:: Buzzwords Archive: July 2009. Click here for the latest posts.

The Novel’s Nervous Breakdown (published 27/07/2009)

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Richard Marshall’s interview today with Rape New York author Jana Leo is the latest in his series of talks with Semina authors for 3:AM. You can also read his interviews with Bridget Penney, Maxi Kim and Mark Waugh.

When Love & Hate Collide (published )

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As noted in this week’s Time Out:

Beat the Dust and 3:AM Magazine present an evening of Love & Hate featuring writers from the literary underground including Steve Finbow, Melissa Mann, Joseph Ridgwell, Heidi James, Mark Walton, Mark SaFranko, Paul Ewen and Will Ashon plus live music from Yardghost and Mush & Bile DJ sets.

3:AM Reloaded (published 26/07/2009)

What you (may have) missed on 3:AM recently:

Fiction: ‘Friend Helmet’ (1) by Blake Butler, ‘Friend Helmet’ (2) by Nicolle Elizabeth

Poetry: ‘Three Poems’ by Steve Porter

Reviewed: Max Dunbar on Philippe Sands’ Torture Team & Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God, John Houghton on Anna Minton’s Ground Control & Andrew Stevens on the fiction of the decade with no name

Non-fiction: ‘Friday I’m in Love’ continues with Nick Garrard‘s musical pick & it’s a double bill this ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’, Gavin James Bower watches The Informers & Andrew Stevens Get Carter

Interviewed: Alan Kelly talks to Hard Case Crime’s Charles Ardai & for 3:AM Asia David F. Hoenigman to filmmaker Sion Sono:

In Japan, I’d studied normal movies. I wanted to learn B movies. I was lucky, near my apartment there was a video shop with tons of B movies and porno movies. Every day I watched around five B movies. So I learned, and I made up my mind if I go back to Japan I will make a movie just like these B movies. I hope Japanese hate me. This is a hate movie. I hope almost all people hate this movie. This title is Suicide Club. So I made it. Yes, and truly every Japanese person hates it. American people, European people, they like it.

Saturday Night at the Movies II (published 25/07/2009)

By Andrew Stevens.

I am not here today (tonight, even) to talk about Get Carter: I am not “in the room”. There is little that hasn’t already been said about the film’s use of Tyneside’s post-industrial landscape, the eponymous car park now destined for demolition in the name of corporate-sponsored regeneration, or its pulsating resonance among the 90s lad culture demographic (Loaded even ran an abridged graphic novelised strip of it.) The clip above is simply MGM’s treatment for a US audience more accustomed to the burgeoning blaxploitation genre (here’s the US trailer for The Long Good Friday, to boot.)

In fact, while Get Carter appeared in 1971 (the same year as landmark crime caper Villain, not to mention Dirty Harry and A Clockwork Orange, another cinematic critique of municipal modernism), it made it into celluloid a mere two years after Ted Lewis’ novel Jack’s Return Home (actually set in Doncaster, which had to wait two decades for its municipal corruption episode, even then not on the scale of Poulson and T. Dan Smith), which was in turn inspired by the fruit machine murder allegedly by Dennis Stafford and Michael Luvaglio in 1967. In all, there was less than a half-decade between the pivotal crime and its cinematic treatment, though in truth the film-makers had enough damning material from the press of the day to proceed in any case. As if to twist the blaxploitation motif further, the film was remade a year later with a Pam Grier/Bernie Casey makeover as Hit Man, Carter now Tackett, the vengeful score-settler in the “black jungle”.

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Its cult status assured and affirmed by the burgeoning lad culture/Britpop, Get Carter was mentioned as the blueprint for 1998’s Killing Time, hailed in the region’s press at the time as a revival of the city’s gangster flick heyday. Woefully wrong on all accounts, both in terms of plot and cast (soapland’s Craig Fairbrass as lead), it did however act as an unwitting homage to the pedestrian infrastructure of the Tyne Tunnel complex and its white-tiled walls and wooden escalators.

Tripping on the Invisible Kink (published )

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A very interesting interview with Tom McCarthy in Dossier:

…What happened to the film of Remainder? Has it been credit crunched?

It’s going into production later this year. It’ll be directed by Pavel Pavlikowski [My Summer of Love]. The screenplay is by John Hodge who did Trainspotting and all those Danny Boyle things.

Choose death…

Choose repetition! I’ve read the screenplay, it’s really very good. The first meeting I had with them they said “Who would you like to see directing it?” I said “David Lynch! Harmony Korine!” They said “Absolutely not!” They want to make an intelligent mainstream film, a Fight Club or Donnie Darko. There’s a certain vocabulary you have to have in a mainstream film. So the American girl now is a major character.

Oh no, not a Love Interest!

Yes! She says “Stop this re-enactment madness!” and so on. It’s what you have to do; I got their logic. They don’t want to make a low budget art film that 4000 people at the ICA will see who’ve already read the book. They said “We want to make a big film. Popcorn. All that! Millions of people will see it and they’ll go and buy your book Tom!” If I were directing it, it would be the trip — an hour and a half version of the tripping on the invisible kink. They have done good things though, scenes where you see a re-enactment happening and the camera pulls back to show the people with walkie-talkies and clipboards and keeps on going back for as much CGI as their budget can manage. The only demand I had was that I have to be an extra: I’d like to hold the clipboard. …

[pic: Tom McCarthy, London July 09 by Andrew Gallix.]

Saturday Night at the Movies I (published )

By Gavin James Bower.

I’m tempted to kick this off by discussing Amber Heard’s breasts. That she’s blessed with divine mammaries is certainly touched on in The Informers – in every sense of the phrase – but talk like that has no place in something commissioned by the 3am Girls let alone 3:AM Magazine. So I won’t mention them.

Based on the short-story collection by Bret Easton Ellis – who, unlike with previous Ellis book-to-film projects, co-wrote the screenplay – and directed by Gregor Jordan (Buffalo Soldiers, Ned Kelly), The Informers is a collection of vignettes set in 1980s Los Angeles, loosely-connected and woven together to reflect the (a)moral fabric of Reagan’s America.

On one part of the city we have Graham, his friend Martin and girlfriend Christie (Amber Heard) all doing drugs as well as each other, while at home his mother Laura (Kim Basinger) is desperately trying to restore family life with her film producer husband William (Billy Bob Thornton) – despite the fact that she’s sleeping with the aforementioned Martin while he’s continuing an affair with news anchor Cheryl (Winona Ryder).

Elsewhere, Peter (played by an even-more-frightening-than-usual Mickey Rourke) muscles his way into the home of nephew Jack – a wannabe actor captured superbly by Brad Renfro, the former child star who died of an overdose shortly after finishing filming – before kidnapping a small boy and holding him to ransom.

The film’s established as well as unestablished cast members all deliver solid performances – Jon Foster as Graham is particularly good – but the stand-out scenes belong to Mel Raido as Bryan Metro, a rock star so messed up he can’t remember when he lived in LA or why his young son is now scared to death of him. Mumbling his way through meetings with film execs and struggling to remain coherent on stage for his ‘Informers World Tour’, Metro personifies rock bottom – with a nasty penchant for injecting heroin, all-day drinking and bathing in ice after violent sex with under-age groupies.

As a fan of Ellis the writer, I’d been looking forward to The Informers for a long time – not least because the release date was pushed back on more than one occasion. Even when it was finally screened and the reviews – in the US and, more recently, the UK – slammed the film as vapid, pointless or just bloody awful, I still wanted to see it.

And I’m glad I did. The Informers is neither quite as good as I’d hoped, nor anywhere near as bad as I’d feared.

Of course, the formula – young people enjoying, or not enjoying as the case may be, too much sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – is tried and tested. But this is because Ellis, with Less Than Zero and later American Psycho, has come to define the genre for a generation by taking a commentary on decadence much further than his predecessors dared. His characters are not merely spoiled rich kids; they’re progeny of equally nihilistic parents, intentionally two-dimensional by-products of a society that treats wealth as a virtue and apathy an inalienable right. They’re not simply jaded, nor even to be dismissed as just plain ‘bad’. Instead, they actively embrace moral abandonment in every area of their desolate lives, while at the same time clinging vainly to the hope of redemption – the result of which is a harrowing and near-Nietzschean plunge into the abyss.

The Informers works because Gregor Jordan gets this, and in so doing he’s managed to create a slick-looking film (with the exception of one jarring scene involving a blue screen) that cinematically translates Ellis the writer as well as Ellis the satirist in the most pleasing way possible. Sure, the vampire section of the book, perhaps its most important, is gone, and there’s that blue screen scene – no I won’t let it go, because it really is that terrible – but the opening sequence of Graham, Martin and Christie at a house party, set to ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’ by Simple Minds, is mind-blowing.

If you like Ellis and understand what an adaptation of his work should look like, or if you simply want something different this summer, then check out The Informers. Just ignore the reviews.

Um, except this one, of course…