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  Line, the Cross and the Curve, The The Shoe's On The Other Foot
Year: 1993
Director: Kate Bush
Stars: Kate Bush, Miranda Richardson, Lindsay Kemp, Lily, Peter Richardson, Christopher Banaman, John Chesworth, Vernon Nurse, Robert Smith, Paddy Bush, Colin Lloyd Tucker, Stewart Elliott, Danny McIntosh, Kevin McAlea, Colin Brown, Peter Bradley, Steve Sidwell
Genre: Fantasy, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A performer (Kate Bush) is rehearsing with her band and dancers one night. As they go through their routine, the musicians stand around in the background while she and a male dancer work out an intricate effort where she follows his lead as he stands behind her and guides her movement, even playing with a yo-yo at one point, but as they reach the end one of the technical staff at the studio barges in with a wind machine he cannot turn off which sends the room into confusion. Eventually the woman is left alone as a storm rages outside and the electricity goes out, prompting her to light a candle, then notices a bird has got into the room: an omen?

Kate Bush the singer and musician exploded onto the music scene in 1978 where her debut single Wuthering Heights was a smash hit, sounding utterly unlike any of the punk, disco or new wave that was dominating the British charts, and arresting enough to be regarded as a classic all these decades later, arguably a song she has been trying to live up to since, so striking was it. Sometimes she did, sometimes she didn't, but every one of her legion of fans have found worth in just about everything she has produced to some degree or other, as far as her music went. She always showed interest in the visual aspect too, and regularly made videos for her songs, which takes us to this.

The Line, the Cross and the Curve was Bush's only foray into making an actual film, with a plot and characters; a short film that lasted around three quarters of an hour, but it did get a limited cinema release before heading to video cassette. She had dabbled with telling a story in her videos before, most notably Experiment IV with its odd cast acting out the tale of scientists conjuring up a sonic weapon which gets out of hand, but this was inspired by the classic Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger movie The Red Shoes, which was also the title of the album the songs came from (though there were more songs there than in the finished movie). Thus we had Kate's unnamed character donning the shoes and finding them more curse than blessing.

It was a fairy tale before it was a long form music video, of course, and Bush as director did her very best to concoct a mood of the fable on what was obviously not the highest of budgets, though the assistance of cinematographer Roger Pratt guaranteed there was a polish to the visuals even when the concept was rather basic dream logic. There were co-stars, most prominently Miranda Richardson as the mystery woman who gives the dancer the shoes of the title, dressed up alarmingly in black party dress, bandages and thick eyebrows (well, thick eyebrow), commencing a battle for supremacy when the shoes won't stop dancing and won't come off until the mystery woman takes them back - it's surprising to hear Kate call her a "bitch"!

It would be the music generating the most interest now, notably the genuinely lovely tribute to those who had passed away in Bush's life, Moments of Pleasure, though that is illustrated by her spinning around artfully for the duration of the song. That was the main issue, and one that was noticeable in most of her videos, that sense of watching someone dancing in front of their bedroom mirror; her mentor in performance arts Lindsay Kemp had a role here too, sort of the Anton Walbrook part, and that style she adopted (he also taught David Bowie) would be charming and intriguing to some, a little embarrassing to others. It wasn't all bad, it did have a beguiling quality that meant you never grew tired of what you were watching, but the manner in which British art films can be alienating is definitely there, though the music succeeds in sustaining our reason to stick with it. Perhaps the last word should be left to Kate, who assessed the project, her only film as director, writer and star, as "a load of bollocks". So there.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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