Thursday, 21 June 2012

DVD Review: You Only Live Once

Directed By: Fritz Lang
Starring: Henry Fonda, Sylvia Sidney, Barton MacLane
Henry Fonda stars as ex-con, Eddie Taylor, who attempts to settle down with Joan, played by Sylvia Sidney, after a life of petty crime. The attempt fails as he’s accused of taking part in a brutal bank robbery. Sentenced to death, he goes on the run with his pregnant girlfriend.
This second American film from Fritz Lang is definitely one of his best, despite being one of his lesser known movies. The movie begins light in tone and grows ever more increasingly dark as the running time progresses. It paved the way for noir filmmaking and is seen as the original “Lovers on the Run” movie. It is said to be based upon Bonnie and Clyde , who were gunned down a few years previously, but the world in which Eddie and Sylvia inhabit is a lot less savoury. 75 years later, the movie is still unsettling and deliciously ambiguous.  
What’s most interesting about the movie is that it isn’t judgemental; it shows us enough about Eddie for us to form an opinion as to whether or not he deserves the lot that has been given to him. On the surface, the movie could be about a man hard done by in society. On the other hand, Eddie is culpable. He’s not a bad person but isn’t given an opportunity to rehabilitate. The world in which the characters inhabit do not reward failure and doesn’t forgive and forget. Everyone in Lang’s movie seems to have a criminal flaw, where greed is much of a motivation.
Although not entirely convincing, Fonda is still very good as a young man cast aside by society and mistreated on the assumption that he’s an overall bad person. The acting keeps the movie from spilling over into full melodrama, like Lang’s previous movie “Fury”. Sylvia Sidney is excellent as the person who provides the light in Eddie’s life and potentially the reason for him to attempt to avoid being sucked into a life of crime. The irony is that he’s pulled into it anyway, through decisions by himself and others. Thirty years before Fonda would be criticised for playing an out and out killer in Sergio Leone's sublime elegiac Once Upon a Time in the West, here he is playing a morally ambiguous character.
This movie has been deserving of a full restoration for years and finally we have it here.
It is a bleak story made all the more interesting by the acting and Lang’s choices of camera angles, which at times are unusual but showcase the director’s flair. The film benefits in a number of scenes, from following the silent era. Some of the best shots are those where communication is implied through looks instead of potentially inadequate dialogue. There are many striking and iconic images to enjoy in the movie, the style of which influenced a number of movies subsequently. If you want to watch a master at work, pick up this latest release of You Only Live Once in all its restored glory at all good stockists now.

Score: 8/10

Hong Kong 15 Film Festival

Hong Kong 15 Film Festival’ announces its much anticipated programme to mark the 15th Anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty

1st July marks fifteen years since Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty. To commemorate this special occasion, the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office, London, in association with Terracotta Festival, has put together an exciting film festival to showcase the best of current Hong Kong films as well as to look back on the last fifteen years and beyond.

The ‘Hong Kong 15 Film Festival’ will take place at the Odeon Covent Garden, London, commencing 2nd July 2012 for a fortnight until 14th July. With guests in attendance and fifteen films carefully selected, the festival will pay tribute to the extraordinary story of this vibrant and energetic island city through the eyes of its film-makers.

The diversity of Hong Kong cinema will be represented through a panorama of films divided in three sections: ‘Currents’, ‘15 Years Review’ and ‘Shaw Brothers Classics’.

The Festival will open with multi-award-winning drama, A Simple Life by acclaimed director Ann Hui, starring Hong Kong star Andy Lau and a comeback performance from the highly decorated Deanie Ip who won the Best Actress at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. The event will be attended by Roger Lee, the producer and writer whose life story the film is based on.

Other highlights of the ‘Currents’ section include Life Without Principle by prolific filmmaker Johnnie To and The Bounty by Fung Chi Chiang.

Made in Hong Kong, directed by Fruit Chan, is a groundbreaking film which found great local and international acclaim for its release 15 years ago. It remains an uncommon Hong Kong example of a true independent film and will open the ‘15 Year Review’section to lead the way for other highly influential contemporary Hong Kong directors such as Pang Ho Cheung, Andrew Lau and Alan Mak.

‘Hong Kong 15 Film Festival’ wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for the legendary Shaw Brothers Studios and, as an homage to the most significant film production company in the history of Hong Kong Cinema, festival goers will be able to indulge in two martial arts masterpieces on the big screen: 1967 blockbuster One Armed Swordsman and one of the greatest Kung Fu film, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978).

Talent attending the event will travel courtesy of Sponsor-in-Kind, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's flagship carrier.
Other cultural tributes for the occasion will take place such as the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday 1st July in London and the screening of Big Blue Lake at the Cornerhouse, Manchester on Friday 6th July.

Visit the festival website for regular Festival updates, tickets, times

‘Hong Kong 15 Film Festival’ full programme:

-         CURRENTS:
A Simple Life - by Ann Hui, 2011
Big Blue Lake - by Jessey Tsang Tsui-Shan, 2011
White Vengeance - by Daniel Lee, 2011
Life Without Principle - by Johnnie To, 2011
The Bounty - by Fung Chi Chiang, 2012
The Detective 2 - by Oxide Pang, 2011
East Meets West 2011 by Jeffrey Lau, 2011
Wu Xia - by Peter Chan, 2011

-         15 YEARS: A REVIEW
Made In Hong Kong- by Fruit Chan, 1997
When Beckham Met Owen - by Adam Wong, 2004
Infernal Affairs - by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, 2002
Sparrow - by Johnnie To, 2008
Dream Home - by Pang Ho-cheung, 2010

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin - by Liu Chia-Liang, 1978
One Armed Swordsman - by Chang Cheh, 1967

Updated 22/06/12:

2nd – 14th July
Odeon Covent Garden


Terracotta are pleased to be co-organising the ‘Hong Kong 15 Film Festival’ with the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office, London.
The festival is organised to mark the 15 year anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty through celebrating Hong Kong films and film-makers in this existing festival.
It is a must-attend event for fans of world cinema, Hong Kong films, Far East films and mainstream audiences looking for a recommendation on what’s hot from Hong Kong right now.
There’s plenty to choose from, with films grouped into three sections: Currents (new films), 15 Years Review (a look back on some significant films since the handover), Shaw Brothers Classics (a rare double-bill treat of the martial arts films that sparked international interest in Hong Kong cinema).
It’s not just a chance to watch films that are rarely shown in UK cinemas, it’s a chance to meet actors and directors too.
*** Stay tuned for our announcement on which actors and directors will be attending the festival – we have a mixture of fresh talent and old legends to tell you about***
‘Hong Kong 15 Film Festival’ will take place at Odeon Covent Garden, 135 Shaftesbury Avenue, from 2nd -14th July 2012.

Tickets are on sale now!
Prices: £9 (£8 concessions NUS, OAP)