Bahstad Bahstad!

Harmony Korine mentions Alan clarke a lot in interviews and it was this persistence that led me to renting old clam-shell VHS copies of Scum and Made in Britain from Cinefile. Scum, with its unrelenting calm eye, is superb at capturing the details of the british juvenile prison system of the late seventies. Everything is shown with a level hand, phyically and 'emotionally'. Ray Winstone gives his first performance in this, and perfects a certain poker face intensity and brooding that he nowadays brings to just about every bad guy part he plays. His character, Carlin, serves sort of as the focus of the whole, though he is not a remarkable character in the normal movie sense of being kind, or a believer of justice, etc. Him being the lead feels almost random. He, like just about everyone else in this, pounces on whatever they can claim as theirs, or rather, whoever. In fact, there isn't a character in this who serves as the filmmakers moral voice at all. its unneccassary-the world the characters are in is so vicious that you dont need to be told how abusive the the whole system was (is?). It's commitment to the characters and the created world is amazing, but what makes it truly exceptional are the moments of heartbreaking tenderness as when one prisoner, unable to read, asks one of the matrons to read a received letter for him. When she does impatiently, she assumes the mention of a death in the letter is that of a pet, when it actually the illiterate's wife. Moments like that, of the utter heartlessness of the institution hit harder than any violence or exploitive elements of the movie. It quietly builds and builds tension from scene to scene as you watch authority abusing kids, kids abusing weaker kids, weaker kids abusing themselves to the point that when actual mass violence occurs you feel like a huge weight has lifted, that nothing else could make more sense than throwing a plastic chair as hard as you can.

Made In Britain is totally amazing because it's main character is not only bad, but a total raging asshole (hence the ultimate teenager. Making this the ultimate teenager movie). You basically watch a bad kid as the state tries to contain and reform him. The great thing is, is that he not once ever wants to be reformed or sees normal life as an option. Ever. And the movie commits to that, these two opposites of the youth and the establishment never seeing eye to eye. Clarke doesn't give you anything resembling resolution. Fuck resolution. He gives you complete access into this kids world. This is Tim Roth's first movie and its his best movie and the best he's ever been. That may not sound like much, I know, but gee wiz you cant beat this for pure cinematic intensity. After watching these I got so bummed out that Alan Clarke's movies were basically unavailable in america other than on bad VHS copies in only good video stores. And then, out of nowhere, Blue Underground comes out with the Alan Clarke collection-good transfers! audio commentaries! documentaries! the whole thing! We live in horrible times! We live in great times!

posted by sammy at 11:26 PM

Blogger sammy said...

you wont be disapointed. they are incredibly beautiful. I actually haven't seen elephant yet.

2:44 AM  

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