Jan 2nd

Revolutionary Road

By Douglas McFarlane
revolutionary road.jpg

H
ave you been in a relationship ?  It's fantastic, and it's not at times. Arguments, fall-outs, good times, bad times. Shared visions and then a total breakdown in communications. Fitting in with the mould that the community and society around us shape.  Earning a living in the capitalist world and all the frustrations and joys that may bring. It's not a depressing film, as much as it's a truthful film, and this truth doesn't always make us feel too good. 

Revolutionary Road, is a strong and powerful film, which also addresses a subject constantly debated in American society. It's best to look away from reviews unless you want to know what the plot is. I'll not let it slip, don't worry. It's the magic of most films that they take their audience on a journey which they can identify with and then WHAM, out comes the twist, the conflict, the unexpected shift in the story. You kind of see it coming, but nothing prepares you for the experience. 

Based in the 1950s, a normal American couple (Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio), have ideas to go to Paris. He is doing well in his job, but loves the excitement generated by his wife whenever she discusses getting on a ship for Europe.  Their children are slowly co-erced into thinking that it will be a great idea and they build up the energy levels around their new future. Their neighbours don't like the idea, and think they have lost the plot, but they are determined. 

Richard Yate's novel is brought out nicely on film by Sam Mendes, and is both beautifully shot and nicely complimented by subtle music by Thomas Newman. Mendes and Newman worked together on American Beauty, and it has a similar feel from that perspective. It guides you along and supports the journey with soft piano playing and haunting melodies. 
I love the shots where every single person on the street and going to the office, wore a hat. A great observation which Mendes plays out to the full.  He's not out for a Hollywood ending though, so don't expect to feel good at the end I'm afraid. Great movie, just hate that awful feeling which surfaces an hour or two after watching it.  It's likely to win awards as there are some incredible performances and great moviemaking.  


Revolutionary Road is out in U.S. cinemas on December 26th.


http://www.revolutionaryroadmovie.com
 
Jan 6th

Mugabe and The White African

By Tremayne Miller

THE TIMES BFI 53RD LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 14-29 October 2009

 

Published by: Tremayne (Potter)

Thursday 22 October

Mugabe and The White African

Dir.: Lucy Bailey, Andrew Thompson/ UK 2009/ 88 min

 

“The white man is not indigenous to Africa.  Africa is for Africans.  Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans.’ – Robert Mugabe

 

‘This film is an intimate account of one family’s astonishing bravery in the face of brutality, in a fight to protect their property, their livelihood and their country.’

 

Michael Campbell is one of the remaining white farmers in Zimbabwe since Mugabe took up presidency and started his fierce land ownership program.

In 2008, Michael, a 75-year old grandfather, made the exceptional choice of taking Mugabe and his government to The SADC (South African Development Community) International Court, on the charges of racial discrimination and discrimination of Human Rights.

 

‘This is the only film to have come out of Zimbabwe in recent years, where a total press ban still exists.  Much of the footage was shot covertly.  To have been caught filming would have lead to imprisonment.’

 

And should you strip away every other aspect of this film, it is ultimately about the strength of people’s beliefs and how far they are willing to go to protect them!

 

Jan 9th

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

By Davor Mamuzic

  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

By: Davor Mamuzic



People everywhere could debate for hours if films they’ve seen are better than the actual books, and in most cases the literature would stand victorious in this battle.  Your mind is a highway to infinite imagination when a great book is in your hand taking you across worlds and fantasies, even adding different emotional stages to the reader. 

Since most of the films in today’s cinemas worldwide are, sad to say, remakes or comic book superheroes.  It seems that the only original storylines or even concepts are witnessed in today’s computer animated films distributed by Pixar, DreamWorks or Blue Sky Studios (to name a few). But, every once in awhile we come across something new, something original, something that keeps you quiet, or smiling as you are exiting the cinema.

 Eric Roth, who already won an Academy Award for his screenplay of Forrest Gump, brings us a coming of age story, literally, adapting it from the 1920s short story by F. Scott Fitzgerarld. The story is retold by Daisy (Cate Blanchett), hospitalized on her deathbed, with her daughter Caroline (Julia Osmond) by her side.  The diary in Caroline’s hands focuses on the life story of Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt), who was born at the end of the World War One in the heart of New Orleans.  His disadvantage: he was born as an eighty-year old man, and as he ages, his body gets younger.

Benjamin was raised by Queenie (Taraji Henson) whose kind heart takes him in after she finds him on the doorsteps of the old age home where she lives and helps out. Benjamin as a young kid, but really an old man on the outside, blends in with all the residents off the old age home. This is the place where Benjamin also meets Daisy.

Directed by David Fincher, who already had a chance to explore Brad’s acting abilities and transformations in Se7en and Fight Club, now has a chance to add better makeup and special effects to Brad’s looks. At one point, as Benjamin and Daisy both enter their 60s, Brad, thanks to the digital re-touches, looks seventeen years old, somewhat close to how he looked in Thelma and Louise.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will stay with you for years to come. The film itself flows as if a great book just landed into your palms, packing great dialogue, as well as comedic, dramatic and suspenseful moments.  

5/5


Trailer -
http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/thecuriouscaseofbenjaminbutton/
IMDB - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0421715/

Released in North American theatres December 25th, 2008

Jan 10th

The Unborn

By Davor Mamuzic

The Unborn
By: Davor Mamuzic

Unborn

World wide cinemas like to build the terror of the unknown by focusing more on the story and less on the visuals, while North American audiences anticipate extreme gore shots, fast close-ups and in-your-face "quick frights". The Unborn, set in Chicago, stays true to its North American roots and delivers just as expected.

The story jumps all over the place (from evil entity of the unborn child, to Holocaust, Nazi experiments, and a bit of recycling The Exorcist ideas), while "quick frights" quickly erase your short term memory of the bad dialogue which sounds as though it was written by a group of high school students.

The story focuses on Casey, played by Odette Yustman , as she is confronted by an evil spirit and it slowly tries to break her down and take possession of her. The spirit itself gets stronger as the story gets weaker. The spirit's growth in strength is the only growth in the character as it is the only character that actually has a purpose in the storyline, and we are more focused on cheering for the actual evil spirit rather than the protagonist itself.

Other than the creepy next door neighbour's kid (Atticus Shaffer), Odette and Gary Oldman are the only ones that keep the acting real.  Even though it is hard to connect Gary as a Rabbi, he still did a great job doing it.

If you are looking for gore, anticipated closes up and bad dialogue, then this might be up your alley.

2/5

Trailer
IMDB

Released Jan 9th in the North American theatres.

 

Feb 14th

Inside The BAFTA's

By Douglas McFarlane
In this update
- Happy Valentine's
- At the BAFTA's
- Working with BAFTA
- Stephen Fry Follows Me
- Acting at Royal Opera House


Links We Love

http://www.nevisradio.co.uk - click on Tune-In at 12pm-2pm today
http://www.lovetheatre.com/uktheatrenet - Buy West End Tickets
http://www.raindance.co.uk/site/film-training-london-UK - Contact me for discounts
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- Happy Valentine's
Happy Valentines Day to you. I hope you got lots of love coming your way, if not, I'm sending some out to you right now. Big UK Theatre hugs from me to you. 

- At the BAFTA's
My heart was alight last week at the BAFTA Film Awards. It was a fantastic night, and I watched the full ceremony this time as a guest, instead of the excitement of last year where I was filming on the red carpet for my first feature documentary, Making It In Hollywood. This time the pace was pleasant as I walked down the red carpet with my daughter. We casually chatted about how I was on the other side last year and looked confidently over at the array of cameras pointing in our direction. We noticed the lovely Fearne Cotton, who was waiting expectantly for some of the A-listers to arrive.

roh.jpg
The Royal Opera House is a grand place and Jonathan Ross hosted events nicely and kept the flow going. It was strange seeing Kate Winslet sitting watching events, as you would've seen on TV, with three cameramen and sound technicians rushing around in front of her for the entire 2 hours.

grosvenor.jpg
Grosvenor House is where the after awards event is held and it was alive with the energy of those who won their awards as well as those, like me, who were pleased to be part of such an elite company. Mickey Rourke was being filmed at the entrance as we entered, Christian Slater walked passed me at the gents, Kate Winslet was still "gushy" when she walked downstairs to her dinner table, Meryl Streep casually allowed some guests to take her photograph and then it happened. 

As I was getting ready to go and get our car home, I almost walked into an entourage of people coming towards me from the right. I glanced around and became almost fixed to the spot as Penelope Cruz was staring at me. It was a fiery, moody stare, I was clearly in her path. I quickly stepped forward and received a warm smile which made my brain all putty-like. My head turned 360 degrees to follow her and I noticed how slim she was, from the open back of her dress, as she glided in mid-air towards the Lancome stand to get a bit of facial pampering. My head stayed in that state for the next 48 hours. Sigh !

- Working with BAFTA
I also got great news on Tuesday. Following a meeting last year with the Chairman of BAFTA, David Parfitt, and a subsequent follow up chats with a few board members, I will be working with them to help delivering their strategy for 2009. To start with, I'll be producing a report over the next 4 weeks on all things online, social networking, new media, and events. Not just for filmmakers, but audiences as well, around the UK and the world. You can help too, and I will let you know next week where I would appreciate your support and input. I'm excited to be able to help make a difference.

- Stephen Fry Follows Me
It's true, I joined the twittering twits who titter as they twitter all twinkling day. 
http://twitter.com/ukfilm - one of the good things is that any of our reviewers magazine article on UK Theatre or UK Film, gets automatically uploaded. Spreading the reach even further. It must've prompted that well known twitterer Stephen Fry to click "follow" on my profile. 

- Acting at Royal Opera House
Right, back to reality and there's a great article from Grainne Gillis who shares what it's like to be performing on the very stage where the BAFTA's were held. There's also some new reviewers who have published to the magazine this week.

Have a great week where you are.

Douglas McFarlane
http://www.ukfilm.tv/magazine.html



----------------------------------------------------------------------


Being an actor – in opera
By Gráinne Gillis

It actually came about by chance that I auditioned for the Royal Opera House. One Friday afternoon, I got a call from the assistant chorus manager, Ruth Mulholland, asking me if I would be interested in attending an audition for an obscure (to me) opera called Die tote Stadt

Read on.....
http://www.uktheatre.tv/magazine/read/being-an-actor-�-in-opera_29.html
Mar 11th

THURSDAY TILL SUNDAY (DE JUEVES A DOMINGO)

By Tremayne Miller

thursday-til-sunday-2012-001[1].jpg 

day for night

 

presents

 

THURSDAY TILL SUNDAY

(DE JUEVES A DOMINGO)

 

Directed by Dominga Sotomayor

 

In cinemas – 5 April 2013

 

LITTLE WHITE LIES ****

 

Tiger Award Winner at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2012

London Film Festival 2012

Vienna International Film Festival 2012 

 

 

CREDITS

 

Written & Directed by Dominga Sotomayor

Producer – Gregorio Gonzalez, Benjamin Domenech

Co-producer – Stienette Bosklopper

With: Sanit Ahumada, Emiliano Freifeld, Francisco Perez-Bannen, Paolo Giannini, Jorge Becker, Axel Dupre

Cinematography: Barbara Alvarez

 

TECHNICAL INFO

 

Year – 2012

Country – Chile / The Netherlands

Duration – 94 min

Screening Format – DCP, Colour, 1:1.85

Dolby SR Shooting Format – s16mm, Colour

Production Companies – FORASTERO – CINESTACION – CIRCE FILMS

Supported by Cinefondation Residence, Hubert Bals Fund, Dutch Film Fonds, Fondo de Foento Audiovisual, CORFO, Ibermedia, AustraLab, Buenos Aires Lab, TyPA

 

Thursday Till Sunday, regrettably, was not a film I manged to see at The bfi London Film Festival last year.

‘Journeying through the vast desolate landscapes of northern Chile, Thursday Till Sunday follows a family trip seen through the eyes of ten year old Lucia, in a poignant tale of innocence and loss.’

Lucia singing in the back of the car reminded me of myself travelling with my family, and when we used to eye spy.  Oh how I remember that!

Some interesting shots are taken from inside the car, which is seen to take on a personality of its own, affected too by the consequences of the trip, where one feels a sense of the rough terrain they travel over. When they stop at a petrol station to refuel, the camera lens appears to show a blurred effect, almost as if it has been smeared..

Back on the road seven year old, Manuel puts two fingers up at a passing car full of girls, as he shouts “poo-head!” at them.

The father, when they take a longer stop, explains to his daughter that they are going to visit a particular area of land.

Lucia is endearing to look at, and I pick up on the ‘lost-in-thought’ close-up shots of her face, a conscious choice made by the Director, which serve as reflections themselves, and provide a backdrop all of their own.

Another film categorised as a ‘a road trip’ is 2011 film, ‘Las Acacias’ (dir Pablo Giorgelli) but I felt that Thursday till Sunday held one’s interest a lot more.

“Maybe the sand belongs to someone. The sea belongs to everyone”, utterances said by the father, and as he picks fruit from a neighbour’s garden, my memory bank gets a kick start again, as I recall the times I would go fruit-picking  with my own father (and I still do!).  

The mother resorts to swapping seats with the daughter as they are motoring along. But Lucia has no qualms, she is only too happy to become more involved in the driving process.

By a camera being situated inside the car, we feel as if we are steering it along, and the varied camera angles chosen by the Cinematographer is comparable with that of our sightline, if we were in the vehicle.  

Their next stop is at a rock pool, where the first shot is of the father floating along in the river, wearing a wet suit and flippers, with his head facing in towards the water. He is so still at first, you think him dead.  Across the stream from them, a motorcyclist pulls up to dip his toes in the water; whereupon fond memories are conjured up of dowsing, and immerging one self in the water as a child.

A cute shot follows of the children perched on top of the family car drying off with their towels tightly wrapped around them.

The wife catches her hand in the door, yet won’t be comforted by the husband. The first outward display to the children that their parents’ relationship is in tatters

The colouring of Manuel is quite English but then, the film seems to be about a switch in emotions, as well as landscapes. Therefore, perhaps, it was a conscious decision, to allow for that shift to transcend as far across as the Casting?

Some luggage rolls off the back of the car roofrack, which reminds me of the time my brother, myself and two friends were driving along a motorway in Belgium, when two sleeping bags fell off into the traffic, luckily not causing what might have been a nasty pile-up, or running over one of the friends, who was going through a Peace & Love phase, and decided to tip-toe across the tarmac to retrieve them.

Quite unbelievable then, that in the next shot we should see the two children gripping onto the roof-rack for dear life!  Then they become impaled in rocky terrain with water filtering through it.  A camper van comes to their rescue, and as they continue the journey, the wife says to the husband that he must talk to the children, and tell them what is really going on.

I do find the children particularly cute, their interaction so natural.  There is a heart warming scene between them, where the girl, wearing her bunny head-band, is pouring out lemonade for everyone, while the little boy in his Scientist-looking glasses, makes sure that each person gets their equal measure.

A whole array of ‘sharing stories’come to mind, particularly those involving a cake being divided up!

‘My heart is full of love.  And my Love can’t understand me’, are just some of the lyrics taken from a song the parents and other adults they have met on their journey, sing together.

The wild pigs remind me of an animal story my sister told me about, where, in The New Forest, Dorset, wild horses steal food, that should have been for next day’s breakfast, out of the back of her camper van.

The daughter begins to learn that their parents’ relationship is fraught.

Her father, having remembered Lucia had been eager to learn to drive, finally gives her the chance as the rest of them push the vehicle from behind.

Lucia observes the new terrain they have come to, and comments on how ‘curvaceous’ it is; rather a strange translation, I thought, when she meant it in a negative sense, as if to say ‘she finds it rough, and arid, with no air of mystery about it. But a definite comparison can be made between the environment we see around us and the couple’s troublesome one.

It is here the car is brought to a halt, and the wife’s inward thought of ‘why did they ever think to go on this trip?’, is said out loud.  

Holidays, in general, are seen as ‘the make or break’ in a relationship but in this instance, it is more about providing the children with one final holiday before the imminent break-up.

The music kicks in at this point with the kids once again slung across the roof top of the car, after having traipsed across a large expanse of land comparable to The Outback in Australia.

A clever film which you are not sent away from with any ounce of feeling blue as all its focus is placed on conjuring up one’s childhood memories, and not a family being broken apart.  

Separations and goodbyes are a part of life, however heartbreaking they may be, and setting the action of the story on a road trip is a perfect way of highlighting that concept.

© Writer: Tremayne

Jan 3rd

Valkyrie

By Davor Mamuzic

Valkyrie
By: Davor Mamuzic

Valkyrie, Tom Cruise

Films made on the war themes usually carry their own propaganda agenda, glorifying one side over the other, but Valkyrie offered the inside look at the German SS army, and how not one, but thousands officers, staff, or even soldiers didn't agree with Germany's politics, and wanted a change for better.

 Valkyrie, directed by Bryan Singer (X-men, Usual Suspects) is a classic story of good versus evil, and choices made by individuals who believed in the light at the end of the tunnel. Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, played by Tom Cruise (War of the Worlds, Mission Impossible), who saw that light, and took it into his own hands as he was followed by a small team of high-ranking officers plotting to assassinate Adolf HItler, and hopefully end the war of all wars. Hitler, played by David Bamber (The Bourne Identity, Gangs of New York) gave a perfect performance as he painted Hitler's potrait of being extremely misterious, but yet, very intimidating character. His presence on the screen is almost as chilling as the opening sequence as Nazi soldiers are giving their oath to the great "Führer".

Fortunately, this film did not feature any fake German accents, and having the over-the-top performance by extremely great talents, such as Bill Neighy (Pirates of the Carribean), Tom Wilkinson (RocknRolla), and Cruise helped this dialogue-driven film to be extremely intense and suspensful.

Trailer
IMDB
 
This film opens in the North American theatres December 25th.


Rating: 4/5

Jan 6th

Yes Man

By Sophie-Louise Lilley

Imagine if you decided that your new year’s resolution was to say "yes" to everything. Think you could do it? I know I certainly couldn't!

But Jim Carrey can - and has done it his new film "Yes Man".

The plot consists of a Mr. Carl Allen (Carrey) going nowhere in his life. Continually saying "no" to everything, not only does he become a predictable average Joe, but he also gets nothing exciting from life. That is, until he signs up for a self-help program with a simple covenant: say ‘yes’ to everything. It soon changes his life, but his enthusiasm starts to work against him. In this particular new addition to Jim Carrey's CV, he has toned down the physical characteristics that once made him famous in such films as Bruce almighty and in the process of doing so, has indeed made it an impossible challenge for him to pull off this particular comedy adaptation of Danny Wallace’s bestselling book. Don't get me wrong, the idea that you say yes to everything is a great plot device, but in this bland and somewhat predictable comedy, the clever notion of the original book just gets buried.

I will admit at this point however, that there are some relatively good parts in the movie, but the film’s original promise disappears soon after Allen’s life changes, as he begins dating the stanchly, eccentric and ridiculously pretty Allison (a cute nosed, red-lipped Zooey Deschanel) and starts to connect with his boss, Norm - played by Flight Of The Conchords’ singer Rhys Darby (who pulls off a rather charismatic, even if inexperienced performance). Allen lives life to the full, taking everything in her stride and even courageously saving a suicide case at one point - but after one particularly appalling, clunking plot twist (which we must assume took three writers to conjure up) his life - and the movie for that matter - begins to unravel like an old jumper.

My conclusion? A alright comedy, with some witty jokes and funny moments, but overall, don’t be afraid to give the “Yes” movie a “No”.

Jan 17th

Coincidental connections

By Douglas McFarlane


I was first aware of it when I started making the documentary MAKING IT IN HOLLYWOOD, and it has started again today at the first day of the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL. Coincidences. Now, I appreciate that it's a small business and when you go to events like the Oscars etc, you are bound to meet people you know. However, to be coincidentally in the same place when Clint Eastwood unexpectedly walks into an event, or Kate Winslet sweeps past you on her way to the red carpet, then for me, there's something different going on. I called it the magic of filmmaking. 

This time, it was a couple, who sat near me on the train to Gatwick. Their faces never really registered with me, but something about them was familiar. They got on the same flight via Cincinnatti and I noticed them a few times and heard that the woman was Scottish. I never thought anything of it until Salt Lake City. Meanwhile, at Cincinatti, my stop over point, I was just about to board the plane when I noticed Jess Search, who I co-founded Shooting People with in 1999. I hadn't seen her for about five years and we meet in a busy airport. If it wasn't for her flight being delayed for 5 hours, our paths wouldn't have crossed. As you may know, Jess is head of Channel 4's BRITDOC, and has two films in the competition. She invited me to both premieres and also to a private party with the rest of her C4 colleagues. Result.

When I arrived in Salt Lake City, I noticed the couple again and thought I'd go over and ask whether they were here to promote a film, as being Scottish, I guess I should make my self aware of it. After I said hello, my brain started feeding me with answers. "You're a producer of a film ?", my brain ticked over. I closed my eyes and concentrated. It then came to mind about Lisa in an article in TIMEOUT about a week ago. I asked her if that was her ? She said yes. Then I recalled it was MUM & DAD and in 2007, the writer of the film and Lisa came to the BBC/Film London Microwave school to give the budding newcomers an update, as they had won with Mum And Dad, in 2006. I had been following their success story at each Film London event I went to, but I hadn't seen the film. We exchanged numbers and I've got another invite.

Then finally, I shared a taxi with an actress, Trina Willard, in one of the films that could do well this year called Humpday. She told me all about her part and how it came about. A third invite was offered and I hadn't even arrived at my hotel.

It's going to be a busy week.