The Sharpener Magic Lantern Society

Here’s something a bit different for The Sharpener – a film club. There’ll be a secret handshake and everything.

I’m going to nominate a film and invite Sharpener readers to go and watch it. Next week I’ll write a short retrospective – a review with a few interesting facts (if I can find any) – and then throw the discussion open.

If the idea proves (even remotely) popular I’ll look to making it a regular feature and maybe other Sharpener contributors will offer to choose films and chair discussions as well.

Anyway, the first film I’d like to chew over is Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation. It’s a while since I’ve seen it so I’m keen to revisit it to see if the themes of surveillance and paranoia still resonate (it was made in 1974) in this age of encroaching authoritarianism, CCTV and impending ID cards.

Hope to see you next week. Have a few pints before you come so we can make it a proper film chat.

(I’d argue that The Conversation deserves a place on everybody’s DVD shelf. Amazon has got it for under a fiver and there’s a bunch of them going for quids on eBay.)

Update: Here’s a pleasing little synchronicity. For UK readers, The Conversation is being shown on BBC2 at 12.05am on Sunday night/Monday morning. Set the video.

  1. I refuse to participate unless you make it a double-bill with the far superior semi-sequel Enemy of the State. So there.

  2. Justin said:

    Haven’t you got a Highlander all-nighter to go to?

  3. Monday’s Jean-Claude Van Damme night: Cyborg, Bloodsport, Kickboxer, and rounded off with the truly superb Double Impact – two Jean-Claudes for the price of one. Quality.

  4. Can’t I nominate ‘Come and See‘, ‘R-Point‘ or ‘M‘, three DVDs that I have bought but that my partner is reluctant to watch. This ‘club’ will give me the persuasive weight of a rationale, of kinds, for putting her through these films.

  5. Come and See is one of the most harrowing films you’re ever likely to see. I can understand your partner’s reluctance, Andrew. The Conversation is one of my favourite films though, and this is a perfect excuse for a rewatch.

  6. Not a bed-time movie then?

    A trip to Fopp is in order for the Hackman classic, then.

  7. Benjamin said:

    Great movie, apprently the favourite of Coppola and Hackman. Coppola could only raise finance for the movie after his success with Godfather.

  8. Benjamin said:

    Enemy of the State is good, but I don’t think Will Smith was particularly believable.

  9. Oh why did you have to go and start this when I’m trapped in Germany without a DVD or video player, condemend to watch only whatever MTV, CNN, and Eurosport can offer me?

  10. Funny old world! I only bought The Conversation a couple of weeks ago. Not having any friends, I look forward to having someone with whom to discuss it, so chop chop!

  11. Justin said:

    Larry, they not got cheap players over there? They’re practically giving them away with breakfast cereal over here.

  12. Justin, maybe, but the problem is that my TV is so ancient that it hasn’t got a SCART plug. So I’d have to buy a new TV as well. As I’m (a) only here for 6 months, and (b) broke, I don’t think I will – unless I can find an super-cheap second hand one.

  13. How much is a second hand PS2 over there? No SCART cable needed to watch DVDs there. At least, not in the British packages – they have to be compatible with kids’ bedroom tellies, after all.

  14. Good choice, The Conversation. Had it on DVD for a while. Walter Murch – my editing god – worked on it.

  15. Gary said:

    Dammit, if I wasn’t so ridiculously busy for the next couple of weeks this would be a perfect use of my time! And shamefully I haven’t seen the Conversation either.

    Can we have some Woddy Allen at some point?

  16. Justin said:

    How about Love and Death at some point? I reckon it’s the finest comedy ever made.

    In fact, I’m tempted to do it next…