THE REAL CHARLIE CHAPLIN has a running time of 112 minutes. The film played Telluride and the BFI London Film Festival and does not yet have a commercial release date.
Friday, October 15, 2021
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
NITRAM played Cannes 2021 where Caleb Landry Jones won Best Actor. It was released earlier this year in Australia. The film has a running time of 112 minutes.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
MASS has a running time of 111 minutes and is rated PG-13. The film played Sundance and the BFI London Film Festival 2021.
ALL IS VANITY has a running time of 72 minutes. It debuted at the BFI London Film Festival and does not yet have a commercial release date.
BOILING POINT is rated R and has a running time of 92 minutes.
Monday, October 11, 2021
SUNDOWN has a running time of 83 minutes. It played Venice, Toronto and London 2021.
Sunday, October 10, 2021
REHANA is, then, a powerful and rightly tough watch. The lead actress, Azeri Haque Badhon is absolutely stunning in her portrait of a good woman driven to extremes by a corrupt system. She makes questionable choices but it's to Badhon's credit that we feel empathy for them. I also absolutely loved the girl playing Rehana's daughter Emu, and the symmetry in their behaviour is chilling, even down to Rehana calling her Mummy and Emu calling Rehana Mamma. In a brutal final scene, Emu is protesting against her mother's actions and we see Rehana become as violent as the protestors who earlier blocked her exit. We see the full emotional price of Rehana's earnest ideals.
REHANA has a running time of 107 minutes. The film is the first from Bangladesh to be selected for the official competition at Cannes 2021 and it also played Busan and the BFI London Film Festival.
Saturday, October 09, 2021
Paolo Sorrentino’s THE HAND OF GOD begins as a kind of group portrait of working class Neapolitans in the 1980s. It has the feel of a menagerie of grotesques, and Sorrentino feels no politically correct restriction on mocking the fat, the disabled, the absurdly made-up or the mentally ill. This might sound distasteful and yet, and yet, over that hour we come to feel a kind of familial familiarity with these everyday oddballs, delighting in their joy when Maradona signs for Napoli and enjoying their practical jokes. We even come to admire and love the genuinely loving mother and father of the family, delighting in the depiction of an ordinary happy marriage.
Observing all of this loveable craziness is the younger son of the family, Fabie, whose quiet gaze is pre-directorial. For this is the third film in two days that I've watched where a director tells a fictionalised version of their childhood. And to be sure, Sorrentino is not going to spend the second hour of this film in rather trivial but engrossing depictions of life in 1980s Napoli. Instead, major life events occur that force Fabie into being the protagonist rather than voyeur of his own life, and of this film.
I absolutely adored this movie. It is by turns hilarious and tragic and strange and whimsical. I merely dock it a star for having had an obvious ending point (for me) in a cathartic playground scene, but lingers for thirty minutes longer.
THE HAND OF GOD has a running time of 130 minutes and played Venice 2021. It wil be released on Netflix on December 15th.
LAST NIGHT IN SOHO is rated R and has a running time of 114 minutes. The movie played Venice, Toronto and the BFI London Film Festival and will be released in the UK and the USA on October 29th.
SPOILERS BELOW: This film has a REALLY clever marketing and misdirection plan. The trailer and media coverage lead us to believe it's a horror film rather than a murder mystery because Matt Smith's Jack is depicted as the bad guy. We go into the film thinking that the real mystery is whether Eloise will go mad and whether anyone will believe her when she tells them Jack killed Sandie. My first inkling that this was not the game was when Sam Claflin turned up as a vice squad officer. Why hadn't he been in any of the media coverage or on the red carpet. Why hadn't I spotted him in the IMDB credits? Well obviously because we need to believe that Terence Stamp is the older version of Jack for the misdirect to work. And I checked. Even on the film's end credits, Sam is just listed as playing Punter number 5. Random side-note - I've long thought Claflin would make a great Bond and in his suit and slightly sixties fuller hair I was confirmed in this belief.
Friday, October 08, 2021
No film by Pablo Larrain can be a complete disaster. He's just too bloody talented. And his tale of Princess Diana's final Christmas inside the Royal Family is beautifully shot by DP Claire Mathon (PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE) in a manner reminiscent of Barry Lyndon - ethereal misty cool landscapes and warmly luscious interiors hiding a gothic horror. The framing is deliberate and intense - close-ups of Diana's quivering face - tracking shots that move with her in and out of rooms in which she is alienated and trapped - tableaux held for longer than is comfortable. Moreover, Larrain's film is scored by Jonny Greenwood (THERE WILL BE BLOOD) in glorious eclectic discordant cool jazz, classical piano and 80s pop kitsch, contributing to one of the most impressively intricate sound designs I've heard in years.
In front of the lens, the supporting cast is strong throughout. I particularly loved Timothy Spall as a kind of austere Danvers-ish equerry who allows Larrain to show the full froideur of the institution, without actually having a go at Her Maj or Pricne Charles (Stella Gonet and Jack Farthing - used very sparingly indeed). And in the title role, this film hosts a career-best performance from Kristen Stewart, whose fragility and vulnerability is used to devastating effect. As a portrait of a woman suffering from a nervous breakdown, bulimia, suicidal ideation and paranoid delusion, it's a heartbreaking and powerful film.
But for me, as a film about Diana Spencer, this film is a failure. And that is predominantly because of choices made by Larrain and screenwriter Steven Knight (the pisspoor SERENITY). I found their screenplay heavy-handed to the point of absurdity. In an opening sequence, Diana is lost. Lost! "Where am I?" she asks bewildered peasants. Where is she indeed. "Do you think they will kill me?" Whatever can you mean?! Throughout the film she has visions of Anne Boleyn. A cheap trick made even cheaper by a sequence where we see Diana in full tudor kit running through the house. And curiously miscast since Anne Boleyn was most famously the "other woman" rather than the "wronged woman" - in other words, more Camilla than Diana. And then the mawkish near final scene, where Diana's beloved dresser (Sally Hawkins - so talented she almost sells it) leaves her a note saying "it's not just me that loves you". This film hangs heavy with portents of Diana's death and the mass hysteria that followed.
It's also odd to have Diana hanker after her childhood home as a safe place full of memories of dancing and laughter and sun-dappled gardens. Diana had a notoriously miserable childhood, with a mother who abandoned her and a father who then remarried someone Diana painted as a wicked stepmother. And far from being a boarded up gothic manor, the house was very much alive, being renovated by her stepmother in the bourgeois comfort that Diana claims to crave in this film, but decried in real life.
Finally, when contemplating this film compared to Larrain's magisterial JACKIE I wondered if the problem was simply that Diana isn't as interesting as Jackie Kennedy. She was basically a fragile, pretty, but rather thick woman who was almost perfectly incompatible with the institution she married into. It's a sad bad marriage but nothing more. By contrast, in JACKIE we have REAL narrative tension and REAL history being made. Jackie is a smart manipulative woman who wants to create the first draft of history as the myth of Camelot in opposition to the new LBJ White House and then Billy Crudup's journalist. There is no real narrative tension in DIANA. Just a woman trapped for a 2 hour running time, looking beautiful and skewered.
SPENCER is rated R and has a running time of 111 minutes. SPENCER played Venice, Telluride, Toronto and the BFI London Film Festival. It will be released in the USA and UK on November 5th.
THE HARDER THEY FALL has a running time of 130 minutes and is rated R. The film had its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival and will be released on Netflix on November 3rd.
Tuesday, June 01, 2021
In 1999, a pathetic hate-filled white 22 year old Nazi terrorist decided to start a race war boy planting home-made nail bombs in two parts of London with large ethnic minority populations, and then in one of the city's most iconic gay bars. He claimed, once caught, that one of his motivations was fame, so I shan't be naming him here.
Daniel Vernon's new documentary is the well-constructed concise story of the people who lived in those communities and were caught up in his hate-crimes, as well as the police and earnest members of the public who brought the man to justice.
We begin with the Brixton bombing, and a moment of unexpected hilarity, as two market traders selling pirated cassettes and videos describe the events of the evening. Perhaps the most London part is their story of a passer by who had the stones and basic thievery to literally steal the bag the nail bomb was sitting in. I mean, come on! Knowing a bomb is in a bag, and literally taking it out and running off with the bag is just hilarious.
But this is a rare moment of levity as we move into the meat of the film. Amazingly, no-one died in Brixton but the injuries were horrific - not least a baby with a four inch nail embedded in its skull. It was a similar tale in Brick Lane, another busy ethnic shopping street on a weekend evening. The police swing into action, combing through CCTV footage on antiquated video tapes to identify a white man in a mask. Posters are printed and a man called "Arthur" realises it's a man he knows. This is when Arthur emerges as a real hero - an undercover informant who had infiltrated the far right British National Party and led the police to the terrorist. Not soon enough - quite - to prevent the horrific bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub - vividly described by one of its victims.
We then see the second moment of unexpected levity in the film, when a "big hairy man from Essex" decides to write to the incarcerated terrorist, pretending to be a naive young Nazi sympathising girl called Patsy. The aim of the deception is to con the terrorist into boasting that he's not actually insane (as he's claiming in his defense) but just a nasty Nazi. This he does, and so he is imprisoned for the rest of his life. Kudos to Essex man!
NAIL BOMBER: MANHUNT has a running time of 72 minutes. It is streaming on Netflix.
Monday, April 05, 2021
MINARI has a rating of PG-13 and a running time of 113 minutes. The film played Sundance 2020. It is currently on release on streaming services.
Sunday, March 28, 2021
KISS ME BEFORE IT BLOWS UP has a running time of 101 minutes. It is not yet rated. The film opened in Germany last year and played BFI Flare 2021.
Saturday, March 27, 2021
TOVE is a beautifully filmed, fascinating biopic about Tove Jannsen, the creator of the Moomins. We first meet Tove as young woman in bombed out post-war Helsinki, stifled by her famous sculptor farmer, so much so that she moves into a flat with no water or heat. Like her graphic artist mother, Tove has a talent for caricatures and cartoons, but has internalised her father's disdain for anything other than fine art. Nonetheless, she has courage enough to publish anti-Hitler cartoons, and to live her life in search of happiness and without concern for convention. Accordingly, when we meet her she is beginning what would be a lifelong friendship and a fairly long affair with a married Member of Parliament. And when she meets the talented theatre director Vivica Bandler, she doesn't hesitate to express her love for her too. What follows is a passionate love affair but also one carried out in post-war Finland where the risk associated with it and the pressure to marry leave both Tove and Vivica ultimately unable to live together. But - by the end of the film - a Tove empowered by her financial independence and success and increasing self-confidence - does find her lifelong love. Though it's testament to her talent for friendship that she remans close to both Vivica and her Arno, the politician.
TOVE has a running time of 100 minutes. The filmed played Toronto 2020 and BFI Flare 2021. It opened in Finland last year but does not yet have a commercial release date in the UK or USA.
SWEETHEART has a running time of 94 minutes. It is not yet rated. It played Glasgow and BFI Flare 2021 and does not yet have a commercial release date.