Fortresses: Hidden, black, ancient, high-rise and alternative
This month we are proud to present a 35mm screening of Michael Mann’s rare 1983 film The Keep in collaboration with Cigarette Burns at the Prince Charles in London on 21 February. This is the occasion for a look at fortresses on film, with reviews of The Keep, Akira Kurosawa’s feudal Japan tale The Hidden Fortress and housing project-set shocker Citadel, an interview with Citadel director Ciaran Foy, a feature on alternative fortresses and a Comic Strip Review of Time Bandits. And we also have a Reel Sounds column on the Tangerine Dream soundtrack to Michael Mann’s Thief.
Freedom: Skid row outsiders, uninhibited deviants and liberating servitude
As fantastical paean to harsh, wild freedom Beasts of the Southern Wild hits the screens this month, we look at various forms of cinematic freedom, from John Waters’s outrageous black comedy Female Trouble to The Master and the films of Paul Thomas Anderson while our Comic Strip Review is on The Prisoner. And Greg Klymkiw talks about freedom and servitude with the Brothers Quay to mark the American DVD release of Institute Benjamenta.
Memory: Lost love remembered, ghosts of the living and the dead, bygone cinema
Memory is our autumnal theme this month with reviews of Miguel Gomes’s wonderful tale of past wrong love Tabu and The Swimmer, Frank Perry’s startling 1968 portrayal of a man coming to terms with his life. We have an interview with Guy Maddin about his latest ghostly reverie Keyhole and a feature on Hirokazu Kore-eda, director of After Life and Nobody Knows. Our Comic Strip Review remembers an episode from a BBC TV series from the past, A Ghost Story for Christmas‘ Whistle and I’ll Come to You. In Alter Ego, writer Will Wiles is Grosse Pointe Blank‘s Martin Blank.
Treachery: Cheaters, liars, tricksters and traitors
Treachery is this month’s theme: we have reviews of True Love, a thriller that explores the dangerous consequences of lying to your spouse, and Extracted, a cerebral puzzler that explores the truths and lies we tell ourselves, both screening at SCI-FI-LONDON, Vincente Minelli’s take on glamorous betrayal in Hollywood The Bad and the Beautiful, Australian tale of scapegoats in the Boer War Breaker Morant and high-octane Welsh-directed Indonesian martial arts actioner The Raid, which is released this month.
Manga Adaptations: Tackling Fukushima, delinquent school boys and vengeful women
As the Terracotta Festival presents the UK premiere of Sion Sono’s Himizu this month, using a comic to tackle the fallout from Fukushima, we take a look at manga adaptations with Takashi Miike’s stylised, violent high school movie Crows Zero, Toshiya Fujita’s 70s revenge tale Lady Snowblood: Blizzard from the Netherworld, Korean manhwa vampire Western Priest and SF actioner Gantz while the Reel Sounds column focuses on Ichi the Killer.
We have an interview with French director Dominik Moll for The Monk, adapted from Matthew Lewis’s Gothic novel. In Short Cuts we report back on the Flatpack festival, in Alter Ego Darran McCann is George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life and the Dominion of Canada column looks at ice hockey movies.
PODCASTS: Roee Rosen: Vile, Evil Veil: Israeli artist, writer and filmmaker Roee Rosen talks about his first UK solo exhibition Vile, Evil Veil, which consists of the installation Live and Die as Eva Braun, exploring the life of Hitler’s lover in the bunker at the end of the Second World War, and the film Out (Tse), which stages a sado-masochist exorcism between a queer left-wing activist and a possessed ultra-nationalist woman. Rosen discusses the dynamic of power in human relationships, both personal and political, the importance of the victim/victimiser dichotomy in Israeli identity and how to exorcise the demon in all of us.
In March we celebrate the flamboyant brilliance of the late British director Ken Russell with articles on The Devils, his famously outrageous depiction of possession in 17th-century France, released on DVD in its original version for the first time, his psychedelic drug movie Altered States, his take on Byron and Shelley’s famous ghost story writing competition Gothic, and Savage Messiah, his portrayal of French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, as well as a defence of his much decried Litztomania and an article about his fraught relationship with the press. In this month’s Alter Ego, Nick Harkaway is Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer in Billion Dollar Brain while Reel Sounds is about Russell’s composers and we have a Comic Strip Review of Women in Love.
PODCASTS: Exploring The Lair of the White Worm: In a panel discussion recorded at The Horse Hospital arts club after a screening of Ken Russell’s lurid Bram Stoker adaptation on Wednesday 14 March, Mark Pilkington discusses The Lair of the White Worm (1988) with BFI Flipside programmers Vic Pratt and Will Fowler, touching on the legend of the Lambton Worm, titillation and absurdity in British cinema and Russell’s three-picture deal with Vestron Pictures in the 1980s.
New cinema releases include the intelligent, creepy cult victim tale Martha Marcy May Marlene, the excellent James Ellroy-scripted LA crime thriller Rampart, Polanski’s ferociously funny middle-class satire Carnage, and Cronenberg’s disappointing A Dangerous Method. And we have a feature on doyenne of lesbian cinema Barbara Hammer, who is the subject of a retrospective at Tate Modern.
In Short Cuts, we review the screening of Swedish feminist porn shorts Dirty Diaries at the London Short Film Festival while Cine Lit peruses Auteur books on 60s British cinema. In the Film Jukebox, soulful, dreamy chamber popsters The Tindersticks pick their favourite films.
PODCAST: Making Film Interactive: Interviews with Alex Cox and Julian Napier: In a pair of interviews about innovations in filmmaking, Alex Fitch talks to two directors who have embraced new technology: Alex Cox talks about Repo Man, computer generated backgrounds its sequel Repo Chick, interactive cinema and using CGI in the re-release of his Western Straight to Hell. Julian Napier, director of Madame Butterfly 3D, a new film of the Royal Opera House’s production of Puccini’s classic tale, explains how filming the opera using 3D cameras makes the cinema presentation a more immersive experience.
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