Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: MOSTLY BRITISH FILM FESTIVAL San Francisco

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,318

    MOSTLY BRITISH FILM FESTIVAL San Francisco



    12-22 February 2015

    The San Francisco Mostly British Film Festival runs at the historic Vogue Theater. Below are the festival blurbs. I've provided reviews of a few of the 23 films.



    For Filmleaf General Film Forum thread for the festival go here.

    Links to reviews:

    '71 (Yann Demange 2014)
    I, Anna (Barnaby Soutncombe 2012)
    Leslie Howard: The Man Who Gave a Damn (Thomas Hamilton 2014)
    Queen and Country (John Boorman 2014)
    Riot Club, The (Lone Scherfig 2014)
    Starred Up (David Mackenzie 2014)
    Still Life (Uberto Pasolin 2013)
    Turning, The (Jonathan auf der Heide, Tony Ayres, et al. 2013)


    List of the Films:

    ’71
    A young British soldier is accidentally abandoned by his unit following a terrifying riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. The soldier must find his way to safety through a hostile, unfamiliar landscape where it is difficult to distinguish friend from foe.
    7:00PM
    THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2015

    STARRED UP
    Jack O’Connell (“Unbroken” and ‘71”) had his breakthrough role in this powerful prison drama that pits father against son. He stars as an explosively violent teenager transferred from a young offender’s institution to an adult prison.
    9:00PM
    THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2015

    THE ANIMAL CONDITION
    This thoughtful documentary looks at three and a half years in recent Australia history when animal welfare grew from a fringe concern to a national focal point. Four young people take an investigative road trip through Australia, speaking to indigenous people along the way.
    5:00PM
    FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2015


    I, ANNA

    This moody, downbeat noir stars Charlotte Rampling as the title character, a lonely and seductive divorcee who participates in speed-dating and takes strangers home with her. A debut feature from Rampling’s son, Barnaby Southcombe, the film co-stars Gabriel Byrne as a police inspector.
    7:00PM
    FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2015

    OUR MAN IN HAVANA
    This sly black comedy boasts a screenplay by Graham Greene (based on his novel) and direction by Carol Reed. Alec Guinness plays James Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana.
    9:00PM
    FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2015

    EVERGREEN
    Jessie Matthews was England’s Ginger Rogers–except she didn’t need Fred to complete her. Matthews danced and sang in her distinctive warbling voice through numerous British musicals of the 1930s. To get more of a feeling for what made her such a success.
    11:00AM
    SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2015

    FIRST A GIRL
    Jessie Matthews plays an ingénue getting nowhere with her musical stage ambitions. Through a complicated plot twist, she appears onstage as a man posing as a woman. This story inspired “Victor Victoria” starring Julie Andrews as the cross-dresser. UK 1935 …
    1:00PM
    SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2015

    HOPE AND GLORY
    With the Oscars just a few days away Mostly British pays tribute to a wondrous British film that was nominated for five Academy Awards in 1987, including Best Picture. “Hope and Glory” is based on director John Boorman’s experiences growing up.
    3:00PM
    SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2015

    WINNIE MANDELA
    During Nelson Mandela’s incarceration, his wife Winnie assumed his mantle, becoming known as the mother of South Africa. A new biopic about this remarkable woman, played by Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”), traces her rural roots through to her meeting Mandela (a regal Terrence Howard).
    5:30PM
    SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2015

    LESLIE HOWARD: THE MAN WHO GAVE A DAMN
    Director Thomas Hamilton will introduce the film and afterwards discuss it with the audience in conversation with Ruthe Stein. This fascinating documentary will be shown for the first time in the United States at the Mostly British Film Festival.
    7:30PM
    SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2015

    HUMAN TRAFFIC
    A cult film among young people in the UK, it tells the story of five friends who spend Friday night getting wasted in Cardiff, trying — without much luck — to escape their workday hang-ups and frustrations.
    10:00PM
    SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2015

    THE BATTLES OF CORONEL AND FALKLAND ISLANDS
    This amazing British film of the silent era commemorates two decisive naval battles fought by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of WWI. It is an awe-inspiring reconstruction of naval warfare using British Admiralty battleships, shot mostly near Malta and the isles of Sicily.
    11:00AM
    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2015

    A FIELD OF BLOOD
    One unfortunate effect of Internet- dominated journalism is the demise of the old-fashioned newpaper movie, from “My Girl Friday” to “All the President’s Men.” Now along comes a series in their spirit set in the early 1980s.
    1:15PM
    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2015

    LOVE MARRIAGE IN KABUL
    This powerful documentary follows an Australian-Afghan woman Mahboba Rawi who runs a charitable foundation, Mahboba’s Promise, to support and educate orphans and widows across Afghanistan. The film focuses on her quest to unite Abdul, a boy brought up in one of her orphanages, and Fatemeh, the girl he loves who lives next door. It is no easy task.
    3:30PM
    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2015

    CHARLIE’S COUNTRY
    Aboriginal elder Charlie (David Gulpilil) becomes disillusioned with modern community life and heads off into the bush to try living like his ancestors. After things don’t go well, Charlie assesses his life to find new ways to cope. Gulpilil (“Rabbit-Proof Fence” “Crocodile Dundee,” more.
    5:15PM
    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2015

    THE TURNING
    180 mins. This film with its interlocking episodes resembles Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts,” based on Raymond Carver short stories. “The Turning” is an adaptation of 17 interlinking stories by bestselling Australian author Tim Winton. The cast is a who’s who of Aussie actors.
    7:30PM
    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2015

    GOLD
    This bittersweet, quirky comedy is about an estranged father who returns to his hometown after an absence of twelve years in order to re-connect with his daughter and ex-wife and fulfill a request of his dying father.
    5:00PM
    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2015

    JIMMY’S HALL
    Set during the tumultuous aftermath of Ireland’s 1922 Civil War, this is the true story of charismatic Irish Communist leader Jimmy Gralton, who dared to build a community hall in County Leitrim. The Catholic Church and political leaders were appalled.
    7:00PM
    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2015

    STANDBY
    This sweet- natured romantic comedy looks at what happens when an ex suddenly pops back into your life. At the Dublin airport, a distraught woman (Mad Men’s Jessica Paré) appears at a counter pleading for a flight home.
    9:15PM
    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2015

    STILL LIFE
    Eddie Marsan (“Happy-Go-Lucky” and “Ray Donovan”) stars in this haunting drama as a council social worker whose job is to find the next-of-kin when someone dies alone.
    TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2015

    MY ACCOMPLICE
    This special romantic comedy, set among the piers and promenades of Brighton, focuses on the relationship between a good-natured young Scot, a caretaker for adults with special needs, and an artistically-inclined immigrant from East Germany, working at a bakery.
    7:00PM
    TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2015

    BONOBO
    A mother is appalled when her daughter leaves law school to live in a commune of hippie misfits who in accordance with the behavior principles of the Bonobo monkey, a species for its “make love not war” philosophy.
    9:00PM
    TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2015

    EVERYDAY
    The prolific British director Michael Winterbottom (“24 Hour Party People” and “Jude”) shot “Everyday” over five years in the style of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”, following one family and their struggle to survive when the father is imprisoned for smuggling drugs.
    5:00PM
    WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2015

    Reviews follow:
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-27-2015 at 04:27 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,318

    '71 (Yann Demange 2014)

    YANN DEMANGE: '71 (2014)



    Demange's incredible Irish Troubles film gives new meaning to the phrase, "caught in the crossfire"

    Yann Demange's incredibly intense Troubles film gives us twenty-four hours in the life of English squad member Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell), suddenly stationed in Belfast (he thought he was going to be sent to Germany) and thrown into a violet, Intifada-like fray his green, patrician commanding officer and sergeant are not prepared for. A teenaged orphan with a kid brother (Harry Verity) whom we meet at the outset, Hook finds himself on the run and wounded after a comrade is killed by his side in a street clash and his unit bolts, accidentally abandoning him. He is rescued and treated by Irish allies. But he's in hostile territory -- everyone is. This non-stop historical action movie is an authentic recreation of a hot, lethal slice of the Troubles. It doesn't break things down or make them easy for us (some subtitles might have helped). From the Ulster Protestant side are the Unionists and loyalists, and on the mostly Catholic side are the Irish nationalists and republicans, and there are the Privisional IRA, and those originally on their side who have turned against them because of their brutality. And to complicate matters there are the undercover Brits of the MRF, whose officers regard themselves as outranking the English soldiers. Caught in between, Hook is told he is "just meat" -- to his government, to the Army, and to his Irish enemies.

    An initial chase scene with Hook running break-neck along back alleys and in tiny spaces behind tight houses pursued by two enemies is breathtaking, intense filmmaking. The sense of Hook's abandonment as he sits panting in a tiny space is real and vivid. From there on the film settles down into some of the machinations and mood of James Marsh's 2012 Shadow Dancer, which deals with the Troubles but in the Nineties. Except where Marsh's film stagnates at times, Damange's maintains a world-class actioner clip that never cease to impress you, grip you, and horrify you as you watch, always with the spotlight on Gary Hook to keep the action centered, despite its constant ambiguity and danger. No film has better shown how dangerous Northern Ireland at this period was or how bitter and lethal the hostilities among people were.

    And the hostility even includes those ostensibly setting out to save Hook, because there is dissension between the regular army and the intelligence officers who consider themselves and their undefined mission more important than Hook or his comrades. And what betrayals lie in wait on the Irish side? In fact while the physical suffering and danger are clearly defined, the politics and the loyalties remain lurking and ambiguous, all this amplified for an American viewer by the sometimes hard-to-decipher accents. For its sense of everything gone wrong, of war as no good for anybody (a point written into the dialogue but succinctly enough to avoid didacticism), the succinctly named '71 almost deserves comparison with a stunning anti-war film like Bernhard Wicki's 1959 The Bridge/Die Brücke ("In 1945, Germany is being overrun, and nobody is left to fight but teenagers"), which also has a long devastating action sequence.

    Yann Damange is a French-born filmaker in England who has worked largely in TV, gaining admiration and awards. In 2011 he was directing the flavorful BBC drama miniseries "Top Boy" about inner-city London estate teenagers involved in risky drug dealing. '71, his first feature, has mostly gotten deserved raves; it establishes its director as a master of understated technique and muscular, riveting action. He falters in a few lesser respects. Some might think a final shootout far-fetched or overly drawn-out; and the concluding moments are a nice enough calm-down but fairly routine. But these are minor quibbles. In his Variety review Guy Lodge describes Jack McConnell as a "rapidly rising star," and indeed intense as his role is here, one easily imagines him capable of more. He is also seen in the much-talked-about new prison drama Starred Up (which I have not seen). Guy Lodge compares this film with Paul Greengrass' benchmark 2002 docudrama of the Troubles set in '72, Bloody Sunday, which indeed it brings to mind. Tat Radcliffe’s fine widescreen cinematography shifts from 16mm. for daytime and digital for razor sharp night images. All the tech aspects are aces as are all the performances. See for yourself; this is a film not to be missed.

    '71 debuted at Berlin, and showed at Telluride and Toronto. It was screened for this review as part of the 52nd New York Film Festival, where its excellence clearly merited its inclusion in the Main Slate. It opens theatrically in the UK 10 October and in France 5 November 2014. Roadside Attractions owns its US distribution rights.

    To be shown in the San Francisco Mostly British Festival at the Vogue Theatre at 7 pm Thursday, 12 February 2015.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-27-2015 at 12:41 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,318

    STARRED UP (David Mackenzie 2014)

    DAVID MACKENZIE: STARRED UP (2014)


    Jack O'Connell and Ben Mendelsohn in Starred Up

    Rough father-son bonding in an English prison: a breakthrough for director and star

    "Starred up" denotes the British prison practice of introducing some particularly hard youthful cases into adult prison before they're 21. Eric Love (Jack O'Connell) at 19 is an explosive, violent youth brought into jail after years of juvenile detention. David Mackenzie's film is intense and realistic, its dialogue almost laughably hard to follow, even with subtitles. It's laconic, fast, laced with prison slang and swear words, and drowned out by scuffles and the constant reverb of the prison. This is a sacrifice willingly made in this austere, tense, and violent feature to be true to a world that for most of us, despite all the prison movies, remains totally strange.

    The screenplay is by Jonathan Asser, who worked as a volunteer counselor in prison like Oliver Baumer (Rupert Friend) here. It's about the taming of Eric under Baumer's and his little group's ministrations, and also about Eric's epic struggle with the prison and, most of all, with his own father, Neville (Ben Mendelsohn), who's in the same jail and has been there for 14 years. Neville tries to take Eric in hand, mainly to please the prison boss Dennis Spencer (Peter Ferdinando), but proves wholly unsuited to the paternal role.

    It's mentioned in the film that those who're "starred up" are "leaders." In fact as played by O'Connell Eric Love is dangerous, but also impressive, strong, good looking, and evidently in peak condition (he constantly works out, in his cell, and a communal gym). But he is troubled and hostile. When Eric is first placed in that cell, he immediately uses a lighter and razor blade to turn a toothbrush into a shiv. Shortly he is seen knocking out one prisoner, garroting another, and stabbing a third. Somehow Baumer persuades the prison authorities to put Eric into his counseling group. It's touch and go whether Eric will be reformed, killed, or put away for life. The explosive action keeps you guessing most of the way. The movie's accomplishment is to keep you both confused and riveted.

    Few actually saw Starred Up during its brief theatrical run. But it's one of 2014's must-sees, and the best yet by director David Mackenzie, whose work, despite eight features, has not been well-reviewed since his filming of Alexander Trocchi's dark, sexy cult novel Young Adam a decade ago. It's equally important as the go-for-broke major feature film breakthrough of the 25-year-old O'Connell. O'Connell dominates this film with his raw, literally naked physicality: he's stripped down to frontal nudity more than once in the course of the action. O'Connell, "Jack the Lad," as his tattoo shows in a Times photo by Bruce Weber, is no newcomer. He has been in television, notably a later iteration of BBC's "Skins," and at 17 played Pukey in Shane Meadows' memorable skinhead memoir This Is England. But this year he has lead roles in three well-publicized features, the other two being Unbroken and '71. (US limited theatrical release of '71 comes in February.)

    Eric Love (O'Connell), like Taher Rahim in Audiard's 2009 A Prophet, is a nineteen-year-old inducted into a prison when the film begins. I thought of A Prophet when watching Starred Up, but this is smaller scaled and set over a much more limited period. One might also think of Alan Clarke's borstal-juvenile delinquent films, Scum and Made in Britain. Tom Hardy in Bronson has also been mentioned. Not that there is much time to think of such comparisons while watching Starred Up. (When the smoke clears, Starred Up is an intense prison bath with fine acting by all, but A Prophet a richer, better film.)

    As I said, 2014 was a big year for O'Connell. Unbroken, Angelina Jolie's sophomore directing effort about American war hero Louis Zamperini's survival through an ordeal at sea and several brutal years in Japanese prison camps, is a kind of blockbuster and an intense physical role for him, but it's underwhelming as a movie. Much better is '71, where O'Connell plays a young English soldier caught in a very dangerous situation in Belfast during the Troubles. It's a terrific thriller. He's also in another 2014 release, playing Calisto in 300: Rise of an Empire. Of these '71 is evidently the best film. But Starred Up is the new feature that best shows off O'Connell's great gift for outrageous bad boy roles.

    According to an admiring, well-informed online article about the film, it was shot (in chronological order, Mackenzie has explained) in real prisons in Northern Ireland, at the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast and Maze Long Kesh in Lisburn. Some accusations of clichéd elements in the finale of Starred Up don't detract from the compulsively watchable nature of the film and excellent performances of everybody, with O'Connell the standout.

    Starred Up, 106 mins., debuted at Telluride (and Toronto) in August-September 2013. Theatrical release 21 March 2014 in the UK, August in NYC and on the Internet. Early June release in France where it was very well received (AlloCiné press rating 3.8). Screened for this review on Google Play 4 January 2015.

    To be shown as part of the San Francisco Mostly British Festival at the Vogue Theatre at 9:00 pm Thursday, 12 February 2015.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-27-2015 at 02:53 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,318

    I, ANNA (Barnaby Southcombe 2012)

    BARNABY SOUTHCOMBE: I, ANNA (2012)



    Mood and stylish visuals can only get you so far

    Barnaby Southcombe is Charlotte Rampling's son, and he departs from his usual TV work for this feature film directing debut. Charlotte herself said she didn't think his screenplay was very good: "She doesn't mince her words," he said. Described in a blurb as a "moody, downbeat noir," it's cool, dark, elegant and beautifully photographed, making London's Barbican complex look dreamlike and sinister. It's also dreary, creepy, and clumsily edited toward the end with final revelations that were already obvious and never really matter. This is the ultimate unreliable narrator tale, told from the point of view of Anna (Rampling -- "I," get it?), who lives in a torpid dream world, or perhaps, is simply crazy. But of course Rampling still, at 66, has that elegant beauty and that somber hypnotic Mona Lisa "Look" that may turn you on or off, depending on what movie she's in. This one, alas, is a clinker.

    The services of Gabriel Byrne and the remarkable Eddie Marsan (the latter mostly wasted here as a frustrated lieutenant) are enlisted as cops investigating the violent and bloody killing of a man who had gone to a speed dating event that Rampling's character also attended. She's a lonely divorcee who seems to do little other than sell beds at the posh Peter Jones London department store and participate in speed-dating, bringing men home with her, in between leaving odd messages to her daughter from a pay phone. The central question, "Is she a murderer?" may soon be abandoned by viewers in favor of "Why should I care?" D.C.I. Bernie Reid (Byrne) cares, but he's confused. When he should be tailing Anna, he winds up dating her and apparently in love with her. Poor D.I. Kevin Franks (Marsan) can't seem to keep him on track. He becomes as dreamy and wacko as Anna. Along the way Honor Blackman turns up, but names and atmosphere can't hold together Southcombe's adaptation of Elsa Lewin's novel, which never makes sense. At the time of the UK release Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian gave a very short review saying he liked the department store and the use of the Barbican and the moodiness, but found the "story itself unconvincing." Indeed. It's also off-putting, annoying, and cloying and a waste of the commitment Rampling, Byrne, and the rest of the cast give to it.

    Southcombe has said in interviews that his mother had often told him his earlier short scripts didn't work, and her disapproval, not to mention the way her long period of crippling depression warped their relationship, was probably why it took him so long to get around to making a feature. Now he needs to forget about mamma's disapproval and try doing a film on his own, away from her influence, out from under her shadow, and without her in the lead.

    I, Anna, 93 mins., debuted at Berlin Feb. 2012, showing at a number of other festivals including Sydney, Shanghai, and Locarno. It opened in the UK 7 December 2012; also released in Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Brazil.

    Showing at the Mostly British Festival at the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco at 7:00 pm Friday, 13 February 2015, when it will be introduced by Peter Robinson.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-27-2015 at 02:57 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,318

    THE TURNING (Jonathan auf der Heide, Tony Ayres, 16 more 2013

    JONATHAN AUF DER HEIDE, TONY AYRES, ET AL: THE TURNING (2013)


    TOBY WALLACE AND BRENNA HARDING IN THE TURNING

    Many-faceted portrait of a writer and a place

    This remarkable and ambitious omnibus film with its interlocking episodes has been said to resemble Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, based on Raymond Carver short stories. Structurally, it may; in mood and focus, not so much. There's a difference between marginal residents of low-budget parts of Los Angeles and people living around a remote coastal village in Australia. Carver's stories are up-close stuff about the relationship issues of adults. The Turning, an ambitious adaptation of the eponymous story collection by the acclaimed Australian writer Tim Winton (designated a Living Treasure by the Australian National Trust), has much more of an outdoors, and sometimes coming of age, feel, a strong visual sense of landscape. There are stories in which children are central. There is a lot about water. Alcohol plays a part too, as it does it in Carver. Making the Australian film, or short film collection, was a formidable effort, understandably presented as a signal cultural event Down Under. Marketing it in this form for general viewers elsewhere is less easy. But indigestible and uneven as this collection may feel, it has the tonic vigor and harsh energy of Australian cinema, the wild open country that's terrifying, yet free. It's the land, and the cinema, of Walkabout, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Mad Max, or of Animal Kingdom.

    The theatrical release film, shown in London at BFI in 2014, runs three hours and contains eighteen stories in which some characters recur, and so do locations. Notably, in contrast to Altman's Short Cuts, each short film is by a different director. (For full details see Wikipedia, "The Turning (2013 Film).") This has been issued on DVD, and further theatrical release is coming. However, there was a much shorter version edited down for presentation on ABC1 Australian television, consisting of only half the original short films and lasting only ninety minutes. My remarks are based on that. (The remaining nine stories were originally made available online as multi-platform ABC iView content, but this is no longer the case.) The three-hour original version is getting a UK theatrical release and a US one in early 2015.

    Given the multiple directors, it's surprising that there is some sense of unity of mood and even style, but there are also shifts. There is no absolute harm in this. There's no reason to assume Winton never changes tone in the stories; readers describe his style as sometimes brutal and abrupt. But Guy Lodge asserts in his Variety review that The Turning "boasts a handful of standout contributions — none more striking than the writing-directing debut of actress Mia Wasikowska — amid a surfeit of gauchely literal ones." It's not quite that simple. Actually Wasikowska's "Long, Clear View" is itself very literal in translating a voiceover to images, though it's not uninteresting to see this, and the effect is less cloying than it might be given that it lasts only for a few minutes. (Each story is adapted by a different writer, too.)

    The casts of the collection include some well-known Australian actors, including Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto and Rose Byrne. Byrne won the Australian Film Institute’s Best Actress award for her performance in the title short, "The Turning." But often lesser known newcomers are equally impressive. The plot weaves through turning points, if you will, in the lives of locals in the familiar town for Winton (he's used it before) of Angelus, the last whaling town in Australia, as they form relationships, end them and see their lives skid off track. Blanchett appears (really in a pretty minor role) in a segment adapted by her husband Andrew Upton. Besides standard dramatic episodes, The Turning also unfolds in the guise of an interpretive dance and an opening animated segment with a somewhat ponderously intoned voiceover from T.S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday," which also serves as the epigraph to the story collection. The eight stories in the ninety-minute version are "Reunion," "Commission,""The Turning," "Aquiver," "Cockleshell," "Sand," "Long, Cleaar View, "Boner McPharlin's Moll."

    In the original collection Winton was mining his own memories of a childhood and adolescence in a town on the West coast. Common characters include a boy named Vic (played by different ac tors), his mother Carol, and his father Bob, an alcoholic cop who suddenly disappears. There are two aboriginal brothers, Max and Frank. They occur in the entirely wordless and powerful story of "Sand," directed by Stephen Page, in which the older boy builds a tunnel while their adult male relatives are surf fishing, and the younger boy, trustingly, goes inside. The older boy jumps up and down on the dune to make the tunnel collapse and bury his sibling, afterwards running down to the beach. His brother escapes, but the implication is that he won't trust his brother ever again. "Aquifer" shows a man revisiting a scene of violence from his childhood prompted by a news report. The intercut flashbacks and intrusive musical background are distracting and clumsy. "Cockleshell," inconclusive but more successful, focuses on a teenage boy called Brakey (the dreamy Toby Wallace) who's madly in love with Agmes (Brenna Harding), the girl next door, and closely follows her for several days as she spear-fishes a meal for her impoverished older parent, even though fishing disgusts him. Agnes' lack of interest in Brakey is mysterious, nor does the shocking finale clarify things as filmed, but Asian-born director Tony Ayres infuses a sensuous quality into his film in a way that makes Wallace's scenes memorable. Similarly the aboriginal actors in "Sand" are striking in themselves, and their closeness to the beach landscape and the ocean is palpable. Despite Rose Byrne's win in it, Guy Lodge condemns "The Turning" segment itself, with its piggyback religions conversion of an abused wife who's just befriended a better off wife, and he's right; the conversion, which departs from the story's narrative order, doesn't feel convincing. Sometimes the filmmakers can't seem to convey in their few minutes what Winton was getting at in his words.

    "Boner MacPhalin's Moll," directed by Justin Kurzel, is one of the shorts with a jarringly different approach. It's retrospective account of a violent, dissolute individual is told, at least partly, in a vérité, documentary style, as if speakers are being interviewed on camera. The echt Australian accents here are a bit thick for American viewers. The short version ends with one of the more literal versions, "Big World," which consists simply of a voiceover summarizing the story of two high school boys who try to escape bad grades and a grim or mediocre future by running away north from town in a VW van and picking up a girl, but don't get anywhere. It's an audiovisual CiffNotes version of the story, sweet and pretty but hardly a stand-alone film.

    The Turning (even half of it) is a remarkable, if challenging and uneven experience. The incidents on offer are sometimes quiet, but nonetheless earth-shaking for the participants, and sometimes are shocking and violent. These are always short films, and must adhere to the special shorthand and economy that entails. One must be patient: one must be prepared to refocus every ten or fifteen minutes, and to do that for three hours sitting in a cinema isn't easy. A challenging exercise, but with its rewards. Welcome to Australia, and to the world of Tim Winton, as filtered through eighteen different directors' short films. They may not do full justice to these stories, as described in a appreciative short essay for the Guardian by Jem Poster, but the attempt is a fine tribute nonetheless.

    The Turning, 180 mins. (but 90 mins. screened, as noted above), debuted at Melbourne August 2013, then in 2014 at Berlin and other festivals including Hong Kong, Seattle, and London. There was a theatrical version of the short story series in 2008. The film was released in Australia 26 January 2014, and "disk and digital" formats came out there 24 Feb. 2014. Schedule for release of the film in the UK 6th Feb. 2015. A US release is coming (Main Street Films). Screened for this review courtesy of Main Street Films in the 90-minute TV version for the San Francisco Mostly British Festival.

    To be shown in the Mostly British Festival in San Francisco at the Vogue Theatre at 7:30 pm Sunday, 13 February 2015.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-27-2015 at 03:10 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,318

    STILL LIFE (Uberto Pasolini 2013)

    UBERTO PASOLINI: STILL LIFE (2013)



    Obsequies

    In Uberto Pasolini's somewhat too aptly named Still Life (not to be confused with Jia Zhang-ke's), today's offbeat "it" boy of British acting, Eddie Marsan, a natural specialist in meek and understated roles, plays John May, a London caseworker in the south central district of Kennington assigned to investigate those who die alone and unclaimed. The similarity between their lives and May's is all too obvious. He dines alone in his council flat on a can of tuna, a slice of white bread, and an apple, and lives for his work. Thus when tossing the ashes would be enough, he insists on staging funerals for his cases even though friends and relatives either can't be found or aren't interested and he's the only one who attends. The priest intones a eulogy he has penned using bits of information he's gathered from the deceased's dreary last digs. Photos of them he's found he tips into his own personal home album book of the dead. When May's department is downsized and he's let go (after 22 years) he makes a grand project of his final case, a violent alcoholic called Billy Stoke who happens to have died in a council flat facing his own across a causeway.

    The film is a celebration of the forgotten, marked by a cheerful miserablism that's typically English; but some have found it condescending, and others consider the screenplay to be marred by an ending that celebrates May and his cases with a touch of the supernatural. The cool, gray, symmetrical style of the images fits nicely with Joh May's tidiness, which may be a sign of OCD, or simply a love of order and a need to do what's right and proper. Marsan's performance is a marvel of understatement and subtlety, but his character and the story have too little depth. The symmetries and concern with order lead to repetitiousness. The coolness of the style looks and feels right, but there is no energy. Things liven up a little bit at the end, and so, too late, does John May, when he explores his final case so thoroughly he begins to connect with a woman, Billy Stoke's estranged daughter, played by Joanne Froggatt of "Downton Abbey." Still Life provides too few rewards and its latter part is too forced and sentimental. The score by Rachel Portman has been called (by David Rooney of Hollywood Reporter) not just "cloyingly saccharine" but "criminal." Still, for students of screen acting it may all in a pinch be endurable for the performances of Eddie Marsan, and some of the other cast members who also do choice work.

    Still LIfe, 92 mins., debuted at Venice, showing at other festivals, and had limited US release 13 January 2014. French release under the title Une belle fin 15 April 2015. Released by Tribeca Films it was made available on iTunes & VOD 13 January 2015 and in theaters 16 January 2015 (NYC at Quad Cinema); t was badly received (Metacritic rating 43%). Other US locations January and February. UK release 6 February 2015. It was screened for this review as part of the Mostly British Festival in San Francisco 12-22 February 2015.

    At the Vogue Theatre 5 pm Tuesday, 17 February 2015.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-27-2015 at 12:39 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,318

    QUEEN AND COUNTRY (John Boorman 2014)

    JOHN BOORMAN: QUEEN AND COUNTRY (2014)




    CALLUM TURNER IN QUEEN AND COUNTRY

    John Boorman continues the story of his early life with an early Fifties comedy

    Queen and Country is a less momentous, less unified, but thoroughly enjoyable sequel, 27 years later, to John Boorman's celebrated film memoir of life as a child in London under the Blitz, Hope and Glory. This time Boorman, now 82, picks up the earlier film's nine-year-old hero William (Bill) Rohan nine years later. Reaching draft age, he becomes a National Service conscript in 1952, when George VI is about to die and Queen Elizabeth II's coronation symbolically moves Britain away from postwar austerity and into prosperity, though the country may have shrunk in the world. The youthful point of view still makes everything seem larger than life. But the world is quieter, and nothing is as crucial here as in the earlier film. Nonetheless the episodic Queen and Country offers many pleasures and shows the sure hand of a master.

    Bill is played with lanky swank by ex-Next-model Callum Turner, and his best pal in the Army, the immoral prankster Percy Hapgood, is embodied with relish by the American actor Caleb Landry Jones, who later last year was a druggie homeless youth in Heaven Knows What. Both boys (in the film; not the actors) are evidently virgins; Bill certainly is. And that has to end, of course.

    The basic training phase is sketched in with a swift comic touch. Of marching and the parade ground Bill's voiceover says "when we got it right it was like a dance troupe; it was exhilarating." This observation is a lovely touch, a sign of the artist to come. The boys luck out and aren't sent to fight with the Yanks in Korea as might have happened. Instead they become instruction sergeants. First they boisterously drill even greener and sillier soldiers on how to type: it's almost like musical comedy. Later Bill, who's got leftist tendencies, briefs young troops about Korea, where they're headed. He speaks with ironic coolness on this Asian conflict's role in the worldwide capitalist-communist hostilities known as the Cold War, and says General MacArthur is probably crazy. When called on the carpet he shows all his shocking declarations have come straight from the Times of London.

    All the while Percy and Bill are busy dodging their superiors, amusingly played by David Thewlis as the rules-obsessed NCO Bradley and Richard E. Grant as his hilariously condescending superior Major Cross, with Brían F. O'Byrne as the slightly hysterical RSM Digby. In their spare time they flirt with girls. In particular Bill courts a posh, depressed Oxford student met at a concert whom he calls Ophelia (Tamlin Edgerrton). She seems an older and grimmer version of Cassie of "Skins" (Hannah Murray). They also meet and spy on a sexy young nurse, Peggy (Miriam Rizea), who likes them both, but Bill more..

    William, as "Ophelia" calls him, takes her punting on the Thames and they decide to go and see Kurosawa's Rashomon, on whose meaning they differ. Growing up post-war on a small Thames island near Shepperton Studios, Bill is already enamored of cinema. He and Percy are keen to see Strangers on a Train, and perhaps emulate it, since they dream of offing their superiors, and not getting caught, or at least Percy does. Things liven up when, on leave, Bill visits his family, including his lively sister Dawn (Vanessa Kirby). Dawn keeps her Canadian accent but is abandoning her French Canadian husband, met in London during the War, and for the moment her children. Also on hand are the parents, Sinead Cusack as the mother who's still wanly unfaithful, and David Hayman, the only actor held over from Hope and Glory, as Bill's dad. The big event at the family reunion, and the turning point for these times, is watching the Coronation on the family's first TV, acquired for this event. "Ophelia's " visit is both a revelation and a disappointment. Percy comes with a natty stolen red sport car, and connects with the wild Dawn, with whom Bill himself seems almost incestuously close.

    The major event of Percy and Bill's military careers, straddling the middle interlude with family, is the theft of the regiment's Victorian clock, Percy's wildest venture, undertaken with the complicity of Jones (Pat Shortt), the lazy career enlisted man who has been lecturing the boys on how to be a skiver ("slacker" in American). This has serious consequences for Percy, and confirms both the boys' friendship and their differences. (It's admittedly a bit small for a climactic event: Boorman doesn't try to capture the grandiose absurdity of Catch-22. What happens to Bradley later acquires more resonance. Percy remains involved with Dawn, and just after he's been dumped by "Ophelia" Bill loses his virginity as a first aid intervention of nurse Peggy, who was to be Percy's girl. Percy goes off for months to Shepton Mallet Military Prison, but he has not lost Dawn, now joined by her two kids from Canada.

    Some of these episodes, particularly events on leave and the portraits of Army superiors, recall parts of the wartime novels of Anthony Powell's Music of Time, though they lack a Widmerpool and have no big war outside to threaten tragedy. Lightness prevails, with Boorman, who wrote as well as directed, showing the benign perspective and "leggerezza" of age. If the film isn't up to the handful of his very best films, it's still a return to form after lackluster recent efforts (In My Country, The Tiger's Tale). If turns out to be the man's last film, it will be a perfectly fine place to end.

    Queen and Country, 105 mins., filmed in Romania and the UK, debuted at Cannes 2014 (Directors Fortnight); many other festivals. Released in France, 7 January 2015 (good reviews, AlloCiné 3.6). Screened for this review courtesy of BBC Worldwide North America, Landmark, and Film Forum and part of the “Mostly British Festival” in San Francisco Feb. 2015. US theatrical release 18 February, UK, 8 May 2015..

    The film will be cosponsored for a 27 February 2015 San Francisco release by the Mostly British Festival, moderated by Ruthe Stein, together with Landmark Theatres, at the Opera Plaza Cinemas in San Francisco and Landmark's Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-17-2015 at 04:11 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,318

    LESLIE HOWARD: THE MAN WHO GAVE A DAMN (Thomas Hamilton 2014)



    THOMAS HAMILTON: LESLIE HOWARD: THE MAN WHO GAVE A DAMN (2014)

    First US showing of documentary about Thirties English film star Leslie Howard

    Leslie Howard was a quintessential British actor of Thirties and Forties films, an "intellectual English gentleman," someone in this documentary calls him. Ironically, he was Jewish, and his father was Hungarian, and his first language had been German. His given name was Leslie Howard Steiner (or Stainer; both spellings exist). Also ironic is that he's remembered by some for playing Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind, a role he did not like and that did not fit him. He would prefer the fop by day, hero by night he played in The Scarlet Pimpernel five years earlier. In life and in films Howard seemed a cool, detached sort but one with nerves of steel and the courage to do the right thing.

    This documentary begins by nodding to Howard's untimely end in 1943, at the age of fifty, in a plane shot down by the Germans over the Bay of Biscay, and the story is told by a (then) boy he "saved" when he and another youth were displaced at the last minute to make room for a couple of VIP's, one of them Howard. At this time Howard was doing his patriotic duty, giving talks to arouse patriotism and good will. (Reports that he was also involved in espionage work for Britain are not confirmed here.) What follows is a loving and detailed picture, if a pretty conventional documentary biography, told in film clips, stills, and talking heads involving people who knew the man, notably his daughter. Some of these testimonies make one wonder if they were not filmed some time before the picture was put together in its present form.

    Leslie Howard was a junior cavalry officer in the First World War, but after a brief combat experience was invalided out, suffering from post traumatic stress, and was advised to try acting as a treatment. He went from stage to silents to his first talkie in 1930, and as the years go by we can see him slimming down and turning from an ordinary-looking chap into a dashingly understated matinee idol in the English manner. His most important role was probably as Henry Higgins in the adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion directed by Anthony Asquith (co-directed, according to IMDb, by Howard).

    Harold Young's The Scarlet Pimpernell, opposite Merle Oberon, to whom he was briefly married, in 1934 made Howard a star in England. Howard moved to Hollywood for the better roles he had there. He played opposite Humphrey Bogart, who he insisted by cast in the film version of The Petrified Forest; they'd played in it together on stage. He rejected the young Clark Gable at a stage audition, saying "he looks too common even for a chauffeur." Kindness to Homphrey Bogart also in his beginnings as a film actor led Bogard and Bacall to name their first child Leslie. He played in a wan 1936 version of Romeo and Juliet with Norma Shearer, both actors too old for their roles. Howard's wife Ruth was long faithful, and the marriage endured, in spite of a series of affairs. (In her voluble testimony their daughter seems He went back to England at the start of WWII to be where his loyalty was, and where he had maintained a country. house dating back to the sixteenth century.

    Leslie Howard was in one way or another involved in films or friendship with Olivia Haviland, Wendy Hiller, Bette David, Gable and Bogart, Vivian Leigh, Myrna Loy, David Niven, Basil Rathbone, Marian Davies -- in short, a Who's Who of the grand old days of Hollywood when the tweedy, British or Anglophile stars dressed nicely and many of them played polo. This film is a quick review of film history with a particular emphasis on the Thirties, packed with information, but lacking any particular point of view or revelations.

    Leslie Howard: The Man Who Gave a Damn, 94 mins., debuted in the UK August and October 2014. It was screened for this review as part of the San Francisco Mostly British Festival (Feb. 12-22, 2015), showing 7:30pm Saturday, Feb. 14 with director Thomas Hamilton introducing the film and afterwards discussing it with the audience in conversation with festival organizer Ruthe Stein.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-12-2015 at 07:48 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,318

    THE RIOT CLUB (Lone Scherfig 20-14)

    LONE SCHERFIG: THE RIOT CLUB (2014)

    Preview for now: a full review will appear here when the US theatrical release of this film takes place next month.

    [

    Rude play among young English toffs

    Lone Scherfig’s The Riot Club, adapted from Laura Wade’s play Posh, is about a centuries old highly elite little Oxford drinking society whose members are very upper class. A thing that still matters deeply in England. Let's take the positive tack to this somewhat controversial piece, and say with the urbane Peter Debruge of Variety, that Scherfig approaches this milieu, as a Dane as well as merely not a toff, "with shrewd anthropological wit." But at the same time we acknowledge the criticism from those comparing the film with Laura Wade's successful play (adapted by the author), that the satire has been softened in the interest of feeding sympathy for these young men. The camera after all loves them, and one of them says their choice of a new member is the "prettiest" candidate: some of the actors are indeed pretty young men, and they all look fine in their tail coats at the tavern dinner that's the main focus of the play, much embroidered by Oxford university scenes for the screen version. We must acknowledge that the film has a momentum and growing sense of dread and repulsion that are neatly modulated. But also that we've seen plenty of keener delineation of British class. This is not a masterpiece. It is a good movie about a juicy subject rarely so well dramatized.

    The Riot Club, 107 mins., debuted at Toronto, opened in English, Ireland and Italy shortly thereafter. It has also been shown at various international festivals, at in the Mostly British festival in San Francisco (where Scherfig's admired debut feature An Education showed five years ago) 7:30 pm Thurs. 19 Feb.. It has its limited US theatrical release starting 27 March 2015.

    This is a preview of the full review being held for the US theatrical release.

    7:30PM
    THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2015
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-19-2015 at 08:03 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,318


    At the end of the festival the following awards were given out:

    Best Motion Picture, Audience Award – Still Life
    Best Motion Picture, Grand Jury Prize – ’71
    Best Documentary Film – Leslie Howard, The Man Who Gave a Damn
    Best Director – Ken Loach, Jimmy’s Hall
    Best Actor – Jack O’Connell, ’71
    Best Actress – Charlotte Rampling, I, Anna
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-27-2015 at 04:28 PM.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •