By a Fine Quartet

Arthouse Films: Special Offer

Arthouse Films is the must-have collectable series of prestigious documentaries focusing on the life and work of some of the most influential and interesting figures from the international art scene. To celebrate the release of three new titles – Obscene, a Portrait of Barney Rosset & Grove Press; The Universe of Keith Harring and  Peter Beard: Scrapbooks from Africa and Beyond, Revolver Entertainment are giving readers of Vertigo an exclusive offer.

Buy any of the three previously released Arthouse titles – Black White + Gray; The Cool School  and A Walk into the Sea  for only £9.99 + p&p. This half price DVD offer is only available toreaders of Vertigo for a limited time. Visit the Arthouse Films website and, before purchasing any of these fantastic DVDs, insert the code VERT1 when prompted. www.arthousefilmsonline.co.uk

This Autumn: The Search For Jackie Paris

By Garth Cartwright

Director Raymond DeFelitta became obsessed with the jazz singing of Jackie Paris, an Italian-American who sang with Charlie Parker and was expected to enjoy Sinatra-like success in post-WW2 USA. However, through bad luck and other factors Paris faded rather than soared and, when DeFelitta finds him, he’s an unwell, forgotten pensioner. Through interviews with Paris, his fellow musicians and family, DeFelitta builds a remarkable study of a man who could’ve been a contender but ended up running a lift in a department store. Paris is a droll interviewee and his reflections on a world where jazz ruled and fame’s gold ring kept slipping out of sight make for great showbiz stories. Overlong – DeFelitta lacks a journalist’s narrative to drive things forward – but fascinating as a study of one artist’s struggle to create and survive. www.vervepics.com

In Prison My Whole Life: Special Offer  

Marc evan’s important new documentary about the remarkable life and work of death row writer and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, wrongly imprisoned for 25 years, is now available on dvd.

The film was only made possible by the support of many like-minded individuals and organisations. It is a truly independent film and, without this support, it would never have seen the light of day. Now we are once again calling on a global network to help spread the word and, in return, we are providing a fundraising opportunity for charities, organisations and individuals. Anyone can become a distributor and will receive 20% of the profits of eeach DVD that they have helped to sell. Do get in touch if interested (dvd@inprisonmywholelife.com) and visit www.inprisonmywholelife.com

Cinema 16: World Short Films

By James Norton

Those helpful people at Cinema 16 have performed another public service with the release of their latest short film compendium, this double disc of international shorts, combining films you will perhaps have heard of but never got to see, such as Andrea Arnold’s unnerving Wasp, Guy Maddin and Isabella Rossellini’s surreal memoir My Dad Is 100 Years Old; debut or student works by celebrated directors like Guillermo Del Toro (Doña Lupe) and striking recent work including Simon Ellis’ Soft, innovatively mixing video and mobile phone footage as hoodies terrorise a suburban father and son. Short films act as calling cards to film studios or intense gems in their own right, notably Campion’s A Girl’s Own Story. Sembene’s Borom Sarret, a pioneering work of African cinema is here, as is delightful animation by Sylvain Chomet and an impressionistic study of Hitler by Sokurov. Brief these films may be but they have commendable depth and darkness too. www.cinema16.org

Patti Smith: Dream Of Life

By Nick Bradshaw

Patti Smith sits in her bedroom, a kind of memory theatre strewn with analogue bric-a-brac (a film camera, a typewriter, a guitar, a cat). The camera is on her; so it has been for a decade, dogged by director Steven Sebring since she resumed her life as a public punk poet after the death of her husband Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith. “I’m not leaving this corner until the film’s done,” she tells Steven Sebring, who would clearly let the filming run for ever, no matter how much 16mm he’d run through. Around her float the spirits of the dead: Ginsberg, Whitman, Blake, Picasso, Pollock. There are paeans to the late Robert Mapplethorpe, Gregory Corso, Benjamin Smoke, and the ‘mystical lethargy’ of Billie Holiday. As for the living: Dylan is all around; Sam Shepard turns up for a jam. Smith describes the art of inconspicuous peeing in the passenger seat of a small airplane, then reads Rimbaud on a urinal; the film is all layers of home-movie directness and fragments of the bygone. “We all have a voice, and a responsibility to exercise it,” to connect with our ancestors and future generations, says Smith, and she sure keeps it rolling. www.vervepics.com


By Celluloid Liberation Front

Set in the pre-gentrified soundscape of Brixton, tuned in to the bass frequencies of the Black community resisting in apnoea under the repressive yet unstable surface of British history at a critical juncture of its (under)development: Babylon is a shamefully forgotten masterpiece of British cinema. The magic of this film is constituted by the brilliantly orchestrated transposition onto celluloid of the socially conscious culture that the sound systems, back in the Caribbean, and later in England, have always been tuned to; here the MC is replaced by the filmmaker, the microphone by a camera and the physicality of the bass is rendered through the livid intensity of the images. The dvd comes with the documentary extra Dread, Beat an’ Blood, also directed by Franco Rosso, and portrays the art and times of insurgent dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, friend and initiator of the director to the sound systems scene. www.rarovideo.com


By Celluloid Liberation Front

Opening with the most reassuringly (mis)leading shadow boxing against film light one could ever expect (or wait for…) Beket is a magical reinterpretation, disguised as a meditative road movie, of the Waiting for Godot. The Locarno independent critics awarded Davide Manuli’s film at the 2008 edition, perhaps for its minimalist communicative urge that, amongst the black and white, finds a vibratile chromatic range of greys, which becomes a filmic signifier in its own right, pushing the original quiescence of the play towards a quixotic quest. A film that courageously speaks with the language of invention and not of phoney independence, Beket takes the spectator on a visionary trip via the existential space-ways of techno music to encounters with haunted route masters too busy to stop. “This is how Beckett’s dark plays are plays of light, where the desperate object created is witness to the ferocity of the wish to bear witness to the truth…” No other words could better describe this precious gem than Peter Brook’s. www.beket-film.com

Deus E O Diablo Na Terra Do Sol

By Celluloid Liberation Front

A heretical panegyric lacking any ideological bias whatsoever, Glauber Rocha’s film stands out for its dialectical elaboration and desperate feeling of intellectual questioning. It’s a transitional work for the subversive agitator of Cinema Novo, one where he is gradually abandoning the realism of his beginnings to embrace the visionary expressionism of later films such as Terra em Transe; and one where the aesthetics of hunger will shift into the violent lyricism of liberation via the anthropophagic assimilation of innovative cinematic forms. Deus e o Diablo… lucidly exposes the tragic link between hunger and fear, whereby the exploited subject is able to express its dissent only through an iconic identification with a spiritual or political image. It offers a libertarian vision of anti-colonialist struggle, where the woman is the first to understand the just necessity of rebellion, killing the God and loving the Devil to death, thus enfranchising the struggle free from their dogmatic dictates. Through a revolutionary exegesis of Brazilian folk traditions, Rocha imagines the poetics of armed insurrection conceived in its absolute statelessness. www.mrbongo.com