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Category: Festivals

LFF 2018 – Widows

Reviewed by Lee Hill

After winning the Best Picture for 12 Years A Slave in 2014, expectations for Steve McQueen’s next feature were high. The news that McQueen was going to remake a well regarded, but distantly recalled 1983 ITV mini-series by Lynda LaPlante seemed a tad perverse (would this be his At Long Last Love or 1941?). However, McQueen and his co-writer, Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn have, for the most part, successfully transformed the original “gangsters’ wives pull off heist” premise to tap into our current preoccupations with race, gender equality and the general cynicism, if not outright contempt, towards politics as usual.

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LFF 2018 – Five Must-Sees

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 …….

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FrightFest 2018: Interview with Justin P. Lange, director of The Dark

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. 

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FrightFest 2018: Interview with Await Further Instructions Director Johnny Kevorkian

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.

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Steve McQueen’s Widows to Open LFF 2018

This year’s Opening Night gala will be Academy Award- winner Steve McQueen’s WIDOWS. The International premiere will take place on Wednesday 10th October at the Cineworld, Leicester Square. Co-written by McQueen and best-selling novelist and screenwriter Gillian Flynn and starring Academy Award®- winner Viola Davis, WIDOWS is a complex thriller about a group of women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. A star-studded ensemble cast includes: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya and Jacki Weaver with Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson.

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Edinburgh Film Festival: L’Apparition

Reviewed by Lee Hill

The Catholic Church has seen better days at the cinema. During the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 30s and 40s, The Church acted as gatekeeper and censor ensuring that both the Holy Spirit and Hays Code were affirmed. The clergy on film tended to come with a touch of the blarney a la Bing Crosby or as sympathetic, but ineffectual sounding boards like Karl Malden in On The Waterfront. More unorthodox or radical explorations of The Church, such as the work of Luis Bunuel or Robert Bresson, were relegated to film festivals and the art house Still every now and then faith would be explored with more than just good taste, but moral complexity in films like Fred Zinnemann’s A Nun’s Story or Alfred Hitchcock’s I Confess.

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LFF 2017: Redoubtable

One of the unofficial laws surrounding biopics is the more complex and rich the subject, the more reductive and superficial the treatment of the life. Redoubtable is ostensibly about a great cinema revolutionary, Jean-Luc Godard, but his life and art are alas interpreted by Michel Hazanavicius, a director who wears his slim talent for pastiche heavily.

Hazanavicius is best known for The Artist, one of the least deserving Best Picture Winners in recent times. The Artist was an amusing idea for a short film inflated into a bland caricature of silent film comedy. Before The Artist, he was best known in France for the OSS117 films, the kind of James Bond parodies that make a rainy Sunday afternoon bearable when there are no real James Bond films on TV. After The Artist, Hazanvicius reached for the stars and fell from his stepladder with an unwieldy remake of Fred Zinnemann’s The Search. Not without ambition (or humility) he now gives the world his take on Godard’s mid-sixties period and marriage to actress Anna Wiazemsky with a few rear-view glances of the political ferment of France in 1967/68.

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LFF 2017: Custody (Jusqu’à la Garde)

Reviewed by Lee Hill

The bitterness of separation, divorce and the all too common legal battles between former spouses has made for familiar terrain at the movies. Shoot the Moon, Kramer Vs. Kramer, The War of the Roses, Blue Valentine and Boyhood are a few titles that spring to mind and of course, television drama would be crippled without domestic strife as convenient narrative fodder. Given the countless variations on a theme, Xavier Legrand’s stunning first feature is even more of an achievement and will resonate with a wide audience.

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LFF 2017: 120 BPM

120 BPM is a film you tend to admire rather than love. Robin Campillo’s film deals with the rise of Act Up in France in the late 80s and early 90s as the activist group tackled the complacency of government, medical and pharmaceutical establishments in dealing with the crisis. If the film veers towards being a polemic at times, it contains many scenes that remind one of the anguish and rage the early years of the epidemic unleashed across the LGBT community world-wide.

Anyone who thinks protestors just blindly show up to cause trouble will have their consciousness seriously expanded after watching this film. Campillo’s camera plunges the viewer into the centre of the practical and ideological debates that drive organisations like Act Up. Like Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom, 120 BPM features several scenes of young adults in meetings refining and discarding ideas and arguments as they move towards political action. When an intervention at a medical conference doesn’t go as planned, the activists hold a post-mortem to determine what went wrong.

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