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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:27 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
I've never seen any Clarke, can anyone offer an overview/summation of his style/approach/work, or point me in the right direction?

Like most Americans, I can't speak to anything outside of Blue Underground's excellent box set, but I'd recommend The Firm unreservedly to anyone interested in film. Clarke's direction is hard to describe, at least from my limited frame of reference, except to say you'll know it when you see it -- and that it's instantly apparent as the work of a master.

On the acting end, Gary Oldman's rightly-famous performance is matched pound-for-pound by Lesley Manville, and Phil Davis delivers a startling, elusive performance --with a look to match -- as a brutal yuppie psychopath that wouldn't be out of place in a (more conventional) horror movie.

I'd also recommend saving Elephant for last. Though it's probably Clarke's most famous film, and clearly an important work, it's (intentionally) removed and alienating to the point that it's doesn't demonstrate the fullness of Clarke's art (again, intentionally). Despite the sharp bleakness of the other films in the set, there's still room for humanity and sometimes humor. Not so with Elephant. Van Sant's film (which I'd seen first) is a totally different animal, and does little to prepare the viewer for Clarke's vision.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:39 am 
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Everything about this announcement is amazing. Ever since discovering Clarke's work a decade ago I've been hoping an enterprising label would somehow put together a collection of his work but I never thought it would actually happen, let alone as thoroughly as this.

The work the BFI has done rescuing gems from the depths of the BBC archives has been exemplary but this - this is something else.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 1:23 am 

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domino harvey wrote:
I've never seen any Clarke, can anyone offer an overview/summation of his style/approach/work, or point me in the right direction?


The absolutely terrific Rita, Sue & Bob, Too! (1987) is a great starting point. It's ostensibly a comedy, but it deals with many of the same social concerns that defined his best-known work. It also ties in perfectly with the 2010 documentary The Arbor, which is a portrait of Rita, Sue...'s screenwriter, the preternaturally gifted Andrea Dunbar.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 4:15 am 
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I've been tracking down and watching as many Clarke works as possible over the last 20 years or so, so this set is a blessing beyond words for me.

Apart from the major works that most people have seen, I would highly recommend 'Christine'. I saw this when it was first broadcast in 1987 and it knocked me sideways. I really wasn't sure what I was watching, but I couldn't take me eyes off it.
For me, this is one of the most powerful and daring works ever to air on prime time TV. Stylistically it's somewhere between Elephant and Made in Britain - though that doesn't really come close to a describing the style.
The film is mostly made up of steadycam shots of a girl walking from house to house dropping off drugs and hanging about in the houses. The dialogue is sparse and almost irrelevant - everything here is about what is not being said.

To show young white middle-class teenagers taking heroin in such banality, with so little actually happening on screen, yet with such an enormous actually being said is a huge achievement, and for me stands as one of Clarke's most brilliant films.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:05 am 
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It's a tough one, but I've been trying to think of the best entry point for someone who hasn't seen any Clarke, and I keep coming back to ROAD (1987) because it's pretty much got everything. But if you want to start earlier, to enjoy his trajectory (which is one hell of a ride), the rarely seen THE HALLELUJAH HANDSHAKE (1970) would also make a very solid starting point – it has a great script (by Colin Welland) and Clarke is in his element: relaxed, confident, and already matured. Oh, there's also SOVEREIGN'S COMPANY too (which makes a great triple bill with PSY-WARRIORS and CONTACT). Basically, there's quite a few good starting points... One of the striking things you notice when you've seen 20+, and read the two great books on him (Kelly and Rolinson), is the close relationship with writers he had on all of his work. He involved them at all stages and I've yet to read about any writer saying Clarkey wasn't a prince to work with.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:13 pm 
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A few more details from the Amazon listing:

Quote:
Special features

•All BBC TV filmed productions newly remastered in HD; all VT productions newly remastered in SD
•Alan Clarke: Out of his Own Light (2016): multi-part documentary, featuring actors, writers and producers
•Arena 'When is a Play Not a Play?' (1978): archive BBC TV documentary exploring the impact of then-new TV plays that blurred the lines between documentary and drama
•Plus: Audio commentaries; Extracts from BBC TV discussion programmes Open Air and Tonight; David Leland introductions; previously-unseen Clarke material
•Extensive booklet with new essays by writers including Richard Kelly, David Rolinson, Lizzie Francke, Nick Wrigley, Ashley Clark and Kaleem Aftab, with an introduction by Danny Leigh and a foreword by Molly Clarke
•Bonus DVD including seven of Alan Clarke's Half Hour Story, episodes made for Associated Redifussion; Shelter (1967), The Gentleman Caller (1967, previously considered lost), George's Room (1967), Goodnight Albert (1968), Stella (1968), The Fifty Seventh Saturday (1968, previously considered lost)
Writers: Alun Owen, Roy Minton, David Leland and David Rudkin
Cast: Gary Oldman, David Bowie, Ray Winstone, Phil Davis, Lesley Manville, Sean Chapman, Jane Horrocks, Lesley Sharp, David Threlfall, Eleanor Bron and Jane Duvitski

UK | 1967-1989 | 1980 minutes | Cert 18 | TBC

Note that if I add up the runtimes for the 30 films presumed to be included in the set I only come to 1910 minutes, though I don't know the runtime of the director's cut of The Firm, or whether they are counting any of the extras in that 1980 minute runtime.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:35 pm 
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Having read such great praise from peerpee and others for years, I'm definitely leaning towards a blind-buy here. Nice to see it'll have a good number of extras to (I assume) initiate the newcomers. Very exciting-looking set.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:43 pm 
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I imagine that the current Amazon price is RRP, hopefully this will drop to 100GBP or less closer to the release date!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 3:58 pm 
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FWIW, it comes to £128 shipped to the U.S. since it's minus VAT. I went ahead and got my preorder in, but I will also be crossing my fingers it drops a bit more before release day.

I'm tempted now to sell my old Blue Underground Clarke set although it's not a total overlap... Hmm :-k


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 3:59 pm 
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The one film missing from the BU set is available on BD in the UK. I can't speak though to how good the extras might be.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:57 pm 
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I have only seen a small amount of Clarke's films. So far Elephant is probably my favourite. But if you haven't seen anything, I would suggest getting "Tales out of School" from Network. Four tv-films about the British education system. All well worth seeing, and if you trust MichaelB's earlier post, Clarke's contribution Made in Britain is the best he did that isn't in the BFI set. You can get this set now and both get an introduction to Clarke's film-making, and also get a taste of what could be done on UK TV not very long ago. And the set is out on BD.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:03 pm 
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Out of the Clarke films that are available on BD right now - which I think are the 1979 version of Scum, Made in Britain and Rita, Sue and Bob Too!, I don't think there's any question which is the best. And I doubt this is a minority opinion!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:42 pm 
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Lots of great insight and advice in this thread, thank you all for these answers (and keep 'em coming)!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:12 pm 
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RobertB wrote:
I have only seen a small amount of Clarke's films. So far Elephant is probably my favourite. But if you haven't seen anything, I would suggest getting "Tales out of School" from Network. Four tv-films about the British education system. All well worth seeing, and if you trust MichaelB's earlier post, Clarke's contribution Made in Britain is the best he did that isn't in the BFI set. You can get this set now and both get an introduction to Clarke's film-making, and also get a taste of what could be done on UK TV not very long ago. And the set is out on BD.

Actually, I think domino would find that particular set really interesting even without the Clarke involvement, and they're all on point for the Youth lists project.


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Clarke
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:09 am 
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Are we expecting this to be limited edition on Blu Ray? I've never pre-ordered, but presumably if the price is eventually marked down from £149.99 you'll get it for the release date price (and presumably it only charges upon release)? I don't want to risk missing this.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:19 am 
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swo17 wrote:
Note that if I add up the runtimes for the 30 films presumed to be included in the set I only come to 1910 minutes, though I don't know the runtime of the director's cut of The Firm, or whether they are counting any of the extras in that 1980 minute runtime.

Two separate cuts of The Firm are included, which would account for that difference so perfectly that that's probably the reason.


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Clarke
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:19 am 
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For any neophytes wishing to dip a toe into the murky waters of Clarkonia I have DVD-r rips of
Hallelujah handshake /under the age - Diane - Christine- Psy warriors- Last train through Hardcastle tunnel - Penda's Fen.
Choose 1 title and cover postage of 3 euros for USA 2 euros for europe and I'll send them off.
I am aware that this belongs in trades so will cross post there for updates.
Please PM
This is of course a ruse to get your personal details so I can sign you up for a lifetime subscription to Time magazine


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Clarke
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:56 am 
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thirtyframesasecond wrote:
Are we expecting this to be limited edition on Blu Ray? I've never pre-ordered, but presumably if the price is eventually marked down from £149.99 you'll get it for the release date price (and presumably it only charges upon release)? I don't want to risk missing this.


The Blu-ray set is described as "Limited Edition" in the BFI press release. The DVD sets aren't.


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Clarke
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:59 am 
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Peerpee, have you seen The Gentleman Caller yet?

Despite being a three-hander set in a bedsit, it unmistakably anticipates Scum (with which it shares writer Roy Minton) and Made in Britain, with Mike Pratt's Clack the direct ancestor of Carlin and Trevor in the way that he refuses point-blank to accept the box-ticking requirements laid out by George Cole's pompous DSS official. It's absolutely riveting stuff, and was only Clarke's third TV production - but you could accurately guess the director at any point during the second half and also for much of the first. I liked its predecessor Shelter very much as well, but this is pure unadulterated Clarke - red, raw and dripping. What on earth did 1967 ITV audiences make of it?

I've barely scratched the surface of the BFI box, and am having to watch unrestored copies covered in timecode because the new masters aren't ready yet, but even so it's practically burning a hole in the screen.


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Clarke
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2016 9:38 am 
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I haven't yet! Can't wait. I have just seen STAND BY YOUR SCREEN (1968) though, which is also Minton/Clarke, and I had the same sort of response. So free and progressive – and beautiful to watch. The late 60s looks like a marvellous time on British TV – obviously there was a lot of dross – but it's quite remarkable how brightly Clarke (and his writers) shine.


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Clarke
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:11 pm 

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peerpee wrote:
The late 60s looks like a marvellous time on British TV – obviously there was a lot of dross...

David Thomson conveys the dichotomy amusingly when he writes (albeit within his essay on Dennis Potter):
Quote:
... for close to twenty years in Britain, amid expanses of gentility, banality, and severe boredom such as no American could tolerate, television stirred the nation. From the early sixties on, there was an accepted forum for strong talk, subversive comedy, and risky drama.

And of course the daring stuff had much more impact because there were just three channels, operating only around 8 hours per day, and in those days before home recorders everything had to be watched "live"; even if you were alone, there was a much stronger sense of communal viewing with millions of others. Another factor that gave TV viewing something like the "loss of control" experienced in cinemas was the inability to change channels or sound level without leaving one's seat. (I remember our first remote control had a cable attachment!)

I didn't really see any "adult" TV until the early 1970s but, whether one actually saw a controversial programme or not, the media hysteria (usually fuelled by Mary Whitehouse) ensured nearly everyone was aware of it. Hardly a week seemed to pass without a drama or documentary being banned, postponed, censored or at least publicly castigated for its politics, sex, violence or "bad" language, which of course ensured they were widely discussed - even at school!


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Clarke
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:09 am 
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Harmony Korine has cited Alan Clarke as a major influence.

From an interview Korine did with Mike Kelley in 1997

"Korine: You know who I love and who no one really knows about? Alan Clarke, the British director. He’s a real influence. He did Scum, Made in Britain, and this film Christine about a girl growing up in council flats with size 14 feet. She walks around with a cookie tin under her arm and hooks her friends up with dope. She’ll go into houses and kids will be there with a box of Ritz crackers on the television. You’d have these really long tracking shots of her walking. The film was just sort of about what her days were like. And he used real people or people who seemed right. He did this other film I like, Elephant, which is just 16 separate executions, one after the other. There are all these steadicam shots. You see a hit man walking through a gymnasium, walking up stairs and corridors –

Kelley: Are these first-person POV shots?

Korine: Exactly. And then [the hit man] would shoot the janitor, and he’d fall on a pile of jockstraps. But the intention wasn’t comedy. After he died in 1988 of cancer, there was a retrospective of Clarke’s work at MOMA. There were only about ten people in the audience. I was watching Elephant, and in the beginning it was a little disturbing. And then I started to find humor in the repetition – watching some Indian carwasher get his hand blown out on a squeegee. I start cracking up, and this British bastard in front of me turns and says, “Don’t you know what this represents? This is the IRA, you son of a bitch!” He wanted to kill me. I liked that idea. He thought it was about the IRA, and I thought it was about Ritz crackers."


From Dazed & Confused, 1998

Dazed: How did you come across Alan Clarke, because he’s quite obscure in America?

Korine: If someone said to me who is the greatest director or my favorite, I would say Alan Clarke without hesitation. His stories, without ever being derivative, and without ever having a simple ABC narrative are totally organic, precious and amazing. It was nothing but him. In a strange way I don’t even like talking about him in the press or to people because he is the last filmmaker or artist that is really sacred. But especially in America no one knows who he is, even in England there is very little attention.


From Sight & Sound Magazine, April 1998 (Posted on Nick Wringly's site)

By the way, Nick, I'm looking forward to exploring your work about Alan Clarke on that site. I just saw Contact the other night and now consider it one of my favorite films. I love how he boiled everything down. The lack of music is powerful. Thanks for this great resource on an amazing director.


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 Post subject: Re: Alan Clarke
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 8:50 pm 
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Korine's in London right now for his exhibition at the Gagosian gallery, and is being interviewed at BFI Southbank on Wednesday by Danny Leigh. I think Korine is going to be interviewed on camera for the forthcoming BFI Clarke box.

Antarctica wrote:
By the way, Nick, I'm looking forward to exploring your work about Alan Clarke on that site. I just saw Contact the other night and now consider it one of my favorite films. I love how he boiled everything down. The lack of music is powerful. Thanks for this great resource on an amazing director.


Thanks! Hoping to expand it a bit to coincide with the release of the BFI box.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:40 pm 
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This wasn't mentioned in the press release, but here's a listing for a standalone of Penda's Fen.

Also, here's artwork for The Firm:

Image


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:52 pm 
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American customers should know that the entire Blu-ray set will be 50i (owing to everything being shot and broadcast at 25fps).


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