Tuesday, 16 October 2018

London Film Festival 2018: Duplicate by Bill Oliver

Genre cinema used to be underrepresented at mainstream film festivals not so long ago, so it is refreshing that is finally being embraced. Here at the London Film Festival, it is mostly (but not exclusively) in the Cult Strand, where Duplicate was presented.

In Duplicate, Jonathan (Ansel Elgort) is a career-minded young man with a regimented life, working in an architectural firm and without any sign of any love life or even friends. We see him communicate via recorded video-tapes with a man called John (also Ansel Elgort), who looks just like him but with a very different and more fun outlook on life. They share a bond on top of their very obvious resemblance, but we do not know what it is at first, and there are no signs of any other interactions between them apart from those messages. That bond is about to be jeopardised however as a series of events threaten their carefully planned daily routine.

Monday, 6 August 2018

First Reformed by Paul Schrader

First Reformed's opening shot slowly pushes in on an old church with a sense that it’s opening up an old religious text and releasing its teachings into our modern poisoned world. The film takes place in New York at First Reformed church, nearing its 250th anniversary, and is run by Ethan Hawke's Reverend Toller. The church, now more of a tourist attraction, feels out of place, of a world that no longer exists. Schrader cast Hawke, instead of younger more bankable actors, because he felt that Hawke finally had some wrinkles that suggested a lifetime of experiences. Schrader himself has been making movies for decades (notably the writer for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull), and this is the film he had to live a lifetime to finally make.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp by Payton Reed - Review

Reviewed by Andy Zachariason

2018 has already had two of Marvel's biggest films — both financially and culturally — and now comes a sequel starring everyone's favorite hero: Ant- Man. That this movie exists, and is a sequel to a movie about Paul Rudd as a shrinking man, is low-key the best example of what Marvel has accomplished. There's much to criticize in Marvel's filmmaking (or lack thereof), but their narrative railroading is a great feat at this point, and they've been driving so fast for a decade now that they can make movies about Ant-Man and they'll be successful. In the grand scheme of Marvel's superhero highway this might not some seem like an exit worth taking, but it's this outlier status that has made Ant-Man one of Marvel's better set of films.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Mary Shelley by Haifaa Al-Mansour

Reviewed by Linda Marric 

Director Haifaa Al-Mansour made cinematic history in 2012 when her critically acclaimed film Wadjda became the first feature film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first to be directed by a female Saudi director. With the release of Mary Shelley, the director’s second feature and first English language film, Al-Mansour might seem like a million miles away from her humble beginnings, but on a closer look, it’s easy to see what motivated the director to dip her toes into such uncharted territories. Depicting the Frankenstein writer as a bright and angsty teenager with an unbridled lust for life and knowledge, Al-Mansour has managed to inject a real sense of adventure and youthful exuberance to a story which could have easily suffered the same fate as any other hackneyed costume drama biopic were it not for the commendable observational skills of its director.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Cannes 2018 - Awards and Comments

While it is always near impossible to guess what such different jury members might pick as their awards at the Cannes film festival this year, we all thought this time we had it all figured out. In the year of #MeToo, of political and social injustice around the world, we all assumed the awards would be political. We were also near certain that a woman would win the Palme d'Or, for the second time only in the history of the festival, with two strong contenders: Alice Rohrwacher with Happy as Lazzaro, and Nadine Labaki with Capernaum. The awards however, while including the majority of press favourites, were not quite what we expected, especially not the top prize.

Cannes 2018: Awards Predictions

The Cannes Film Festival truly had the last laugh this year. Before it started, there were some tiresome, angry think pieces who had already deemed it a poor edition before anybody had even watched any films, because of the Netflix withdrawal and lack of big names (especially Americans).

When the festival's line up includes some established directors, it is criticised for always inviting the same people. When it does not, the "where are such and such?" comments are deafening, proving than in the eyes of some, the festival can never get it right.

Yet the festival has delivered what probably is its best edition in decades, an exciting line-up that put the spotlight on world/arthouse cinema in the way no other film festivals ever could. Who cares if we did not get Oscar bait or Netlflix films if this means that left some space for the endlessly brilliant streak of films we saw each day. The big names have delivered some of the best work of their career: Kore-Eda, Lee Chang-dong, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jia Zhang-ke, Christophe Honoré... as have some of the less established names: Alice Rohrwacher, with her blistering tale of magic realism did not come to play, with her finest film to date, and Nadine Labaki has already become a directing force to reckon with, come what may tonight, not to mention Kirill Serebrennikov, who set the bar very high at the start of the competition with Summer.

Cannes 2018 - Knife + Heart by Yann Gonzales

While the festival has not really featured many genre films over the last few years, apart from their midnight screenings, everything changed this year, with a cornucopia of cult/experimental films in all the strands. The icing on the cake however was the addition of Yann Gonzales's Knife + Heart in the official selection, and in competition when we expected it at Directors' fortnight. The French director made a name for himself with You & The Night, a visual and literary gem. So when we heard the premise for his new film, we all salivated!

In Knife + Heart, Anne (Vanessa Paradis), a gay porn film producer in Paris in the 70's,  is trying to win over her former lover, while trying to find the masked serial killer who is brutally despatching her male cast.