Talking Movies

August 14, 2018

Heathers: colour me impressed

Heathers is running in the Lighthouse cinema all this week as part of a major 30th anniversary re-release that’s also playing at the BFI Southbank.

“Dear Diary, my teenage angst bullsh*t now has a body-count”. If Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the teen movie that represents the boundless self-actualising optimism that Ronald Reagan wanted in an America where it was always morning in America, then Heathers was the counter-punch of Generation X cynicism and pessimism. There are three girls called Heather and an adopted member Veronica who rule the corridors of Westerberg High till a betrayal from within leads to a violent disintegration for the in-crowd. A film this biting and such a glorious one-off in the careers of writer Daniel Waters and director Michael Lehmann (who moved into script-doctoring and TV directing respectively) could only have come from deep personal bitterness. Winona Ryder stole Beetlejuice from the grown-ups and Christian Slater did the same in The Name of the Rose before they teamed up. Heathers is that rarity, a teen film with teen leads, who are an electric pairing. Winona lived off her performance as Veronica Sawyer for years and Slater did the same off his portrayal of JD, an inch-perfect impersonation of Jack Nicholson.

All the stock characters are present for this dark trip through American high-school life, which takes place in the pre-Columbine ear as is obvious from the muted reaction to the stunt played by JD in his memorable introduction. The stoners, the jocks: “Hey Ram, doesn’t this cafeteria have a no fags allowed rule? JD: Well, they seem to have an open door policy for assholes though don’t they”. The nerds, the airhead bitches: “God, aren’t they fed yet? Do they even have Thanksgiving in Africa? Veronica: Oh, sure. Pilgrims, Indians… Tator Tots. It’s a real party continent”. The hippie teacher, the deranged principal: “I’ve seen a lot of bullshit… angel dust, switchblades, sexually perverse photographs involving tennis rackets”. But these familiar elements are served up in the most vicious teen comedy ever. Instead of putting up with the ritual social humiliations JD and Veronica, after an initial accidental death, begin killing their enemies and make it look like suicide (courtesy of some underlined meaningful passages in Moby Dick, or in one memorable case simply the enigmatic word ‘Eskimo’.). Comedy doesn’t get much blacker than the interior monologues of the various characters. At the first funeral Heather Duke speaks to God: “I prayed for the death of Heather Chandler many times and I felt bad every time I did it but I kept doing it anyway. Now I know you understood everything. Praise Jesus, Hallelujah”.

Anyone who’s ever been picked on in school knows why Heathers is such a cult classic. This film is almost a proto-Fight Club. Superficially Veronica is happy with her life as one of The Heathers. However secretly she hates it, and herself, and when JD arrives at the school he offers Veronica a violent outlet for all her darkest impulses. She writes in her diary: “Suicide gave Heather depth, Kurt a soul, and Ram a brain. I don’t know what it’s given me, but I have no control over myself when I’m with J.D. Are we going to prom or to hell?” Just like Tyler’s Project Mayhem eventually JD’s plan to blow up the school after sneakily getting a petition for mass-suicide signed by everybody proves too much for Veronica to go along with. JD could be like Camus’ take on the ultimate excesses of nihilism: it is not enough to kill myself, everybody else has to die too. And that’s where Veronica rips up the ticket and gets off the ride, because Generation X were damaged romantics not nihilists. If you thought Mean Girls was the sharpest high-school film ever then you like, so need to watch Heathers. Your reaction should be something along the lines of JD’s legendary final words: “Colour me impressed”.

Advertisements

September 8, 2015

DIFF PIX: Hong Kong Kicks

Dublin International Film Festival (DIFF) in partnership with the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office (HKETO) are hosting DIFF PIX: Hong Kong Kicks, an action packed season of the best of Hong Kong cinema at the Lighthouse Cinema.

bruce-lee-vs-chuck-norris

 

DIFF PIX:Hong Kong Kicks is the second presentation in DIFF PIX, the Festival initiative which creates innovative ways for Irish audiences to engage with cinema of the past. Tickets are €11 and available to purchase on www.diff.ie.

The season of six films is guest curated by Roger Garcia, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Film Festival, and a renowned author, producer and film critic. Garcia was born in Hong Kong and educated in England. He was director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival in the late 1970s, and subsequently served as programmer, consultant, and juror on film festivals in the US, Europe, and Asia. His critical writings have been published by the British Film Institute, Cahiers du Cinema, Film Comment, and Variety among others. His books include studies on Hollywood comedy, Asians in American Cinema, Asian comedies, and Asian musicals. His latest book is King Hu: In His Own Words (2013). Garcia has been executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society since 2010, and is responsible for the Asian Film Awards Academy and Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum project market among other activities.

For those who want to get up close and personal with the real action, there is a high octane martial arts demo in Smithfield Square on Friday 25th September at 16.30 with Sensei Scott Langley and Hombu Dojo Karate. Hombu Dojo teaches Traditional Shotokan Karate with full-time instructors have won at world championships, studied in Japan, and now at a purpose built dojo in D6. Scott Langley, 6th Dan (Hombu Dojo Chief Instructor), is the head of WTKO Ireland & GB (World Traditional Karate Organisation) and teaches throughout the world.

DIFF-Pix_HKK_logo

 

“Building on the success of last year’s Dublin’s Favourite Film DIFF PIX screening we are thrilled to bring this very special season of the best of Hong Kong cinema to Dublin audiences. We are particularly honoured and excited to welcome our guest curator Roger Garcia, one of the industry’s leading experts in this particular genre of cinema which has such a huge impact worldwide. I hope cinema-goers will enjoy this early Autumn treat,” says Grainne Humphreys, DIFF Director. Melissa Pascala, HKETO in Brussels, adds “We are pleased to collaborate with DIFF to present Hong Kong’s martial arts films to Irish movie lovers.  Hong Kong is famous for its Kung Fu movies.  This season showcases a prime selection of classics produced in Hong Kong over the last few decades.

The line-up includes well-known masters; Bruce Lee in The Way of the Dragon, Jackie Chan in The Young Master, Jet Li for Once Upon a Time in China II; as well as gems like horror-comedy Spooky Encounters. Aficionados should book early for Duel to the Death which will take place at 15.00 on Saturday 26th followed by a discussion with Roger Garcia. A film that was received to high critical acclaim in the east, Duel to the Death‘s reputation in the west is less widely established, and this screening will prove a wonderful discovery for Dublin audiences.

Once-Upon-A-Time-In-China-IIS04

Friday 25th Sept

MARTIAL ARTS DEMONSTRATION – 16.30, Smithfield Square (Sensei Scott Langley & Hombu Dojo)

ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA 2 – 20.15, Lighthouse 1

Jet Li reprises his role as the legendary Wong Fei-hung. This time Fei-hung faces the government and the White Lotus cult intent on removing Western influence from China. who are opposed to anything western. Fei-hung continues a tentative romance with Aunt Yee (Rosamund Kwan) while director Tsui Hark stages some bravura action sequences, including a ‘wire-fu’ pitting Li against his double from the original.

Duel-To-The-DeathS08---Copy

Saturday 26th Sept

DUEL TO THE DEATH – 15.00, Lighthouse 2 (Followed by Roger Garcia talk)

Duel To The Death is one of the final martial arts epics made by the Shaw Brothers during their golden age. Based on a familiar rivalry between martial arts of China and Japan,  Hashimoto, a Japanese fighter/swordsman, competes against young Chinese master, ‘Lord of the Sword’ Po Ching-wan. Hashimoto  must reconcile orders from his Shogun with his honour, all played out in frenetic action scenes.

SPOOKY ENCOUNTERS – 20.00, Lighthouse 2

Spooky Encounters is a blend of comedy, action, and horror starring Sammo Kam-Bo Hung. The plot is farcical in the best possible sense (mistresses, vampires, priests, nonsense), and the fight scenes grow increasingly outre culminating in an Evil Dead 2 anticipating scene where Sammo must fight his own possessed hand, before allowing the Monkey King to possess the rest of him in an effort to get to the bottom of things as it were.

The-Young-Master-S01---Copy

Sunday 27th Sept

RIGHTING WRONGS – 15.00, Lighthouse 3

Corey Yuen is a Hong Kong attorney, recently returned from the US, prosecuting two mob bosses for murder. When they get off scot-free after murdering the lone witness and his entire family, Yuen goes on a rampage. CID agent Cindy Jones (Cynthia Rothrock) tags Yuen as the perp and tails him, but then kid (Fan Siu-wong) witnesses the remaining boss’ murder and is targeted. But the plot plays second fiddle to a number of showdowns between Yuen Biao and Rothrock.

 

 

THE YOUNG MASTER – 17.00, Lighthouse 1

Ching Loong (Jackie Chan), is out of his depth when his Red School elder, Cheng Keung (Wei Pei), lands him with the job of representing the school at the annual Lion Dance competition in Guangzhou. Struggling against the rival Blue School things go from bad to worse as Ching discovers Cheng is in debt, and then somehow ends up framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Can Ching clear his name, Cheng’s name, and uphold the school’s name all at the same time? Can Jackie Chan fight?!

THE WAY OF THE DRAGON – 19.00, Sun 27th Sept, Lighthouse 1


Bruce is Tang Lung, a Hong Kong yokel adrift in Rome. Lee is on jocular form with this character, but that’s what people remember most – there’s a rather major fight: Bruce Lee. Chuck Norris. The Colosseum. AW YEAH!

 

September 28, 2011

Graham Greene Festival 2011

I’m off to Graham Green’s birthplace Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire for the Graham Greene Festival 2011, which takes place this weekend. I’ve won the thriller category of this year’s creative writing awards for my short story ‘Dieu et Mon Droit’ but this festival, which is only a half-hour train ride from London, is well worth the attention of any Greene fans in the Home Counties as it has a very interesting line up of talks and screenings, including Rowan Joffe introducing his recent Brighton Rock film and the book launch by Dermot Gilvary and Darren Middleton of Dangerous Edges of Graham Greene.

Thursday 29 September
Exhibition: Illustrations from Greene’s books for children
15.30 – 16.30 A Festival Event for Berkhamsted School’s Sixth Form
Old Hall, Berkhamsted School
Sixth-form event with Neil Sinyard speaking to English A-level students.
This event includes the announcement of the titles for the GGBT Creative Writing Awards for 2012.
17.30 – 19.30 Social Gathering and Buffet Supper at The Gatsby
Two courses and coffee with a vegetarian alternative. Please order on the Ticket Application Form and pay by Friday 23 September if you intend to be present.
Cost: £15.
19.45 – 21.30 Film Night at The Rex Cinema
Film: Brighton Rock
111 mins; UK; Director Rowan Joffé. Starring Andrea Riseborough, Sam Riley, Helen Mirren. Classification: 15.
Introduced by Rowan Joffé
Cost: £8

Friday 30 September
Talks at the Town Hall, Berkhamsted
Morning Session
9.30 – 10.30 Christian Hofferbert
“Godless Greene – Changing Extremes in Greene’s Work”
10.30 Break for tea and coffee
11.00 – 12.00 Prof. François Gallix
“Graham Greene’s Books for Children”
Cost: £10.00
12.00 noon Break for Lunch
Afternoon Session
14.15 – 15.15 Martin Jenkins
“At last The Blue Plaque”
Tim Bentink
“How Greene was My Childhood”
15.15 Break for tea and coffee
15.45 – 16.45 Julian Clapp
“Brighton Rock Locations”
Cost: £10.00
Evening Session: Civic Centre, Berkhamsted
19.30 – 22.00 Film: Brighton Rock (1947)
92 minutes, UK, 1947 , starring Richard Attenborough and Carol Marsh. Classification: PG. With an introduction by Quentin Falk who will also lead a discussion afterwards.
Cost: £8.00

Saturday 1 October
Talks and Events in Deans’ Hall, Berkhamsted School
Morning Session
9.30 – 10.30 Prof. Cedric Watts
“Brighton Rock, Janus and Proteus”
10.30 Break for tea and coffee
11.00 – 12.00 Prof. Joyce Stavick
“The Not-so-Quiet Americans: University Students Speak Out as Greene Film Critics”
Cost: £12
12.00 noon. Break for Lunch
Afternoon Session
14.15 – 15.15 Prof. Michael Brennan
“Faith and Authorship in the early Novels”
15.15 Break for tea and coffee
15.45 – 16.45 Lee Langley
“Traps and Escapes”
Cost: £12
Early Evening Session
18.15 – 18.30 Book Launch
Dermot Gilvary and Darren Middleton present: Dangerous Edges of Graham Greene
18.30 Birthday Toast
Andrew Bourget
18.45 – 19.45 Prof. Steve Chibnall
“Problems with Pinkie: Adapting Brighton Rock for the screen, 1947 and 2010”
Cost: £10
Late Evening Session
20.00 The Bourget-Greene Gala Dinner
(sponsored by Andrew Bourget, Graham’s eldest grandson)
Four courses with wine and coffee.
Followed by Ed Reardon
A Short Talk
Cost: £28

OR

Saturday 1 October Alternative Event
9.30 – 16.45: A Creative Writing Workshop in Deans’ Hall, Berkhamsted School
A practical one-day course which should suit aspiring adult writers of all ages
There will be one group, except for an afternoon session when delegates can select Prose Fiction OR Screenplay.
The day will include professional writers’ introductions to two disciplines (in which Graham Greene excelled), shared considerations of sample materials and the opportunity to write creatively in one of the genres.
Delegates will need to bring their own writing paper and pens or pencils.
There will be breaks for tea or coffee, but lunch is not included.
The event includes breaks and attendance at Lee Langley’s talk.
Cost: £30
The Workshop will be led by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, whose first novel was Home (Social Disease, 2008); she teaches Creative Writing at City University (London), and she is a partner of Apis Books, an independent publishing company for shorter fiction; and William Ivory, who wrote the screenplay for Made in Dagenham (UK, 2010), which was nominated for a BAFTA Award; and The Sins, for which he won The Edgar Allan Poe Award in New York presented by The Crime Writers Association of America for Best TV Drama Series. Advance booking is essential to guarantee a place on the Creative Writing Workshop.

Sunday 2 October
Talks in Newcroft, Berkhamsted School
Morning Session Only
9.00 – 9.45 David Pearce
Founding Trustee and former director of the Festival: who better to show you around?
Prior registration is essential.
Tour of School
10.00 – 11.00 Dr Bernard Ineichen
“Spies, Lies and Dangerous to Believe—espionage in the writings of Norman Lewis and Graham Greene.”
11.00 Break for tea and coffee
11.30 – 12.30 Prof. Neil Sinyard
“All writers are equal but some writers are more equal than others”
Cost: £12
12.45 – 14.00 Farewell Lunch in Old Hall, Berkhamsted School
Buffet lunch with wine
Tickets: £20

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.