Author Archives: Park Circus

Goodbye Park Circus blog and a big thank you

Au revoir, adieu and goodbye

20th June 2012 will mark  a significant date in Park Circus’ historical calendar as the company introduced a new website for clients and classic cinema lovers alike.

Although the new website does not present any radical changes, we feel there have been some key tweaks that have refined the way cinemas can book films from us while allowing classic cinephiles to enjoy a base of rich content which delves into the 15,000-strong back catalogue of films we represent.

We would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank all of our loyal blog followers and we hope that you have enjoyed all we have posted on this site. From interviews with Brandon Schaefer, the man behind some of our best movie posters, to fun top 5 fact postings on films such as Taxi Driver and Pulp Fiction and much much more, it has been a great tool for us to showcase our unrelenting passion for classic films and our eternal aim of allowing these films to be easily put back in cinemas where they belong.

Our blog site will no longer be updated but fear not as our new website has an even better way for film fans to learn about what we do at Park Circus, what films we are focusing on throughout the year and what classics are screening at key festivals and cinema retrospectives alike. Everything you need can now be discovered here.

We welcome your feedback on our new site and you can do so through our social media outlets, on Facebook or Twitter. The new site allows easy access to our YouTube channel with the latest clips and trailers from our upcoming and past releases as well as our Flickr account which presents to you all of our posters – from The Last Picture Show to the soon-to-be released 50th anniversary artwork for Lawrence of Arabia.

Thank you once again to all of our followers and here’s to an exciting rest of 2012 – there’s lots to look forward to….

Brief Encounter will be released in Film Forum NY:

The Apartment is out in UK cinemas now and is to be released in France in July:

We are releasing Cassavetes’ Husbands in September:

and last but not least

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One Great Scene From The Shining

“Wendy darling, light of my life, I’m not gonna hurt you…I’m just gonna bash your brains in..”

Jack Nicholson in The Shining

Where do you start with Stanley Kubrick’s remarkable 1980 psycho-horror The Shining? A film so awash with primitive, elemental spirit that its sweaty paw print is still marking the linen of the horror genre thirty odd years on. The wonder of The Shining’s ageless malice is due to a combination of weird talents who could have only found each other on a cinema set.

There’s Kubrick with his obsessions and stern sense of mise en scene. There’s Jack Nicholson’s demented, willfully hammy turn as a walking conduit for spirits of evil. There’s Garrett Brown’s miraculous work with his own invention the Steadicam, there’s transsexual composer Wendy (formerly Walter) Carlos and Rachel Elkind’s mental electronica additions to the score, cinematographer John Alcott’s old master approach to the interiors…. the list goes on.

Kubrick, ever the wannabe distributor of his own films had even worked out a killer release strategy which allowed the film to only open in a few cinemas and take a month to build by word of mouth before conquering the rest of the world.

All these things and more make The Shining a quite exceptional variation on the old haunted house B-Movie. From the schoolyard to the water cooler the post film debate about The Shining was always a fever of half remembered scenes and declarative lines (“Here’s Johnny!”), but the scene that really encapsulates Kubrick’s vertiginous, callous portrait of a family in isolation and free fall is the one where Jack finally snaps and lets loose on his baseball bat bearing wife (Shelley Duvall), as she creeps away from him backwards up the hotel’s main stairs. So odd and mannered is Nicholson’s performance, so in control and yet demonic, caught mostly from his terrified wife’s point of view as he backs her up the stairs. The hotel lobby behind him composed and oddly styled. In this scene Kubrick accesses the genuine horror of the wife beater, the drunk and the rapist. It’s a scene that culminates with a man being beaten and falling backwards and yet you are in no doubt that he will rise again. This is the queasiest and choicest of all moments in modern horror, one that lingers in the cold light of day, much like a nightmare.

The Shining will be playing at the New Zealand International Film Festival in July and at Nordisk cinemas across Denmark in November.

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Jonathan Demme – The Hardest Working Man In Showbusiness?

Something Wild (1986) title treatment

Filmmaker, producer, screenwriter and arguably America’s most grounded multi-disciplinary filmmaker Jonathan Demme has been quiet of late. The last non-documentary feature he made was the critically divisive Rachel Getting Married in 2008 starring Anne Hathaway. Rachel was generally well received but one critic did compare it to “a two-hour colonoscopy”. For the last few years he’s been absorbed in producing a trilogy of Neil Young concert films, doing some television (including two episodes of the Laura Dern/Mike White drama Enlightened) and developing a film version of Stephen King’s doorstop of a novel 11/22/63. The King adaptation still seems to be simmering away as do future projects with his old actor/playwright friend Wallace Shawn (My Dinner With Andre) and author Dave Eggars (an adaptation of Eggars’ book  Zeitoun).

Denzel Washington in Philadelphia

It’s at times like these that it’s good to re-familiarise oneself with Demme’s prolific and seemingly seamless oeuvre. Demme is a filmmaker all too ready to own up to plagiarism. His gift for emulation is always born of love. Hitchcock’s hot breath is all over 1979 thriller Last Embrace starring the mighty Roy Scheider in one of his finest performances. His much-loved new wave rom-com thriller Something Wild owes as much to the films of Preston Sturges as it does to the ‘lovers on the lam’ B movies it brings more directly to mind.

Philadelphia and Silence of the Lambs showed his ability to move between disparate genres with the intelligence and individuality of Nicholas Ray or Elia Kazan. While documentaries Swimming to Cambodia (featuring the late great Spalding Gray) and Storefront Hitchcock were unique and fairly theatrical experiments in form. If anyone is overdue a retrospective of his work, it is Demme.

Do something really wild and book one or many of his films today. JD we salute you!

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Why Werner Herzog’s Invincible Deserves A Comeback

Buried deep in Werner Herzog’s rich and varied curriculum vitae, winking at the millennium celebrations behind it and trailing his remarkable lone air crash survivor documentary Wings of Hope, his unhinged turn in Harmony Korine’s Julian Donkey Boy and periods directing opera in Genoa and Houston lies the neglected and significant biographical drama Invincible.

Ostensibly about Polish Jewish blacksmith turned variety act strongman Siegmund Breitbart (Jouko Ahola) whose swift rise and fall predated the dangerous march of Hitler and the National Socialists by only a matter of weeks, Invincible is a film about the mania of hatred, dissatisfaction and blame that heralds any genocide. Invincible was released in cinemas in 2001 and garnered good reviews but slipped from screens all too quickly and remains little seen, and yet what Invincible can tell us about the direction of both Germany in the early 1930s and Herzog’s career in general is fascinating.

DVD Cover of Invincible

As with Fitzcarraldo before it, Herzog was determined to bring the opera to bear on this tale of mysticism and eccentricity. By its very nature Breitbart’s sorry tale lends itself to Wagnerian analogy and yet at its heart there is something more intricate and intriguing about this disarming film. With it’s pared down sensibility, raw acting and skewed morality the film Invincible can most easily be compared to is Louis Malle’s queasy tale of collaboration and oppression in wartime France – Lacombe Lucien. Yet Malle’s film, as good as it is, is about the seduction of power, Invincible is about the survival of power’s universal essence.

Real life celebrity Erik Jan Hanussen – the Austrian-Jewish clairvoyant, publicist, hypnotist, mentalist, occultist and owner of the occult cabaret where Breitbart finds employment and fame, represents that essence. As played by Tim Roth, Hanussen is equal parts Caligari and Rasputin. Having been immortalized on screen already by Klaus Maria Brandauer in István Szabó’s underrated biopic Hanussen in 1988, Roth keeps the villainy light and the delusion heavy. Hanussen’s role as Hitler’s spiritual advisor and later possible victim is well documented but it is the existence of this eccentric that gives Breitbart’s trajectory its heart and moral equivalence.

The story of Hanussen and Breitbart has long since fascinated those obsessed with the occultist ley lines that cut through time and culture. Indeed in 2001 Mike Mignola’s brilliant Hellboy graphic novel series was finally getting the recognition it deserved thanks to a sustained assault of soft back reprints, and Breitbart and Hanussen’s influence haunt Hellboy like a stinking green undead mist. Squint and it is easy to see Breitbart resurrected as a demonic investigator for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence, Hanussen’s influence is there in both the Nazi occultists Hellboy frequently fights and even in the passing kindness of Hellboy’s surrogate father Professor Bruttenholm.

Aesthetically Invincible’s most noticeable influence however is the pre-World War II Yiddish cinema, the best known of which – Michael Waszynski’s The Dybbuk and Joseph Green’s Yiddle with a Fiddle tread that fine line between melodrama and empathy with a rootsy base charm that asks little of the audience but patience and understanding. Visually simple and sonically charged by composer Hans Zimmer, Invincible is an all too modern paean to these wonderful films. The rise of the Nazis and the subsequent Holocaust put an end to this cinematic tradition much as it did to the careers of Breitbart and Hanussen and all those involved in occult cabaret but Invincible survives.

Like Aguirre, The Wrath of God, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Fitzcarraldo and even Rescue Dawn, Invincible is about that place where madness, talent and the human spirit leads us all when everything is going to hell around us.

Invincible is available to buy now on DVD.

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Hotel Splendide: The Island Resort Of No Return

Daniel Craig in Hotel Splendide

How odd is Terence Gross’ solo directorial effort Hotel Splendide? It’s about as eccentric as modern British cinema gets. Imagine Michael Powell’s marvelous St Kilda drama The Edge of The World had been bred with Peter Greenaway’s Drowning By Numbers and then hand- reared by Bill Forsyth on a diet of Laurel and Hardy and the Three Stooges. The resulting offspring would possibly resemble this scatological tale of family, isolation, romance, decay and digestion.

As Daniel Craig gears up for his third outing as James Bond in Skyfall, it’s good to remind oneself of where he came from. Hotel Splendide boasts one of his earliest screen performances of note as the frustrated, eternally angry, lovelorn chef of remote resort The Hotel Splendide. The film also features one of the last major performances from the great British actress Katrin Cartlidge, who died two years later, as his phobia-beset sister.

Turning on a theme of the returning avenger, albeit a beautiful elfin one in the shape of Toni Collette as Kath, Hotel Splendide is about the undoing of tradition, the cutting of the ties that bind and the chaos of old sewerage systems. Engagingly played by a young cast that includes Stephen Tompkinson, Toby Jones and Hugh O’Conor alongside Craig and Cartlidge, Hotel Splendide really is an ensemble one-off.  Deliberately paced and prone to outbursts of slapstick, action and other general weirdness, it’s hard to think of another British film from the last decade more surprising or deserving of investigation.  One of its many charms is Hungarian cinematographer and director Gyula Pados’ richly satisfying use and lighting of the hotel set, a style he would go on to hone in Fateless and The Duchess.

This dark, surreal and comic independent film was made by Film Four under a Tory government soon to be usurped by a New Labour one. The film itself feels like a redress of old school, regressive values in pursuit of something more freeing. Wherever the journey away from that desolate resort took the main characters, it may be worth a visit one last time.

You can buy Hotel Splendide here.

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Charlotte Rampling on The Look at BFI

The Look

Peter Lindbergh and Charlotte Rampling – Role Reversal

On 27 April this year Charlotte Rampling attended the BFI in London to give a Q&A with journalist Mark Lawson. Angelina Maccarone’s film The Look was the screening, a film on Charlotte Rampling that has the alternative title, A Self Portrait Through Others.

The Look screened as part of Cannes Classics, at the French Film Festival UK and was recently released on DVD by Park Circus. An intriguing and insightful work, The Look is divided into a series of chapters chosen by Rampling and discussed with friends and colleagues across locations such as New York and Paris.

The Look has already been discussed on our blog but here we provide the Q&A session with Charlotte Rampling at the BFI. Let us know your thoughts in our comment section below and enjoy!

The Look is available on DVD now (Park Circus).

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Lawrence Conquers Cannes Again In World Premiere Of 4K Restoration

Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia

Omar Sharif and Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia

On Saturday 19 May, Lawrence of Arabia rode desert sands again for the world premiere of the stunning 4K digital restoration of David Lean’s incredible epic.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of Lean’s multi-award winning film which introduced the world to the unique talent of Peter O’Toole and also starred Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn, Alec Guinness, Claude Rains and Jack Hawkins, the version that went before the ever-diligent audiences of Cannes has been lovingly restored to 4K digital by Sony Pictures Entertainment at Sony Pictures Colorworks from the 1988 reconstructed Director’s Cut.

Grover Crisp (pictured, right) from Sony, who oversaw the new digital restoration proudly introduced the screening . In conversation with festival director Thierry Frémaux (pictured, left) he thanked the many talented people involved in keeping Lawrence of Arabia alive for future generations.

The film looked amazing, Freddie Young’s breath-taking cinematography, Maurice Jarre’s all-powerful score and Lean’s exquisite vision dominated the Salle du 60ème and Cannes on the first Saturday of the festival. When the film ended the restoration credits received a round of applause. Lawrence of Arabia has begun its desert trek back into cinemas around the world.

Red Carpet Entrance for Lawrence Of Arabia

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The Look – A Self-Portrait Through Others

Charlotte Rampling in The Look

Charlotte Rampling in The Look

One of the greatest film critics of all time, André Bazin, posed the question in the title of one of his books, ‘Qu’est-ce que le cinéma ?’ – ‘What is cinema?’ I believe that this question can be furthered in relation to an evergreen star of cinema; ‘What is cinema without actors like Charlotte Rampling?’

The actress in question may not be the greatest or most recognised over her period yet cinema would be a far less interesting place without her presence and uniqueness.

With that in mind, it brings great excitement to see the upcoming DVD release of Angelina Maccarone’s biopic, The Look. This is an extraordinary work which was warmly received at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and will be out on DVD release in the UK on Monday 30 April.

It centres on the aforementioned Charlotte Rampling, an actress the French label as La Légende. Now 65, this Essex-born actress remains an intriguing and fascinating on-screen presence, the most recent example being in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. It is Rampling’s evocative facial expression that has influenced the documentary’s title; The Look – a term originally coined in reference to Rampling by two-time co-star, Dirk Bogarde.

Bogarde was once quoted as saying, “I have seen the Look under many different circumstances…the glowing emerald eyes turn to steel within a second, [and] fade gently to the softest, tenderist, most doe-eyed bracken-brown”. The duality of Rampling’s gaze, seen over several decades now, has been one of the great cinematic looks to appear on-screen.

The Look is not the most conventional of biographical documentaries, in part mainly due to Rampling’s influence and final say over all aspects of the project. The structure of the work is separated by eight themes chosen by the director and subject (Rampling): Exposure, Age, Resonance, Taboo, Desire, Demons, Death and Love.

Each section sees Rampling discuss an individual theme with people such as photographer Peter Lindbergh and author Paul Auster. Rampling travels the globe in search of friends and colleagues, going from London to New York to Paris, stopping off in cafés, hotel rooms and a houseboat.

She has clearly led an interesting life, much of which stems from her father’s decision (an army colonel who worked abroad) to place his two daughters in a French school when Rampling was only nine years old. The obvious language barrier made this experience a lonely one where it took her nine months before she could communicate with her fellow pupils.

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A Night To Remember – The Titanic Centenary

Park Circus is re-releasing the esteemed ITV Studios classic, A Night To Remember this week, on 13 April, and you can expect to see Roy Ward Baker’s masterpiece at several key locations that make up part of the rich history of the Titanic, which sank 100 years ago in 1912.

We aim to be at the forefront of digitally restoring classic films and A Night To Remember is just one example of the many films we now have available on DCP. Having already received a warm reception at the Glasgow Film Festival earlier this year, A Night To Remember will also be showing at the TCM Classic Film Festival which kick starts later this month (not the only Park Circus title on show either).

One example of the film's restoration process

Following successful screenings at QFT Belfast earlier this month (where the ship was built), Park Circus has licensed screenings along the Titanic route:

- FACT Liverpool: 15 April (where the ship was registered)

- Harbour Lights Picturehouse, Southampton: 12 to 15 April (where the Titanic set off)

- Rome Capitol Theatre, New York: 21 April (where the survivors were later taken)

We spoke to the team at the Harbour Lights Picturehouse in Southampton to see why the history of the Titanic and Baker’s film adaptation is so important to their city’s history:

Get ready for another Titanic première

“Harbour Lights is proud to be showing the digitally re-mastered version of A NIGHT TO REMEMBER on the centenary of the tragic loss of the White Star vessel. Harbour Lights is the only cinema with a direct view to the actual berth from which the Titanic sailed and is close to the original White Star offices. The sinking of the Titanic still has a tremendous resonance with the people of Southampton due to the number of families that were directly affected by it. Of the 800 plus crew, over 600 came from the City and 549 of them never came back…We show this film in tribute to its brave crew and their families, to give Southampton a night in which to remember.”

In addition to the above locations, A Night To Remember will be screening elsewhere around the world:

- BFI Southbank, London: 13 to 26 April

- National Australian Maritime Museum, Sydney: 15 April

- The Monarch Theatre, Alberta, Canada: 14 April

- Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm: 16 to 25 April

We also have some fantastic archival materials of events tied to the film, courtesy of ITV Studios, on our Facebook page, including costume designs and a sophisticated menu for those who found the time to dine:

http://www.facebook.com/parkcircusfilms

In the mean time, check out this clip from the film. Intense, gripping, dramatic and a beautiful restoration. This is the Titanic film to see this year:

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How Boudu Can Save Us All From Drowning

Poster Artwork for Boudu Saved From Drowning

Whatever you’ve heard about the French cinema’s New Wave, the truth is that the real Golden Age of French cinema was a period between 1929 and 1939. It was bookended by the advent of sound at the cinema and the outbreak of World War II. The men (for they were always men) who heralded this age were Jean Vigo, Marcel Carné and Jean Renoir whose magnificent 1937 war satire La Grande Illusion is out this year for its 75th anniversary (one month before ITV/Park Circus’ timely rerelease of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, its closest British equivalent). But for every pompous general there should always be an anarchic tramp and for Renoir, this benighted incarnation came years before in his remarkable 1932 class war comedy Boudu Saved From Drowning.

Set in and around Paris, Boudu Saved From Drowning tells the story of a Parisian tramp Boudu (played by the physically gifted Michel Simon), who is pulled out of the Seine by a bourgeois bookseller Edouard Lestingois (Charles Granval) after a suicidal plunge. Boudu is brought into Lestingois’ home, a rambling maze-like Left Bank apartment, which overlooks the river. Lestingois, his wife and maid/mistress (Séverine) adopt Boudu as their underprivileged pet in an attempt to reform him from his scruffiness and social ineptitude. However, his gratitude for this sees him shake the household to its foundations, challenging their meaningless principles from conventional society and then seducing both women with his anarchic charm.

Boudu is a defiant farce, one driven by the ferocity of Simon’s characterisation and Renoir’s mise-en-scène. Simon was given free reign for his character’s portrayal and the result is pure chaos. Boudu is someone who does not belong in the city, especially not within the confines of a book-filled apartment (one scene portrays Boudu spitting into a book by legendary French novelist Balzac, epitomising the difference between his values and those of the bourgeois Lestingois – this was also a previously lost scene restored in Park Circus’ DVD and Blu-ray issue). Renoir’s skills lie best in his eye for detail and depth of field when using the camera. There are scenes within scenes here and a layering that engrosses you as a spectator and in this case, brilliantly demonstrates Boudu’s claustrophobia as someone who should be out in the open.

There is a great contrast in the way Renoir films his central character in Lestingois’ narrow apartment or in the bustling streets of Paris to when Boudu traipses around parks and the countryside seemingly freer and more content. Similarly to the recently praised Le Quattro Volte (2010), this is a spiritual film about a man more at ease surrounded by water, pastures and animals, not humans and an ironically disruptive city atmosphere.

There can be little doubt that Renoir was influenced by his impressionist painter father Pierre-Auguste in creating films where actors and objects were placed with precision. In a film with such a vivacious actor as Michel Simon, the blend of this measured approach to one that is unpredictable marries fantastically well.

Much copied but never bettered Boudu Saved From Drowning remains an early gem from Renoir’s esteemed oeuvre and offers light relief to his other more dramatic works from the period (Renoir did though always maintain a tone of optimism in his films). On its 80th anniversary, this is one title worth storing in your collection or one to watch out for in cinemas near you this year.

Boudu Saved From Drowning is now available to download from iTunes and is available on both DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.

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