Friday, 8 March 2019

Girl by Lukas Dhont - Review



When talking about Girl, it’s hard to separate the film from the controversy it has provoked since its release. The first-time feature from director Lukas Dhont has caused many critics to take issue with it for a number of reasons; these have mainly centred around the film’s presentation of its transgender protagonist and the apparent lack of any trans people in the film itself. Girl’s story and main character are inspired by dancer Nora Monsecour - who, according to interviews, also had some creative input in the film’s making - but here the central character Lara is played by Victor Polster, a cisgender male. These are substantial, valid concerns and worth highlighting, especially at a time when the industry is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of representation on all levels.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

BFI Flare 2019



The launch of the BFI Flare's line-up is always an exciting event, marred by a slight tinge of disappointment. Exciting as it is a great time to catch up with LGBTQ cinema from all around the world, disappointing as there seems to be a lack of imagination in the subjects tackled.

Yes stories about coming of age, burgeoning sexual identity and forbidden love are important and need to be told yet it is a shame that current LBGTQ cinema often seems to limit itself to such narratives and get overwhelmed by their worthy subject at the expense of real cinema, especially when there are plenty of other stories to be told. Art doesn't live in a vacuum and we cannot be oblivious to the struggles of the community, especially when we are (relatively) safe in our metropolitan bubble, yet there are so many other facets to the live of gay people, or even tales that transcend community barriers and can be appreciated by those outside the LGBTQ spectrum. Not to mention a relative lack of aesthetic creativity, where are the Gregg Arakis, the Derek Jarmans of the 2010's? Come to think of it, do we even have a Fassbinder? Bertrand Mandico, Yann Gonzales, Lorenzo Vigas, João Pedro Rodrigues and even Peter Strickland come to mind but we need more of them!

This is probably being a little unfair and there is still a lot to be excited about in the BFI Flare line-up that was just unveiled tonight. Rather than doing an exhaustive coverage, I have decided to put the spotlight on a few films that have caught my eyes.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Streaming Delights - Claire's Camera by Hong Sang-soo



First in our new Streaming Delights series, the delightful Claire's Camera that has not been realised in cinemas in the UK so far and is very unlikely to ever be so there's a rare chance to watch it on Mubi UK this month.

When we found out that prolific South Korean director Hong Sang-soo was making a film during the Cannes Film Festival in 2017 (while presenting The Handmaiden), and with Isabelle Huppert again as well as Kim Min-hee (The Handmaiden and every recent Sang-soo film), our collective cinephile heart beat faster. Knowing him however, we realised it was not going to be a straightforward film about the festival, indeed it emerged that he had barely used any of the festival events as a background for his film, and instead shot in the side streets of the city.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Streaming Delights




We are launching a regular section on this site called Streaming Delights, that will put the spotlight on and review some little seen gems, old and new, across all the streaming platforms. We'll focus on indie cinema and will throw in the odd trashy horror film because can you even live if you did not know Death Spa existed?  We have not always embraced the streaming giants in the past here at FilmLand Empire, especially not Netflix. We firmly believe that films belong in cinemas and that nothing can beat the theatrical experience. However it is hard to ignore how much those streaming platforms have changed the world of cinema recently.

Amazon Studios have helped such talented directors as Luca Guadagnino and Todd Haynes make their films without interference and with a consequential budget while still allowing them a theatrical release. Mubi is an endless delight of discoveries and rare arthouse films, occasionally supporting theatrical releases, and with its model of one film per day the perfect antidote to the paradox of choice other platforms generate. Amazon Prime has a surprisingly vast and varied catalogue (although the range of quality is just as vast).

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.