Glasgow Film Festival 2022...
by David Anderson Cuter
After 2 long years, Glasgow Film Festival is back in person!
Here are all the films we intend to watch...a few changes - invariably - will occur!
by Graham Moore
From where it starts off to where it ends up...is a path 'twistier' than Lomabard Street. So would say...too many twists, after the first few, you get the gist...it's all how to get out of a very awkward situation and saving your own skin [and those you care] for while doing so...alas, it doesn't take a genius to figure out the conclusion.
For the most part, this one-location, terribly theatrical production takes itself [way] too seriously. And, to be perfectly honest, it is difficult to take this dialogue-laden story seriously...and, some of the casting decisions may raise an eyebrow or two. Simon Russell Beale's gangland boss is a difficult pill to swallow...just a little camp when pitted against Mark Rylance's cool cucumber. Johnny Flynn and Dylan O'Brien play a dastardly duo, one better than the other...but, both taking it a little too far.
This is the Oscar-winning director's first feature, he won the Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The Imitation Game - it would seem that Mr Moore's ambition o're leapt itself. The Outfit could have worked [spectacularly] as a gangland spoof...because, it does come precariously close to being one...sadly, it's not! Ooops.
My Old School
by Jono McLeod
Nowt as strange as folk and fact...for those who know the story, this is a partly animated dissection and explanation of the 'facts' - and, as time always does, those facts have become a little vague with the passing years. For those unfamiliar...sit back and feast upon a tale of blind, bold and bewildering ambition. The surprises come thick and fast.
Mr Cumming lip-synchs the story...and, as Mr Cumming said, he hasn't lip-synched since his drag days...as odd as this mechanism may sound, it works flawlessly and is executed perfectly...just like in the multi-Oscar nominated Flee, the animation ensures the protagonist's anonymity...with one major and revelatory exception...old footage and photographs emerge of the schoolman himself. Some of those 'facts' are [rather passionately and embarrassingly] turned on their heads. Some 'facts' are turned into fiction...but, one fact that is indisputable and unshakeable, Brandon Lee was a good, good friend.
The absolute joy of the film is simple...everyone [those who appear on-screen], teachers and classmates alike, take a step back and they laugh...at themselves...at how stupid they are all were to have fallen for the most bizarre, victimless con every perpetrated by a bogus schoolboy. The only 'victim' is/was Brandon Lee/Brian MacKinnon [the older one!]...and, there is a certain poignancy, a wee tinge of sadness and respect...for the dizzying lengths and breath-taking breaths some are capable of taking...to achieve their ambition. For that, kudos, Mr MacKinnon.
There is more to this story, not revealed in the film...and, it would seem his-story is not over yet! We all wait with bated breath...since, this wee film - genuinely -took our collective breaths away.
by Jeremy LaLonde
Two things this film is not...cheery [it is about the metaphorical end of humankind] nor is it a COVID film...this has to be said, because, it would seem, COVID films have one thing in common, they are [at least, the ones that we have seen thus far] all exactly the split-screen same, depressingly so. So...do not let the spectre of COVID put you off from watching this beguiling, potentially dystopian, metaphor unfold.
Jeremy Lalonde and Jonas Chernick have made quite a few films together...most notably [and joyously] James vs His Future Self which premiered at Glasgow Film Festival a couple of years back, in those good old pre-COVID times. James delivered science with a comedic twist, Ashgrove delivers science with a terrifying finality!
How can two consecutive films - from the same filmmakers - be so different? Simple, Messieurs LaLonde and Chernick wanted to do something completely different and, in so doing, approach that work differently...hey, let's face it [head on], if you can't teach old dogs new tricks, the old tricks become boring. Well...these Messieurs ain't boring...nor are they old dogs!
Ashgrove is tight, tense and intimate...filmed in only 10 days, there is always a sense of urgency, lurking around and looming in the future...at its core, this is all about survival...of a relationship, of self, of humankind...indeed, hefty subject matter...and, with such a weight upon their shoulders, all the actors deliver precise performances within, what only be called, an imprecise premise. Fight or flight? Not exactly an easy choice when [potentially, possibly and probably] either outcome will be [or, might be] exactly the same! Now that's what you call a curved curveball...and, it would seem, Jeremy LaLonde is rather good at throwing them...when you can keep your actors, characters and audience on their toes...you are doing something right!
Here's a dish of food [for thought] that Ashgrove serves up rather generously: How well do you really [and I mean really] know your partner? Oooh just about everything there is to know! Now...ask yourself that very same question when mortality is a-knocking at the door?
Indeed, Ashgrove is food for thought...
The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic
by Teemu Nikki
Up close and very personal.
As immersive as a film can possibly be...it's beautiful, it's cruel, it's disturbing, it's joyous. This is disability from a physically disabled person's perspective...written specifically for Petri Poikolainen who has multiple sclerosis...sadly, due to his deteriorating health, this may possibly be his last screen performance...and what a performance it is. What a statement he makes...because, this is Mr Poikolainen's film...he's rarely off-screen. Shot mostly in close-up with an extremely shallow depth of field - every blink, every wince, every expression is captured. He is captivating.
The kindness of strangers is pitted against the cruelty of [some] strangers...some scenes will wallop you like an electric shock, they will make you want to scream at the screen...and then, also, marvel at Jaakko's resilience and intellect.
The journey he takes is [then] pitted against the journey he takes the audience on...undoubtedly, hearts and minds, attitudes and opinions will be changed...simply because of the power, realism and charm he exudes. Disability can befall any one of us...at any time - imagine the rug being pulled from under your feet and there is no safety net. We have to stop failing people with disabilities, it really is that simple...because, governments and councils, everywhere, are continually failing these people. Accessibility, appropriate support, suitable housing, a [real] inflation-linked living wage...these should not be policy issues, these should be inalienable and unshakeable rights.
The opening credits establish this a sensory film, not only is it that, it is a lush soundscape, a work of art, a statement...it is - without any quibble whatsoever - a sensational film.
The Worst Person in the World
by Joachim Trier
She certainly is...a self-centred, manipulative heart-breaker...BTW, this brief description is wholly dependent upon how you perceive the 'he', who [unfortunately] is on her receiving end!
Nominated for 2 Oscars [!?!]...and, billed as a dramedy, there really is no comedy whatsoever. But, hey, comedy is subjective...and, this worst person just ain't [subjectively] funny...at all. In fact, she's just one [very] high-maintenance, annoying millennial...who doesn't settle for less than she demands...but, hey, maybe that's why this film has been lauded and applauded...by the award givers! We just didn't get it...at all.
What would have upped the stakes, if she was - in the slightest - a wee bit likeable, she's not. She manages to evoke more empathy for the poor f*&kers she tramples on and duly discards...perhaps, that was the point...what this woman wants, this woman [will make sure] she gets. Obviously, an admirable objective...but, literally, destroying people emotionally along the way is your thing...then, this is the film for you. We just didn't get it...at all.
Good luck with the Oscars! :(
by Blerta Basholli
A pragmatic film...that will rally all hard-core Western feminists...and, undoubtedly, throw them [collectively] into a tizzy! But, this is not Western, comfy, touchy-feely feminism...this is a post-war, Eastern European tale of...survival. And, on that level, [and, only that level] it succeeds.
But...Ms Basholli had a political agenda which she shamelessly, unsubtly and effectively exploits. If you know nothing about the Kosovo War [yet one more catastrophic failing by the - ridiculously entitled - United Nations]...then, this film will scream empowerment, solidarity, vive la femme! Hooray!
But...if you do know a wee bit of the history [and, what happens when you ignore history?!?]...this pragmatic film [sadly] becomes an idealistic notion of that aftermath [of that war] that still hasn't been resolved, recompensed, reconciled...there are so many post-war words!
Too, too many 'issues' are simply ignored. The complexity was screaming to be heard...to be told...telling it the way it was and [still] is. As a film, it's okay [sorry to use that dreadfully bland word]...but, as a statement, it needs a bold revision!
by Antoine Barraud
It's one of those...if the penny drops too soon...then, it's over. Thankfully, for me, the penny dropped at the right time!
Fear not, there are no spoilers contained herein. Judith leads a double lie, two families, different countries. She's copes surprisingly well, juggling all her expected duties with an admirable composure. There's no judgment...Virginie Efira's elegance alone sees to that. You just cannot not dislike this character! In fact, admiration [for her] starts to creep in.
Her eldest son is gay, no big deal - he's banned from his boyfriend's car because he [the boyfriend] drives like a maniac - it's a sweet, understated scene - in fact, sweet domesticity seems to be the norm in both homes. This lady loves both men and all her kids...and, it's totally believable. Obviously, this idyll can't last forever...when it starts to unravel, it unravels in ways you won't expect.
Antoine Barraud really is in control, carefully dropping hints, drip-by-drip...until it lands...and, what a landing it is! To say anymore really would spoil it.
A mightily clever film that will leave you breathless!
by Justin Kurzel
Martin Bryant [Nitram, backward Martin] has learning and developmental disabilities - in 1996, he amassed a small arsenal of weapons, went out one day and killed 35 people, injuring many others.
Surely...accountability must be claimed by several people and organisations!?! None has and none will ever be.
This film does not point-the-condemning-fingers at the obvious...the parents, social workers, teachers, doctors or the Government...it simply shows how the 'system' failed Martin Bryant...and the 35 people he killed, the extended family and friends, those he injured. Yet...no accountability has been attributed, let's call it what it is...State and Institutional Negligence.
Caleb Landry Jones delivers a masterclass...Bryant, now, is perceived as being born evil, there is no suggestion of that in neither the performance nor the film. He was a troubled boy in a man's body...he's mischievous, challenging, demanding, awkward. Bryant should have been classed as a vulnerable person and received the support he so desperately needed. Instead, he was allowed to form a bizarre alliance, allowed to buy the guns that killed 35 people.
By no means is this review [or the film] trying to justify Bryant's crime...he is best served where he is, in a secure hospital. Perhaps, if he had been served with the professional care and support he needed when growing into adulthood, there would be no need for this Nitram.
by Ruth Paxton
A film that really doesn't know what it is or where it's going...needless to say, where it ends up is way beyond the acceptable realm of plausibility.
Billed as a horror...yes, an eating disorder can be a true horror for the victim, family and friends. But, here, she doesn't lose any weight...so, her life is not at risk. There goes the realistic horror. Moving on swiftly...into the world of existential horror...where possession, myth and nightmare reign supreme...only, they don't here...simply because, there are too many tropes being bandied around...and what do too many tropes do!?!
The only voice-of-reason comes from Lindsay Duncan's grandmother...who basically calls her granddaughter exactly what she is...an attention-seeking, sneaky wee brat. Now, if this banquet had gone down that road...with the interfering granny sticking her nose in where it was most definitely needed but not required...then, this could have been a real delicacy.
As a whole, it's a dish, visually, well-served...sadly, with way too many ingredients and missing the vital seasoning. Really...less is definitely more.
The Girl and the Spider
by Ramon Zürcher & Silvan Zürcher
There really is no story to speak of...it's all lingering looks with multiple threads of subtext that are subtle as mosquito bites accompanied by a mountain of apathetic dialogue that will make your hair fall out rather than curl it! These Millennials have neither personality, wit nor joie-de-vivre.
If you manage to sit through the tedium of the first 30 minutes...rest assured, things do not improve whatsoever. Different apartment, same vile people, spouting nonsense...but, alas, with the same noxious leitmotifs and mid-shots that the Zürcher brothers have claimed to be their cinematic trademarks. Yawn...speaking of the film...yawn.
On a brighter note, hearing Desireless' classic 1986 tune Voyage, Voyage was not just a pleasant surprise but a confounding one too...would these lacklustre Millennials have such good musical taste? What a conundrum! Speaking of conundrum, this yawn-fest has won quite a few prestigious awards. What do we know!?! What do they know...that we don't know!?!
by Xavier Giannoli
Hallelujah...the master storyteller has been served a masterful film...winning 7 Césars.
This has absolutely everything...from genteel rural naïveté to a scathing urban comment. No-one is safe from Balzac's poisonous pen...the Liberals get a kicking, The Royalists get slapped down at every opportunity...but, it is the [restored] aristocracy who get savaged.
This is French history with a bitter [and rather brilliant] twist of modernity - the corruption, the scheming, the exploitation and manipulation are all still in existence today. This is a scathing indictment of that ridiculous political promise: Social mobility. And...an all-out assault on those who will do absolutely anything to retain their privilege and wealth.
This is kaleidoscopic hedonism...imbued with a lush subtext. The pace never falters and the decadence never disappoints. Not many have pulled-off Balzac's great work...Xavier Giannoli has done just that...in a mesmerising 150 minutes, he proves himself to be a consummate and thrilling storyteller. Lost Illusions is social mobility's rollercoaster...once you're on it, you don't want to get off! It ended too soon!
by Sean Baker
Google the title...! I had no idea!
Simon Rex does the lovable rogue to perfection. Sean Baker delivers another slice of the American underclass...with comedic undertones and amoral overtones.
The porn industry is a massive global market...but, nowhere 'celebrates' it quite like America...but, what happens to porn stars after they shoot their final shot!?! There is much conjecture about the life expectancy of adult performers...but, what Red Rocket does so successfully...is to show the acts of desperation, the clutching at straws...that absolute reluctance to accept it's finally over. And...what have you got to show for it all? Some DVDs, bedpost notches, a few good stories, a multitude of anonymous 'likes' and no bloody money!
So...what do you do when you find yourself at the bottom of the porn-heap? You discard what little dignity you have left, eat humble pie, become a parasite, a predator [both] at the same time! And, if you can get away with it, no matter how reprehensible you are, you might even get that final stab, the last dance!
What a statement to make...that's Red Rocket for you...entertaining, grim and completely amoral...with a standout central performance.
Love, Life and Goldfish
by Yukinori Makabe
A musical about...wait for it...goldfish scooping!!!
When big-city egos collide with small-town mentalities things can get ugly. Alas, not here...this is all goldfish scooping [!] and song! And...it's gotta be said, some of the songs are really rather good...in a Eurovision sort-of-way. Although, there are a couple of horrors!
There's not much to say other than...it's a sweet, sentimental film that bamboozles [goldfish scooping!] as it entertains. There's nothing challenging here...apart from the goldfish scooping!
Apologies...but, goldfish scooping is - in Japan - an actual thing...with a National Goldfish Scooping Championship...who would have thunked it!?!
by Cécile Ducrocq
Some mothers do have 'em...and, this mother has one you wouldn't wish upon your worst enemy.
Laure Calamy - without any quibble whatsoever - steals the show. What a performance. What a mother! What a mistake she made...and, we're not talking about her awful son!
Shamelessly, she's a sex worker. Selflessly, she does what she can for her ungrateful son...this is selflessness that will - quite literally - take your breath away.
This is Cécile Ducrocq's debut feature...and, hopefully, the first of many...she certainly gets under the skin, scratches around and delivers character arcs that are beautiful and intriguing to witness. The snowball scene is something to behold...a turning point in the maturity and mentality of the situation and characters. An absolute emotional spectacle. The intrigue...merely hinted at! So clever.
As for the ending, it needs to be commented upon...there was a definitive and perfect place to end. But...this director had a frame in mind...and, what a fantastic frame it turned out to be...a wee trans storyline, thought forgotten...but, beautifully remembered.
Her Way turned out to be the right way...what an utterly fantastic feature debut...and, Laure Calamy's performance is the cherry on top.
by Paul Verhoeven
Take this seriously...at your peril.
The atrocious Showgirls gets a 17th century make-over...with bigger production values, more acting talent...in fact, more of everything.
Stigmata, a wooden dildo and lesbian nuns...what more could Paul Verhoeven throw at the screen? Plenty...the 'nunsense' just keeps on coming! There's never a dull moment in this religious romp...so much so, it bounces, back and forth, across that fine line between high camp and downright sexploitation...wonderfully so...and, with unabashed gay abandon!
But...is it anti-religious? What a stupid question...of course it is! Every horror-loving, devout catholic should watch this...they will squirm at this despicable depiction of their faith. As it is now, as it was then...the catholic church is a bigger business than it is an harbinger for the second coming!
Is it a feminist film? Well...that all depends on what kind of feminist you are! The man-hating fems will be in two minds...powerful women directed by a man!
Look, in all fairness, Benedetta is nothing but a rabble-rousing, fabulous farce...sure, it's heresy and blasphemy all rolled into one fact-based, semi-erotic, anti-religious fiction.
Just don't take it too seriously...and, if you do or don't, these frolicking nuns will certainly titillate...and/or, traumatise!
by Terence Davies
Our advice: Watch this film [at least] twice. Then, and only then, will you get the full emotional thrust that Terence Davies relentlessly and stylistically delivers.
When a bright young thing reaches the depth of their despair. A life led with so many anomalies can only be a life lived with regret. Peter Capaldi's elderly Sassoon spits venom...fuelled with a churlish frustration of being unappreciated, barely recognised...the last throes of narcissism!
By stark contrast, Jack Lowden, as the young Sassoon, delights in the delights of privilege and connection. His war experience affords him a fragility that cracks but never shatters. He is an eloquent Lothario-in-training.
The affection that Terence Davies shows for the young Sassoon is spotlighted against his obvious and unbridled contempt for Ivor Novello...a conceited heart-breaker, so-much-so, it's difficult to see why Novello was even tolerated in this society. Still, money and fame always trump and thump the required family trees of aristocracy.
The conflicts are vast and complex, as is the timeline...but, with this honed director's experience, there's nothing ramshackle or random. This is a blessing...for the fallen, for the bright things...for love.
Siegfried Sassoon's despair came not from being under-appreciated, nor for being unflappably unforgiving...but, from remembering and being constantly reminded of his one true lost love.
“W’s death was an unhealed wound, & the ache of it has been with me ever since. I wanted him back—not his poems.”
An emotional wallop.
Anaïs in Love
by Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet
She's Vegemite. The film is Marmite.
Anaïs is always late. She runs everywhere. She gets what she wants. She cares for no-one but herself. Seemingly, she's 'charming' euphemistically speaking. She's irritating. She's annoying. She's overtly high-maintenance and she's an absolute bore! So...what's her discombobulating allure?
Frankly, who cares!?! She's exhausting.
This is the French [bisexual] equivalent to The Worst Person in the World [and, she was too]...both films have received an overwhelming amount of incredulous critical praise, the only problem is...both are labelled as being comedies and yet not one genuine laugh is to be had from either film.
Love it. Loathe it. Either way...it's a forgettable, unfunny comedy.
by Vincent Le Port
Bruno Reidal is the perfect confessor. He's eloquent, detailed and precise. He makes no assumptions and blames no-one but himself. He did the crime. He will take the punishment.
Once upon a time...if you murdered, you automatically received the death penalty, an eye for an eye. Thankfully, the law changed and 'Fitness to stand trial/fitness to plead' was introduced. The legal process was forever altered!
Was Bruno Reidal insane? That's the crux of the story.
Catch 22...and, Vincent Le Port starts playing with his audience. Is he mad or isn't he mad? He must be mad, look what he did! He can't be mad, he's educated, articulate...he knew what he was doing! Did he? Was it temporary insanity? He's sane now! Is he?
As complex as it sounds, Monsieur Le Port keeps it grounded...relatable even, apart from the heinous deed itself. There are moments of empathy for Bruno, in part due to the implosively subdued performance by Dimitri Doré - his first screen role.
France's last execution, by guillotine, took place in Marseille in 1977...decades before, Bruno Reidal beheaded a boy. Was he [temporarily] insane? He, according to this film, claimed to be...just himself.
Hamida Djandoubi was that last state-sanctioned victim of the guillotine...he, unsuccessfully, claimed temporary insanity!
As complex as it sounds...indeed, it is as complex as it needs to be.
An astonishing film...one that will leave you thinking...beyond your usual realm-of-thought.
[And, if you are a criminal lawyer, it will leave you thinking even more and wanting/needing to get your hands on the case notes!]
by Ronnie Sandahl
Is it a brutal attack on the beautiful game? No, infuriatingly not.
Most professional footballers are under-educated and clueless. Their lives are owned, managed and exploited. Their reward is...money. Forget about the glory and adoration, it all boils down to money. Lots of it. Football is big business and nothing and no-one will stand in its way. There's too much at stake, too much too lose.
Many have travelled through the ever-decreasing doorways towards footballing wealth...this is just one tale of the many who failed to make it into the big time. Couldn't hack it, wasn't good enough...are the most popular opinions. The system is designed to weed out those haven't got 'it' or who can't cope. It's called investment.
Throw money at a clueless kid and what does he do? He buys a sportscar and isn't old enough to drive it. Football deals in well-being, not in mental health. A fact that Ronnie Sandhal and Martin Bengtsson have failed to acknowledge...making this fact-based fiction into something less scathing than it ought to have been.
Everything Went Fine / Tout s'est bien passé
by François Ozon
First and foremost, there are major differences between euthanasia and assisted suicide...legally and morally.
Secondly, and what many people fail to understand or accept, the law is designed to protect life...regardless of personal autonomy. And, regardless of which side of the debate you are on, this debate that will rage on for infinity.
Your body. Your life. Your decision. It has to be your own decision, a decision made when you still had the capacity to make it. Time and timing are of the essence.
This is where this film sits, uncomfortably in time...with differences of opinion, moments of apathy, fits of passion...and, fancy flirtations.
This is the epitome of tragicomedy. The inevitability of death is paraded through its characters and stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Each is represented, each is voiced...and, each is silenced.
Monsieur Ozon has interpreted Emmanuèle Bernheim's book with great care and dignity. A sombre subject indeed...but, with the lightness of touch, the mood never veers off into the maudlin.
Dignity...in life and death. Everything went fine - how polite. How beautifully polite.
Moon, 66 Questions
by Jacqueline Lentzou
Any film that uses Tarot cards to announce 'meaning' needs to be something very special indeed. Otherwise, just like a house of cards, it will collapse.
Moon 66 collapses almost immediately. Why would an estranged daughter move back to Greece to care for her ailing father, a man she hardly knows? It doesn't make any sense...especially when he has support! Oooh...it's all about reconnection and re-bonding before the inevitable. Okay, got that, moving on...the only problem [apart from those damn Tarot cards] is Artemis [the daughter]...she is a complete and utter pain-in-the-ass. Gawd, if she's like this as an adult, she must have been an absolutely dreadful kid...no wonder they were estranged!
There is nothing to like about Artemis...that scene in the garage - which goes on for an eternity - sums her up perfectly. Instead of recognising her ineptitude for driving, she just starts crashing an SUV - again-and-again - against the wall. Frustrating for her. Frustrating to watch. Imagine her being your carer!
Stuffed full of symbolism and metaphor, Moon 66 has all the pretensions of being part of the Greek New Wave...but, falls short due to its lack of quirkiness. Moon, 66 Questions is hard, unenjoyable work...as for the secret, it could be spotted a mile off!
by Howard J. Ford
It is what it is...not-so-low budget...but, oh-so-low on writing and acting talent.
Tom Boyle's first feature writing credit, deemed to be his last...but, blame has to be shared with a director incapable of spotting dodgy dialogue from an acceptable distance.
Anyway...it's all toxic masculinity with a soupçon of subtext - that's the only surprise!
Fairly predictable and, if there's nothing at all worth watching, strangely entertaining!
Wake Up Punk
by Nigel Askew
What is there to say about Punk that hasn't been said before? Absolutely nothing...unless you are Joe Corré [yawn].
If punk is not already dead [some will argue it died the day it started, others will swear that it has always been alive and kicking]...whatever, Joe Corré killed it stone dead...by burning a guestimated £5 million worth of punk memorabilia and masquerading that deleterious deed as an environmental protest. [yawn] You couldn't make this garbage up!
Malcolm, his father, will be reeling in his grave. And Vivienne, his mother...well, let's just say he's lucky to have her as his mum...only a mother could love a son like this!
An entertaining film...for all the wrong reasons. Watch it for the stupidity, for the idiocy, for the hypocrisy...and, for the mellowing of Punk.
by Maya Duverdier & Amélie van Elmbt
The building has spoken for itself...for decades. The Illuminati of yesteryear are well-documented.
Just let the last remaining residents do the talking!
That's exactly what the directors did...the effect is mesmerising, almost dream-like. As disparate, as eccentric as they are, this is their home within a building site, their physical histories are being renovated beyond recognition...but, their personal histories are being recorded for posterity.
As gentrification attacks the security of these few stalwart residents, they - quite literally - stand on their last defiant legs. They will take their last breaths at the Chelsea Hotel. To paraphrase a fine, fine song: You'll be remembered so well in the Chelsea Hotel.
Hotel Chelsea reopened in February 2022...with their cheapest and smallest room being $475/night - it's farewell to Bohemia, hello tourists!
Sad, isn't it?
A great big thank you...to everyone @glasgowfilmfest xxx