Friday, 31 July 2015


Word on Room is that it's not as good as it sounds... word on the trailer for Room is that it still sounds better than it looks. Lenny Abrahamson's Hollywood career got off to a middling start with Frank, but Emma Donoghue's novel is acclaimed and Brie Larson heads up a promising cast, so hopes are high for Room. After a Toronto premiere (though it may also head to Telluride), the film comes out in the US on the 16th of October.


Cary Fukunaga built up a lot of goodwill among cinephiles with Sin Nombre and Jane Eyre, but it was TV's True Detective that truly got people's attention. More dramas about straight, white men? Dream on! Cary's back to his old ways making films that kinda need to be made, with Netflix's Beasts of No Nation. Good luck to the company as they plan to approach awards season from a very new perspective, challenging voting bodies to accept their multi-platform release as a nominee. The film already has a Venice competition slot and a Toronto special presentation coming up before that release, in the US on the 16th of October, so their bullishness looks to be well-warranted.


I don't often post bad trailers to potentially good films, but I'll make an exception for Spotlight because I so badly want it to be good. Better than this formulaic, melodramatic trailer, at least. Thomas McCarthy has a lot to bounce back from, after The Cobbler, but a lot to bounce back to, after The Station Agent, The Visitor and Win Win. Out in the US (the only confirmed release date available online at time of writing) on the 6th of November after showings at Venice and Toronto festivals.


For a filmmaker, content is everything, but context is everything else. It's hard to imagine a movie like Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation without first considering the four films that directly preceded it. The film functions quite nicely as a standalone work - as it surely had to, coming almost 20 years after the first in its franchise - yet it bears a slickness and a degree of confidence in its character that would have been hard to acquire, if not impossible, were it not for the foundation established over those two decades. Rogue Nation is an odd tentpole film in this age - the stakes are as high as the modern blockbuster era demands, and the setpieces stretch even higher, but its spirit is distinctly sober. It's an old-fashioned espionage film with new-fashioned tech, and though it's at its most sizzling indulging in the suspenseful action sequences that are this franchise's bread and butter, it's at its most satisfying when it lets the talking do the talking. The throwback vibe generated by plotty exchanges of dialogue and insight into the nature of espionage in the contemporary geopolitical landscape extends into those setpieces, which are perhaps only as thrilling as they are because of this. But the concessions this quasi-Hitchcockian film makes to the audience of 2015 only seem more unfortunate in such unflattering juxtaposition; several (straight white male) characters from old franchise installments carry a sense of obsolescence with them. Additionally, there is a number of loosely edited, befuddlingly scripted scenes that serve little purpose, belying spotty filmmaking and generating pacing problems. All is forgiven in the light of one new addition that wholly works - the indomitable Rebecca Ferguson, an amped-up reincarnation of Ingrid Bergman and Lauren Bacall, with astounding action chops and even more astounding screen presence. She's a bona fide star, and alone is reason enough to see Rogue Nation.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


Festival season is fast approaching, as yesterday's TIFF lineup announcement is followed up by today's Venice announcement! It's a lengthy list, as several slates are unveiled at once, with many of the year's most hotly-anticipated titles present. It looks to be yet another strong year for La Biennale di Venezia, after a recent shake-up in the selection process, with major international films joining lesser-known ones to make for a particularly promising lineup. Check it out in full below:

Venezia 72
  • 11 Minutes (Jerzy Skolimowski)
  • Anomalisa (Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman)
  • l'Attesa (Piero Messina)
  • Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga)
  • Behemoth (Zhao Liang)
  • A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino)
  • El Clan (Pablo Trapero)
  • The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper)
  • Desde Alla (Lorenzo Vigas)
  • The Endless River (Oliver Hermanus)
  • Equals (Drake Doremus)
  • Francofonia (Aleksandr Sokurov)
  • Frenzy (Emin Alper)
  • Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson)
  • l'Hermine (Christian Vincent)
  • Looking for Grace (Sue Brooks)
  • Marguerite (Xavier Giannoli)
  • Per Amor Vostro (Giuseppe M. Gaudino)
  • Rabin, The Last Day (Amos Gitai)
  • Remember (Atom Egoyan)
  • Sangue del Mio Sangue (Marco Bellocchio)

More selections after the cut:


There'll be more, but here are the first additions to the official lineup for the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF has been the premier launching pad for American awards fare for years now, though the fest's large scale provides plenty of space for indie and international titles to reach buyers and audiences. This year's festival runs between the 10th and the 20th of September. Check out the current slate below:

  • Beeba Boys (Deepa Mehta)
  • The Dressmaker (Jocelyn Moorhouse)
  • Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood)
  • Forsaken (Jon Cassar)
  • Freeheld (Peter Sollett)
  • Hyena Road (Paul Gross)
  • Lolo (Julie Delpy)
  • Legend (Brian Helgeland)
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity (Matt Brown)
  • The Martian (Ridley Scott)
  • The Program (Stephen Frears)
  • Remember (Atom Egoyan)
  • Septembers of Shiraz (Wayne Blair)
  • Stonewall (Roland Emmerich)

Special Presentations
  • Anomalisa (Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman)
  • Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga)
  • Black Mass (Scott Cooper)
  • Brooklyn (John Crowley)
  • The Club (Pablo Larrain)
  • Colonia (Florian Gallenberger)
  • The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper)
  • The Daughter (Simon Stone)
  • Desierto (Jonas Cuaron)
  • Dheepan (Jacques Audiard)
  • Families (Jean-Paul Rappeneau)
  • The Family Fang (Jason Bateman)
  • Guilty (Meghan Gulzar)
  • I Smile Back (Adam Salky)
  • The Idol (Hany Abu-Assad)
  • The Lady in the Van (Nicholas Hytner)
  • Len and Company (Tom Godsall)
  • The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
  • Louder Than Bombs (Joachim Trier)
  • Maggie's Plan (Rebecca Miller)
  • Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhang Ke)
  • Office (Johnnie To)
  • Parched (Leena Yadav)
  • Room (Lenny Abrahamson)
  • Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)
  • Son of Saul (Nemes Laszlo)
  • Spotlight (Thomas McCarthy)
  • Summertime (Catherine Corsini)
  • Sunset Song (Terence Davies)
  • Trumbo (Jay Roach)
  • Un Plus Une (Claude Lelouch)
  • Victoria (Sebastian Schipper)
  • Where to Invade Next (Michael Moore)
  • Youth (Paolo Sorrentino)

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Who knows what to call Alice Winocour's thriller, which has been listed both as Maryland and as Disorder since being announced. The film screened at Cannes earlier in the year, in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, where it received mixed reviews from critics. Matthias Schoenaerts and Diane Kruger star. No official US release yet, but it's expected some time this year; no UK release either.

Monday, 27 July 2015


Pixar turn it around for themselves in their own film, mitigating every minor deficiency in their story so comprehensively you have to strain to see them. They make you care about something almost careless, a redundant, passe plot about rich white people - who ever knew a movie about rich white people could be so emotionally stirring?! Inside Out, past all its contrivances, past its smugness, past the staid familiarity of its ethical codes, is a wondrous film. It is as emotive as it is emotional, which is emblematic of the ingenuity with which the filmmakers integrate their every narrative and stylistic notion into the fabric of the film. A thrilling flight of fancy is utilised for pragmatic purposes, quaint little quips amass immense power when contextualised and running gags bear as much purpose in making us think or feel as in making us giggle. It's appropriately joyous to witness Pixar's artists deploy their artistry, and it's neither the concepts nor the desired results, but the application of those concepts to achieve those results that makes Inside Out the superior work of art that it is - better still, in dedicating their efforts to executing their aims, rather than to the development of the aims themselves, they permit the audience to enjoy the film without even noticing those efforts (if you're a casual viewer, alas). The film is well-rounded, complete, yet not enclosed, as it has a breadth achieved through the specificity of its concerns - as aforementioned, Inside Out not only makes you feel, it makes you think too, specifically about your own emotions, and it's thus that it amasses its most potent power. For this rich white person in particular, this imperfect little gem was a richer experience still.

Saturday, 25 July 2015


Man has everything. Man has the world at his feet, or at the end of his gloved fist. Man has money - not as much as he needs, but more than he should - and knows not what to do with it. Man has money for himself, and performs for a paying crowd, but not for charity. Man's charity is other men, defending their women, defending their country, defending their descendants, the carriers of their name. Man has a woman. Man defends woman. Man mourns woman. Man thinks woman exists to serve him, whether in comfort or in torment, and man alone experiences the grief of himself and his family when woman is taken from him. Man thinks woman belongs to him; man makes the rules, thus man is correct. Man must work, because it is what men do. Man is flawed, but man respects the system - if only the system respected man, in all his glorious manliness. Man tries, which is hard for man. Man succeeds, which is not hard for man, because man is man, and success belongs to man too. Man fights for girl who can fight for herself because it is his place, man works himself to the bone because it is his place, man defines the course of his life and of the lives of those around him because it is his place, the place that other men defined for him. Man is oblivious to why, because what sort of world would man live in if admitting to why exposed the deficiencies in man's plan for man's world, and what sort of review would this be if every sentence didn't begin with man? Man writes. Man designs. Man produces. Man directs. Man shoots. Man acts. Man edits. Man scores. Man watches. Man sees men being men, and women being boobs, men loving women, never loving men, men with everything, men with nothing... and yet everything. Man writes review. Man has everything. Man has the world at his feet, or just this movie, perhaps. Man kicks movie very hard into the dirt.

Thursday, 23 July 2015


Sebastian Schipper's profile takes a big upturn with Victoria, the Berlinale award-winning thriller that bests Birdman by a long shot, and even Russian Ark - as ambitious a gambit as you can get, a 140-minute action film literally shot in one take. No wonder it won an award at Berlin for its cinematography. The film could become a breakout hit when it opens theatrically in the US - no date is yet available, but the reviews (mentioned profusely in the above trailer) indicate that an awards-qualifying run, and most likely a Foreign Language Film Oscar qualification, could be in the pipeline.


Freeheld is directed by Peter Sollett, trying his best(...?) to overcome the movie-of-the-week qualities inherent in the concept. It's written by Ron Nyswaner, trying his best(...?) to overcome the deficiencies in the Philadelphia script... at least as it was cut in the end. It's acted by JULIANNE MOORE and ELLEN PAGE and MICHAEL SHANNON and, ok, Steve Carell, but you can't have it all. Out on the 2nd of October in the US. One to watch? Let's hope so!


Did someone give Peter Sarsgaard a leading role in a half-decent movie? Did this just happen? How long's that been? Experimenter has been picking up such strong reviews on the festival circuit since its Sundance premiere in January that distributors Magnolia have it scheduled for a 16th of October release in the US... awards season anyone? Michael Almereyda and Peter Sarsgaard? At least the reviews are good!


After the last trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 failed to generate the level of online interest anticipated, they've cut a new, better one. There's also this teaser. And there'll probably be at least another trailer before the film comes out... four months from now. So... yeh. That release date, btw, is the 18th, the 19th or the 20th of November, depending on your location.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Spectre will no doubt open very big, following on Skyfall's heels. Does it look as strong as Bond 23? Or Bond 21, among other Daniel Craig offerings? Not on the basis of this trailer. But impressive effects, beautiful cinematography (from Hoyte van Hoytema) and the presence of a perfect pair of femmes fatales in Lea Seydoux and Monica Bellucci are enough to stoke my interest. No doubt they'll be enough for audiences too, as we shall find out when Spectre opens in the UK and Ireland on the 26th of October and in the US and Canada on the 6th of November.


Pixar is releasing two films in the same year for the first time in the studio;s history... don't worry, though, since we don't look to be in a DreamWorks style quality situation here. After Inside Out's fantastic success with critics and audiences (success that's still ongoing), Pixar will open The Good Dinosaur in the US on the 25th of November and in the UK on the 27th. Much online chatter since this trailer, the first full-length one for the film after this teaser, debuted has been about the standard of the animation - it truly is gorgeous.


...and then a documentary comes along, a very good documentary, and reminds you of how little your work matters. Your work? Insignificant. My work - my terse, trite encapsulation of the film? Irrelevant. I am just another of Sebastiao Salgado's subjects, only not half as interesting. The Salt of the Earth is an exhibition of this great photographer, whose profile could surely never match his talent. With input from Sebastiao himself, and direction both from his son, Juliano, and from master documentarian Wim Wenders, the exhibition becomes a story no less specific than the pictures he took, yet so much more expansive. Dutifully, and gratifyingly, those pictures form a large part of what has been compiled here, to the extent that the live-action footage, both contemporary and archival, feels like high-quality filler. And it is, since we work through the career of this extraordinary artist from one project to the next, accompanied by his evocative recollections; The Salt of the Earth is an astoundingly evocative film, and an appropriately reverential tribute to the work of a great man. In establishing so firm a connection between itself and its subject, Salgado and Wenders' film also becomes a tribute to what these photographs pay tribute to: only the hardest of hearts would fail to appreciate the depth of the humanism and the environmentalism on display, and to acknowledge the connection that they have. Salgado and Wenders employ a light touch that's typical of the latter director, forming a cheerful rapport with the viewer that fully enables one's empathy as the film takes an inevitable turn toward tragedy. An inherently hopeful film, it only formulates its argument in favour of hope by chronicling the intensity of human cruelty and suffering. An immensely emotional experience.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015


Another day, another piece of Austrian provocation. It's less alarming how few get the joke than it is how many get it and take umbrage at it. Goodnight Mommy has less to say about the twisted human construction of culture than its contemporaries, even as it seeks to mask its true intentions behind suggestively pristine production design, perfection as still as the surface of a lake, black as the night in Martin Gschlacht's stunning cinematography. Read into and out of Goodnight Mommy all you like, it's the film's internal logic, its application of its own meanings onto itself that are so fascinating, and so provocative. Less substance, more style from Ulrich Seidl's fucked-up family, Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, whose style is in service of a deceptively straightforward yet deep fairytale, rendered narratively abstruse by their immaculate technique. Whether obscure or just obscured, complex or clear, the clues they leave in their masterful mise-en-scene in turn render the film equally beguiling and frightening. One appreciates the artistry and the intelligence, while fearing what these qualities may themselves be masking. Indeed, this is an indescribably unsettling film, in part due to its avoidance of description - you know you're afraid, but you're not sure of what exactly. I know what I was afraid of, at least, and I'll thank Fiala and Franz to rein in their reliance on bugs next time, lest I suffer a heart attack mid-film. Otherwise, I rather enjoyed being provoked and unsettled in Goodnight Mommy, a piece of technical brilliance more than anything else.

Monday, 20 July 2015


I don't know if a great performance can rescue a terrible film, but in as much as it is a part of that terrible film, it can at least edge it closer to greatness. Lila & Eve is a pulpy thriller that desperately wishes to be anything but; in aspiring toward profundity, it stumbles upon intelligence it hardly knows it has, but is otherwise a laughable attempt at self-delusion. The great performance here is Viola Davis', as a grieving mother who turns to vigilantism under the just suspicion that her son's murder will go neglected by the police. Davis is a smart, sensitive actor, and stresses the script's own sensitivity toward her character even as the film she's in tries to deny it. Both direction and editing show negligible concern for the natural rhythms of human interaction - scenes bolt past at a real clip, with the silences and the pregnant pauses that would inevitably characterise such exchanges entirely absent. It's plot plot plot from the very first moment, one among many unfortunate hangovers from Lila & Eve's highly apparent origins as a revenge thriller. Yet Davis is superb, even more so in light of the challenges against her in a film that shows such disregard for character development. There's a twist, by the way, and a very familiar (though not especially obvious) one - it's a smart fit for the material, but not an innovative one; it's handled relatively well enough that it merits a rare pass! Jennifer Lopez almost overcomes the cliches written into her role, while Steve Zahn does his best Robert de Niro impression, and ends up the worst thing in the movie in the process.


A sprightly little superhero movie that runs under two hours and yet runs itself into the ground far sooner. If one is to compare Ant-Man against the artistic merits of every other Marvel movie, I suppose it's as mediocre as the rest of them; if one is to resist the swarm and compare it against a measure of quality that stretches far, far beyond that of Marvel's purview, then mediocre is more than this film merits. Marvel, for it is they who made this movie and not the vast team of writers, directors, editors and the like who may have dabbled in it at one stage or another, seem innately incapable of reconciling the bombast of their creative impulses with any of their product's need for a different approach - Ant-Man is an intentionally smaller film than their bigger (Bruce) banner fare, yet it bears an identical visual style, story structure and set-piece scope. Often, the process of diminishing the scale of its protagonist serves mainly to render a less expansive environment more expansive again, thus mitigating any purpose this film might have served in the context of this mega-franchise. Ant-Man ends up not so much reduced in size but restricted. It's also among the studio's most aggressively antiquated films, socially - or, in this case, passive-aggressively. What notions it establishes about the inevitable triumph of the supposedly superior Straight White American Male may appear to dissipate as an action-oriented drive takes over, but they're merely being served less visibly than in similar movies, and the conclusion remains unchanged. As with many blockbuster studio pictures, strong production values and a healthy budget yield a few saving graces: in Ant-Man's case, these include a charming performance from Michael Pena, a terrific (though brief, perhaps appropriately) action sequence set inside a briefcase and lots of ants. I think ants are delightful. I wish them all the best.

Sunday, 19 July 2015


Elisabeth Moss and Katherine Waterston star in Alex Ross Perry's Queen of Earth, his first film since last year's breakthrough Listen Up Philip. The psychological thriller has been earning terrific responses from critics on the festival trail since its world premiere at Berlinale in February. A US release awaits Queen of Earth on the 26th of August.

Saturday, 18 July 2015


You may have oft read writers describe a film's rhythm, or its tones and timbres. Well, here is a film that effectively is its rhythm and its tones, its harmonies and its melodies, its music and its lyrics. What Happened, Miss Simone? is a bracing music documentary that lives and/or dies on the music therein; once it stops being a music documentary, it begins to wither. And what a shame that is, after Liz Garbus demonstrates a seductive sense of musicality very early on - an appreciation of how music unheard and context unspoken of can stimulate every synapse in our brains, every hair on our bodies. In due respect, she permits much of this film to the dominance of the musical output of her subject, the incomparable Nina Simone, and her stunning live performances and sumptuous recordings are truly thrilling - when Simone is at the wheel of What Happened, the film not only lives, it gives life! When Garbus takes her place, she fails to find a way to substitute anything else for that life, and the songs that spoke Simone's story greater than any of the talking head recollections that accompany it simply die away, and we're left with recollections only. In the final act of What Happened, one reaches the alarming realisation that the entire film has pursued so formulaic a structure... but wasn't the music grand? Appropriately, perhaps (though it makes for a less satisfying artistic product from the filmmakers' end), the musicality of the film dies away far more promptly, and gives in, in aforementioned due respect, to Simone's own unparallelled musicality. Nothing can match her rhythms, her tones, her timbres - whether in or out of context, they are greater works of art than any film could (or is it should?) ever aspire to be.

Friday, 17 July 2015


A documentary so rich in psychological detail that it can't help but be equally fascinating and disappointing. It's not that the inferences Crystal Moselle draws from her experiences with this family, the Angulos, are misguided, rather that they aren't nearly sufficient enough to encapsulate the enormous complexities of their existence, juxtaposed with those of the rest of us. The Wolfpack is a riveting film, however, due to the simplest technical detail of all: it makes us imagine those complexities through showing, not telling. A little telling might have exposed a more sympathetic mind, perhaps, and opened up a radically broader debate; as it is, The Wolfpack inspires seemingly limitless debate anyway, such are the inferences that we can draw from this portrait of ordinary lives in an extraordinary environment. Moselle's reluctance to probe too deeply unwittingly betrays an unavoidable, yet endlessly intriguing, feature of this particular picture of life (or any other, indeed) - the search for answers in connection to the whys and wherefores of human behaviour can never be fruitful. We search The Wolfpack for someone to blame, only to find a chain of oppression and pain that seems to have no beginning and no end. Those inferences you thought you just drew? In merely chronicling a tiny portion of the lives of such peculiar (yet wholly plain) people, Crystal Moselle draws out so much detail as to deny any such conclusions from being drawn in earnest. It's as fascinating to dwell upon as it is disappointing to discover.

Thursday, 16 July 2015


New films from Chantal Akerman, Andrzej Zulawski and Hong Sang Soo join festival opener Ricki and the Flash from director Jonathan Demme in filling out the slate for Locarno 2015. The 68th edition of the prestigious fest takes place from the 5th to the 15th of August in the Swiss location, and will feature a tribute to Edward Norton, among many other enticing programmes. Check out the details of the main selection lineup below, and the full lineup including shorts and retrospective slates here.

Concorso Internazionale
  • Bella e Perduta (Pietro Marcello)
  • Brother Dejan (Bakur Bakuradze)
  • Chevalier (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
  • Cosmos (Andrzej Zulawski)
  • Dark in the White Light (Vimukthi Jayasundara)
  • Entertainment (Rick Alverson)
  • Happy Hour (Hamaguchi Ryusuke)
  • Heimatland (Lisa Blatter, Gregor Frei, Jan Gassmann, Benny Jaberg, Carmen Jaquier, Michael Krummenacher, Jonas Meier, Tobias Nolle, Lionel Rupp and Mike Scheiwiller)
  • James White (Josh Mond)
  • No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman)
  • O Futebol (Sergio Oksman)
  • Paradise (Sina Ataeian Dena)
  • Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang Soo)
  • Schneider vs. Bax (Alex van Warmerdam)
  • The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers (Ben Rivers)
  • Suite Armoricaine (Pascale Breton)
  • Te Prometo Anarquia (Julio Hernandez Cordon)
  • Tikkun (Avishai Sivan)

Piazza Grande
  • Amnesia (Barbet Schroeder)
  • La Belle Saison (Catherine Corsini)
  • Bombay Velvet (Anurag Kashyap)
  • The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino)
  • Le Dernier (Pascal Magontier)
  • Erlkonig (Georges Schwizgebel)
  • Floride (Philippe le Guay)
  • Guibord s'en va-t-en Guerre (Philippe Falardeau)
  • Heliopolis (Sergio Machado)
  • Jack (Elisabeth Scharang)
  • The Laundryman (Lee Chung)
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon)
  • Pastorale Cilentana (Mario Martone)
  • I Pugni in Tasca (Marco Bellocchio)
  • Ricki and the Flash (Jonathan Demme)
  • Southpaw (Antoine Fuqua)
  • Der Staat Gegen Fritz Bauer (Lars Kraume)
  • Trainwreck (Judd Apatow)
  • La Vanite (Lionel Baier)

A bunch more after the cut:

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


What foolishness! Why bother! Who cares! This, precisely six months after the shit show that was the 2014 nominations announcement. Six months later or so, be prepared for some version of the below - likely just as white, not nearly as female, and far more disappointing. Who cares!

Best Picture
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Inside Out
The Revenant

Best Director
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)
Todd Haynes (Carol)
David O. Russell (Joy)
Martin Scorsese (Silence)
Paolo Sorrentino (Youth)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Michael Caine (Youth)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Ben Foster (The Program)
Ian McKellen (Mr. Holmes)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Sandra Bullock (Our Brand Is Crisis)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Rooney Mara (Carol)
Carey Mulligan (Suffragette)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
John Cusack (Love & Mercy)
Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
Harvey Keitel (Youth)
Liam Neeson (Silence)
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Elizabeth Banks (Love & Mercy)
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van)
Meryl Streep (Suffragette)
Rachel Weisz (Youth)

Best Original Screenplay
Josh Cooley, Ronaldo del Carmen, Pete Docter and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out)
John Hodge (The Program)
Annie Mumolo and David O. Russell (Joy)
Paolo Sorrentino (Youth)
Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jay Cocks (Silence)
Lucinda Coxon (The Danish Girl)
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Mark L. Smith (The Revenant)
Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl)
Phyllis Nagy (Carol)

Best Cinematography
Luca Bigazzi (Youth)
Roger Deakins (Sicario)
Anthony Dod Mantle (In the Heart of the Sea)
Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
Rodrigo Prieto (Silence)

Best Editing
Alam Baumgarten and Jay Cassidy (Joy)
Michael Kahn (Bridge of Spies)
Stephen Mirrione (The Revenant)
Thelma Schoonmaker (Silence)
Cristiano Travaglioli (Youth)

Best Production Design
Aline Bonetto and Dominic Capon (Pan)
Rick Carter, Darren Gilford and Lee Sandales (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Rena DeAngelo, Bernhard Henrich and Adam Stockhausen (Bridge of Spies)
Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo (Silence)
Jeffrey A. Melvin, Thomas E. Sanders and Shane Vieau (Crimson Peak)

Best Costume Design
Paco Delgado (The Danish Girl)
Jacqueline Durran (Pan)
Danny Glicker (Love & Mercy)
Courtney Hoffman (The Hateful Eight)
Sandy Powell (Carol)

Best Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Editing
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Visual Effects
In the Heart of the Sea
Jurassic World
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The Danish Girl
The Revenant

Best Original Score
Mychael Danna (The Good Dinosaur)
Alexandre Desplat (The Danish Girl)
Michael Giacchino (Inside Out)
Thomas Newman (Bridge of Spies)
Gabriel Yared (By the Sea)

Best Original Song
Jackie & Ryan
Love & Mercy
Ricki and the Flash

Best Animated Feature
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet
The Peanuts Movie
When Marnie Was There


Out of 226 films, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2015 has found its one: Diego Ongaro's Bob and the Trees. Often considered a highly Euro-centric fest, Karlovy Vary's top choice this year was the American drama, starring non-professional Bob Tarasuk as a logger in Massachusetts with a love for gold and gangsta rap respectively. Full details of all of the prestigious festival's award choices below:

Crystal Globe
Bob and the Trees (Diego Ongaro)

Special Jury Prize
Those Who Fall Have Wings (Peter Brunner)

Best Director
Visar Morina (Babai)

Best Actor
Krystof Hadek (The Snake Brothers)

Best Actress
Alena Mihulova (Home Care)

Special Mention
Antonia. (Ferdinando Cito Filomarino)
The Magic Mountain (Anca Damian)

Europa Cinemas Label
Babai (Visar Morina)

Grand Prix for Best Documentary Film
Mallory (Helena Trestikova)

Best Documentary Film - Special Mention
The Father Tapes (Albert Meisl)

Best Film - East of West
The Wednesday Child (Horvath Lili)

Special Mention - East of West
The World Is Mine (Nicolae Constantin Tanase)

Box (Florin Serban)

Forum of Independents Award
Tangerine (Sean Baker)

Festival President's Award
Iva Janzurova

Best Short Documentary Film
White Death (Roberto Collio)

Best Short Documentary Film - Special Mention
Women in Sink (Iris Zaki)


Bill Pohlad's film Love & Mercy, his first as a director, plays like a welcome working-out - an investigation into the typically troubled mind of a genius, from a haphazard screenplay ironically given structure and purpose by equally wayward direction. Pohlad's flourishes enliven the script - it's functional, in that it finds a workable middle ground between banality and excessive idiosyncrasy - though one senses that this filmmaker may yet be working out his own functions in this role. The least he could do is to fashion a decent film out of this material, and that he does. Love & Mercy is very watchable, with an unforced authenticity to its period details and a committed, well-cast ensemble that does much of the film's heavy lifting. Indeed, it gets fairly heavy at times, though the leads here seem unfazed, as Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks and John Cusack could each and all claim to have never been better. Their valuable work serves the story of Brian Wilson's struggle with fame well - it's an awkward story, narratively, though Love & Mercy at least acknowledges this feature (all too common among biopics). Its remedy is a combination of cross-cutting and sincerity, the former delivering some shape to the film's dual timelines, the latter giving it a sense of purpose. In its simplicity and its relative lack of innovation (a few artistic touches here and there don't quite cut it), purpose is exactly what Love & Mercy craves, and as Wilson's titular new composition plays, live, over the end credits, one feels that it has earned it. If nothing else, what Wilson's story may lack, he made up for in his songs.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


Jem Cohen's follow-up to 2012's entirely exquisite Museum Hours is Counting, which premiered in February at Berlinale. The documentary chronicles Cohen's journey across 15 cities, and has drawn critical acclaim at festivals this year for its sympathetic, perceptive depiction of urban life. No release dates are yet set for what is certain to be a strictly arthouse-only affair, but what is almost as certain to be one of 2015's most rewarding features.


Is The Dressmaker the comeback you were hoping for form Proof director Jocelyn Moorhouse? No. Is The Dressmaker now at the top of your must-see list as a result of this trailer regardless? Yes. Slay my thirst! Out on the 6th of November in the UK, and possibly in time for an Oscar Costume Design nomination in the US.

Friday, 10 July 2015


The news broke today, the 10th of July 2015, that Michel Demitri Chalhoub had died - the name means little to many, much to few, but the man it represents means so much more: his assumed name was Omar Sharif. The Academy Award nominated actor suffered a heart attack in a Cairo hospital, aged 83. A celebrated figure of classic cinema dating back to the 1950s, he will naturally be best remembered for his iconic roles in David Lean's '60s epics Lawrence of Arabia, for which he was Oscar-nominated and also won a Golden Globe, and Doctor Zhivago, in which his lead turn secured him a second Globe in four years. Additionally, Sharif won both an Audience Award and a Career Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival in 2003, though his impressive roster of trophies over his career says far less than the memory of that career, with films such as Genghis Khan, Funny Girl and Funny Lady cementing his status as a star of the screen, and a heartthrob for the ages. His ex-wife, fellow actor Faten Hamama, died earlier this year, on the 17th of January; Sharif is survived by their son, Tarek El-Sharif. Film fans will remember his unforgettable screen appearances for many years to come.


Steven Spielberg's hotly-anticipated Cold War thriller is due to open in the UK on the 9th of October and a week later, on the 16th, in the US. Bridge of Spies is evidently being prepped for awards consideration, being a historical drama from a big Oscar favourite, with another in the lead role (and a fine supporting ensemble in addition). This is the international trailer, and it has largely been much better-received than the American trailer that debuted online last month.


Brooklyn is the new film from Irish director John Crowley, returning after a stint across the water in the UK to home turf... kind of. Accordingly, he heads across a different body of water for this partially NYC-set drama starring Saoirse Ronan. Reviews out of Sundance were fairly good, and Fox Searchlight have the film set for a 6th of November release in both the British Isles and North America.


The stillness of Tsai Ming Liang's Stray Dogs is deeply beguiling; transfer the effect of the otherworldly spaces created by this master stylist's peerless aesthetic sensibilities to the film as a whole, and you'll find yourself beholding an equally perplexing creation. In solemn, solitary voids of space, desolation depicted as art in that most fashionable of fashions, a homeless family ambles around Taipei. Their existence as such lacks clarity as their actions lack consequences - they seem stranded, and the film formally assigns them little more purpose than they seem to serve in Tsai's vision of the modern world. They simply exist, and it is in his compassionate portrayal of simple human existence that Tsai's film is perhaps his most humanistic: here is its purpose, and it forgoes the temptation of allegorical blame in the process of merely documenting the (appropriate, in a stylistic sense) desolation of homeless life in the 21st Century. Indeed, search for a deeper meaning in Stray Dogs and you'll be deliberately deceived - changes in mood and tone vary so greatly from one apparently arbitrary scene to the next that the more 'important' issues of time and character are rendered equally elusive. And whether or not there is any philosophical purpose to Tsai's stylings is beside the point - cinematically, they demonstrate his formidable grasp of this medium's many tools and attributes. Be it admiration or emotion he evokes in sequences such as the superior final two static shots, what Tsai achieves in the stillness is as remarkable in Stray Dogs as it ever has been.

Thursday, 9 July 2015


A wild love story, or rather one set in the relative wilds of rural Utah. It's a total cliche to claim the location as another 'character' in the film, but Jackie & Ryan is so indebted to this location that one could claim it to be the character here. Not the clean, unnatural lines and artistic decay of a contemporary urban landscape, but the same empathic investigation into how our physical spaces inform our mental spaces as humans. There's a beautiful tactility to Ami Canaan Mann's depiction of her settings, and she avoids cutesifying this small-town locale by employing respect over love for its qualities. These are the trappings of the love story between Ben Barnes' travelling musician and Katherine Heigl's troubled former musician; that love story itself is no further than formulaic, so be thankful that the performers here are committed to stressing the verisimilitude of Mann's direction. Heigl is particularly convincing, which engenders a slight degree of meta-tinged poignancy to her role as a one-time industry name retreating to a more humble lifestyle. Supporting performances are also strong, including Hollywood's most versatile and underrated child actor Emily Alyn Lind as Heigl's daughter, and Clea DuVall as a struggling single parent. An impressive bluegrass soundtrack aside, there's little to recommend Jackie & Ryan as a feat of filmmaking, but it's a solid, enjoyable film with some appealing touches, and a fine ensemble of actors and singers.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


A movie about the boys that's really all about the girls. That's Hollywood levelling the field, and Magic Mike XXL carries this out with nonchalant panache. It's a solid, unambitious film that nevertheless boasts an aggressively non-conformist attitude in so many regards that its stature is simply jaw-dropping; at least, you'll need to drop your jaw to fit it all in. Gregory Jacobs directs with gleeful cheek, exploiting the various practices (but one sole purpose) of his film to near the limit, delivering exactly what you want and what you need from scene after scene. The film is only surprising in that its commitment is so pure, untainted by the kind of commercial constraints that might ironically have made Magic Mike XXL a less commercially-successful product. It is, indeed, a product, but what Jacobs and writer Reid Carolin have constructed is a priceless product - we're being sold sex, and between Channing Tatum's extraordinary agility and the even-more-extraordinary uses he puts it to, it's premium grade sex. But more important is the consumer, both within the film and without. A purview on female sexuality here is concentrated but not narrow, specific but not exclusive, and the generous inclusivity of Magic Mike XXL - its mildly underwhelming (only very mildly, though!) climactic sequence effectively targeted directly at the film's audience - must surely be a true cinematic treat, even for those not this way inclined. It's equally about the girls and for the girls, and it celebrates its own identity as a beacon of loose, lewd liberation.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


This review is only an interpretation of an interpretation, of figures interpreting acts through the prism of love and lust, fear and guilt, memory and experience - a prism in which the last light to shine through is the long arm of the law, the bluest shade of truth. I am certain, in this review, of what happened, though entirely uncertain of what happened - Mathieu Amalric has repurposed Georges Simenon's mystery as a new mystery in itself, entirely contained within its claustrophobic, artificial spaces. His mise-en-scene is immaculate, expressive, enormously suggestive, ideally attuned to the purpose of his film and invaluably responsible for its tone. However you choose to interpret it - its recurring motifs of insects and that beguiling Yves Klein hue, its insidious spin on traditional familial structures - is personal to you alone, and profound to you alone. It's a measure of how perfectly sealed The Blue Room is, its characters' respective existences seemingly expiring as the film does too, and a measure of how intense that profundity is packed into so terse, so succinct a film (running at fewer than 75 minutes). One feels that, from the coital imagery that opens the film to the rambling revelations at its cruel close, what is being witnessed here is no less than the entire lifespan of life itself, or perhaps just that of a fly on an impossibly seductive brunette's nude belly. She'll seduce you, and so shall the film; as you leave the courtroom of Amalric's film, kicking yourself at having overlooked the real truth (not that which is determined by the film's jury), you'll experience a stronger desire: to witness it all over again, to enrich your interpretation, to rebuff the seduction, to review time and again what actually happened in The Blue Room.

Monday, 6 July 2015


Popular film and TV producer Jerry Weintraub has died, after a recent spell of bad health. He was 77. A somewhat controversial figure, his projects were as wide-ranging as opinions on the man himself, both in style and in success. Among his best-remembered titles in film are Robert Altman's Nashville, Barry Levinson's Diner and Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's trilogy, in each of which he made memorable cameo appearances. Film was not the prolific producer's only medium, though, as his TV credits include shows such as The Brink and a variety of John Denver specials; additionally, he managed Denver alongside a number of other music artists, including Bob Dylan, Karen Carpenter and Frank Sinatra. Weintraub is survived, and will be missed, by his partner Susan Ekins, his separated wife Jane Morgan, and their four children Michael, Julie, Jamie and Jody.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


Appropriately atmospheric trailer for Hou Hsiao Hsien's sumptuous-looking wuxia film The Assassin. A Cannes premiere in May drew in good reviews and an official Best Director prize from the festival to boot. No word yet on US or UK releases, but they're sure to be forthcoming for so hotly-anticipated an arthouse title as this.


I guess I forgot Steve Jobs was Irish... Out in the US on the 9th of October, in the UK on the 13th of November.

Friday, 3 July 2015


Let's leave aside the fact that Terminator Genisys has no respect for the franchise that birthed it - its peculiar position within that franchise made even more peculiar by its fitful disregard for its fundaments. Let's focus on the fact that Terminator Genisys has no respect for its audience. That's the more brazen of those two traits, which you can merge into an unholy single trait if you're a fan of the other Terminator movies. It's certainly a shame to see a series once at the forefront of technical innovation, a bastion of genre filmmaking, reduced to so conventional a product. Terminator Genisys is a regular blockbuster, careful not to offend or bewilder its audience, hitting predictable plot points in predictable style, mitigating its bombast and portent with highly unflattering familiarity. You're reminded less of other Terminator movies than other recent blockbusters of its ilk, and how much more you enjoyed them. The film almost, and entirely by accident, functions as a thinkpiece on how people cope with their position in time - their memories of the past, responsibilities in the present and roles in a future they can control - almost, because the convoluted narrative hinders such thoughts from ever fully forming; by accident, because such concerns are dropped every time an action impulse kicks in, and we engage in another long, dreary setpiece. The whole film is just action, exposition, action, exposition ad infinitum, and little of it well made; Alan Taylor displays the same cluelessness he did in Thor: The Dark World. At the least, you'd hope that Terminator Genisys could respond not even to its own concerns but to the franchise's overreaching ones, and operate in deference to James Cameron's films, in this age of 'cinematic universes'. But this film achieves neither, and, in what will likely be the final insult to the many injuries suffered by these films, its impact will be negligible, its existence soon forgotten.

Thursday, 2 July 2015


On one hand, it makes creative sense for David Gordon Green to direct a script by a different writer - Green's unique perspective on another's version of reality, a new interpretation of life as we thought we knew it, as that writer thought they knew it! On the other hand, it can result in the kind of creative dissonance that is brought about in Manglehorn, a dreary little small-town tale jazzed up by all the wrong techniques by a director who adamantly refuses to know better. One can admire Green's audacity, and indulge in the script's simple charms, but the curious combination of the two, of which Green seems so greatly enamoured, makes the film uneasy to watch. In an abstruse yet effective method of overlapping, Green suggests an atmosphere of unreliability and inertia around his central character, Al Pacino's titular locksmith, whose idiosyncrasies only intensify as his ever-accumulating memories swamp his mind. This story of a life lived, for us, in recollection, is more affecting the more muddled it is - clarity hits Manglehorn the man and Manglehorn the movie both like a slap in the face, and a most unwelcome one too. The narrative obfuscation is abused though, and extended into an overall (yet sporadic) stylistic obfuscation that feels like Green engaging with mannerisms and ideas that overwhelm the film with their ill-judged artsiness (significant blame must also be laid at the feet of the film's composers, Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo). It's rather a shame that the mundane screenplay by Paul Logan, which treads that dreadfully familiar route of the male-centric ego deconstruction movie, emerges as the most tolerable element of this film. Its easygoing pleasures are far more digestible, and also provide Holly Hunter with a chance to prove again just how talented she is, entirely enlivening a conventional character with a beautifully nuanced performance.