My Stuff, the debut feature from Finnish director, Petri Luukkainen, is a quasi-documentary and we join Petri – director and subject – as he embarks upon his experiment to forgo his possessions for one year.
Frances Ha is the tale of Frances (Greta Gerwig), a 27 year old who has drifted through life and isn’t really sure who she is. However, she’s getting to a point in her life when things are beginning to change – not least her friendship with her flatmate, Sophy (Mickey Sumner). When Sophy decides to move in with another friend, it sets about a period of self-discovery and we’re fortunate enough to be along for the ride.
12 Years A Slave is Steve McQueen’s adaptation of Solomon Nothup’s gruelling memoir. Its story revolves around Solomon, played by the excellent British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor in a career highlight. A free man and an accomplished violinist living in New York, Solomon is tricked into to joining a travelling show and promptly sold into slavery.
All Cheerleaders Die is a ‘subversive’ horror film based upon a decade-old project between the film’s directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson. Its stars are relatively unknown with the exception of an un-credited and brief cameo from Michael Bowen – who was most recently seen terrorising Jesse Pinkman and Walter White as white supremacist Uncle Jack in Vince Gilligan’s, Breaking Bad.
Amat Escalante’s Heli won him the Best Director gong at this year’s Cannes. Heli depicts a working class family thrown into the Mexican drug world, a dangerous place of police corruption and violent criminals – notably, it features a very graphic torture sequence not for the faint-hearted.
Hide Your Smiling Faces marks the début of Daniel Patrick Carbone. It’s a bold take on childhood, growing-up, loss and a film that shies away from sentimentality; in short it’s no Stand By Me.
I’m always reluctant to compile a ‘best of the year’ list, because around this festive time of year we’re always inundated with countless articles, all competing for our attention with their best of everything in this particular year. Basically, there are plenty of other distractions, so who wants to read a stupid, subjective list of things that I liked in 2012? It’s just so pointless; who really gives two hoots if I don’t think The Master is the best film of 2012? However, after reading some of the frankly astounding lists already out there, *coughs*, The Guardian’s, I decided to do just that.
The ever provocative, Austrian director, Michael Haneke, returns to our cinemas with his newest film, Amour. But is Haneke’s Palme d’Or winning film up to scratch?
Haneke has never been one to shy away from the cruel realities of ‘real life’ and his new film opens with a flash-forward which ultimately signposts the film’s ending (which isn’t a criticism). By doing so it informs how the film is to be viewed and adds greater poignancy to his examination of love, old-age and illness – and considering the age of the characters, it’s not an unexpected conclusion. Amour is a fairly bleak film, but if you’re familiar with the director’s other films e.g. The White Ribbon, Cache and Funny Games, that won’t be particularly surprising.
Amour is the story of two elderly, retired music teachers, Anne and Georges, who are both in their 80s. The couple are fairly active and do not have the passivity, which is typically forced upon elderly characters in cinema e.g. the film begins with them attending a concert and returning home via the bus, where they debate the concert’s finer points. But from here on in, we see the devastating effects of illness in old-age, Anne suffers multiple strokes before the onset of dementia, which in no time at all, renders Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) bedridden and completely dependent upon her husband, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant).
One motif, which worked particularly well, was the sense of dread from an ominous, external menace e.g. burglars/strangers. This subtle reference, alluding to the actual menace upon the horizon, but that menace isn’t an external one, Anne and Georges’ threat comes from within – and from those that they let into their home. At one point, Georges reprimands a care worker for treating his wife poorly – somebody he hired. In general, society expectantly, has little do with Anne and Georges, their daughter – played by Isabelle Huppert – barely visits and their only other visitors are some kindly neighbours, who purchase their shopping but offer no other form of support. As with death, it seems in old age we are also on our own, abandoned by almost everybody.
The film builds towards an obvious crescendo, but one of the most disarming features of Haneke’s film is in its depiction of amour, of love, but not the folly of youthful, romantic love, which typifies cinema. The love depicted in Haneke’s film is one which is centred upon two people who have been together for a very long-time, which isn’t to say the romance between them has fizzled, just that the film centres upon a deeper, less shallow depiction of love.
Amour is a hauntingly beautiful and challenging film, with some outstanding acting from Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, and Haneke continues to be one of the most thought provoking directors at work today – cinema salutes you, sir!
Trying to write an entertaining synopsis of Twilight’s events, thus far, seems fairly pointless. If you’ve not tuned into the adaptations of Stephenie Meyer’s novels by this point, well, you’re a little too late to the party.
Just last weekend I took a trip to the big smoke. While there I consumed far too much whisky and strutted about London in my brand new Buffy t-shirt, which is aces, obviously! Apart from making yet another, bold fashion statement, the purpose of my visit was to attend the 56th BFI London Film Festival – and attend it I did. Here’s the first review of two films screened in the festival’s cult section.
Tabu’s narrative is split into two parts: Lost Paradise and Paradise. The first hour of the film follows the lives of three elderly women in present day Lisbon: Pilar (Teresa Madruga), Santa (Isabel Cardoso) and Aurora (Laura Soveral). The three elderly women are all going about their mundane lives, until Aurora’s death and it’s this event that triggers the film’s second half, Paradise.
To Rome with Love sees Woody Allen continue to develop his collective of films about Americans abroad. Midnight in Paris (Allen, 2011) was that rare Woody Allen film; being a critical and commercial success – something Allen has scarcely achieved in the last 20 years. The question then, is whether To Rome with Love would be as good as the film it followed, or would it have more in common with the boresome You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Allen, 2010), or, would it flounder somewhere in the middle? I visited Dartington’s Barn Cinema to find out…
In 2005, Rian Johnson debuted with the sensational neo-noir, Brick. A film that took the codes and conventions of a film noir, and transposed them to a high-school setting – ie a brat-pack film with private dicks and femme fatales. Following Brick, Johnson made the convoluted and rather disappointing, The Brothers Bloom (Johnson, 2008), which tellingly suffered from ‘shooting’ difficulties and studio interference. Johnson’s first film in four years sees him tackling Science-Fiction, in his time-travel caper, Looper, but the question is, it is any good?
With his sensational debut, 2004’s Chopper and his Western, 2007’s masterpiece, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Andrew Dominik is carving himself a career which fixates upon outlaws and violence. His films are predominantly preoccupied with the homosocial sphere, the embattled male and masculinity. So, would his third film, and second collaboration with Brad Pitt, Killing Them Softly, be a departure or would these themes continue? I visited Dartington’s Barn Cinema, to find out…