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April 18, 2014

How We Used to Live

Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne Go Back to the Future in a Paean to 20th-Century Living

“It’s been talked of as an ‘anti-nostalgic nostalgia film,’” says Travis Elborough, who co-wrote How We Used to Live with Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley. “We tried to make a portrait of the past but one that you can swim around in, as if you’re living it.” Excerpted in today’s retro-futuristic snapshot of the dawn of the computer age, the poetic trawl through a not-so-distant London is directed by Paul Kelly, who has already collaborated with the pioneering British electronic-pop band on Finisterre (2003), What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? (2005) and This is Tomorrow (2007). Weaving together analog color footage of the city from 1950 to 1980 sourced from the archive of the British Film Institute, it reawakens the vibrancy of a lost time with the aid of effervescent new music by Saint Etienne's Sarah Cracknell and Pete Wiggs, as well as a narration by Deadwood’s Ian McShane. “The future is never quite what you’d expect it to be, just as the past isn’t either,” says Elborough, whose reputation as a pop-historian has burgeoned in recent years with his books London Bridge in America and Beside the Seaside. “A lot of the footage is looking towards this bright tomorrow,” adds Kelly. “We’ve used it to look back, so we’ve kind of reversed the purpose.”

How We Used to Live will be screened at Southend-on-Sea Film Festival on May 5, and with a first ever live performance of the score by Saint Etienne at the Sheffield Documentary Festival on June 12.

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Spotlight

Riding Solo

Bonnie Wright Captures Chanteuse Sophie Lowe On a Free-Spirited Joyride Across Joshua Tree National Park

A heartbroken but defiant Sophie Lowe stars in actor-turned-filmmaker Bonnie Wright’s candid new music video. Without the usual entourage of hair and makeup artists, the longtime friends journeyed to the Mojave Desert for the first time, to capture Lowe’s soulful track “Dreaming”, which she recorded under her alter ego, Solo. “I was sitting on the back of my friend’s car to try and create the feeling of drifting, while also looking out for rangers,” explains English-born Australian Lowe, who when not writing songs is an actor, currently shooting the ABC show Once Upon a Time in Wonderland in Vancouver. “Meanwhile Bonnie was balancing herself on the car seats while we drove over the bumpy desert.” Wright was cast alongside Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson as Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter film series aged nine; following the blockbuster franchise’s end, she explored her interest in directing and screenwriting, training at the London College of Communication and debuting with Separate We Come, Separate We Go, which made the Short Film Corner at Cannes Film Festival in 2012. “I don’t think I would have been able to make that film in the tone it was made if I hadn’t ever acted,” says the now 22-year-old Wright. “Just because the relationship that you build up between director and actor is very intense.” Having just wrapped up her next short film in upstate New York, the London-based director reveals her fantasy collaborations and music heroes.

What was on the stereo when you were growing up?
Bonnie Wright:
The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground and James Taylor never left our family sound system, and they’re probably still the most played on my iPod.

The next band you’d like to direct a video for?
BW:
A long shot but I love the music of Tame Impala; their music lends itself to visuals beautifully.

Best music venue?
BW:
The Troxy in Limehouse, east London.

Your favorite thing about getting behind the camera after acting?
BW:
It’s fantastic to be part of both sides of the coin. I love directing as it allows me to tell my own stories, while acting is great for stepping into other people’s stories.

Your creative process in a nutshell?
BW:
My film concepts always begin with the particular emotion I am trying to evoke, say the sadness of loss. I then collect references, inspiration and write lots of disjointed sentences from light directions and thoughts, to actual dialogue. Then the way I work with my crew is very collaborative; I need them to be as emotionally invested as myself.

Dream collaboration?
BW:
Directing Christoph Waltz smoking a cigar and soaking in a hot spring in Iceland!

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Spotlight

Lawrence Rothman: Fatal Attraction

Floria Sigismondi Envisions the LA Singer’s Gothic Tale Of a Doomed Romance

Singer-songwriter Lawrence Rothman twists and contorts in today's tortured collaboration with director Floria Sigismondi. Signed to the filmmaker's label Mamaroma Records, this latest release is Rothman’s third collaboration with the director, and it continues the pair's shared penchant for darkness following the stylish and haunting “Montauk Fling.” “It’s a lot like a lucid dream,” says Rothman of his collaborator’s signature dark style that has featured in era-defining music videos for David Bowie, Björk and Marilyn Manson, that here moves away from elaborate set constructions, focusing instead on a portrait of the star in a hellish incarnation. The song was recorded on an antique piano that once belonged to illusionist Harry Houdini. “It had what looked to be very old blood stains on the lower octave keys,” says Rothman of the inherited piece, which was mysteriously ruined by a flood two days after the song was recorded, its dark history inspiring the track's tragic tale. “I imagined some old-school maestro or even Houdini himself howling his guts out over a fatal loss until his fingers bled.”

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