“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”
“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…
“Money Is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons”
– Woody Allen
“You gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women. ”
– Tony Montana, Scarface
“I’m living in America, and in America, you’re on your own. America’s not a country. It’s just a business. Now fucking pay me.”
– Jackie Cogan, Killing Them Softly
The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of… Fashion
i. The Queen Of Versailles
A bizarrely fascinating documentary about the family of an unpleasant timeshare billionaire who have hit (relatively) hard times. Can loads of money make you happy? Apparently not.
ii. Margot Robbie’s Unfortunate Paper Cuts
From an article on The Daily Beast
“If anyone is ever planning on having sex on top of a pile of cash: don’t. Or maybe real money is a bit softer”
iii. Do Tax Breaks Lead to Deliberately Bad films?
The whole sorry tale of Uwe Boll, his terrible, terrible video game adaptations and the complexities of German tax write-offs is akin to The Producers, but with all the jokes taken out and replaced by evasive accounting practices. There is still an annoying, dictatorial figure involved though.
iv. Maths and the Weight of Money Ruin the Plausibility of Fast Five
From an article on vulture.com
v. The severe cost of Hollywood Film Production
One of the most illuminating things about this breakdown of what it cost to produce the 2014 version of Annie isn’t the $11 million tax break or Cameron Diaz’s $7.5 million fee – what caught my attention was that the titles cost $101,500. I’d have done it for half that…
vi. Remember when The KLF Burnt A Million Pounds?
It seems almost quaint now, but the pop charts used to be home to the sort of mad situationist art terrorists who would quite happily troop off to a remote Scottish island and film themselves burning a million quid. It seems unlikely that Ed Sheeran will be doing something like this any time soon.
vii. Trying To Make Your Millions On Youtube Sounds Like No Fun At All
From an article on Cracked:
“There’s practically no difference between being an up-and-coming ‘tuber and a disaffected middle-of-the-rung ‘tuber. You’re producing the types of content that get good numbers, but from a corporate perspective, you’re too small to justify sponsorship. You’re in the same financial position as before, but with the added complication that your decent-sized following now recognizes you and judges your every twitch.”
viii. The Money Gun
Too lazy or too cool to throw your money at people manually? There’s a solution for that. Just think of the time this could have saved the Bullingdon club back in the day. Also a sensitive and playful foreplay accoutrement – what woman wouldn’t like to be treated like a stripper by a man with a toy gun?
Welcome to the second Leamington Underground Cinema Briefing. This time we are turning our focus to the potentially awkward subject of sex in the cinema – meaning sex as the subject of cinema, not having sex in the cinema – that would be antisocial, unhygienic (especially at the Leamington Vue) and quite probably illegal. Needless to say, some of the subject matter and links in this email are probably NSFW, but if you subscribed to this mailing list with your work address and are reading this when you should be working, then you probably don’t care.
The next briefing in two weeks time will be on the subject of: Games.
i. The Hays Code
From the 1930s to 1966, American Movies had to comply with the laugh-a-minute Hays Code, which governed exactly what could or couldn’t be depicted on screen in order to protect the moral values of the great unwashed. Here is the section dealing with matters of a sexual nature…
The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld. Pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing.
1. Adultery, sometimes necessary plot material, must not be explicitly treated, or justified, or presented attractively.
2. Scenes of Passion
a. They should not be introduced when not essential to the plot.
b. Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown.
c. In general passion should so be treated that these scenes do not stimulate the lower and baser element.
3. Seduction or Rape
a. They should never be more than suggested, and only when essential for the plot, and even then never shown by explicit method.
b. They are never the proper subject for comedy.
4. Sex perversion or any inference to it is forbidden.
5. White slavery shall not be treated.
6. Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races) is forbidden.
7. Sex hygiene and venereal diseases are not subjects for motion pictures.
8. Scenes of actual child birth, in fact or in silhouette, are never to be presented.
9. Children’s sex organs are never to be exposed.
ii. Franco: The Unforseen Consequence Of The Cruising Controversy
William Friedkin’s Cruising caused all sorts of bother in 1980. The tale of undercover cop Al Pacino becoming enmeshed in the S&M gay scene while hunting a serial killer was, to put it mildly, considered insensitive to the gay community:
“The mounting negative publicity prior to Cruising’s release forced Friedkin to add a text scroll to the beginning of the film, essentially informing the audience that not all gay men wear heavy leather and chains and have anonymous sex in Central Park.”
(from an article evaluating the film at: http://www.fringeunderground.com/cruising.html)
Apparently around 40 minutes of (partially non-simulated) gay sex action was cut from the film to get it past the censors at an ‘R’ rating. The legend of this lost footage eventually led to James Franco’s dramatic reconstruction/artistic meditation Interior Leather Bar, which to put it mildly was considered rubbish by the film viewing community:
“Thus do we arrive at an even more annoying question: what does it mean that James Franco is playing with the fact that we know that he knows that we want to know whether or not he sucks dick?”
(from filmcomment.com: http://www.filmcomment.com/article/review-interior-leather-bar-james-franco-travis-mathews/)
iii. A Handy Sex In The Movies Infographic
Quickly and easily trace the history of crotch based action on the silver screen with this neat and succinct graphical summary on Fandor.
iv. Cleanflix – The Weird Tale Of Mormon Edited Movies
LUC recommends that you check out the excellent documentary Cleanflix, the story of how an industry sprang up around the idea of editing mainstream movies to make them suitable viewing for Mormon families.
Often editing out anything vaguely sexy, but leaving in more violent scenes, this wildly successful enterprise was effectively shutdown by Hollywood lawsuits after a while.
In a genuinely ironic footnote, one of the figures behind the movement was then convicted of child sex offences and turned out to be using his business as a front for some kind of nascent porn empire.
v. Lesbians React To Sex Scenes in Blue Is The Warmest Colour
(Video by Yeni Sleidi)
vi. Gilbert Gottfried reading 50 shades of Grey
As it seems the films based on the insanely successful ‘mummy-porn’ Fifty Shades novels are having all the erotic content heavily toned down (the next one is rumoured to have a ’15’ certificate in the UK) – here is a fully unedited blast of the sensual tones of comedian Gilbert Gottfried wrapping his tongue around some of the racier bits from the book…
(Video by Collegehumor)
vii. “The Thrill Of The Shunt”
There are many films that have (purposefully, or accidentally) depicted sexuality in a manner that could never be described as erotic or arousing, even to a particularly hormonal teenage boy. Films like Salo, Last Tango In Paris, Antichrist and Howard The Duck are all good examples of how cinema can use sex to disturb and repel.
However, for our money, the ultimate in movie turn offs is the bizarre orgiastic ritual at the end of Brian Yuzna’s gore strewn, the-rich-are-literally-eating-the-poor, satire Society. You can read all about it here. Consider yourself warned
(Article from http://colinjmccracken.com/)
viii. A CGI Shag With Shia Lebeouf
“We shot the actors pretending to have sex and then had the body doubles, who really did have sex, and in post we will digital-impose the two,” Vesth explained. “So above the waist it will be the star and the below the waist it will be the doubles.”
As you may have noticed, Leamington Underground Cinema has been in cold storage for a few months – we had to put the glorious central committee into cryogenics for a fixed period due to tax issues and a genuine fear of Trump based atomic warfare.
Unfortunately, the Disney company and the British royal family have been buying up all the reserves of liquid nitrogen, so we’ve had no choice but to thaw everyone out and get on with things in the face of the inevitable global meltdown. Happy New Year.
We don’t do new years resolutions here in the bunker, partially because such things are the meaningless constructs of a semi-delusional consumer society, but mostly because living in a subterranean lair means that the bunker staff have no idea whatsoever of the passing of time – most of them still think Palm Pilots are a thing.
Never the less, to mark the start of a new year, we are launching a new bi-weekly bulletin, the LUC Briefing, beginning on Friday the 20th of January. Each briefing will be based on a particular subject and how it is affecting the world of cinema, movies and LUC. The subject of the first briefing will be: Robots.
To get the new LUC briefing delivered directly to you, sign up for the LUC Mailing List at once – or if you have already signed up – wait patiently for the next 120 hours.