Thursday 25 October 2012

London Film Festival: Ginger and Rosa (w&d Sally Potter)

The films I saw at the LFF are already beginning to fade out of my noddle, like ghostly images of some antediluvian past, so I'd better try to scratch down my last few memories of them before they drain out of the holes provided.

I was very impressed with Sally Potter when we saw her a couple of years ago at the slightly overcooked 'interactive première' of Rage at the BFI, so Ginger and Rosa was a film I was really looking forward to.

It's the story of two adolescent girls taking their first troubled steps into adulthood in 1962 London, under the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis and what seems to be certain and impending nuclear obliteration. The film even opens with a little overture of footage from the devastated city of Hiroshima.

Saturday 20 October 2012

London Film Festival: Midnight's Children (d. Deepa Mehta)

Despite its exalted status in the literary canon, I'm ashamed to say I still* haven't read Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. So I came into this film, scripted by Rushdie and directed by Deepa Mehta, with high expectations but no baggage. However, there were times during this epic when I wished I'd brought a good book...

Speaking after the screening, Salman Rushdie said that he'd taken on the adaptation - his first screenplay - because another writer mght have been too reverential to the source material. However, given the film's strange lack of dramatic whoompf, maybe a more experienced screenwriter would have been the answer.

(And the muted round of applause the film received indicated that I wasn't the only member of the audience to be underwhelmed.)

Wednesday 17 October 2012

London Film Festival: Reality (d. Matteo Garrone)

Our second night of the festival, and after the brusque security slabs and barking BFI drones at the Odeon West End (“KEEP MOVING!!!”), it was off to the altogether more pleasant and relaxed Renoir for Reality, the winner of this year's Grand Prix at Cannes, co-written and directed by Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah).

While as firmly rooted in Naples as its predecessor, Reality is considerably lighter in tone – a dark but gentle comedy (based on a true story) about a fishmonger, Luciano (Aniello Arena), whose dream of appearing on the Italian version of Big Brother* starts to turn into an obsession.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

London Film Festival: Spike Island (d. Mat Whitecross)

Although a bit older than the main characters in Spike Island, I was also a Stone Roses fan in 1990, putting in the hours loitering around Affleck's Palace and seldom parted from the Waterfall t-shirt I got from Piccadilly Records. So maybe this was going to be the film for me…

Written by actor Chris Coghill (who has a supporting role here and played Bez in 24-Hour Party People) and directed by Mat Whitecross, the film focuses on five Manchester lads who are prepared to do whatever's necessary to get into the Roses' now legendary gig on the contaminated bank of the Mersey. As members of a band (Shadow Caster), they're also desperate to get their demo tape into the hands of their musical heroes.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Hitchcock's antiheroes (Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder)

As promised yesterday, here's another golden oldie. I published this originally on Mid-Summer Day 2010 - back when the world was young and all things seemed possible. As before sorry if any of the links have gone kaput in the intervening time.


Over the past few weeks we've seen Strangers on a Train (1951) and Dial M for Murder (1954) at the BFI. They were part of two separate seasons, but seeing them together raised an interesting issue: antiheroes – central characters who we should want to fail in their (usually criminal) objectives, but who at least a little bit of us wants to succeed.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Rear Window (1954, wr John Michael Hayes, dir Alfred Hitchcock)

As the BFI is in the middle of its Hitchcock celebration, I thought I might as well re-post a couple of things I did a while ago on his films. Here's Rear Window, from July 2010; I'll do my thing about anti-heroes in Dial M for Murder and Strangers on a Train tomorrow.

(I haven't checked the links at the bottom, so apologies if any of them have died.)


Last week we went to see Rear Window at the BFI, as part of the Grace Kelly season. It was – shamefully - the first time I'd seen the film, and although it didn't grip me on first viewing as much as some of Hitchcock's other films, a repeat viewing the following morning revealed what an impressive bit of work it is. 

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks (preview, BFI)

Last night we were lucky enough to be at the BFI for a preview of Asylum of the Daleks, the first episode in the upcoming series of Doctor Who.

I don't want to give too much away, but I think there are a few points I can make: