It’s not! It is! It can’t be. It is! Already?!? Time certainly flies [when you get older]!
Yes...it’s that time of the year...the Glasgow Film Festival has crept up and landed on our doorstep!
But...it’s not raining! It’s not even that cold...give it time...rest assured the weather will not disappoint...and neither will #GFF18, it never does :)
Isle of Dogs:
Directed by Wes Anderson
Welcome to the wonderful world that is Wes Anderson's imagination...fasten your [cinematic] seatbelts, this is a kaleidoscopic visual and aural [canine] treat. If ever animal activists and/or dog lovers [the world over] were waiting for a film to support their cause...this is it! How can man's best friend be let down by man...left to scavenge and rot on an island of trash?
Well, thankfully...not all men [and, boys] are bad [oooh that's a rather topical statement]...in a world where power [still] corrupts, pooches retain the power to melt hearts...ensuring humanity continues [no less]. Give up on the animals and - eventually - we'll give up on ourselves...or, to be more precise, those less fortunate than those who are prepared to give up [on them]! Isle of Dogs may not be your typical [animated] prima facie political film...it will have your heartstrings a-plucking, have you in stiches...and, have you rooting for the underdog [pun - totally - intended]. Now, doesn't that sound - politically - familiar?!?
Howlingly good and barkingly bleak...just like Bryan Cranston's marvellously-voiced mangy Chief - this film bites [and snaps and kicks] - in all the right places!
What a way to start a festival!
Hold on a minute...what's happening?!? The sun is a-shining...it's February, it's Scotland...a lovely walk to the cinema...
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood:
Directed by Matt Tyrnauer
Where to start with this one...
You're going to have to [violently] sift the wheat from the chaff...to find any grains of truth in this one! Definitely 'entertaining', explosively 'revelatory', scurrilous in every way - it's like watching a [filmed] X-rated tabloid...dedicated to narcissism and fake news...all rolled into one person: Scotty Bowers.
Now in his 90s, Bowers wrote a book [from where this film hails] about...himself. About how he supplied a 'service' to the Hollywood elite. He was a gas-pumping pimp and prostitute...to the stars! According to Bowers, he bonked everyone who was anyone...or, supplied some-body to someone who could pay $20.
He reveals some pretty big names [those we know of and those we don't] with neither reservation nor shame. In other words, he's 'outing' the dead...again, for money. Old habits don't die!
Handsome as he was, personable as he is...Bowers' 'stories' are corroborated by - who else but - his [aged] ex-employees and a smattering of [aged] clients. His [long-suffering] wife - of three decades plus - merely states that she knows nothing about those days and wants to know nothing...let's hope she doesn't watch the film!!!
This film - really - is an exercise in the freedom of speech...let him say what he wants without challenge. For there is little challenge...a brief segue of a decrying Whoopi & Co...but, it's when Bowers recounts his early years of turning tricks, from aged 11...things get real ugly. Not in the way you would expect! He - quite literally - debunks child abuse! Calling it a nonsense! He sought out his tricks, wanted to trick and [happily] found a steady income with the priesthood. Don't tar everyone with the same brush!
At this point in the film, any warmth you might have felt for this once-personable old man - immediately - evaporates.
Matt Tyrnauer's film is remarkable...in that, Bowers' freedom of speech is what condemns him. Unremarkable, as a portrait of Bowers...we only really get to see what Bowers wants us to see. Even in his dotage, he is an inveterate performer/manipulator who has aged...direspectfully, disgracefully, disloyally, irresponsibly. [Delete those that don't apply]
The gossip-hungry will love it...the more-savvy will abhor it. A film that will elicit many a fraught discussion...in the bar, afterwards...with Gin.
Directed by Göran Hugo Olsson
To get the most out of this film, you really ought to watch Grey Gardens - or, at least, know something about Grey Gardens...if you haven't or don't...then, it is a big ask to view That Summer as a standalone film. For sure, this is a companion piece...in fact, this is a prequel to the main event.
If you have had the pleasure of meeting the big and little Edies before...then, there is a veritable treat awaiting you in this film.
Göran Hugo Olsson presents found 'lost footage' of the orginal [erroneously] aborted project...lost for 45 years...and, like all good vintages, vastly improved by time and dust.
Unlike Grey Gardens itself, That Summer is less staged, more intimate, rough & spontaneous. There's a genuine warmth between the filmmakers and the subjects...kith and kin play a big part. Lee Radziwill (Jackie O's sister) enjoyed spending time with her eccentric kin and they, respectfully, enjoyed spending time with her...up until their reunion, not one person had crossed their threshold in 5 years...what did they do with themselves, how did they survive?
The film is awash with waves of nostalgia...the venerated portrait, glimpses of Capote, Warhol, Jackie and the boys...all gone now. Tears.
Like all good documentaries, That Summer leaves you with more food [for thought]than can be consumed in one sitting...the Edies, as always, deliver a sumptuous feast of the bygone.
Thank you for finding this footage.
Directed by Todd Haynes
If you can suspend all disbelief...accept the most contrived of coincidences, adore interchanging points-of-view, love parallel cinematic structures and embrace the notion that lightning can cause deafness...then, my babies, you are in for a treat.
Todd Haynes' latest, possibly his bravest...is, perhaps, a step too far. There is so much to admire, production values, performances, cinematography, music. But...the narrative is an out-and-out mess. None too-clever-by half, this is what happens when an author screenplays his own book!
What could have been a great film...wasn't. What should have been a commanding drama...dissipates with directorial frivolities.
All points were - obviously - leading to an emotional, tear-inducing upwelling? Where was it?
The Ballad of Lefty Brown:
Directed by Jared Moshe
Oh dear! What in heaven's name happened?
On paper, why this script got the green-light will remain a mystery: It was the long-haired blonde fella!
On screen, who came up with the idea that Bill Pullman should do Robin Williams...if ever there is to be a Robin Williams bio-pic...Bill Pullman is your man!
In places, the desire to laugh out loud (bearing in mind it is not a comedy) is overwhelming and frightfully difficult to stem! Predictable, often preposterous, totally implausible...all held [loosely] together with unintentional comedy and some dubious performances and accents.
Directed by Wim Wenders
With Wim Wenders at the helm, two major Hollywood A-listers, a decent budget...what could possibly go wrong?
Well, just about everything! Two parallel stories play out betwixt a love story. McAvoy & Vikander meet, get smitten and declare to each other that they are - respectively - 'in' - all in the space of a couple of days...he goes off to be kidnapped by some nasty Jihadists...and, she goes off to plumb the depths of the ocean...in a yellow submarine.
Obviously, being kidnapped, McAvoy is relieved of his cell-phone. Cue...scene-after-scene of Vikander staring into her communication device and [endlessly] moaning and moping - she does do moping rather well - about the lack of reception and the lack of a single reply to her multitude of texts and messages. He's dumped me. It's more painful to watch than poor James' torture!
When they are together, in all those lovey-dovey scenes [done, obviously, via flashbacks], their conversations are...just plain bizarre. Dignam's writing is...just plain bizarre. As for Wenders' direction...he lost the plot. And, as for the ending...we're glad it happened...although, we had no idea what actually happened!
Directed by Cory Finley
What nasty, spiteful little fillies they are!
Cory Finley teases the humour out of the macabre...in what can only be called a deft little [ice-cold] chiller. That percussive soundtrack sounds like nails being dragged down a blackboard...cacophonous as it is, it works so well!
Olivia Cook steals the show..with her deadpan delivery...competently supported by each and all. The twists come aplenty...if it were a book, it would be a page-turner. Rest assured, Thoroughbreds will make sure you don't sit comfortably in your chair...especially if you are a parent!
Just one little complaint...without the final [unnecessary] scene, it would have been even more chilling than its hypothermic whole. Less is more. Definitely, an unpleasant delight!
Anyab / Fangs:
Directed by Mohammed Shebl
How can you not not go and see an Egyptian,1981, remake/rip-off of Rocky Horror - minus all the sex and drag - it's a no-brainer!
We expected...terrible...and, terrible it was. Truly, truly terrible...but, madly entertaining! The audience were whooping with glee for the first 30 minutes or so...and then, as the story veered from the familiar and plummeted into the depths of monotony, the audience were muted for a while...only to be resurrected when the familiar Rocky-ish themes returned to the screen. The end heralded an enthusiastic applause...not quite sure why!?! Because this travesty had come to an end...or, for a genuine appreciation of something so bad it ought to be applauded!
An un-missable curiosity...a once-in-a-lifetime experience! If you believe that...you'll believe anything!
Directed by Rebecca Daly
Religious fervour is an easy sell...well, maybe not!
But, when a face like Vincent Romeo’s appears on the screen...that sell becomes a whole lot easier. He [as Tom] buys into it – hook, line and sinker – and takes the audience (i.e. me) willingly along with him. Aaah that great power of seduction. That face!
Rebecca Daly provides composure around a tricky subject. Is it cult? Is it conviction? A film that asks more questions than it answers...and, the better for it. Chilling to those who don’t believe, warm to those who do. A beautiful, thoughtful film.
Directed by Nora Twomey
An animated feature that will leave you tear-soaked and breathless. Stupefying terror punctuated with morsels of joy and an unimaginable [yet realised] sense of freedom - that’s what The Breadwinner delivers...in abundance.
Be still my breaking heart...here’s a film that will stay with you long after the end credits roll. Oscar nominee...and, in our humble [non-debatable] opinion, the winner.
Don't Talk to Irene:
Directed by Pat Mills
It’s been 3 long years since Pat Mills gave us the rather wonderful Guidance.
Joy-upon-joy, he’s back, back with his sharpened axe and back in high-school...with the adorable Irene...and, Geena Davis!
There’s nothing more enjoyable than spending 90 minutes rooting for the underdog(s) – Irene embraces the names-will-never-hurt-me maxim...to a point!
Young and old, this is a crowd-pleasing, toe-curling, camp-infused, heart-warming little film...with a mighty sting in its tale...bullies beware!
The Party’s Just Beginning
Directed by Karen Gillan
It’s a kind of drug-infused, chip-munching, suicidal, promiscuous, gender-confused Groundhog Day!
In other words...too much! And, a tad too repetitive. Karen Gillan – as lovely as she is – writes, directs and is rarely off the screen. In other words...she did too much and she’s in it too much. The central story – the suicide, it’s in the first few minutes so we’re not spoiling anything – gets thrown into the wake of all the chip-munching and bonking.
Yes, she can act...yes, she can write...yes, she can direct...all three together? A bit of the less-is-more approach will definitely benefit future films! And, there will be future films...she has the talent.
A Prayer Before Dawn
Directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire
Drugs and thugs...in the Bangkok Hilton [prison].
Dumb, young and full of rage...Billy Moore, a white Liverpudlian boxer went to Thailand and broke the law. He deserved everything that the judicial system threw at him. After serving his time...he returned and wrote a book...from where this film emerged. You can almost hear the redemptive clatter [of prison bars] cloying at your ears.
What saves this film from being a self-absorbed [and needless] cathartic testimonial is Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s direction...indeed, his artistry is the film’s saving grace. Visually driven rather than dialogue-laden, Sauvaire shows rather than tells...let’s face it, who wants to hear a thug’s version of events!?! Without doubt, some 'details' have been omitted, altered, exaggerated or completely made-up...as is the nature of these autobiographical outpourings.
A savage film, filmed beautifully...with an exceptional performance by Joe Cole.
Rebel Without a Cause:
Directed by Nicholas Ray
A true classic...on the big screen. What a treat!
There's nothing to be said about this film that hasn't been said before...63 years old and still one of the best [if not The Best] teen dramas ever made.
James Dean, Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood...and, of course, Nicholas Ray...thank you.
Directed by Michael Pearce
There are so many 'beasts' in this film...it's hard to count them all!
Geraldine James really is the mother-from-Hell...but, it's not about her! It's about her downtrodden, baggage-laden daughter...and her frowned-upon romance with a rather handsome Jersey rogue. Johnny Flynn does seduction well...the crisp script gives him so much to play with and he excels, cheekily with warmth and humour - no wonder Moll [Jessie Buckley] convincingly falls head-over-heels. This mis-matched pair wrestle their way into avenues of trust and blind allies...hoodwinking each other and everyone else around them.
The twists and turns come aplenty...in this assured debut feature from Michael Pearce...demonstrating with ease [and finesse] what can be done with a tiny budget...when genuine talent is involved.
Lean on Pete:
Directed by Andrew Haigh
It's really difficult to imagine...Andrew Haigh has gone from the excruciating Greek Pete to the almost-Disney [minus the expletives] family drama, Lean on Pete, in a matter of 8 years. Once a filmmaker with something to say...now, it would seem, he has lost his voice.
Lean on Pete is not a bad film...it's just a silly film, presented in a [bog-standard] three act structure...boy meets horse, boy runs away with horse, boy loses horse...with the big names being cast aside after Act 1!
Thankfully, Charlie Plummer [as Charley] is so likeable, he single-handedly saves the film...with his gentility and grace, surprising qualites obviously not gleaned from his redneck father. Surely nothing bad can happen to this saddened, system-failed, fine young man?!? Ooooh...the potential to manipulate the audience was there...but, sadly, squandered. There is only one scene that will make you gasp...all the others range from the downright silly to the twee.
It's a family film...with expletives! Ooops.
Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts:
Directed by Mouly Surya
If ever a film is described as an Indonesian, feminist, satay-western...avoid like the plague!
Mouly Surya certainly knows how to stretch a scene to the limit. This is not a compliment, not by any stretch of the imagination...every single scene is too long...and, [too] many are irrelevant to the central story. Genuine boredom sets in rather rapidly...the urge to scream 'get on with it' is difficult to resist.
As you would expect with a feminist film...most [if not all] of the men are vile and/or stupid. And, duly, from a feminist point-of-view, they get their just desserts. But - c'mon - to think that the audience is going to accept that Marlina carries - on her way to confess - a decapitated head for all the world to see...well, it's just plain stupid!
Monotony and stupidity, two ingredients that every film should avoid. Unfortunately, this film is crammed with both of them!
You, Me & Him:
Directed by Daisy Aitkens
OMG - a lesbian-themed film without an acoustic guitar in sight! Not even a distant twang!
OMG - a lesbian-themed film that is genuinely funny. What is going on...!?!
Daisy Aitkens...we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. What a refreshingly lovely little film this is...full of silliness and warmth. It [gently] pokes fun at the stereotypes and clichés that usually litter [mainly American-made] lesbian-themed films. You, Me & Him jogs on at a sprightly pace with laughs aplenty and will, undoubtedly, warm the cockles of your heart. David Tennant...do more comedy! Daisy Aitkens...write and direct more films!
That LGBT sandwich line...genius! A wee comedic gem!
A Fantastic Woman:
Directed by Sebastián Lelio
Oscar contender and Teddy award winner...what is it about A Fantastic Woman that has garnered so much praise and so many accolades? Well, it all depends on how you watch it...differing points-of-view will interpret the film [entirely] differently!
Those expecting a trans-infused, camp-extravaganza are going to be bitterly disappointed! The cynics who will regard it as just another addition to the trans*tsunami that has swept across the film [and television] production boards over the last year or so...probably will say: Told you so!
And then there are those who will play the hot potato of the moment...the political correctness card. Recently, there has been a much [heated] debate on the subject of trans*actors [exlusively] playing trans*characters...a debate that is as damaging to the acting profession as a double-bladed sword in a massacre. It's acting! Whoever takes a role - regardless of their gender identity - needs to deliver a plausible [and compelling] performance...Daniela Vega does just that - regardless of her gender identity - she acts!
You wouldn't expect a [real] serial killer to play a [fictional] serial killer - that's just downright ludicrous! Now, let that debate cease, here and now!
A Fantastic Woman is about grief. Sebastián Lelio delivers his story with a resolute composure...this composure either makes or breaks the film, depending on your point-of-view. There are no mad histrionics, there are no hysterical outbursts...Marina Vidal is staggeringly polite, simply compliant and systematically stripped of her love...by those who vehemently disapprove of her. This is a Chillean high[ish] society family...scandal will be avoided at all costs.
No denying, it is a hard watch...resisting the urge to scream at the screen, egging Marina on to stop bowing and bending is...an intolerable hardship in itself. Just imagine what she's going through!!! But...will she break, will she blow, will she take what is rightfully hers? Well...you'll just have to watch this fine, fine film to find out!
A film most worthy of all the praise and accolades.
Never Steady, Never Still:
Directed by Kathleen Hepburn
First and foremost, Shirley Henderson's performance is utterly mesmerising.
Secondly, that said performance deserved [much] better camera-work and a more thought-out narrative.
Imagine you are an 18-year old boy [battling with your sexuality], working on an oil-field in the middle-of-nowhere, leaving behind your [recently] widowed mother - who lives alone, quite literally, in the back-of-beyond - who just happens to be suffering from debillitating, advanced Parkinson's Disease. Any decent child would drop tools, in the blink of an eye, and return back to the family's nest to offer support and care. Nooo, not here! Instead, he keeps on working and has a fleeting same-sex thought in the shower [blink and you'll miss it]...
What could have been a fantastically emotional mother-and-son film - sadly - wasn't. Why couldn't he have just stayed after the funeral? Thereby developing a co-dependent relationship that could have warmed the coldest of hearts...that opportunity was staring you in the face! And yet the director chose to explore other erroneous avenues...what young man [battling with his sexuality] would ask a boyfriended, pregnant, 17 year old girl out? What boyfriended, pregnant, 17 year old girl would accept? The implausibilities are just too much to bear.
Ooooh we so wanted to love this film. Still, that performance makes it worth a watch.
Directed by JR & Agnès Varda
Charming, utterly charming.
Seriously, whoever came up with the idea of doing this film was [genuinely] inspired. An inter-generational, artistic, roadtrip into France's neglected hinterlands!
JR is charmingly boyish, sweetly cheeky and, above all, respectful of [and to] his companion. She, on the other hand, takes no prisoners...she says what she wants and has little-to-no patience for trifling and dilly-dallying...for, aware as she is, her time is running out. As improbable as it may sound, they make the perfect double act...absolute opposites, in every possible way.
The art is on a grand-scale and is magnificent. Their relationship goes from strength-to-strength...there is a moment when JR reveals just how deep-rooted his affection for Agnes is...it will leave you breathless. What a timeless and optimistic film...a veritable joy!
Directed by John Carroll Lynch
Feature film debuts don't come much better than this...nor with such pathos and pedigree. Harry Dean Stanton's final film...he died 2 weeks before its US release...leaving behind a cannon of mighty films...and this...a masterwork of his profession.
Lucky lives alone, never married, ex-Navy, no kids, drinks cocktails and loves Liberace...it doesn't take a super sleuth to detect that Lucky may be in cahoots with Dorothy...although not explicitly said, the evidence is pointing - distinctly - towards Oz!
Harry Dean Stanton takes us on a whistlestop tour of every emotion...when his wizzened face breaks into a smile, when he sings, when he shows his fear and loneliness...when his regrets are plain to see...his audience, like the faithful, go wherever he leads them. Reflections such as these are all too rare in the cinema nowadays.
This is an old-fashioned film about an old-fashioned man...that blossoms with old-fashioned humour and sentiment. Exceptional and un-missable.
Directed by Warwick Thornton
There is much to admire about Sweet Country...performances, cinematography...but, something lets the team down. The script.
If ever a card-carrying liberal were to make a film about the white invading 'settlers' of Australia...then, this is it. A film that prefers to sit on the fence rather than stand on its own two feet...on a particular side. Shame.
The pace is slow and is - intermittently - jolted with flashes of what's to come...bearing in mind that the story is fairly predictable, these 'flashes' do nothing but ruin the film...it's akin to reading the last chapter of a book before starting from the beginning...a very odd decision by the director.
Yes, the racism is abhorrent...but, nowhere near to the extreme that it certainly was [is!]...the injustices against the aboriginal people are well-documented, this film chose a [rare] instance when justice was served appropriately. One day, hopefully, a more damning [and shaming] film will be made...Sweet Country could have been...but, wasn't...it!
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute):
Directed by Robin Campillo
At first, BPM is a torrent of words...said in anger, stained with frustration, wrought from fear...and, pinned down by rage!
Terrifying times...especially when the 'authorities' refused to grasp the gravity of the situation. Or, rather, they chose to downplay the whole crisis...after all, AIDS only affected fags, blacks, junkies and whores!
In 1986, British television viewers heard John Hurt chillingly say: There is now a danger that has become a threat to us all...It is a deadly disease and there is no known cure...Aids. Don't die of ignorance.
Norman [Lord] Fowler (health and social security secretary), Sir Donald Acheson (chief medical officer) and Willie Whitelaw...acted with defiance and determination...running the ad campaign, sending a graphic no-nonsense leaflet to every household in the country, followed by a week of educational programming scheduled at peak time on all four terrestrial channels. The desired effect was almost immediate, people were talking, they knew what was in their midst, what they were up against. Terrifying times, heartbreaking times.
Other countries were slow to follow...or, in truth, blankly refused to follow...after all, AIDS only affected fags, blacks, junkies and whores!
In 1987, Act-up was formed in America...as a direct response to the then president's refusal to act. Ronald Reagan.
In 1989, Act-up was formed in France...as a direct response to the then president's refusal to act. François Mitterrand.
Without Fowler and co's intervention, without Act-up's direct action...many, many more lives would have been needlessly lost.
No matter what you may have thought [or think] about Act-up's highly contentious brand of 'activism' - they, undoubtedly, made a mighty difference. Quite possibly, those of a certain age, reading this, have Act-up [& co] to thank for still being around!
We have to thank them for that fight. We have to thank Robin Campillo for this film. A document from a heartbroken heart. From an angry heart...
At first, BPM is a torrent of words...said in anger, stained with frustration, wrought from fear...and, pinned down by rage!
With considerable skill, step-by-step, those words - slowly - start to disappear. When rivers turn to blood, words have no effect on deafened ears...when death increasingly inches towards you, words are replaced by touch...a much needed and appreciated touch.
From the raging fire that he was...to the dying ember he becomes, Nahuel Perez Biscayart delivers a heart-stopping, totally involving performance, overseen and, with delicacy...directed by Mr Campillo. This is a beautifully designed soundscape of a short life...edited with a daring, draining vitality. Oh, those final moments...that pragmatism. So many deaths, so much love lost...Arnaud Valois' face is testament to that...
Again, Mr Campillo...we thank you...
Directed by Deborah Haywood
What a kaleidoscopic film this is...colourful, cheerful [to begin with] and then BAM! The rot starts to set in, takes hold and grips like a vice. Make no mistake, this is a hard watch.
Deborah Haywood’s debut feature is an economical stunner. Low on budget, big on everything else.
The cruelty is asphyxiating. School-girls...what vile creatures they can be. Stay-at-home-mums...here, they are savage, rabid dogs would be better neighbours. But they are peripheral...all eyes are on Joanna Scanlan [as she battles the universe] and Lily Newmark [as she flies and falls]. It's a careful unfolding heartbreak...beautifully stylised, raw to the core.
You will remember this film...for a very long time! Indeed.
Directed by David Freyne
A couple of years ago the BBC produced In the Flesh – a series about zombies being cured and the subsequent prejudices they faced...by the righteous non-infected.
Well, The Cured is pretty similar in many aspects...with a couple of major differences. Here, the cured zombies remember every horrible thing they did when zombified, 25% of the zombied are immune to the vaccine, these zombies are fast, none of that sluggish nonsense, they whizz all over the place...and, it’s set in Ireland which lends a rather interesting political strand to the proceedings.
It’s a nifty little film...intelligent story, great performances (especially from the little boy) with thrills & chills aplenty. Just one little quibble...the last couple of scenes were unnecessary. There’s nothing quite like walking into the dark...to end a film!!!
My Friend Dahmer:
Directed by Marc Meyers
Does this film give an insight into the making of a serial killer? No. Not at all. Because...
This is a fiction...with a few grains of truth. Derf Backderf, the writer of this parasitical nonsense, went to school with Dahmer...then capitalised on the [dubious] ‘friendship’ that [supposedly] existed between them. With a friend like him, enemies would become extinct in next to no time.
[Too] much of the film is made-up of a compliant Dahmer being encouraged [by Backderf & Co] to act weird...in their lingo, to spazz out. It - truly - is excruciating to watch.
There’s nothing wrong with the performances, direction nor the production values. As a film, it’s pretty accomplished, albeit it monotonously repetitive. However...it’s the source material and its writer that are problematic...they are just about as toxic as Dahmer became [yes, folks, we don't mince with words].
Backderf and his cohorts were passive [aggressive] bullies...in the right legal hands, a case could be made holding him [and Co] accountable [in part] for Dahmer’s crimes. Backderf has written the evidence himself...now, that would make an interesting film!
Directed by Frank Berry
What a shame, a film that deserved a bigger audience...but, alas, due to the mad/bad weather, only a few braved it out to go to the cinema!
Thankfully and unexpectedly, not just a bog-standard prison drama with a young protagonist being bullied and raped in the shower...but, a rather clever look at the ever-increasing circles of criminality.
It has been said over and over again, and yet governments refuse to listen/act...the only thing that custodial sentences teach [especially] the [young] prisoners is how to become a better and/or a more feared criminal. The prison system - the world over - is broken. Rehabilitation can only work if there are the resources [and the will] to rehabilitate. Michael - on the inside - is failed by the system. Michael - on the outside - has been failed by the system.
Yes...it's a bleak film. It makes a powerful point with neither fuss nor unnecessary exaggeration. Dafhyd Flynn delivers a compelling and vulnerable performance...as the young man whose world is turned outside in...aided and abetted by some deft direction. Michael Inside is amassing quite a few awards...it's not difficult to see why. See it!
In the Fade:
Directed by Fatih Akin
Justice and the judicial system...no matter where you are in the world, the law will always be an ass – depending on where you stand...either in the dock or in the public gallery. Whether it be the correct verdict or not...someone is going to be pleased and someone – most definitely - is not. The latter applies to this film.
In the Fade focuses on the criminal ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ standard of proof...and is - sadly – the weakest part of the film. The ‘doubt’ the writer introduces is far too simplistic to be plausible. In law, no matter which country you are in, ‘doubt’ cannot be confused with coincidence – if it is, then no defendant can ever be found guilty!
That said...it is a strong film with a mightily powerful central performance. The ‘taking of the law into your own hands’ is always a crowd-pleaser. Audible gasps and grunts emanated consistently from the audience...especially the ending, perfect!
Non-lawyers will love it, lawyers will be screaming at the screen...
Unfortunately, due to the horrendous weather...these films were cancelled.
Directed by Amanda Sthers
A frothy French farce...with no froth, no French and plenty of pitiful farce.
Here [the ever-adorable] Toni Collette is just plain vile. Harvey Keitel fares no better. The one saving grace is Rossy de Palma...the big question is: Can she carry a film single-handedly? Not with this contrived script...she's a maid who falls, requitedly, for a millionaire art-dealer who thinks - unbeknown to her - that she's related to Royalty.
It's a 'comedy' about class and [unbridled] snobbery...sadly, it's a little lacking in the laughter department, as for being a satire [it so dearly wanted to be], oh dear...but, it is beautifully photographed!
Directed by Babis Makridis
A Greek New Wave, abursdist, dead-pan, snail-paced, dark comedy...that delves into Munchausen-by-proxy territory...taking it to an absolute extreme!
You really do need to know a little about this film beforehand...otherwise, you won't have a clue what's going on. This man likes to be sad, to be pitied...indeed, he thrives on it. A great idea. However, there are a few problems with the execution...it's a bit repetitive...and, dare we say, monotonous! Such a shame...all it needed was a massive injection of energy to really make it fly off the screen.
It was interesting listening to the audience throughout...there is a moment in the film when 'the man' says his wife [in a coma] had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer...there was a laugh!!! Please, someone explain that one!?! Like most Greek New Wave...you really have to have the acquired taste!
Directed by Jenna Cato Bass
In every film festival, there is that one film...the film you want to avoid like the plague...yet have managed – through no fault of your own - to find yourself sitting in the cinema, staring at the screen...with your jaw resting in your lap.
Shot on an i-phone with four [there is a fifth but she comes and goes, in the blink of an eye] drama students [each one vying to upstage the other], improvising with as many expletives as possible. It’s an oral assault. It’s a visual malfunction [except for the drone shots, rather splendid they are]...and just when things couldn’t possibly get worse...they all – inexplicably – swap bodies...changing sex and race...giving these feisty drama students more fodder to spew upon the now beleaguered and bewildered audience.
Unless you have a sack-load of untapped and unimaginable talent, these i-phone films have to stop now. When there’s no skill, neither technical nor artistic, they are - tortuously - too painful to watch...it’s simple, paying audiences deserve and demand better.
Directed by Isabel Coixet
What an odd film this is...everything about it is odd, the acting, the writing, the story...and, it's winning awards by the bucket load! Especially in Spain!
A quintessential English tale...a young widow opens a bookshop in a coastal village...and, all hell breaks loose [not]! And that is the problem with the film...the conflict is played out with polite conversations that are plagued by ludicrous affectations, Bill Nighy and Patricia Clarkson act with both feet firmly planted in the absurd.
This just may well be an unrealistic imagining of small-town English eccentrics by a Spanish director...Brits do have a certain dotty reputation to live up to - not a difficult task when that reputation is aided and abetted by films such as these.
The Bookshop is whimsical, back-stabbing...and, somewhat, unfullfilling...when you root for the underdog, you do expect that underdog to put up some kind of a fight! Here, there was no fight!
Directed by Xavier Gens
In the [inexplicable] Oscar-winning The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Torro had Sally Hawkins bonk a [man]fish...here, Xavier Gens has Ray Stevenson bonk a [woman]fish...it's all a little too fishy...and, no matter how you look at it, it is bestiality!
Cold Skin won't be winning any Oscars...but, if you can suspend all disbelief throughout [there are a few gigantic plotholes to contend with]...you will be duly rewarded with a thoroughly entertaining, wonderfully photographed, deliciously daft, romp...with a multitude of suicidal creatures from a cold lagoon!
Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil:
Directed by Paul Urkijo Alijo
11am on a cold and snow-covered morning...and, the cinema is absolutely packed with hardcore, hardy FrightFest fanatics!
A strange time in the day for a bit of horror...but, Errementari is so much more! Once you get your head around the fact that it's not taking itself too seriously...the thrill of it all, starts tickiling you in all sorts of unexpected places!
Tongue-in-cheek horror with great big, generous dollops of humour...who would ever have thought that Chick Peas could be funny?!? Well, they are! The cinema was - quite literally - howling with laughter. Genius!
Errementari is a rollercoaster ride that's well-worth the price of the ticket...it's demonic, madcap fun...with surprisingly good production values. You couldn't ask for anything more on a cold and snow-covered morning!
Directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli
A bio-pic that treads [mostly] on egg shells. In other words, it’s careful and [somewhat, perhaps too] affectionate. Trying desperately not offend Nico’s memory [too much] nor those closest to her, Susanna Nicchiarelli’s portrait is more of an impression [of a drug-addled former beauty-cum-underground superstar] than a warts-and-all, kiss-and-tell, dredge-for-dirt exposé.
Nicchiarelli was a young girl when Nico died...those who were fortunate [or, unfortunate] enough to see Nico perform may not recognise this on-screen depiction nor most of the music [some songs were written especially for the film, what an odd decision to have made]...making it impossible to imagine that this film will win the Nico [that was] any new fans [that are].
She was difficult, her music was difficult...her life was difficult...made so by her outspoken-tongue, her tumultuous superiority-complex and her syringe-grabbing hands. Trine Dyrholm does a remarkable job at bringing [a sense of] Nico back to life...successfully charting a course from the [narcotic] severe to the [prescribed] mellow.
Nico was a heroine of the underground. Some will say...a victim. And, some will remember her with affection as Susanna Nicchiarelli has done...with this memorable impression.
Directed by Greg Berlanti
Breathe in. Hold.
An American, high-school, gay-themed, teen dramedy...what could possibly go wrong? Well...potentially, just about everything in this tired-and-tested formulaic genre!!!
Keep holding your breath, babies...because, wait for it, this is an absolute peach of a film...doing the book the justice it deserves [not many films can say that!].
Love, Simon is a modern-day [coerced] ‘coming out’ story...with a villainous teen, a love’s unrequited teen, a [modest] heart-throb and a whole host of potential Romeos, ready to strip away that modesty...oh, and there’s a fierce drama teacher who takes no prisoners!
For those, a little longer-in-the-tooth, ‘coming out’ may appear to be a little easier, less traumatic than yesteryear. How times have changed, they are sure to say...no doubt, for the better. But, for the kid who is standing with his/her hand tightly-gripped on the door-handle, it’s just as terrifying as it ever was! Because...when that door opens, nothing will ever be the same again. But...when the control of that life-changing moment is taken from you, when you are ‘outed’ – thoughts go awry, friends feel betrayed, things get ugly!
It sounds as if Love, Simon has taken a wrong turn...for the worse!!! Hold your horses, don’t throw your toys out of the cradle, keep holding your breath...all is not lost. Tis but a [necessary] hiccup. The writing is as sprightly as the direction...it dwells not on the dark...and, as Simon [good job, Mr Robinson] settles into his new skin...the hunt for his Romeo continues.
Shamelessly manipulative, seamlessly sentimental and so crowd-pleasingly sweet...it’s impossible not to clap, cheer and cry...all at the same time.
Now. Exhale. Wow.
Descent into the Maelstrom:
Directed by Jonathan Sequeira
Think: This is Spinal Tap...without the humour! This is all very serious...
Think: Here’s a bunch of old, back-stabbing farts going on-and-on-and-on about how good they were/are! Narcissistic, grudge-bearing geriatrics who have neither mellowed nor improved [musically] with the passing years. It really is time to pull the plug!
Radio Birdman...not exactly a household name, a group [seemingly] ‘comparable’ to the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Clash – well, their number 1 fan likes to thinks so...in reality, success eluded them and only a few [mostly Australians] appreciated their musical endeavours!
The film is practically longer than their musical output...in other words, this is a long-drawn-out affair, their [many] reincarnations, reformations re-enacted for the benefit of their few living fans. For them [and only them]...their cup will runneth over - with this meticulously compiled biography!
Directed by Carolina Jabor
Liquid Truth shows just how ugly and terrifying this digital world has become...we are now a global culture of accusation...that has led us into the minefield of IED-judgment without charge nor trial. A paranoid society where finger-pointing has been replaced by the ever-expansive pulse and vicious onslaught of social media. Fake news, fake accusations...evidence, corroboration – now - seem like distant civilised memories!
This is a mercilessly powerful film. It tries – against the [media-savvy] odds – to present a balanced response to a damning and damaging accusation – man kisses boy! As they say...when the cat is let loose...among the pigeons...!
To watch the destruction of this man is hard. To see the smile wiped off his face, to witness his joie-de-vivre extinguish...hard. Daniel de Oliveira is a charismatic and emotional tour-de-force.
Lucas Paraizo’s screenplay – quite brilliantly – plays with the audience. We see where the accusation spawns from...or, do we? Reaffirming the [legal] value of ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ – Liquid Truth leaves behind an indelible truth...can we ever [really] be sure...but, one thing is for sure, social media cannot be accuser, judge and jury! It seems that boat has sailed!
A hard, thought-pounding, mightily impressive film.
Directed by Felipe Bustos Sierra
What an odd little film to choose to close a film festival...until you see it!
Not a dry eye in the house. Happy tears. What a way to end a festival! Well done Glasgow.