The sensually provocative images of internationally acclaimed photographer David Hamilton again move and breathe in Laura. A delicate journey through innocence, beauty and sensuality involving a 16 year old ballet dancer who falls in love with her mother’s former lover, a 40 year old sculptor. A classic cinematic treatment of mother-daughter competition and the first stirrings of sexuality. With utmost taste and talent, Hamilton presents the gratification of budding womanhood.
1979 – Certificate: 18 – French Film
5.0 out of 10
For reasons that mostly baffle me but probably point to a severe breakdown in the decision-making process somewhere, I’m trusted with the management of nine people at work, plus another two or three that are ‘incoming’. I’ve never received much in the way of training to accomplish this, but I do my best. I try to work them all to within an inch of their lives, make them feel worthless and in awe of me, blame them when something goes wrong and take the credit when something goes well. I provide them with impossible deadlines and grass them up to more senior people when they fail to meet them. I invent or overcomplicate existing procedures, to make their lives as difficult as possible. My managerial catch-phrase is, “if you don’t like it you can leave”. In fact the only book on management I’ve ever read is “The Art of Demotivation”. I’d heartily recommend this to anyone who manages staff. I keep my well-thumbed copy by my desk at all times. Despite my obvious lack of emotional intelligence, in a strange way I consider these ‘resource units’ as my family. (In that sense I care for them deeply, in the same way that Captain Janeway on the Starship Voyager cared for her crew, but still managed to nearly get them killed most weeks.) Consequently, I get very distressed when any of them decide to fly the nest or take maternity leave. (Mainly because of the extra hassle it’s going to cause me.) In the next couple of months I have to recruit three or four new members of staff. From experience, I’m pretty sure that interviewing is about as close as a man can get to giving birth. The only difference is that we interview during office hours to a sensible timetable that minimises the disruption it causes. It is however a painful experience, in which you deal with things as best you can, when all you really want to do is scream and moan about how long it’s all taking, as you wait for the candidate(s) to come into the room so to speak. And my top tips for interviewing? Always have the interview panel with the light behind its back. I find it helps to put interviewees at ease if you silhouette yourselves. I also find that starting off interviews with the question, “what’s the worst question we could ask you today?” often helps to put candidates at ease too. If I don’t see tears by the end, I know I’m facing a tough son-of-a-bitch, who might one day challenge my Alpha Male status, an attribute that at work we call Wow; strangely, these people always score really poorly and consequently never get appointed. There’s nothing Wow about this film either.
David Hamilton made a few films like this and they’re all crap. This is probably because I know nothing about art and can never relate to anything or anyone in them. And I hate the ‘soft focus’ (i.e. out of focus) photography that always seems to get used too, so it’s not just the people, plots and places I don’t get. I guess if I was cultured enough I’d think this movie was a cinegraphic masterpiece that “presents the gratification of budding womanhood” and unrequited love, rather than some child porn dressed up as art. But what do I know? I’m probably just an ignorant, Mail-reading Brit, who thinks anything foreign is rubbish (unless it’s American or curry). I guess if I go out and kill someone on purpose, as long as I do it tastefully it’s art, not murder. Having said that, there is a story of sorts (a somewhat pervy love triangle) and a bit of action when something catches fire. There’s also some ‘fun’ with weed-killer too. (It’s a good example of what happens when you don’t store and use chemicals correctly.) I guess if you can work around all its technical and plot foibles, then you could get something positive out of it. (It’s not unlike a trashy B-movie in that respect.)
The soundtrack is mainly plinky-plonky ‘emotional’ piano or dated prog rock. It’s not something I’d miss if it was somehow erased for existence by time-travelling, intergalactic film critics.
Trailer. Well if there is one I couldn’t find it. Yes, the Internet has let me down. The best I managed to locate were some clips, so I’ve picked out an especially action-packed one for here.
Recommended for sculptors, dancers and anyone with a very open mind.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? I guess it’s another reason for me to be sent to Hell, but Paul (40) manages to get off with Laura (15). It’s not that I approve or would want to be in his place; it’s just that he could, which makes it badass, although mostly just bad. What’s he got that I haven’t? Other than he’s good looking, French, talented, sexy and (in these post-Saville times) “a sinister pervert who used his fame to get close to young women and girls”. No wait, that’s Rolf Harris.
When you drive from Reading towards Oxford, as you leave the town you pass a number of road signs proudly proclaiming you’re entering Oxfordshire, the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and, most importantly of all, that the speed limit is now 50mph. After the slow 30mph climb out of Reading, with its 100s of speed cameras ready to catch the weary, the inattentive and the downright stupid, the sudden vista of trees and open fields, a straight road and all that ‘roadside furniture’ is enough to turn even the most mind-mannered driver into a Mad Max style petrol-head. So imagine my pleasure recently, as when leaving the town along this very road, at the very moment of transition from high-tech military oppression to the anarchy of the countryside beyond, onto my car stereo came Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard”. This is a great bit of ‘speeding up’ music. However, the intro goes on for 27 seconds. Even in a Ford Focus that’s a lot of acceleration time. I was quite surprised when I looked down to see I was doing over 200mph. That’s pretty impressive for a diesel. This film also has a main character that talks a lot of bollocks but thinks he’s making sense.
2002 – Certificate 15: – USA
Rating Details: Language: Frequent, Strong. Sex/Nudity: Infrequent Moderate References. Violence: None. Other: Substance Abuse.
I feel a bit guilty for not liking this drama / black comedy more. I did try, but I just couldn’t get behind the ‘hero’ Wilson. I know he was having a bad time, what with his wife’s suicide and all that, but he had plenty of friends, family and work colleagues who wanted to help him. But what does he do? Not open the letter his wife left for him and develop a somewhat unhealthy interest in sniffing petrol and (in his own words) “radio-control”. For a successful winner like me, who’s never failed at anything in his entire life, it’s hard to see someone behaving quite so pathetically over such a small thing. What a wimp. Loser. Anyway, don’t let me put you off watching this film, because it is pretty entertaining and the acting’s great too. It’s just that I got a little too much pleasure out of seeing Wilson make a bit of a tool of himself once too often and then that made me feel guilty. I didn’t really get to feel his pain, you know what I mean?
Recommended for radio-controlled boat and plane enthusiasts.
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.
Top badass moment? In a film filled with flawed, somewhat sad individuals, where no one really ‘rises to the challenge’, this is not an easy thing to do. So rather than bother I’ve decided that anyone who flies radio-controlled aeroplanes is badass. For a hobby that’s easy for everyone else to ridicule, (it’s only one step above train-spotting in my mind), who hasn’t secretly wanted to have a go at it anyway? Pursuing your interests when the rest of the world thinks you’re just a stupid kid who won’t grow up, is badass. It’s just jealousy you know.
Ever had the feeling you’ve been cheated? Last night I was at Paddington Station, coming home from seeing the New Town Kings (a great, 9-piece ska band) at the Camden Purple Turtle. 30p to use the toilets at Paddington Station. 30p! What especially pisses me off is the fact that I only had to do this as my train was delayed and the display boards didn’t say how long this was going to be for, (it was 20 minutes in the end). Was it really so hard for them to work that out? Didn’t they know where the train was and how fast it was going? Of course they did. Bastards; they waited until I’d paid my 30p before announcing that useful bit of information. Put together with my 65 minute delay coming into London that afternoon, (on a journey that’s only supposed to take 30 minutes), it’s a fucking disgrace that you’re then charged 30p for something you can do on the train for free, (well for no more charge anyway as you’ve already paid for it in your massively overpriced ticket), if it actually turned up on time. In fact, no one should have to pay to use a toilet ever, it’s not like it’s a luxury you can do without. And what’s more, I had to go and buy a cup of coffee for £2.00, to get some change to use the ‘little boys’ room’. So basically I paid £2.30 and waited around for 85 minutes on cold stations, just for the privilege of going to the toilet. What next? You’ll need a ticket for breathing in the air at a station? Well guess what? Last time I travelled on the same service I sat in First Class, even though I only had a Standard Class ticket. The train was totally bunged and some people couldn’t even get on it, so my travelling companion convinced me to make this futile gesture to The Man. (Not that we were alone, although we were the first of the proles to burst out of Standard Class; by the time the train left people were even sitting on the tables in First Class and in the luggage areas, it was so crowded.) So up yours Great First Western (or whatever it is you’re calling yourself this week). Next time I’m going to urinate all over the station concourse. And also, some random, young guy came up to me whilst I was waiting, shook my hand, asked if I knew him (I didn’t) and asked me if I liked people called Mohammed. What sort of idiotic question is that? What did he think I was going to say? That I hate all Muslims, especially ones called Mohammed? I just said that it depends on the person. Anyway, this seemed to suitably impress him and he went on his way. This film is about feeling someone else is having a better time in life than you are.
1991 – Certificate:15 – Belgum
This is a really interesting thriller, despite the fact that it comes from Belgium, which as everyone knows isn’t famous for anything, except weird chocolate and being boring. It’s about a guy, Thomas, who’s convinced himself that he was swapped for another baby (Alfred) when the hospital they were in after being born, caught fire and everyone was evacuated. As a consequence, he’s spent his whole life being jealous of Alfred’s apparently more successful one and feeling it should have been his. It’s like four films in one, covering him as a wide-eyed young boy, unfulfilled and underachieving middle-aged guy and bitter old man, as well as a fantasy version of his life with him playing the part of a private investigator / secret agent kind of person. The movie cuts between these and goes back and forward in time a lot, so you’ll probably need to write some notes if you want to keep things straight. Thinking about it today, I’ve realised that I entirely missed the point of whole parts of it, but that’s okay as it means it’ll be worth watching again. Despite it being quite a bleak sounding film, it’s actually quite fun in places and Thomas’s ‘solution’ to his ‘issue’ is quite unexpected. It also has a nice and positive cameo for his brother, who has Down’s Syndrome, who’s shown as the one person in it who’s content and happy with his life. Everyone else spends their time regretting what they did or didn’t do, lost and wasted opportunities. No wonder I liked it, it’s a film I can relate to. Yes, it’s a really worthwhile movie, so go watch it please.
Recommended for people who like high quality films that are a bit different.
1 cat and no decapitations. But poor cat; it’s all squashed at the side of the road! :-(
Top badass moment? Alice (Thomas’s sister) trashing the Virgin Mary in the church, after their father isn’t found quickly enough after an air crash. I’m not condoning such behaviour, but busting up a religious icon in a church is pretty badass.