Friday, 31 July 2015


Word on Room is that it's not as good as it sounds... word on the trailer for Room is that it still sounds better than it looks. Lenny Abrahamson's Hollywood career got off to a middling start with Frank, but Emma Donoghue's novel is acclaimed and Brie Larson heads up a promising cast, so hopes are high for Room. After a Toronto premiere (though it may also head to Telluride), the film comes out in the US on the 16th of October.


Cary Fukunaga built up a lot of goodwill among cinephiles with Sin Nombre and Jane Eyre, but it was TV's True Detective that truly got people's attention. More dramas about straight, white men? Dream on! Cary's back to his old ways making films that kinda need to be made, with Netflix's Beasts of No Nation. Good luck to the company as they plan to approach awards season from a very new perspective, challenging voting bodies to accept their multi-platform release as a nominee. The film already has a Venice competition slot and a Toronto special presentation coming up before that release, in the US on the 16th of October, so their bullishness looks to be well-warranted.


I don't often post bad trailers to potentially good films, but I'll make an exception for Spotlight because I so badly want it to be good. Better than this formulaic, melodramatic trailer, at least. Thomas McCarthy has a lot to bounce back from, after The Cobbler, but a lot to bounce back to, after The Station Agent, The Visitor and Win Win. Out in the US (the only confirmed release date available online at time of writing) on the 6th of November after showings at Venice and Toronto festivals.


For a filmmaker, content is everything, but context is everything else. It's hard to imagine a movie like Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation without first considering the four films that directly preceded it. The film functions quite nicely as a standalone work - as it surely had to, coming almost 20 years after the first in its franchise - yet it bears a slickness and a degree of confidence in its character that would have been hard to acquire, if not impossible, were it not for the foundation established over those two decades. Rogue Nation is an odd tentpole film in this age - the stakes are as high as the modern blockbuster era demands, and the setpieces stretch even higher, but its spirit is distinctly sober. It's an old-fashioned espionage film with new-fashioned tech, and though it's at its most sizzling indulging in the suspenseful action sequences that are this franchise's bread and butter, it's at its most satisfying when it lets the talking do the talking. The throwback vibe generated by plotty exchanges of dialogue and insight into the nature of espionage in the contemporary geopolitical landscape extends into those setpieces, which are perhaps only as thrilling as they are because of this. But the concessions this quasi-Hitchcockian film makes to the audience of 2015 only seem more unfortunate in such unflattering juxtaposition; several (straight white male) characters from old franchise installments carry a sense of obsolescence with them. Additionally, there is a number of loosely edited, befuddlingly scripted scenes that serve little purpose, belying spotty filmmaking and generating pacing problems. All is forgiven in the light of one new addition that wholly works - the indomitable Rebecca Ferguson, an amped-up reincarnation of Ingrid Bergman and Lauren Bacall, with astounding action chops and even more astounding screen presence. She's a bona fide star, and alone is reason enough to see Rogue Nation.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


Festival season is fast approaching, as yesterday's TIFF lineup announcement is followed up by today's Venice announcement! It's a lengthy list, as several slates are unveiled at once, with many of the year's most hotly-anticipated titles present. It looks to be yet another strong year for La Biennale di Venezia, after a recent shake-up in the selection process, with major international films joining lesser-known ones to make for a particularly promising lineup. Check it out in full below:

Venezia 72
  • 11 Minutes (Jerzy Skolimowski)
  • Anomalisa (Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman)
  • l'Attesa (Piero Messina)
  • Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga)
  • Behemoth (Zhao Liang)
  • A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino)
  • El Clan (Pablo Trapero)
  • The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper)
  • Desde Alla (Lorenzo Vigas)
  • The Endless River (Oliver Hermanus)
  • Equals (Drake Doremus)
  • Francofonia (Aleksandr Sokurov)
  • Frenzy (Emin Alper)
  • Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson)
  • l'Hermine (Christian Vincent)
  • Looking for Grace (Sue Brooks)
  • Marguerite (Xavier Giannoli)
  • Per Amor Vostro (Giuseppe M. Gaudino)
  • Rabin, The Last Day (Amos Gitai)
  • Remember (Atom Egoyan)
  • Sangue del Mio Sangue (Marco Bellocchio)

More selections after the cut:


There'll be more, but here are the first additions to the official lineup for the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF has been the premier launching pad for American awards fare for years now, though the fest's large scale provides plenty of space for indie and international titles to reach buyers and audiences. This year's festival runs between the 10th and the 20th of September. Check out the current slate below:

  • Beeba Boys (Deepa Mehta)
  • The Dressmaker (Jocelyn Moorhouse)
  • Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood)
  • Forsaken (Jon Cassar)
  • Freeheld (Peter Sollett)
  • Hyena Road (Paul Gross)
  • Lolo (Julie Delpy)
  • Legend (Brian Helgeland)
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity (Matt Brown)
  • The Martian (Ridley Scott)
  • The Program (Stephen Frears)
  • Remember (Atom Egoyan)
  • Septembers of Shiraz (Wayne Blair)
  • Stonewall (Roland Emmerich)

Special Presentations
  • Anomalisa (Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman)
  • Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga)
  • Black Mass (Scott Cooper)
  • Brooklyn (John Crowley)
  • The Club (Pablo Larrain)
  • Colonia (Florian Gallenberger)
  • The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper)
  • The Daughter (Simon Stone)
  • Desierto (Jonas Cuaron)
  • Dheepan (Jacques Audiard)
  • Families (Jean-Paul Rappeneau)
  • The Family Fang (Jason Bateman)
  • Guilty (Meghan Gulzar)
  • I Smile Back (Adam Salky)
  • The Idol (Hany Abu-Assad)
  • The Lady in the VAn (Nicholas Hytner)
  • Len and Company (Tom Godsall)
  • The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
  • Louder Than Bombs (Joachim Trier)
  • Maggie's Plan (Rebecca Miller)
  • Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhang Ke)
  • Office (Johnnie To)
  • Parched (Leena Yadav)
  • Room (Lenny Abrahamson)
  • Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)
  • Son of Saul (Nemes Laszlo)
  • Spotlight (Thomas McCarthy)
  • Summertime (Catherine Corsini)
  • Sunset Song (Terence Davies)
  • Trumbo (Jay Roach)
  • Un Plus Une (Claude Lelouch)
  • Victoria (Sebastian Schipper)
  • Where to Invade Next (Michael Moore)
  • Youth (Paolo Sorrentino)

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Who knows what to call Alice Winocour's thriller, which has been listed both as Maryland and as Disorder since being announced. The film screened at Cannes earlier in the year, in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, where it received mixed reviews from critics. Matthias Schoenaerts and Diane Kruger star. No official US release yet, but it's expected some time this year; no UK release either.

Monday, 27 July 2015


Pixar turn it around for themselves in their own film, mitigating every minor deficiency in their story so comprehensively you have to strain to see them. They make you care about something almost careless, a redundant, passe plot about rich white people - who ever knew a movie about rich white people could be so emotionally stirring?! Inside Out, past all its contrivances, past its smugness, past the staid familiarity of its ethical codes, is a wondrous film. It is as emotive as it is emotional, which is emblematic of the ingenuity with which the filmmakers integrate their every narrative and stylistic notion into the fabric of the film. A thrilling flight of fancy is utilised for pragmatic purposes, quaint little quips amass immense power when contextualised and running gags bear as much purpose in making us think or feel as in making us giggle. It's appropriately joyous to witness Pixar's artists deploy their artistry, and it's neither the concepts nor the desired results, but the application of those concepts to achieve those results that makes Inside Out the superior work of art that it is - better still, in dedicating their efforts to executing their aims, rather than to the development of the aims themselves, they permit the audience to enjoy the film without even noticing those efforts (if you're a casual viewer, alas). The film is well-rounded, complete, yet not enclosed, as it has a breadth achieved through the specificity of its concerns - as aforementioned, Inside Out not only makes you feel, it makes you think too, specifically about your own emotions, and it's thus that it amasses its most potent power. For this rich white person in particular, this imperfect little gem was a richer experience still.

Saturday, 25 July 2015


Man has everything. Man has the world at his feet, or at the end of his gloved fist. Man has money - not as much as he needs, but more than he should - and knows not what to do with it. Man has money for himself, and performs for a paying crowd, but not for charity. Man's charity is other men, defending their women, defending their country, defending their descendants, the carriers of their name. Man has a woman. Man defends woman. Man mourns woman. Man thinks woman exists to serve him, whether in comfort or in torment, and man alone experiences the grief of himself and his family when woman is taken from him. Man thinks woman belongs to him; man makes the rules, thus man is correct. Man must work, because it is what men do. Man is flawed, but man respects the system - if only the system respected man, in all his glorious manliness. Man tries, which is hard for man. Man succeeds, which is not hard for man, because man is man, and success belongs to man too. Man fights for girl who can fight for herself because it is his place, man works himself to the bone because it is his place, man defines the course of his life and of the lives of those around him because it is his place, the place that other men defined for him. Man is oblivious to why, because what sort of world would man live in if admitting to why exposed the deficiencies in man's plan for man's world, and what sort of review would this be if every sentence didn't begin with man? Man writes. Man designs. Man produces. Man directs. Man shoots. Man acts. Man edits. Man scores. Man watches. Man sees men being men, and women being boobs, men loving women, never loving men, men with everything, men with nothing... and yet everything. Man writes review. Man has everything. Man has the world at his feet, or just this movie, perhaps. Man kicks movie very hard into the dirt.

Thursday, 23 July 2015


Sebastian Schipper's profile takes a big upturn with Victoria, the Berlinale award-winning thriller that bests Birdman by a long shot, and even Russian Ark - as ambitious a gambit as you can get, a 140-minute action film literally shot in one take. No wonder it won an award at Berlin for its cinematography. The film could become a breakout hit when it opens theatrically in the US - no date is yet available, but the reviews (mentioned profusely in the above trailer) indicate that an awards-qualifying run, and most likely a Foreign Language Film Oscar qualification, could be in the pipeline.