See the Light!!!!

Are you a cinema and art enthusiast interested in something a little different from the norm?The Lux Cinema and gallery might well be right up your street.

This new lottery-funded purpose-built complex sees the amalgamation of the LEA (London Electronic Arts) and the LFMC (LondonFilm-maker’s Co-op). Together they hope to create an explosion of cutting-edge and confrontational work. With contemporary British Art and Film presently gripping not only the nation but the entire world, the opening of the Lux Centre could not have happened at a more exciting time.

The Lux Centre is Britain’s first centre for integrated practice in film, video and new media. It continues the co-op’s workshops but re-equips them with state-of-the-art digital technology. The LFMC celebrates its 31st anniversary safe in the knowledge that it continues to produce work that breaks political and cultural boundaries. It seems to have managed to tiptoe around the myriad commercial traps that frequently attend heavy public funding. And it is reassuring to see that within the Lux Centre it will be able to continue its tradition of supporting countercultural work from contemporary artists.

The opening program, which included Andrew Kotting’s London premiere of Gallivant alongside specially commissioned new work, exemplifies the centre’s attitude. The program on 11th October was a taste of things to come, with Jonathan Romney, Deputy editor of The Guardian’s film section hosting a question-and-answer session with Patrick Keiller after a screening of his latest film, Robinson in Space. This was followed by a conference entitled Is British Film Making as Volatile as the Weather?, which brought together a disparate host of directors, producers and critics. This just goes to show how keen the centre is to invest time and effort into Britain’s stimulating avant-garde film and art industry.

The Lux Centre is conveniently situated next to the Blue Note at 2-4 Hoxton Square, London N1.

Annemarie Lean-Vercoe

The trouble with Darklands is that it just isn’t dark enough. It’s certainly grim watching, but it’s grim because it’s bad, rather than bad. My friends get a little pissed off when I complain about having to watch so many movies. How bad can it be getting free tickets to anything I want to see? Well, in addition to anything I want to see, there’s everything I don’t want to see but am obliged to. Darklands fits firmly into this second category.

Julian Richards wrote and directed this, his debut feature, to show that he can make a film. He hopes that it will do well enough to secure him backing for a $20million project he has planned. Well, the film has done well on the horror film festival circuit, winning four awards at the Fantas Porto festival; a silver medal at the Houston Worldfest; and the prize for best European fantasy film at this year’s European Fantasy Film Federation. But as there are more than six hundred film festivals run each year, those awards really don’t mean very much. In this case, they mean absolutely nothing.

Richards is Welsh. The film is set in Wales and joint funded by the Welsh lottery. It follows a journalist as he investigates a series of animal sacrifices that have taken place in churches around the industrial south of the country. It eventually transpires that the sacrifices are a Welsh revivalist group’s response to the presence of the English. They equate Christianity with Englishness, Paganism with Welshness. The journalist is Welsh but has been brought up in London. He speaks no Welsh. So he can’t even argue his case when he finds out that he is to be the next sacrificial offering.

It’s a strange film for the Welsh lottery to have backed. But then again it’s a strange film for anyone to have backed. Darklands seems destined to become a cult film. One of the requirements for any cult film seems to be that no-one should have seen it. Why not help it on its way?

And so, finally, to Ma Vie en Rose. After three worse than mediocre films, we at last reach something half decent. Not that Ma Vie en Rose is a masterpiece or anything. Just that it seems so when compared with the rest of this week’s releases.

Alain Berliner’s debut feature went straight from being the talk of the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes 1997 to being the Opening Film for this year’s Scottish Screen Edinburgh International Film Festival. It finally arrives for public consumption on screens throughout London this Friday. There are certainly worse ways of spending a couple of hours. Particularly if you take advantage of our above offer and go to see it for free.

The film follows a French family as they move to a suburbia which is a cross between that of Mike Leigh’s films and that of Edward Scissorhands. Petty quarrels are explored in day-glo colours to a French Massive Attackesque soundtrack.

If this all sounds rather odd, then it’s because it is. The family just wants to be accepted, but that becomes rather difficult when eight-year-old Ludovic announces that when he grows up he will be a girl. Things become even more difficult when he adds that he’ll marry the next-door-neighbour’s son. This is particularly unfortunate as the next-door-neighbours are the employers of Ludovic’s father.

First Ludovic and then the entire family are ostracised. The family falls to pieces, and so, to some extent, does the film. The trouble with the film is that it is too ambitious. It tells a very unhappy tale, yet attempts to tell it through Ludovic’s supposedly rose-tinted fantasy-escape glasses. Hence all the technicolour trip-hop sequences. But the happy fantasy scenes jar unconvincingly with the extremely painful bullying scenes, and the happy ending is completely unbelievable.

But the film is the film of the week. Because of some great performances. But more because it is up against such abysmal competition.

Clive Johnson


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