Archive | November, 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

30 Nov

Dust off your popcorn and polish off the 3D glasses, livewithfilm is pleased to announce its return to the filmic marathon (fun run perhaps). Attempting to provide a pertinent return to form, livewithfilm decided to return to the cinema. It was unfortunate that the dimming lights and hushed sounds of the screening seemed anticlimax on such an occasion. Did livewithfilm expect some sort of fanfare as it returned to blogging? A confetti cloud of pick and mix? It was as if no one in the empty Odeon was aware of the monumental implications that this screening held for this jaded film blogger.

Thomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy envisages a collapsing British Secret Service, ripped asunder by the deceitful influences of the Cold War. As agents are betrayed and captured across the world, evidence from Control (John Hurt), the previous head of British Intelligence, points towards a leak high up in the Circus. George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is tasked with unearthing the Soviet mole, forcing the world-weary retiree to investigate the influence that the Russian agent Karla has over MI6. Aided by Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), Smiley liaises with fallen spies Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) and Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to uncover a history of betrayal and treachery.

Do not be fooled, this is no spy film. Whilst creating an engrossing piece of paranoid cinema, Alfredson has been able to draw on more interesting elements from Le Carré’s source novel. From the silence that reverberates across the film’s first minutes to the resoundingly downbeat final montage of solitude, Tinker Tailor is undoubtedly an exploration of fractured human relationships. Whilst film critic Mark Kermode supposed that Alfredson’s film focuses on an image of male relationships, livewithfilm would go further, suggesting that Tinker Tailor is cemented upon failed human connections. It explores the inability of characters to unite whilst they are embroiled in a global conspiracy, international influences serving to crush any humane relations. It seems a logical progression for the director to portray such a vision of inhumanity after working on Let the Right One In (2008), a film that located an emotional core amidst the immense implications of vampirism. In fact Tinker Tailor, whilst dealing with an investigation of loyalty, neatly contrasts the innocent unison that is to be found in Alfredson’s vampiric love story.

Postulating aside, livewithfilm is keen to emphasise the slow burning excellence of Alfredson’s film. The superior cast shine as the embittered and broken fraternity of spies. Oldman’s Smiley is suitably haggard, his hanging jowls and thoughtful stare proclaiming years of emotional solitude. Whilst Le Carré has suggested that Oldman was able to inject a hint of sexuality that was lacking in Alec Guinness’s portrayal of Smiley in 1979, livewithfilm found a tragic sterility in the character that was just as engrossing. Whilst the text gained from a greater investigation into Smiley’s cuckolding, the omnipresent shadow of his wife Anne was suitably forceful. An opposing image of femininity is endearingly created in Cathy Burke’s Connie Sachs, a retired intelligence officer of MI6. Her brief appearance is a blessing to Tinker Tailor, an injection of nostalgic affection that leaves lingering hints of melancholia across the film’s latter acts. Whilst the film is surprisingly beautiful, creating memorable images amongst a sepia dullness, it is such human elements that resonate. It seems appropriate that livewithfilm was able to watch such an investigation of human interaction whilst surrounded by a cinema audience. Tomorrow, back to solitary home viewing…

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We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

17 Nov

The observant amongst you will have twigged that yesterday’s livewithfilm post materialised in the early hours of this morning. Whilst the blunder was down to a late night cinema trip in the name of the blog (more on this later), there is little that frustrates livewithfilm more than a 00:01am posting… Nevertheless, in completing possibly the most downbeat afternoon/evening of viewing imaginable, livewithfilm will be able to tick off another first: Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin shall become the blog’s first cinema review. Whilst livewithfilm would always condone a filmic double bill, the combination of Ramsay’s teen killer romp with Hunger’s examination of starvation was hardly a barrel of laughs. Whilst the pair are both interesting and powerful pieces of cinema, their consecutive viewings felt akin to self flagellation. Despondency and gloom encircled livewithfilm on his bike ride home last night. The only concession was that last time he checked, livewithfilm was neither an Irish prisoner on a hunger strike or the parent of a psychopath. Every cloud…

Based on the acclaimed book by Lionel Shriver, Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin is guided by Eva (Tilda Swinton), the mother of a high school killer. Enduring physical and verbal assaults from her neighbours, Eva must confront the violent actions of her son Kevin (Ezra Miller). Contending with the idea that it was her failure as a parent that led to his killing spree, Eva sifts through her memories of Kevin’s childhood, unearthing shocking recollections.

Ramsay’s film is master class in non-chronological filmmaking, relinquishing glimpses of information to the audience that ensure an unsettling mood. Whilst Eva is in complete control of the film, she is trapped within the ramifications of Kevin’s act. This is an interesting angle for the film to take as it remains a consistently subjective piece, relying on the mutable memories of the distraught mother. Thus the scenes of Kevin’s childhood seem to envision Eva’s psychological downfall rather than the transformation of her child into a killer. We Need to Talk About Kevin consequently holds a catalogue of carefully placed and skilfully recurrent symbols. Shades of red echo through the film and unite Eva’s early globetrotting life with her son’s bloody acts of violence. The film is therefore unrelentingly ominous, clouding Eva’s memories as every act points towards the final shocking sequence.

Ramsay’s film is deeply horrific, achieving a pervasive dread through its consistent proximity with plausibility. Swinton carries the film with her brooding unease, filling Eva with a frail tenacity. Never overtly dramatic, We Need to Talk About Kevin adeptly mixes the psychological world with a haunting image of suburban life. Taking a swipe at the bourgeois lifestyle of the American rich, the film spawns an image of violence from the same careless affluence that instigates Eva’s disquiet. An impressive piece of cinema that will surely besiege the Oscars come spring next year, livewithfilm urges audiences to witness this enthralling piece of British filmmaking.

Livewithfilm must announce an intermission in blogging. Whilst unable to write for the next week, Livewithfilm urges readers to comment and discuss its opinions and film choices.

Hunger (2008)

17 Nov

It is a testament of the power of Steve McQueen’s directorial debut that livewithfilm is for the first timed stunned into silence. Having just finished Hunger, the relative frivolity of earlier livewithfilm posts seem ill placed. It is an undoubtedly raw and powerful film; a portrayal of the human experience, an evocation of rebellion and suffering. Never an easy watch, Hunger nevertheless seems a vital piece of filmmaking.

McQueen’s film focuses upon the IRA hunger strikes of 1981, charting the protests of the Irish Republican prisoners who fought to be granted political status by the British government. Davey (Brian Milligan), a detained member of the IRA, arrives at Maze prison and declares his resistance to the regime by taking part in blanket and dirty protests. Shown with uncompromising savagery, the prisoners are relentlessly subjected to horrific acts of brutality from guards and riot police. The latter stages of Hunger change focus, remaining with Irish Republican activist Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender). Sands ultimately leads the prisoners in a hunger strike, starving his body in a last ditch attempt to increase awareness of their plight.

That livewithfilm slightly struggled to recount a summary of Hunger seems significant. Whilst the plot is undeniably emotive, the stories and incidents portrayed within the film hold even greater force. McQueen skilfully constructs Hunger so that the vast weight of political context never infringes upon or restricts the humanity of his protagonists. In a similar manner to yesterday’s Sunshine, a vision of the mutability of human existence in the face of a significant event is seen in Hunger. Images of human suffering stay long in the memory: maggots crawling from a clenched fist, a lone prisoner seeking companionship from a wandering fly. Fassbender’s introduction as Sands is effectively gruelling, envisioning a character fabricated from prejudice and violence. The final sequence chronicling Sands’ hunger strike is consistently haunting and Fassbender’s commitment to the role is staggering, his body withered and sinuous.

Yet within this brutal vision, McQueen is able to construct beautiful and moving set pieces. Sands’ repartee with a visiting priest (Liam Cunningham) is a highlight of the film, a lengthy single take that is at once witty and melancholic. Their discussion of the morality of Sands’ hunger strike extends far beyond the walls of Maze prison and gently ushers in the distressing final act. For the most harrowing aspects of Hunger are those most honest. McQueen’s piece is invasive and fearless, a vision of human sacrifice and desperation that is unequalled.

Sunshine (2007)

15 Nov

So as the November nights began to draw in and the sun seemed merely a distant memory, livewithfilm decided to embrace it’s longing for that long lost celestial body and take in a viewing of Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. Call it the winter blues, but a vision of doomsday that involves plenty of vitamin D uptake felt pleasantly distilled whilst livewithfilm faced the chill outside. Could there be something to explore in this? Films that benefit from or are hindered by the setting in which they are shown. I can’t imagine the sub zero claustrophobia of John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) gaining much of an advantage from a tropical climate. It’s that or Jaws (1975) in the desert. No doubt a perplexing, globetrotting double bill…

Back to our feature presentation. Set in the year 2057, Boyle’s Sunshine sees a crew of scientists manning a mission to reignite the dying sun. Earth’s last hope, the eight men and women on board the Icarus II must reignite the star with a colossal nuclear weapon. However, once in the ‘dead zone’ and unable to communicate with home, the crew begin to encounter unforeseen difficulties. Coming across the ill-fated Icarus I, crewman Capa (Cillian Murphy) must decide whether to make contact with the lost vessel or continue on course. His decision holds ramifications for both the crew and the remaining human race.

Sunshine is a consistently impressive piece of filmmaking, teeming with inventive visuals. Everything a science fiction film should be, it goes beyond the trappings of plot to contend with weightier issues. Shockingly frank scenes of immolation and brutality begin to reflect the most interesting question that the film poses: to save the population of Earth, must one retain one’s own humanity? This debate leads the film into an effectively horrific climax sequence which fully exploits the shadowed corridors of Alien (1979). For Sunshine often wears its filmic debts upon its sleeve. The empty corridors and psychological probing owe much to Tarkovskiy’s Solaris (1972) and, oddly enough, the life affirming Earth room on board the Icarus II is uncannily similar to the euthanasia chamber of Soylent Green (1973). Surely a knowing reference from Boyle, perhaps this reflects the subjective role that perception has to play throughout the film. Once the spaceship’s psychologist begins to talk of ‘becoming the light of the sun’, you know you’re on a tricky path. Nevertheless such allusions never restrict the ingenuity of Boyle’s vision. It is a film that makes its own inroads into the mind, questioning what it means to nullify a supposedly divine act of human extinction. Doubtless to say, Sunshine won’t leave you with the warm feeling its title implies.

Taffin (1987)

14 Nov

Yes, the earthquake you felt on Saturday was the ground trembling after livewithfilm failed its assignment for the first time. As sad as it is, the celluloid free weekend seems to have done livewithfilm some good. Rejuvenated with a (previously waning) desire to continuously watch films, livewithfilm has decided that it will try its upmost to stick to its original pledge. Livewithfilm will watch a film a day (or near enough). How better to return than with Pierce Brosnan in tow as Taffin? Catapulted into the public consciousness by a viral video of Brosnon’s performance (search on youtube if you haven’t already… No, really do!), Francis Megahy’s film was high on the livewithfilm wish-list.

Taffin (Pierce Brosnan) is a violent renegade, collecting fees and busting kneecaps for the powerful gangster presence in his Irish town. After falling for local girl Charlotte (Allison Doody), Taffin seeks to make peace with the populace and decides to foil the plans of a crooked councilman. However, when the council begin construction on an unwelcome chemical works, Taffin must question how far he will go to protect the townsfolk. With company heavies attacking anyone who threatens their project, Taffin must resort to violence when the villagers come to him as their final hope.

Whilst entertainingly furious, Taffin is a classic for all of the wrong reasons. Impressively inept, the film manages to be inadvertently hilarious throughout, placing itself in a curious zone of accidental amusement. Whilst attempting to envision a rugged devil-may-care Irishman, Bronsnon’s protagonist comes across as a ‘focus-group’ anti-hero. Livewithfilm could almost hear Megahy ticking the boxes with his blunt HB. One moment a brooding literary aficionado, Taffin will hurl down his books at a moment’s notice to assault the nearest villain. Peppered with dialogue that would draw a snigger from a boulder (‘tut tut tut, you’re a very naughty boy’), Taffin remains neither gloomy nor explosive. Brosnan’s ultimate answer to this, in a classic piece of script interpretation, is to scream incidental pieces of dialogue; his ‘maybe you shouldn’t be living here!’ outburst remains a line that gives new meaning to the term ‘powerhouse performance’.

Meghany’s Taffin falls hardest when it attempts to merge increasingly diverse themes; gritty reality sits awkwardly next to the charming scenes of Ireland. Such a revelation left livewithfilm watching a topless Brosnan hunting for his knitted tea-cosy. The lunacy sees secret meetings at the local cow auction and reaches a bizarre peak when most of the cast of the 90s comedy Father Ted arrive. Sensing his film leaning too far towards the quaint, Meghany frantically inserts ill-chosen misogyny into the latter stages of Taffin; the crowds that mass inside the village strip club only create an uncomfortable atmosphere that had livewithfilm baying for the destruction of the hamlet. If you are looking for an enjoyably dark vision of Ireland then livewithfilm would recommend John Michael McDonagh’s brilliant The Guard (2011). Nevertheless, you will struggle to find a more entertaining vision of madness than Brosnan in Taffin. All together now… Maybe you shouldn’t be living here!

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)

11 Nov

Treating itself, livewithfilm decided to revisit a favourite today. Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is an immensely enjoyable piece of cinema, blending genres as it looks fondly back on the hallmarks of a generation. Surprisingly, Wright’s film never succeeded at the box office, underperforming by some distance. Whilst pitching itself perfectly to a particular age group (early twenty-somethings with a working knowledge of gaming/comic book imagery/the scuzzy feel of a dingy gig venue), this specificity potentially alienated audience members not in on the joke. Nevertheless, the fast paced humour and witty references make Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World a treat for those looking for imaginative filmmaking.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a twenty two year old jobless Canadian whose aspirations rest with his three piece band Sex Bob-omb. That is, until he falls for the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). However, in order to woo Ramona, Scott has to defeat her seven evil exes. Contending with his insecurities, this bass playing drop-out must meet and battle film stars, flying lesbians, record producers and Japanese twins for the love of his rainbow haired sweetheart.

Scott is perfectly created by Michael Cera. Hardly playing beyond expectations, Cera manages to infuse the character with all of the alienation and wit you’d expect. Painfully familiar for those the lighter side of their thirties, Scott is a bundle of nerves and remorse, a protagonist to root for as one of your own. Yet Cera does not carry the film alone and is surrounded by a cast of hilarious characters-come-recognisable-types. Ellen Wong remarkably recreates the film’s comic book origins as Knives Chau, contorting her face until it perfectly envisions a sketched cell. Kim Pine’s turn as band drummer Alison Pill is exceptionally dry, whilst Mary Elizabeth Winstead keeps Ramona seething and mysterious. After all, the female leads hold the greatest sway over the film, essentially dictating the course of the plot and delivering some of the sharpest dialogue (‘We are Sex Bob-omb. We’re here to make money and sell out and stuff!’).

Combining video game symbolism and garage band sensibilities, the imagery of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is the film’s major draw. A vision of pixellated samurai swords and flashing high-scores, the film relishes its breathtaking originality. The music (mainly written by Beck) thrums out of grotty venue amplifiers, providing an authentic soundtrack to these characters whilst infusing Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World with an effortless cool. For the film manages to be simultaneously stylish and endearing. Wright creates a film without the swagger that exudes charm. Whilst the final sections are slightly baggy and occasional jokes fall flat, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is undeniably charming. In the words of Knives Chau, I heart you Scott Pilgrim.

Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

10 Nov

By coincidence, Livewithfilm found itself watching a second black and white film in three days. Whilst being stylistically different, George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck holds certain thematic similarities with Kevin Smith’s Clerks (1994). Both contending with the idea of controversy, these two films present the filmic (or tele-visual) medium as a crucial tool in the spread of subversive suggestions. While Clerks portrays the rarely seen antics of shopkeepers as an exposé of the American counter culture, Good Night, and Good Luck focuses on the crucial role that journalism must take in representing the sublimated voice of the persecuted. Has monochrome become the go to colour palette for those pursuing a vision of unseen reality?

Clooney’s 1950s set drama chronicles the actions of investigate journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) who confronted the ideological persecutions made by Senator Joseph McCarthy. In an environment of persecution and conspiracy, Murrow sets out to report the realities of McCarthy’s communist ‘witch hunts’. Using his CBS editorial news program, and supported by dedicated producers Fred Friendly (George Clooney) and Joe Wershba (Robert Downey Jr.), Murrow pursues the cases of those condemned by McCarthy’s fear of communism. Yet this is a dangerous climate for the CBS crew to work within and reprisal comes swiftly for those who defy the capitalist creeds of theUSestablishment.

Good Night, and Good Luck is undoubtedly a beautiful and significant work. As the newsroom cries with excited screams, the meandering camera and softly lit cigarette fumes provide the film with a meditative menace. The oppression placed upon these reporters is felt beyond their revolutionary language. In one of the film’s most moving images, the soft shadows flickering across the face of news anchor Don Hollenbeck (Ray Wise) subtly express his apprehensiveness in the face of public condemnation. These moments of silence appear throughout Clooney’s piece, reflecting the considerable dangers that remain once the reporters have been hushed. Indicative of this omnipresent threat is a powerful scene in which the news team wait for the public reaction to their reporting in a state of quiet paranoia.

Strathairn shines in the central role, the cast of Good Night, and Good Luck providing solid performances that successfully emphasise the importance of Murrow’s reporting. That no actor stands out from the crowd places a pleasing weight on the material. Nothing diverts attention from the significance of what Murrow writes or says; the implications of his contentious reports are left to linger in the viewer’s mind. Such techniques successfully maintain the significance of Murrow’s work. Just as the newscaster sought to locate the voice on the other side of the news, Good Night, and Good Luck allows that sublimated voice to resonate and proclaim its significance.

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

9 Nov

The desperation felt before livewithfilm went about watching yesterday’s 3:10 to Yuma reappeared somewhat as it sat down before Terence Fisher’s 1968 Hammer shocker. As weighty as a Christopher Lee monologue, the livewithfilm eyelids began to close. Nevertheless, when livewithfilm realised the potential entertainment to be had from this thriller from the old British horror masters, the blog received a second wind. Anything can be achieved with the prospect of two hours of demon hunting ahead of you…

Supposedly one of Christopher Lee’s favourite films, The Devil Rides Out joins friends the Duc de Richleau (Lee) and Rex (Leon Greene) as they discover that their close companion Simon (Patrick Mower) has joined a satanic cult. Doubting the potency of the group, Rex leads the Duc back to Simon’s house, only to discover an apparition of hellish magnitude. They consequently set out to halt the powerful Mocata (Charles Gray) before the fanatical sect can baptise Simon and his friend Tanith (Nike Arrighi) into their dark ways. Culminating in an unsettling house siege, The Devil Rides Out sees the forces of evil enact an onslaught against the Duc’s prevailing faith.

Fisher’s film remains intense throughout, if inadvertently hilarious. Lee’s authoritative performance carries the film. After all, there are few actors who could spout meaningless phrases with such gravitas and profundity: ‘All these things happened! But now they have not happened!’ Whilst Mocata combats God through his concrete furrowed brow, the Duc must draw upon his limitless (and unexplained) knowledge of the occult to bring the devil worshipper to his knees. The surrounding cast become tools of the plot, guaranteeing that Lee finds himself in the most harrowing of situations. Rex remains an expository construct, his infuriating stupidity endlessly stalling the film’s pace. Thus the screen is sporadically filled with disappointingly hollow protagonists. However, such predictability from the minor players manages to instil The Devil Rides Out with a subtle sense of the epic. The ensemble becomes a vision of the lesser players of humanity, caught in a grand battle between good and evil. (See also Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966), The Plague of Zombies (1966) and The Kiss of The Vampire (1964.))

The Devil Rides Out is an entertaining watch that imaginatively unsettles. The frenzied confusion of the later scenes remains the strongest as gigantic spiders and a vision of death arrive to test the virtuous. Regrettably, Fischer’s film has dramatically dated and seems very much of its time. A modern audience, expecting the bloodshed and terror of more modern forays into the supernatural, may be disappointed by the film’s slow and measured pace. Whilst a minor gem, livewithfilm can’t see the film riding out once more.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

8 Nov

After a full day at work (for even livewithfilm has to make a living), a measure of fatigue had set in. The eight hour day managed to make the enforced act of watching a film (dare livewithfilm say it?) seem an endeavour. Nevertheless, loving film seems inescapable and the absorption of celluloid cannot possibly be described as an act of exertion. Therefore, as some sort of antidote to this despondency, livewithfilm chose to escape to the plains of nineteenth century America with James Manigold’s 3:10 to Yuma. Surely exhaustion couldn’t be as bad as having the livewithfilm readers rustled?

Manigold’s post-western crime thriller follows desperate rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) as his path crosses with outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe). After Wade is captured by the law-men of a nearby town, Evans chooses to escort the murderer to prison, claiming the reward money that his family so desperately needs. Yet Wade’s ruthless gang will not give up their leader so easily. Travelling through deserts and mountains, Evans and his band must confront the violence that Wade pulls in tow.

As noted above, 3:10 to Yumaimmediately held post-western pretentions; the farmers are poor and desperate and law-men are quick to turn against their morals. As two of the gruffest character actors in cinema, Bale and Crowe are suitably cast in such an unforgiving epic. Channelling the bleak outlook of the despairing rancher, Bale summons his hoarsest tones (Batman via John Conner). Crowe responds with a baritone so profound that when the pair meets on screen, 3:10 to Yumarecalls a confrontation between industrial sanders. Unfortunately, Manigold’s film departs from its dark undercurrent once Evans and Wade reach the final town. Whilst Crowe seems adequately sinister (his association with the filmic hero only slightly reducing the validity of Wade), the saccharine sweet final scenes of 3:10 to Yumacorrupt memory of the preceding two hours. Whilst livewithfilm enjoys a cheerful ending as much as the next blog, Manigold’s western sat uncomfortably with the positive moral changes that it envisioned. Although the desert is stained with blood and bullet cases, 3:10 toYuma would have been a stronger piece if it aligned itself with either the depths of despondency or a fantasy world of mutable antiheroes. In alternating between the two, neither rings true. Much like the mercenaries who decide to protect their ill-fated money coach, 3:10 toYuma is bought down by the final choice that it makes.

Manigold’s western remains an interesting piece that explores the divisions present in a society where the evil run free and the hardworking struggle to survive. The emphasis that such a setting places upon masculinity is frequently touched upon, the expectation that Evans’ son places on his father remaining touching throughout. However, the unfortunate aftertaste of 3:10 toYumaremains that of a missed opportunity. A pistol shot of a film that shoots on target, only to fall at the last moment as it loses faith in its convictions.

Clerks (1994)

7 Nov

It seems apt that after watching Kevin Smith’s directorial debut Clerks, the livewithfilm blog rose above 100 hits. Livewithfilm would like to think that it could have deftly selected Smith’s film, simultaneously revolutionary and indebted to movie history, to appropriately celebrate this minor milestone. However, surely only one of Smith’s quick witted characters, bursting with pop culture wisdom, would have made such an immediate leap. Perhaps livewithfilm should open a video store instead…

As shop employees Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) contend with society from behind the cashier, Clerks attempts to engage with a disillusioned counter culture through verité camera work and natural dialogue. The language is kept blunt and shocking, the listless pair disputing subjects ranging from their pointless job titles to the benefits of selective labour for intergalactic roofers. As surprising and unconventional as it sounds, Smith pushes the heated debates to outrageous heights. Whilst Dante and Randal’s frank discussions of sexual inhibitions both shock and entertain, the cascade of gross out humour that envelops the final scenes of the film falls sadly flat. Such sections could not reach the extremes that initial incidents so provocatively attain. Nevertheless, greater joy is to be found when Smith ransacks popular culture and reduces it to the level of banality. Particularly enthralling (no doubt because of livewithfilm’s passion for celluloid) is Randal’s deduction that the final parts of Return of the Jedi (1983) probably see the death of many independent contractors building the second Death Star. After all ‘do you think the average storm trooper knows how to install a toilet main?’

Filmed outside of opening hours at the shop where writer director Kevin Smith worked, Clerks is a thrill to watch for all of its black and white roughness. Orson Welles called such b&w filmmaking ‘the actor’s friend’, judging it to guarantee a better on-screen performance. Whilst it seems ridiculous to quote Welles in reference to a film that spends a significant amount of time debating the benefits of roof-top hockey, a rare authenticity is lent to Clerks by the monochrome. Whilst the actors work well together, finding profundity and empathy in the strangest of places, the frantic close camera work puts you in the midst of this lurid reality. Clerks manages to construct an intimacy with realism that is shocking in its honesty. All of this whilst a man traps his hand in a Pringles tube…