Festivals
In Jackson Heights review: a celebration of strength through community

In Jackson Heights review: a celebration of strength through community

Frederick Wiseman’s fascination with institutions and social structure continues with his latest, a documentary about the Queens neighbourhood of Jackson Heights. Although mainly Hispanic it contains a staggeringly diverse demographic: 167 different languages are spoken in this tiny patch of New York City. As with former Wiseman films, the micro illuminates the macro, and this...
Remainder review: an ambitious, complex adaptation

Remainder review: an ambitious, complex adaptation

Despite Tom McCarthy’s novel Remainder being deeply entrenched in visuals, it seemed a significant challenge to translate his elusively brilliant ideas into cinematic form. Fortunately artist turned screenwriter and director Omer Fast has done so very cleverly, effectively translating the novel’s complexity to the screen. The backstory has been extended to provide stronger narrative structure,...
Men and Chicken review: truly weird but not especially wonderful

Men and Chicken review: truly weird but not especially wonderful

For the first half hour of Anders Thomas Jensen’s Men and Chicken, I was relaxing into the idea that what we had on our hands was Step Brothers Danish-style: a slapstick exploration of family discord and resolution with an aesthetic less apple-pie and more Grimms’ Fairy Tales. We meet two cleft-lipped brothers, Elias and Gabriel,...
Suffragette review: a timely, powerful feminist story

Suffragette review: a timely, powerful feminist story

Despite being set over a hundred years ago, Suffragette is a timely film, with the message that when the most vulnerable in society are continually belittled and ignored by those with privilege and power, something has to give. Carey Mulligan is our heroine, Maud Watts, a fictional creation rather than historical figure. Still in her...
Grandma review: a spotlight performance for Lily Tomlin

Grandma review: a spotlight performance for Lily Tomlin

Although American Pie put him on the map, it’s interesting that writer/director Paul Weitz’s biggest critical success to date is About a Boy, a cross-generational friendship tale full of charm and, some might argue, carefully controlled schmaltz. Here again, though this time without his co-director brother Chris, Weitz explores how the age-gap narrative can allow...
Beasts of No Nation review: a political classic in the making

Beasts of No Nation review: a political classic in the making

Netflix has grown remarkably from its original online streaming days, producing its own shows and now movies. While some may show disdain for what is essentially a TV network embarking in film production, Beasts of No Nation is a great first movie for the company’s new distribution efforts. Available simultaneously online and in theatres, this...
The Club review: an unflinching examination of abuse

The Club review: an unflinching examination of abuse

This strong fifth film from Chilean director Pablo Larraín is an unflinching examination of the influence of the Catholic Church and its role in covering up the many and varied offences of its members. The Club’s subjects are the residents of a Vatican-funded house in a remote Chilean village, a refuge for priests deemed unfit...
Preview: 10 films to put on your radar at BFI London Film Festival 2015

Preview: 10 films to put on your radar at BFI London Film Festival 2015

240 films from 72 countries. 16 cinemas across London. 12 days. One Festival. These are the essential numbers encapsulating the 59th edition of the BFI London Film Festival that returns to the British capital once again, like every autumn, with a stunningly rich programme running October 7-18. From the UK premiere of some of this...
East End Film Festival: Atlantic

East End Film Festival: Atlantic

The haunting sounds of Fettah’s voice informing Wisal of the upcoming surf, draw us into the opening montage of Atlantic. Serenity and a sense of peace are all about the primary visual escapade provided by the open sea and the waves. Every simile is afforded when juxtaposing the wind and the surf with images of...
East End Film Festival: Norfolk

East End Film Festival: Norfolk

The grainy, handheld opening shots of Norfolk indicate immediately that the next 83 minutes are going to be deeply unsettling. Rarely, if ever, does this let up. It is a very straight-faced story of revenge, forbidden love and family, confidently told by writer-director Martin Radich. At the heart of the film are a man and...
East End Film Festival: Astraea

East End Film Festival: Astraea

Appropriately, it was the hottest July week on record when I headed down to Whitechapel’s Genesis Cinema for an apocalyptic double bill as part of the East End Film Festival. Keep Moving, (pictured above), a short film by Burton Bowen, begins in a curious woodland settlement where an old man is bestowing upon our protagonist...
East End Film Festival: Soft Lad

East End Film Festival: Soft Lad

Actor Leon Lopez writes and directs his debut feature Soft Lad but unfortunately this British indie flick doesn’t quite deliver on its potentially interesting premise, instead opting to play safe leaving us with a cliché and soap-like feel. Soft Lad tells the story of twenty-two year old David (Jonny Labey) who’s just been accepted into...
East End Film Festival: Above & Below

East End Film Festival: Above & Below

The self is the universe and the universe the self, the micro and macrocosm – as above, so below. Nicolas Steiner’s documentary focuses on individuals living on the fringes of society, who are in some way adrift, and yet whose way of being brings them closer to an understanding of the world. Living in underground...
East End Film Festival: Elsewhere, NY

East End Film Festival: Elsewhere, NY

Other people’s relationships are not necessarily that fascinating. But love is; won or lost, tragically missed or fortuitously found – there is drama built into the idea of it, if not the reality. Thus in our fictional projections it’s the suspense and jeopardy, and of course the characters caught up within it, that really make...
East End Film Festival: Line Of Credit

East End Film Festival: Line Of Credit

In Salomé Alexi’s debut feature Line Of Credit (Kreditis Limiti) we are immersed in the post-Soviet decay of Tbilisi, Georgia. A man arrives to cut off the gas, a ring is pawned and a loan is entered. We meet Nino played by Nino Kasradze, a woman living precariously on the edge of an ever heightening...
East End Film Festival: Chameleon

East End Film Festival: Chameleon

Opening on the squalor that is Accra Ghana, this unique documentary by Ryan Mullins introduces us to Anas Aremeyah Anas. Deemed the ‘James Bond’ of investigative journalism, he has assumed many an identity in his pursuit of uncovering unscrupulous behavior – hence earning him the nickname, ‘the Chameleon’. Whilst his face remains a mystery we...
East End Film Festival: The Visit

East End Film Festival: The Visit

The Visit is a documentary with a difference – chiefly, that none of what it documents has ever actually happened, and perhaps never will. The film takes as its subject the hypothetical arrival of an alien craft on Earth – not to explore science fictional excitement or action, but instead to examine the very real...
East End Film Festival: God Loves The Fighter

East End Film Festival: God Loves The Fighter

Port of Spain. The Trinidad capital. A city where ‘one beating heart is worth more than a stack of diamonds’. Whilst boasting a tragic counterpoint statistic: a man getting shot every seventeen hours. Divided by the fat cats and the famished, God Loves The Fighter possesses a non-conformist and thrilling voice. Behind the camera through...
East End Film Festival: The Center

East End Film Festival: The Center

‘Make the best of what you have’. This direct quote from The Center reinforces the first point to make about filmmaker Charlie Griak’s feature debut which was executive produced by The Silence Of The Lambs‘ Oscar winning director Jonathan Demme. The film follows fresh college graduate and aspiring writer, Ryan (Matt Cici), who is looking...
East End Film Festival: The Seventh Fire

East End Film Festival: The Seventh Fire

In light of my own journey as a storyteller I find that cultural bias is significant in any attempt to pacify the facts of life. Is this film biased toward a white agenda? The Seventh Fire, a documentary about the Native American gang crisis in Minnesota attempts to placate those very facts: an agenda propagated...
East End Film Festival: Ghadi

East End Film Festival: Ghadi

Director Amin Dora takes us on a journey into the quiet backwaters of a Lebanese suburb where we meet music teacher and father of three, Leba Seba played by George Khabbaz. This film which was Lebanon’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2014 Academy Awards, is definitely one to watch. Ghadi...
East End Film Festival: Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision Of Paradise

East End Film Festival: Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision Of Paradise

Genius. Visionary. Legend. These words are often banded about and overused to the point of meaninglessness. This very entertaining documentary, which had its world premiere yesterday at the East End Film Festival, shines some much deserved light onto a unique and radical talent. Lee Scratch Perry’s influence on modern music cannot be overstated. He was...
East End Film Festival: Where I Belong

East End Film Festival: Where I Belong

Making its world premiere at the East End Film Festival, Fritz Urschitz’s uneven feature-film debut bites off more than it can chew, leaving rich thematic ground unexplored as it gives way to soap opera dramatics and uninspiring romance. Rosemarie (Natalie Press) lives in post-war England with her father Friedrich (Matthias Habich), a formerly rich German...
East End Film Festival: The Better Angels

East End Film Festival: The Better Angels

Everyone’s well aware of what Abraham Lincoln did as President—and if you don’t, then you should be. The Better Angels, though, is more interested in how he became that man, detailing his childhood in exhaustive measure. The film is A.J. Edwards’ debut feature, shot in dirty black and white which makes comparisons to his mentor...
East End Film Festival: Generation Right

East End Film Festival: Generation Right

Generation Right is the latest documentary by Michelle Coomber looking at the politics and legacy of the late Lady Margaret Thatcher. With music composed by Eleni Hassabis offering an intoxocating backdrop to this hard-hitting film, one is taken back in time to the start of Thatcher’s undeniably unforgettable reign in British politics. With tv broadcasts,...
EastEnd Film Fest: Standby for Tape Back-Up

EastEnd Film Fest: Standby for Tape Back-Up

Trying to place Ross Sutherland’s film into any particular genre isn’t easy. The fact that it has been produced by Charlie Lyne, director of the video-essay film Beyond Clueless gives us a slight indication of the kind of film it is, but Standby for Tape Back-Up is no ordinary video-essay, nor is it an ordinary...
East End Film Festival: Elephant's Dream

East End Film Festival: Elephant’s Dream

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, the second-largest country in Africa, is normally only portrayed in terms of its troubled past and present: colonialism, civil wars, violence and corruption. But in Kristof Bilsen’s documentary Elephant’s Dream, an intriguing meditation on twenty-first century life in the African country, we are shown conflict of a rather more...
AMY

AMY

Take a walk through Camden Town and you’ll find murals and tributes to Amy Winehouse. Her rise to fame and subsequent exposure to the limelight had been fuelling tabloids’ gossip pages for some time, applauding and vilifying her in equal measure. Since her death, director Asif Kapadia has collected over 100 interviews with her friends...
Candid at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015 – Final Day

Candid at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015 – Final Day

My final day at EIFF and though my eyes are fried and my brain packed with a thousand images, I check out The Chambermaid Lynn. It’s a stylish film by writer/director Ingo Haeb, the German suburban setting suffused in lilacs, pale greens and blues in contrast to the rivers-run-deep emotions and desires of its eponymous...
Candid at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015 – Part 4

Candid at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015 – Part 4

Watched in the darkness of the EIFF Videotheque, my first film of the festival’s penultimate day is Masaharu Take’s 100 Yen Love, the story of a lost girl who finds herself through boxing. When we meet thirty-two-year-old slob Ichiko she is living at home, scratching her arse and fighting violently with her sister. Something’s got...



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