Nov 292012
 

Alan Horrox’s highly acclaimed (and unrepeated) 1983 C4/Thames TV production of Gavin Richards’s  adaptation of Dario Fo’s ‘Accidental Death of An Anarchist’ (translated by Gillian Hanna) with Gavin Richards as ‘Maniac’; Jim Bywater as ‘Inspector Pissani’; Clive Russell as ‘Superintendent’; Gavin Muir as ‘Constable’; John Surman as ‘Inspector Bertozzo’ and Susan Denaker as ‘Maria Feletti’

Anarchist Films (enter ‘Accidental Death’ into the search box).

Pinelli case

Oct 082011
 

See ChristieBooks Films:
Lady Snowblood (Shurayuki-hime) is arrested by the police and sentenced to death for her crimes (in Lady Snowblood I). As she is sent to the gallows she is rescued by the mysterious Kikui Seishiro, head of the Secret Police who offers her a deal to assassinate Tokunaga Ransuit, an anarchist “enemy of the State”. The anarchist is in possession of a critical document which which Kikui is obsessed, deeming it highly dangerous to the stability of the government. If Kashima can obtain and deliver the document to Kikui, he will grant her immunity from her crimes.

Sep 222011
 


Macario, a poor and hungry peasant, longs for just one good meal on the Day of the Dead. After his wife cooks a turkey for him, he meets three apparitions, the Devil, God, and Death. Each asks him to share his turkey, but he refuses all except Death. In return, Death gives him a bottle of water which will heal any illness. Soon, Macario is more wealthy than the village doctor, which draws the attention of the feared Inquisition.

Sep 142011
 

Crates (1970 – Alfredo Joskowicz) from Stuart Christie on Vimeo.

The story of a twentieth-century Mexican who, following the example of Crates of Thebes*, a disciple of Diogenes, renounces all his worldly goods and goes off with his partner to live in a cave — according to nature and without artificial rules and conventions— in search of freedom.

*Crates (Κράτης; c. 365-c. 285 BC) was a Cynic philosopher who gave away his money to live a life of poverty on the streets of Athens. His wife, Hipparchia of Maroneia, lived in the same austere manner. Respected by the people of Athens, he is remembered for being the teacher of Zeno of Citium the founder of Stoicism. Some fragments of Crates’ teachings survive, including his description of the ideal Cynic state. Cynics believed that the purpose of  life was to live virtuously in harmony with Nature. This meant rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, health and celebrity and by living a simple life free from all possessions. As reasoning creatures, people could gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way that was natural for humans. They believed that the world belonged equally to everyone, and that suffering was caused by false judgments of what was valuable and by the worthless customs and conventions that pervaded society.

Jul 072011
 

Britannia Hospital, by Lindsay Anderson, is a social satire, a bleak metaphor for British society in the early 1980s, an allegory of Thatcherism (and a prophetic vision of Cameronian Britain). Strikes, police violence, police corruption, riots, all present in daily life today, and all represented in this black comedy. In the hospital’s 500th anniversary year, Britannia Hospital administrator, Vincent Potter (played by Leonard Rossiter), is desperately trying to restore order prior to a visit by the Queen Mother, who is coming to open the Millar Centre for Advanced Surgical Science. Meanwhile, in an effort to produce a supreme being — which he calls Genesis — Professor Millar himself (played by Graham Crowden), is secretly conducting Frankenstein-like experiments on human cadavers. With the British government’s failure to provide funding for hospitals, the new Centre is being financed by the Japanese company, Banzai Chemicals, the owners of which are also present for the special day. Intermittent telephone services and a faltering electrical supply add to Potter’s frustrations, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. An undercover team of journalists (led by Malcolm McDowell, the rebel public schoolboy from If . . . ) are about to stop at nothing to uncover Millar’s clandestine project, and there is a growing number of protesters (including many of the staff) at the main gate demonstrating against the preferential treatment of the hospital’s private patients, including an Idi Amin-type African dictator (Val Pringle), who has installed most of his aides and servants in the hospital too (Anderson’s original inspiration for the film came from the staff of Charing Cross Hospital in the 1970s who refused to treat private patients). The kitchen staff go on strike when they learn that the food for the special guests has been ordered from top London food specialists Fortnum and Mason. Potter wins over their union representative by promising him an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List …

See also: LINDSAY ANDERSON – A Celebration (1994)CB FILMS

Mar 282011
 

Sex in Chains — Geschlecht in Fesseln (Silent w/English intertitles): ‘A young man is convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a term in prison. There he forms a close relationship with his cellmate and upon his release his wife is concerned as to how prison has changed the man she married. Brimming with visual invention and breathless erotic angst, Sex in Chains uniquely combines gorgeous cinematic craftsmanship with bold subject matter. Made at the peak of the German silent era, Sex in Chains defines the Weimar era artistic freedom that would shortly fall prey to the Nazis. An astonishing mixture of love story, socially conscious exposé and lurid melodrama, Sex in Chains assuredly balances tender romance with candid erotica and uninhibited imagination with crisp realism.’ See FILMS

Feb 052011
 

Boris Vian (1920-1959)

BORIS VIAN, singer, songwriter, essayist, playwright and jazz aficionado, was a legendary figure in Paris in the post-war years — ‘the Prince of Saint-Germain ‘ — who left an indelible mark on France’s intellectual and artistic life. His avant-garde music, novels and plays continue to inspire a generation of fans more than 50 years after his death. This (PDFISSUU) is the introduction to a new translation* of three of his plays — The Empire Builders, The Generals’ Tea Party and The Knacker’s ABC — by his friend, comrade, translator and fellow pataphysician, the late Simon Watson Taylor.

* These remain unpublished (by ChristieBooks) due to a copyright dispute with the executors of the Vian estate

BORIS VIAN  was only 39 when he died in 1959. He was an insomniac who sometimes wrote all night and then left home for a morning appointment without having slept at all. He once calculated that, should he die at the age of 40, he would have lived as long, in the waking state, as a man of 102 who had indulged in the average eight hours of sleep a night.

As a child he had suffered a severe attack of rheumatic fever, and thereafter his heart was in permanent danger. Indeed he had a presentiment that he would never reach that symbolic age of 40. But far from coddling his malady he led a hyperactive  life that covered an amazing range of frequently simultaneous creative activities.

At 22 Vian graduated from the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures as a civil engineer (and later profited, eccentrically, from this training by inventing and patenting an elastic wheel, and by building a whole storey on top of his penthouse apartment in Montmartre). But he fairly soon abandoned this profession in favour of jazz music, which continued to occupy his attention throughout his life, as musician, songwriter, prolific contributor to Le Jazz Hot and other specialized reviews, and eventually record company executive. While playing an accomplished jazz trumpet, Vian was also busy writing. In 1946 he began contributing light-hearted pieces, under the byline “Chronique  du Menteur”  (“The Liar ’s Chronicle”),  to Les Temps Modernes,  the literary review directed by Sartre and de Beauvoir. In the same year he published his first novel, Vercoquin et le plancton; in the following year he wrote and published two more novels, L’Ecume des jours (1) and L’Automne à Pékin. All three were greeted at the time with singularly little critical or popular acclaim, although the novelist-poet Raymond Queneau hailed L’Ecume des jours as “the most poignant of all contemporary love stories”. To remedy matters financially, Vian, in this same prolific year, wrote and published  the first of a series of raunchy  thrillers,  J’irai cracher sur vos tombes, which purported to be his translation of a work by an American ex-GI, Vernon Sullivan. This achieved an immediate succès de scandale and was followed in quick succession by three more Vernon Sullivans “translated” by Boris Vian. At the end of 1948 Vian – rather rashly, and against the advice of his friends and publisher – confessed his authorship of this sado-erotic quartet: the enraged literary critics never forgave him this exercise in duplicity and “bad taste”, and high- minded journalists pursued him to his own grave with taunts about his dual identity.

Continue reading »

Jan 082011
 

Johnny Cool - messaggero di morte

Johnny Cool (1963), a rarely-seen noir gangster film (starring Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery), is based on a thinly fictionalised account of the life of Sicilian bandit Salvatore Giuliano after his betrayal and presumed death in an ambush in Castelvetrano (Sicily) in 1950. Like Giuliano, ‘Johnny Cool’, starts off as an idealistic freedom fighter corrupted through the patronage of organised crime figure John Colini (modelled on deported US gangster ‘Lucky Luciano’). Colini recruits Johnny Cool as a ‘messenger of death’ and sends him to the USA to take revenge on the former Mafia colleagues who betrayed him and carved up his empire. As with the real-life story of Salvatore Giuliano, given the nature of power and men’s inherent weaknesses, few, if any, have sufficient strength of character not to set themselves above all morality and – with their techniques of violent control – abuse their authority. Inevitably, like Giuliano — especially when collaborating with the landed aristocracy, right-wing politicians, criminals, mafiosi and neo-fascists — whatever idealism they originally may  possess will be poisoned, their social and ethical conscience eroded and corrupted, and their perception of the real world manipulated out of all realistic shape. See also FILMSalvatore Giuliano

Dec 282010
 

Ojo por Ojo (An Eye for an Eye) Pistolerismo in Barcelona 1919-1923

Spanish TV mini-series on the years of ‘pistolerismo‘ (employer/state death squads) in post WW1 Barcelona (during which over 200 unionists were murdered). The story of a young man, Enric Serra, who joins an anarchist action group to defend his class interests and his union (the anarcho-syndicalist CNT) in the face of a vicious, murderous anti-working class repression by the employers’ organisation (the patronal), their ‘yellow’ unions (the sindicatos libres),  Barcelona’s ruling class under Martinez Anido,  and the Spanish state of Alfonso XIII. A través de la situación de los trabajadores de una fábrica textil ‘Ojo por ojo’ recrea la lucha obrera de la época por la mejora de las condiciones laborales. Enric Serra es un joven obrero que trabaja en una fábrica textil. Su hermano lidera una huelga que hará perder mucho dinero a la familia Torrents. A la salida de la fábrica, Enric contempla con impotencia cómo su hermano es asesinado. Sabe que el responsable de la muerte es el Sr. Torrents y decide unirse a un grupo de acción anarquista para vengarse…

See FILMSOjo por Ojo 1, Ojo por Ojo 2, 1919, La verdad sobre el caso Savolta, El honor de las injurias …

See also Pistoleros! (The Chronicles of Farquhar McHarg)

Dec 222010
 

THE RULES OF THE GAME takes place on the eve of World War II at an aristocratic house party at an opulent chateau on a country estate just outside of Paris where the overlapping ‘affaires d’amour’ of all social classes are observed with a keen eye. Jean Renoir looks to the eighteenth-century world of commedia dell’arte and Mozartian opera,  seamlessly integrating farce with tragedy, using a classical form to offer his audience a profound and multifaceted parable on the disturbing realities that underlie the veneer of contemporary French society, and which are themselves symptomatic of the nascent decline of Old World Europe. The film was initially condemned for its satire on the French upper classes and was greeted with derision by a Parisian audience at its première. The upper class is depicted in this film as capricious and self-indulgent, with little regard for the consequences of their actions. It was banned by the  French government. FILMS