Monday, October 06, 2008

KINO FIST REVIEW: "..and it sucks the sun out of your Sunday"

What a depressing week. Heard all the jokes: What's the difference between Spurs and a triangle? A triangle's got three points...Did you get the train OK today? Heard there was a points failure in the Tottenham area.... Yeah, whatever. A Sunday with a grey slate sky, chill wet wind, half-arsed drizzle and almost nobody on the streets around my way, except a lost taxi driver who I had to help out with directions to Hendon (what the - ?). Well, I needed a bit of cheer - so what better way to unwind than a trip to the PICTURES?

Actually, I associate cinemas with sex and danger. Get this - when I was younger, my mum used to warn me: "Whatever you do...don't go to the toilet in the cinema! You'll be snatched by the white slave trade!" No shit. The bogs down the flickhouse were allegedly bustling with cackling maniacs, desperate to chloroform a kid or two and ship them off to the filthy paedo parlours of Amsterdam and Tangiers.

But, no! You dare mock the woman who spawned me?? Why, she had evidence beyond doubt that these stomach-churning, one-eyed dealers in virgin flesh were lurking in the Odeon pissoirs, with their whips, rohypnol and Milky Bars. Apparently, when she was a teenager, she'd gone to see some rubbish (probably Doctor in the House)down the cinema with a female friend. Five minutes later, said mate popped out for a pee - but never returned.

I mean, what else would you conclude? Surely not that said wench found my dear old ma boring and legged it home to catch Cliff Richard on 'Ready Steady Go' instead? No, the poor girl was abducted by the white slave trade, alright. To be honest, at that age, I didn't realise that child-snatchers did things like stuff their genitals up your bum, so I used to hang out in cinema toilets quite a bit, dreaming of the loving surrogate parents who'd pay handsomely to raise me as their own in the hills of Honolulu. I missed a lot of film action while I was posing around the urinals - but hey, what was there to watch back then? Sylvester Stallone beating up a metrosexual Russian and David Bowie wearing tights and serenading a bunch of puppets down a sewer?

Enough - anyway, I decided to spend my Sunday watching films down the Kino Fist. This event was held in the Wenlock Building on Wharf Road, a strange venue that's like a cross between a halls of residence, a gallery, a conference centre and a plush block of apartments. Each floor even has its own shower facilities, dunno if this is so performance artists can hose off the blood after writhing around in a sack of offal for 30 minutes. Two foxy American girls were dabbing at a white wall with damp cloths. A stroll past some foam objects led to an alcove featuring about 80 drawings of Hitler. Fucking hell, you counterculturals can't get enough of that man. One of the offices served as a pen for a flock of electric fans, blowing gusts of stale air at each other. The 4th floor was apparently off limits, God knows who or what lives up there. But I wouldn't mind it being me. A drumkit was set up in one room, another small chamber projected a video feed of a canal, with the odd dogwalker shambling past to break up the monotony. Oh, and one room with 'KINO FIST STARTS AT 2.30PM' scribbled on a scrap of paper on the door.

Being a communist event, nobody had bothered to supply seating (save three benches that screamed out DON'T SIT ON US, WE HURT), so it was either slob out on the floor, school assembly style, or stand at the back - we went for the latter. The first film was "LA SOUFRIERE" by Werner Herzog, it was about a volcano that was meant to erupt and kill everyone, but didn't. I was well impressed to start with, because I thought it was actually a work of fiction, and couldn't figure out how Herzog had managed to evacuate the whole town - the first 10 minutes has some incredibly desolate shots. When I realised it was a documentary, this mystery became clear. It was interesting, but I was really here for the main event, the screening of Barry Hines'/Mick Jackson's '84 epic "THREADS", in which Sheffield, the home of Coldwave Industrial, gets nuked.

Now, I was a bit of a sceptical old cunt about my second encounter with this film, I'll admit. I first saw it when I was 18, 10 years after it was made. I remembered it being grim, but when one of the Kino Fist organisers, Dr.Pygge, described it as being "THE SINGLE MOST DEPRESSING FILM YOU'LL EVER SEE! DON'T COME DOWN HERE IF YOU'RE FEELING DOWN! YOU'LL PROBABLY END UP THROWING A SEVEN!", I thought, Yeah, right. Just slightly overhype it, why don't you. I know Conflict tea-leaved loads of audio samples from it for their completely bloody angry '86 LP The Ungovernable Force, but I had the feeling this viewing was going to destroy the myth of the memory I'd stored away from the first sitting. Surely the acting was going to be laughable, the plot sloppy and sentimental, the effects dated? I mean, Reece Dinsdale's in it, for Christ's sake...

5.30pm, and fuck me, "Threads" has lost none of its savage potency. I feel like I've been cracked over the head with a baseball bat. I don't know what to say really, except the trudge back down Wharf Road afterwards wasn't helped by the monochrome surroundings, empty police van and piles of earth heaped up across the road. Thank fuck for The Eagle pub, it was going to take a few jars to shift the mood of utter despondency that seemed to be engulfing City Road like a dirty radioactive cloud. Well, til some prat grabbed a microphone and announced it was quiz time, at least...

Yes, "Threads" is up there with Elem Klimov's "Come and See" and Nick Broomfield's documentary "Tattooed Tears" as one of the films absolutely guaranteed to suck the sun out of your day. Weirdly enough, one of the bleakest scenes in "Threads" for me (well, apart from the radiation sickness, post-apocalypse totalitarian street hangings, rape, stillborn babies and charred cadavers) is towards the end, where a group of dead-eyed teenagers huddle around a flickering TV set, soaking up a pre-apocalypse educational programme aimed at kids half their age, on a semi-knackered video cassette (check out the parallel chilling scene in "Tattooed Tears", where the "trainees" incarcerated by the California Youth Authority sit slumped before speak'n'spell machines and computerised 'aptitude tests', quizzing which section of a hammer should be used to drive home a nail...) Anyway, "Threads" and its US counterpart, "The Day After", appear to be on Youtube, so feel free to have a gander, if you fancy a completely blue night in.

Spurs lost to Hull and all.
Once chap seemed to find it incredibly funny. I think we ran into him in the street later...
At least Sheffield gets blown up - it can't be that depressing a film. Given twenty years of neoliberalism it had a grimmer fate, philosophically, approaching it. Perhaps I exaggereate a bit there. Scenery's nice at the start though. And all that 80's stuff!! Every time at get the faintest threads of nostalgia for blighty, I'll watch this!
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