Films take precedence over footwear. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. Yesterday I had to pleasure of seeing a new transfer of Michael Powell’s ‘Peeping Tom’ with Miss Grace Ladoja, whose come very fucking far since we discussed David Cronenberg a long time ago—the ladies in London seem to make big moves while the males talk shit with their hands in their pockets. It’s curious to think that critics were disgusted by what they saw on-screen to the point where they made a concerted effort to destroy Powell’s career, but it’s all in the context. Fifty years ago, nobody was making films about psychologically abused loners making their own snuff films.
Now, despite the beauty of Otto Heller’s cinematography, the majority of the performances come off stilted and ludicrous, the unpleasant subject matter hardly operates within any level of gritty realism and the comedy moments come off like a fart joke at a funeral. None of that matters, because compared to the camp cinematic horrors of the time, it’s the ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ of its time. ‘Psycho’ is a far better film that aged well, but the point-of-view shots, weirdo home video films-within-a-film and abrupt ending must have been a true shock to the system.
Carl Boehm’s performance as Mark is still classic—a strangely sympathetic, periodically German-accented (never actually explained in the film) performance that outshines the dialogue he’s given. To be in an audience that seemed liberally scattered with relatives of those who appeared in the film and to see Powell superfan Martin Scorcese talk onstage after the film with editor (and Powell’s widow) Thelma Schoonmaker was memorable. I prefer the film’s history to the film itself and this upped my appreciation.
Another element of the lead’s appeal despite his murderous ways is in his attire. He zips around London on a scooter rocking a vast duffel coat rather than the clinically suited or grubby attire of a villain. He just seems rather ordinary – which is the point, but it makes him significantly more unnerving. That was a presumed addition to the level of vitriol ‘Peeping Tom’ instigated. Swathed in boiled wool he seems like quite an innocent. For all the introverted weirdness, Boehm looks pretty cool too. the camel-coloured jacket had me wanted to put on the Gloverall Monty coat in the same colour. It’s a good jacket to be keeping vast old-fashioned cameras in if you’re feeling psychotic and voyeuristic.
Trevor Howard wore a duffel well in ‘The Third Man’ and Jack Nicholson looked right in ‘Carnal Knowledge’s college days, but mad Mark gets it right when he’s not scuttling off to darkroom to watch a prostitute get brutally offed.
With a spate of DIY re-imaginings of established movie posters, there seems to be a rise of excellent official alternatives to the more widely distributed artworks. The European poster for Aronowsky’s ‘Black Swan’ is one of my favourites since the awesome ‘Dogtooth’ effort last winter. Given the beautiful art deco themed work for promo materials that surrounded Joe Johnston’s fine ‘Rocketeer’ in 1991, I’m seeing a similar wartime look to shots from his forthcoming ‘Captain America’—hopefully there’ll be more excellent poster art as that production progresses.
Kudos to the UK’s Arrow Video for killing it on the Blu-ray and DVD front when it comes to cult films for us weirdos. They’ve done fine work with Romero’s zombie flicks, Argento’s giallo masterpieces, some Bava and much more. Their relationship with fans and use of feedback is to be applauded and the ‘Battle Royale’ boxset—released at the end of this month—looks set to trump any Tartan editions and it looks like fanboys have been allowed to run amok in the extras department. Don’t get me started on the impending ‘Demons’ and ‘Demons 2’ releases…