The irregular regular series returns with the team behind The World We Knew picking the first of a double bunch of fives. Two fisted as it were.
The World We Knew, the brand new movie from Powis Square Pictures is out in the USA on DVD and TVOD. A dark modern noir with a supernatural twist, the film was shot entirely in a haunted 16th Century manor house near Colchester (see our review here). We asked the Powis Square boys to come up with some magic fives and the first bunch is...
Chamber Pieces - 5 Other Great Single Location Movies
Chamber Piece – “A film involving a small number of characters interacting over a short period of time in a limited environment”.
The single location film saves not only money but equally importantly time – the lack of which is the greatest threat for any production. But the constraints of the setting mean you’d better have some pretty good ideas how to keep an audience interested. What sets these films apart is how they react to their limitations. Not being able to escape to pastures new helps to drive the anxiety and claustrophobia – and what once might have seemed a benign setting can suddenly change when the walls start to close in. These are five of the best.
KEY LARGO - 1948
When Iggy Pop played a cut from the soundtrack to our movie (by the brilliant Limiñanas) on his 6 Music show last year he was the first person to spot the influence of Key Largo. It’s a classic film noir starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Edward G. Robinson, trapped in a sweltering hotel as a menacing hurricane approaches. Claire Trevor won an Academy Award for her role as the soused gangster’s moll, cruelly forced to sing for a swig of booze. The film cheats the ‘one location’ decree a little at the end by sending Bogie off in a boat to the Florida Straits to battle the baddies but, hell, in our book the great John Huston gets to bend the rules whenever he damn well pleases.
LA CABINA – 1972
How best to sell our next choice? How about “a near wordless, 35 minute Spanish TV film set entirely in a phone box”. OK, maybe we should steer clear from writing pull quotes or else you could miss out on this excellent slice of macabre, Buñuel-esque horror. It has the simplest of set ups (man gets stuck in telephone booth) and yet manages in its short run time to move from black comedy to the sort of killer final scene that stays with you for an age. Shot during the last days of the Franco regime, it has been claimed as a metaphor for everything from the sinister reach of a fascist state to primitive man’s reluctance to leave the cave. It seems there’s a different theory for each viewer. Catch it on YouTube. You won’t be disappointed.
LA GRANDE BOUFFE – 1973
Films that could only be made in the 70s, part 112. Take four megastars of European cinema, stick them in a villa on the outskirts of Paris and press record as they eat themselves into the grave. This is the premise of Marco Ferrari’s brilliant and vulgar satire. Death by flatulence, groaning tables filled with naked bodies and haute cuisine, a queasy race to eat the most oysters – it’s as if someone slipped a Razzle between the pages of Larousse Gastronomique. By turns grotesque, hilarious and puerile, it ventures where other metaphorical class critiques fear to tread. To paraphrase Friedrich Engels, it is impossible to ridicule the decadence of the bourgeoisie if you don’t explode the odd toilet.
THE THING - 1982
Cards on the table – the head of the gang of armed robbers in our film is named after John Carpenter so it’s unsurprising that we are big fans. It seems incredible now that the film was hated on its initial release, but then the 80s was a real boom time for morons. A few years ago, Powis Square Pictures went on a works outing to see a 70mm print of this film on the big screen. Unfortunately the celluloid had degraded, causing all the white colours in the movie to turn a light pink. This proves problematic when your film is set in the snowbound Antarctic in the middle of a blizzard and had the unfortunate effect of making MacReady look like he was doing battle against a homicidal alien whilst trapped in a candy floss factory. And yet, even after all that – one of the very best movies ever made.
FUNNY GAMES – 1997
A film so good that Michael Haneke made it twice. And again, at least for the first half hour, it looks like the parochial monied classes are in for another kicking. But then the film twists uncomfortably and we realise that it is actually us, the audience, who are in the firing line. As the two young home invaders begin to torture the family they have taken hostage, they actively discuss the viewer’s lust for violence and even break the fourth wall, egging on an uneasy complicity in what follows. It’s as if Alex and his Droogs had swapped their overalls for tennis whites but then handed us the straight razor. Haneke said he wanted to create a message about violence in the media by making an incredibly violent, but otherwise pointless movie. But there’s nothing hollow about this film. It’s a hard watch and easily the most divisive title on this list. Just maybe don’t save it for date night.
Main Image Youtube screengrab from Funny Games
The World We Knew is available on TVOD on various platforms in the USA.
Release dates for the rest of the world to be announced.