The Friday Afternoon Movie: Get Carter

Memorial Day is almost upon us in the States, and we here at The FAM have chosen to begin our long weekend with sex, drugs, and violence, as is our wont. Today we present 1971’s Get Carter, directed by Mike Hodges and starring Michael Caine; quite possibly one of the greatest gangster movies of all time, British or otherwise. Based on the novel Jack’s Return Home by Ted Lewis — which took its inspiration from the “one-armed bandit murder” in the north east of England in 1967 — it tells the story of one Jack Carter as he weaves his way through Newcastle’s seedy underworld in search of the truth of his brother Frank’s death, supposedly due to a drunk driving accident. In his wake he leaves a trail of bodies and a river of blood.

There is an image of Michael Caine for many people, greatly influenced by The Cider House Rules and his role as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, of a kindly, wise, and lovable older man with a cockney accent. For this audience Caine will be almost unrecognizable here. His Jack Carter is a ruthless man; death in a well-tailored suit. Carter’s rampage through Tyneside is relentlessly brutal culminating on a lonely, gray beach and ends on a note that takes the viewer completely by surprise, though the more astute will recognize the players from an exceedingly brief appearance at the very beginning of the film.

Get Carter is a highlight in a storied career and it remains one of my favorite movies. To be sure Caine has played many memorable characters besides Jack Carter, but few have had that kind of presence on screen. It’s a role almost completely devoid of pathos. Jack Carter is out for revenge, and he really doesn’t care how you or anyone else feels about it. All that’s certain is that he’ll get it, one way or another.

RIP, Larry Cassidy (Section 25)

Larry Cassidy, Section 25 frontman. Photo by Yeled.

Ugh. Larry Cassidy, a driving force behind Section 25 –the criminally under-appreciated, completely fucking wonderful post-punk/electronic group from Blackpool, England– has died, age 56. Cause of death is unknown at this time.

Produced early on by Ian Curtis, and sidelined somewhat by their label Factory Records in favor of more “iconic” bands, Section 25 never quite climbed out from underneath Joy Division’s long shadow, which is a shame. They had a haunting, punk/electronic/ambient sound that was unquestionably unique. As musician/writer  John Robb recently said in an obit for his old friend Cassidy last week:

[Section 25] were organised and had invented their own sound- a deceptively doomy, powerful, stripped down, bass driven, dissonant, post-punk that combined the nihilism of the times with Larry’s art school cool…

Section 25’s records stand the test of time and they deserve to be re-appraised– please don’t put them down as JD copyists, because they were anything but. They captured the darkness of the period and were psychedelic renegades with freaky music that they somehow shoehorned into a tough disco punk of their own– they were making this sound before Joy Division appeared, and I know that because they were doing it on our local Blackpool circuit.

Another great lost genius- maybe Larry Cassidy’s sad death will wake everyone up to how great his band was.

Indeed, and I sincerely hope that’s true, because Section 25 deserves a whole lot of love and recognition. Quickly culled from YouTube, here’s a sampling of their beautiful songs.

Better Than Coffee: A Fierce Pancake

Good morning! Fancy A Fierce Pancake for breakfast?


Eee! How could I have forgotten about these freakwads? I once loved their one-and-only studio album, A Fierce Pancake with the same passion reserved for exceptional goofballs like Primus, Billy Nayer Show, Mr Bungle, Idiot Flesh, Violent Femmes, Fishbone, and Adam the the Ants. But it’s been a long, long time since I last listened…

Is it just me, or does Mick Lynch look uncannily like Siege (yanno, if Siege were crossed with Ed Grimley and a lemur)?

Formed in London in 1983, Stump were a legendary Anglo-Irish indie/experimental/rock group inspired by Captain Beefheart. The lineup was Kev Hopper on bass, Rob McKahey on drums, Chris Salmon on guitar, and Mick Lynch on vocals. They toured a lot in the mid 80s on a couple of brilliant, bizarre EPs, and their energetic live shows quickly earned them a cult following. Then they got signed to a major label, apparently squabbled constantly during the production of AFP and broke up soon afterward, a quarter of a million pounds in debt to their record company, and never to be heard from again.*

The entire album is cracked fucking genius. It’s also very difficult to track down anymore. Beg, borrow, steal a copy if you can.

Suzanne Wurzeltod is Plotting Something Wondrous

“Alien Faced People of the World Unite!” by Suzanne Gerber.

The marvelous, nurse oft-mentioned curator/creator/writer Suzanne Gerber recently posted something on her main site,, that should catch the attention of artistic East Londoners:

I recently came to the conclusion that it’s about time for me to get my own little space for art and exhibitions. I know this is not going to happen from one day to another and I’m also fully aware of all the competition around and the dire economic times, but heck, this is as good or bad as any time to start a business when you put a mind as determined as mine to it and if I never try, I will never know.

I have been wanting to get a shop/show room for a long time now and I know that I’m not the only one with such grand hopes but zero cash. So here I am, asking you, fellow (preferably East) London creative/artist/designer/utopian to join forces with me and share a space for creative endeavours with me. I’m looking particularly (but not exclusively) for:

  • An artist in need of a studio
  • A (fashion) designer in need of a shop space
  • A creative hairdresser in need of a salon
  • An (art) book/mag/graphic novel nerd/collector in need of a book shop
  • A restaurateur in need of a small café
  • A combination of the above
  • Someone who already owns a space with a creative direction and wants to rent parts of it out

So if you’re any of the above or know of someone who is and if you have been wanting to have a space of your own for a while and are committed, trustworthy, hardworking and willing to make human sacrifices, please do get in touch so that we can discuss everything over a few cups of hazelnut soy latte.

Best of luck, lovely lady. Break limbs and hearts and piggy banks, whatever it takes! Hoping to hear a lot more about this in the coming months.

John Nolan’s Animatronics

It’s a little sad, how the advent of CGI rendered much of the animatronics industry obsolete just when cinematic robotics were starting to get so intricate, so lifelike. But the technology retains its place, and under certain circumstances, there’s still a definite advantage to using animatronics instead of CGI or stop motion. Some truly badass robotic FX artists have continued to find plenty of work. Take British wunderkind John Nolan, for instance:

Squeee! Although a relative newcomer, Nolan’s already worked on everything from Hellboy to Where the Wild Things to Doctor Who to Harry Potter. You have to check out his entire show reel. Incredible stuff.

Via DJ Dead Billy, cheers!

BTC, Bonus Edition: I Hate the Bloody Queeeeeeeen!

There are some days when one cup of coffee, can of Jolt, or installment of Better than Coffee just isn’t enough. This Monday was such a day for me, until I stumbled across this lost masterpiece of punk rock. Hot on the heels of this morning’s regular BTC installment (Mer discussing the infectious Hindi rock n’ roll ditty Eena Meena Deeka), here’s an extra shot for all you late risers and morning zombies. Ladies and gentlemen, The Queenhaters!

This punk parody appeared on the Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV in 1983, featuring Martin Short as the lead singer, Andrea Martin as the lead guitarist/back-up vocalist, Eugene Levy as the second guitarist, Joe Flaherty on bass, and John Candy on drums. It later received its very own cover by Mudhoney.

Via Milly, who adds that she totally wishes that these guys were real.

BTC: The Royal Ballet’s “Tales of Beatrix Potter”

Hey, can we all pool our resources and send fresh bouquets of snapdragons n’ dafferdillies to British ballet choreographer Frederick Ashton every day for the rest of his life? Seriously:

Piggy pas de deux! Jemima Puddle-Duck on pointe!

Must. Stop. Squealing.

The original film version of Tales of Beatrix Potter, shot in 1971, has twice been staged by the Royal Ballet, once in 1992, and more recently in 2007. The score –arranged and composed by John Lanchbery– delightfully interweaves melodies from old vaudeville ditties with more classical forms. The masks, costumes and production design are all so squee-inducingly adorable as to border on the demented. But it’s the incredible range of expression and dynamicism of Ashton’s choreography that brings beloved characters like Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Squirrel Nutkin and Hunca Munca so vibrantly to life. I’d give just about anything to see a production of this at the Royal Opera House. Here’s hoping it comes back sooner than later! Meantime, there are tons of clips to watch online, and a DVD to buy.

(Still squealing. Can’t be helped.)

Teddy Boys

The British Teddy Boy subculture is typified by young men wearing clothes inspired by the styles of the Edwardian period, which Savile Row tailors had tried to re-introduce after World War II. The group got its name after a 1953 newspaper headline shortened Edward to Teddy and coined the term Teddy Boy (also known as Ted).

So sayeth the neck-beards at Wikipedia in the entry for Teddy Boy, a sub-culture heretofore unknown to me. The article goes on to credit the Teddy Boys with helping to create a youth market in England, having been one of the first groups to identify as teenagers with a specific code of dress, perhaps only predated by the Scuttlers of mid 19th century Liverpool and Manchester. Scuttlers, as an interesting aside, were identified as wearing an eclectic get-up of:

[…] brass-tipped pointed clogs, bell-bottomed trousers, cut like a sailor’s (“bells” that measured fourteen inches round the knee and twenty-one inches round the foot) and “flashy” silk scarves. Their hair was cut short at the back and sides, but they grew long fringes, known as “donkey fringes”, that were longer on the left side and plastered down on the forehead over the left eye with oil or soap. Peaked caps were also worn tilted to the left to display the fringe.

Another Mr. Lizard: The Miracle of “Jam”

Two acquired tastes: British comedy, and the type of laughs that come within milliseconds of uttering the phrase “what did I just witness? That was so wrong.” If you’re allergic to either brand of humor, particularly the latter, stay back. Click away, because these clips will take you to a dark, dark place. To the rest of you assholes who think that dead babies are funny: welcome to the world of Jam, the most twisted sketch comedy series ever produced.

Jam is one of those great shows that’s been reduced to YouTube tatters due to music licensing issues. The episodes are interlaced with dreamy, ambient sounds by the likes of Low, Beta Band, Aphex Twin and Brian Eno. If you’ve never seen the show, let us begin at the beginning. Below is Episode 1, Part 1. It begins with “an invocation of sorts” (there was one of these at the beginning of every episode; here’s another opener), and leads right into “It’s About Ryan,” a sketch about two concerned parents asking their child’s godfather to gain the affections of a local pervert in order to keep him away from their boy (UPDATE: that video was removed by YouTube, so I’ve replaced it with a clip of “It’s About Ryan,” without the intro):

When dancing… lost in techno trance. Arms flailing, gawky Bez. Then find you snagged on frowns, and slowly dawns… you’re jazzing to the bleep-tone of a life support machine, that marks the steady fading of your day old baby daughter. And when midnight sirens lead to blue-flash road-mash. Stretchers, covered heads and slippy red macadam, and find you creeping ‘neath the blankets to snuggle close a mangled bird, hoping soon you too will be freezer drawered. Then welcome… blue chemotherapy wig, welcome. In Jam. Jaaam. Jaaaaaaam…

The show, written by Chris Morris (with occasional help from the cast) is a successor to Blue Jam, which ran on BBC Radio 1, and was described by the Beeb as “the funniest nightmare you never had.” In some ways, the radio show (which you can listen to here) went even further than the televised version. But since I love the look of the actors (particularly the crazy gleam in Mark Heap’s eye!), the TV version has always been my favorite.

Many of my most beloved Jam clips are now impossible to find online. They disappear, audio tracks get erased by YouTube. So watch these while you can! Type “Chris Morris Jam” into YouTube and enter a world stranger than you ever imagined. Below are some highlights:

I’ve included these videos (and some other gems) after the jump. Enjoy! [Many thanks to my friend Mildred for introducing me to this show]

BTC: Shiny, Shiny, Bad Times Behind Me…

Damn it, my laptop’s power supply cable just queefed and died. I’ll have to be extra quick with BTC this morning before my little external brain goes sreepytime. Luckily, I have just the thing cued up on my playlist:

Scrumptious promo image for HF’s first (and only) album, Battle Hymns For Children Singing. I can’t be the only one who imprinted on Kate Garner’s fashion designs. Stripey, stripey…

Ragamuffin pop duo Haysi Fantayzee *cough* formed in London in the early 80s. Typing out that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad name is like nails on a grammarian’s chalkboard, and the label “Dickensian Hillbilly Rasta” makes me cry blood. Still, I love these guys with a deep, doofy devotion rivaled only by the size of my permaboner for fellow Brit-fops Adam Ant and Boy George.

Performed by Jeremiah Healy and Kate Garner, produced by Garner’s then-boyfriend Paul Caplin, Haysi Fantayzee’s *twitch* UK dance hit, “Shiny Shiny” is quite possibly the most chipper song about the apocalypse ever written (short of Fishbone’s “Party at Ground Zero”). May the antics of these two sexy human fraggles help you dance your cute petudies all the way to work.

A couple more Haysi Fantayzee *gack* clips after the jump.