Tag Archives: London Film Festival

Best of New British? Try My Brother the Devil…

13 Nov

The Plot:

Two very different teenage brothers must face their prejudices head on if they are to survive the perils of being young, British Arabs on the streets of gangland London.

The Good:

For a debut feature film, My Brother The Devil is gripping, engaging, thought provoking and beautifully shot. All the characters and the surrounding situations are believable and as an audience member you can get completely engrossed in what you are watching, which is always a sign of a good film.

Sally El-Hosani picked up the much deserved Best Newcomer Award at the London Film Festival and most certainly is a star director for the future with this film and vision prooving testament to that talent.

My Brother the Devil, takes the audience on a very real journey of discovery for two brothers, Mo and Rashid – played expertly by newcomer Fady Elsayed and James Floyd. The beauty of this film is its self contained aspects. Not venturing much further than its urban council estate setting, the cinematography sheds a hallowed light on what is often depicted in film as a dark, dank and gruesome part of London.

The storyline also takes the film away from its opening generic ‘urban film’ feel and makes a strong social commentary sure to provoke equally strong reactions from audiences. The film is clever without trying to be too clever and Hosani’s passion for the project is obvious. It’s particular interesting to see a young female director tackling such a male focused route.

The Bad:

Although the film provides an interesting twist on the London gang culture genre, the topical and popular subject matter unavoidably brings a certain predictability regardless of budget or plot specifics.

These kinds of films follow a familiar pattern, a violent incident provokes some form of gang rivalry. Audiences will find that this film’s later stages in particular fall prey to being formulaic in a way that distracts from the film’s more original elements. Over hyped-enthusiasm from boastful marketing and word of mouth praise may worsen this feeling of disappointment. It’s ultimately not quite as distinguished from similar films like Victim or Kidulthood as it could have been.

Despite it’s faults My Brother The Devil is still lead strongly by its performances, and may prove to be the stepping stone for much bigger things for Floyd and Elsayed. It is also better than many feature debuts on a shoe string budget, so deserves the majority of praise already garnered.

The Ugly Truth: 

Beautifully shot, an unexpected twist on the tale you were expecting, but sadly not far enough away that it stands on its own two feet.  Most impressive however, is that My Brother The Devil is yet another shining example of UK talent both in front and behind the camera with praise well deserved.

WRITTEN FOR RED CARPET NEWS TV

If you want to hear what the director herself has to say about the film, check out when I caught up with Sally El-Hosani at the preview to the London Film Festival earlier this year…

Advertisements

Rust and Bone – deserving of all the hype? You’ll have to make your mind up

7 Nov

The Plot:

Put in charge of his young son, Ali leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Ali’s bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.

The Good:

Rust and Bone is a slow moving tale of self discovery for two people, Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) and Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts). The film tackles the very plausible notion of two people from different paths, meeting and becoming friends who become lovers. It a common story but adding  the intense themes of coping with disability is what helped the film take top prize at this year’s London Film festival.

The film’s main strength  lies in Marion Cotillard’s performance, with  her vulnerability and fragility displayed in award winning fashion throughout. The Oscar winning actress expertly pulls on audiences heartstrings as her character comes to terms with her traumatic accident and slowly allows herself to become emotionally dependent on her unlikely new friend. It’s easy for audiences to empathise with Stephanie’s growing need for Ali as she searches for someone who treats her as an equal not an invalid.

Matthias Schoenaerts proves a good sparing partner for  Cotillard in this film and his matter of fact attitude provides an interesting contrast. Scenes where it is just the two of them manage to bring home a sense of realism and unexpected but welcome humour in the situation that is presented.

The cinematography must also be applauded. In some of the beach scenes, you can almost feel the summer breeze as you watch it and forget about the blistery UK Autumn outside. It also allows the audience to feel part of this world, not just a spectator.

The Bad:

Rust an Bone is not without it’s flaws. There are too many elements which makes the overall plot messy and difficult to understand. The struggles of fatherhood, love and the aftermath of a tragic accident  are all strong topics in themselves but it’s a tough challenge to combine them. Characters are wasted, and story elements seem carelessly placed in order to give an excuse for the narrative to move in implausible directions.

It would have been interesting to focus more on Stephanie’s  battle to overcome her fears and work with killer whales again. But this is only explored briefly as the film jumps between different stories. It’s jarring and frustrating as key parts of the film simply aren’t explored in enough depth.

The Ugly Truth:

The film’s strong performances, particularly the brilliant Marion Cotillard, connect well with an audience and make the most of a disjointed narrative. A clunky and confused storyline poses a few too many problems to allow the film to ever be totally enjoyable and may leave some wondering exactly where the film was supposed to be going in the first place.

Written for: Red Carpet News TV

The London Film Festival…its not all swanky photo shoots you know!

1 Nov

Thank you to everyone for your kind words and “likes” on my latest set of portfolio pictures… if you need to know they’re from a very talented photographer Tom Wootton, and you can find direct contact details via http://www.mysilhouettephotography.com (he’s London based).

Anyway, enough about me, well sort of…as I fought off the jet lag quite valiantly, I acclimatised myself back to London weather (mainly rain) during the London Film Festival, and despite the cold, managed to stay warm in the knowledge that I would be able to have good old chats with the likes of Bill Murray (and win a thumb war with him – personal highlight and massive tick off my bucket list), Gemma Arterton, Helen Hunt, Terrence Stamp, John Hawkes and many more… catch some of the highlights below!

Songs for Marion

Monty Python’s Michael Palin – A liars Autobiography

Monty Python’s Terry Jones – A Liars Autobiography

I’m feeling filmy!!! …..

6 Sep

Well yesterday marked the start of the most exciting time of London’s film calendar…The London Film Festival. I was lucky enough to be at the event in the Odeon Leicester Square to capture all the reactions from the BFI Execs through to the film makers who are so over the moon to be a part of this fantastic festival! Well done all, it looks like an amazing line up!!!

For anyone who isn’t familiar, here are a few interviews to get you up to speed on all the wonderful films on offer this festival season….

 

Amanda Nevill CEO BFI

Sally El Hosaini – Director – My Brother the Devil

Sarah Gavron – Director – The Village at the End of the World

Charlie Paul – Director – For No Good Reason

Alice Lowe – Actress and Screenwriter – Sightseers

Mat Whitecross – Director Spike Island

Luxury Junket – The art of not having to stand in the rain…

20 Dec

So at the moment I’m referred to as “red carpet girl” a name I’m not turning my nose up to, in any capacity, but during my time on the red carpet I’ve met more than enough people who stand side by side with me, pushing and shoving to get that one question from an A-List star. On reflection, all thirty to forty of us have been waiting  in the freezing cold for this moment and as the line is longer and you realise you’re at the far end of it, sometimes at the very bleak times, for a minute or so, we all struggling to see the amazing position that despite the cold we are currently in.

I mean who really gets to say that their job is to speak to celebrities day in day out? From up and coming stars such as Lucas Pittaway – over night sensation of Snowtown – through to George Clooney – about as A-List as you can get. I have to say I’ve got a good job, no wait a minute, I’ve got a great job. I am not ever really that star struck anymore, but for my own amusement I now have an ‘up close camera test’ in my mind, to see which stars I think are beautiful on screen but not so much in real life you know, to make sure that they are real people too, not just beautifully airbrushed aspirational fantasies.

However the reason for this post is simple. I’m always looking to up my game, learn more about this business we call show and well, let you lot know my findings. So here’s what I found out last week. A very kind producer friend of mine invited me along to the Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol junket. Tom Cruise it wasn’t – Notting Hill it was, as I sat in the corridors of Claridges just like if you were about to be sent into the headmaster and jokes started being subtly bounded around stating that one may be from Horse and Hound (how many times has that been said – yes well, I’m a rookie so I’m allowed to say it!). Thankfully this is a much nicer process. I may have been privy to a lucky day, but these junkets worked like clockwork and the interviewees were delightful, from Simon Pegg, through to Brad Bird (oh yes the  director of Krusty the Clown – I know!) each of the film stars looked as if this was the first interview of the day (even though it was second to last) and for five minutes – not one question – you could actually have a decent in depth conversation with them, which I have to say is what I completely relished in at the London Film Festival. The Film Maker Teas, for example showcased all the up and coming talent and like this interview below, with Lucas Pittaway I managed to speak in some depth with a star in the making.

So with this, it’s no surprise that these bloggers, journalists, producers do not wish to partake in red carpet gigs anymore, and now that I’ve had a taste of this luxury, it would be nice to balance it up every once in a while. But from all my endeavours over the last few months, its easier said than done to get through the door. So if anyone want’s to give me a chance to do it – oh and I will do a very good job – then that would make a lovely Xmas present! : )

Thanks for reading! x

David Cronenberg’s Dangerous Disaster

26 Oct

So the end of the festival is imminent. As of Monday my personal work there was done. It was a fantastic festival – huge highs and not so many lows. Things were going almost perfectly until I watched A Dangerous Method. Having been routing for Keira Knightley to finally stick her two fingers up at audiences who think she’s nothing more than a pretty face, I would have thought taking on such a daring role as Sabina Speilrein in David Cronenberg’s (The Fly) A Dangerous Method would finally prove the world wrong. Oh no, instead how wrong Cronenberg must have been to have thought she could have taken on this role in the first place. Unfortunately along with Cronenberg’s made for TV movie styling of the film, her performance was, for me the most problematic of this overall awful film. However having left the screening with some people liking not only the film itself but her performance, I decided to scour the internet to read other reviews (from Venice) on the film – luckily I found I was not alone in my sentiments.

This particular blog  written by Thomas Grimshaw from Shooting People’s blog actually took the words right out of my mouth, so I thought rather than ramble on and double up on inefficient workload, I would, in this particular instance, just point you in the direction of his wise words instead. Such a shame – I really was hoping for more with this film – but here you go…

Thomas Grimshaw ask’s David Cronenberg what the christ went wrong?! 

When it was announced that David Cronenberg was to direct the screen adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s play The Talking Cure, there was a palpable buzz in the air. Given Cronenberg’s history of producing idiosyncratic and rigorously intellectual films with a taste for the psychoanalytic, the idea that he was to venture forth into the combative relationship between Freud and Jung was a tantalisingly sexy prospect. Set in turn of the century Vienna, A Dangerous Method details the relationship between psychoanalysists Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and a disturbed young woman named Sabina, who will later become the renowned female psychoanalysist Sabina Speilrein. When Jung begins an affair with the girl, the fallout ruptures the relationship between the two men and sets them both on different ideological paths; Freud in favour of a treatment rooted in scientific method whilst Jung drifts towards a counsel of hypothetical mysticism.

Given all we know about the film there was hope of this giving rise to a jamboree of sexual peccadilloes, strained Germanic accents, death and an air of haughty perversion.  The question that must be asked then, is, what in Christ’s name went wrong? The fact that I was unable to determine whether this was in fact a comedy or not seems as good a place to start as any. Admittedly I laughed: lots in fact, but the stoic, hardened faces of its cast whilst delivering its diluted crib-notes on psychoanalysis and shamanism seemed at odds with the bountiful laughter occurring around me.  That said, Cronenberg has always garnished even his most disturbing work with a perverse sense of humour, however if that same fact applies to A Dangerous Method it would appear that Cronenberg’s idea of comedy has regressed to that of a child learning about the birds and the bees.  The other fairly major stumbling block is that for a film so concerned with the concept of sex, is how unbelievably impotent the whole affair feels. Apart from Sabina getting herself royally spanked by an over eager Jung, the film barely visualises the topic that get Freud and Jung all hot and heavy in the first place, instead restricting it to the world of musty drawing rooms where the smell of sex is nowhere near as potent as the smoke emanating from Freud’s phallic cigar.

Despite the initial guffaws that surrounded the casting of Nordic cave-dweller Viggo Mortensen as the elderly, bearded Freud, he’s actually one of the only actors to leave the film with their dignity intact, instead he seemingly has a blast subverting everyone’s expectations by delivering every line with a cock of the head and an ironic twinkle in his eye. Keira Knightley as Sabina fares much worse, when we first see her; screaming and contorting her body with such vigorous abandon she seems in fear of wrenching the whole film from its sprockets and cart-wheeling off down the road with it. Strangely though it’s Michael Fassbinder as the central figure Jung who comes off worst. Although not as violently grating as Knightley, at least the screen is somewhat illuminated by her schizophrenic energy, with Fassbinder the film comes to a stop; not so much a performance but a black hole of inertia that threatens to entropy everything in its path. After his charismatic turn in Shame it really is profoundly stunning that the man has managed to produce a performance of such claustrophobic tedium.  Finally, there is Vincent Cassel whose only purpose seems to be to demonstrate the compulsive, hedonistic pleasure principle (perfect casting) of Freud’s most famous concept. We know this because he uses cocaine and talks about his many, many mistresses; he couldn’t be more obvious if he had ‘id’ branded across his forehead. At least he has the decency to disappear within the first half an hour.

It really is incredibly perplexing how awful this film is at times, Cronenberg has definitely had his misfires over the years, but it’s certainly rare for a director of such regard to sink to such amateurish depths within only a short space of time, although History of Violence was serviceable; displaying moments of wit and genuine danger, Eastern Promises heralded a dramatic downturn in his talents and with A Dangerous Method now in tow the future looks less than promising. With his next film also on the horizon; an adaptation of Don Delilo’s Cosmopolis, we can only hope that the safety net of familiar postmodernist territory can shield him from the looming sense of castration that effectively killed off the careers of Brian de Palma and Paul Verehoven.

BFI London Film Festival – Two doses of Gorgeous George – The Ides of March and The Decendents

21 Oct

I would have been annoyed if George Clooney did a John C Reilly and didn’t turn up to a festival which showcased not one but two

of his films, but luckily he didn’t disappoint. In fact, he over delivered. Having rushed from the screening of  the Clooney directed film The Ides of March to the press conference, I was so happy to find we weren’t only having a press conference with the man himself but also the incredibly talented Philip Seymour Hoffman and Evan Rachel Wood. However, I seem to have been the only member of the press attending who noticed that this Oscar winner and Indie darling were also in the room as the rest of the audience seemed (if they managed to get a question in – which I unfortunately did not get the chance to) to only be able to direct their questions to Gorgeous George. One particularly cringe moment was (apart from the double question asking George’s view on the Irish upcoming elections – please we’re here to talk film!!) when a member of the press clearly forgot the other actors names and addressed these Hollywood heavyweights as ‘members of the panel’ As Steve McQueen put it – SHAME!! These actions mirrored those in the film 360 and had an effect on the rest of us as Philip Seymour Hoffman was so annoyed that he was hardly addressed in this press conference that he flew in especially for, that he refused to do any press on the red carpet later that evening – well done journo!

Anyway – Back to the films, lets start with the big one – The Ides of March

The Ides of March

A political thriller – not something that I would normally be desperate to see in the cinema – more of a DVD movie for me. However I have to say that this film is going to be a keeper, I’m glad I saw it on the big screen as I could watch it intently without distraction and it’s probably a type of film with the ‘stay appeal’ which means its most likely going to end up on people’s DVD shelves for years to come as a ‘go-to’ movie. I really enjoyed this, lead by the sickening talented Ryan Gosling, the awards buzz which surrounds this film is very much earned. Its smart, sassy, intelligent and has a brilliant level of humour which comes just at the right time to break up scenes containing strong dramatic tension. Its cast is a goldmine of talent: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti and Marisa Tomei – you know you’re onto a winner when you’ve got them on board.

The film looks at the inner working of a campaign. The media minds and the politics behind the politics – is nice guy Mike Morris (Clooney) really that nice? Can Gosling be bought out by the opposing side? And what does loyalty in this situation really mean. It’s a game of chess expertly directed by Clooney (who sees his twilight years behind the camera rather in front) who has offered to the table a feast of top class acting, engaging dialogue and a story full of game players and no winners. It for me brings the resurgence of great political films back to the silver screen – proving that we may have had a thirty year gap of missing good films of this subject, but with a film like The Ides of March, it was most definitely worth the wait.

The Descendents

I like Hawaii. I like the idea of it, that it represents happiness and people throwing their cares away as they play lazy on the beach as the sun shines brightly above them. As we see from Alexander Payne’s (About Schmidt, Sideways) offering, he immediately focuses on the non tourist/commercial view of Hawaii and what its like to be living there – in the real world. This glimpse is not the main focus, in fact this story is one of family George Clooney’s character’s family, and the few days they take to come to terms with the untimely death of his wife following a boating accident. I think this film will divide audiences depending on your own personal experiences with grief, and handling such situations.

Although I enjoyed the film – it has some brilliant humour which will get you laughing till you cry – having gone through quite a similar situation in my own life, I found the characters slightly ridiculous, farcical and unemotional. Next to me in the cinema was my colleague Rosanna, who also went through similar circumstances, but unlike myself, dealt with her situation in the same manner as the family in the film, so found it hilarious and incredibly touching and moving. Two very different opinions, neither of which criticised the mechanics of the film, its well written, clever, well cast and entertaining. The content however may leave audiences divided in terms of how they view the story and how sympathetic they feel towards the characters and situation.

So there you have it folks – two very different films which will appeal to two very different audiences. Both very much worth a watch and proving that at the ‘tender age’ of 5o, Mr Clooney both on and off-screen still has the charisma and charm to keep him at the top of his game for many years to come.