2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Dark, 9 July 2014
I'm not an Andy Milligan 'fan' but I do like the BFI Flipside releases and this one caught my attention. I bit the bullet and proceeded to checkout, despite the directors reputation as a 'bad' filmmaker.
I'm glad I did.
Despite the obvious limitations (budget, or lack of, being the main one), the director and the two fine leads provide what has turned out to be one of the darkest, downbeat, nasty, yet thoroughly compelling films I have ever seen.
'Nightbirds' resides in the strangest of netherworlds, a weird place somewhere between 'art house' and 'trash' , sailing so far from the mainstream it's lost all hope of spotting land ever again. Yet at its core its simplicity and honesty makes it potentially accessible to all.
The directors world view is there for all to see, and is what ultimately means that very few people will see this film. A grim depiction of the world (in this case the East End of London, post Jack the Ripper, pre- City overspill gentrification) the squalor, the psychological torture, the bitterness, the contempt, the bullying, the (at times) outright evil that eminates out of this simple tale, all add to a whole that can make for a harrowing watch.
It's a world view that is not pretty, but I thank him for making it, and the BFI for releasing it to the world. This will not be to everyone's taste, but I personally found it refreshing to see a work by someone who actually had 'something to say', even if that something reeks of contempt and anger.
It apparently stands apart from his other work, and personally, after watching only 20 minutes of the accompanying 'The Body Beneath' before growing bored, I'm happy to go along with that. I'm loathe to try and seek out other films by Milligan, for two reasons, the first being that even the staunchest Milligan followers happily admit that they're not up to much.
But mostly because they might spoil my opinion of this great, bitter, hateful yet valid, truthful and genuine little film. Nightbirds doesn't try to cheat its audience, doesn't hide behind clever tricks or turns or complex characterisation. It's honest, direct, in your face, unflinching.
Quite rare attributes in today's climate, but Nightbirds had it all in abundance when made over 40 years ago and I'll always thank Andy Milligan, Berwick Kaler, and Julie Shaw for that.