Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The greatest bargain ever.

I was in London on Monday — Read Clarke on Tom Ford in Friday’s Soaraway Ticket! — and picked up the greatest DVD bargain of all time. The British Film Institute has just set about reissuing a series of supposedly …

Wed, Feb 3, 2010, 22:04

   

I was in London on Monday — Read Clarke on Tom Ford in Friday’s Soaraway Ticket! — and picked up the greatest DVD bargain of all time. The British Film Institute has just set about reissuing a series of supposedly lost British films from the 1960s and 1970s under the title Flipside. The collection focuses on barmy comedies such as Dick Lester’s The Bed Sitting Room, experimental head-trips such as Don Levy’s Herostratus and quasi-exploitation flicks such as Lindsay Shonteff’s Permissive.

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An excellent look, Mr Newman.

There are (to me at least) few more interesting eras in cinemas than the fag end of the swinging London scene and — more fascinating still — the long period of feet-shuffling that came after. How the hell did any British director get anything made between Performance and Chariots of Fire? Through ingenuity and graft that’s how. Check out the gruesomely “shocking” Permissive for pointers. Better still — moving away from the BFI’s series — have a glance at the imperishable British horror film Blood on Satan’s Claw. It’s available in an excellent Tigon Pictures¬† set that comes in a coffin. Wooo!

Where was I? Oh yeah. As a taster for the series, the BFI has put together a DVD featuring an introduction by the unstoppable Kim Newman, one of the great men of contemporary cultural commentary, and a small collection of fantastically bizarre shorts. It’s called Kim Newman’s Guide to the Flipside of British Cinema and — here’s the thing — it only costs ¬£1.99. Okay, it doesn’t seem to have an Irish cert, but you can pick it up from the BFI’s website. While you’re there, you might splash out on Peter Watkins’s Privilege.¬† As Kim points out, this rock opera thungummy — an early film from the director of The War Game and Culloden — is rare in seeing the repressive consequences of much rock idolatry. Anyway, it’s no classic, but it’s a really fascinating piece of work.

On a side note, do you recognise the woman on the cover of Kim’s DVD? You know her well.

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