The Espire Strikes Back!

chris-rock-oscar-countdown-770x443

Dear readers, it’s that time of year when I return to contemplate the cinematic cream of the crop, but alas I found myself disillusioned, disappointed and disenfranchised.

But before I, as a black British woman, weigh in on why oh why Spike Lee is boycotting the Oscars when he just got one (creating less diversity at the Oscars as a reaction to less diversity within the Oscars seems odd to me)…

A moment of celebration

If, as is likely, Iñárittu takes home the Best Director Oscar it will be the 3rd consecutive win by a Mexican Director. That’s pretty cool.

Brie Larson is an excellent actress and I was super pleased that she may well take home the gold.

Roger Deakins – he ain’t gonna win (that’s 13 nominations without a win – take that Leo), but damn it I love it every single time he’s nominated. And I’m not the only one.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Boy vs Bird who will win?

I’ve been a bad film fan this year.  I haven’t made it to all the Best Picture nominees, which is the very least I could do in the name of objectivity, but I still want to see if that changes how I think the whole shebang will turn out.

On #Oscarssowhite, Ava DuVernay was a not surprising (given the make up of the Oscars voters) but a disappointing omission. As Selma points out, if you aren’t able to have a voice to vote, how will that voice be heard?  That said I don’t think she was the Best Director so I hope she keeps making films the academy can’t ignore and gets the recognition she deserves.  I am equally annoyed that Mike Leigh, Damien Chazelle and Amma Asante weren’t nominated, but hey I love Iñárritu & Linklater.  The weakest director in this category is The Imintation Game’s Morten Tyldum (although I loved the film- he’d make my top 10) but didn’t effect me nearly as much as Belle, Whiplash, Selma or Mike Leigh every time he makes a film.

This is less informed than I’d like, however my final predictions are: Continue reading

Quick Fire Review : Selma

Here’s The Trailer

Who is in it?

David “what do you mean there are no decent British roles for coloured actors” Oyelowo, Carmen “I’m not Tessa Thompson” Ejogo, Oprah “even I can’t get Ava DuVernay an Oscar Nomination” Winfrey, Tom & Tim “no Americans were harmed in the making of this film” Wilkinson & Roth, Lorraine “My glasses need their own Oscar” Toussaint, Dylan “always the creepiest dude in the room” Baker.

What is it about?

In the fight for Civil Rights, Martin Luther King takes the cause of the people of Selma to the US President. He highlights how Selma’s black citizens face enormous trials in registering for their legal right to vote and brutality at the hands of the authorities in the town.

Why did I want to watch it?

Black Woman director, check, Oscar baity biopic of an important political figure, check, Costume porn…

Did I like it?

The performances are majestic, the script is fabulous, it’s wonderfully paced and the scenery is beautifully shot. The dramatic tension is maintained throughout, whether the political standoffs or personal ones, and even though some serious injustices are given an airing, I didn’t feel bludgeoned by it (unlike Oprah).  The drama is excellently played and it felt like natural storytelling rather than historical lecturing.

I have always voted and this film reminded me why, even in the face of limited ideological differences between political parties, it is still important to try and have my say on things I care about, because people fought hard with their lives for that basic right.

It also reflects really well  how the Oscars voting system works, if you aren’t there to have a voice then you won’t be represented.

Should you watch it?

Absolutely. It has hit my top 3 of the Best Picture nominees – Birdman & Whiplash are the 2 others.

I also think it should be a stalwart of schools History lessons.

Does it pass the Bechdel Test?  http://bechdeltest.com/

It does, I only caught one scene, but it’s a great one with Coretta King discussing her role and struggles as Martin Luther King’s wife.

Watch this instead/as well/before/after:

Spike Lee’s, Malcolm X, for another side of the story, Talk To Me for a more light hearted biopic directed by an overlooked woman director – it also touches on the death of Dr King.

ELC

Quick Fire Review: The Theory of Everything

Who is in it?

Eddie “can you hear the people sing?” Redmayne, Felicity Jones and David “will always be Lupin in my eyes” Thewlis

What is it about?

The story of the genius physicist Stephen Hawking, his diagnosis of motor neurone disease and his relationship with his ex-wife, Jane. The film is an adaptation of her memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.

Why did I want to watch it?

I am always drawn to biopics and having recently seen and loved The Imitation Game, I wanted to once again, hear a relatively unknown  story of  someone extraordinary.

Did I like it?

I thought it was excellent! I had expected to cry and the film delivered on that level. Am I the only person who goes to the cinema wanting to cry? I heard that Stephen Hawking had an almost unrivalled sense of humour, but I hadn’t expected to laugh so much either! A very uplifting film which was very welcome in the post-Christmas gloom.

Should you watch it?

Yes, if you enjoy hearing remarkable stories. Don’t be put off though, by the “science bit” – certainly too much for an ex-Arts student like me! The period parts set at Cambridge are lovely and good viewing for anyone who wishes they could keep on learning and revisit campus days!

Does it pass the Bechdel Test?  http://bechdeltest.com/

Once again, no. Although, I forgive Jane, she is after all,  remaining strong against remarkable odds.

Watch this instead/as well/before/after:

Eddie Redmayne has thus far gone under my radar – he was ok in Les Mis, but his performance as Hawking was moving. Felicity Jones was divine! I shall now be looking at her filmography and maybe looking up The Invisible Woman from 2013 for which she was nominated for a BIFA Best Actress award and from 2011, Like Crazy.

Having said that, this is surely her best performance to date and I await a “Big O” nomination on January 15.

LB

Quick Fire Review: Her

HER

Here’s The Trailer

Who is in it?

Joaquin (if there is a Magnum PI remake he’ll be first in line) Phoenix, Amy (where’s my Oscar already) Adams, Scarlett (just the right amount of sweet and sexy) Johansson.

What is it about?

Lonely dude falls in love with his self aware Siri.

Why did I want to watch it?

Spike Jonze is the man behind the Praise You & Weapon of Choice music videos, so he has a great creative vision. The festival reviews had been pretty encouraging. Oh and the Oscar nomination.

Did I like it?

I thought it was great. You have to worry that the idea is a little creepy, but even at its oddest points, the film does a great job of portraying the humanity of loneliness and looking for an ideal companion.

Should you watch it?

There is a good deal of quirk here, so if you like that kind of thing, the acting is top notch so definitely give it a watch.  Joaquin Phoenix is a very sweet romantic lead and Amy Adams balances looking simultaneously normal and adorable.  And who wouldn’t fall in love with the light-hearted whimsy of ScarJo’s voice?

Does it pass the Bechdel Test?

Beats me.  I will say that there are a variety of interesting named female characters, who are people with well defined jobs and lives.  The problem lies with the fact that they don’t talk to each other, defeating the test.  That said there are named OSs with female personas, so it could be argued that they interact with women.  I would say it fails, but raises interesting questions and the female characters are nonetheless well rounded.

Some interesting discussions can be found here : http://bechdeltest.com/view/4860/her/

Other films it reminds me of:

Michel Gondry’s Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind would fit in nicely into this universe.

Watch this instead/as well/before/after:

The Master .  Not only a thoroughly bizarre film sharing Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams in prominent roles, its lead is the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

ELC

OSCARS 2014… And our winners are…

best Picture Nominees 2014BEST PICTURE: American Hustle , Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

PREDICTED WINNER LB – 12 Years a Slave – the most original and touching film I’ve seen in years. Truly  outstanding. I really wanted The Wolf of Wall Street to be better than it was and although it was an enjoyable way to spend 3 hours, it won’t and shouldn’t beat 12 Years a Slave to the gong.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – 12 Years a Slave – What she said.  It is not only an important film, it is a mesmerizing film, combining direction acting and writing beautifully.  Audiences can’t fail to be moved by it, so it will be a truly deserved win.

That said usually the film with the most nominations wins this.  It was however averted with The Hurt Locker which enjoyed a similar level of acclaim as 12 Years a Slave.  I would actually consider Gravity a serious threat, as it is likely to get a lot of technical wins.

BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale in American Hustle
Bruce Dern in Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Ok, I think he will get pipped by either Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club or Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave but I really want Leonardo DiCaprio to win for his portrayal of Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. Please read my post from May 2013 – Leonardo is long overdue an Oscar and he produced a stand-out performance in The Wolf of Wall Street. Jordan Belfort was charasmatic, enigmatic, funny, scary, disgusting and despicable.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – I really want to make some of my predictions next week, after I’ve actually watched all of the films, but I am going to guess Matthew McConaughey.  His weight loss is remarkable, and he has never been nominated in the past and this is his best chance of a gong.  In another year both Leo and Chiwetel could have won this, so it’s very hard to have to pick a winner.  Leo could pull off an upset, just because he has been nominated so many times without a win. I was surprised that Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips didn’t get the Christian Bale nomination though.

BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams in American Hustle
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock in Gravity
Judi Dench in Philomena
Meryl Streep in August: Osage County

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. This was a case of the leading actress being better than the film and so I think Cate Blanchett deserves to get this. Very surprised though, that Emma Thompson has been overlooked for Saving Mr Banks.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – Cate Blanchett.  Because she was fantastic. It’s an acting masterclass.

BEST DIRECTOR
David O. Russell for American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
Alexander Payne for Nebraska
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave. A truly outstanding film. A massive achievement for McQueen.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – I would have liked to have seen a nomination for Paul Greengrass instead of David O’Russell (I didn’t hate American Hustle, but I just preferred so many others this year and don’t think it’s deserves the awards love it’s getting)

I want it to be Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, although the commitment Alfonso Cuaron gave to Gravity is no small feat.  It’s a two horse race and ultimately I will go with whoever wins the Directors Guild of America award.  Best Picture and Best Director rarely go to the same person so I think Cuaron may edge it, although obviously I would be delighted if one of my favourite directors was the first Black winner of the Best Director Oscar. And you know he’s a Brit!

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper in American Hustle
Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Difficult to separate my three main contenders – Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips, Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave and Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street. I think Fassbender will get this one though for a chilling performance in 12 Years a Slave.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – Where is Daniel Bruehl for Rush?  I would have much preferred him to be nominated than Bradley Cooper, which was a good but not stellar performance.  I am actually torn between Jared Leto and Barkhad Abdi for this one, but think the latter will win for being a newcomer with the ability to match Tom Hanks onscreen.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts in August: Osage County
June Squibb in Nebraska

PREDICTED WINNER LB – I did like Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine but I think this will go to Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave. Her performance broke my heart.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – In complete agreement with Laura.   Jennifer Lawrence was great, and her consistency as an actress is phenomenal, but she should not win here.  Also Oprah wasn’t nominated for the Butler which surprised me.  My secret hope is that she has just told everyone to vote for Lupita instead.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
Philomena
12 Years A Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

PREDICTED WINNER LB – I think and hope that this Oscar will go to Philomena.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – My favourites here are Before Midnight and 12 Years A Slave.  I think that Before Midnight deserves the recognition for the sheer amount of evolution the characters have been given and how natural the dialogue is.  12 Years A Slave  is fantastically compelling though and will doubtless triumph here.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
Her
Nebraska

PREDICTED WINNER LB – I’ve not go round to seeing it yet but I’ve heard very good things about Dallas Buyers Club and so think this could triumph in this category.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – I am traditionally useless at predicting the screenplay category – I hope Her wins.  I love the plucky contender and Spike Jonze has a wonderful original voice.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Frozen or Despicable Me 2. The Oscar could probably go to any though as it’s really difficult to predict winners for the animated category. I’m going to plump for Frozen. Feel-good and subversive at the same time.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – Frozen is fantastic. It’ll grab this one and Best Song if there is any justice. A playlist of  Best Song nominations is here: http://www.vulture.com/2014/01/all-the-best-original-song-oscars-nominations.html

CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Grandmaster
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Prisoners

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Gravity should definitely be recognised in this category. Cuarón’s space set feature film was the most original film of last year.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – God I have just realised why Prisoners was nominated.  Roger Deakins is the most nominated Cinematographer without a win.  It gives me actual tears to know such a skilled cinematographer who should have won many times over will be overlooked again.  But it will of course go to Gravity.  It is continually dubbed “most realistic film about space”.  It should be a shoo in.

COSTUME DESIGN
American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
12 Years A Slave

PREDICTED WINNER LB – I loved The Great Gatsby for this but I suspect that the Oscar will go to American Hustle.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC –  The Great Gatsby .  This category  tends to go to the showiest outfits.  Also I’ve not heard a thing about the Invisible woman, but surely that indicates a dearth of visible costume?!

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Ok, it’s the only one I know anything about but The Act of Killing should get the Oscar here.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – I was sad to see that Stories We Tell was overlooked.  As with Laura I am going for the one I’ve heard of and heard wonderful things about.

FILM EDITING
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
12 Years A Slave

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Captain Phillips. Award-winning editing made for a thrilling edge of your seat experience.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – 12 Years A Slave for no other reason than I can’t imagine that the best film would only win one category.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
The Missing Picture
Omar

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Admittedly, I’ve not seen any of these but I am really glad that Blue is the Warmest Colour wasn’t nominated here. I found it too long, self-indulgent and a chance for Kechiche to play out his own fantasies.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – This is my favourite category and I always prefer all of these to most of the best film nominees.  As is usual when Mads Mikkelsen is in a film with a  wide release it gets and Oscar nomination, as yet I don’t think a film he’s in as won, but there is hope. The buzz around The Great beauty is pretty high so I will go for that, however just the fact that these films get wider recognition as a result of nomination makes me happy.

MAKE UP AND HAIRSTYLING

Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa????? Really??? Dallas Buyers Club of course.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – Best make up to make everyone look really, really ill,  some random Hollywood in joke I am just not getting and interesting makeup in a film no one cared for– Dallas Buyers Club it is.

PRODUCTION DESIGN
American Hustle
Gravity
The Great Gatsby
Her
12 Years A Slave

PREDICTED WINNER LB – American Hustle will probably pip the others to the post here.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – A toughie, as there are many great accomplishments here. I’ll go for Gravity, because of the space detail.  Also my patriotism is high on this one, as this was done in the UK.

VISUAL EFFECTS

Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Gravity, surely?

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – Gravity.

So do you agree?  Not all of the categories are here, but we’d love your thoughts and responses.  I will of course be putting my money where my mouth is, so I will update you on what I actually won!

LB & ELC

Cannes: A-Z of the croisette


cannes4

À bientôt Cannes, see you next year!

Controversy on the Croisette, this year’s Cannes Film Festival (15 – 26 May 2013) is sadly, now over. The last champagne

cork has been popped and the great and good of the film world are sailing their yachts away from the Riviera.
If you are going to miss the most famous film festival bar none, here’s an A-Z of all things Cannes –

A – Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest ColourBlue is the Warmest Colour has won the festival’s Palme d’Or this year.

B – Brigitte Bardot and the bikini – it was Bardot who alerted the world to the existence of two piece swimsuit fashions whilst sunbathing during the Cannes festival in 1953. The Cannes beach is also famous for being the place where Sacha Baron Cohen unveiled his mankini at the 61st festival 50 years later.

C – Cinéfondation – a foundation created to inspire and support the next generation of international filmmakers in 1998. It shows about 15 short and medium length films during the festival at the Salle Buñuel.

D – Dolores del Río, the Mexican actress was the first woman to become part of the Cannes Jury.

E – Elisabetta Canalis, ex-girlfriend of George Clooney, appeared to be thrown from the side of a luxury yacht in a body bag as part of a publicity stunt by The Dictator’s Sacha Baron Cohen in 2012.

F – Fairy-tale love story – Grace Kelly was introduced to Monaco’s Prince Rainier at the 1954 festival. The rest, as they say, is history!

G – The Grand Prix – now, effectively, the runner up prize of the festival since it was replaced by the Palme d’Or.

H – Hitler – Lars von Trier, Melancholia’s director, said he sympathised with the Nazi leader at the festival in 2011 before being booted out!

I – In Bed with Madonna – the film that the Queen of Controversy was promoting when she arrived in Cannes in her iconic bra top at the 1991 festival.

J – Jean Cocteau was declared Honorary President for life in 1965 following his death.

K – Kidman (Nicole), on this year’s Jury alongside Steven Spielberg.

L – Leonardo DiCaprio, star of The Great Gatsby (dir. Baz Luhrmann) which is the opening film of this year’s 66th festival.

M – May, the month in which the festival has taken place every year since it was founded in 1946 .

N – The Bunker – the nickname given to the “new” Palais des Festivals et des Congrès when it was revealed in 1983. The former building’s roof blew off in a storm in 1949.

O – Olivia de Havilland was the festival’s first female President.

P – Palme d’Or is the festival’s highest prize. It was created in the 1950s and replaced the Grand Prix. The first Palme d’Or was won in 1955 by Delbert Mann for Marty.

Q – Quinzaine Des Réalisateurs is an independent section which runs in parallel to the Cannes Film Festival. It was created after events in May 1968 brought about the cancellation of the main festival.

R – Red Carpet – an integral part of any festival. The Cannes one is trod by actors, directors and producers making their way to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.

S – Steven Spielberg, this year’s President of the Jury.

T – Théâtre Lumière – where the 20 films competing for the Palme d’Or are projected.

U – Uggie – the canine star of The Artist – which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. Jean Dujardin won best actor for his role in the film at the same festival.

V – Vincent Gallo’s film The Brown Bunny was famously described as the worst film in Cannes history by legendary film critic Ebert in 2003.

W – World War II – the inaugural festival scheduled for September 1, 1939 was shut down by Hitler the day his troops invaded Poland. And another W, William Dieterle’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the only film which managed to screen before it was closed until after the war.

X – X-rated – the way many of the sex scenes in this year’s Palme d’Or winner about two French lesbians – Blue is the Warmest Colour – have been described.

Y – Yachts – as synonymous with the festival as the films themselves.

Z – Zac Effron’s “Golden Shower” was the talk of the 2012 festival in The Paperboy.

À bientôt Cannes, see you next year!

cannes5cannes1cannes3

Best of the Fest! ¡Viva! 2013 Diary

botf13

Saturday 9th March – 18.00

Del lado del verano– Dir Antonia San Juan (2012)

Starring – Antonia San Juan, Eduardo Casanova, Secun de la Rosa and Sara Guerra.

ladodelv2My first ¡Viva! film of the festival couldn’t have been a better choice to lift me from post-visit-to-Spain-blues and let’s face it, who could resist a film starring and directed by the actress who played Agrado in Almodóvar’s Todo sobre mi madre?

The film is set in the Canary Islands and is a sensitive comedy about the sort of dysfunctional family that Spanish cinema does so well.

Antonia doesn’t disappoint yet there are also some fabulous performances from the other protagonists. I particularly loved the bingo hall scenes and watch out for a hilarious cemetery scene!

Sunday 10th March – 20.40

¡Atraco! – Dir Eduard Cortés (2012)

Starring – Óscar Jaenada, Amaia Salamanca, Guillermo Francella, Nicolás Cabré, Daniel Fanego.

A1Something totally different but equally as enjoyable and entertaining. I loved this film for the attention to detail in re-creating Madrid of the 1950s. The film is inspired by a jewellery shop robbery and focuses on attempts to rescue the late Evita’s jewels which have been pawned and have attracted the attention of General Franco’s wife, Carmen Polo.

Fast-paced and tense, you’ll love this tragi-comedy!

Friday 15th March – 20.20

La chispa de la vida– Dir Álex de la Iglesia (2011)

Starring – José Mota, Salma Hayek, Blanca Portillo.

lvd2I made a point of not reading much about this Álex de la Iglesia offering before I went to see it. If there is any director guaranteed to shock and surprise, this is the one and so I wanted to ensure that the shock value wouldn’t be spoilt by reading reviews and plot synopses before I was treated to this film on the big screen. Whilst I’m talking about the shock factor in his films – if you haven’t already, you have to see Balada triste de trompeta (2010), featured at last year’s festival and including my current favourite line in a film “I bit Franco!”

Back to La chispa de la vida, this is a satirical film, which highlights the topical issue of the financial crisis.  The film featuresan out of work publicist who invented the Coca-Cola strap-line “Coca-Cola – la chispa de la vida…” When he finds himself at death’s door, impaled on a monument in Cartagena, he agrees to a primetime interview as a way of securing the financial future of his family.

This is like no other film I have ever seen – but this is something that I say after every product of the cult director Álex de la Iglesia … see it!

Saturday 16th March – 15.40

La voz dormida – Dir Benito Zambrano (2011)

Starring – Inma Cuesta, Maria León, Marc Clotet, Daniel Holguin.

lvd02Some people think that Spanish directors should move away from Civil War themes but I don’t agree. I think the Spanish Civil War was the most significant event of the last century and the atrocities and horrors should still be highlighted on screen to educate future generations and to honour those who fell.

La voz dormida does exactly that and more specifically, it pays homage to the women of the Civil War who were held in prisons, interrogated, tortured and shot. Based on the novel by Dulce Chacón, the film starts Inma Cuesta (Primos) as Hortensia, a pregnant Republican held in the Ventas prison in Madrid. Her younger sister Pepita played by Goya winner Maria León, attempts to prevent her from falling at the hands of the firing squads.

This is an original take on the Civil War drama in that it focuses on the women of the war and is worth seeing if only for the outstanding performances by Cuesta and León.

Saturday 16th March – 18.15

Ali– Dir Paco R. Baños (2012)

Starring – Verónica Forqué, Nadia de Santiago, Julián Villagrán.

Ali1This was my first film followed by Q&A of the festival and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Set in a colourful Seville, the coming-of-age film is as attractive to watch as it is sensitive in its treatment of the relationship between teenager Ali and her Mum – who suffers from mental health issues.

It is worth seeing by anybody who appreciates how life experiences can cause people to build a wall around themselves and push away those that love them and might just be the right people to help them through such painful experiences.

Sunday 17th March – 12.00

Las largas vacaciones del 36– Dir Jaime Camino (1976)

Starring – Concha Velasco, José Sacristán, Francisco Rabal, Ángela Molina.

I started my annual marathon ¡Viva! Sunday with this matinée classic from late Franco era Spain. This film highlights the effect that the Civil War  had on middle-class families spending their summer holidays in a destination for bourgeois Barcelonans.

I liked how the characters in this rural summer holiday setting became a representation of the wider political situation in the rest of Spain and how the reactions of the children to events both reflected and contrasted those of their elders.

Sunday 17th March – 14.20


Els nens saltvatges– Dir Patricia Ferreira (2012)

Starring – Marina Comas, Àlex Monner, Albert Baró.

ensThis was my second director Q&A of the festival and Patricia Ferreira set the film up perfectly in her introduction by saying little more than that we were about to see a film that was inspired by a real event that was so shocking that it had to be represented on film. In Catalan and Castillian, the film tells the tale of teenage rebellion and the lives of Alex, Gabi and Oki from their three viewpoints. Snippets of police interviews and flashbacks point to the fact that something terrible has happened but the viewer doesn’t know what exactly until right at the end of the film.

 

The film is therefore tense and gripping throughout and it totally proves right the saying “it’s always the quiet ones”!

Sunday 17th March – 18.10

La vida empieza hoy– Dir Laura Mañá (2010)

Starring – Pilar Bardem, María Barranco, Sonsoles Benedicto, Eduardo Blanco, Mariana Cordero.

lveh

Slightly achy-legged but happy, I completed my ¡Viva! viewing of the day with a comedy about sex lives in the twilight years. The action centres around a group of retired men and women attending sex classes in a local community centre. La vida empieza hoy features the most dramatic change of image make-over in cinema history and a fantastic performance by Pilar Bardem – mum of the legend that is Javier!

The film is hilarious (some great one-liners and cringe-worthy sex scenes) as it is tear-provoking and was a perfect way to end a perfect ¡Viva! Sunday.

Monday 18th March – 18.25

El mundo es nuestro– Dir Alfonso Sánchez (2012)

Starring – Alfonso Sánchez, Alberto López, Pepe Rodriguez, Antonia Gómez, Maria Cabrera, Alfonso Valenzuela.

emenOne of my favourite ¡Viva! days by far! This film screening followed a fab (as ever) talk by Carmen Herrero of Manchester Metropolitan University entitled Indignados, crisis and film: New directions in Spanish cinema and Screen 1 was packed and buzzing!

The film was also followed by a Q&A with Alfonso Sánchez and Alberto López. El mundo es nuestro is a comedy which highlights the dire economic situation in Spain and in particular Andalucía and also the craziness that characterizes (meant affectionately) Seville during Semana Santa. Two men from Seville attempt to rob a bank, choosing the garb of holy-week penitents as disguises. Things do not exactly go to plan…

I LOVED this film! I LOVED the entertaining Q&A session after. Alfonso and Alberto were funny and interesting and I am determined so spread the good word about this film to as many people as possible after hearing how difficult it has been for them to get support for their film due to the topic it treats. Watch it! Buy it! Share it! ¡Por favor!

Friday 22nd March – 20.40

Lobos de Arga– Dir Juan Martinez Moreno (2011)

Starring – Gorka Otxoa, Carlos Areces, Secun de la Rosa

ldaAfter a few days off, I was back at the fest, joined by my partner-in-blog Esther. We saw Lobos de Arga after a Cornerhouse pizza – somewhat a tradition of ours and if I’m honest, a little too much wine. Lobos de Arga is an amusing parody of the werewolf horror genre. Tomás, the protagonist is a writer who returns to his home village of Arga in Galicia and finds himself charged with the task of breaking an ancient curse in order to save the people of Arga from a pack of werewolves!

It wasn’t the best film of the festival but a light-hearted and entertaining way to spend a Friday night!

Saturday 23rd March  – 16.00

30 años de oscuridad– Dir Manuel H. Martín (2011)

30adoThis was a marvellous way to end my festival experience 2013. 30 años de oscuridad is an unforgettable documentary which taught me a lot about Spain’s “moles” – the people who saved themselves by hiding in cellars, attics and even behind the walls of their own houses during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime.

I loved the mixture of historical footage, interviews and animation used to create an unforgettable documentary that I would recommend to anyone interested in this period of history.

And that was it for this year! All that was left was to enjoy the sangría and cerveza at the Fiesta Clausura and look forward to next year’s event.

fiestaclausura

Special thanks to Jessie Gibbs for putting the fab programme together… The best yet!
are it!

Y ¡hola! Jason Isaacs

LB

All That Glitters – Oscars predictions 2013 (85th)

Here are my annual Oscar predictions, based as always on seeing as many films as I could  – 23 out of 53 nominated films.  I’ve given my thoughts and after the night I’ll update my successes and failures! I will also be livetweeting from @shegeekbham all night if anyone is curious about my take on outfits, speeches, winners, losers and how much it makes me sad that Nora Ephron, Tony Scott and Celeste Holm (from All About Eve) are dead.

Best Picture nominated films: In summary

Watched and loved: Argo, Amour, Django Unchained

Watched and enjoyed: Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miserables, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Watched: Lincoln

Wasn’t interested in: Life of Pi

So I’ve listed my preditions below as follows: Category  – What Will Win  – What I want to Win

Whether I was right will be updated on 25 Feb 2013.

Best Picture – Argo – Amour/Argo

Amour will win Best Foreign Language, so even though it is actually better than most of these nominees, it still won’t win the top gong.  That’s how I felt about Toy Story 3 too.

I originally thought Lincoln would win based on numbers of nominations and general American epicness, but I think that the directorial snub means Argo may get picture as a compromise. Also everyone loves to see George Clooney  onstage.

At the end of the day these are mainstream awards and of the mainstream runners Argo kept me engaged and intrigued throughout.  Les Mis was lovely but pretty niche, Beasts is too Indie and loads of voters probably haven’t seen it.  Silver Linings just isn’t epic enough, Lincoln is a big old history lesson, Life of Pi feels good but not great and Zero Dark Thirty & Django – I feel may be too intense and frivolous for the Academy respectively.

Best Director –Steven Speilberg -Benh Zeitlin

I love indie underdogs, but I suspect Goliath has David beat.

I should note that I was annoyed that Kathryn Bigelow wasn’t nominated because I certainly think she did an better job than other nominees, I was devastated that Ben Affleck was overlooked, because his direction was pretty masterful.

Best Actor In A Leading Role – Daniel Day Lewis -I’m ambivalent

Daniel Day-Lewis always gives  amazing commitment but Jean Valjean was clearly tailor made for Hugh Jackman so it would be nice for a shock victory on his part and I think he’s the only other contender.

I haven’t caught The Master, which I’m annoyed about and Flight, which I’m not.

Best Actress In A Leading Role – Emmanuelle Riva- Emmanuelle Riva

Jessica Chastain would make a lovely surprise winner, but I don’t think anyone who has seen Amour has stopped talking about Madame Riva and rightly so.

Best Supporting Actor – Robert DeNiro – Robert De Niro

Battle of the heavyweights.  Everyone nominated here has an Oscar, everyone nominated here is a joy to watch.   For me it’s between the Tommy Lee Jones and Robert De Niro.  They both have excellent pedigree but I really enjoyed the nuanced performance RDN gave in Silver Linings Playbook.  The cast nestled really well together and whilst Jennifer Lawrence was stand-out, Robert De Niro glued the whole film together.

Best Supporting Actress –Anne Hathaway- Amy Adams

Amy Adams is long overdue and for me it’s consistent excellent acting vs and outstanding achievement in a particular scene.

If I compare how I felt after Mon’ique’s scene stealing, Oscar winning scene, the film was unimaginable without her, and whilst Anne Hathaway was undoubtedly great ,it doesn’t eclipse how I feel about how compelling I find Amy Adams.  She’s the main reason I kicked myself when I discovered I missed The Master at the cinema, she is always intriguing and definitely deserving of an Oscar (yep I want her to win even though I haven’t seen the film.)

Best Original Screenplay – Quentin Tarantino – Quentin Tarantino/Michael Haneke

I think Quentin Tarantino will win and this will not bother me at all.  The dialogue is witty and pithy and QT at his very best.  That said writing dialogue for someone afflicted with a stroke and the man trying to communicate with her.  It would be magnificent to honour that with a statuette.

Best Adapted Screenplay – Chris Terrio – Argo – I have no strong feeling.

I pretty much always get the Screenplay categories wrong.   It’s pretty apples and oranges to me.  Adaptation is incredibly difficult and I won’t feel a sense of outrage whoever wins.

Foreign Language Film-Amour – Amour

It’s nominated for Best picture.  It’s outstanding, compelling and touching.  I suspect the most widely viewed of the nominees by a long way. I have to say I haven’t seen the other but definitely planning on catching No and A Royal Affair.

A now for the categories which I would consider mostly hunches and guesses rather than educated speculation

Documentary Feature – 5 Broken Cameras

Total guess.  I haven’t seen any, although Searching for Sugarman had a decent release and I’ve herad excellent things about How to Survive a Plague.  I really should watch these.

Documentary Short-Mondays at Racine : Total guess – If I haven’t caught the documentary features…

Best Animated Feature Film – The Pirates! Band of Misfits – Pirates/Paranorman

Ooh I’ve watched all but Wreck it Ralph.  Brave was lovely, Frankenweenie was typical Burton weirdeness and I love Mackinnon and Saunders’ work with him (yay brits) .  Paranorman was great, unique and funny but Aardman are masters of animation and can I say again yay Stop Motion, yay Britain!

Cinematography – Roger Deakins, Skyfall – Roger Deakins, Skyfall

In 2008 I went to the Edinburgh Film Fetsival Roger Deakins Q&A with co-nominee Seamus McGarvey and I was captivated by this lovely, eloquent man.  (Both men in fact were incredibly engaging to listen to).  Look at his credits people  – 10 nominations to date, WHY HAS THIS MAN NOT GOT AN OSCAR? WHHHHY?  That’s right nominated TWICE in one year and still didn’t win.  Admitedly, it is not a good reason to give him an Oscar “so Esther can finally stop whingeing about it”, but there are other reasons so just, please, give him one Academy.  Also Skyfall did look sodding amazing.

All these men are great masters of light, so my particular obsession and personal feelings sort of aside,  I would genuinely be thrilled for Seamus McGarvey to have an Oscar (did you see Avengers Assemble and We Need to Talk About Kevin)  and Django and Lincoln where both skilfully shot. I can’t talk to Life of Pi but as it involves some significant CGI that would be my only “meh” winner.

Film Editing – Argo – Can’t comment:  Total guess, but if it’s going to get Best Film it should win a technical nod too.

Sound Editing – Zero Dark ThirtyCan’t comment: Total guess, that said there was a lot going on sound-wise in the film, and very little music so sound did create mood in a very effective way.  Not sure if that’s what the Academy looks for.

Sound Mixing – Les Miserables – Can’t comment: Total guess, but mixing live vocals must be a total bugger and it was incredibly well done.

Make-up– Lisa Westcott, Les Miserables: I haven’t seen the others but it won the BAFTA and Hugh Jackman aged marvellously and the prostitutes were sublime.  I have heard Anthony Hopkins was transformed and I did love the Hobbits, so any winner(s) would be acceptable.

Costume Design- Snow White and The Huntsman –Can’t comment.

When Sandy Powell is not nominated I have no go-to guess.  I went out on a limb here because Snow White and Ravenna’s outfits were incredibly memorable.  That said period costuming often does well here and the outfits in Anna Karenina were sumptuous, I felt the Les Mis outfits were pretty well dictated by years of stage costumes and Lincoln seemed historically accurate but I wouldn’t really have a clue. Mirror Mirror, was very fairytale.

 Music (Original Score) John Williams, Lincoln – Meh

I went with my gut here. Although my gut was fighting with Thomas Newman.  I’m fairly ambivalent about who wins, although Argo was my favourite of the films and I generally like Alexandre Desplat. Yep, I’m totally hedging.

Music (Original Song) – Skyfall- Skyfall

Everybody Needs A Best Friend was not my favourite song from Ted, I wasn’t a huge fan of Suddenly (although Hugh Jackman sang it beautifully), I haven’t heard the Chasing Ice and Life of Pi songs  – which leaves me with Adele, awesome Adele who I REALLY want to win and hopefully give an awesome, swear ridden speech.

Art Direction- Anna Karenina- Anna Karenina

Wasn’t the hobbit house already there in like 3 other films?  Some nice dashes in Les Mis, but it didn’t stand out for me, Anna Karenina had high goals and looked magnificent.

Visual Effects –Life of Pi- Life of Pi

Tiger on a boat and other assorted marvels, yep give it a gong.  Although the final Avengers battle was nerdtastic and you know, creating Middle Earth is always tons of work!

Short film (Animated)– Fresh Guacomole – Decide for yourselves!

Adam And Dog http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtTQ9dPGBqg

Fresh Guacomole http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQMO6vjmkyI (made me hungry, very clever, and also short)

Head Over Heels http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHs3Pe32b8Q

Paperman – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVp5BHQLX_w  (fantasia for a modern age)

& THE SIMPSONNNS….

Short Film (Live Action)– Curfew-Your guess is as good as mine!  here’s the official trailer.

Let the good times roll!

ELC