Wednesday, 22 February 2017
On Saturday, since I'm in Los Angeles, I was able to attend the Dorian Awards winner's toast at The Pikey on Sunset Blvd. I'm a voting member of Galeca, which hands out the prizes, but I'd never attended the event. It's a casual, lively gathering featuring champagne and frites, and I enjoyed a chance to interact with other critics as well as the winners and special guests. Here are some pics...
The event was unusually relaxed, allowing for some terrific rambling conversations, photo ops and lots of laughter. A highlight for me was getting to meet Bradley Whitford (right with his partner Landecker) and having a lengthy friendly drunken political rant about Trump and climate change issues. Exactly the kind of conversation you'd want to have with Whitford! Of course, not I want to plan a trip back to LA every year to coincide with this event.
See the full list of Galeca nominees and winners.
Wednesday, 15 February 2017
There were also a few films on the airplane. Keeping Up With the Joneses is a lively but inane action comedy with an ace cast led by Zac Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot and Isla Fisher. It's a nicely made, engaging romp about discovering that the new neighbours are spies, but it's also preposterous fluff. The Little Prince is an odd adaptation of the children's classic, which wraps it into the story of a little girl fantasising about the adventures of her old neighbour. While most of it looks great, some of the animation is simplistic and plasticky. And some of the story's gyrations lose the point. Morgan is a terrific little thriller starring Kate Mara as a corporate officer sent in to evaluate an experiment that might be going wrong. This involves the creation of an artificially engineered human-like being (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her nervous minders. Sharply well-made and seriously unnerving.
My holiday visiting friends and family in Los Angeles and nearby continues over the next week - doing my work remotely, but not in press screening mode. A couple of films opening here this weekend might be worth a look, including The Great Wall, A Cure for Wellness and Fist Fight. And I will attend the Galeca Dorian Awards winner's toast on Saturday - watch this space for a report.
Wednesday, 8 February 2017
On the extreme other end of the spectrum, The Lego Batman Movie is a frantic comedy that's very funny but also somewhat exhausting. From Romania, Graduation is a powerfully challenging drama that grapples with huge themes in a way that's sharp and resonant. And All This Panic is a loose, beautifully shot and edited documentary that feels like a narrative feature about a group of teen girls navigating crises that feel like the end of the world. To them at least.
I'm flying off to California for the next couple of weeks to visit family and friends. And I'll also catch up with some movies along the way, which I'll cover here. First on my list is John Wick Chapter 2, as I'm missing the big London press screening. I'll also be over there for Bafta on Sunday night, and perhaps more relevantly for Oscar two weeks later.
Wednesday, 1 February 2017
dir-scr Morgan Jon Fox
with Jordan Nichols, Seth Daniel Rabinowitz, Jacob Rickert, Leah Beth Bolton, Ryan Masson, Chase Brother
16/US Dekkoo 1h56 ***
There's an artistic sensibility to this web series that makes it worth a look, as creator Morgan Jon Fox uses swirling photography and non-linear editing to follow the emotional lives of his characters rather than create coherent plotlines. The problem is that this leaves everything feeling a bit thin and wispy, as events and characters are undefined even though they are going through some big emotions. The premise centres on two young artists in Memphis: Billy (Nichols) has an inexpressive boyfriend (Masson) with depression issues, while Daniel (Rabinowitz) wants to run off to the big city. They get a new housemate (Rickert) and have some personal crises, but while a lot happens to them, the filmmaking approach is so loose and mopey that there isn't much proper emotional impact. Frankly, the title of this series is a mystery. The relationships are written, never quite lived-in or believable, and only vaguely sexy. And some of the writing and acting isn't terribly convincing. But it looks great, the cast is likeable and the idea is clever enough to sustain itself through eight brief episodes.
Films coming up this week include The Lego Batman Movie and the acclaimed British drama Lady Macbeth. I'm also getting ready for a trip to Los Angeles to visit my family and friends - I'll be there for both Bafta and Oscar, as it happens. Watch this space...