Posts Tagged ‘ Cameo ’


Bloodlight and Bami

Grace Jones: icon, diva, untouchable goddess, fearsome adversary and real life, live genuine superstar. A bullet-proof façade or so you might think until you see this Sophie Fiennes documentary on the Grace Jones behind the armour; how much behind the armour is still unclear at the film’s conclusion but this is probably just how the irrepressible Ms. Jones wants it.
Essentially it is a film of two halves, one half the diva and public persona whilst the other focuses on her family life back in her original home of Jamaica.
Hence we witness the typical superstar strops as she bawls someone out over the telephone for not meeting her specific demands, ending with her throwing the phone across the luxurious hotel suite; the next minute however we are ensconced in a shanty town in a sunny and breezy Jamaica where she effortlessly slips into the local patois with childhood acquaintances, smoking a spliff emerging altogether as a much softer character, although the charisma remains firmly intact.
Likewise the glamour alternates between body-con Azzedine Aliah mixed with the structured futurism of Issey Miyake in her role as superstar. This contrasts with the more relaxed diaphanous loose dresses, baggy fatigues topped by the Philip Treacy sunhats and caps of her Jamaican self. Both are constructions however, both she wears impeccably and both are very much Grace Jones.
A new side for many viewing this film however is the reveal that her grandfather –Mas.P- was an extremely religious preacher and violent disciplinarian and that Grace and her siblings endured many beatings and punishments as children. Apparently it is the fearful presence that he used to command to instil terror in them that she distils in the icy, detached and cool demeanour of her stalking, skulking, marauding and intimidating stage presence.
The live shots which inter-cut with backstage shots and the Jamaican home life seem to originate from her 2009 Hurricane tour and one backstage conversation returns to her infamous altercation with Russell Harty, which propelled her to household name status, which she initially dismisses with a flippant ‘He’s dead but I didn’t kill him’ before offering her explanation of what actually happened on that 1980 show.
Of course it wouldn’t be a film about Grace Jones if we didn’t actually witness some true diva style tantrums; the aforementioned phone throwing sequence is typical but another sees her refuse to perform on a stage set miming to La Vie En Rose surrounded by female dancers as it makes her look like a Madame in a brothel. Another sees her try to restrain this side in Jamaica when long-time collaborator Robbie Shakespeare- one half of the legendary rhythm section Sly ‘n’ Robbie- fails to turn up for a recording session and she tries to reason then intimidate him into appearing much to the consternation of the engineer who keeps worriedly insisting ‘don’t piss him off’.
Ultimately this portrait attempts to unravel the mysteries behind the enigma and reveal another side to a very public demeanour and it does so successfully. To an extent. One can’t help feeling that despite the other side of Grace that emerges from the film is in deep contrast to the more recognised one it is still very much what she wants us to see and how she should be seen. It is still a fascinating ideology however and having her in control of how she is observed is just quintessential Grace Jones and frankly we really wouldn’t want it any other way!



This compelling crime thriller starring an impeccable Jake Gyllenhaal and equally impressive Rene Russo, written and directed by Dan Gilroy is one of the best films I have seen thus far this year. Gyllenhaal more than adequately inhabits his role of Lou Bloom a young man in search of a career, fame, notoriety and respect at whatever the cost and make no mistake there is no value put on anything other than this success, not even the life of a colleague, if the situation necessitates it. It is this flagrant disregard for others which makes Gyllenhaal’s character so fascinating and watchable whilst the sociopath/psychopath hybrid which determines his personality is as creepy as it is compelling
Once Bloom discovers there is market in selling video footage of crimes and accidents and the aftermath that follows them he decides a career in providing the most intimate, voyeuristic and forensic footage possible with no consideration for the victims of these crimes or the fatalities of an accident or a shoot out. In this he is initially supported by Nina (Russo) who is seeking to boost her own flagging career and although when he suggests mixing business with pleasure she is at first horrified and disgusted but this soon turns to admiration as his skills and sheer determination rapidly become more attractive to her as she realises how much of a boost his input gives to her own kudos and value.
This act of convincing others that he is taking them on the road to success and they should simply do as he says without question is a tactic he uses on his assistant Rick(Riz Ahmed) only when Rick questions his motives and demands that he be treated a little more fairly and receive adequate recompense for his endeavours you sense that he is sealing his own fatal outcome.
As I said before Nightcrawler stands tall amongst the best films I have seen this year. It has everything: great performances, superb pacing, style, gravitas, moments of dark humour and skilful direction by Gilroy. Definitely not one to be missed.


I Am Divine

This documentary directed by Jeffery Schwarz detailing the rise of the late, great Divine from his Baltimore origins to national then international and onwards to the brink of mainstream success is like its subject matter; in that it is funny, poignant, challenging and, especially at its conclusion, more than a little tragic.
The thing about Divine which set him apart from other drag acts, apart from his vast size which contributed to rather than distracted from his appeal, was the fact he was always willing to go that bit further, be that bit fiercer and more than prepared to be that much more outrageous than his rivals. Whilst other drag queens on the scene took themselves much more seriously Divine was prepared to send both them and himself up whilst simultaneously being wholly serious about what he was doing. Teaming up with fellow Baltimore outcast/freak John Waters was a stroke of genius and one suspects without this fortuitous pairing neither would be the recognised important figures they are today.
Born Harris Glenn Milstead, though always referred to Glenn when growing up and Divine thereafter, to a conservative middle class family who indulged his leanings as an obviously effete child by encouraging him to enter the hairdressing and beauty world where his talents could flourish without too much embarrassment to his family’s sensibilities. However with the arrival of the sixties and the counterculture Glenn started to indulge in more and more outrageous antics until a rift leading to a total fall out with his family was necessary if he intended to continue down the path he was following. It rapidly became clear this is exactly that path was one he more than wanted to follow; in fact it transpired he wanted to lead the way down his own particular path.
Teaming up with John Waters and a group of fellow outcasts a few low budget movies were made, culminating in cult classics such as Mondo Trasho, Pink Flamingos-with its infamous eating dog shit scene- and Female Trouble. These films started to breakthrough nationally and eventually became classics on the gay and underground scenes and after this Divine’s rise to international renown was inexorable. Meanwhile a musical career was added to an already growing portfolio with several records-‘Native Love’ and ‘Shoot Your Shot’ are still personal favourites to this day although the sight of Divine, in all his glory, wobbling around on Top Of The Pops whipping himself into a frenzy whilst belting out ‘You Think You’re A Man’ is a moment that will always stay with me-—adding to the growing legend.
Around this juncture mainstream success was on the horizon and an appearance in the most successful Waters movie to date, Hairspray, showed that behind the outrage was real acting talent; an appearance as a man for the first time in ‘Trouble in Mind’ confirmed this. The success of Hairspray awarded Divine appointments with big time players and he was about to start work on the networked comedy with a recurring role in the now classic series ‘Married With Children’. Unfortunately circumstances conspired that on the weekend before he was due to start shooting-he was actually already ensconced in his Hollywood hotel preparing his lines- when he had a massive heart attack which killed him.
The tragedy of such an event would not have been lost on Divine however who would probably have appreciated the irony. Here was everything he had worked for; money, success, recognition and, probably most importantly, acceptance. It did ensure however his legacy remained a cult and, whilst it is totally selfish of me to say this, personally I am glad he remains known only to those who remember him and whoever they decide to introduce to the man and his legacy. In a way it keeps him a little closer to those who loved him without having to share him!
I Am Divine is showing at the Cameo Cinema until Thursday.


Hardkor Disco

This Polish outing is an intriguing, constantly compelling and intelligent film which feels no need to over explain itself and leaves any conclusions which can be drawn to be made up in each individual viewer’s own mind. This is an extremely effective tactic by director Krysztof Skonieczny as it means the film actually stays in your consciousness long after the credits have rolled.
Beginning with the mysterious Marcin- a brilliantly malevolent and unsettling performance from Marcin Kowalczyk- arriving at the front door of a successful middle-aged couple but encounters their beautiful daughter Ola instead.
Never revealing why he is looking for her parents he follows her and insinuates his way into her company and later, that very same evening, her bed. Using this as a means of inveigling himself with her parents it soon becomes blatantly clear that he has only one objective in his sights and that is that he wants to kill the couple. Whatever the reasons for his ire are never made clear-is he a professional hit-man, terrorist with axe to grind or does he have his own personal grievance?- to the audience and each scene with him alone first with her father then later with her mother is fraught with tension and an unawareness of what might happen next.
To this end even the most mundane moments, such as an innocuous moment of sharing a cigarette on the balcony of the family home with the mother, are suddenly dangerous situations which become dramatic flourishes in an already brooding film.
Throughout Kowalczyk is menacing and it is obviously his character’s moody persona which incidentally the two females-mother and daughter- find wholly irresistible but one thing is clear and that is that nothing will prevent him from carrying out his original intentions.
A thoroughly absorbing film which holds the viewers attention throughout and beyond Hardkor Disco is a film which lives up to its initial promise and carries itself throughout. By leaving the audience in the dark considering its central character’s motives and then the outcome of his actions is a brave move especially in a medium where a clear and concise narrative is par for the course. By avoiding this cliché the film is a brave attempt at creating a suspense movie which actually leaves its audience in suspense and is all the better for it.


The Two Faces of January

This screen adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel directed by Hossein Amini contains her usual stylistic devices: exotic locations, luxuriously understated attire and glamorous characters oozing sophistication masking a ruthless ambition whilst dark and dirty dealings lead them into a cesspit of deception. It is an extremely watch-able film from the very off as impressive Greek architecture co-ordinates beautifully with the understated but exquisite clothes of its three main characters who subsequently become inextricably entangled in a series of events which drag each of them further and further to the depths of their souls whilst their polite middle class facades, although slightly ruffled and scuffed, remain intact.
Chester (Viggo Mortensen) and Colette MacFarland (Kirsten Dunst)-if these are indeed even their real names- seem, on the surface, to be a wealthy and sophisticated American couple. On their version of a ‘Grand Tour’ they stop off in Athens where they meet up with a young tour guide Rydal-the impossibly handsome Oscar Isaac- who makes a living as a tour guide whilst creaming off extra profit by ripping off his charges. It turns out that he is the multi-lingual son of a leading American archaeologist who tried to instil his children with a privileged and unique education which should set them up for life. Rydal’s reaction to all of this was to run away from the future his father had mapped out for him and, in essence, attempt to escape the very world the MacFarlands are trying to represent whilst simultaneously attempting to gain entry into.
Immediately there is an attraction between Rydal and Colette but there is also something of a bond between him and Chester. It is never made explicit whether this is a father-son or homo-erotic attraction but although Colette is the focus of both men’s attentions there is also the hint that she is also merely in the way.
It transpires early on that the MacFarlands are not exactly who they say they are, in any regard, resulting in their dubious past catching up with them with a confrontation which leads to murder and the subsequent cover up three find themselves embroiled in a downward spiral which sends each of them plummeting to new depths of their being. No-one in this sordid tale is wholly innocent but the feeling that if a little more honesty was applied then the situation, whilst still bad, would not degenerate quite as far as it eventually does with further fatalities, deception and corruption wrecking each of their lives.
Despite the fantastic surroundings-after Athens both Crete and Turkey play supporting roles in what is essentially a three handed outing- it is also an extremely claustrophobic film as it is the small and ever increasing insularity, due to circumstance, of the central triumvirate’s world which we mostly inhabit. The performances are excellent with Viggo Mortensen playing a charming but charmless rogue, Dunst as the seemingly innocent but obviously knowing wife and Isaac as the good looking, deceptive but essentially honest rich boy determined to make his mark on the world on his own terms. It is a film layered with sexual tension between the three of them and although I felt the ending lent itself to Hollywood tradition it is still an extremely slick, seductive and worthwhile film I would not mind seeing again. That is recommendation in itself.


Frank trailer

This offbeat comedy drama by Jon Ronson has a light touch but a dark soul. Starring Michael Fassbender and based on the true life tale of Frank Sidebottom, who performed in a papier-mâché head, it mixes a soupcon of fact to create a film that is as simple as it is complex whilst maintaining a kudos that will garner it favour amongst the avant-garde. Fassbender manages to give a great performance even if for the majority of the film he has to rely on vocalising his various facial expressions-much to the chagrin of his volatile and antagonistic acolyte Clara (Maggie Gyllenhall)- and even though at the films denouement the mask is removed this adds little to the mystery of the character but rather lends the film a more conventional structure.
Narrated throughout from the viewpoint of Jon(Domhnall Gleeson), a wannabe musician and composer, who has his sights on stardom to break out of the mundane world he inhabits living with his parents whilst working the nine to five nightmare in an office. When the band Soronprfbs come to his town and their keyboard player tries to drown himself in a suicide bid, following a mental meltdown, he flippantly offers his services as a replacement and finds himself whisked away to an isolated recording studio with the mysterious Frank- who bears some resemblance to the offbeat Captain Beefheart- and his even weirder bunch of supporting musicians who idolise him to the point of fanaticism.
The recording process inevitably does not go smoothly and Jon unwisely offers to pay for it out of his inheritance from his grandfather without realising just how much it is all going to cost. The scenes at the recording facility range from serious to violent to heartrending whilst even incorporating some comedy slapstick moments. The whole feeling is one of a surreal dream come nightmare where everyone involved is playing an absurd extremist creating a tortured epic.
Inevitably this set up is bound to lead to further disaster and indeed it does whilst combining offbeat humour with pathos. As an audience we are rooting for Frank and his celebrated, but far from conventional, talent but somehow in our hearts we know this can never, ever be and mainstream success will always elude him. Therefore the ending of the film is notably downbeat and its attempts to explain the character of Frank fail in their objectives because it is the mystery and fantasy we have already projected onto him which provide the film’s major motivational tool and charm.
Despite this Frank is a seriously thought provoking film which questions the value of fame, integrity and celebrity. Although simply presented it is full of complexities which give it a depth which might not seem obvious from the outset but become more apparent as the film engages you in its surreal ambitions. Because of this it works on several levels and leaves you feeling emotionally connected to a character that has spent the majority of the film encased in a giant papier-mâché mask. This, in itself, is no mean achievement!


Just an Observation

Anyone who tells you there is nothing going on in Edinburgh obviously doesn’t have my invites list and is just as obviously not even bothering to look. Tonight is a perfect example of this with two very different events taking place and overlapping neatly with each other so that a select and well co-ordinated few are able to attend both. First up is that bastion of literary delights and exquisite musical outings that is Neu Reekie at its regular Summerhall base which tonight features, amongst notable others, Momus and The Band of Holy Joy.
At roughly the same time in the town centre-The Voodoo Rooms in West Register Street-the Fini Tribe Soudsystem will be kicking up a storm on the flashing dancefloor in the venue’s French Quarter in the latest instalment of Rammed. A lot of talk has surrounded this event and it will be followed up by a live date to be announced very soon. A fabulous collaboration between several creative types with musical style chopping and changing almost randomly but somehow all sewn together seamlessly, Rammed aims to drag clubbing from its past and into the future.
Certainly not a night to be staying in re-arranging your wardrobe, washing your hair or praying for something decent on the television as it would be more than a shame to miss either or both of these events. Go on treat yourselves!
Not that great nights out are exclusive to the weekend. Tuesday night saw a great solo performance and gig by Sterling Roswell-formerly of legendary space rockers Spaceman 3- at the Parlour Bar in Leith. A totally outstanding performance which the only criticism I have is that it did not go on for longer. The extremely pleasurable and charming Mr. Roswell also gave me a vinyl copy of his band Rosco’s album ‘The Call of the Cosmos’ to review which I shall endeavour to do over the weekend post Rammed and in recovery mode. Certainly the tracks I have heard online seem like just the ticket to assuage my Friday night debauchery as an aural decompression chamber complete with massage.
This coming Tuesday March 4th- Tuesdays are the new Saturdays it would seem- sees a one night showing of a film inspired by Goldfrapp’s beautiful new album ‘Tales of Us’ at the Cameo. This film is followed by a satellite link up to a live show which will be shown simultaneously around the world. This is a worthwhile night not just for fans of the group but for anyone who recognises how important they were for diverting their own, as well as that of others, musical direction in the first ten years of this century, even if their influence has diminished slightly since those halcyon days. ‘Tales of Us’ does see a return to form, of sorts, after their first disappointing album 2010’s ‘Head First’, so seeing how this band who has one of the most strikingly visual performers in the business will interpret their new music visually will be very interesting.
Elsewhere whilst there is serious carnage in the Ukraine there is also carnage here as big businesses, politicians and the like -this week the BBC and Standard Life are the main culprits- all keep throwing their toys out the pram every time the Yes vote for Independence seems to take an upward swing. What none of them seem to realise is that this upward swing is directly related to all the threats, bullying and scaremongering tactics of the naysayers as the Scots are quite rightly sick and tired of these sort of tactics and underhand practices which really only galvanise them into seeing Independence as their only means of escaping them.
Right it is never too early to start getting ready to go out-mentally prepared I mean, although the physical act will not be too far behind- so am off to get ready for a night of mayhem and dancing. Let the weekend begin!
The below link is the visual Rammed Fini Tribe flyer.