over a disputed British territory in central America (wonder where they got that idea?).
For reasons that are too confusing to go into, the SAS must rescue a british princess from Madam Tussauds – cue lots of mindless violence and swearing. Key Quote:
“No you can’t bring the fucking tiger, Donald. It’s more trouble than it’s worth”
“As a remedy to life in society I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means.”
– Albert Camus
“I don’t know what London’s coming to — the higher the buildings the lower the morals.”
– Noel Coward
“But cities aren’t like people; they live on and on, even though their reason for being where they are has gone downriver and out to sea.”
The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: War
i. The Lost City Of Demille
From the Independent:
‘When the shoot was complete, rather than dismantle and remove the set, the director ordered it to be knocked down, buried and abandoned to the elements. Mr Cardozo showed Mr Brosnan a passage from DeMille’s posthumously published autobiography: “If, 1,000 years from now, archaeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe, I hope they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian civilisation … extended all the way to the Pacific coast of North America.”’
ii. Shanghai tower climb
If you are slightly nervy about heights and risky behaviour then you might want to give this extreme urban exploration video filmed in and above the chinese mega city a swerve – or use it as some kind of exposure therapy. Don’t try this at home (if you live on a crane half a mile in the air).
“The city will soon be built faster than a man can travel”
iv. Metropolis II
Metropolis II is a kinetic sculpture by Chris Burden – it took four years to build. When it was finished the manager of the local Toys R Us cried bitter, bitter tears.
v. Neo Tokyo
From the Akira Wiki:
“Neo-Tokyo is situated on an enormous, man-made island in Tokyo Bay. The city was built sometime after the end of the Third World War, and is described as a booming, industrial city with the atmosphere of a collapsing one.
As of 2019, the population is 21,451,800 and the total area of the city is 410.32 km2. This would make Neo-Tokyo the most densely-populated city in the world after the original city. Neo-Tokyo is situated right next to the ruins of old Tokyo, which seems mostly derelict.”
vi. 20 Great Films Where One Of The Main Characters Is A City
From the Taste Of Cinema web site:
“The films listed rely on the narrative space and its geographical and sociological specifications. The plots of these films are formed by numerous references to the spatial and temporal phase in which the story is taking place.”
vii. Wadjda – the film that had to be directed via walkie talkie
From a BFI article listing ten great films about Women and The City:
“Wadjda is set in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia – a city where women are not permitted to walk un-chaperoned or uncovered in the streets. These restrictions meant that the film’s director, Haifaa Al-Mansour, had to resort to instructing her cast and crew via walkie-talkie, from inside a van. All 10-year-old Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) wants is a bicycle; getting one is a race against time, as she won’t be able to ride it when she grows into a woman.
Wadjda is one of the first feature films ever to be shot in Saudi Arabia, and it’s also the first film ever to be made by a Saudi woman. The film – both the conditions of its making and its story – demonstrates the reality that cities aren’t always open to everyone, but that this situation might one day change.”
viii. Vancouver never plays itself
Vancouver can double for just about anywhere as demonstrated by this excellent short film from Every Frame A Painting:
“One of the best ways to disguise Vancouver is to film at night in shallow focus. This is to avoid pulling a ‘Rumble in The Bronx’ where they pointed the camera north and you could clearly see the mountains”
“Animals give me more pleasure through the viewfinder of a camera than they ever did in the crosshairs of a gunsight.”
– James Stewart
“Animals have never betrayed me. They are an easy prey, as I have been throughout my career. So we feel the same. I love them.”
– Brigitte Bardot
“Do you know what I love about hunting? That I am no one in the woods, no one at all. I thought the animals might recognise me, but they didn’t. They did not even ask me for any autographs.”
The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: Cities
Source of one of LUC’s favourite pieces of music (as playing in the video below), Pound is a film from 1970 about dogs waiting to be put down. The twist being that the dogs are all played by human actors, including the director’s son, one Robert Downey Jr…
ii. All the stop motion creatures from the world of Steve Zissou
Eschewing bland-looking CGI imagery, Wes Anderson commissioned stop motion genius Henry Selick to make all the fantastical creatures for The Life Aquatic, here is a video summary…
iii. Roar – The most dangerous movie ever made
From an article on IndieWire:
“Some of the injuries sustained in the course of production: cinematographer Jan de Bont was scalped, requiring 220 stitches; Griffith was mauled by a lion, which required facial reconstructive surgery; an A.D. narrowly escaped death when a lion missed his jugular by an inch; Hedren, who was also attacked by birds on the set of “The Birds,” endured a fractured leg and multiple scalp wounds; and Marshall himself was wounded so many times that he was hospitalized with gangrene.”
iv. Bronholme The Leamington Underhamster
The bunker’s latest recruit, in addition to being a syrian refugee is also a liviing homage to *that* amazing scene in the 1988 film Taffin. For full context please consult this excerpt from Adam & Joe
v. The Monkey In The Order Of The Black Eagle
An outrageously terrible and terribly watchable spy/action flick from 1987, The Order Of The Black Eagle compresses every James Bond trope into a cinematic meat grinder and then squeezes out the kind of film sausage that you know you shouldn’t really be consuming. Giving probably the most restrained and believable performance of the whole cast, Boon The Baboon is a dapper primate, equally at home in a dinner jacket or driving his own Baboon sized tank. Mostly though he makes a sort of ‘up yours’ gesture at regular intervals.
Full film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqJadw0UdW8
vi. Eating a live octopus for Oldboy
From an AV Club article full of examples of how the film industry has violently messed with animals over the years, for the sake of our entertainment.
“There’s no CGI or fakery involved—getting that shot meant the actor had to eat four live octopuses in a row. It was a problematic requirement for Choi, a practicing Buddhist; he explained in interviews that he had to pray for each octopus, and in the behind-the-scenes video below, he apologizes to one of them before a take. It’s a kind sentiment, but still a horrible way to die.”
vii. Thomas Edison – What A Jerk
To win arguments about the benefits of Direct Current vs Alternating Current, Thomas Edison would electrocute just about any animal he could get his hands on, then film it, then charge people to watch the film. Suddenly Zack Snyder doesn’t seem so bad. This short film outlines his general arseholery on the matter…
viii. Some cute pandas playing on a slide
In contrast to the barbaric treatment that the film industry has dished out to animals in the past, new media seems intent on celebrating the more endearing attributes of our four legged friends. Indeed cute animal videos are beginning to endanger pornography’s reign as the main purpose for the world wide web. Using precise scientific methods we have determined that this is probably the best example.
“A film is – or should be – more like music than fiction”
The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: Animals
i. The Long Goodbye
In a move that is either an inspired piece of cinematic brilliance, or time-saving laziness, the score for Robert Altman’s 1973 film of The Long Goodbye consists of just one song, played in many different styles throughout the film. John Williams arranged all manner of variations, from jazzy efforts, to crazy mariachi music, although as it was the early 70’s there is no dubstep remix. You can get the idea from this montage
ii. Rappin’ For Jesus
Considering all the wild, wonderful and dubious things that LUC has ever shown, it says something that nothing has ever elicited a reaction nearly as shocking as this music video produced by a church outreach programme. There is no way of understanding the thought processes behind this – just make sure that you are not eating or drinking around the 35 second mark. Trigger Warning: Potentially lethal levels of awkwardness.
iii. Jazz As Visual Language
Leamington Spa’s very own Nicolas Pillai has just launched a book about Jazz as seen through the filter of cinema and TV. You can get it straight to your Kindle from Amazon right now, or for more info check out this interview with London Jazz News…
“Simply put, this is a book about how jazz has been mediated through film and television. We often ask ourselves, what is jazz? This is a question reflected by these film and television representations. Through image composition and editing, they present that question in visual terms: what is jazz? How has its meaning changed over the decades? What is its significance to the people who play it, who finance it, who listen to it or dance to it?”
iv. Just by Radiohead is probably the best music video ever
I know OK GO have made all those incredibly clever and entertaining videos and that R Kelly produced the demented disasterpiece that is Trapped In the Closet, but for LUC’s money the apex of the short form musical video is Jamie Thrave’s film for Radiohead’s 1995 release ‘Just’. Watch and enjoy.
Did you know that Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton once made a country and western musical together? If not it may be because the UN convention on human rights was used to cover it up.
The film in question, Rhinestone, features Parton teaching Stallone to be a country singing sensation as part of a bet with her sleazy manager over whether she will sleep with him. Yes, I know, the drugs in the 80’s must have been amazing. You may study this clip and assume that Stallone was labouring under some kind of contractual obligation, apparently not as he is credited as co-writing the script.
vi. The Time That Steven Seagal Played The Blues At Warwick University
There is not much to add to this, except that his band is called ‘Thunderbox’
vii. The Importance Of Music in Cinema
There is probably no better illustration of the effect of music on the experience of cinema than watching the lat few minutes of Star Wars without the stirring orchestral send off.
viii. Searching For The Brown Note
From an article on vice.com:
“There are dozens of YouTube videos claiming to be the real brown note, mostly with comments saying they don’t work – but occasionally the odd positive response turns up among the “South Park brought me here” messages. Commenters in these instances claim the noise cured their constipation, or that the brown note caught them by surprise and really worked, but were these historically trustful anonymous YouTube trolls telling the truth?”
My mommy always said there were no monsters – no real ones – but there are.
Yes, there are, aren’t there?
Why do they tell little kids that?
Most of the time it’s true.
The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: Music
i. Kim Jong Il’s Monster Movie
From an article on Vanity Fair:
“There were thousands dying in North Korea,” Fischer wrote via e-mail, “but at the same time here comes Kim Jong Il, and his idea of advancing the regime’’s purposes is to kidnap two South Korean filmmakers, trick some Japanese film crew members, drown them all in gifts and luxury, to play with rubber monster suits and make a Godzilla rip-off.”
ii. Operating Jabba The Hutt
According to the marvellous short documentary “Slimy Piece of Worm-Ridden Filth – Life Inside Jabba the Hutt”, being one of the several puppeteers who operated Jabba The Hutt in Return Of The Jedi was even less fun than you may have imagined it would be…
iii. King Kong Lives (With a Computerised Heart)
Plot synopsis from Wikipedia of the 1986 sequel to the lamentable 1976 version of King Kong:
“King Kong, after being shot down from the World Trade Center, is kept alive in a coma for about 10 years at the Atlanta Institute, under the care of surgeon Dr. Amy Franklin (Linda Hamilton). In order to save Kong’s life, Dr. Franklin must perform a heart transplant and give Kong a computer-monitored artificial heart. However, he lost so much blood that a transfusion is badly needed, and to complicate matters, Franklin says there is no species of ape or other animal whose blood type matches Kong’s. Enter adventurer, and eventual love interest, Hank “Mitch” Mitchell (Brian Kerwin), who goes to Borneo (Mitchell theorizes that Borneo and the island from the first movie were once part of the same landmass) and captures a giant female gorilla who is dubbed “Lady Kong.” Mitchell brings her to the Institute so her blood can be used for King Kong’s operation. The transfusion and the heart transplant are a success, but Kong escapes along with Lady Kong.”
If you really want to, you can watch the trailer here:
iv. The Gingerdead Man
Is anyone genuinely surprised that when it came to casting a psychotic, murdering cake monster, the producers turned to Gary Busey?
v. Zombie Movies Are a Metaphor for the State of Society
Monstrous creatures and characters can often be explained as metaphors for exploring the worries and concerns of the author or filmmaker that created them.
Vampires are all about sex, alien invasions stories are often grounded in xenophobia and racism and the monsters in Troll 2 are literally an embodiment of the evils of vegetarianism.
Zombies seem to be more of a (slowly) moving target. Previously used as a critique of our blind consumerist nature, Zombie movies have changed since the turn of the millennium to express more contemporary fears and anxieties. All is explained in this article on Wired:
“This continues a long and distinguished history of zombie themes standing in for au courant topics like slave rebellion, communism, über-capitalism, technophobia, and globalization. However, how zombie tales—and their fans—deal with these issues has proven as problematic as, well, the problems themselves.”
vi. Werner Herzog vs The Loch Ness Monster
Expressed as an equation:
Incident At Loch Ness = (Exit Trough The Gift Shop + Jaws) x (Grizzly Man / The Blair Witch Project)
vii. Godzilla & Godzooky
Producer Joseph Barbera putting a brave face on things:
“The problem with the show was simply this: When they start telling you in Standards and Practices, ‘Don’t shoot any flame at anybody, don’t step on any buildings or cars,’ then pretty soon, they’ve taken away all the stuff he represents. That became the problem, to maintain a feeling of Godzilla and at the same time cut down everything that he did. We managed to get a fair show out of it. It was OK. Godzooky kind of got the kids going.”
viii. The Patterson Bigfoot Film Stabilised
Someone has spent ages stabilising the famous bigfoot home movie footage – but conjecture as to whether it is real or not still continues…
Despite what the denizens of our underground lair may think, LUC is an organisation that always has one eye on the considerations of fashion.
Our standard issue boiler suit went through over forty iterations until we found just the right shade of dark blue to engender a tone of kineticism and artistry as well as being able to absorb a reasonable amount of of blood or oil before the stains become too unsightly. Fashionable design is at its strongest when form follows function, which is why our standard staff haircut is a number 4 clipper all over – classic, timeless and extremely unlikely to get caught in any exposed machinery.
The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: Monsters
i. John Malkovich – Fashion Designer
Get saving up if you want to dress like someone from inside John Malkovich’s head.
“THERE’S ALWAYS GRATIFICATION IN SELF-EXPRESSION”, quoth JM in stylish capital letters on his web site. I wonder if he’d let us open a stockist fifty feet below Leamington Spa?
ii. Gaultier and The Fifth Element
From an article on Girls Do Film:
“Gaultier did more than a thousand costumes… So a thousand costumes is like 10 collections but all for one movie. It’s an incredible amount of work people don’t even know about. For a thousand costumes, he may have even done 5,000 sketches before narrowing it down”
iii. A List Of Sewing Machines Featuring in Movies
From what is possibly a Singer 15-91 in Five Easy Pieces to the Florence Treadle in The Picture Of Dorian Grey, this list will satisfy all of your ‘what kind of sewing machine is that?’ needs during film viewing.
iv. Knock Off
A rip-roaring, enjoyably atrocious action flick from 1998, Knock Off features Jean Claude Van Damme as a salesman for a fashionable brand of Jeans. These particular Jeans appear to be counterfeit, as well as containing highly explosive rivets. In many ways an astute satire of the fashion world, as well as being the sort of film that features a man being shot by a missile at close range.
Also worth noting, the theme tune by Sparks is especially bewildering and has the air of a contractual obligation.
v. Become a Costume Designer in Just 9 Easy Steps
You might have thought that becoming a costume designer would take years of hard work, long hours and sacrifice to make it in such a highly competitive and cut-throat industry.
Just follow these helpfully illustrated steps and pretty soon you’ll be costuming theatre and film productions the world over.
vi. Pret a Porter – The Fashion World Satire That Virtually Everyone Hated
“Can you tell me what’s goin’ on on this planet? This is fuckin’ fruitcake time. I mean, is that fashion? Is it? I mean, is there a message out there? I mean, you got a lot of naked people wanderin’ around here. I mean, I been forever trying to find out what this bullshit is all about, and you know what? You know what? I have had it. I have had it.”
vii. The Rise and Fall of the Tron Guy
Probably the most famous clothing designer of the modern era, Jay Maynard aka The Tron Guy achieved a level of fame and recognition that most fashion designers can only dream of. After publishing an exhaustive, almost forensic, description of how to make a near-flawless Tron Costume, Maynard appeared all over the internet and TV, before possibly getting a bit big for his glowing neon boots. He was barred from appearing in costume at a screening of the 2010 Tron sequel and booed off a TV talent show. But hey, let’s remember the good times.
viii. Just How Do Movies Influence the World of Fashion?
From an article on Fashionista.com that could fit very nicely into Private Eye’s Pseuds Corner:
“His movies are like those vivid dreams we all have and don’t quite understand but can’t wait to tell everyone about the next day — similar, in fact, to Prada’s fall 2013 show, with its cryptic set and eerie score that oozed mystery.”