Bananaz and Good Dick were shown at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2008. I was pretty underwhelmed with both, but for what it’s worth here’s my thoughts.
This is basically a roughly shot documentary featuring lots of footage of Damon Albarn and to a lesser extent Jamie Hewlett, mainly arsing about. There isn’t much insight in terms of the artwork or technology involved in creating the visuals, with the focus being on the hassles that are involved in doing press and gigs for what is basically an imaginary band. There are some interesting bits; the brilliant musicians Albarn is able to enlist; when he and Hewlett have an argument about staying in character for press interviews; when Albarn is quizzed on the meaning of the lyrics for Kids with Guns by a devout Christian Gospel troupe leader, and when Dennis Hopper admits to being terrified about appearing live and reminisces about a former lover. Plus a terrifying clip of Shaun Ryder (the best argument yet for not taking drugs, kids).
All in all it does give an insight into the process behind one of the best musical marketing ideas ever (for what is basically Albarn’s solo career) – but it’s far too long, the filming is perfunctory at best, and while it would make a great DVD extra, it wasn’t really worthy of being shown in a huge cinema.
This bizarre film, which is about a guy who works in a video shop who attempts to start up a relationship with a girl who regularly comes in to rent porn films. Marianna Palka, director and lead actress, and her co-star Jason Ritter were there for a Q&A afterwards, and as Palka originally hails from Glasgow her entire family were there, including her Granny (who must be very open-minded for someone of an older generation, given the sexual nature of the subject matter and explicit dialogue).
They both seemed great people and this film was also obviously a labour of love. The producers were also there, and announced they would be self-distributing the film in the US after it didn’t get picked up by a major distributor in the US. The film is funny – but it’s an uncomfortable funny because you don’t actually get to know the motivations for either characters’ behaviours until near the end of the film. So you could easily mistake Ritter’s character’s behaviour for that of a stalker, and find it inexplicable why he would continue to pursue a woman who has repeatedly told him to leave her alone.
It does all make sense in the end though and once you find out the whole story it is quite moving and gives an insight into sex from a particular female point of view that is rarely seen onscreen. But I thought some of the events in the film don’t seem to ring true and it all seems a bit misguided, though well intentioned. It also felt quite amateur, not helped by the terrible soundtrack which I think dated the film unnecessarily. Having said that I can understand that low-budget filmmakers often can’t afford to be picky about the music they use. Despite my reservations the film has got good reviews from The Skinny and elsewhere.