Paperhouse at the Picturehouse: Radio On


In my friend Chris’s ongoing project to watch every film every, he recently watched Diner and commented on the movie’s nostalgic sensibility – a warm sense of a past rooted in friendship. Radio On (1980) is nostalgia of a different strain. Chris Petit’s British road movie, shot in brutally high-contrast black and white, is told in the grip of loss. There’s the immediate, motivating loss of the main character’s brother which necessitates his journey. But there’s also, in the camera’s determined absorption of everything along the route from London to Bristol, a powerful will to record it all – as if Petit feels that this is a world drifting away.

Pubs. The Troubles. Rumbelows (dead in the last recession). Manufacturing industry (likewise). Stiff Records – Ian Dury, Wreckless Eric, Graham Parker, Lene Lovich. For someone born in the early 80s, this sort of stuff is the texture of childhood, and it’s striking to see all these things revived in Petit’s detatched long takes. Would it have felt like this to a viewer at the time? Of the characters encountered on the way, those who aren’t bereaved are  devoted to the past, like Sting’s Eddie Cochran obsessive. The car that the hero drives around in is ancient already. Flicking curiously through the last photographic remnants of his brother, he can see what’s gone but not recover it.

Vertigo Magazine published updated shots of scenes from the film, underlining it’s documentary quality. Buy the film, it’s brilliant.

Paperhouse at the Picturehouse: Joy Division

Best bit about having a real job (apart from the awesome colleagues, the constant fondling of beautiful clothes made from beautiful yarn, and getting to say things like “How do we feel about Oxford commas?” and “More Helvetica!”): taking my first ever proper day off. I’m not meant to be studying. I’m not meant to be writing freelance. The kids are at school or with the childminder. I’m just having a day off – which means, wearing my pyjamas til the afternoon, eating chilli noodles for lunch, doing some non-work knitting, and watching movies…

Joy Division, dir. Grant Gee (2007)

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Paperhouse At The Picturehouse: Wall-e

(If you want to see the film unspoiled, I suggest you hold out on reading this until after you’ve been to the cinema.)

Pixar always open their films with a new short. There’s something delicious about the extra layer of anticipation: after the months of expectancy, the hours of wondering how they are going to top the gleam of Cars or the organic textures of Ratatouille, you sit down in your seat ready to to be dazzled by the new world of Wall-e – but first, there’s the funny physics-bending of Presto to get through. Presto is typical of Pixar’s confidence: they can create worlds with any rules they imagine, so they do. And the premise on which Presto builds its cartoon-violence comedy is the brilliantly disarming trick of a physical
universe which doesn’t match the visual one. If you’ve played Silent Hill 2 or Portal, then you’ll know the idea – but even if you recognise what’s going on, your dazzled brain will be delighted.

And then, after they’ve amused and astonished you, Wall-e begins, and is immediately like everything you know and nothing you’ve ever seen. Continue reading