Those of you who follow the 'British pop and indie darlings' will know that's also the title of their most recent album, and as you might expect there are themes in common between them. Music from the album is used in the film, and the narrator of the film is Michael Jayston, who also introduces a lot of the songs on the album with short vocal snippets.
So, what's the film about (assuming you're still reading this, and not the onedotzero summary)? Well, it's a 'psychogeographic look at London', structured as a series of observations and vignettes through a twenty-four hour period. It seems like it owes a debt to Patrick Keiller's London, which is a narrative of the city during 1992. (Mind you, I haven't seen London, although I have seen the followup, Robinson in Space, which extends the scope of the narrative to the whole of England, and which definitely shares a certain style with Finisterre.)
The title of this entry- six million Londons- refers to the fact that everyone seems to have their own vision of the city; their own path through it in both space and time. The remarkable thing about this film, and why I enjoyed it, is that it intersected so well with mine, or at least my ideal. There's a section early on of the rush to work, short cuts of disembodied legs and torsos marching over London Bridge, and carriages pulling in and out of stations, visually stacked Thames Bridges carrying people, buses and trains over the river, and the city's skyscapers glinting in the morning sun. Later, there's an extended section of cranes moving through the skies; the (now gone) Paternoster Square cranes around and above St Paul's Cathedral.
However, there are softer, more universal sections too. There's sunset from Primrose Hill, one of the nicer places in London to see the spread of the city from. There's the nights clubbing in the centre. The film's held together with Jatston's narrative, but it's also softened with other perspectives; the Londoner who bemoans the "Argos of rebellion" that Camden's become, the exile who still loves Primrose Hill at sunset, and the soundless faces of the dispossesed East End youth.
That's another thing I find to identify with the London of this film; it's skewed to the east. There's plenty of shots of the Canary Wharf towers, and the central skeleton of 30 St Mary Axe, and it never seems to get further west than Oxford Circus. That's my London too; it's scary out west.
Preceeding the hour-long film, there are three of Saint Etienne's videos, one of which - by Paul Kelly, who also directed Finisterre - is a beautifully grainy black and white promo for Hobart Paving, set in the area around St Pancras station - is almost worth the price of admission alone.
Finisterre is showing twice more at the ICA, and tomorrow's showing (at 7pm) will feature a q&a with the director and band. If you're in London, and it's not sold out, and love the city, go along. I have no idea if the film will ever be available on DVD. If it is, I'll certainly buy it. Sadly, I doubt it will, just like the Grant Gee videos for Spooky's Found Sound album. It's a shame, as, even though it may be slightly unoriginal (and anyway, isn't London one of the great changing cities of the world?), it's a great piece of work.
Recently two films about London have been made available on DVD, and they're highly recommended. The first is Patrick Keiller's London (in a double pack with the also-excellent Robinson in Space). This is one of my favourite films, a 90 minute psychoge...