We’re thrilled to be teaming up with Glasgow Short Film Festival for the first time with Two Weirds Is Too Weird: The Jackal Films of Alice Lowe and Jacqueline Wright. As huge fans of Alice, British comedy and GSFF, this is a very exciting development.
Before Alice Lowe wrote, directed and starred in Prevenge, the triple-threat-to-be teamed with director Jacqueline Wright on a series of strange and hilarious shorts. As Lowe has explained, “Being a woman is weird, and you’re allowed one weird. Being surreal is two weirds, and you’re not allowed two weirds… Two weirds is too weird.” With feline erotica, courtly necrophilia and aspiring mermaids, under their Jackal Films banner the two struck a path for themselves through a restrictive culture.
If we only knew Alice from her cameo as David Bowie in Snuff Box (“man was built but from clay”), we’d be over the moon to be programming this feature-length retrospective of rarely-screened shorts (mostly from 2005-2010). But then there’s her roles in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Black Mountain Poets, Adult Life Skills, Sightseers, the latter of which she also co-wrote, innumerable cameo appearances (including, most recently, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch) and two series of her BBC Radio 4 sketch show, Alice’s Wunderland. And, of course, that incredible directorial debut, Prevenge.
The shorts made in collaboration with Jacqueline Wright are typically Loweian. There’s parody music videos, melodramatic pastiche and character-based vignettes, where Lowe and her cavalcade of co-stars (plenty of familiar faces) really get to shine. In tone, performance and quality these shorts do prefigure Prevenge and of course they’re part of a rich lineage of short form and sketch comedy. But they also stand alone as exemplars of women-driven creativity, ingenuity and productivity – and glorious, multi-faceted weirdness.
Two Weirds Is Too Weird: The Jackal Films of Alice Lowe and Jacqueline Wright takes place at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, Friday 15th March at 9pm. Tickets are on sale here.
GSFF have launched their full 2019 programme – read all about it here, or browse their brochure here.
At its best, it captured the hilarity and horror of human existence in six second intervals. With Auld Lang Vine, we mourned the passing of a short-form video hosting service.
On Sunday 27th January, 2018, we gathered 150 mourners in the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, to remember and celebrate Vine, “a short-form video hosting service where users could share six-second-long looping video clips.” As the audience filed in, every seat in CCA’s theatre was laid out with an order of service, and the screen displayed the classic DVD player screensaver. After local band Joyce Delaney, all decked out in Victorian mouring attire, struck up Chopin’s funeral march, Matchbox Cineclub offered a brief eulogy.
At its best, we suggested, Vine captured the hilarity and horror of human existence in six seconds. Its main tools were angry animals, children in jeopardy and basic human stupidity. Its primary modes were lip syncing, shade and screaming. After Vine, of course, you can still loop weird videos and share them. But Vine celebrated being weird, being creative and being funny. Most of all, it celebrated brevity, so perhaps it’s fitting that, in the end, its life was cut so short.
After a six-second silence in honour of the passing of this legend, we introduced the first of two 45-minute compilations of the best Vines, originally curated by Pilot Light TV Festival, debuted in Manchester and also showcased at the BFI Southbank. The Glasgow audience spontaneously recited their favourite Vines, before holding their phone torches aloft for Puke’s interval rendition of Lady Gaga’s I’ll Never [Vine] Again.
Then, after a second 45-minute compilation passed in the blink of an eye, Joyce Delaney once more took the stage for a short but typically wonderful set, unfortunately curtailed by a broken guitar string (please do check them out at the earliest available opportunity).
Matchbox Cineclub would like to say a solemn thank you to Greg Walker and Pilot Light TV Festival, Live Cinema UK, BFI, Film Hub Midlands, CCA, Joyce Delaney, Puke, the ever estimable John Pooley and our stalwart volunteers (who couldn’t make it). Most of all, we’d like to say thank you to the audience and all the Vine fans who made the event so very special. 🙏
ONE LAST THING! We’d like to note tickets for this event were sold on a sliding scale, which we would recommend to anyone with a similar screening or event. We believe in full accessibility in principle and always try to keep tickets as low as possible (or free, when we can) but the support of BFI emboldened us to try the sliding scale for the first time. Normally we’d fret about that since, as an independent exhibitor with no institutional support (barring CCA’s in-kind venue support), we have to cover costs. Making a profit, however small, allows us to keep programming films and producing events, while losing money clearly jeopardises that. However, this event proved a sliding scale approach can also be economically viable, even without support, since the uptake on £6 and £8 tickets covered any potential loss from the cheaper tickets. It won’t always be possible for us to employ a sliding scale for ticket sales, but whenever we can, we will. If you have any questions about it, please get in touch: email@example.com.
Matchbox Cineclub present a funeral tribute to Vine, the dearly departed platform for 6-second comedy genius
Dearly beloved, join us to mourn the passing of the 6-second wonder that was Vine. Expect a funeral-turned-party featuring over 500 of the greatest Vines and a very special eulogy. Full guest line-up to be announced soon (follow our Facebook event page here for announcements and up-to-date details)
Auld Lang Vine is a tribute to the 6-second icons that have given so much joy to millions the world over. The event centres around two big-screen compilations of the all-time greatest Vine loops, curated by our friends at Pilot Light TV Festival.
Join us as we celebrate the life of one of the biggest comedy phenomenons of recent times and move along to the final stage of grief: acceptance.
FREE or £2
• I frequently stress about meeting basic* needs and don’t always achieve them.
• I have debt and it sometimes prohibits me from meeting my basic needs.
• I rent lower-end properties or have unstable housing.
• I sometimes can’t afford public or private transport. If I own a car/have access to a car, I am not always able to afford petrol.
• I am unemployed or underemployed.
• I qualify for government and/or voluntary assistance including: food banks and benefits.
• I have no access to savings.
• I have no or very limited expendable** income.
• I rarely buy new items because I am unable to afford them.
• I cannot afford a holiday or have the ability to take time off without financial burden.
£4 or £6
• I may stress about meeting my basic needs but still regularly achieve them.
• I may have some debt but it does not prohibit attainment of basic needs.
• I can afford public transport and often private transport. If I have a car/access to a car I can afford petrol.
• I am employed.
• I have access to health care.
• I might have access to financial savings.
• I have some expendable income.
• I am able to buy some new items and I buy others second hand.
• I can take a holiday annually or every few years without financial burden.
• I am comfortably able to meet all of my basic needs.
• I may have some debt but it does not prohibit attainment of basic needs.
• I own my home or property or I rent a higher end property.
• I can afford public and private transport. If I have a car/access to a car I can afford petrol. • I have regular access to healthcare.
• I have access to financial savings.
• I have an expendable** income.
• I can always buy new items.
• I can afford an annual holiday or take time off.
*BASIC NEEDS include food, housing, clothing and transportation.
**EXPENDABLE INCOME might mean you are able to buy coffee or tea at a shop, go to the cinema or a concert, buy new clothes, books and similar items each month, etc.
Albert Pyun is the prolific director of films such as The Sword and the Sorcerer, Dollman, Cyborg, Brainsmasher…a Love Story, and the 1990 Captain America. Matchbox Cineclub once screened a film of his, called Radioactive Dreams, and he graciously recorded us a short and charming intro for it, on his phone. Pyun is a sweetheart and a total workhorse who’s made many, many films, mostly low budget or direct-to-video. He’s one of those guys who’s always working, often wherever budgets and sometimes tax credits take him. And in the summer of 1997, between a film called Mean Guns (starring Ice T and Christopher Lambert) and another called Sorcerers, he made a wee movie called Postmortem, AKA Obit, which was filmed in Glasgow.
How many people know Charlie Sheen made a film in Glasgow? It’s been suggested he took the role in Postmortem to attempt to get more serious roles, and that might explain why he’s billed as “Charles” Sheen. But of the four films he made as Charles Sheen, one was directed by Bret Michaels, lead singer of Poison, and collectively they don’t make a persuasive case for that argument.
Postmortem was filmed in Glasgow, but also set in Glasgow – unusual even now – with a mostly local supporting cast. Joining Charles was a just-pre-Rushmore Stephen McCole (later of Orphans, Neds and River City), Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot, Neds) and Ivana Milicevic, a Sarajevo-born actress with a flawless Scots-Irish-American-Yugoslavian accent. Here’s the blurb:
The only way to trap a serial killer is to know what he thinks, what he feels and… when he’ll strike again! James MacGregor (Charles Sheen) is a brilliant but burned-out forensic detective who travels to Scotland in a desperate attempt to put his life back together. However, his best-selling book detailing his experience tracking serial killers in the US brings him immediate and unwanted notoriety. When a woman’s body is found in his garden following a mysterious faxed obituary, MacGregor is unwillingly pulled into the investigation to find her killer. As more faxes are received and the brutal murders increase, can he track down the man responsible?
It was filmed in around 10 days (maybe 9, maybe 11), and Sheen’s work was done in six. As Pyun has explained elsewhere, “Charlie really made Postmortem the success it was with his talent and heroism. He worked only six days and had to do eighteen to twenty pages and fifteen to sixteen scenes per day! Wow!” And if you work that hard, it’s understandable – predictable, even – if you need to blow off a little steam. So, one day, Charles clocked out and Charlie took the night off.
The resulting stramash reads like an odyssey – let’s call it the Charliad – across Greater Glasgow. Mr Sheen started in the infamous city centre club Archaos, enjoying a little cocaine while rubbing shoulders with Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne and other footballers spending a small fortune on VIP lounge drinks. It’s claimed Charlie also fell afoul of a number of prospective drug deals, leaving him wary enough of the locals to later look for the reassurance of a locally-purloined gun (the cocaine brain can house such contradictions).
Charlie and his minder left the club at 2am, taking a taxi to the Hilton in Anderston, where he was staying. Sheen, however, refused to disembark, despite the protestations of his guardian. The star was determined instead to patronise the West End nightclub Cleopatra’s (affectionately known as Clatty Pat’s, but most recently as Viper), but – alas – it was closed.
Eventually, Sheen persuaded his minder to accompany him back out into the night, instructing the cabbie to “take us to the hookers”. He tried and failed to pick up several prostitutes, who refused him either because he was too drunk or because his abusive reputation preceded him. Finally, one of the women he accosted, Lorraine Brown, agreed to go with him, but brought her boyfriend (and alleged pimp), Billy McGeachin along. Sheen gave Brown £300, with a promise of three times that if she could get him cocaine.
They drove on to Easterhouse (which Sheen decided looked “like the Bronx”), where McGeachin had primed a local drug dealer for their arrival. Unfortunately, McGeachin later recollected, he’d let slip who was coming. “They wanted to get Charlie out the taxi and tie him up,” he told the Daily Record. And, worse, there were no drugs. Brown and McGeachin, both addicts in need of the promised cash, ground £30 worth of speed into sugar from a bowl. “We acted fast,” McGeachin remembered, “because the guys in the house were building up the courage to go down and kidnap him.”
Back in the taxi, Charlie handed them a mix of currency amounting to around £4,000 in 2018 money. Charlie then asked McGeachin to get him a gun. Sheen explained he’d feel safer with one, while his bodyguard ruefully shook his head. According to Brown, Charlie “kept calling everyone ‘n****r’ and saying he didn’t care if he got shot, and didn’t take any ‘n****r shit’ from anyone.”
Sheen and his entourage then voyaged to a 24-hour shop on Argyle Street (the now-closed Mo’s), intending to buy baking powder, spoon and tinfoil to make crack. Thwarted, Charlie grabbed a packet of biscuits and walked the aisles eating them. Asked to pay, he reportedly retorted, “Where we come from, we kick the shit out of guys like you.” If you’re struggling for a visual, the taxi driver remembers Sheen wearing a green baseball cap and a Hawaiian shirt under a beige tweed jacket. They returned to the hotel.
What happened next is lost to history, though we can assume Charles was back in charge the next day, and production on Postmortem concluded without further incident.
As a Hollywood film that lets Glasgow play itself (albeit with some imaginative geography), Postmortem remains a rare curiosity and completely enjoyable on its own terms. Albert Pyun is still making films, often taking on several crew roles at once, a vocation which helps offset his early onset dementia. Billy McGeachin, at last notice, was sober and a full-time carer. Lorraine Brown sadly died in 2002. Charlie…well, it’s very easy to find out what Charlie did next. He’s never returned to Scotland, though. Not yet.
A mind-bending predecessor to the modern mash-up, The Movie Orgy (1968) is also the Rosetta Stone for Joe Dante’s oeuvre and a must-experience for movie fans and cinephiles alike.
Before Gremlins, before The Howling, before he started his career cutting trailers for Roger Corman, Joe Dante hosted the 7.5 hour All Night Once In A Lifetime Atomic Movie Orgy. An ever-evolving edit, it was a communal experience – a mind-bending predecessor to the modern mash-up with no definitive version. Matchbox Cineclub programmer Sean Welsh charts the evolution of The Movie Orgy through five key dates.
October 9th 1965, The Playboy Theater, Chicago
The first screening of An Evening With Batman and Robin, one of two key inspirations for The Movie Orgy. The other was Susan Sontag’s Notes on “Camp” (1964), which popularised the term and inspired the repackaging of the 1943 Batman serial as a single 4.5-hour programme. Audiences laughed at its phony climaxes, marveled at its blatant xenophobia, and it began touring college towns. When Dante caught it, at the World Theater in Philadelphia, he was particularly struck by the camaraderie of the crowd, who “came out into the lobby as if they’d just gotten off a sinking ship.”
Early 1966, Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia
Inspired, Dante, a second year student but already a programmer at PCA, decided to host his own Camp Movie Night. The exact date is lost to history, but Dante and collaborator Jon Davison rented the only complete serial available on 16mm in Philadelphia, The Phantom Creeps (1939). They stretched it to seven hours with serials, clips, ads, industrial films and cartoons from their 16mm collections. Its success meant several follow-ups, each a step towards what would shortly become The Movie Orgy, then variously The Movie Orgy 2, The Movie Orgy Strikes Back, Son of the Movie Orgy, Escape to Movie Orgy and Son of Movie Orgy Rides Again.
March 8th 1970, Filmore East, New York
Although 1968 is commonly held as the term “The Movie Orgy” was first used for Dante and Davison’s project, the performance that film archivist and Orgy expert David Neary describes as “the most important Movie Orgy of all” came in 1970. 1970 was peak Movie Orgy for the pair, who employed dueling projectors (tipping their hats to Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls). Davison’s would show various features – in lieu of new serials – and Dante’s would interject, drawing on his panoply of 16mm weirdness. They took their cues from the audience, so no two screenings were alike. Press coverage of the Filmore Orgy drew the attention of Schlitz Beer, who sponsored Orgies to tour colleges for years. But when the new material the Orgy drew upon to keep it alive began itself to be infected with self-referential camp, it was time to call it a day. Dante, already in Hollywood, sold syndication rights for “The Video Orgy” to be screened on college campuses’ closed circuit TV networks.
April 22nd 2008, New Beverly Cinema, Los Angeles
The grand finale of Dante’s Inferno, a two-week retrospective at LA’s legendary rep cinema. Joining the scores of curious film fans were Davison, Allan Arkush, Bill Hader, Edgar Wright and Quentin Tarantino. Dante enjoined the crowd to move about, go outside, have a smoke, grab a pizza and wander back in. The Movie Orgy was always intended as a movie to be walked out on. But the director was curious to if it would play – have any relevance – after years in his vault. It brought the house down.
September 9th 2018, The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow
We’re screening the digital version Dante made for the New Beverly (not the 90min “UK cut” previously screened in London). It’s 4.5 hours long, the official Movie Orgy, “distilled, recaptured and re-curated”, according to archivist David Neary. It’s not the full, wild 16mm experience, of course, but there’s also no Blu Ray coming. “It’s more like a concert in a way,” Dante says, “It’s something that you really have to be there for.”
Joe Dante’s The Movie Orgy screens at The Old Hairdressers, Sunday 9th September
The World’s Greatest 3D Film Club returns to Nice N Sleazy on Saturday 4th August with The Mask (Julian Roffman, 1961) – in classic red/blue 3D!
A psychiatrist enters a dream world of horror when he experiments with an ancient Aztec mask sent to him by a patient! This surrealist masterpiece was Canada’s first horror film, and its first shot in 3D. Its pioneering electronic soundtrack was recorded in “ELECTRO MAGIC SOUND”. It’s been described as “truly bizarre, full of unsettling and grotesque images, and with a nightmarish stream-of-consciousness technique.” YES!
Now you can see it as it was always meant to be seen – on a summer’s night in the basement of Nice N Sleazy, through flimsy cardboard glasses.
Tickets £3 (3D glasses included)
The Mask (1961) – in 3D! screens at Nice N Sleazy, Saturday 4th August
The Crazy Family, Sogo Ishii’s provocative, oddball satire, hasn’t screened in Scotland for 30 years
Having just relocated to a comfortable new home in suburbia, the Kobayashi family – Katsuhiko, his wife, Saeko, and their two children, Masaki and Erika – appear to be the picture of middle-class success. But the family’s comfortable bourgeois veneer begins disintegrating when grandfather Yasukuni and white ants infest their home, eating away at the woodwork. As the Kobayashis’ house begins to crumble, so does the sanity of its inhabitants. Katsuhiko takes it upon himself to keep them from the asylum…at any cost.
The Crazy Family (逆噴射家族, Gyakufunsha Kazoku) Sogo Ishii’s provocative, oddball satire, hasn’t screened in Scotland for at least 30 years. Born Toshihiro Ishii, now known as Gakuryū Ishii, the avant garde filmmaker spearheaded the Japanese New Wave with his early punk features Panic In High School (1978), Crazy Thunder Road (1980) and Burst City (1982). Ishii’s reputation arguably rests on these early films, although he’s still active and his influence can been seen in the filmmakers whose international success has surpassed his own.
Described as “one of the most genuinely demented movies to ever emerge from Japan,” The Crazy Family‘s original title (literally “The Back-Jet Family”) was a reference to an incident at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in the early 1980s. The pilot of a short, internal flight fired the plane’s back-jet just before landing, crashing the plane and killing many of its passengers. Pressure of work was blamed for the pilot’s action. “With Crazy Family,” Ishii later claimed, “I wanted to show the Japanese family as I saw it.” Co-writer and manga artist Yoshinori Kobayashi, now a controversial, conservative figure in Japan, told Monthly Film Bulletin in 1986:
Kramer vs Kramer, Ordinary People and The Family Game are all admirable films dealing with family problems. They are serious films, much praised by critics, and some people regard them as masterpieces. But some of us think differently. We consider them timid films, more or less like the TV family dramas made for middle-aged audiences, and the critics like them more than we do. And so Sogo Ishii and I decided to make a more radical film on the same subject. We wanted film about the family that would be filled with fun and poison… There are four things that traditionally frighten the Japanese: earthquakes, thunder, fire and fathers. This list is as valid now as it ever was.
Though it didn’t lose money, The Crazy Family was, perhaps unsurprisingly, not hugely popular domestically. “Everyone in Japan just complained that they didn’t understand my films,” Ishii later reflected. Though the film made a bigger impact abroad, according to writer David Cairns, “Most western critics found it wearisome and baffling”. As related by Shock Cinema’s Steven Puchalski, “its New York City engagement consisted of a one-week run at an upscale arthouse theatre, and a sparse, thoroughly confused audience of blue-haired Upper West Siders.”
In the UK, however, critic Tony Rayns saw its value immediately, noting “a major step forward for Sogo Ishii”. Writing in early 1986, Rayns observed that The Crazy Family “is a live action comic strip, each sequence shattered into component images like panels on a page and edited to rock rhythms.” Rayns continued:
The stylistic attack is matched, blow by blow, by the ruthlessness and cruelty of the humour: satire, slapstick, pain and black comedy are primary elements, but the film goes beyond them all into an area harder and more vicious than anything seen on screen since the early days of Monty Python. Its triumph is that it is (a) consistently funny, and (b) sustained as a narrative, rather than collapsing into a series of sketches.
if…. director Lindsay Anderson was also a fan. As recorded in Michael Palin’s diaries, Anderson preferred it to the then-recent A Room With A View, An Englishman Abroad, and even the Python’s own Private Function. Ishii’s film was the only one he’d liked recently, Anderson told Palin, since “the violence is so productive!”
Though it’s never been released on DVD in the UK, The Crazy Family is a landmark in Ishii’s ouevre and Japanese cinema. It was his first commercial work, following the trio of dystopian punk films that made his name, but was immediately followed by an almost 10-year gap before his next feature, the thriller Angel Dust (1994). Thwarted from making the films he wanted to make, Ishii concentrated on experimental short films, music documentaries (notably Half Human, with Einstuerzende Neubauten) and TV movies. The next phase of his work would be his self-proclaimed psychedelic years, before a slight return to his roots with Electric Dragon 80.000 V (2000). In 2010, he announced his “artistic rebirth”, Bowie-style, as Gakuryū Ishii, before returning to features once more with 2012’s Isn’t Anyone Alive? With his latest,Punk Samurai Slash Down, due this year, it’s the perfect time to (re)discover his weirdest.
The Crazy Family screens at Matchbox Cineclub’s Weird Weekend on Sunday 3rd June. Tickets from £5, day and weekend passes are available. All tickets available from CCA’s box office, 0141 352 4900, or online: bit.ly/weirdweekend.