Monday 27 February 2012

British Film Bloggers Circle: Winners

Just because the Oscars are over, doesn't mean that all the awards have finished! Not at all, as Yesterday the British Film Bloggers Circle winners were also announced! How does that make you feel? Happy? Joyous? Marginally indifferent? However you feel, I'm posting to tell you the winners and pass on some more shameless self promotion as I am part of said Bloggers Circle.

So without further to do, here's the list of winners:

Best Film: Drive

Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)

Best Actor: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)

Best Actress: Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk about Kevin) 

Best Supporting Actor: Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk about Kevin) and Christian Bale (The Fighter) - TIE

Best Supporting Actress: Berenice Bejo (The Artist)

Best original script:  The Artist and Midnight in Paris  - TIE

Best adapted screenplay: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best film not in the English language: The Skin I Live In

Best British film: Submarine

Breakthrough: Jessica Chastain

So there we are. I will say that one or two results left me hurtling vodka bottles at the founders screaming that (Redacted Film) was robbed, and how I'm going to get Harvey Weinstein to promote my picks next year. However, as a selection of awards, I did find it more unpredictable alternative than a certain star studded event , save for the best film award perhaps. 

Next year, I do hope for a Best Documentary section to be added as many brilliant films such as Senna, The Interrupters and Beats, Rhymes and Life deserved to be seen by more people this year.

So there we have it. It may not have as much glam and glitz as the academy, but at least we won't bore you with a two hour fashion show before the event.

To learn more about The British Film Bloggers Circle here:


Thursday 23 February 2012

The British Film Bloggers Circle

As mentioned in my previous post yesterday, I've been picked as one of the bloggers eligible to vote for the British Film Bloggers Circle Awards. The winners will be drawn over the weekend and the list of nominations is here.

What I forget to mention, is what the British Film Bloggers Circle actually is! 

Here's some quotes from Laurent de Alberti, writer at Filmland Empire and one of the Circles founders:
"Spare a thought for  us, poor bloggers, tirelessly spending unpaid hours trying to share our passion and enthusiasm for cinema with the world, all this while being looked down by less charitable, well established journalists... Unlike what that infamous lines from the (godawful) Contagion stated last year, blogging is more than just graffiti with punctuation!"
"An initial idea formed from the lack of community, respect and standards within film blogging."
Now, the fact that I've been asked to be part of this group of  talented writers is is flattering. Unfortunately the mere fact that they've asked me; with my ridiculously low standards and respect for most things, negates their faction as complete insanity. However, as I'm a part of it, I will do my best to take it down from the inside. Especially as I was a big fan of Contagion.

Here's a link explaining more about the circle

As stated in the link a website is to follow.

British Film Bloggers Circle Awards: Nominations

Now, I'm not usually one for awards or lists. However, as a bit of fun, I've been asked to cast my vote on the first annual "Bloggies" awards. A bunch of U.K bloggers have got together, made some nominations, and have all cast a vote on our "best" of the year.  Below are the list of nominations which have been selected and the winners will be called over the weekend, which is of course Oscar weekend.  

It'll be interesting to see who wins.


Best Film

Midnight in Paris
Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy
The Artist

Best Director

Tomas Alfredson for Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy
Paddy Considine for Tyrannosaur
Michel Hazanavicius for The artist
Steve McQueen for Shame
Lynne Ramsay for We need to talk about Kevin
Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive

Best Actor

Jean Dujardin for The artist
Michael Fassbender for Shame
Ryan Gosling for Drive
Peter Mullan for Tyrannosaur
Gary Oldman for Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy
Michael Shannon for Take Shelter

Best Actress:

Olivia Colman for Tyrannosaur
Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia
Tilda Swinton for We need to talk about Kevin
Jeong-Hie Yun for Poetry
Michelle Williams for My week with Marilyn

Best Supporting Actor:

Christian Bale for The Fighter
Stefano Cassetti for Love like poison
Ezra Miller for We need to talk about Kevin
Corey Stoll for Midnight in Paris
Nick Nolte for Warrior

Best Supporting Actress:

Berenice Bejo for The artist
Jessica Chastain for Take shelter
Charlotte Gainsbourg for Melancholia
Carey Mulligan for Drive
Carey Mulligan for Shame

Best Original Screenplay:

Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
Take shelter (Jeff Nichols)
The artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
The guard (John Michael McDonagh)
Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Coriolanus (John Logan, screenplay; William Shakespeare, play)
Drive (Hossein Amini, screenplay; James Sallis, book)
The ides of March (George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, screenplay; Beau Willimon, play)
Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy (Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan, screenplay; John Le Carre, novel)
True Grit (Joel & Ethan Coen, screenplay; Charles Portis, novel)
The skin I live in (Pedro & Agustin Almodovar, screenplay; Thierry Jonquin, novel)
We need to talk about Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, Rory Kinnear screenplay; Lionel Shriver novel)

Best film not in the English language:

The skin I live in

Best British Film:

Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy
We need to talk about Kevin

Best breakthrough:

Richard Ayoade, Submarine (Director, Writer)
Jessica Chastain, The debt, The tree of like, Take shelter, The help, Coriolanus, Texas killing fields (Actress)
Tom Cullen, Week-end (Actor)
Andrew Haigh, Week-end (Director)
Tom Hiddleston Thor, Deep blue sea, War horse, Archipelago, Midnight in Paris (Actor)

Thursday 9 February 2012

Review: Young Adult

Year: 2011 (U.K Release 2012)
Director: Jason Reitman
Screenplay: Diablo Cody
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson

Synopsis is here

I found myself quite shocked at the quite lacklustre amount of London cinemas screening Young Adult. Despite  a decent amount of buzz, awards and great reviews, the film only seemed to open in one or two places. In fact, bizarrely, it looked easier to watch the film outside of London than inside, with both of the shire areas (Bucks and Cambs) that I frequent, not only having cinemas showing the movie, but a decent amount of screenings in each.

I actually found myself, more shocked at the cinema situation, than Young Adult itself. The film is somewhat unconventional, with its lead performances, and has a roguish charm that comes through many of the scenes. Yet, by the end of it, much like Martha Marcy May Marline, I was only moderately satisfied. I have no issue with settling in with selfish, unlikable characters, but with Young Adult, I got the feeling that it said everything it needed to say quite quickly, and I had no other reason to stay.

The film follows the same route as previous Reitman features. We are given a character who is independent or at least believes they are, who when challenged, look for solace in al the wrong places. Reitman's film finds the same beats he's hit before and Diabio Cody returns (their previous collaboration being Juno) to play upon the same arrested development notes that did so well before. Only this time the vessel is a 37 year old mega bitch as opposed to a 17 year old snaky teen.

The character of Mavis is more than a little difficult to get to grips with, but not without a certain appeal. A deluded creature, trapped in a bizarre womb of bad reality T.V shows, diet coke breakfasts and doomed nostalgia. Much like so much of our culture recently, she is completely fixated on her perception of the past and will not let go of her childish, self serving attitudes of her childhood. Credit is due to Theron as she attacks the material ferociously, and accentuates the bitterness that such a person would hold on to. Her partner in crime, is Patton Oswalt whose Matt Freehauf is equally as damaged and regressed and the films sharpness is highlighted best in the scenes between the two.

There is a bitter-sweet nature to the whole of proceedings that litters many of the films scenes. A lunchtime scene scene at Mavis' parents has her seemingly serious cry for help laughed off, while Matt's telling line of "guys like me are born loving women like you" is one that should ring true to many a nerdy male ear. But the film's final third feels a little detached, as if it was hinting towards something before turning it's back. The films  final coda gives the clear notion that while Mavis' arc must end on a pitch that leaves some warm and fuzzy feelings left in the belly. Although if we ignore the voice over and look at Mavis' banged up mini for metaphor then life may take circular turn.

All in all, the film is quite simply not greater than the sum of it's parts. Reitman is not known for his visuals and does an OK job, but nothing helps the movie stand out. Theron and Oswalt show true quality in their displays, while Patrick Wilson puts in another shift as Mr J Bloggs. Cody's screenplay has bite but doesn't have the killer payoff to leave you reeling. This said the film will make you laugh and shift uncomfortably in your seat. It's just that, if your like me you may only have to see it once. 

Saturday 4 February 2012

Review: Chronicle

Year: 2012
Director: Josh Trank
Screenplay: Max Landis
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, and Alex Russell

Warning: I will not be too specific about certain plot elements, however, spoilers are bound.

Synopsis is here

Chronicle is great fun. In fact at times it's pretty awesome. I mean this in the traditional definition, as opposed to the casual modern trend. The films spectacle actually brought forth a certain amount of amazement. I was in no way expecting it. Particularly from a film, which had only been described to me as "the found footage superhero movie". Such quick branding is correct but almost gives a disservice to a film which confidently melds elements of Superman, Spideman, Cloverfield, and Ginger Snaps (or maybe the breakfast club) into one entertaining mass.

It follows the typical beats of the super hero movie, but it doesn't feel derivative. Far from it. If Cloverfield was to tailor fit Godzilla for the YouTube generation, then Chronicle feels like the extremely snug super hero costume for the same people. Establishing the characters quickly and solidly, the film does well to try and combat the some of the issues that come with the found footage sub-genre. We are given a withdrawn character; Andrew (DeHaan) who decides to place his focus into documenting what he can see, if nothing else for himself. It's clear that it keeps him occupied from all the tragic elements that haunt his life. He states that; it "creates a barrier", between himself and what's happening within him and the other characters. Not only does it help detail the obsession with filming, but you can sense the trouble brewing from such statements.

But before then, we see and sense the fun. As these three fast friends, discover an artefact that given them extraordinary powers, we watch them jerk about with them in a way that only teens would. In a way that we would in the same circumstance. They learn and discover more and we are reminded of that same thrill that Peter Parker had in Spiderman. While it doesn't have the same exhilaration that Tobey Maguire infused, when he first got bitten by that bitch of a spider, it's still in the same ballpark.

Yet, in the same way we would lark about if we had powers (if only I could control gravity), Chronicle realises it's that real life would get in the way just easily. As the trios powers grow, so do their issues. The film cleverly mirrors adolescence and home problems with the increasing abilities. Andrew whose background is already shrouded in darkness (dying mother, booze father) begins to fall into his own egoism.
The philosophical aspects of Schopenhauer, briefly noted in the beginning of the film start to come into play and the tension and spectacle rises. To quote Nietzsche: "If you stare into the Abyss long enough the Abyss stares back at you." Andrew seems to be staring more intently than Anakin.

The film rolls at a great pace, with deeper characterisation and better story telling than bigger films within the same genre. It's almost embarrassing looking at how effective this movie is in comparison to the likes of The Green Lantern, which could struggled to even establish why we should be watching Ryan Reynolds making huge green fists. The effects are not up to Transformers standard, but the investment of what's going on allows us to overlook this. Chronicle does build to an effective and power crescendo which bypassed my admittedly low expectations and provided something that was really quite thrilling.

It's not without it's flaws. The film, like many found footage features, can't full shake off the restraints of the sub-genre. It's clear to see when the film is providing us with establishing shots that wouldn't be part of the characters concern. The film's final third is greatly entertaining but also forgets at times it's meant to be user utilized content. Also, some of the plot points not only has a distinct smell of the magical negro, but also highlight a small issue with some of the mechanics of the film.

For the most part however, Chronicle sets it's sights as a film that could gain cult status. It plays with superhero story effectively and is solidly entertaining throughout. The makers of all the next generation of upcoming comic adaptations, could do little harm with checking out what this does right.

Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Review: 2011 ( U.K release 2012)
Director: Sean Durkin
Screenplay: Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olson, John Hawkes

Synopsis is here:

I have all the respect in the world for Sean Durkin, the writer/director of Martha Marcy May Marlene. It's an original screenplay of a premise that you don't see that often. It is a wonderfully accomplished feature d├ębut from a technical standpoint, with some striking photography and match cuts. The central performance from Elizabeth Olson shows that she certainly looks like someone whose career looks worth following. It's not that it's a bad film in any real way. But I kept asking myself, why does it feel so inconsequential?

Personally; I wanted more, and while that's not really the films fault, I did find myself underwhelmed with it all. The films ambiguous ending that should leave chills up the spine only left me cold and limp. The whole day I've asked why is that?

It's not for the films lack of trying. Far from it. In fact there's many aspects of the film I admired. Martha, an unreliable protagonist ebbs in and out of a timeline that is shattered as much as her memory. She has no awareness of the time that's passed and neither do we as we are thrown back and forth through isolated moments, highlighting not only the confusion, but the paranoia of the situation. As the movie unravels and we slowly gain a certain amount of sense as to what happened to this poor girls situation, we realise the danger that the girl is in and how damaged she really is. The fact that Martha cannot fathom the differences between the sexual free for all aspects of the cult and swimming naked around her sisters house (where children maybe present) quietly illustrate how broken down her barriers are in the beginning. 

This is not a film to show Roman Polanski, as the shades of Charles Manson and the Sharon Tate murders (as well as aspects of the Children of God) are rampant, even if unintentional. The farm that this new age cult have taken up has that same insidious intent hidden behind incoherent hippie babble and false smiles. The leader; Patrick (John Hawkes), is a master of subtle manipulation. Lovebombing and grooming his followers, Patrick comes across as everything such vulnerable and lost young people would cling to. Once emotionally deteriorated we see hints of what he wishes to mould them into.
I love the idea of all this and I find myself attracted to films like that with such lost characters such as Martha. However, any emotion found in the appears to fade as quickly she remembers them. There are hints at something deeper and more involving, but I just couldn't get past the surface. While we don't need overtly explicit scenes in a film like this, Durkin's film held me at a distance that was a touch too far too investing into anything other than a passing fancy.

The nightmares and tension almost reach a befitting climax, but at the expense of a film that hasn't really built up the pace for them. Hawkes and Olson win out on the strength of their performances and the film generates a troubling aura when the two are together. However, in the end it just doesn't do enough to be as memorable as I felt it could be. It doesn't help that after watching films like Jonestown which documents cults at their very worst, you remember that real life always has a way of reminding you that it's always scarier.