Thursday, January 31, 2008

Go SXSW Young Hallam Foe

Some good news today on the Mister Foe (aka the real Hallam Foe) front, as the movie is due to screen at the very hip South by Southwest Festival and Conference. Not sure of the airdate/ticket availabilty, but what I do know that is that films are screening March 7-15 which is the week of my birthday! Not sure (in fact rather dubious) anyone from Sigma or the principals will be there, but if so, Houston is a lovely place (and warm!) to visit and completely worth a trip to the festival. This festival has a reputation of being cool and eclectic, with loads of new technology and other issues the subject of panels and such, which alone makes it worth the trip.

I do know that "Trout" a short film produced by Anna Duffield of Sigma Films and Tartan Shorts screened last year at both Sundance and SXSW so maybe someone will be there this year. I caught Trout last year on the Sundance short film channel, however its no longer online, although it was said to be on iTunes but beats me as I cant find it alas. There is a short video interview with the director Johnny Barrington I watched via IndieFilmNation, and the trailer (sex, nudity) for Trout here and is hilarious. Daft as I am, I cant but help and chuckle over the frequent use of the f-bomb (what IS it about the Scots lol). It reminds me so much of a hilarious skit by the uber talented Robin Williams and his crude but hysterical rift on Scotland and golf (I actually saw this concert as a belated birthday gift lol) Bonus video below because it makes me laugh, and as someone who speaks Southernese I know all about teasing and joking about people with accents...y'all ;)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Back Cover of "Hallam Foe" DVD

Just a week to go before the lucky folks in the UK will see the release of the Hallam Foe DVD. I expect there will be a a few mentions in the weekend papers promoting the release of the DVD on February 4, so I am hopeful we will be hearing news from Jamie, David et all.

Trumpeting it as a "darkly comic masterpiece," the Film Factory DVD page on Hallam also mentions the bonus material. I personally am very excited to hear the director's commentary, as they are the best part to me. Yes I ADORE Colin's podcasts which really gave some wonderful background footage and fun interviews-"Cleanser, I can't find my cleanser!" Hilarious. These were also apparently 'exclusive featurettes' on Total Film, which is cool cause many people read that site, but I never knew that until now and am uncertain why this wasn't posted about to help draw attention to the film 0_0

All of that is well and good, but I especially appreciate hearing first hand the thoughts of the director about his work, and most anticipate hearing David's thoughts about his movie. The thing I've so enjoyed is during the initial part of the Get Your People blog we followed along first hand with the filming, which was just wonderful, but I always wanted to hear more from David (not that I didnt appreciate the random Jamie/Hallam posts which were terrific and another unique feature about this movie and the journey with Hallam Foe). While it would have such fun to hear Jamie and the rest of the cast during the commentary, David Mackenzie has such an intriguing perspective on things that I hope we hear more from him on shooting for things in the clock tower, Hallam playing Spiderboy in Edinburgh, or even the tree house scenes (although his video here, and his personal cellphone photos from the blog are very cool!)

Speaking of the Hallam Foe DVD, I stumbled over the back cover, which is the first time I think I've seen this. I haven't pre-ordered it yet, as I was uncertain with the region 1/2 barrier issues involving the dvd player, but thanks to Ted I think I've solved that problem! While I really wanted to wait for the US one, I think I may break down and order this week, cause I don't want to wait till march or june or july to see the film again...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

S is for Sigma is for Storytelling

In an attempt to clear the head after a weekend full politics and other depressing matters, I was chatting with some friends as we made our picks for our traditional Oscar pool, and the topic of the ongoing writers strike was still of concern. Without a good plot of course, a film is worth nothing, yet woefully they persist (Rambo/Rocky, sequel number 10,010 anyone? ) Good writing is essential to why I bother to pay money to see a film, and like so many others I am hoping this strike will be resolved shortly.

I've always loved books and writing and admired those who can write well, and it is always draws me to movies. When people ask me what sort of films I like, I find it hard to say one particular genre over another ( I enjoy all except the vile gratutious slasher films) Anyway, in the course of the conversation I brought up Sigma again, and when pressed to declare a firm reason why I like their works so much, I decided that the reason lies in the fact that these are movies that always tell a good STORY.

Wikipedia describes story telling as such:

Storytelling is the ancient art of conveying events in words, images, and sounds often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories have probably been shared in every culture and in every land as a means of entertainment, education, preservation of culture and to instill knowledge and values/morals. Crucial elements of storytelling include plot and characters, as well as the narrative point of view. Stories are frequently used to teach, explain, and/or entertain. Less frequently, but occasionally with major consequences, they have been used to mislead. There can be much truth in a story of fiction, and much falsehood in a story that uses facts. Storytelling has existed as long as humanity has had language. It's the world of myth, of history, of the explains life.

IT EXPLAINS LIFE. is complicated and hard and scary and sad and messy and emotional and sometimes boring, and occasionally its incredibly exciting, funny, sexy, and joyful and unexplainable and always always changing. There is no such thing as a 'perfect' life, there is just life, and that is what I see when I watch the films coming out of Scotland- little slices of life, fresh unique, certainly not run of the mill, but films honest and true. Movies about People.Real people, perhaps not always in traditionally realistic situations (ie Last Great Wilderness, Dogville) but at the base, films that deal with very real people in very real, very honest situations, all presented in an original way.

While you can certainly argue there is a plethora of good 'storyteller' films out there (and there are-ex I picked "There will be Blood" in my pool picks, that was an awesome story, with actually hardly any dialogue at the begining-yet it's a STORY), they aren't always original (and will save a diatribe on the seven plots for all things, all found in Shakespeare). People then say to me, pah all the Brits or Scots films are always gloomy and oppressive or about people leaping about in kilts or some sort of crap. I say well Hallam Foe certainly wasn't gloomy nor oppressive, and received many accolades for the writing. Same for "Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself
Dear Frankie (trailer here) great stories about seemingly depressing subjects but at the end just wonderful uplifting tales.

Good stories can also come out of subjects which don't normally come up in 'polite' conversation, but exist out there none the less: suicide, adultery, voyeurism, rape, revenge, heartache, but there is also great humor, honest moments and tender moments involving characters that I can feel for or sympathize with, and above all, want to know more about. I want to know the stories of these people, and I guess that is the objective of all good story telling. Sure you can have a the rare good story in the midst of a huge budget action blockbuster film, but just as I would rather have long conversations with people than text or 'twitter' them, I would much rather watch a film that tells me a story about people.

As a person just looking in from the outside, these films strike me as being carefully crafted to tell stories first and foremost, not deliberately trying to whack you over the head with some overt-oh lets take a taboo or uncomfortable subject and then give you a heavy handed lesson in morality type of boring movie. I've always found the films of Sigma to consistently be fresh and thought provoking and take you on a journey in a person's life and then leaves you just a bit uncertain at the end as if you want to know what happens next, just like life itself.

ETA: At the SAG's last night, actor James Brolin echoed the sentiments, as he gave a good thank you speech for best cast No Country for Old Men. Recognising the fab Coen brothers and the film's uncertain ending which I like, he also said something along the lines of 'its about STORY, and its driving the Hollywood studio system crazy" wOOt! "

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wanna live like the Family Foe?

One of my favorite parts of movies these days is being able to learn more about the locations used for filming. Perhaps its a testament to my engineer/geography freak/NASA- influenced father, but I long have been fascinated by this aspect of movie making, thinking I should volunteer to be a location scout or a tour guide or something. I also think its cool (if not overtly mercenary) that the various tourist boards are paying attention to the public's fascination in this department; the UK tourist website in particular are keen on promoting these various tours, and why not? Ive gone on one before, and although reluctant to do the sheer tourist thing, some of the places in Scotland in particular really appeal to me. However my long held dream is to visit Scotland, and intend on making several trips there this year . Because Ive been so fascinated with this country, I also loved to see what critics called a love letter to Edinburgh, the footage and many of the settings in Hallam Foe. On the official blog, one thing I truly appreciated was the effort made to note where the various shoots were taking place. I craved all these tiny tidbits of information, and readily looked up places (although outside Edinburg) like Chanby house and especially the Caledonia
(and Balmoral) hotels in Edinburgh and frevently hope one day to go there. Anyway, today I was surfing around looking for another matter, when I stumbled on a place for sale that seemed very familiar. As noted via this entry, the Wyndales was the setting for a dinner scene (perhaps this one as seen in this clip via iTunes?) Now you too can live just like the Family Foe, and purchase this 14 bedroom home that '' offers in excess of £825,000."
LOLOLOL yes I will get right on that.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Entire Score Listing for Hallam Foe

Aha found it: Entire list of Musical tracks used in Hallam Foe

"Salvese Quien Pueda" by Juana Molina
"Track of the Cat" by Pram
"Blue Boy" by Orange Juice
"I hope that you get you want " by Woodbine
"El Progresso" by Juana Molina
"They Removed All Traces" by Hood
"First Thing in the Morning" by Ganger
"Parks" by Four Tet
"Royally Used" by Sons & Daughters
"The Someone Else" by King Creosote
"Lines Low to Frozen Ground" by Hood
"Also in White"by Bill Wells
"They Shoot Horse Don't They?" by Quickspace
"Here On My Own" by U.N.P.O.C.
"Broken Bones" by Sons & Daughters
"King Bubbles" by King Creosote
"Tender to the Blues" by James Yorkston and the Athletes
"Yoga" by the Pastels
"Double Shadow" by Junior Boys
"If you could read your Mind" by Clinic
"Battle at the Gates of Dub by Future Pilot AKA
"If No Hope" Stewart Anderson and Nicola Hodgkinson
"Surf Song" by James Yorkston and the Athletes
"They Nicknamed Me Evil" by Cinema
"Your Door is Closed" by Stewart Anderson and Nicola Hodgkinson
"Let Night In" by Movietone
"Tricycle" by Psapp
"Boa vs Python" by Test Icicles
"Ocean Song" by Movietone
"Eating Spiders" by Psapp
"Hallam Foe Dandelion Blow" by Franz Ferdinand

BONUS Video: Opening Titles of Movie, Artwork by David Shrigley

Salon and Sing a Song of "Hallam Foe"

Well, despite my unhappiness over the highly bogus name change to "Mister Foe," the wonderful and original Hallam Foe film will finally be released here in the US, and is starting to get some positive notice from the main stream media. While I remain dubious over the original efforts to spread the word of Hallam via the UK bloggers, I remain hopeful word will spread now that others such as this article in Salon are starting to appear. The author included it in the 12 films to watch for in 2008. Quotage:

"This dark character drama about a peculiar Scottish runaway comes from David Mackenzie, for my money one of the most interesting among the new crop of British directors. I loved his Hitchcockian erotic gothic "Asylum," with its great performance by Natasha Richardson. This was released last year in the United Kingdom as "Hallam Foe" (title of the original novel), but evidently Americans need to know that's a guy's name. (March)."

I am heartened that publications like Salon are paying attention to movies such as this (they also picked "Red Road" as one of the best independent films of 2007). I mean Hugh and friends are great and generate the coveted google standings, so when you search for HF via blog search their postings on the film would pop up first-theoretically all good and well, but lets be honest, who REALLY gets their theoretically unbiased film news/info/suggestions from MARKETING BLOGGERS?? As well intentioned as that whole thing was, frankly just about everyone I know goes to places like the Coming Soon, Empire, aint it cool, Rotten Tomatoes, Moviefone, Underground Online, Yahoo, MSN, etc for film stuff, and frankly I think they have been a bit overlooked in this process. The loopy Kate Modern appearances had more effect with the general public I believe than the well-intentioned efforts via the UK bloggers (besides imo HF was NO Snakes on a Plane, the hype for which was spread by people other than marketers, plus as awesome as HF is, it lacked the the forceful personality of the utterly cool Samuel L Jackson. The snakes movie sucked, but that line that caught the attention of the net was hilarious)

Speaking of hyping and paying attention, I really hope the excellent soundtrack for Hallam Foe will also get some attention this go round. It got some nice write up in the UK music magazines, but am uncertain what will happen here in the states. I love how David Mackenzie used a rocktrack for the score, and it really worked surprisingly well. When I first read about this I was dubious, but the choices of music worked well for the parts that required more subtle musical backgrounds and enhancements, and I give them kudos for that. Having Franz Ferdinand on the track was just a bonus, even though the track was not their traditional "sound" if you will, I really enjoyed it as it leapt to the top of my most played on the ipod all this fall. It's a shame though because there were some killer songs used in the film that I wished had made the final CD. I need to go find that list, I have it somewhere!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Beautiful Nightmare

It is an understatement of course, but yesterday surely was an interesting day... Day of the highly coveted Oscar noms, as well as the day young star and fine actor Heath Ledger died. While it was truly tragic, it was doubly weird for earlier that day, I had been cheered earlier in the day by the news that Tilda Swinton was nominated for her role in the very fine Michael Clayton. I thought this film was very well done indeed, but in terms of a larger scope, by nominating people such as Tilda and acknowledging the work of some less than mainstream films, gave hope that these awards shows are not entirely politically based, and that those from an independent background still can be deemed worthy enough (in the lofty Academy's opinion anyway), for awards. Not that awards matter, for frankly the reason I even pay attention Oscar night is to watch all the impossibly beautiful people looking even fab in tuxes and gowns Plus its always a laugh to see Jack grinning at the usually hilarious opening monologue,and as such, they sure as heck get the attention of an otherwise generally oblivious film going public. I suppose its the silly cockeyed optimist in me that hopes once people see films like brutal but superbly done There will Be Blood (which also stars Ciaran Hinds *reminds self to start six degrees of Sigma separation game :p) and Michael Clayton (who knew the Facts of life smarmy goofy guy Clooney I met years ago would turn out to be so good and talented?? still boggles the mind), they take the time to look at the other works of the people involved, including Tilda.

Tilda of course appeared in Sigma's and David Mackenzie's Young Adam . I had not watched that in some time, and was spurred on to watch it again after reading this very well written piece by Verging Writer. It was so odd then, as a few days later I had heard an interview with Tilda on the very fine NPR's All things Considered, I was cheered by the fact she was recognized for her work on Michael Clayton. I also recently watched an interview via the Edinburgh Film Festival website where she described the benefits of working on both big budget studio films, and the small independent films ("where 4 people work and I hold my own light" lol). I quite enjoyed the fact that she acknowledged those who work in the larger studio films are creative people, for I follow and have ties to one huge film franchise and believe this to be true, but this fact is not often stated by those who have say the cache or reputation for originality such as Tilda.

In the course of the interview, she also described working on independent films creating them out of chaos. These comments seemed to echo what I've been learning by reading GetYourPeople blog, for example this update from one of the producers on the incredible variables involved in film making, or this one from Colin when they lost five rolls of film making Hallam Foe. (I also appreciated how candid Gillian Berrie was in describing this in one of Colin Kennedy's excellent podcasts. (I think it's the third of the podcasts?) Colin and co. dubbed this shoot "The Beautiful Nightmare," and it's been a beautiful thing indeed to be able to sit and hear and watch all these different perspectives echoing the same sentiment-hard, difficult at times, all so worth it at the end. Thus, when Tilda described her experiences making independent films as chaotic, it made me appreciate yet again all the myriads of time energy and love that go into creating these unique and beautiful pieces of work.

One final random note: I totally think Tilda is a true original, androgynous or not, she has fabulous taste in shoes :) Congratulations Tilda on your Oscar nomination!

* all images from EIFF flickr

Sunday, January 20, 2008

David Mackenzie, Wherefore Art Thou?

As it's Sundance week, and the media is currently enthralled with the slew of indy and semi- independent films ready to be hyped and released this year, it's sad that there is no news of a new film from my favorite David Mackenzie. Yes I know the last we heard via Colin's blog is that David has been off circling the globe promoting HF at various film festivals (which we still dont know how it did -hint hint colin!) but an update on Mr. Mackenzie would be great

So while there is nothing definitive at this point, there are the various rumors and reports of projects in the works, which we saw in a few articles around the UK release of Hallam Foe (due on DVD Feb 4). Last word he was either in the wild west of the highlands, singing the Nico blues, trying to find humor in the horror of Somalia, or perhaps making another kinky sex film about couples who swing in Scotland, although all of these seem dubious at the moment. I had to chuckle at the latest random bit of news, this coming from the Independent which claims David is in the lead for directing a film with Emily Mortimer, who appeared in Young Adam, and who has apparently written the screenplay for this movie. While I think Ms Mortimer is a talented person, lets hope this film has less flinging of condiments and more joy. David was able to show his deftness and skill with comedy all within a more serious film in manner that was really quite well done; I believe he can do this more and fervently hope his next movie will continue to showcase his talents in this area better. Please Hollywood and the powers that be, pay attention to the unique and talented voices coming out of Scotland and Sigma!

On a related note, the whirl- a -US- release- date-game of Hallam Foe continues today, as not only is there word of a possible May date, but also Coming soon says June, with Aol saying July! good fffing grief. I continue to be appalled and dismayed by the lack of clear promotion and information on the release of this very fine film here in the States via Magnolia, and fear that the momentum for this movie to achieve widespread box office success (not to mention getting screwed and overlooked by the various award shows) is all but lost. Perhaps not, but I still remain baffled over all of this, and hope that in the coming days once they release the Misterfoe website, things will change course.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Welcome! This blog is written by a fan of Sigma Films, the film company who brought us such great movies like Hallam Foe, Young Adam, producers of the Advance Party trilogy, starting with Red Road, and helped produce such great independent films like Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself,
and After the Wedding, plus short films like "Trout" and "Dog Altogether." 

This blog is NOT the official blog of the company, you can find that here. The Sigma blog speaks officially for the company, this fan blog does not. This blog is not run by the people at Sigma, nor any of the people that work on the movies. This is simply a blog focusing on random tidbits of news information background and all sundry things from Sigma.