Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Cannes 2013 Diaries Day 2: Takashi Miike, Seduced & Abandoned

So my first day in Cannes 2013 was a lot more successful than last year's one, when, under a torrential rain, I managed to see zero films despite queuing for hours. Things were on to a great start. And day two was to be a day of emotional highs and lows, of Japanese thrills and dreams of escape to a castle in Italy.

Having already secured an invitation thanks to a twitter contact, undeterred by the early start required, I made my way to the Palais for the 830 am screening of Takashi Miike's latest, Wara No Tate (Shield Of Straw). The prolific Japanese director makes about 7 films a year, with only a few trickling through the West, and you truly never know what to expect every time, from the man who offered us intimate torture, zebraman superheroes, and for the last two years in Cannes, samurai revenge and teen musicals. I knew nothing about his new film, which is the way I love to watch films.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Cannes 2013 Diaries Day 1: The Ginger Cat And The Stuntwoman

Inside Llewyn Davis. And the cat

First of all, I must apologise for those delayed diaries, unlike last year when I managed to write daily. Issue with the internet at the flat I stayed at on first few days then lack of time meant I just gave up trying to catch up and kept them for my return, which feels a bit retro, like before the internet when we had to wait for the June issue of film magazines to hear about Cannes. At least I shall have a bit of hindsight, even if some of my memories might be a little muddled up already. And SPOILERS, I can already tell you that this has been the most exciting Cannes film festival I have ever attended!

I was actually a bit nervous before heading to Cannes this time. I went back last year after a 15 years hiatus with zero expectations, not even knowing if I'd manage to see a film, and it exceeded my expectations, also seeing two of my favourite films of last year in the process (Holy Motors and Post Temebras Lux). So the stakes were higher this time. And early signs were worrying. I arrived at the festival a bit later on the first Saturday night, purposefully avoiding the always busy first few days, and there were mentions on Twitter of how busy this year felt and how the attendance had shot up, which was not good news for people like myself at the bottom of the food chain. And the weather was said to be atrocious.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Fast & Furious 6 Review

Plot: Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and their crew have retired after their Rio heist left them millionaires. Growing homesick however, they are drawn back behind the wheels when former foe CIA agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) offers them a pardon in return for their assistance to stop a team of mercenaries with a nefarious plan.

The Fast & Furious franchise is an oddity. After some inconspicuous beginnings, it has actually grown from strength to strength. The first film, The Fast & The Furious was just a teenager wet dream, with fast cars and loose women, a very uninvolving proposition outside of its limited target audience. And after 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift which did not fare much better, there was a slight improvement with Fast & Furious, before Fast 5 changed the game completely, garnering some unexpectedly great reviews and boasting the higher box office return to date.

Viva Pedro Almodóvar! Pepi, Luci, Bom Y Otras Chicas Del Montón (1980)

Viva Pedro Almodóvar indeed. You might have read my introduction about my Viva Pedro Almodóvar project, however I have decided to slightly amend the way I'm going to do this. Rather than posting weekly posts of three capsule reviews, I will just publish a middle sized review for each of his films as I watch (or mostly, rewatch!) them along, hopefully weekly. I just love the idea of going through the full filmography of a director I admire so much in full chronological order and seeing his style and talent progress over the films. So first off his first film, or, as it turned out, not quite his first film.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

My Top 10 Film Directors

Much like picking your favourite films (which I did last year), selecting your favourite directors is a difficult task. On what criteria do you base yourself, consistency, talent (whatever that might mean!), personal connection? What if one makes a few masterpieces and a flew clunkers too? What if one has only made three films? The best way is not to actually take any criteria in consideration and just follow your heart (that sounds so self-help!). I am no professional critic, just a film lover, and that list is about the directors I love, not those who I feel should be on the list.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Our Children Review

The latest film from French director Joachim Lafosse deals with the topic of emigration and the obligations imposed upon and felt by those beholden to the apparent benevolent nature of an older father figure. Having fallen in love, Mounir (Tahar Rahim, A Prophet), and Murielle (Emilie Dequenne, Rosetta), a French native, marry and share the Moroccan home owned by Mounir and his benefactor, Doctor André Pinget (Niels Arestrup). Co-written by A Prophet and Rust and Bone screenwriter Thomas Bidegain, the film's episodic structure leads you to the heart of the tragedy that begins the film.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Vanishing Waves: The Cell Remade By Tarkovsky

I went from one extreme to another at the Sci-Fi film festival in London this year. A few days ago it was lo-fi self-reflective crayon birds joyfest Birdemic 2. Then I moved on to the cold and cerebral Lithuanian sci-fi Vanishing Waves by Kristina Buozyte, at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Exclusive Interview With Peter Chan, Director Of Dragon

Peter Chan at the Cannes Film Festival 2011

Dragon (Wu Xia), after its Cannes presentation a couple of years ago, is finally out in the UK today, you can read our 5 stars review here. I was lucky enough to be able to speak to its director, Peter Chan, who was so fantastic to interview, giving some very insightful answers and paying attention to each questions. You can read it in full below

Birdemic 2 - Mulholland Drive Meets The Birds

I was lucky enough to attend the UK premiere of the eagerly anticipated Birdemic 2, The Resurrection, at the London Sci-Fi Film Festival with the cast & crew attending. And as I am writing this, I still cannot decide whether to give it minus 15 stars or 5 stars. It probably deserves both.

The cult of "so good it's bad" films is nothing new, however it has been growing and growing over the years. Its point is to celebrate some films, usually from the 70's and especially the 80's, and usually sci-fi/horrors (but not always) who, thanks to an ultra low budget way, terrible acting, inept script and atrocious direction, or sometimes, all of the above, are so excruciatingly bad that they become hilarious, almost endearing in some cases, with some of them garnering a real fan following. That sort of films that is best enjoyed with mates after a few beers, and some cinemas have caught up on this. For example, the Prince Charles in London, with its established The Good Mad Movie monthly film club, whose screening of Masters Of The Universe I shall never forget for many reasons.