Saturday, 21 May 2022

Cannes 2022 - Three Thousand Years of Longing by George Miller

Three Thousand Years of Longing is an adaptation of a novella by A.S. Byatt and a passion project for George Miller who was given a sizeable budget and the freedom to do whatever he wanted after the success of Mad Max Fury Road. In it, narratology professor Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) unwittingly releases a djinn (Idris Elba) from his bottle while in Istanbul, who offers her three wishes but also some cautionary tales about the hazardous business of wishing. 

An intriguing, ambitious proposition, the film sadly unravels quickly. As the djinn relates the stories of those who came into possession of the bottle in flashbacks, it is apparent that on this occasion, the cult Australian director lacks the visual inspiration to truly pull it off with an aesthetic that is more advert for a luxurious shower gel than a world of magic of wonders, not helped by some questionable CGI effects. One can only imagine what a true visionary auteur such as Tarsem Singh could have done with this, although even he might not have been able to save that script.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Cannes 2022 - Tchaïkovsky's Wife by Kirill Serebrennikov

You never quite know what to expect with Krill Serebrennikov, his recent films each so different to each other with Leto (2018) documenting the Russian '80s rock scene and Petrov's Flu last year and its very topical title a wild blur between reality and fantasy. 

His latest, Tchaikovsky's Wife in yet another departure came across as more traditional when it was announced in the official selection. In Tchaïkovsky's Wife, to put an end to some rumours about his personal life, the famous composer agrees to marry a young, smitten woman despite his romantic inclinations, a decision which will cause her untold misery.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Cannes 2022 - Final Cut by Michel Hazanavicius

When Final Cut was announced, a French remake of the cult Japanese low budget zombie horror comedy with a twist One Cut of the Dead, it sounded like one of the most unlikely projects this year. Did such an idiosyncratic film need to be remade? There was the risk that at best it would be a close if unnecessary retelling, at worst losing what makes the original so special. Then the film was announced as the Cannes opening film and what a fantastic decision that was, only a few years after The Dead Don't Die, in a similar sub genre but that directed by a true auteur, Jim Jarsmusch whereas the idea of all the local dignitaries and their notoriously low tolerance for any unusual films being exposed to the least salubrious corners of genre cinema was exciting indeed.

In Final Cut, jobbing film director Rémi (Romain Duris) and his crew tackle the shoot of a low-budget zombie horror film that has to be done in one shot and broadcast live online, bringing its share of technical difficulties and trials with just one imperative: keep going no matter what happens...

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Apollo 10 ½ by Richard Linklater

Late in Richard Linklater’s 2014 magnum opus, Boyhood, his young protagonist leaves for college and his mother bursts into tears — not because she is losing her son, but because the mundanity of such a moment is passing by without exclamation. In her words: “I just thought there would be more.” Hers, and ours, is a struggle with time, and the slow realization that our lives are not narrativized, but endlessly present. Linklater’s cinema ponders this philosophical dilemma, and a handful of times he has crafted masterpieces that give us an answer. In his hands we are reminded that the present, the spaces in between our big life moments, are where “magic” is found. 

Thursday, 24 March 2022

X by Ti West


If the slasher film has slowly creeped its way back into horror in the 2020s with the Fear Street trilogy, Halloween Kills, Malignant, and the Scream re-quel, then it has announced it is here to stay with Ti West’s Texas-set mashup of porn and horror cinema. Promising a body count that revels in the history of the slasher film and delights in the filmmaking process of the porn industry, West’s film is about the blurring lines of these two lurid types of film — and how they’re deeply American enterprises.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Sundance 2022 - Emily the Criminal by John Patton Ford

Mainly known for her part in the popular American sitcom Parks & Recs, American actress Aubrey Plaza has also carved herself an interesting career in the indie world, eschewing the sirens of big studios for some really interesting parts in films such as Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), Life After Beth (2014), Ingrid West (2017) and now Emily the Criminal.

The premise could be one of a black comedy: a young woman who is struggling financially and stuck in the gig economy embarks on a life of crime. Except that it is nothing of the sort. Nor does the film attempt to glamorise life on the wrong side of justice, far from it even! John Patton Ford does not even try to go all A24 on us and deliver a high octane, stylised crime odyssey.