We’ve caught wind of a call for camera operators to help film the Sidmouth Fringe Sessions.
Jazz-fuelled jitters, loft-space liaisons and hijacked heating oil – 200 not out for Paignton’s favourite film critic!
Whiplash (Sony) tells the story of Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller, Divergent), an ambitious young jazz drummer, who is determined to rise to the top of the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York. Tormented by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew yearns to become one of the jazz greats of his generation, and is determined to do whatever it takes. A chance encounter with Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons, Spider-Man) – an instructor notorious for his brutal teaching methods – sees Andrew plucked out of obscurity and thrust into the school’s top jazz ensemble. However, Fletcher’s uncompromising approach pushes him to the brink of his ability—and his sanity.
Any viewers only familiar with JK Simmons from his genial turn as Ellen Page’s Dad in Juno will be in for a surprise here, as his Terence Fletcher is one of the most memorably unhinged movie villains in recent memory. For my money, Fletcher is even more fearsome than Simmons’ Vern Schillinger character in cult HBO prison drama Oz. By way of comparison, Schillinger was a neo-Nazi and jail-house rapist! The flashes of Fletcher’s humanity that emerge as the film progresses only serve to make his jazz despot more terrifying. That said, Simmons quite literally meets his match in Miles Teller, whose blood, sweat and tears performance will take some beating.
On paper, Whiplash sounds like a fairly ghastly proposition, but director Damien Chazelle has concocted a bizarrely thrilling little movie out of the unlikeliest material. Excellent stuff.
A remake of the 2008 Dutch language Belgian movie of the same name, The Loft (Signature) examines the toxic fallout that follows the discovery of a murdered woman at a penthouse apartment shared by five married men. The illicit loft-space is the brainchild of high-flying architect Vincent (Karl Urban, Dredd), who invites his best friends to use the building as an illicit bolt-hole for extramarital liaisons. However, the sleazy fantasy is ruptured when Luke (Wentworth Miller, Prison Break) discovers a woman’s dead body handcuffed to the bed, leading the five friends to suspect one another of her murder. As the interrogation unfolds, the number of potential suspects increases dramatically, and the men’s respective agendas come into play.
Part erotic thriller, part murder mystery, The Loft is a generally watchable, occasionally awkward drama that should find a receptive audience on DVD. As the film reaches its conclusion the backlog of twists feels slightly unwieldy, but the lead actors are compelling enough to keep you watching. Interestingly, Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead, Rust & Bone) – arguably one of the standout performers here – reprises his menacing role from the Belgian original. All in all: sleazy, but worth a look.
Set in New York City during the crime-ridden winter of 1981, A Most Violent Year (StudioCanal) follows heating and oil firm proprietor Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis) as he struggles to protect his business interests. Always looking for a way to expand his business, Abel does things by the book. However, when he becomes the target of opportunistic thieves, and a number of his trucks go missing, he takes matters into his own hands and decides to track down those responsible. Frustratingly lacking in actual violence, the latest film from JC Chandor (All Is Lost) is a low-key thriller that prizes elaborately constructed moral dilemmas over visceral action. The attention to detail is hugely impressive, but the narrative fails to ignite, and the film suffers as a result. Impeccably crafted, but ultimately underwhelming.
Set in Brighton, The Sleeping Room (Second Sight) tells the story of young prostitute Blue (Leila Mimmack), whose visits to an old Victorian house to meet her client yield a dark secret involving an ancient brothel and a Mutoscope (an early motion picture device) showing homemade snuff movies. Blue attempts to uncover the mystery of the hooded figure committing the crimes, only to end up in a queasy world of pain… The Sleeping Room is a respectable exercise in Brit-horror, albeit one that suffers from some frustratingly erratic plotting. Despite its brisk 75 minute run-time, The Sleeping Room still manages to out-stay its welcome. Inside The Sleeping Room is a shorter, better movie, fighting to get out!
Nick Cave, Jim Jarmusch and, erm, Elijah Wood – October’s oddest DVDs reviewed.
It’s Battle of the Bands in this documentary double-dip: The National Vs Pulp
Matt Berninger is the lead singer of critically adored US rock band The National. Meanwhile, his younger brother Tom is a likeable thirty-something slacker, who lives at home, listens to unfashionable ‘80s heavy metal and makes low-budget horror movies on the side. The night before The National are set to embark on their biggest tour to date, Matt invites Tom to join them as a roadie, and Tom seizes the opportunity to bring his trusty camera along for the ride. Mistaken For Strangers (Dogwoof) is the result.
As the hapless Tom tries to uncover what makes the band tick by lurking behind-the-scenes, he quickly starts aggravating the band, as well as making a hash of his responsibilities as a roadie. The experience prompts an existential meltdown in the happy-go-lucky younger brother, and he muses on the pressure of living in his successful big brother’s shadow – before vowing to knuckle down and weave together his footage to deliver a documentary that Matt can be proud of.
After enduring the torturous art-fart that was 2008’s documentary A Skin, A Night, I wasn’t particularly thrilled to hear that The National was the focus of another offbeat, potentially indulgent film project. Thankfully, Mistaken For Strangers is a far more fully realised endeavour. Goofy younger brother Tom is the star of the show, and his neuroses are laid bare in charming fashion. Matt Berninger proves to be a great sport too, even if the two brothers often seem like they are playing exaggerated versions of themselves, rather than giving a true depiction of their relationship.
Despite seemingly being aimed squarely at The National fans, Mistaken For Strangers sheds little in the way of new light on the enigmatic band and its creative processes. That said, it’s a sweet-natured, quirkily entertaining depiction of sibling rivalry, and definitely worth a look-in.
In 2012 Britpop heroes Pulp returned to their hometown of Sheffield for what seems likely to be their last ever UK concert. Pulp: A Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets (Soda Pictures) examines the band’s homecoming, and mixes live footage with the band’s musings on their idiosyncratic career. Also included are contributions from a number of disparate Pulp fans who have been buttonholed by the director in and around Sheffield city centre. Suffice to say, the latter interviews are the worst segments of the film, and generally feel either unconvincing or uncomfortable, and add little to the narrative.
Frontman Jarvis Cocker is credited with the ‘concept’ of the film, although he sought out New Zealand-based filmmaker Florian Habicht to direct proceedings, after enjoying his 2011 art-house movie Love Story. Unfortunately, the duo’s obsession with hammering home the affection that locals have for Pulp undermines the film, and some of the aforementioned ‘freak-of-the week’ talking heads backfire badly.
In their hey-day Pulp were a genuinely fascinating band – with a great story to tell – and it’s unfortunate that so much of their career is given short shrift in Life, Death & Supermarkets. For example, we hear very little about how the era-defining Different Class catapulted them to fame twelve years after the release of their inauspicious debut album It. Similarly, the dark fallout that prompted 1998’s follow-up This Is Hardcore is more or less ignored, leaving fans none the wiser about the issues that derailed the band’s dominance of the indie scene.
In truth, with so much of their career merely skimmed over, Life, Death & Supermarkets feels like something of a wasted opportunity, and in many ways a slightly more traditional approach may have yielded a more satisfying end-product. That said, the unexpected scenes in which locals break into song – particularly the café full of elderly people singing ‘Help The Aged’ – definitely hit the spot. All in all, a mixed-bag.
Sigur Rós, the ambient/post-rock band from Reykjavík, Iceland recently invited directors to create an original music video for a track off their new album, Valtari.
Never heard of obscure 70s musician Rodriguez? Don’t worry – because according to the brilliant documentary Searching for Sugar Man, his two albums were consumed by approximately 10 people in America.
The band comes from Exeter and the skulls were shot in Kostnice for Miska Morning’s video of Interiors’ tune Housefly.
Harper Lee’s only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird is still, 52 years after release, one of the most powerful evocations of childhood ever written. Capturing the transient nature of youthful innocence perfectly, it scooped the Pulitzer Prize for its incisive, cutting yet beautifully humane story, one which centres around a small-town lawyer named Atticus Finch who takes a controversial case defending a black man accused of rape. The narrative unspools through the eyes of his children, Jem and Scout, so adult scenarios take on a otherwordly feeling, with the growth to self-knowledge a slow, puzzling process.
The relationship between music and the moving image can be a contentious one, and for evidence of this, one need look no further than the tortured post-production on Alien.
D+Cineastes will be able to pretend they’re in The Flintstones at this year’s week-long Music Truro festival. Willllllllmmmaaa!
Organisers have unveiled plans to include a drive-in movie theatre for a screening of the musical blockbuster / travesty Mamma Mia!
You could be forgiven that throughout the whole of Devon and Cornwall there is only one person who’s making the lion shares of music videos. But for a change, we’ve taken our lead from Teignmouth band The Quails, who are set to play Istandbul on June 25 – but before they embark on their Turkish Tour, you can catch them in Teignmouth on Sunday, June 21.
Chew TV is looking for you all those who fancy working in the creative industries, and of course that means you.
This week’s Something For the Weekend music video for Obedientbone draws on a bit of history and brings us right up to date.
For this week’s Something for the Weekend Music Video we have a song and performance from the filmmaker herself, Shauna Osborne-Dowle, with her timeless tale of loss, fear and belonging that is Ankor. Shauna spoke to D+CFilm about the video.
We’re looking for music videos to feature on the D+CFilm site.
An ideal example of coverage is to feature the music video on Saturday, an interview with the filmmaker on Sunday, and an interview with the band on the People’s Republic of South Devon, or arts+culture site.
If you have any connection with Devon or Cornwall, and have a music video, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s difficult to know where to start with Maniac Films, the makers of this week’s Something for the Weekend Music Video with their film of The Ballad of Roman Road by Douglas E Powell. The North Devon production company have their fingers in so digital endevours. Thank goodness they’re going to be featured in the forthcoming D+CFilm Show, eh!
Graphic artist and music theatre writer Daniel Loveday is set to team up with a troupe of animators and the Tale Valley Community Theatre in East Devon to create a 15-minute film combining animation, live action and an original score.
Plymouth filmmakers GET Crucial produced this weekend’s music video for Crazy Arm’s latest release Broken by the Wheel. We caught up with Chris Southern to find out more about what drives GET Crucial and how they go about making their movies
This week’s Something for the Weekend Music Video is from Plymouth filmmakers GET Crucial and their film for Plymouth band Crazy Arm‘s new single Broken By the Wheel, to be released as a 7 inch limited-edition, on coloured vinyl on Monday, May 25.
We caught up with Chris Southern from GET Crucial Productions to ask about the video
Serendipity DOES exist! Darren Jones, of RedMunkey Films, whose documentary of John Tomkins making the feature Like an Angel (which will culminated in the premiere at the Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey, Torquay on May 28), shot this latest video for The Weaver Twins, which has been designated our first Something For the Weekend, Music Video. Also, the Weavers will launch their latest CD in the same week. See, it all joins up.
The University of Exeter’s student television station, XTV, has scooped four first place titles at the National Student Television Awards.
First impressions count, even more so when your film’s involved. The pitch is an essential tool of your filmmaking armoury, that’s why we’ve set up a special, fun task that will get your pitching muscle primed.
Top broadcast commissioners will be on hand to talk about the whole gamut of commissioning issues in at the National Martime Museum in Falmouth on Thursday April 2, between 6pm and 8.30pm.