Gruff Rhys is taking over the film picks at End of the Road festival – he takes you on a tour of his choices
Legally Blonde 2 doesn't make the cut
Words by Dominic Haley
Few festivals now just do the music thing. End of the Road provide a varied offering but do it much better than most. So along with a line-up that boasts the likes of St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend and Feist there’s plenty else going on at Larmer Tree Gardens 30 August – 2 September. This year EOTR are welcoming some special guest curators to assist with their film programme. The Prince Charles Cinema take over The Cinema on Saturday and Sunday of the event. They’re bringing a bunch of cult favourites, as well as screening a quote-along screening of The Princess Bride. If you’re looking to ease yourself in, Thursday night’s Cinema line-up has been handpicked by Gruff Rhys. Here the Super Furry Animals man explains what you’re likely to expect, and why.
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Animation – 1989 – Rated U – Dir. Hayao Miyazaki for Studio Ghibli
I chose this one because I thought it would be a good afternoon film for any kids at the festival. It’s a film I’ve watched a lot with my kids and the lead character is an independent witch who gets to leave home. I think at a festival it’s good to have that sense of freedom. It’s quite a sweet film, really.
My kids found it quite empowering – it planted the idea in their heads that they could leave home one day. It’s going to be on on the Thursday night and I think the film’s spirit of exploration is what you need at the start of a festival. The main character spends most of the film looking for a place to set up as a newly independent person and it’s a great way to set you up for a weekend wandering around discovering new bands.
French Political – 1967 – Rated PG – Dir. John-Luc Godard
Music festivals have this radical past and it’s nice to connect with that on the first night. La Chinoise is about these young radicals who attempt to live via these revolutionary ideas but find it difficult. If people are walking in and out drunk, I’m hoping they’ll get bombarded by a few Maoist political slogans for a couple of minutes.
It’s one of Jean-Luc Goddard’s first films and I love all its sloganeering. It came out the year before the big 1968 revolt in France and it really manages to capture the energy around that time. It’s got a really graphic style, with a great use of text and it’s able to discuss really heavy and profound politics using pop art boldness. It also features a cool French communist pop song called ‘Mao Mao’, which sounds like quite a contradiction in terms, but then, I suppose the whole idea of the film is sort of contradiction in terms.
Horror – 1983 – Rated 18 – Dir. Michael Mann
This is not Michael Mann’s greatest film, but I have a real personal connection to it, so I try and hype it at any opportunity. I chose it for End of the Road because it has a really good soundtrack from Tangerine Dream. It’s actually one of their best film scores but is sort of overlooked these days, so it seems like a good chance to rediscover it.
The film’s set in Transylvania and is sort of this paranormal horror set during the Nazi occupation, but it was actually filmed in an old slate quarry in Wales. My sister’s mates were extras in it and I remember as a kid going to the set to watch it being shot, so it’s a film that’s very close to my heart. I can remember being 13 when the film took over the whole town of Llanberis and you had everyone walking around in 1940s military gear – it was really weird.
Horror – 1977 – Rated 18 – Dir. Dario Argento
This is a film that is a bit like a rock concert. The colours are so vibrant that even if you’re out of your mind you can appreciate the incredible colours and the soaring quality of the music. It’s a bit like going to a My Bloody Valentine concert when it’s played at a good volume. It pushes the idea of what film music can be.
I really like the imagery of it as well. It really recalls early 1970s Germany and records by people like Dusseldorf. The film starts with this mid-century Germanic airport, which really manages to capture the excitement of the future. It kind of starts with this really hopeful modernism and then descends into occult horror, all with this incredible soundtrack from Goblin.
The Belladonna of Sadness
Animation – 1973 – Rated 15 – Dir. Eiichi Yamamoto
This is an incredible animated film from Japan from the early ’70s, which Channel 4 used to show after the watershed. It’s got an incredible soundtrack that I’m hoping they’ll play really loud. Masahiko Sato wanted it to sound like French pop and the film itself is this Japanese-take on French style cinema. It’s all psychedelic guitars and funky drums. In fact, the soundtrack was reissued by Finders Keepers records and is well worth picking up if you can get it.
It’s definitely a midnight movie as it’s quite explicit, sexually. The animation is beautiful, though, even though some of the themes are really disturbing. Sometimes, the film just breaks down into pure illustration and other times it’s all this really psychedelic Japanese animation, so it’s a stunning film, visually, even if it can be quite perverted in places. I hope they put it on really late, because it’s definitely one that you need a couple of ciders for.