Friday 26 February 2021

Article: Glasgow Film Festival – Findings - Part 2

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this festival for me has been a more enhanced feeling of discovery. My excursions to the London Film Festival have so often been hurried trips to packed cinemas, watching the more marketed films a few months before they are released to the awaiting public. Films by popular filmmakers are filled up quickly, and while that buzz of watching such films never truly leaves, patrons such as myself who do not have the luxury of absorbing all the fruits of the festival must economise what little time they have.

Glasgow Film Festival in its current form has given me a far more open stance on viewing opportunities. Save for Minari which I labelled as a must-see, I have found myself making a lot of choices at random. Decisions based on little else than I have the time and the film might have only a solitary element which I find worth investigating.

It may be a female director. It could be that I have simply not seen a film from that country. Hell, it might just be down to the blurb on the website. Hell with one choice, it was all these things. Either way, I took a divining rod approach to things to see if I found anything that I would consider worthwhile.

Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time:

With a running time much more merciful than its title, this mysterious drama takes place in the gloomy streets of Budapest. A doctor travels from America back to her home country for a date with another doctor in a pact reminiscent of the end of Before Sunrise.  She finds herself dubiously stood up by the supposed love of her life. When encountering the man soon afterwards, he claims to have never met her before.

Director Lili Horvát produces an intriguing premise to get one’s teeth into, and the blurb on the web site make grand comparisons to Hitchcock and Kieślowski. Oddly enough, this drama had slight feelings of Haneke’s The Piano Teacher, although far less cynical. The film becomes a quiet study of the irrational risks that love can produce. So much of the film harbours the kind of tension usually obtained in a more violent thriller, however, Horvát is far more interested in the light cracking of neurosurgeon Márta Vizy’s (Natasa Stork) icy veneer than delivering an overdramatic psychosis.

Vizy’s decision to leave her high position in America to pursue the doctor opens a world of perceived irrationality. She takes residency in an empty squalid flat. She takes a position in the same hospital as this stranger. Her choices lead to her work being scrutinised in spite of being the best in her field.

Holding its cards tightly to its chest, Preparations works for most of its brief run time. Stork’s impassive expression often leaves us to wonder if she is lost her mind, or something even more insidious. The film stumbles slightly as it heads towards it’s fragile yet hopeful finale, but this doesn’t stop Horvat’s impressive methodical drip-feed execution of the story from keeping everything on tenterhooks.


The type of film which deserves to find its audience. Sweethearts: a coming-of-age story of a socially awkward, environmentally conscious teenager forced to go on holiday with her family to a Butlins style park, is not a film with many surprises. It is by no means a reinvention of the wheel. Nor does it have to be. Instead, Sweetheart is a strong remainder type of film that the British can do well. Taking advantage of its beachside location and filling it with a fun cast of up and comers and character actors, the film nails the anxiety of the passage of time between leaving childhood and finding the beginnings of post-adolescence.  It works because it does the basic things well. The closest bedfellow to Sweetheart is perhaps Submarine, while the former is not as quirky as the latter. Nevertheless, Sweetheart should be seen for its sharp observations, tender moments of drama, and generally being a good laugh for most of its runtime.


Not one to lie to my blog readers. Seeing this as a Sky produced documentary filled me with a certain dread. A niggling feeling that this overview of Tina Tuners musical career would be a rather flat, uninvolving affair. I was happy to say I am wrong.

This is a comprehensive and appealing account of one of the most electrifying black female performers of Rock and Roll. Beginning with her modest, church-going beginnings and her breakthrough RnB success with her abusive musician Ike, to her astonishing pop music comeback decades later. This film is a perfect introduction to the queen of Rock and Roll for the uninitiated.

One would find it hard to believe that the likes of Beyoncé were not more than a little influenced by Turners headstrong shimmying and powerful vocals. The archive footage that is shown is certainly infectious. However, this documentary, possibly at the subject’s own trepidation, cannot really do the passion without the pain. While all the elements within Tina were agreed to by the singer, the films most telling, and distressing moments are the affirmation of how trauma recurs and routinely inflicts its pain. The media near-obsessive desire to connect her career with her ex-husband is a chilling reminder of how the media machine situates its lens.

However, Turner’s dignity and professionalism not only outlay her as a performer, but it is also among the highlights of the film itself. Watching her desire to perform, along with her decorum throughout the low points of her career, it’s difficult to think of any modern-day performers who will hold as much grace in a career as long.