Archive for July 2011
From the current issue of Clash
It’s the first day of summer and it’s easy to spot the smouldering figure of Romain Gavras outside a Dalston pub. Back home in France, Gavras earned notoriety from both sides of the political spectrum for his controversial video for Justice’s Stress. His ill-repute, he says with a smirk, never translated to being hassled on the street because “I’m tall and like to fight.”
That reputation preceded the critical reaction to his feature length debut Our Day Will Come. “We had some good criticism,” he begins cautiously. “But mainly they weren’t about the film but about what a little cunt I am.”
Our Day Will Come is a road movie without a destination, a buddy movie in which the protagonists are barely friends. Olivier Barthelemy leads as Remy, an obvious outcast if borderline redhead who seeks to leave France to join his Irish brethren. Along the way he’s joined by Patrick, a nihilist charismatically portrayed by Vincent Cassel.
“It’s about two really confused people looking for their identity,” explains Gavras between drags and sips of San Miguel. “Whether they’re ginger or not, whether they belong to France or not, whether they’re gay or not. It’s an impossible quest.”
Fascinating if resolutely uncommercial, Our Day Will Come shares a kindred spirit with a family of nihilistic French flicks. It’s a softer, weirder cousin to M.I.A.’s similarly controversial video for Born Free which Gavras also directed.
“I’m way more shocked when I see millions spent on shit films,” he states. “This is more about my point of view and what makes me laugh. I call it a dark romantic comedy. The whole film is a blur. If you explain too much about a film that’s going nowhere, you kill the egg in the womb.”
The reception to the Justice and M.I.A. videos has lead to Gavras receiving “lots of insane propositions” to helm big movies. He’s reluctant, fearing the time that such a project demands as well as the inevitable loss of independence. Gavras instead prefers to fund his own leftfield projects by working on commercials.
As for Cassel: “He makes big films, but he loves cinema and really believes in me. We found the money because of him, he produced the film too and he’s really involved in the whole process,” Gavras smiles with admiration for his old friend. “He loves doing weird little films that give him a hard-on.”
From the current issue of Clash.
Still recognised for his creative background in music (videos for Air and Yoko Ono, the design of Sonic Youth’s ‘Washing Machine’ cover), Mike Mills built his directorial debut on the back of 2005’s Thumbsucker. With this, his second full-length feature, he uses his own family background as the central narrative which supports secondary themes of impermanence and the recent history of homosexuality in the United States.
Ewan McGregor stars as Oliver who faces two major revelations from his father (Christopher Plummer): his homosexuality after years of marriage and a serious illness. A short flashforward sees Oliver in an unlikely relationship with actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent).
So far, so mawkish? It sure sounds so. Yet Mills’ artistic leanings (graffiti, illustrations, still photography) and eccentric use of humour (one of the most prominent characters is a subtitled dog) allow Beginners to move away from cheesy sentimentality and towards something that rings true with its own innate sense of style.
The simple honesty of the father / son relationship contrasts with the less tangible / more pretentious difficulties experienced throughout Oliver and Anna’s blossoming love. Nonetheless, the film’s sweet realism should appeal to anyone craving a cooler cousin of Lost In Translation.
From the current issue of Clash.
Break My Fall documents the dying embers of the relationship between couple and band mates Liza and Sally, and their social group which extends to their gay friends Vin and Jamie. Set to an authentic east London backdrop of clubs, cafes and Rough Trade, the film offers moments of insightful dialogue and a suitably hip soundtrack (Micachu, Scout Niblett, Peggy Sue). Filmed on a nano-budget, the four lead performances are strong although the supporting cast is particularly inconsistent. The emphasis on emotion over narrative offers plenty of interest, even if such a style isn’t suited to the slightly indulgent running time.
Album review from Record Collector, out now.
Most bands talk about an evolution in their sound, but few actually do it. After two albums of hectic heartfelt punk / hardcore that preached both positive vibes and disenfranchised anger, Leamington Spa’s The Depraved reinvented themselves as the psychedelic tinged Visions of Change. This compilation collects both albums from The Depraved, the self-titled album from Visions of Change and a rambling collection of sessions, demos and other obscurities.
While The Depraved’s fiery, battering ram approach is richer in passion, energy and humour (a frenetic cover of Lulu’s Shout which recalls the, ahem, glory days of Lawnmower Deth, the Bond-bashing 007), Visions of Change are altogether more intriguing: the extended use of the Hammond organ, more pronounced influences from Dag Nasty and the Twin/Tone label and psychedelic jams making for a creative sound in an often staid genre. The more nuanced production – as opposed to The Depraved’s fuzzy rush – certainly helps.
Hefty liner notes add plenty of value to an already substantial package (albeit in a miniscule font), while collectors wanting something more should buy directly from the Boss Tuneage online store to get a free bonus DVDR of The Depraved taking their message to the mean streets of Fulham.