Alan Parker (1944-2020)

A subforum to discuss film culture and criticism both old and new, as well as memorializing public figures we've lost.
Message
Author
User avatar
ando
Bringing Out El Duende
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:53 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Alan Parker (1944-2020)

#26 Post by ando » Mon Aug 03, 2020 6:40 pm


moreorless
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:34 am

Re: Alan Parker (1944-2020)

#27 Post by moreorless » Fri Aug 07, 2020 5:35 am

A man stayed-put wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 6:30 pm
Roscoe wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:58 pm
I saw through ANGEL HEART almost immediately, and sat there giggling helplessly at way too much of it, the notion that it is some kind of horror movie is one of the funniest things about it. Mickey Rourke's Big Scene at film's end had me laughing out loud. I'll go along with SHOOT THE MOON as being Parker's best, and probably the best of the Family Collapse dramas of the period, but I'll always have some fondness for PINK FLOYD THE WALL.
I feel like it's as aware of its own ridiculousness as anyone who's looking to see through it, Rourke's character even verbalises how daft it all is. However the atmosphere, that nagging use of Girl of My Dreams and the, aforementioned, uncanny visuals have stuck with me since my first watch. I am biased by it being a a childhood touchstone, and I would never argue that it's a great film, but its charms (if you agree it has any) are very much due to Parker's direction.
Personally I'v always loved it(especially the UHD which looks excellent), you could say the concept is a little clichéd I spose but I think the quality of the performances manage to cut though what could have been clunk exposition. Besides the very end I wouldn't say it depends that heavily on the twists of the plot either, its more focus on building up atmosphere and a slow sense of doom around Rouke who I don't think was ever better.

The failure of Angel Heart and the success of Mississippi Burning seems to push Parker rather more towards the conventional and less interesting to me but the former plus Birdy and Midnight Express are enough for me to rate him very highly, I should really give Bugsy Malone a rewatch as well as I remember that being a rare musical I enjoyed growing up. I always found him one of the better directors when it came to making interesting comment on his own work as well whether in writing or on commentaries, neither too self aggrandising or self effacing.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Alan Parker (1944-2020)

#28 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Sep 18, 2020 3:38 am

There is a very funny moment in that Face To Face interview with Alan Parker (repeated a couple of nights ago on the BBC in tribute to the director's passing) where after Parker has been questioned about who he feels is the greatest British filmmaker and has immediately talked about Ken Loach the interviewer Jeremy Isaacs tentatively brings up Michael Powell only to be met with a completely stony reaction towards that particular filmmaker and a blunt "No" to the idea that Powell was one of the great directors! And when pressed no more than "he's just not my cup of tea"!

I guess that Isaacs might have brought Michael Powell up because before Parker he was probably the most famous director in the country to have a proclivity towards musical material, but got brought up short! But in that blunt dismissal by Parker I think that perhaps shows the philosophical differences between his films and those of Powell. Michael Powell's films, especially the musicals, are often lush, romantic reveries and almost always focused on internal concerns and how the world inside our heads both gets visualised in our fantasies and then often contrasted with how it goes on to be expressed and acted upon in the outside world. Whilst Alan Parker's films are mostly about the (often grimy, gritty, unjust) world outside and how the characters live in it and express themselves in response to their environments and the trials they are facing 'out there'. It perhaps best illustrates the contrast between an internal and external approach towards characterisation in their respective bodies of work!

I wonder if that itself perhaps might explain some of the more 'controversial' moments of Parker's works where characterisations get a bit too blunt and tip over into arguably unintended crassness, because a focus on externalised elements acting as plot drivers means that there cannot be too much extra nuance put into the brutal portrayal of the Turkish prison system and its guards or the steamy gay prison shower love scene in Midnight Express for example. Or you need the actual devil to turn up as a character in Angel Heart rather than anything more abstract than that! They are not standing for anything more complex than what they are representing on the surface, and you as the audience are free to just take it or leave it at that. (That also works in the more exuberant moments too, where the pie fight at the end of Bugsy Malone in the end even feels as if it eschews any 20s gangster tropes of 'custard pies being the child friendly equivalent of horrible murder' for just revelling in the glorious chaos of messy fun!)

Plus the characters in Parker's films are perhaps not hugely self-reflective, or rather they reflect but often more upon the injustices that have been imposed upon them by external forces rather than upon anything they may have had a hand in themselves. I suppose in that sense Ken Loach is a good figure to link with Alan Parker!

Post Reply