Sunday, 31 October 2010

London Film Festival: Kaboom

Kaboom, I am reliably informed by the BFI, is "an old school Gregg Araki movie". Having never seen a Gregg Araki movie, old or new school (sue me), I can't comment on the veracity of this statement. I can, however, tell you that it's got loads of shagging in it. The LFF brochure doesn't mention it so I thought it would be useful if I did.
That's the first half of the film taken care of. The second half is your bog standard global-conspiracy-supernatural-good-vs-evil-sci-fi-armageddon-Crackers-Patel ridonkulous orgy of weird.

It all gets very self-consciously cheesy and deliberately (I hope) bad as it clambers further up the mountain of mentalism, and I honestly don't know whether or not I liked it. At one point I thought it was going to be the next Donnie Darko, but that didn't happen. Instead it's more like the next The Box. Make of that what you will.

It does, however, have an amazing soundtrack so even if you're not a fan of omnipresent ladylumps you can at least shut your eyes and wrap your earholes around corkers like this.

And that, you'll no doubt be distressed to hear, is the last of my LFF reviews. Come back tomorrow for my amazing round-up of the 54th BFI London Film Festivehole! Or at least the tiny portion of it that I saw. I have got a day job you know.

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Saturday, 30 October 2010

London Film Festival: Edge

Edge is a film about a bunch of people who are all a bit on the edge, psychologically speaking, and who come together at a hotel which is located on a cliff edge, geographically speaking. It's like their physical location somehow reflects and exaggerates their mental state, yah?

It's one of those films the BFI would probably describe as "haunting and poetic" (cf. Womb), which is to say it challenges you to not collapse, comatose, into a pool of your own dribbles. While it's ultimately forgettable, it's worth noting that none of its characters are clichés and their individual reasons for being "on the edge" aren't the usual excuses screenwriters vomit up in order to get an escaped murderer into the same scene as a forgiving priest or some such toss. There's a vague mystery running through the plot that's tied up in a clumsy and unlikely fashion but it's incidental to the central themes of desperation and hope so we'll forgive that.
Beautifully shot during a typically glacial January in Eastbourne, Edge also boasts some quite lovely titles and is the film you've been waiting for if you've longed to see Julie T Wallace providing room service in her own basement, if you catch my drift.

What's most interesting about the whole exercise, though, is that it was financed by Genesis Entertainment, a company set up by the owners of the Genesis independent cinema in London's Whitechapel. It was there that I saw Edge during the LFF, and it would have been a lovely occasion for all if it hadn't started twenty minutes late and then played with the soundtrack about ten frames behind the pictures, making it look like a badly dubbed foreign film.

Sexual Equality Corner: Edge was written, directed, produced, shot and edited by women. It's the future I tells yer.

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Friday, 29 October 2010

London Film Festival: Living On Love Alone

Living On Love Alone (D'Amour Et D'Eau Fraîche) is a French film about a girl who does some things that aren't very interesting. Then she meets a man and they do uninteresting things together.

While it isn't an offensive or incompetent film by any stretch, it is a pointless, tedious waste of everyone's time and is by far the least fun I've had at this year's LFF. Even the poster may be the most boring thing I've seen in my entire life, and I've seen Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirror.

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Thursday, 28 October 2010

London Film Festival: Route Irish

Overseas readers may not know this, but in England it is an offence punishable by death to speak in anything other than revered and loving tones about Ken Loach. He's a national treasure, a hilarious old goat and a curmudgeonly uncle to the filmgoing public, and it's a little-known fact that he was recently acquired by the National Trust, which means if you're a member you can visit him and his gardens for free.
Sadly you have to pay to go and see his films, which I only ever seem to see at film festivals, and his latest, Route Irish, is no exception. And while K-Lo always makes for an entertaining Q&A guest, his new film sadly fails to do anything much apart from raise a few valid and interesting points about military contractors and the privatisation of war.

Mark Womack, one of those rare men who can admirably pull off a receding hairline, does well as Fergus, a returned soldier trying to piece together clues to find out how his friend died in Iraq, and while his character is exactly the sort of person who would frequently resort to prolonged bursts of shouting and swearing, it all gets a bit tiresome after a while.

Comedian John Bishop impresses in a small role, but Andrea Lowe lets the side down a bit as the apex of a destructive love triangle. And the film itself, while typically Loachian in its tragically mundane realism, is overlong and almost stubbornly monotonous, refusing to change out of gear until a violent conclusion that feels like it's been edited in from a different film.

Fortunately the post-film Q&A was suitably entertaining, with a clearly politically passionate lady using the occasion to get on her soapbox and have an angry rant which Ken dealt with graciously even though it wasn't a Q and didn't require an A, and the man next to me telling Ken his film was "pretty good" despite having snored quite impressively through large parts of it.

And so, having criticised a Ken Loach film without once speaking ill of the great man, I avoid capital punishment and live to blog another day. Bring on Mike Leigh.

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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Look At This Other Beautiful Thing

Following the insanely overpriced Tim Burton / Danny Elfman box set I told you about the other week, here's the latest in a series of increasingly depressing posts describing amazing items of movie memorabilia you could never hope to own.
Bill Gold, like Drew Struzan, has had more of an impact on your life than you're probably aware. He designed thousands of film posters between 1941 and 2004, and they're all infinitely better than the shit that gets squirted out these days by Photoshopping hipsters who wear sunglasses indoors and have hairstyles you cut yourself on when you punch them in the face.

Recently-formed publishers Reel Art Press have made 1500 copies of this 450-page book of some of Gold's work, and it's the kind of thing I struggle to get through life knowing I'll never own. Here are a few sample pages to embiggen and pleasure yourself over:
To give you some idea of how goggle-bogglingly fantastic this book is likely to be, here's what Reel Art Press casually describe as a "Press Sample" - a 35x40cm, 47-page, limited edition, individually numbered hardback book that I had to spread out on the floor because the table wasn't big enough:
When you order your copy you've got two choices: the standard "Master Edition" is hand-bound, comes in a bespoke slipcase and is printed on the kind of paper they probably use for royal wedding invitations. As such it retails at an eye-watering £400. If that doesn't sound deluxe enough for you, fear not because there's also a "Deluxe Edition" which comes in a hand-made ash-finished wooden case (I'm not making this up) and costs ONE THOUSAND POUNDS.

I've asked for a review copy but it doesn't appear to have arrived yet.

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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

London Film Festival: The Kids Are All Right

If you're not quite sure what this indie dramedy about two lesbian parents and their kids (who are all right) whose lives are turned upside down by the sudden arrival of a horny, hairy Ruffalo could possibly be like, then let the interweb's finest movie reviewers be your guide:
I'm not quite sure what the hell The New York Observer were thinking transposing their adjectives willy nilly; some people just refuse to play by the rules.

Anyway, guess what? The clichés are all right, boom boom. Go and see it.

The Kids Are All Right is showing on Tuesday 26th October at 12.30pm and Wednesday 27th October at 3.15pm at Vue Leicester Square. Both shows are fully booked, but fear not! It goes on nationwide release this Friday. Phew.

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Monday, 25 October 2010

Concert For Care: A Photographic Odyssey

Last week I took five minutes out from all the LFFery that's been going on recently to go to the Concert For CARE at the Albert Hall. It was put together by David Arnold as an excuse to a) get a load of film music composers together to have their work blasted out by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and b) raise a ton of cash for relief agency CARE International. But you know all that because you've read my penetrating interview with David Arnold, haven't you?

The evening was big bags of fun despite the fact that I only recognised about three tunes all night. It turns out there are severe gaps in my movie music knowledge that need attending to post haste, not least of which is John Powell-shaped. He's all kinds of ace.

Anyway if you couldn't make it you'll be pleased to know that I took some award-winning photos to illustrate the evening, and I think you'll agree that professional photojournalism like this is almost enough to make you feel like you were sitting in the royal box drinking Moët et Chandon and eating caviar like I was (I wasn't).

He introduced the event and spoke about CARE International so we didn't all think we were just there to have a good time. It's entirely possible that in this photo he's the other bloke next to the bloke he might be.

He played piano on his own scores for Love, Actually and World Trade Center. I couldn't hear him due to the proximity of the 78-piece orchestra.

They were there as ambassadors for CARE International. He barely got a word in. You can tell who wears the trousers in that house.

They sang 'Tonight You Belong To Me' from The Jerk
and accompanied themselves on ukelele and kazoo.
David Arnold has a surprisingly nice singing voice.

He introduced his own score from There Will Be Blood in the manner of someone not used to performing in front of enormous crowds.
Which is odd when you think about it.

He finished the first half with a suite from How To Train Your
Dragon, which was so bombastic that it caused the
old lady in the box next to me to wake up.

Nobody in the entire Royal Albert Hall thought he was funnier than he did.

One of two composeresses to perform, she revealed that American History X director Tony Kaye was in the audience, which caused everybody to look for him even though nobody knows what he looks like.

He played the piano on a piece from The Piano. See what he did there?

That's how Matt Lucas described himself before you start writing to me in green ink. He sang 'Smile' from Modern Times and was one thousand times funnier than Jimmy Carr.

At long last the orchestra banged out some Bond before finishing with music from Independence Day, which the couple on the other side of me argued all the way through because one of them thought it was from Jurassic Park. I was all like, "HELLO, does that even LOOK like John Williams?"
I don't know, some people.

So there you go. All you need now to really feel like you were there is to go to the off licence and pay four times more than you need to for a bottle of wine.

Final plug for charidee: CARE International

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Sunday, 24 October 2010

London Film Festival: The Pipe

When evil multinational corporation Shell (boooo!) threatened to drop a ginormous gas pipe on the village where the hardworking, honest folk of Rossport in Ireland (hooray!) live and work, a David vs Goliath battle began which has raged for nearly a decade, and is documented in unpronounceable director Risteard Ó Domhnaill (let's call him Richie)'s simultaneously infuriating and heartwarming film The Pipe.
It's infuriating because it shows the methods a global giant will use to steamroller over a few pesky villagers who would, quite reasonably it seems, rather not have their entire livelihoods, homes and community destroyed, and heartwarming because the characters who absolutely will not give up and will go to astonishing lengths to fight The Man come across as real, genuine heroes. Watching fisherman Pat O'Donnell block the path of a ship the size of an aircraft carrier with his titchy fishing boat is an amazing image and perfectly encapsulates the enormity of the struggle and the spirit of the little folk.

While the documentary itself is decent enough, it's the post-film Q&As that make these events special, and it was great to see some of the 'stars' standing at the front of an auditorium receiving genuine, heartfelt applause from a room full of art-farty festivalgoers.
I only hope they don't try any Guinness while they're in London. They might go away with the impression that the English don't understand how to brew a decent pint of the black stuff.

The Pipe is showing on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd October (so you've missed those), and on Monday 25th October at 1.15pm at the NFT on the South Bank.

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Saturday, 23 October 2010

Saturday Playlist #10: The Greatest '80s Movie Songs, Like, Ever

So I decided it was time to do a playlist of songs rather than scores because some people can't cope with music that doesn't have people speaking in a rhythmic and melodic fashion all over it. As it turns out I had more fun compiling this list than any other, and at one point I actually put on some fluorescent socks (odd, obv), leg warmers and a gilet and body-popped myself around the house.
The 1980s were not only an amazing decade for films but they were far and away the best decade for film songs. I struggle to think of anything from '90s or '00s movies that's as good as anything on this playlist, but maybe that's because I'm an '80s kid.

Frustratingly, a few songs I wanted to include aren't on Spotify, so as a bonus track and an incentive to those of you who haven't downloaded Spotify yet (IT'S FREE), here's something to get you in the mood:

George Harrison - "Dream Away" (From Time Bandits)

For more "classic" "tunes", strap on your deelyboppers, pour a Babycham and raise a glass to Corey Haim as you...


Friday, 22 October 2010

London Film Festival: Upside Down - The Creation Records Story

Upside Down is a documentary about the rise and fall of independent record label Creation, and its co-founder and Big Cheese Alan McGee.
It's the kind of documentary that treats all its archive footage to make it look like it was shot on Krypton and does things like shoving in stock footage of a hospital when McGee recounts how he once went to hospital, or shows us somebody making a phone call when he talks about how he once made a phone call, just in case you're not sure what a hospital or a phone call is.

It's also often incapable of sitting on a medium close up of a contributor without cutting away to a shot of the same person taken from a slightly different angle but made to look grainy for no reason. Have these people never seen The Adam & Joe Show?

All of which wouldn't be so bad if the subject matter was a bit more exciting, but a hundred minutes of haggard, coke-addled zillionaires banging on about how mental they were back in the day soon loses its appeal, especially when the label itself
only produced one and a half bands of any interest.
Don't bother.

If you do want to bother, Upside Down is showing at 6.15pm on Saturday 23rd October and 12.45pm on Sunday 24th October at Vue Leicester Square.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Burlesque: It Could Go Either Way

This is either going to be the most amazing campgasmic spectacusplosion since Moulin Rouge! or the worst pile of rotten, steaming crapples since Nine. If Xtina just spends two hours making the noise Chewbacca makes when he stubs his toe on a table leg then I think I can safely predict the latter.

London Film Festival: Clone

Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, girl loses boy, girl clones boy, boy and girl live out a quasi-Oedipal existence in a shack in the middle of a bleak, deserted, windswept beach. How many times have we heard that story?
Now I've seen enough films at the LFF to know that when a BFI type introduces a movie with the words "haunting and poetic", what he really means is that it's punishingly slow to the point where you're frequently unsure whether or not the projector has stopped. You can't fool me, BFI type.

Clone is a textbook example of this kind of linguistic cover up. It's the sort of film that, if you're not in the right mood, you'll be screaming at the top of your lungs at to just PLEASE GET ON WITH IT. When one character adopts a snail it's difficult not to see it as a deliberate measure to ensure that the pace doesn't pick up too much.
Still, if you mentally prepare yourself for the lethargic tempo and make peace with the peculiar, deliberately stilted style of acting which Eva "Not Just Another Bond Girl" Green and Matt "Forever Doctor Who" Smith* have apparently been forced into by Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf, then Clone is a thought-provoking and undeniably beautiful film. Think Attack Of The Clones meets Back To The Future played at one frame per second.

Actually it's nothing like either of those films, forget I ever mentioned them.

As a bonus, Clone confirms Natalia Tena (The Incredible Suit's choice for a future Bond girl and/or Miss Moneypenny) as the sexiest member of the Order of the Phoenix in a small but revealing role.
She looks better in the film.

Womb is showing on Tuesday 19th October and Wednesday 20th October, which means this review is embarrassingly late.

*Yes, I'm aware the character is just called "The Doctor". Leave me alone.

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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

London Film Festival: Heartbeats

Here are the IMDb's Plot Keywords for Heartbeats (or Love, Imagined, its more accurately translated international title):
While all those things are present and correct (except tension), they don't really give you an accurate idea of what the film is like. What might be more appropriate would be:
All credit (literally) to star, writer, director, producer, costumier, art director, editor, graphic designer, photographer and probably popcorn seller and projectionist Xavier Dolan, but Heartbeats is just a little bit too Film Festivally for its own good. If only it were showing at some kind of Film Festival right now, it might just find its audience.

Heartbeats is showing at the LFF at 5.45pm on Thursday 21st October and at 3.00pm on Friday 22nd October at Vue Leicester Square, and at 6.30pm on Sunday 24th October at Cine Lumiere in South Kensington.

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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Green Hornet: Coming Soon!

Specifically, the first of Dodecacember 2011. Can't wait!

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London Film Festival: The Tillman Story

Documentary time again at the LFF, and this one's got a war face.
That impossibly lantern-jawed fizzog will be recognisable to any fans of American Football out there (obviously there's a natural crossover between film blog readers and NFL enthusiasts), but for the benefit of everyone else it belongs to Pat Tillman, who played for the Arizona Cardinals, whatever they are, before enlisting in the army and being booted off to Eye-rack and Afghanistan, where he was apparently killed by the Afghan militia in an ambush.
That's right conspiracy fans, there may or may not have been a cover up in the investigation into Pat Tillman's death that goes - yes, I'm going to say it - RIGHT TO THE TOP.

While the Tillman story is fascinating, The Tillman Story is only quite good - it's clumsily structured, goes on a bit and doesn't properly address the issue that it hints at - the peculiar need that people, countries and governments have for heroes. However it does reveal the farcical tragedies of war and the shameful actions of governments, and leaves you in awe of Tillman's formidable mother, who has all but devoted her life to getting an apologetic drop of blood from a decidedly stony US administration. It also features a soldier called Bryan O'Neal, which is challenging not to chuckle at when the subject matter is so sombre.

And just so you don't spend the entire film trying to work out who's doing the voiceover like I did: It's Josh Brolin, who only recently played George W Bush in Oliver Stone's biopic W.

The Tillman Story is showing at 6.30pm on Wednesday 20th October and 3.30pm on Thursday 21st October at Vue Leicester Square, and at 9.00pm on Saturday 23rd October at the Ritzy in Brixton.

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Monday, 18 October 2010

Just When You Thought You Couldn't Love Bill Murray Any More

He turns up at an awards ceremony wearing this:
I love my Dad but I wish he was Bill Murray.

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London Film Festival: It's Kind Of A Funny Story

If you're planning to see It's Kind Of A Funny Story, don't forget to take your Indie Flick Checklist:
  • Hopeless loser protagonist inexplicably fancied by at least two beautiful girls
  • Peer group of shallow idiots including female object of desire
  • Kooky female with less make-up than female object of desire
  • Dysfunctional family
  • Supporting cast of "offbeat" characters
  • Mainstream comedy star proving dramatic chops
  • Actor(s) from popular TV series, pref. Lost or 24
  • Frequent references to hip indie bands
  • One musical number, usually highlight of film
  • One animated sequence
  • Scene towards end in which protagonist runs through corridors of an institution releasing feelings of repression and frustration to soundtrack of obscure indie pop
You won't be disappointed! Unless of course you were hoping for something original and memorable.

I would also like to request that everybody going to see It's Kind Of A Funny Story cuts out and wears The Incredible Suit's patented Zach Galifianakis Face Of Hairy Wonder:
One day all men will look like this and the world will be a better place for it.

It's Kind Of A Funny Story is showing at 6.15pm on Tuesday 19th October, 12.30pm on Wednesday 20th October and 2.45pm on Thursday 21st October at Vue Leicester Square.

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Sunday, 17 October 2010

London Film Festival: The Peddler

Wondering what to see at the London Film Festival next? Of course you are. You'd be crazy if that very thought wasn't occupying your every waking second. Well, you could always go and see The Peddler. It's quite good.
A documentary about an avuncular old geezer who breezes in and out of rural Argentinian villages making rubbish films, The Peddler is the kind of sweet, cockle-warming film that you might see late one night on Channel 4 but may as well go and check out at the LFF so you can say you've supported both the British and Argentine film industries.

As unlikely movie mogul Daniel Burmeister bimbles about the town of Benjamín Gould shooting his unepic Let's Kill Uncle, he successfully unites an entire community, some of whom barely knew each other until they became actors in his VHS non-masterpiece. The fact that he doesn't even own a camera is the least of his problems, but he's a resourceful chap, carrying out constant running repairs on his death-trap car and building his own props from scratch.

The trailer doesn't really do it justice in all honesty but at least it teaches you how to say "I'd sooner die" in Spanish, which might come in useful if you're ever in Spain and someone invites you to watch a bullfight or go to an English bar.

The Peddler is showing at 9pm on Sunday 17th October and at 4.15pm on Tuesday 19th October at the NFT on the South Bank, and at 6.45pm on Wednesday 20th October at the ICA.

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Saturday, 16 October 2010

Saturday Playlist #9: James Bond In The '80s

As Roger (83 this week!) Moore's moobs - and career - continued their downward trajectory and his corset grew ever sturdier, the 1980s Bond films saw musical contributions from Bill Conti (loyal viewers will recall the happy day when he was crowned The Incredible Suit's favourite Conti) and John Barry. When Timothy Dalton took over and LITERALLY BLEW MY MIND, Barry bestowed upon us his final Bond score, and Michael Kamen did the honours for Dalton's second and final 007 flick.

Sadly Spotify has failed miserably in the For Your Eyes Only score-providing department, so you'll just have to go and buy a copy. But you were going to do that anyway, right?
So make love to a woman half your age, embarrass yourself, then get serious, don't have as much casual sex, crack less jokes and be possibly the greatest person ever to play James Bond as you...


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Friday, 15 October 2010

The Social Network

David Fincher had a lot of making up to do to me after the personal disappointments of the overlong, unengaging Zodiac and the plain cheddary awfulness of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. Se7en (pronounced 'Sesevenen') is one of my 15 greatest films of all time and Fight Club isn't far behind, so I've spent the last ten years waiting for a worthy Finchgasm.

The Social Network isn't it.
What The Social Network is is an excellent film made by a genuine genius. Every frame is beautiful, whether you're staring at Andrew Garfield's fascinating hair (how is he going to fit it all into his Spidey mask?) or Jesse Eisenberg's contemptuous chops. It's impressively scripted, shot and edited in order to successfully make two hours of people talking entertaining, the score is outstanding and it treats the viewer with enough respect not to simplify its technobabble without getting bogged down in jargon.

What The Social Network isn't is the 21st century's Citizen Kane, or the best film of the year (though it is in the top ten), or the second coming of Alfred Hitchcock. It's a great film but it's not a great story: some guys have an idea, make it work, then argue about whose idea it was. I didn't expect explosions, car chases, robots or aliens (although that would have been fun) but for me to soil myself over a film I expect something memorable, something thought-provoking, something surprising. Yes, I expect something unexpected.

That it remains a great film despite that is testament to everyone who made it. Everyone, that is, except the person responsible for the CG breath in the outdoor scenes. Apparently we can flawlessly transplant one actor's face onto another's so that he can play twins, but that exhaled vapour is no more convincing than it was in Titanic.

The Social Network is an extraordinary achievement and God knows if almost any other director had made it it would be unwatchable. I'm just still waiting for David Fincher to blow my mind again, and it looks like I'll be waiting a while.

In other news, look at the thickness of the press notes I was given:
I literally* thought they were handing out the script or something.

*Not literally

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