Airplanski is one of my favourite documentary films that, because of wise use of a VCR, I've managed to view it more than once. After the fall of communist rule in Russia the national airline -Aeroflot- was broken up into many regional airlines, or Babyflots. This film charts the sometimes worrying, often frustrating and frequently bizarre journeys made by passengers on this once mighty giant of the skies. There are interviews with several pilots (who are seen to be drinking large vodkas before flying) traveling buisnessmen and flight attendants. The stories told reference Aeroflots pilots who, we're told, could land giant bombers on aircraft carriers at night in the depth of arctic blizzards whilst doing their military service- so flying a civilian aircraft should be no problem. From The loading of aircraft passengers from both ends at once to prevent the aircraft tipping up and missing lapbelts and seats not bolted to floors to styrofoam cups with teethmarks in them. The film successfully mixes humour and a kind of sadness in the right amount that makes this charming little movie an utterly compelling 70 minute view. Watch it, Comrade!
I wasn't expecting too much from this, to be honest. the reviews I'd read in the past hadn't done the movie many favours and the lurid cover art on the video tape really makes you fear for the worst- but, in all reality, its not that bad. I'm guessing that as it was made only a couple of years after the actual crimes depicted that it could have run into trouble, what with the brutal nature of Nielsons crimes and the fact that it had been such a very public series of events that horrified Britain over its weetabix and toast as it flicked past page three and looked for what was on the telly that night in the national tabloids. The movie, for those too young and in foreign parts to remember or to even know, tells the story of ex-army loner Donald Nielson who, to subsidise his income has taken to robbing local post-offices. In a series of military style raids, Nielsons crimes escalate to the point where he ruthlessly murders 3 postmasters whilst all the time planning the kidnapping of a 17 year old whose late father had left her a large inheritance. The film is creepy and effective, Donald Sumpters bizarre performance as the titular Panther makes you want to double-check the door before you go to bed and pull the curtains all the way across the windows.. Of course, despite Nielsons detailed planning, things go terribly wrong. The films careful direction and adhesion to the known facts of the real events add an air of credibility seldom seen outside of the small screen, and its use of locations close to the real ones make it all the more unsettling. Whether or not the drain where the on-screen Whittle meets her horrible demise is a set or a location in Bathpool park, it still makes you uneasy and once again begs the question- is this just trashy exploitation or something much harder to face, perhaps a desire to present the ever awful truth?
After the first twenty minutes i suddenly realised that i was watching the remains of a bad slasher movie. I paused the DVD and looked it up on here, yup, sure enough the film was there and is out there, in the ether somewhere, on disc also. After the first tale ended, onto the second, which ends even more abruptly than the first, and this, too, was made up of another movie, hacked and slashed into the bleeding midsection of this utter landfill of a movie. I was unsurprised when i learned that the final segment of this abomination was from a movie entitled Cataclysm. Oh dear Jesus what were they thinking. There are three movies for the price of one here, oh how we have been blessed, decapitations, eviscerations, plasticene monsters , gibbering pseudo-European bit part actors, Cameroon Mitchell !! oh good gravy is this a piece of work. And for why? i have no Idea. The links between segments make little sense, the wanky rock band and didn't-need-to-be-slow-mo breakdance serve no purpose except the desire in the viewer for it all to be over. This film is such a mess, a hodge podge, that its hard not to like it. I shall be watching it again sometime, possibly when i'm drunk, i think that would be fine. And I'll be searching out all three movies too!
One has to admire the balls it took to make this movie. For a start, the atmosphere is cloying and intense, and if you've taken the time to track this movie down then chances are you probably know a little bit about it. Based on the crimes of British serial Killer Dennis Nielson, cold light of day is a slice of docu-drama little like anything you've ever seen before. i saw this on video in its 75 minute entirety, and it is a difficult movie to sit through. It makes you feel so uncomfortable, and tries, in its own way to present its characters with some compassion, but they are all so cold and pathetic that you squirm in your seat and wait for it to end. It took me a long time to track this little gem down, and it has had a couple of releases in the UK throughout the 1990's, but its a hard film to watch. Certainly a must for serial killer movie buffs or anyone interested in lensing their first movie, cold light of day is awkward and, in several places, downright unpleasant. Henry Portrait of a serial killer was gruesome, Cold Light of Day is a shiver than runs down your spine in the dead of night.
OK, where to begin? The Animals Film must be one of the most harrowing cinematic experiences ever. Sure, this stuff goes on every day, sure there are valid arguments for vivisection, medical experiments and all sorts of abuse. Nevertheless, the fact remains that when you review the way in which humans treat the world around them, its a pretty depressing sight. Of course, this movie was made twenty five years ago, surely things must have improved since then? Take a look outside and think about what you see. Go on. Stick your head out the door and see whats going on down the street. Not much? Now switch on the TV, or the radio, listen to the news? The Animals Films tells us there are people out there who give a damn, who care enough to show us these terrible things. Just think what your view of the world would be if the BBC or CNN didn't send back reports from Iraq, Afghanistan, New Orleans? Film is an important media which can add to the way in which we see the world, in which we can begin to understand one another. The makers of this movie may have a bias toward their subject matter. The ALF members who appear at the end of the movie, talking about their cause, their belief certainly are biased - you may even call them terrorists. This is an important work, made on no budget, with a donated soundtrack(I might be wrong on that one) but it deserves attention. Animals are still treated in this appalling manner, people too. Maybe this movie will change you a little if you watch it. I have absolutely no idea if its still possible to find this movie. It was shown on British television about ten years ago, with some editing to the ALF interview at the end. I found a copy in my local college but have never seen it anywhere else as a standard release. See it if you can.
I stumbled onto this movie the other morning when it played on the Sundance channel or IFC, can't remember which, and my curiosity was piqued immediately. Its rare enough to find anything interesting on the TV at 7 AM but this was a real treat. The film covers the indie/punk/garage scene of the 1990's, and apparently covers the west and northwest region of the u.s (although i could be wrong about the geography) and the small but highly charged group of musicians that play and record there. The film is really interesting because it illustrates the passion which drives young people to music, to create music and to carry their message to an audience that would never hear it otherwise. Songs for Cassavettes does a good job of providing artists with a platform from which they can express their views and ideas behind being a band and creating music. It is at some times painful to see the dedication of artists or Label entrepreneurs giving up their lives to support what they love, but at the same time you can see the value of what these guys are doing. I think if a film can influence what we listen to because of the opportunity it gives artists, and the respect it shows to its subject, then even if you don't like the music I think you should give it a chance anyway- you might learn something.