Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Show Pieces: Alan Moore Turns Northampton into Nighthampton
Moore wanted to assure the world he was not the mystery clown stalking the
streets of Northampton, so that everyone would know he is not completely nuts.
The occultist-political extremist graphic novelist is a lifelong Northampton
resident, so it was hardly surprising when people started to speculate. James “Jimmy”
Mitchum will not be leaving Northampton (or Nighthampton, as he will soon know
it) anytime soon yet either. That is because the old cad is dead, but he does
not realize it yet. Unfortunately, there are even worse revelations in store
for Mitchum in Show Pieces (trailer here), a feature-length
collection of interconnected short films scripted by Moore and directed by
Mitch Jenkins, which releases today on a deluxe DVD set in the UK.
what the heck is this, again? Show Pieces
the feature film collected three sequential shorts, featuring the same cast
of characters. It had some decent fest play, as one would expect, given Moore’
cult following (and cult really is the right word). This would be the version
we have seen. The DVD release is augmented with two additional short films that
plug gaps in the narrative.
Show Pieces the feature and
DVD both start with Act of Faith,
easily the most problematic of the original three. This will be Faith
Harrington’s last night on Earth, but the fate Moore has in store for her feels
viciously misogynistic. He seems to invite us to conclude she had it coming.
Nevertheless, it is all quite well played by Siobhan Hewlitt.
Show Pieces is all about the impossibility
of redemption, it somewhat redeems itself with Jimmy’s End. Experiencing some sort of amnesia, Mitchum walks into
a strange bar called St. James End. That is nothing new for him, but he won’t
be walking out of this one. Slow on the uptake, he has yet to figure out this
establishment is a sort of purgatory, or worse. However, he readily agrees to
help Harrington, who has become somewhat accustomed to the place, as well as the
creepy attentions of the co-manager.
the concluding His Heavy Heart, we
learn that sort of chivalry is out of character for Mitchum. It turns out it is
time for his reckoning—and it will not be pretty. Desperate to avoid his grisly
comeuppance, Mitchum tries to cut a deal, but he will soon learn what sort of
Faustian bargains are available to those who have already forfeited their souls.
Show Pieces is an uneven but
intriguing urban fantasy netherworld, sort of like a Twin Peaks film nearly entirely set within the Black Lodge. Of the
two additional shorts, Upon Reflection,
chronicling Harrington’s immediate arrival at the eerie club, sounds like it
would smooth out some of the narrative rough patches that are rather
conspicuous in the festival cut. On the other hand, A Professional Relationship, focusing on the testy partnership of
the club’s managers looks a bit tangential on paper, but it could certainly be
its creepy clowns and gory rituals, Show
Pieces is not for the faint of heart. However, it is a terrific showcase
for Darrell D’Silva, one of the most egregiously unsung actors working steadily
today. Jenkins and the cinematographers for the St. James End sequences, Trevor
Forrest and Andrei Austin, make everything glow in a nocturnal neon noir kind
of way. Some parts are definitely distasteful, but it still leaves viewers
intrigued enough to speculate where Moore and Jenkins might take the story
next. Whether it is worth ordering as an import is a question on;y Moore fanatics
can only answer for themselves. Casual viewers should wait for a reasonably
price domestic edition to be released, or just not worry about it. For
diehards, the Show Pieces boxed set
is now on-sale in the UK.
Labels: Alan Moore, DVD