Monday, 17 December 2012
Plot: Three aliens from the planet Zots find themselves in exile on Earth when it is believed that their emotions are destroying the ozone layer of their home planet. A stay on the blue planet is meant to break their hearts when exposed to the cruel dating scene of our specie. But nothing ever goes to plan, and romance is in the cards...
Thursday, 13 December 2012
I suffer from a severe case of listilitis, probably because I have lived in the UK for over 15 years now, a country when the making up of list has been elevated to an art form. And I usually spend my time from February onwards deciding whether each film I see is worthy of an inclusion in my end of year top 10. Having published my top 5 of unreleased films, it is time for the top 10 of the films which did make it to the UK in 2012! This list is in 2 parts, I shall start with 10 to 6, and then my top 5 has already been published on the brilliant film site Cinemart.
It has not exactly been a vintage year for films, from my point of view anyway, apart from a very strong top 3. But then it has actually been a fantastic year for film festivals on the plus side, and 2013 is looking promising.
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Out of the 100 films or so I have watched in cinemas this year, nearly half of them were at film festivals, mainly in London but also at the Cannes Film Festival, so it is only fair that I dedicate a separate list to those films seen at festivals but which have not come out in the UK yet. That I have seen so many at festivals is as much a testament to the vitality of the film festival circuit as a lament about the sorry state of the current cinema going experience, but this is a debate for another day. While some films on the list have already secured a UK release for next year, and as such, might find themselves in my top 10 of 2013, the fate of others is more uncertain.
I shall be releasing my top 10 of 2012 later in the year, but as far as this list is concerned, with no film festival coming up until the end of the year, I can safely release it now. I also feature two films which are completely out of competition, simply because I cannot determine whether they belong to the list of best or worst films I have seen this year, probably both...
Monday, 3 December 2012
Laurence Anyways, seen at the London Film Festival earlier in the year, was a surprise disappointment, especially considering how much I rated Xavier Dolan's previous film, Heartbeats. I found it ambitious but ultimately hollow, too long and uninvolving. Only one scene has really stuck with me ever since and it is available on YouTube. Not that I am saying you should skip the film completely and only watch this scene below (Of COURSE not!)...
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
The great thing about film festivals is being able to watch some great films you might not have been able to see otherwise. The worst thing about film festivals is not being to watch said films ever again, should they not secure a UK release. Air Doll, presented in Cannes then at the London Film Festival was the best film I saw in 2009 (The White Ribbon what? A Prophet who?) and it never did secure a UK release. Until now. Thankfully, Matchbox Films has just released it on DVD.
Sunday, 25 November 2012
The English title of this film, Red Nights, is the dull and truncated translation of the wonderfully evocative French one, Les Nuits Rouges du Bourreau de Jade, or The Red Nights of the Jade Executioner. Attracted by its intriguing trailer, I have finally managed to catch it, as the film has been released on DVD in the UK. And it did not disappoint, a an ultra-stylised dream in red and blue.
Monday, 19 November 2012
|Cinderhella in Detention|
An unconspicuous title and an ugly DVD cover were not exactly the most encouraging signs for Detention, a film which made very little waves at the US box-office despite a rather subsequent budget for that type of film ($10M if IMDB is to be believed, as a comparison, Insidious was made for ten times less than that). And yet Detention turned out to be one of the maddest horror films of the recent years, not entirely convincing but with enough energy and invention to make it unmissable for fans of the genre.
Monday, 12 November 2012
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Just as the London Film Festival 2012 was running the danger of becoming a very average edition, all of its best films came thick and fast at the end, and salvaged it. After a flurry of good, decent, disappointing, flawed films came a serie of four wildly different ones which all exceeded my expectations and restored my faith in the festival and films, three of them seen in the same day, as below.
When David Wozniak's girlfriend announces she is pregnant, forty-something slacker David gets a huge shock, as he leads a carefree life as if he was still in his early 20's. He works for his father's butcher business delivering meat, and generally stumbling through life as fun nice guy, who can't be trusted with anything serious. He owes a lot of money to some loan sharks, who are more than happy to beat him up in an attempt to get him to pay up. Valerie (Julie Le Breton), his cop girlfriend, has decided she doesn't want him helping to raise the baby, but the sudden announcement makes David look at life with a new perspective as he decides to change his ways.
Saturday, 3 November 2012
It will make you go blind. It will make your palms go hairy. You will lose a pint of blood every time you "do it" (crikey, a full pint!). It is making love with somebody you truly love, according to Woody Allen. Yet cinema, never one to be shy about showing cringe-worthy and tepid scenes of love making which are usually as sexy as hoovering the crumbs behind the bed of a Travelodge, is surprisingly coy when it comes to scene of love which only feature one person. So, in no particular order, I thought I would go through the most notable scenes which feature this activity I cannot name on blogger in case a housewife from Michigan takes offense and report my blog. But you all know what I am talking about *wink, wink* and no, this is no typo, I did mean wink.
Monday, 29 October 2012
The London cinema scene is as vibrant as it has ever been, and almost not a week comes through without its new film festival. Social networks, the ease of access of older films through Lovefilm/Netflix are two factors among others which explains how London got to become so cinephile. I would go as far as saying that its film scene is more exciting than Paris at the moment, there, I have said it! And for those of you who barely have had the time to recover from the LFF yet asking for more comes the Quebec Cinema Showcase, which will take place at the lovely cinema of the Institut Francais in London from the 2nd to the 4th of November 2012.
Monday, 22 October 2012
Variety is the name of the game, and this is my favorite aspect of film festivals, watching some widely different films back to back. And you cannot do any more different than In The House and John Dies At The End, both from directors who I admire although who have yet to come up with the masterpiece which to me would propel them into my A-team of directors, high up there with the Lynchs and the Cronenbergs. Did they deliver with their new films? SPOILER. They did not.
Sunday, 21 October 2012
Friday, 19 October 2012
Thursday, 18 October 2012
Nearly half-way through the festival and I have realised that my line-up this year has been pretty heavy on "cult" films. Experimental, South Korean, Japanese, downright horrors... Made all the more easy by the different strands introduced in the festival, including, you guessed it, the cult one but also the thrill one. And I have two more of those cult/thrill films reviewed in this post, two very different ones however: A Fish and Antiviral.
Sunday, 14 October 2012
Monday, 8 October 2012
Plot: Kotoko (played by Japanese pop star Cocco) is a single mum on the verge of a catastrophic mental breakdown, struggling to look after her young son yet devastated at the thought of losing him, as she is suffering hallucinations and feelings of persecution from a perceived hostile outside world.
Review: Shin'Ya Tsukamoto is most famous in the West for having directed two of the craziest and most utterly deranged films of the last decades: Tetsuo The Iron Man (1989) and its sequel Tetsuo 2 The Body Hammer (1992), which are both being re-released on DVD in the UK by Third Window Films, the same company which is releasing Kotoko. Those films celebrated the union of flesh and machine and can be described as early days David Cronenberg on acid, which is quite an achievement. Low in plot but high in demented visual flourishes, they have since both become cult films with a strong following. I personally have a preference for the first one, for its impeccable experimental black & white industrial style, as opposed to the second one whose colourful dayglo esthetic has aged badly and makes it looks like a bad 90's dance video.
Sunday, 7 October 2012
Plot: Francois is a totally unremarkable lower middle class middle aged South African man, leaving an unremarkable life with his wife and their newly wed daughter. Except that Francois is a closeted gay man. And as the handsome adult son of an old friend emerges back in his life, the strength of his burgeoning passion towards him threatens to wreck his life and those around him.
Most of you will remember or have at least heard of America's 80's priestess of horror, Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark, with her voluptuous curves and over the top gothic persona. On top of a popular TV show, Cassandra Peterson (her real name) also portrayed her character in a serie of films. But did you know that, in the 80's, France had found its unlikely answer to Elvira, in the form of Sangria?
Thursday, 27 September 2012
Writer/director Rhian Johnson burst onto the indie scene with 2005’s razor-sharp and deeply cool high school noir Brick but his second feature, the adorable conman caper The Brothers Bloom, had an unjustly muted release and has never been given the attention it deserved. Instead of staying in his mannered art-house comfort zone, Johnson has attempted something very different with his latest film that’s been gathering tremendous buzz: a science-fiction action movie starring Bruce Willis.
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Whatever you opinion of the film might have been, it is undeniable that its lead actress, the Italian star Claudia Gerini, gave an inspired and committed performance for what was a very challenging part. And she has been kind enough to answer a few of my questions:
Monday, 24 September 2012
Last month, British film mag Sight & Sound published its top 100 lists of the best films ever made, as they do every decade, and as voted by over a hundred of the most respected film critics and experts. Within the top 10, there were some mostly obvious titles, except one which I had not even heard of: Man With A Movie Camera by Dzyga Vertov, made in the 20's, and billed as a Russian experimental film. Right down my street I figured, so out of curiosity, and since the BFI had the brilliant idea to screen all of the top 10 films this month, I decided to go and check it out, and report back.
Monday, 17 September 2012
The London Spanish Film Festival is having its 8th edition this year, and I have to admit being a little confused as I already went to a Spanish Film Festival earlier in the year in London. But then we can never have too much of a good thing so I am happy with a second one! I have found myself with a growing interest in Latin American/Spanish cinema recently, and this edition has a surprising amount of bonkers and cult looking films which are always welcome. I offer you a small selection which has piqued my interest:
Friday, 14 September 2012
Join me for my live, and now infamous Human Centipede 2 vomit-along! You might remember my first vomit-along while watching the first film, which was nowhere near as gross as I expected, probably because I knew all that was coming. And let's face it, it was not quite as graphic and violent as the hype had us believe. No such danger with the second one, which is said to not so much push but smash the teeth of bundaries and pick up the pieces with rusty tweezers. I recently met director Tom Six and lied to him saying I had seen both films and loved them both... So now there is no escape, no going back, the DVD is on, let's all vomit along!
Monday, 10 September 2012
I have been spending the last few days furiously flicking through the pages of the London Film Festival programme trying to decide on my schedule. The increasing number of venues and the distances involved have been adding to the headache of films clashes, to the point where I would need the sort of 3D space hologram map as displayed in Prometheus to be able to make a clear schedule. (Navigation by Fassbenger's magic flute optional).
There is little point me doing an extensive coverage of the line up, other film sites with more time and ressources can do it better than me. I would rather put the spotlight on a handful of films I have uncovered which fits our blog's focus of alternative, cult and Asian cinema. I have taken more and more of an anti-trailer stance recently, and especially with films like those below that I have seen little about, I want to keep them as fresh and intact as I can. Here they are:
Sunday, 9 September 2012
How familiar were you with the ballroom scene depicted in Leave it
on the floor before making the film? And had you seen the 90's documentary Paris is Burning, which was alsoset in this ballroom scene and if so, was it an influence for your film?
My obsession to make Leave It on the Floor began more than twenty years ago
when I first saw Paris Is Burning, That film took a remarkable look at the New
York ball community of the late 1980’s. In the intervening 20 years, the culture has gone through major change and transformation and yet startlingly, no one since has seriously written on its recent history, or created any kind of resonant or reflective film document (either documentary or narrative drama). Indeed, most people who know the original film believe that the culture has long since disappeared, and that it had been a New York-only event anyway. Not true. Today, communities in more than fifteen major urban settings are flourishing throughout the country.
Friday, 7 September 2012
If Frightfest is Christmas for film fans, the London Film Festival is, well, Christmas AND New Year's Eve all wrapped into one. The festival, while obviously not in the same league as Cannes, Venice and Berlin, has grown from strength to strength over the last decade, under the direction of Sandra Hebron. Last year was her last festival however, and new director Clare Stewart has already put her mark, having changed quite a few aspects, which I shall discuss below. And then in my next post, I shall suggest a few films in line with the kind of cinema we champion on my blog, alternative, cult, unusual...
Wednesday, 5 September 2012
You may remember the film 'Paris is Burning', back in 1990, which was all about the underground drag scene in New York, where 'Voguing' originated, well 'Leave it on the Floor' is the West Coast cousin, ready to wrap you up into the world of Brad (the stunning Ephraim Sykes) as he goes from homeless to trophy winning hunk, looking for Mr Right.
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
And on to day three of FrightFest 2012 with three films which could not have been any more different, as well as a chance encounter with an iconic horror film director I literally bumped into in the foyer of the Empire Leicester Square. It was a day of giallos tributes, mysteries, demonic possessions, loud bangs at night and flying, singing, murderous sushis.
Monday, 3 September 2012
And on to the second part of a full day at FrightFest. As per my previous post, the day did not exactly start off well with Outpost 2 and Paura 3D. But it got better, and increasingly weirder. It is also the day when somebody brought a full Chinese takeaway inside the cinema. The horror. It did really feel that our civilisation had reached the point of no return after that.
Sunday, 2 September 2012
As a big fan of horror films and Asian cinema, I am naturally very excited about the release of Curse, a Singaporean horror, which is a bit of a novelty. While the last decade has seen the release of many films of this genre from the Far East (Thailand, South Korea, Japan etc...) we seldom have the chance to witness any outing from Singapore. And now you have the chance to win 1 out of 3 DVD of Curse in this competition!
Friday, 31 August 2012
On to day two at FrightFest, a full on day with five films back to back. It was an odd day, with a very uneven line-up, an audience who was suffering from mid-festival fatigue, and a screening which has already made FrightFest history, perhaps not quite for the right reasons.
Isn't it nice when a film truly matches your expectations? I went into the first film of the day, Outpost 2: Black Sun expecting nothing and I got nothing out of it, being glacially boring. Kudos to its hyperactive producer however, who was busy distributing leaflets outside the Empire Leicester Square advertising an i-phone game based on the film, and brought on stage two actors (not from the film) dressed up as nazi zombies.
Monday, 27 August 2012
Among all the film festivals I attend throughout the year, horror film fest FrightFest in London is my guilty pleasure. For any fan, there is no better place to watch horror films than in a massive, packed screen with an adoring audience who laughs, screams and applauds at all the right places. The atmosphere is fantastic and very sociable, the organisation is brilliant, with a programme packed with surprises, guest appearances, new trailers, and more often than not Q&A's with the cast and crew at the end of each screening.
Plus I always love the idea of watching as many films as possible back to back, without the thirty minutes adverts, with a truly appreciative and passionate crowd. Indeed it is sad the way I almost cannot be bothered watching films in multiplexes any longer, because of their utter disrespect for film, so film festivals are my lifeline. And Fright Fest 2012 did not disappoint! Well me anyway as I appreciate some have lamented the quality of films on display this year, but personally, I saw at least 5 films who would deserve a spot on my top 10 this year so far.
Friday, 24 August 2012
Veteran Portuguese director Manoel De Oliveira is 103. Yes, 103 years old. Which gets to prove that an interesting, creative life full of culture doing what you love will make you near immortal. And the man does not stop working, which is a bit crazy. One of this latest films, Eccentricities of a Blonde Haired Girl (2009), one which I wanted to see based on its title alone, is an enchantment, filled with invention and romanticism, most definitely the work of a young man!
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed a worrying increase in non-films, cat-related tweets. I love cats, every since we rescued a cat that had been thrown out of a car outside our appartment building when I was 15. He died 6 months later and I'm still crying to this day. So cats in films, a rich subject. Except that I will not bother with anthropomorphism, or mention Puss in Boots, as hilarious as he is. Instead, I present to you films which faithfully portray cats as us cat lovers know them too well.
Saturday, 18 August 2012
Guy Maddin is one of the most interesting directors working at the moment. He has built his own inimitable style, which I could describe as playfully experimental, with nods and tributes to silent and black and white films well before it became fashionable, as well as a sizeable influence from his home town, Winnipeg in Canada.
But Guy Maddin is a bit naughty. The BFI in London had organised a preview of Keyhole as a fundraising event, with all the profits going towards the director's next project, a remake of sorts of Alfred Hitchcock's lost film, The Mountain Eagle. Except that the director did not turn up! Instead, he sent us a video message that was hilarious but not quite enough to compensate the disappointment of his absence. Although it seems fitting that for a film about spirits like Keyhole, his director was with us, well, in spirit at least!
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
If you are following my blog, you might have come across the interblogs film challenge I tackled last month, along with Martyn Conterio from Cinemart, where we listed our favourite films of all time. We published it daily, film by film, just as British film magazine Sight & Sound was about to publish it own, as it has done every decade for over fifty years now, having compiled the results from hundreds of critics' lists
Ours were lists of passion, with no snobbery, no showing off, with no other criteria than our love for film in general, and those films we picked in particular. I lamented the lack of classics in mine but I was not going to put some titles just to impress and to give it some credibility, and I still stand by it. Having said that, now that Sight & Sound has published its own list, I do feel a little guilty and inadequate.
Saturday, 11 August 2012
Mulholland Drive found itself at number 28 on the latest Sight & Sound Greatest films of all times list, as voted by various critics from around the world, above classics such as Stalker and The Godfather 2, with the second highest ranked film from David Lynch, Blue Velvet, finding itself at 67.
It should be fairly obvious by now that I am a huge Lynch fan. INLAND EMPIRE is my favourite film of all times, and I count most, if not all of his other films among my favourites. Yet there is that one, that particular one that I have a few problems with. No, not Dune (although this is my least favourite of his!), surprisingly, it is indeed Mulholland Drive.
Friday, 10 August 2012
As a proud Londoner who will never grow tired of this amazing city, I am puzzled as to why no modern directors have been able or even willing to convey all of the beauty and mystique of the big smoke recently, especially at night. The louche London discovered at the back of taxis during night time escapades, the randomness of its architecture, the cold and unusual charm of empty Docklands streets and their towering glass buildings, the soulless corridors of the Jubilee Line and DLR, the thousand bars it would take you a lifetime to all discover, the wealth of potential stories thanks to the most varied and exciting population on Earth... Only last night I discovered the King's Cross Social Club, a unlikely mixture of grubby indie rock dive and upmarket pub, lovingly nimbed in red neon light. I thoroughly recommend it, so much so that I feel the need to include a picture, so there you are, just below.
Thursday, 9 August 2012
Stunning film from Alastair Siddons dealing with grief and loss. This is a subtlety powerful film that draws you in slowly, to the world of 15yr old Marie and the events surrounding the sudden death of her neighbours son, Sean. He mysteriously dies whilst she is babysitting him one night.
Wednesday, 8 August 2012
SPOILER Do not read if you have not seen, aherm, well I cannot say the title as it would be too spoilerific already. Erm do not read unless you have seen the latest film with that French Oscar winning actress. No, not the one she presented at the Cannes film festival this year. Anyhow, further down this post, I have a link to a tumbler that is not exactly charitable towards her yet incredibly funny.