Writer___Aurelie Gonnage Livera, Cressida Greening, Miri Shimizu
Film fanatic? For the next few weeks, I will be completely abusing my LFF press pass and giving you short reviews of the films I’ll be seeing. I’ll also be plagiarising ‘Little White Lies’ concept of rating my ‘anticipation’, ‘enjoyment’ and ‘in retrospect’ of the films.
Directed by Tim Burton
Release on Wednesday 17th October
Anticipation : 5/5
Probably due to the fact that I’d never attended a press screening let alone a press conference and that this is the first black and white feature film ever made in stop motion
After a few moments of adapting to the leopard print chairs, I was agreeably surprised by the quality of the 3D, which usually has a tendency to hurt my eyes and cause an uncomfortable feeling around my temples. But this 3D was amazingly catered to the film, and I regret saying that I even gasped as baseballs were ‘thrown’ at us and monsters ‘pounced’ on us.
I got stuck in straight away due to the tightly-knit script and chain of actions. I would compare the emotional involvement to ‘Up’ and the feel of the film to ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ (duh…). Those who are connaisseurs of the classic horror genre will undeniably appreciate the references more than I – but as Burton stated in the press conference, he didn’t want to make the film referent dependant but rather recall the original ‘feel’ of the references without having to know them prior.
Overall the film was beautifully made and actually pretty unbelievable if you consider that every second requires 24 frames of picture [an animator can make a maximum of 5 second of film in a week]. A must-see for Tim Burton fans and animation lovers in general!
In retrospect: 3/5
Nothing groundbreaking to note, Tim Burton has stuck to what he does best whilst regrettably ‘Disney-ing’ it up [no deaths where there could have been!].
MORE ABOUT FRANKENWEENIE AND TIM BURTON IN ISSUE #65
Saturday 13th October – WASTELAND press screening @ Soho House
Written and directed by Rowan Athale
Release in 2012
Rowan Athale’s first feature, so I had no particular expectations. But I’m a sucker for ‘gritty British realism’, Harry Potter (both Matthew Lewis and Timothy Spall had main roles) and ‘Simon’ from Misfits (Iwan Rheon).
A beautiful actor. Beautiful shots. It avoided any cliches of the genre, and it was funny. A real coming-of-age film for these actors who portray a group of friends who plot to get their own back against Steven Roper, responsible for sending Harvey (Luke Treadaway, picture above) into prison.
In retrsopect: 4/5
A slightly predictable ending perhaps, but the narrative was strong, the performances memorable, the soundtrack well selected. A must see for those who enjoyed ‘Lock, Stock & Two smoking Barrels’ (1998) – watch the trailer here
Sunday 14th October – BEYOND THE HILLS @ Curzon Mayfair
Written and directed by Christian Mungiu
Following the success of his gut-wrenchingly gritty abortion film ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’, I was anxious to see Romanian
director Cristian Mungiu’s latest treatment, which emerged from its premiere at Cannes with mixed reviews. This time round it’s the church which finds itself in Mungiu’s firing line as he depicts a story – loosely based on a real-life incident – of a modern day exorcism gone awry.
At 150 minutes Beyond the Hills is a long film, especially for today’s attention-deficit inclined audiences. Although certain scenes could arguably have been left out to tighten up the narrative in places, the film maintains a good pace and is well pitched throughout. Peppered with allusions to tensions and questions lurking below the ostensible surface, Beyond the Hills is shot through with a tantalising air of mystery.
In retrospect 5/5
When the church is involved in artistic showdowns, the pious are rarely cast in a favourable light, and Beyond the Hills is no exception. Both visually and within the narrative itself, the stark contrasts between the antiquated world of the monastery and that of modern day Romania are captured to sobering effect. While the church is clearly exposed as an ailing and questionable institution, Mungiu is careful not to offer blanketed criticism at the expense of his storytelling, and luckily any ecclesiastical jibes which percolate do so in a way which compliments the film’s central relationship.
Wednesday 17th October IN THE FOG @ VUE Leicester Square
Written and directed by Sergei Loznitsa
Before seeing In the Fog, I had little idea what to expect and went on blind faith, emboldened purely by a deep, enduring love of Russian film.
In the Fog is set in Belarus and is essentially a film about the Second World War. Sergei Loznitsa’s film is what you might call slow cinema, very slow cinema – too slow it seemed for some audience members who walked out half way through. And if you were expecting In the Fog to adhere to any war epic tropes you will indeed be disappointed. With this film Loznitsa has creates a war-time narrative without the war – a wholly reduced, de-dramatised piece that ultimately demands a lot from the audience.
In retrospect 4/5
Loznitsa’s film is not be one that shimmers and shakes and blasts across the screen, but fortunately it isn’t trying to be. In the Fog is the antithesis of the classic war film – trundling along more like a Beckett play than a Spielberg outing. Yet what it lacks in action it more than makes up for in stunning cinematography and thought-provoking narrative. At its core, In the Fog is a bleak mediation on human nature – there are no heroes here, only the arbitrary reality of war – and if you can stomach that for two hours then you will reap the rewards.
DREAMS FOR SALE
Directed by Miwa Nishikawa
Set in Tokyo, Dreams For Sale tells the story of a married couple, women and a spice of crime. After a happily married couple Kanya and Satoko, lose their pub in a fire they are unable to make ends meet. As their relationship and their world crumbles around them, they hatch a plan to get their dream life back together, but quickly come up against a slew of different women, and ultimately their own conscience.
In the Q & A session, the female director Miwa Nishikawa explained how the mysterious city of Tokyo formed one of the core themes of the film. Although the city generously accepts a diverse range of people from provincial regions, it can be a very lonely place as there is often no one to rely on when a major incident happens, such as Satoko and Kanya experienced. Nishikawa wanted to portray the emptiness often felt by city-dwellers as they wander through the city like “a floating weed”, as she described it.
What I found most remarkable about Dreams For Sale is its representation of women. Nishikawa’s film vividly exposes women’s emptiness, desire, vanity and jealousy on the film screen, in a way which is rare in major Japanese films, as they often show women be to lovely creatures, who are there merely to look at. It is for this reason that this film has been referred to as one of the most controversial works to be produced in Japan this year. While the film has prompted comments from Japanese men such as “women are scary” or “we didn’t want to see such disgusting sides of women”, it has garnered support from women as, in a way, it has become a space where women truly exist and respire.