Sunday, 30 June 2013
As for screenings this week, I caught up with the East End Film Festival closer Lovelace, a someone straight-laced biopic of the world's most famous porn star. It's sharply well made and is packed with strong performances and amusing cameos. Daniel Radcliffe plays Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings, a true story set in his pre-writer days when he was in school with William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac (Ben Foster and Jack Huston). My comments on the film are embargoed for now, even though there are reviews all over the internet after its screenings at various film festivals, including Sundance in January. I also saw the film of Neil LaBute's play Some Girl(s), a provocative, thoughtful, slightly stagey drama starring Adam Brody. And there was also Emperor, a fictionalised take on how General MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) dealt with Emperor Hirohito after the war - plus a bit of romance and drama featuring Matthew Fox.
And I also saw a couple of other East End Film Festival titles: the hilarious mock-doc Discoverdale, which is like an Irish version of This Is Spinal Tap, although the band at the centre is a real one. And In the Name of is a wrenching drama from Poland about a priest struggling with his personal yearnings. Both are highly recommended.
Monday, 24 June 2013
Among the regular screenings, we caught up with recent US release The Internship, a deeply silly comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Museum Hours is a strikingly artful exploration of how art and life mingle, set around a museum worker in Vienna. And Dream On is a clumsily made teen drama that has some important themes in it.
Festival-wise we had a chance to see Mike Figgis' playful mystery thriller about movie-making and creativity Suspension of Disbelief. There was also the lively documentary Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, packed with unseen footage and new insights. And the offbeat, unsettling Mexican drama Halley.
There are also a number of films at the Edinburgh festival that I've already seen. Among my favourite films of the year are Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha and Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell. Otherwise, I really enjoyed Monsters University, found the eco-terrorism drama The East to have some potent moments, and thought the Icelandic true thriller The Deep was pretty haunting. We Steal Secrets is a strikingly well-made exploration of the culture of secrecy, while Shane Carruth's surreal thriller Upstream Color is worth a look for it's pure bravura, not that it's easy to make much sense out of it. Full reviews to come.
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
As the summer film festival season settles in, there were also three documentaries: Alex Gibney's bracingly lucid exploration of free speech in the WikiLeaks doc We Steal Secrets, a riveting biographical documentary about the uneven life and career of comedian Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, and a heist-style doc Smash & Grab about Europe's notorious Pink Panther jewel-stealing gang. Finally, I also caught up with Bruno & Earlene Go to Vegas, a lively and gorgeously shot scrambled sexuality romp that has its world premiere in London next month.
This coming week we have Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in The Internship, Mike Figgis' mystery thriller Suspension of Disbelief, artist Jem Cohen's drama Museum Hours and the Mexican thriller Halley. Plus as many festival films as I can squeeze in - the Edinburgh International Film Festival kicks off Wednesday night, while London's East End Film Festival starts on Tuesday 25th June.
Sunday, 16 June 2013
Monday, 10 June 2013
Further from the mainstream, I caught Ulrich Seidl's second part in his trilogy, Paradise: Faith, an even more razor-sharp pitch-black comedy than Love. From Germany, Men to Kiss is a twisty gay romantic comedy that has it's moments of genuine emotion. The harrowing The Act of Killing documents the 1965 Malaysian massacres with an inventive twist that's utterly mind-spinning, while the almost unnervingly quiet Silence documents a sound recordist trying to escape human noise. And then there were two iconic oldies on the big screen: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the pristinely restored studio-busting 1963 epic Cleopatra, and Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho at the BFI Southbank - perhaps the most iconic film ever made introduced by James Franco, who has a Psycho-themed art installation in London all summer.
Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Off the beaten path, we had the deeply charming coming-of-age drama The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom, the controversially explicit but darkly thoughtful gay drama I Want Your Love, and Ulrich Seidl's chilling and blackly comical sex-tourism drama Paradise: Love. And finally, there were three docs: Sarah Polley's staggeringly inventive and moving exploration of her own family history in Stories We Tell, Shane Meadows' beautifully assembled exploration of a rock band in The Stone Roses: Made of Stone, and a somewhat indulgent but fascinating look at Johnny Cash's manager in My Father and the Man in Black.
This coming week we have Brad Pitt in the zombie blockbuster World War Z, the prequel Monsters University, Tina Fey in Admission, the second part of Ulrich Seidl's trilogy Paradise: Faith, the Indonesia massacre documentary The Act of Killing, Irish filmmaker Pat Collins' aural documentary Silence, a special BFI presentation by James Franco of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, and the lavish restoration of Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra up on the big screen where it belongs.