Saturday, 26 July 2014


One could look so frequently to science-fiction movies to observe examples of 'style over substance' that it has somewhat become a staple feature of that genre, a touchstone upon which directors can validate their own shallow exercises in sci-fi filmmaking. William Eubank's The Signal is a puzzle of a plot that slowly forms into a rather dissatisfying picture, and then falls apart entirely with a naff twist ending that's so self-consciously meta it's even scored to dubstep. As stupidity goes, it's a cut above the rest of this film, which presents silliness as momentousness, but generally has the viewer on side, as we await the eventual explanation that will confirm the purpose of what Eubank has designed. His explanation fittingly denounces all that has been before as futile, though is itself a throbbing beacon of futility. Though lacking in any tangible substance, yes, The Signal is a stylish sci-fi film, as conventional entries into the genre ought to be. On a small budget, Eubank administers some effective CGI, and the film has a slick aesthetic. None of it is particularly revolutionary, despite Eubank's insistent portentousness, and confirms the derivativeness of so much of The Signal, right down to its basic visual conception. It marks a distinct disappointment that, even in this most vital regard on which the film supposedly thrives, The Signal is lacking in original thought or surprise. A feeling of disenfranchised fatigue settles in, and the mind-fuck final shot doesn't jolt one out of it, it actually reinforces that feeling.

Friday, 25 July 2014


A frothy documentary, full of humour and pep, but devoid of any particular incisiveness at any time, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon paints a picture of a man that all involved with the creation of it would likely herald as a definitive account of his life. Like Shep Gordon, it overlooks the whys and often the whats, and concentrates on the whom, which is fun and engaging for a time. As a film, it's basically just a roster of famous names and faces, like the list of Gordon's clients before the end credits, like a big, colourful sign reading "LOOK AT HOW SUCCESSFUL I AM!", with no depth, no subtext, no reasons. One feels there were no questions asked either - we hear of Gordon being described, fairly convincingly too, as an exceedingly pleasant man, but there are aspects to his character that go wholly unexplored yet lodge themselves in the minds of the more attentive viewers: the evidence suggests he's a vacuous misogynist, but that's of no consequence to Mike Myers' film, alas. Maybe that capacity for vacuousness exists in all of us, though. It certainly exists in me, as I find that a retro soundtrack and a barrage of celebrity contributions is more than enough to appease me, at least for an hour or so. Supermensch takes on the character of the ultimate rock bio-doc, ticking off boxes of requisite markers in the genre with a combination of gusto and haste. It's as high-octane as documentaries get, but that haste results in only intriguing us, rather than involving us - we want to learn more, but aren't afforded the opportunity to do so.  And the fast pace becomes tiring, meaning that the film feels considerably longer than its mere 85 minutes. Supermensch leaves you feeling curious, but not fascinated, like you suppose you ought to feel.

Thursday, 24 July 2014


The latest city-based, love-fuelled anthology, after those for Paris and New York, premiered earlier this year at Cannes to, um, little fanfare. Put it this way: no, I wasn't at Cannes, and yes, I was kinda snowed under posting reviews for films showing there, but I kept up to date on just about any film of note, yet I missed this one entirely. Wasn't even aware it had screened there til I checked a few seconds ago on IMDb. Naturally, it doesn't have either US or UK release dates yet.


After Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo failed to capitalise on the awards potential Fox obviously felt it possessed (though, after Elizabethtown, goodness knows why), Columbia has balked on releasing his upcoming rom-com in an awards-friendly Christmas slot. It has been pushed back to the 29th of May, 2015, opening next to Insidious: Chapter Three and Monster Trucks, neither of which pose a serious threat to the film, which stars Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams and Emma Stone.


Does this trailer for The Imitation Gamethe second to be released online this week, paper over Alan Turing's homosexuality? Or does it do even worse, and insinuate that he was anything but? Make your own mind up when you've seen the trailer. I think there are arguments either way, but whomever edited this trailer ought to be having a wee think imo. Morten Tyldum's film will premiere at TIFF 2014.


Dear America: go to see Dear White People on the 17th of October. Dear world: watch this trailer. It's even better than this trailer. The Sundance success, and festival award-winner at two separate gigs looks like one of the films of the year from this distance!


I've been banging on about Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani for ages now, but it only struck me when I saw this trailer: they'd be the perfect choice for the Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation, not Sam Taylor-Johnson, pretending to have artistic integrity cos she was once an 'artist'. Nowhere Boy went just about nowhere, artistically, it was on an emotional level that it succeeded. Bound for release on the 13th of February 2015.


The Venice lineup has been announced. From the 27th of August to the 6th of September, the world's oldest film festival will screen dozens of the most hotly-anticipated and culturally important films of 2014. Festival season kicks off with the triple blow of Venice, Toronto and Telluride, getting underway in just over a month. Expect in-depth coverage from Screen On Screen throughout that period. This comes hot on the heels of the first slew of titles announced from Toronto.

3 Hearts (Benoit Jacquot)
99 Homes (Ramin Bahrani)
Anime Nere (Francesco Munzi)
Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu) - opening night film
The Cut (Fatih Akin)
Le Dernier Coup de Marteau (Alix Delaporte)
Far from Men (David Oelhoffen)
Fires on the Plain (Tsukamoto Shin'ya)
Il Giovane Favoloso (Mario Martone)
Good Kill (Andrew Niccol)
Hungry Hearts (Saverio Costanzo)
The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer)
Manglehorn (David Gordon Green)
Pasolini (Abel Ferrara)
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson)
The Postman's White Night (Andrey Konchalovskiy)
La Rancon de la Gloire (Xavier Beauvois)
Red Amnesia (Wang Xiao Shuai)
Sivas (Kaan Mujdeci)
Tales (Rakhshan Bani-Etemad)

After the cut, Venice Horizons, Venice Days and Out-of-Competition screeners.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


TIFF 2014 will run from the 4th to the 14th of September. The 39th edition of the festival has just announced a slate of films set to screen at the high-profile event, many of which will aspire to use the fest as a launching pad for their awards campaigns later in the year. Here are the films which have been confirmed to screen in Toronto:

World Premieres
American Heist (Sarik Andreasyan)
Before We Go (Chris Evans)
Black and White (Mike Binder)
Breakup Buddies (Ning Hao)
Cake (Daniel Barnz)
The Dead Lands (Toa Fraser)
The Drop (Michael R. Roskam)
Eden (Mia Hansen-Love)
The Equaliser (Antoine Fuqua)
The Gate (Regis Wargnier)
The Good Lie (Philippe Falardeau)
The Judge (David Dobkin)
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet (Roger Allers, Gaetan Brizzi, Paul Brizzi, Joan C. Gratz, Mohammed Saeed Harib, Tomm Moore, Nina Paley, Bill Plympton, Joann Sfar and Michal Socha)
The Keeping Room (Daniel Barber)
The Last Five Years (Richard LaGravenese)
Learning to Drive (Isabel Coixet)
A Little Chaos (Alan Rickman)
Love & Mercy (Bill Pohlad)
Mary Kom (Omung Kumar)
Men, Women and Children (Jason Reitman)
Miss Julie (Liv Ullmann)
My Old Lady (Israel Horovitz)
Ned Rifle (Hal Hartley)
The New Girlfriend (Francois Ozon)
Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
Pawn Sacrifice (Ed Zwick)
Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
The Reach (Jean-Baptiste Leonetti)
The Riot Club (Lone Scherfig)
Samba (Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano)
A Second Chance (Susanne Bier)
Still Alive (Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland)
The Theory of Everything (James Marsh)
This Is Where I Leave You (Shawn Levy)
Time Out of Mind (Oren Moverman)
Top Five (Chris Rock)
While We're Young (Noah Baumbach)

Check beneath the jump for a bunch more premieres!


I don't care what the Cannes critics said, I'll follow Bertrand Bonello anywhere, and his Yves Saint Laurent biopic looks worthy of being followed. Saint Laurent comes not long after Jalil Lespert's insipid biopic, and I've no doubt that Bonello has done a much finer job of translating the maverick designer's life to the big screen, with his trademark emphasis on sex and glamour. This joins a previously-released, and brief, clip from the film.