Paolo Sorrentino: ‘It’s not worth making films about politicians’

Paolo Sorrentino: ‘It’s not worth making films about politicians’

‘The Great Beauty’ director on his new Silvio Berlusconi biopic ‘Loro’

It’s safe to say that Italy has more interesting prime ministers than us. Not every politician catches the eye of a filmmaker as gifted as Paolo Sorrentino, but sleazy political magnate Silvio Berlusconi has done just that in his new biopic ‘Loro’. The result is a combustible mix of sex, drugs and scheming, with Sorrentino regular Toni Servillo as the perma-grinning bunga bunga devotee.

Read the full interview here.

Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame

Marvel's surviving superheroes go into round two with Josh Brolin's Thanos for a three-hour epic sendoff to this era of the Avengers saga, and the results are both surprising and satisfying

If you're counting, 2706 six minutes of screen time has led to this point. Whether you are an avid fan of the MCU, or one who looks on witheringly at the way cinematic culture has been consumed by characters in capes, there is no denying the cultural clout that accompanies the release of the Russo Brothers’ Avengers: Endgame.

Read the review here.

The woman behind Merchant Ivory: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

The woman behind Merchant Ivory: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the only person ever to have won both an Oscar and the Booker Prize: Merchant Ivory’s secret weapon – novelist and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

Alan Parker once referred to Merchant Ivory films as “the Laura Ashley school of filmmaking”. It’s a reputation that has unfairly stuck, despite James Ivory’s recent involvement in critically acclaimed films such as the monumentally successful Call Me by Your Name (2017), which he wrote and produced.

Read the full article here

Alice Rohrwacher: ‘When you work, it’s hard to find time for other things’

Alice Rohrwacher: ‘When you work, it’s hard to find time for other things’

You need to know about Alice Rohrwacher. Up there with her fellow Italian filmmakers, Matteo Garrone and Paolo Sorrentino, she draws on a wild, untamed imagination that has little time for storytelling conventions. Her latest film is a time-twisting fable about a pure soul, Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo), who is trapped by a wicked tobacco baroness. To say more would spoil it, but needless to say, this is ambitious filmmaking that won’t disappoint.

Read the full article here

Dumbo review - does Tim Burton’s new adaption take flight?

Dumbo review - does Tim Burton’s new adaption take flight?

At its heart, Disney’s fourth-feature, Dumbo, was about the love between mother and child, and defying expectations. The 1941 animation was based on Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl’s short story and told the tale of a baby circus elephant with oversized ears and big blue eyes, who is given the cruel nickname of ‘Dumbo’, until those that tormented him realise his ears are magical and enable him to fly. It was a sweet and simple Ugly Duckling tale with a macabre edge, so who better to direct the update than the man who brought us Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Edward Scissorhands?

Read the full review here

Carol Morley on her dream-like noir Out of Blue

Carol Morley on her dream-like noir Out of Blue

Carol Morley's latest film is a hard-boiled police drama based on a Martin Amis novel and it unfolds like a Lynchian dream noir. We speak to the Salfordian director about the art of adaptation, gender and taking female-driven stories seriously

Since 2000, Carol Morley has established herself as one of the most singular voices in British independent filmmaking. Beginning with The Alcohol Years, her self-reflective investigation into her troubled 20s living in Manchester, through to 2014’s The Falling starring Maisie Williams, Morley has spent the past two decades crafting engaging and thoughtful films, often centred around women.  

Read the full article here

jonah hill discusses fragile masculinity and skate culture

jonah hill discusses fragile masculinity and skate culture

Jonah Hill is on the line from Los Angeles. Today Vampire Weekend dropped their Jerry Seinfeld-starring video for Sunflowers, which Hill directed. “I texted Jerry, and said, ‘You’re a massive Vampire Weekend fan, right? Do you want to be in their new video or come for dinner?' Jerry turned around and said, ‘Be in the video. I would never go for dinner for you. Tell me where I need to show up.’”

Read the full article here

Mahershala Ali: ‘There isn’t just one black experience in America’

Mahershala Ali: ‘There isn’t just one black experience in America’

The Oscar nominee on taking centre stage in road-trip drama ‘Green Book’

For an Oscar winner with nearly 20 years of screen acting behind him, Mahershala Ali is still strangely under the radar. You probably know him from a fistful of brilliant supporting performances. He was slick DC operator Remy Danton in ‘House of Cards’, charismatic crime don Cottonmouth in Netflix’s ‘Luke Cage’ and, of course, paternal drug dealer Juan in ‘Moonlight’, a performance for which he won that Academy Award. But the killer big-screen role has proved elusive.

Read the full article here

barry jenkins: “there was a time when people assumed black people didn’t dream”

barry jenkins: “there was a time when people assumed black people didn’t dream”

The ‘Moonlight’ director discusses dreams, memories and his latest film, an adaption of James Baldwin’s tale of love and injustice, ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’.

If Barry Jenkins was nervous, he didn’t show it. When I sat down with him in a hotel in London, it was the morning of the Oscars announcements. Jenkins’s latest film, If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaption of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, was tipped as a contender.

Read the full article

TimeOut  – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

TimeOut – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s debut film is good for the soul – a true-life tale of hope and courage centered on a plucky teen whose tenacity pays off.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is the kind of actor who makes your ears prick up when you hear he’s in a movie. Whether it was as Okwe in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ or his Oscar-nominated performance as Solomon Northup in ‘12 Years A Slave’, Ejiofor’s performances are nothing less than captivating. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do as Scar in Disney’s forthcoming live-action ‘Lion King’.

Read the full review here

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald review - mischief not quite managed

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald review - mischief not quite managed

Two years after the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we return to the Wizarding World once again for the next, somewhat convoluted, chapter in the five planned prequel instalments, with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Read the full review here.

TimeOut - Overlord

TimeOut - Overlord

Take ‘Saving Private Ryan’, mash it together with ‘Wolfenstein’, add in some mutant-zombie Nazis, and you have this enjoyably gonzo horror.

Read the full review here

sounding off with mia as her new documentary hits cinemas

sounding off with mia as her new documentary hits cinemas

Two weeks after interviewing British-Tamil musician Mathangi Maya Arulpragasam, aka MIA, for a new documentary about her life and career by her friend Steve Loveridge, I saw her launch onto the stage at Bestival. Bursting with energy and flanked by dancers against a golden arch backdrop, the singer had complete control over the crowd, her right leg draped in tiger print (a reference to her proud Tamil heritage), with a garland of flowers in her hair. At one point she handed the mic into the crowd to a woman who said, “We aren’t born free, the government controls us, but we own our own destiny. Be what you want to be.” MIA then launched into her 2016 migrant-centric track, Borders. It was a piece of the unashamedly punchy political theatre that MIA has become famous for.

Read the full article here

Manto: the writer who felt the pain of India's partition

Manto: the writer who felt the pain of India's partition

Saadat Hasan Manto chronicled Bombay life in all its ugly beauty – until sectarian horrors were unleashed on the streets he loved. A new biopic by director Nandita Das retells his stories

Read the full article here

Lenny Abrahamson - The Little Stranger

Lenny Abrahamson - The Little Stranger

Lenny Abrahamson, the director of Frank, Room and What Richard Did, discusses the challenges of bringing Sarah Waters’ class-conscious ghost story, The Little Stranger, to the big screen.

“All good ghost stories are about something else,” begins Irish director Lenny Abrahamson when talking about his latest project, The Little Stranger, an adaption of Sarah Waters’ Booker Prize-shortlisted novel.

Read the full article here

TimeOut - The Rider

TimeOut - The Rider

Chloé Zhao breathes fresh life into the modern western with a mesmerising cowboy story.

This beautiful, contemplative docudrama empathetically examines the psychological and physical impact on a cowboy of no longer being able to do what he was born to do. With it, Chinese director Chloé Zhao has breathed new life into the modern western.

Read the full review here

Director Matthew Jones on The Man from Mo’Wax

Director Matthew Jones on The Man from Mo’Wax

Twenty years on from the release of Unkle’s Psyence Fiction, a new documentary explores the remarkable life and career of Mo’Wax founder, James Lavelle.

By 1998 it was clear that britpop was on the wane. Oasis, the band that came to define the era, had released their third album, Be Here Now, and their ingredients were starting to go stale. By the end of August of the same year, James’ Best Of compilation album sat at number one in the album charts, with James Horner’s sentimental soundtrack to Titanic at number two. It may not have sunk, but the UK’s music scene was certainly in the doldrums.

Read the full feature here

Faces Places - PictureHouse Spotlight

Faces Places - PictureHouse Spotlight

More than a decade after The Beaches Of Agnès was released, the Belgian filmmaker Agnès Varda returns with her deeply charming and insightful film, Faces Places, which hits cinemas the year of her 90th birthday.

Read the full article here

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

After 25 years, Gilliam’s Don Quixote is finally here, and it’s a manic, muddled delight that manages to enchant.

At last, Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ exists in the real world. What has to be one of the most well-documented troubled productions in movie history has now actually been seen by an audience.

Read the full review here.

71st Cannes Film Festival - The Skinny

71st Cannes Film Festival - The Skinny

A Selection of films I covered at the the 71st Cannes Film Festival for The Skinny.

You can read the reviews and articles here.

Cannes 2018: Whitney review

Cannes 2018: Whitney review

One year on from the release of Nick Broomfield’s Whitney: Can I Be Me, Kevin MacDonald’s Whitney proves that there is always room for another documentary on the pop music icon. With access to close family and friends, MacDonald’s emotional documentary seeks to unearth just how one of the world’s greatest singers came to such a tragic end.

Read the full article here

Director Clio Barnard on ‘Dark River’ and the drama of rural life

Director Clio Barnard on ‘Dark River’ and the drama of rural life

If there is one thing that links Clio Barnard’s three feature films to date, it’s her rapport with the landscapes of Yorkshire. Her much-lauded experimental 2010 docu-drama The Arbor, which explored the all-too-short life of playwright Andrea Dunbar, took place on the Buttershaw Estate in Bradford.

Read the full article here.

Pioneer of wifi, GPS and the on-screen orgasm – 10 surprising facts about Hedy Lamarr

Pioneer of wifi, GPS and the on-screen orgasm – 10 surprising facts about Hedy Lamarr

Remembered as a screen icon and ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’, she was also a self-starting inventor whose innovations led to wifi, GPS and Bluetooth. So what else don’t we know about the secret life of Hedy Lamarr?

Read the full article here

The Death of Stalin and the art of screen swearing

The Death of Stalin and the art of screen swearing

In May 2005 Armando Iannucci and his team of writers changed the landscape of British television satire when their political comedy series The Thick of It aired for the first time. While it dealt with the same subject matter as the more genteel 1980s sitcom Yes Minister — the machinations of British politicians — the dialogue sounded more like Pulp Fiction, with Peter Capaldi’s foul-mouthed political enforcer Malcolm Tucker taking a verbal hatchet to whoever crossed his path. Both The Thick of It and its Washington-set American successor Veep contain some of the most dexterous swearing and confidence-crushing put-downs ever to grace the small screen. The coruscatingly bad language, though undeniably offensive to sensitive ears, has often had audiences taken aback by its sheer inventiveness as well as howling with laughter. It has become a trademark element in the work of Iannucci and his writing team.

Read the rest of the article here. 

Patti Cake$ - Crack Magazine

Patti Cake$ - Crack Magazine

A review take from the print edition of CRACK magazine - An independent platform for contemporary culture. 

Wind River - Picturehouse Recommends

Wind River - Picturehouse Recommends

Many people know Taylor Sheridan for penning the screenplays for Denis Villeneuve’s heart-thumping thriller, Sicario, and David Mackenzie’s gritty neo-western, Hell Or High Water. Capping off his ‘frontier trilogy’, he steps behind the camera for Wind River – an investigative thriller set amidst the snow-covered plains of Wyoming.

Sheridan has quickly established himself as a screenwriter of merit, crafting tense tales and lean scripts loaded with crackling dialogue. He doesn’t beat around the bush with his themes — his characters are often open books, but never simplistic. Simply put, when he’s attached to a film, your ears should perk up.

Read the full article here

(image taken from the print magazine available at all Picturehouse cinemas) 

Hotel Salvation director: ‘I like to watch a little comedy every day. If I didn’t, how would I maintain sanity?’

Hotel Salvation director: ‘I like to watch a little comedy every day. If I didn’t, how would I maintain sanity?’

At 26, Kolkata-born Shubhashish Bhutiani is already making waves as a director. Aged 21, he wrote and directed Kush, a Venice prize-winning short film about the 1984 assassination of Indira Gandhi and the subsequent anti-Sikh riots following her death. Now his feature debut, Hotel Salvation, arrives in the UK with a shelf full of awards to its name, including a prize from UNESCO.

Hotel Salvation follows Daya (Lalit Behl) who, following what he believes to be a prophetic dream, becomes convinced that death is only weeks away and so decides to travel to the holy city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges, to die in peace. His dutiful son, Rajiv (Adil Hussain), has mixed feelings about his father’s decision but decides to put work on hold and travel with his father. What plays out is a touching, delicate exploration of a father-son relationship, told with gentle humour against the backdrop of an ancient city coming to terms with modernity, as well as a frank and open-hearted exploration of what it means to die.

Read the full article here 

john boyega discusses the parallels between dalston in 2017 and the detroit riots in 1967

john boyega discusses the parallels between dalston in 2017 and the detroit riots in 1967

As Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit lands in UK cinemas, John Boyega discusses his approach to acting and why he has no time for clickbait political commentary.

There is a chilling interrogation scene in Kathryn Bigelow's latest film Detroit, where John Boyega delivers a gut-twisting performance. His lip quivers and his eyes widen as he realises that the cops are trying to pin a crime on him that he didn't commit. However, the brutal, unsettling and raw scene is in direct contrast to the John sitting opposite in a London hotel to discuss his performance. He's smiling and, despite having talked about it again, and again, for the past month or so, still eager to discuss the film. 

Detroit is based on historical facts, carefully gathered by Bigelow and her writing collaborator Mark Boal, who she worked with on Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Her previous films are likewise based on factual events, but like many a director, Bigelow won't let the facts get in the way of a good story. Detroit is definitely her most brutal film to date, full of Bigelow's gift for generating tension and unafraid of showing violence.

Read the full article here

The Secret Life of Whitney Houston

The Secret Life of Whitney Houston

We spoke to documentary maker Nick Broomfield about his new film, 'Whitney: Can I Be Me'.

Nick Broomfield has always courted controversy. His first film, Juvenile Liaison, remains banned in the UK – an act of censorship he felt so strongly about that he packed up shop and moved to the States. Lately, the subjects of his films have leaned towards tabloid sensationalism, looking at the lives of the famous in all forms, from serial killers (Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer) to politicians (Sarah Palin: You Betcha!). However, he never takes the superficial red-top approach. For Broomfield, it's about what that fame masks.

The documentary maker is well known for his diligent research, as he tramps the streets, boom-mic in hand, speaking with unlikely candidates to unearth the real story as he finds it. His approach is always to peel back the mainstream narrative and locate the reality behind the media propaganda. His latest documentary is no different – although absent of his trademark "door-stepping' approach – as he traces the rise and fall of Whitney Houston in Whitney: Can I Be Me.

Read the full article here. 

70th Cannes Film Festival Coverage

70th Cannes Film Festival Coverage

In May 2017, I attended the Cannes Film Festival providing review coverage for The Skinny. Below is an extract from my 5-star review of Sean Baker's second feature, The Florida Project. 

Frenzied, colourful and heart-breaking, Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is a remarkable feat of filmmaking. Following on from his breakthrough film Tangerine, which looked at the lives of two transgender sex workers and was shot on a modified iPhone 5, this film also opts to look at the lives of the disenfranchised.

Reuniting with screenwriter Chris Bergoch, The Florida Project takes place among vibrantly coloured $35 a night motels located a stone's throw-away from the blue-tipped spires of Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Willem Dafoe co-stars, and it’s a role like no other he has taken on before. He plays the motel's manager, Bobby, who has the unfavourable task of fixing ice-machines, debt collecting and dealing with the woes of the poverty-line tenants. He’s kind but worn down, trying as best he can while contending with his demanding boss who sets him an endless list of menial tasks.

Read my coverage of the 70th Cannes Film Festival Here. 

Digital Love: why cinema can't get enough of cyberpunk

Digital Love: why cinema can't get enough of cyberpunk

ode streams across a computer screen; hackers bark at each other in techno-jargon and hammer at keyboards; the real world seamlessly shifts into the virtual, and back again. This is the sort of scene that is instantly recognisable as a cyberpunk film, the subgenre of sci-fi that meshes together technology and counterculture – of which Ghost in the Shell, the live-action remake of the Japanese anime classic, is the latest high-profile example.

It is little surprise that cyberpunk has proved irresistible for many film-makers over the decades since the term was coined, by the author Bruce Bethke, in the early 1980s. With its visions of postapocalyptic futures, advanced technologies and virtual realms, they get to pack their films with visual effects to sweeten the (red) pill, while wrestling with weighty existential themes. 

Read the full article here

Five classic London films that helped inspire City of Tiny Lights

Five classic London films that helped inspire City of Tiny Lights

Dredd director Pete Travis reveals the films that helped shape his contemporary portrait of London, City of Tiny Lights.

“I have lived in London going on 30 years now, most of my adult life, and very rarely do I see the London I know up on the big screen,” explains British director Pete Travis, whose film City of Tiny Lights opens in UK cinemas this week.

A world away from Travis’ last feature, Dredd (2012), an adaptation of the 2000 AD comic strip, his latest film, based on the book by Patrick Neate, stars Riz Ahmed and Billie Piper, in a noirish thriller set in contemporary west London.

The story takes place in areas little seen on the big screen, including the locals of Kensal Rise and Acton Town, where characters navigate mosques, clubs and pubs, as silhouettes of London’s Westway and Ernő Goldfinger’s brutalist Trelick Tower dominate the skyline. It is in west London where we meet private investigator Tommy Akhtar (Ahmed), a born and bred Londoner, who becomes embroiled with the disappearance of a Russian sex-worker, drawing him into a world of corruption and religious fanaticism.

Read the full article here

You Are to Blame for Gentrification

You Are to Blame for Gentrification

The team behind new film 'A Moving Image' share their experiences of a disappearing South London.

"I told Shola to use my story because Brixton was somewhere that I grew up, and now I feel as if I am no longer welcome," says Rienkje Attoh, the producer of A Moving Image, the first feature from writer and director Shola Amoo.

The gentrification of London, particularly Brixton, is at the heart of A Moving Image. While it's a subject pertinent to Londoners, gentrification is an issue that has impacted everywhere from Berlin to New York, as the film reflects. Property is overpriced, rent is going up, chain stores have replaced family businesses. The result, as Amoo and Attoh show, is the displacement of communities across the capital, sanitising the boroughs and stripping them of their individuality.

Read the full article here

End of empire: why Bollywood needs to grasp India's story

End of empire: why Bollywood needs to grasp India's story

Seven decades after independence, Indian cinema is still struggling to depict the Raj, leaving its screen depictions – from Gandhi to colonial racism – to be viewed almost solely through British eyes

In 1968, 20 years after Indian independence and partition, producer-director duo Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas released Carry On Up the Khyber in British cinemas. It was a raunchy, imperialistic romp, set against the backdrop of the Raj – the British colonial rule in India that lasted till 1947.

Looking back, the Carry On humour hasn’t dated well. Not only is the sexist slap-and-tickle at odds with modern sensibilities but the film is awash with casual racism. Bernard Bresslaw and Kenneth Williams “brown-up” to play the not-so-hilariously named Bungdit Din and the Khasi of Khalabar, while Sidney James yak-yak-yaks away with his lustful eyes fixed on buxom Brits dressed in saris.

On 15 August, India will have been 70 years free of British rule. A fledgling age for a country, but one that has long been the subject of British cinema, from directors of both Indian-British and white-British backgrounds. The racial stereotypes of Carry On Up the Khyber would never make it to screen today, although browning up isn’t so distant a memory – the late Christopher Lee did play Pakistan’s founder Jinnah as recently as 1998. Depictions of the Raj, and the independence and partitioning of India have evolved, as much as the constraints of a period drama will allow. But how far have they come since the seismic events of 1947 that led to independence?

Read the full article here. 

* I was not responsible for the title. 

barry jenkins on moonlight, black identity and homosexuality

barry jenkins on moonlight, black identity and homosexuality

February 2016. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs takes the stage to announce the 88th Academy Award nominees. Of the actors nominated not one is a person of colour. The reaction was one of outrage. For the second year in a row, black actors had been snubbed. It was an event that triggered the #OscarSoWhite movement which saw Spike Lee and Ava DuVernay, along with Michael Moore and Will Smith, announcing they would not be attending the ceremony, and droves turning to Twitter to express their outrage.

This year it's a very different story. While the all-singing-all-dancing homage to Tinsel Town La La Land leads the way in the awards race, three films about black identity are also in for top prizes, Hidden Figures, Fences and Moonlight, the second feature film from Miami born director Barry Jenkins.

Read the full article here

This New Spielberg Biography is an Original Take on the Celebrated Director's Work

This New Spielberg Biography is an Original Take on the Celebrated Director's Work

As a veteran film critic for the Village Voice and Vogue, as well as a pioneer of feminist film criticism, Molly Haskell might seem an odd choice to write a biography of Steven Spielberg. He is, after all, a director well known for making films that give short shrift to female characters. And then there's the fact she's a Gentile. 

While the choice is unconventional, it becomes quickly apparent from reading her slim volume, Steven Spielberg: A Life in Filmsfor the ‘Jewish Lives’ series from Yale University, that Haskell was a shrewd choice. Free from concerns that might be leveled by critics, she states, “I didn’t worry about not being Jewish—let others do that,” and adds the wise words, “I believe there should be no bars of race, ethnicity, or gender to writing.” She gets on with her task with scholarly dedication and a lyrical, often humorous, prose. More significantly, being a woman writing about a man almost solely focused on male-centric stories, she recognizes she might actually have an advantage in contributing something new to the fray.

Read the full article here. 

McGregor, Bremner, Carlyle & Miller on Trainspotting 2

McGregor, Bremner, Carlyle & Miller on Trainspotting 2

The long-awaited sequel to Trainspotting is here. The film’s four stars – Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner and Robert Carlyle – reflect on returning to their iconic characters after two decades

 

The year that saw Take That split up, Fergie divorce Prince Andrew, and a genetically engineered sheep called Dolly enter the world, we were also introduced to four lads from Leith in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting.

It was a frenzied, drug-addled trip into the working-class Edinburgh borough (although most of the film was shot in Glasgow) that brazenly screamed “choose life”. Grit and fantasy collided. Iconic images emerged, including our hero crawling into ‘the worst toilet in Scotland’, while Underworld’s Born Slippy and Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life blared on the soundtrack. It was a different side to the Edinburgh of tartan and Greyfriars Bobby peddled by the tourist board; a place where heroin addiction was rampant, and the spirit of punk was refusing to die.

Read the full article here

Rogue One: the CGI resurrection of Peter Cushing is thrilling – but is it right?

Rogue One: the CGI resurrection of Peter Cushing is thrilling – but is it right?

“We want to scan you, all of you, your body, your face, your emotions, your laughter, your tears. We want to sample you, preserve you. We want to own this thing called Robin Wright.” These are the unnerving words from Danny Huston’s Jeff Green in sci-fi film The Congress, as he discusses the idea of digitally capturing the actor for generations to come. Once her image is handed over, she will lose all creative control of how it is used – the studio owns her for all time.

It’s hard not to think of these words when watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in which the late Hammer legend Peter Cushing returns to the screen for the latest instalment of the franchise.

* I was not responsible for the title. 

Read the full article here

Six films you should watch before you see La La Land

Six films you should watch before you see La La Land

Golden Globe winner La La Land is an intoxicating tribute to Hollywood and the classic musical. You’ll enjoy it even more if you catch these movies first.

After sweeping up seven Golden Globes, Damien Chazelle’s spangling tribute to Tinseltown, La La Land, is confirmed as one of this winter’s hottest tickets. Cut in the mould of the classic musicals of yesteryear, Chazelle’s third feature film as director, following wide acclaim for his 2015 drumming drama, Whiplash, is a boy-meets-girl romance with a distinctly nostalgic twist. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star as struggling young artists battling the odds in pursuit of their dreams, who fall in love against the backdrop of the Hollywood hills.

While it pays notable homage to musicals of the 1950s and 60s, La La Land is also an idiosyncratic, deeply contemporary picture that enraptures the senses. Key to the success of Chazelle’s film, which he both wrote and directed, is the director’s ability to cherry pick from golden oldies of the genre and beyond, while also artfully unveiling his own take on life and love in contemporary Los Angeles.

Read the full article here

Liam Neeson on A Monster Calls & Silence

Liam Neeson on A Monster Calls & Silence

Liam Neeson shows off the range of his "very particular set of skills" this month by starring in both kids' fairy tale A Monster Calls and Martin Scorsese's God-questioning epic Silence. The actor discusses his action star persona, CGI wizardry and faith.

 

In recent years, Liam Neeson has been best-known for becoming a late-blooming action hero, having appeared in the financially successful Taken films and various other movies of a similar ilk. The 64-year-old Irish-born actor has been as surprised by his latent action star status as anyone. “People keep sending me scripts for action movies, and I turn around to my agent and say, 'Do they know what fecking age I am?' Maybe another 18 months of them, but then I think audiences won’t want it.”

Looking back on the first Taken film, he had no idea it was going to be a watershed movie that would launch his career in a whole new direction. “When the first movie happened I thought that it was a straight-to-video movie,” he says before adding: “I am not judging how the film was made, because I think that it is a cool little European thriller.”

Read the full article here

Jim Jarmusch on the Poetry of Paterson

Jim Jarmusch on the Poetry of Paterson

Jim Jarmusch is sitting in a boutique hotel in Paris explaining the meaning of the universe. "I think the secret is going with the grain of things. I am a worrier, so I am always trying to be present and not worry about things in the future because it is a waste of my energy." He looks as you would expect, his trademark shock of white hair, dark suit, chunky silver rings, and sunglasses, with the only sign of his sixty years being small half-moons on the bottom half of his tinted specs for reading. Otherwise he looks little different from when he made Permanent Vacation 36 years ago.

Read the full interview 
 

Daniel Radcliffe on Swiss Army Man & Imperium

Daniel Radcliffe on Swiss Army Man & Imperium

With two releases in as many weeks, former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe discusses what he is looking for in his future

Ever since 2012, when Daniel Radcliffe starred as Arthur Kipps in the film adaptation of Susan Hill’s Woman in Black, the former Harry Potter star has taken an eclectic approach to chosen roles in the hopes of staving off the dreaded fate of many a child star – obscurity.

It's become clear that he needn't have worried, as since the Harry Potter series drew to a close in 2011 he has never been short of work. Radcliffe's starred in nine films (including Kill Your Darlings and Victor Frankenstein), a TV movie (My Boy Jack), and featured alongside John Hamm in the BBC’s adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s A Young Doctor's Notebook. That's not to mention the rave reviews from critics for his theatre work, most notably in 2007 (at the time of peak Potter fame) when he appeared in an adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Equus sans clothes.

Read the full article here

Viggo Mortensen Talks Fame, Art and 'Captain Fantastic'

Viggo Mortensen Talks Fame, Art and 'Captain Fantastic'

The real Viggo Mortensen is often confused with the characters he plays. And you can see why. Since Lord of the Rings, he's played on his image as the wild man of film, living in the hinterlands of art house and foreign language movies. Away from the camera, he paints abstract paintings and writes poetry. He releases music with Buckethead. He lends his name to custom-made knives.

All of these are hobbies that make you think there's a fair bit of crossover between the man himself and the man we see on our screens. So when I meet him to talk about his role in Matt Ross' new film Captain Fantastic, it doesn't surprise me to find him drinking what looks like tea from a strange-looking gourd – which a quick google reveals to be a traditional Argentinian drinking cup. He grew up in the South American country with his family for the first ten years of his life, and its crockery seems to have made a lasting impression.... 

You can read the full piece here

A Fresh Perspective on the Gentrification of London

A Fresh Perspective on the Gentrification of London

Shola Amoo is South London through and through. His first short, Knife Crime London, which he made at Uni, was a personal piece, documenting his friend who had been victim of an attack, giving a different take to the stories in the media at the time. He has always cared about stories from his home borough, wanting to tell stories that give a fresh perspective on the area, stories that reflect the real vitality of the local community.

A graduate of the The Royal Court and Soho Theatre Young Writers Groups, and having three shorts under his belt, he has now made his first feature-length film, A Moving Image. Again, he is focusing on his native South London, asking questions many of us find too uncomfortable to ask about what is happening to Brixton, a place that has been home to African and Caribbean communities starting with the Windrush generation of 1948.

You can read the full piece here

Young love in the south of France: Andrew Steggall on Departure

Young love in the south of France: Andrew Steggall on Departure

“The main tool, for me, is the actor,” begins first-time feature director Andrew Steggall, whose drama, Departure, has recently opened in UK cinemas. Coming from a theatre and opera background, and also having worked as an actor in the West End, Steggall is an actor’s director.

His feature film, backed by the BFI and released by LGBT distributor Peccadillo Pictures, is a pensive coming-of-age-tale. We follow the journey of Elliot (Alex Lawther, last seen as a young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game), a sensitive teenage boy who is spending the summer in the south of France with his middle-aged mother, Beatrice (Juliet Stevenson). Beatrice spends her day packing up their summer home, growing more distant from her son by the day as she confronts the reality that her marriage is in freefall.

Read the full piece here

45 Years: ‘The UK has a blind spot for dramas about middle-class emotions’

45 Years: ‘The UK has a blind spot for dramas about middle-class emotions’

“There is a thread that goes through all of my work. Thematically the same things interest me, and they are in everything I do,” says director Andrew Haigh of his work to date.

Haigh’s work is laced with the themes of love and choice – potent subject matters in his hands, as shown with his 2011 breakout feature Weekend, which pushed the boundaries of the potential for LGBT cinema. The story, which was written, directed and edited by Haigh, is a compelling examination of modern love that follows two young gay men who find that their one-night stand blossoms into something much more significant. Haigh considers Weekend a career-defining moment. “After the release of the film my career changed dramatically. It meant that people were interested in developing my projects, which was a nice change, and it also led to working on the HBO drama Looking.”

Prior to Weekend, Haigh made a low-budget docu-drama entitled Greek Pete. It was made for less than £5,000 and was a turning point in Haigh’s career as a director. “I finally felt that I could call myself a filmmaker, which was a first for me. Whether or not the film was totally realised or successful, it gave people some confidence that I could make a feature.”

Read the full piece here

FILM REVIEW: GHOSTBUSTERS

FILM REVIEW: GHOSTBUSTERS

Paul Feig's Ghostbusters reboot has already suffered from a pre-release backlash in certain corners of the internet as fans debated whether it could live up to the 1984 original. For many, the idea of meddling with a film so fondly remembered from childhood by a generation who grew up in the 1980s is tantamount to heresy, even if Feig's previous features SpyThe Heat and Bridesmaids were standout comedy hits in their own right. Arguments have also raged online among a subsection of die-hard fans over the fact that four women, all of whom have their own weighty comedy credentials, would be taking the lead roles.

Read a selection of my reviews from CineVue here. 

BFI Filmmakers Magazine - A Syrian Love Story

BFI Filmmakers Magazine - A Syrian Love Story

BFI Filmmakers Magazine - A Syrian Love Story 

Sean McAllister is a master of unearthing fascinating stories in countries engulfed in civil revolutions.

His award-winning documentaries have taken him to a slew of countries in the Middle East during turbulent times, including Iraq and Yemen, but it’s his latest turn behind the lens for A Syrian Love Story that offered up one of the director’s gravest challenges to date.

Filmed across five years, the revolutionary documentary (which snapped up the prestigious Grand Jury prize at Sheffield DocFest in June) is a potent portrait of a family as they flee Syria during the ongoing civil war while chronicling their ability to cope with the pressures of leaving their native and beloved land for their own safety.

“I was really struggling to get this film commissioned,” recalls McAllister. “But I wanted to explore secular Syria.”

McAllister says that had the documentary been commissioned at any point, it would be an entirely different film.

“It would have been a film about that year and the Arab Spring,” he says. “Ironically the film is better for audiences because it wasn’t commissioned. For the first time in my life, I have a collection of material from over five years.” 

Read the full article on the BFI website

The BFI Filmmakers Magazine - Ethel & Ernest

The BFI Filmmakers Magazine - Ethel & Ernest

The BFI Filmmakers Magazine - Ethel & Ernest 

Hollywood may continue to rule the international animation sector but the UK film industry is ramping up its efforts to make a mark in this space.

Recently, companies like Aardman Studios have made their imprint in the market with their stop-motion features such as Shaun the Sheep. Hand-drawn animated features, however, tend to be few and far between but London-based Lupus Films is looking to address this with a full-length feature of Raymond Briggs’ graphic novel Ethel & Ernest.

Roger Mainwood, an animator on a raft of Briggs’ film and TV adaptations includingThe Snowman and the Snowdog (2012) and Christmas classic The Snowman (1982), is set to direct the story, which chronicles the lives of Briggs’ parents from their first meeting in 1928 to their deaths in 1971.

Read the full article on the BFI Website 

The Guardian (Membership) - 'William Gibson's digital thumbprint, from Neuromancer to Interstellar'

The Guardian (Membership) - 'William Gibson's digital thumbprint, from Neuromancer to Interstellar'

The Guardian (Membership) - 'William Gibson's digital thumbprint, from Neuromancer to Interstellar' 

Back in 1999, William Gibson, along with a group of friends, held a private film festival where they watched “films that were shot without the benefit of, well, film”. He wrote up the experience in Wired magazine, where he discussed watching Thomas Vinterberg’s The Celebration, Rick Elgood and Don Letts’s Dancehall Queen and Hal Hartley’s The Book of Life featuring singer PJ Harvey. Gibson also mused on the impact digital technology would have on celluloid. With the benefit of hindsight, his piece, like his novel Neuromancer, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, possesses certain prescience.

Gibson’s relationship with film – and, in particular, sci-fi films – is complex and long-standing. While there is yet to be a film of his tale of drug-addled hackers living in a world of mega-corporations and surgically enhanced bodyguards, the impact that Neuromancer and Gibson has had on sci-fi films is worthy of more mainstream consideration.

Read the full feature here on The Guardian. 

The Guardian - My Favourite Hitchcock: Under Capricorn

The Guardian - My Favourite Hitchcock: Under Capricorn

The Guardian - My Favourite Hitchcock: Under Capricorn

Historical romances are not what audiences traditionally associate with Alfred Hitchcock. Yet in 1949, after returning from America, this was the story he decided to tell – although it almost never saw the light of day. If Under Capricorn is not Hitch's crowning glory, it is undeniably his most underrated film.

The story opens as the new governor of New South Wales arrives in Australia with his dandy relative Charles Adare, played with a deliciously camp swagger by Michael Wilding. In an attempt to find his fortune, Adare meets the roguish Sam Flusky (Joseph Cotten). He is married to Charles's childhood friend Lady Henrietta, a woman who spends her days in a gothic colonial mansion, drinking her mysterious past away. Due to the wily schemes of the witch-like housekeeper Milly (a shockingly brilliant performance by Margaret Leighton), Flusky becomes jealous of Adare's affections for his wife.

Read the full piece on The Guardian

Film4 - Dom Hemingway Review

Film4 - Dom Hemingway Review

Film4 Dom Hemmingway 

Typically, Jude Law is the epitome of clean-shaven handsomeness: think of the preppy and obnoxious Dickie in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) with his piercing green eyes, or that boyish-ruggedness he possessed in Cold Mountain (2003). In Dom Hemingway, he not only detours from any semblance of that pretty-boy image, he positively runs away from it.

We open to a vein-throbbing, red-faced Law expounding for all he’s worth on the merits of his ‘exquisite’ member - a scene which certainly grabs the attention and sets the scene....

To read the full review please visit Film4

Canvas By Grolsch -  Cannes Film Festival Review- Macbeth

Canvas By Grolsch - Cannes Film Festival Review- Macbeth

Canvas By Grolsch -  Cannes Film Festival Review- Macbeth

Orson Welles had a crack at it in 1948, as did Roman Polanski in 1971. Over the years, there have been various adaptations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. So you’d be forgiven for asking: why did Justin Kurzel, director of the downbeat Aussie drama Snowtown, decide to take on the Scottish play?

Any concerns about this latest adaption, however, swiftly evaporated with the news that Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard would be tackling the lead roles of the doomed Scottish usurper and his politicking wife.

Kurzel opens the film at a graveside in the mist-drenched Highlands, where Macbeth and his lady, shrouded in black, gaze on at the body of their dead child. This scene is key to understand what makes Kurzel's take on the Scottish play so original. Cotillard’s Lady Macbeth is a woman tortured by grief, as is Macbeth, who witnesses his son butchered in battle in a bid to preserve King Duncan’s (David Thewlis) throne.

This twist affords the audience a fresh approach to the well-known play while breathing new life into material many of us were tortured by for our GCSEs. The nuance with which Cotillard approaches the role is breathtaking. She is motived by grief rather than hysteria, manipulating her husband for her own ends – admittedly this traditional aspect of the character isn’t entirely absent; she still uses her womanly ways to convince him to kill. While Kurzel’s interpretation is a far cry from a feminist reading of the character, it does feel tremendously fresh.

Read the full review on Canvas By Grolsch 

You can read my reviews on Canvas By Grolsch, including Cannes Coverage here. 

Film3Sixty -  Berlin Film Review - Midnight Special

Film3Sixty - Berlin Film Review - Midnight Special

Film3Sixty - Berlin Film Review - Midnight Special

Following on from 2012’s ‘Mud’, Jeff Nichols returns with the genre-defying and sumptuous looking ‘Midnight Special’, a film that blends road movie with sci-fi, all wrapped in a compelling family drama, bolstered by heart-felt and affecting performances from the lead cast.

There is more than a little of Spielberg’s influence in Nichol’s latest feature, especially the treatment of the film’s central protagonist Alton – a boy who can tune into radios and satellites, as well as eerily emit electric-blue light from his eyes. Alton is a quiet child, cheerily reading old Superman comics in the back of battered car driven by his father (Michael Shannon) and his father’s childhood friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton), decked out with ear defenders and blue swimming goggles giving him an other-worldly, almost amphibian appearance.

It is difficult to reveal much of the plot without spoiling the impact of the narrative, but needless to say, Nichols has cherry-picked from a range of genres paying homage to the tone of ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ (1977), a little ‘Poltergeist’ (1982), and a lot of ‘E.T.’ (1982) especially in the treatment of the non-nuclear family at the centre of the drama.

Read the full review on Film3Sixty

You can watch a series of interviews I have edited, as well as some I conducted by clicking here.

Film3Sixty - Man Up

Film3Sixty - Man Up

Film3Sixty - Man Up - Interview with Lake Bell

After starring in such American television series as ER (1994-2009) andBoston Legal (2004-2008), American actress Lake Bell hit the big-screen mainstream by taking on supporting roles in romantic comedies Over Her Dead Body (2008) – alongside Paul Rudd – and What Happens in Vegas(2008) with Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher.


A string of similar films followed until Bell made her debut in 2013 as a writer-director with In a World…, a comedy set in the competitive – and patriarchal – world of voice-over artistry that was both financially and critically successful.

Bell returns in front of the camera with British rom-com Man Up (2015), the latest film from The Inbetweeners Movie (2011) director Ben Palmer which is based on a script by first-time writer Tess Morris. Bell plays the lead role of Nancy, a thirty-something singleton who, after being initially mistaken for a stranger’s (played by Simon Pegg) blind date, finds the perfect boyfriend, all the while finally starting to sort out her life.

Watch the interview on YouTube

You can watch a series of interviews I have edited, as well as some I conducted by clicking here.

VICE - Meeting William Gibson, the Father of Cyberpunk

VICE - Meeting William Gibson, the Father of Cyberpunk

VICE - Meeting William Gibson, the Father of Cyberpunk

Standing in the corner of a Foyle's on Charing Cross Road is William Gibson, the father of cyberpunk. This place – a clinical, strip-lit bookshop – is light years away from the seedy, dystopian underworlds depicted in his novels. A shitty bar somewhere in Rotherhithe would be a more appropriate venue – or, at the very least, the Computer Exchange round the corner on Tottenham Court Road.

At 66, Gibson is a slight man, softly spoken, affable and clearly drained from endless rounds of interviews for his new book, The Peripheral. He's the man, not the legend, standing in the corner while a hired pianist knocks out generic filler music to the milling crowd, who, disappointingly, are dressed nothing like the cast of the Gibson-inspired film The Matrix. 

Thirty years ago Gibson changed sci-fi writing forever with his breakout hit,Neuromancer, spawning a new genre: cyberpunk. His novel was a crazed, delirious trip through cyberspace (a word he's famous for inventing) about a down-on-his-luck hustler and ex-hacker named Case who lives in the Sprawl, a Megalopolis of urban decay with a sky "the colour of television, turned to a dead channel".

Read the full interview on VICE.