A claustrophobic close-up of a body, the light bouncing off the skin of an unidentified figure. This is how the film introduces us to Marvin, an aspiring actor and someone whose work is directly influenced by his upbringing. Anne Fontaine’s coming out film has its feet planted both in Marvin’s past and his present. We’re instantly thrust into his childhood and school-life as he struggles with homophobia, sexual abuse and his dawning homosexuality in working class small-town, Vosges.
Annemarie Jacir’s family drama, Wajib follows father, Abu Shadi (Mohammad Bakri) and his estranged son, Shadi (Saleh Bakri), as they hand deliver wedding invitations in Nazareth. The coming together of jet setting son and his traditional father highlights the differences of what it is to be a Palestinian living in Israel and a Palestinian living abroad.
The leads, played by real-life father and son bring an authenticity to an already sincere narrative. Shadi has relocated to Italy, returning to Nazareth for his sister’s wedding. They struggle to see eye to eye throughout the film. Abu Shadi, of the older generation, accepts his life in Israel while Shadi fights against it. They constantly bicker with one another while their banged up volvo carries them from house to house.
Reviewed by Lee Hill
Unlike Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams, the film adaptations of Anton Chekhov’s plays and short stories have not made much of an impact beyond festivals or art houses. While I still have vivid memories of watching Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson and Jonathan Pryce in a 1985 West End production of The Seagull, only Sidney Lumet obsessives are likely to remember the director’s curious 1968 version with Redgrave, James Mason and Simone Signoret. Lumet was probably more faithful to Chekhov’s themes of families and fading dreams in Running on Empty, his potent 1988 elegy for the idealism and myopia of New Left radicals on the run.
Reviewed by Lee Hill
World War Two is the safe space for a great deal of recent British film, television and theatre. Last year, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Joe Wright’s The Darkest Hour went mano a mano to prove that while our present Oxbridge brain trust in Parliament and other corridors of power may have difficulty deciding on a latte order, times were different during the Blitz. If you dash, you can also catch actor David Haig’s play Pressure in the West End, a reconstruction of the nerve-racking planning and brinkmanship that prepared Britain for D-Day. And pub bores, particularly those whose history of cinema often begins and ends with Pulp Fiction, would lose much of their material if Band of Brothers hadn’t nailed a certain type of haunted gaze/grace under pressure/male weepie to the mast.
Freda Cooper picks her 5 must see film in this year’s London Film Festival programme.
For any self-respecting film fan, the London Film Festival is a tantalizing mix of heaven and hell. Heaven is the prospect of some wonderful films, events, red carpets and more than a sprinkle or two of good old fashioned glamour and glitz. Hell is working out how many of the 225 features in this year’s programme you can fit in without breaking the bank.
Some of the big films have already been announced. This year’s festival kicks off on 10 October with Steve McQueen’s Widows and closes on the 21st with Stan And Ollie. The American Express Gala on the 18th sees the return of festival favourite Yorgos Lanthimos with The Favourite, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo breaks new LFF ground with its screening in Manchester and the festival’s official competition includes the likes of David Lowery’s The Old Man And The Gun, Ben Wheatley’s Happy New Year Colin Burstead, Nicole Kidman in Destroyer and Sunset, the latest from Son Of Saul director, Laszlo Nemes.
But what of all the others? Whittling them just down to five must-sees is almost impossible, but we love a challenge. Here goes …….
Reviewed by Lee Hill
It is one of the curious ironies of cinema history that many great films deal with characters in near static moments of transition. Something life changing has just happened or perhaps, more poignantly, characters are waiting for signs of the life they are meant to lead to finally appear. You could have a very provocative film season with such investigations of the space between (Tokyo Story, L’Avventura, The King of Marvin Gardens, Breaking Away, Diner, Kings of The Road or Lost in Translation come to this writer’s mind). With his impeccably shot, sensitively acted and unapologetically meditative debut, Columbus, the Korean-American video essayist, Kogonada, would be a welcome participant in such a season .
Reviewed by Zoe Margolis
Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War is a story of two people whose paths cross and their hearts become entangled forevermore. At its core, it’s an epic romance, but also a social commentary of post-war communist politics, sumptuously shot in exquisite black and white cinematography (Łukasz Żal).
Adapted by Ian McEwan from his acclaimed novel, based on the 1989 UK law of the same name, The Children Act asks the question: should the laws of a society, or the rules of a religion, take precedence? Set in London, around its central law courts, Emma Thompson plays Justice Fiona Maye, a High Court Judge who works on some of the most morally challenging cases, with literal life and death consequences; we are reminded of the real-life Charlie Gard, and Alfie Evans, and the public opposition those cases attracted. Early on, Fiona is tasked with rendering a ruling on the separation of conjoined twins, both of whom will die if not separated, but only one will survive if they’re parted. Faced with critical media coverage, and a heart-wrenching decision, Fiona still maintains calm as she issues her verdict; her ability to distance herself from emotion and issue a ruling show how clear-headed she is about these issues, and how seriously she takes her work in family law.
Ten Questions with Justin P. Lange, director of THE DARK
THE DARK is based on your Columbia University thesis short film. Was it a difficult process expanding it into a full-length feature?
I never really saw this as a traditional short-to-feature type of deal, to be honest. My thesis film was my first real foray into genre filmmaking, so it was very much a trial-and-error process for me, almost like a sketch, in which I wanted to see what my version of a horror film would look like. Luckily, the short had some success on the festival circuit, which gave me the confidence I needed to launch into writing the feature. Some of the ideas from the short definitely carried over, but ultimately it feels like a totally different film to me.
ARROW VIDEO FRIGHTFEST 2018
10 Questions with Johnny Kevorkian
What was it about Gavin Williams’s script for AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS you liked so much, and what did you add to make it more personal to you?
Well, when I first read the script I thought: “How the hell am I going to make this!” It was like nothing I had ever seen before. I knew it was going to be a massive challenge in every way possible. Overall, this was a very unusual script and that also appealed to me. My main addition to the script was to push it in a much darker and serious tone overall, which is more my style of filmmaking. I’m pleased that I managed to retain the dark humour at the start but then move into a different and much more serious realm as things start getting nastier for the family.