THE WEIRDOES COME FIRST Investigating Edinburgh’s forthcoming CULT! And THE SECRET CINEMA film seasons

‘l’ve spent years trawling through all manner of cinematic trash,’ says Matt Palmer, programmer of Cult! In early March - a weekend-long festivity of cult film classics will combine healthily established Euro auteurs at their most barmy - from Claude Chabrol’s La Rupture and Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession to the little seen Peter Watkins film Punishment Park (pictured) and the reputedly marvelloust low-budget inventiveness of Nobuo Nakagawa’s Jigoku (1960) with the decidedly low- rent. The early 80s New York classic Liquid Sky might fall into the latter category, but undeniably well placed is Thundercrack!, which Palmer refers to as probably ‘the most walked out of film in cinema history. And we’re not talking high-brow boredom here. As one critic said, “Obviously, a willingness to copulate, masturbate or sodomise on camera was more important than acting


What Palmer likes about the genuine cult film

is that each filmmaker had to make the film no matter who’s going to end up watching it. ‘If you

go out and make a cult film you fail,’ he says. ‘They’re admittedly genre films - films that are expected to reach an audience - but it’s the personal excessiveness that often makes them


This is why whether it’s an auteurist horror film like Possession, or an Italian giallo thriller like Short Night of Glass Dolls, what counts is the ‘shock of thought’ as that wonderfully mad and crazy man of the theatre Antonin Artaud would say.

That is perhaps the common link between the Cult! weekend and the inaugural Filmhouse initiative that is The Secret Cinema that will follow closely on its heels. A series of late-night


Anyone familiar with the Asian cops and robbers thriller will recognise the conventions of the genre at play in Infernal Affairs. Furthermore. the film‘s plot. which sees Asian cinema stars Tony Leung (In the Mood for Love) and Andy Lau (Full- Time Killer) squaring up to each other as. respectively. an undercover cop in a Triad gang and a gangster mole in the police department, resembles the Robert De Niro-AI Pacino thriller, Heat.

There is. however. something more interesting going on here. Infernal Affairs (the Chinese title Wujan dao actually invokes the lowest circle of Buddhist hell) goes beyond mixing genre conventions and borrowing plot to blend the distinctive styles of two of Hong Kong cinema's best

Bullet ballets and inner turmoil

known auteurs: John Woo and Wong Kar-wai. Thus. the bullet ballets associated with Woo's pre-Hollywood films (Hard Boiled) are fused with the kind of cool- handed attention to the inner (homoerotic) turmoil of the protagonists we've seen in the films of Kar-wai (Happy Together). The combination gives the film more depth and style than most of its contemporaries.

It‘s probably no coincidence that co-director Wai-keung Lau (paired up with SCreenwriter Alan Mak) has. as cinematographer. been a regular collaborator with Kar-wai (noticeably on Chungking Express). Here. he handles the action and drama with the consistency of the seasoned old filmmaker he is. In Leung and Lau, he's got two of cinema's most charismatic leads.

(Miles Fielder) I Selected release from Fri 27 Feb. See preview, page 24.

Peter Watkins’ rarely seen Punishment Park (1971) part of the Cult! season

screenings that will (according to advisor to and film is this combo of ‘a shock of thought, a champion of the season Mark Cousins), be a healthy restorative to some of the more mainstream art house fare out there. Part of Filmhouse’s new approach to embrace a more radical agenda and approach - The Secret Cinema signals some very exciting times ahead. With its midnight screenings (the first in Europe in over a decade allegedly) and enigma screenings The Secret Cinema harks back to age of Langloisian cinephilia and passion.

As Palmer says, the stuff he’s screening in the Entrance through the back of the Filmhouse. Bar is Cult! season is ‘just scratching the surface’. Generally for Matt what he expects from a cult

visceral effect and an excess in style and design.’ Between Cult! And the longer running The

Secret Cinema seasons, the capital can look

forward to a year of living dangerously, albeit

from the comfort of a fold down chair in a

darkened auditorium.

I Cult! starts on Fri 5 Mar, and concludes on Sun 7

Mar. All screenings at the Filmhouse, a full pass costs

if 7 7. SO/f 70.50 concessions.

The Secret Cinema commences on Friday 72th March.

open 7 1 pm 3am, with films starting at midnight. See Opinion, page 6.


How difficult is it to get rid of a stereotype? In his directorial debut Peter Hedges. the screenwriter behind What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and About a Boy. plays on the fact that most people believe a leopard cannot change its spots. Revolving around several stereotypes. Hedges sets out to detail the connection between a former drug addict failing to lose the tag of problem child, a black man out to commit a crime. a bitter and twisted dying woman, a dysfunctional family and a disastrous Thanksgiving dinner.

April (Dawson '3 Creek's Katie Holmes) is cooking dinner for her estranged family when she discovers that her even has broken down. To make matters worse her new black boyfriend (Derek Luke) has mysteriously gone AWOL and the emotionally volatile April must ask her neighbours for help, but this New York's Lower East Side and her neighbours are as friendly as suicide bombers. April's family, led by terminally ill mum Joy (Patricia Clarkson giving an Oscar worthy performance) expect the day to be a disaster.

Thanksgiving; and the frenetic family gathering have given rise to a remarkable number of good films. (Hannah and her Sisters, She '3 Gotta Have it. and The ice Storm to name a few). Pieces of April is a wonhy addition to this well furnished genre. (Kaleem Aftab)

I Selected release from Fri 20 Feb.

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Pass the sweet potatoes and valium sister

1%) Feb—4 Mar 2004 THE LIST 27