Monday 31 December 2018

Another Year, Another 'New' Me


No flares with this post, just words.

Last year I set realistic goals rather than resolutions because I think I knew, deep down, it was going to be a difficult year. What I didn't realise was that it was going to be a difficult year all round, not just, 'I need to job hunt AGAIN' kind of year.

Last year I was in an odd place, I had been plagued by headaches and given pills to 'fix' the problem. I had also been left to guess my fate in terms of the job I was at and I was in post production on my short film. Lets just say, my optimisim was misplaced.

Over the past year I've had three different jobs (thanks to the worst manager on the planet), my health as declined, I've had to take more pills than I've had to in all my life, I've tried to save a friendship only to have it thrown in my face, my family had to sell and say good bye to my Nan's house, a place we all have lots of memories (my Nan is safe in a home), things just weren't the same this year over Christmas BUT....

On the other hand, I got to attend two very special weddings, two of my best friends got married and both ceremonies were so unique and very them. One local, one in Croatia. I offered the chance to introduce a favourite film of mine at Cinema Rediscovered in Bristol, I have a taken on more writing opportunities, covered Edinburgh Film Festival AND BFI London Film Festival as part of the press and got the whole experience. I got my fourth tattoo, it may be small but its special to me. Despite the bullshit I've put up with, the film is complete!! (but more on that later). After years of saving and months of planning I finally travelled New Zealand, a life long dream of mine (and I've still not posted everything about it!).

There is always good with the bad, so I'll try to focus on the good parts this year. With my contact almost up, its back to the job hunt. I miss the water, so back to more regular swimminng. I haven't been to the cinema enough the past two months so, back to the cinema! Trying to be healthier so back on the bike. I would like to travel more too, but with the job situation, we'll have to see. Short trips and adventures around the UK are in store though. And as for writing, I have two projects lined up and hoping that my film collective gets its break.

Hoping you all have great year ahead.

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday 27 December 2018

Watch List of 2018

With all the 'top ten' film lists alreday out there, mine comes in a little late. Looking similar to other lists and with a few 'obviously that was on the list' films, its been an odd year. There have been some truely superb films out there BUT they've had such a short release in cinemas it seems strange to see them listed even though the film deserve to be there.

A few surprise (for me) films have not made the final list, simply because I wanted to be brutal and only go for the '10. The Coen brothers' anthology, ahead of its time, old West film, 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs' was brilliant, well, 5 out of the 6 stories were brilliant. I won't ramble on about how much I admire the Coens and how those who have watched the film and slated it need an education is storytelling, as you can read that HERE. Another film which rather screams 'Katie's kind of film', Assassination Nation' was a favourite of mine from LFF 2018 but I it deserves a second viewing for me to really get into it.

You may have noticed I have NOT included some truely brilliant films such as Infinity Wars, Deadpool 2 or Crazy Rich Asians. I do love these Hollywood films but I wanted to highlight other films that really deserve to be on 'best of 2018' lists:

Skate Kitchen*, Dir. Crystal Moselle

 Supa Modo*, Dir. Likarion Wainaina, The Shape of Water*, Dir. Guillermo del Toro, You Were Never Really Here, Dir. Lynne Ramsay

 Isle of Dogs, Dir. Wes Anderson, The Breaker Upperers*, Dir. Madeleine Sami & Jackie van Beek, American Animals, Dir. Bart Layton

 Sorry to Bother You, Dir. Boots Riley, Lady Bird*, Dir. Greta Gerwig, The Square, Dir. Ruben Östlund

*All these films pass the Bechdel Test

With the lack of Photoshop (I'm so lost without it) please forgive me my dull and boring pictures included in my posts from the last month.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Thursday Movie Picks: 2019 Movies You're Looking Forward To

Of course I am looking forward to Avengers: Endgame, that goes without saying, but I am first and foremost a Star Wars fans so for nearly two I will have to wait for the third film in the new trilogy. With all these rumours floatig round, it's hard to stay focused. I'm seriously lackng an info on what World Cinema films are out in 2019 so that's why there isn't any.

Some films don't even have a proper poster yet or any poster at all such as Rian Johnson's 'Knieves Out' which has an epic cast and described as a murder mystery, so, my dream film then. Obviously Disney is smashing the screens with Aladdin, Lion King and Dumbo. Not interested really in the first two as I'm not convinced by the casting of one (white washing) and the other isn't a live action, so, lies. But Dumbo does look so epically sad bu also fantastical, just hoping Tim Burton doesn't ruin another Disney classic. And one that surprised me, Detective Pikachu. It actually looks pretty good. 'Chaos Walking' also sounds intriguing as a possible beginning of another YA adaptation franchise.

Here are jus a few of the films I'm looking foward to:

 I know 'The Man who Killed Don Quiote' has no general release date BUT I live in hope it will for next year.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves

Sunday 16 December 2018

"This is my house, I have to defend it."

 Unlike most 80s films (literally born at the end of the 80s), my first John Hughs film was not a teen classic of the time, mine was 'Home Alone'. This was the true 90s kids film, who watched it wanting to recreate just one of the amazing traps Kevin McCallister makes in the film. Not only is the film ranked one of the greatest Christmas films of all time, it was also the highest-grossing live action comedy of all time in the US, until, of all things, The Hangover Part 2 beat it in 2011. It is, however still the highest grossing Christmas film in the US and teh film that earned infamous child star Macaulay Culkin a Golden Globe nomination.

Upon its release in 1990, the film received, surprisingly, mixed reviews, which makes me wonder why. What's not to like and enjoy about a kid who gets left behind by accident by hs family when they go on a Christmas holiday. This is every kid's dream to have the house to their selves and do whatever they want. Of course, no one thinks too dodgy crooks are going to rob their house thinking its empty. Anyone else would call family or the police but not Kevin.

No matter how big our family is, we all feel at one point or other like Kevin. The youngest in his family, seen as annoying by his older siblings abd disruptive by his parents. Always feeling left out and not taken any notice of. Although we the audience get to enjoy the hilariy and actually really dangerous torture devices and traps set up for Harry and Marv, a Pinky and the Brain type criminal duo, his 'accomplishments' are never seen by his family. Although they see he is more than 'the youngest' and congratulate him for surviving by himself, his true nature and skills are still never appreciated by them. Although their reaction to how he set the house up with traps, might not go down too well for everyone.

'Home Alone' is an odd classic compared to what Christmas films are churned out in recent years. It feels as if Hallmark has taken over. John Hughes' story unfold like any old Christmas film, family fueds, a comic but dire tragedy, a desparate journey and happy reunion. But the twist in this 'family' film is just as the poster says, it isn't about family, its about defending your castle or in this case an 8 year old who takes on two dangerous criminals by putting them through some of the deadliest booby traps constructed. Seriously don't try this at home, no matter how tempting. The film is given an extra edge of oddness in the form Joe Pesci who plays Harry. Know for his violent gangster characters, its a treat to see him paired with lanky dim Marv (Daniel Stern) barking orders, flashing his gold tooth and having a pillow full of feathers explode in his face. The fact that quite a bit of the joy of the film takes place in the last third of the film and where all the comedic but deadly violence happens. Slapstick is stretched the very edge of its meaning BUT there is no denying that we all enjoy seeing 'bad' guys' suffer. Besides, its Christmas, we're allowed to have fun.

Kevin's plan of action is glimpsed in the film as he unrolls a basic plan of one floor of the house, with tar, features and red hot mentioned, what I always wonder is how the hell did he clean up afterwards??

As a fun Christmas throwback, Home Alone is back in cinemas in the UK thanks to Park Circus. Take a look at where its playing, especially if you've never seen it, then you'll understand why everyone says; 'Merry Christmas ya filthy animal!' at Christmas.


Thank you to Park Circus for the pictures/poster. 
© 1990 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Blind Spot: The Bodyguard

Some would say that this might not be up there with the classics of old but where the 90s are concerned, there are many classics.

All I knew about 'The Bodyguard' was that Whitney Houston sang in it and 90s powerhouse Kevin Costner was the title role, plus there was the very famous cover of 'I Will Always Love You' sang by Whitney but in fact was a Dolly Parton song. I only found out this year that that song was from 'The Best Little Whore House in Texas'. I'm so glad I saw that musical first, make me look at 'The Bodyguard' in a whole different way.

A romantic thriller about a famous singer and actress who is forced to hire a bodyguard, the best that money can buy, after a series of attacks written and physical occur in the lead up to the Oscars. The thrill of the chase is who the stalker or attacker is and will he get what he wants, but of course the romance has to have a fair share of screen time. At first they fight, she'd difficult, he's strong and silent-ish but they fall in love anyway because, that the movies man. This may sound like I'm being cynical but I actually enjoyed this story. Predictable, yes, thrilling, of course, very silly in places, definitely.

Even though there are issues with the nearly everything, I can forgive this as not only was a really late to the Whitney sings 'I Will Always Love You' to the Prince of Thieves himself, Costner, but it's also because its an easy watch which is exactly what you want it to be. Although I really thought it was the chauffeur who was the stalker, that guy was creepy at the start. 

Films about films or actresses playing actresses is always fascinating to watch. It feels like you're behind the scenes of what you're watching. A story behind the story is always the one I'm more interested in. This is also the nature of thrillers. The romance part of the story is there to build characters and for the audience to indulge in. The music is fantastic, even that strange number Whitney sings at the club where the fans literally rip her clothes off, and its also Whitney herself in her prime. Having seen a few documentaries about her, her story and life are fresh in my mind. 

One things that struck me was the relationship between the sisters. On the surface, they're fine but really, the non famous one really hates her sister, life, fame and all that inbetween. There are a few stories of sisters supporting each other reluctantly and secretly hating each other. This bothers me more than, in the eyes of the film, a side story should. 

It's interesting to learn that this could have have been a 70s film with Ryan O'Neal or Steve McQueen and Diana Ross, I would have liked to see that film. Then we could have had a whole 'A Star is Born' thing going. Just how 'The Bodyguard' ends, I will end this post, oddly and abruptly.

  To find out how it all started, head over to The Matinee and to see what's happening now, check out Returning Videotapes who is the new host of the Blind Spot Series.

(Apologies for the lack or originality with my banners - having a 'my computer broke down and lost all my software issue)

Sunday 9 December 2018

What do you want? You want the moon?

 Unpopular opinion; 'It's A Wonderful Life' is a lie. It's not a wonderful life.

Took me years to see it and when I did, I found myself angry and frustrated for poor old George. All he ever wanted was to leave Bedford Falls but he never did anything he wanted. What's so wonderful about that?

From this, you might be thinking I'm some kind of Scrooge or to you youngsters, a Grinch. Well I'm not a big fan of the Grinch either but that's another post. I actually really love Christmas. I used to have my own traditions when I was a kid and enforced some when I got older but Christmas this year will be very different which is sad but all things change. I'm still keeping my Christmas spirit though. Putting up the tree (soon), wrapping the presents and watching all my Christmas films. 'It's a Wonderful Life' is NOT included.

I always saw Frank Capra's classic as a beacon of hope and Christmas cheer and that's how it was sold to me. Of course as I got older, still never having seen it, I read that George, our hero, goes through a 'Christmas Carol' type deal but just with the future part, where he sees what lives would be like if he hadn't been born. The fact that George was about to kill himself by jumping off a bridge only having to jump in anyway to save an old man, his guardian angel, puts a downer on the whole story. George is pushed to his limit when he steps up to that bridge, having had to miss out on countless chances to escape his hometown, where I'm sure he would be far happier. He is always making sacrifices and always 'doing the right thing' for everyone else, its no surprise he ends up on that bridge. He's meant to be saving his town, friends and family from the evil Mr Potter but how has it come to be George's problem? The visit to 'Pottersville' just mounts more pressure on George than ever. Seeing that yes he may have saved people, or changed people's lives, but I still can'y shake the fact that it is all at the expence of George's real happiness. What I would have liked to see is what if George HAD got to live his dream, what would have his life been like?

I suppose if there had been anything different, there wouldn't have been a film, right? George's plight just doesn't sit well with me, which is why I can't happily watch the film. I want to George to travel the world with Mary and have a life outside Bedford Falls, but I know what will happen when I play the film, the same un-wonderful life. Give me a Christmas film where everything does work out fine in the end.

Thursday 6 December 2018

Tales From the Screen Age...

First with excitement and then with eager anticipation I watched the first trailer of 'Mortal Engines', an adaptaion of a book I loved when I was younger, back in 2003. I had always said the book had cinematic potential and now we can see it in cinemas this week!

The concept art was beautifully spot on but the trailer worried me. In fact each trailer release I doubted that this was going to be the story I loved. And yes I know, 'you shouldn't compare the book to the film' but readers will always do that. The fact that Peter Jackson was on board gave me hope,  but he didn't direct it. Ignore the marketing that makes it seem like he did, he didn't. But despite that, I was still keen to see it. M full review over at VultureHound which will be up soon. But until then, HERE are my thoughts about the possible new franchise to try and dominate the cinema.

Side note, having seen the film, I am actually spurred on to read the next book in the series.

UPDATE: My review of the film can be read HERE.



Wednesday 28 November 2018

No One Puts Olivia in the Corner

As I queued at 8:15 am on a breezy October morning, I wasn't entirely sure what I was in for. I knew it was about a heist and there was a political element to the story and there were four awesome women at the center of it all. As I was handed a copy of the book the film was based on, I started to get more excited. It wasn't what I had expected, it was far better.
When renowned thief Harry Rawlings is killed in a robbery gone wrong along with three of his partners, their widows are left behind with varying problems of their own. After Veronica Rawling is threatened by crime boss Jamal Manning, who's money Harry was stealing. Knowing that each of the wives will eventually be targeted, Veronica enlists, now single mother and small business owner Linda and Alice, who's has turned to escorting to support herself. Bringing in Belle, the four women plan a heist from what Harry left behind.

Based on the 80s British TV series of the same name, written by crime writer Lynda La Plante, the premise of four widows who's criminal husbands are killed in a job gone wrong, so decide to take over the final job themselves is gripping enough without the add cast power and the keen eye of Steve McQueen. It's a thriller that seems familiar, with the politics, corruption and betrayl making up the background. The real story is about these four women who are capable of more than they give themselves credit for. When these women are threatened, they don't cower in a corner, they take a stand and fight back. And its glorious.

It's esay to see how the story would play out in a TV series. With a multitide of characters to explore, politician Jack Mulligan and his strained relationship with his father and his desire to do something else, the Manning brothers who are crime bosses but want to do some good in their community and even the lesser seen characters such as the wife who wasn't involved with the heist, Amanda but even though there was quite a few players in the game, McQueen along with Gillian Flynn who co-wrote the screenplay, manage to condense several plot lines into a streamlined high stakes thriller.

With four lead roles for women, all bringing something different to the heist table, they all had characters that were more than the 'wife' role. Viola Davis obviously stands out and not just because she and her dog Olivia are an amazing duo just them, but she bring command and realisations to the group all the while masking her real pain over the loss of her husband. As out of all the couples, they seemed the happiest and strongest. And one last thing about the dog, Olivia, is a Westie, a west highland terrier, my favourite breed of dog. She is adorable and I'm so glad of all the screen time she has.

No one puts Olivia in the corner.

McQueen's version of 'Widows' offer more than a straightforward heist film. There are dirty politics and family struggles being played out, alongside some cchilling scenes from the chamleon that is  Daniel Kaluuya who is Manning's younger more violent brother. The film is a cold hard look at crime and how no one cares about your grief, not when there's money on the line.


Monday 26 November 2018

She Wants Revenge

She Wants Revenge, those words spark a sense of rebellion in you. Either the story or the filmmaker will be something outside of the box. Unofficially the ‘horror’ strand of the festival, the selection of films varied from traditional horror to new ways of the presenting the genre.

‘V’ broke the fourth wall with a young vampire who relates her story, in her own words, not letting on everything about her past. Taking the vampire genre and giving it a new blood, a new character and a different voice. ‘Baggage’ explored what it means to literally carry your past problems, friendships, relationships with you. Choreographed brilliantly by the two lead actresses who are attached to each other throughout the film. The idea that we are our own worst enemy was touched upon in ‘Bit’ about a dancer who finds out she failed an audition she battles herself as she dances in a mirror against a darker vicious version of herself. ‘The Other Side with Valerie Hope’ might not be a horror we’ve seen before, about a medium who finds herself in a difficult situation and her ‘gifts’ are put to the test. With a vert charismatic lead, the story does border the line of dark comedy with a very satisfying end.

New and social media makes an impact on us all, as we are fed perfected images from advertisements and other media, #EatPretty is fantastically pieced together using a technology used in beauty advertising, its grips and pulls you in with voiceovers from actors, seemingly innocent, a darker meaning lies beneath the perfect surface. The amazingly shot ‘Veiled’ explores the mythology of Jinn, using cleverly devised special effects and inspired by writings in the Quran about these creatures or beings that live in parallel with us. ‘The Old Woman Who Hid Her Fear Under the Stairs’ falls back to more traditional horror or dark fairytale with the only dialogue from a video about how to capture and trap your physical fear. It’s a cleverly devised story and as an audience vert quick to believe you can indeed keep your fear under the stairs. ‘The Blue Door’ which has no dialogue, is one the best horrors I’ve seen. Building suspense with quiet and an ever moving door that really does creep the hell out of me and everyone in the audience. The set itself felt like a character, created from old used film and TV sets, it was such a simple story but it had the best reaction from the audience. Ending on the perfectly named ‘Catcalls’ which sent shivers down my spine. Two girls take revenge on a pervert in ways you would never have guessed. Apparently based on a true story, I am really dying to know the real story!

After watching nine stories from women who are all talented storytellers, I was a bit shaken (horror has that effect on me) and also very excited to see more films from these filmmakers. Underwire is truly inspiring and I can’t wait for next year’s fest.

Monday 19 November 2018

Not Tonight Josephine

Everyone knows the film, even if they haven’t seen it. The iconic film about two down on their luck musicians who accidentally witness a mob killing go on the run dressed as women and join an all women’s jazz band. They meet sweet, slightly naive and ever so romantic Sugar who becomes best friends with one and falls in love with the other who tricks her into thinking he’s a millionaire. Labelled a romantic comedy but the screwball ethics of plot twist this the film little more than romance and comedy combined. Especially with the side mafia storyline which has a life all of its own. At times, it could be seen as two films in one and as they cross over that’s where you find ‘Some Like it Hot’.

It’s easy to forget that ‘Some Like It Hot’ was made in 1959, entering the 60s where the films changed, the mood changed, the people changed but ‘Some Like It Hot’ stands out from the crowd in more ways than two actors dressed in drag to escape the mafia. It’s also sometimes easy to forget that the film is set in the 1920s, despite the raid on the speakeasy at the start. We become absorbed into Joe and Gerry’s world and their struggle as musicians and later their life on the run.

Shot in black and white, giving the films slight film noir tone, especially where the speak easy and mafia are concerned. Marilyn Monroe actually had a contract that her films had to be in colour but as the Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis’ make up made them look terrible in colour, she agreed to the black and white film. Which is thankful, as if if you’ve seen any posters or photos from the film in colour you can see the guys’ make up really needed some toning down. The atmospheric tone and colour of the film gives it the edge, making the film feel like two stories colliding dramatically and sometimes violently. The first 15 minutes, we have a car chase, gunfire and look at life in Chicago during prohibition. Once we enter the funeral parlour (hint hint to Secret Cinema) and the world of jazz and dancing girls while the wink wink coffee is served, we finally meet the real protagonists of the film. The film noir is interrupted while the comedy takes for a sort while, until the garage massacre where the two stories crossover. Not meeting again until Florida where another violent crime is witnessed. During the scene where the Italian Opera enthusiasts are celebrating, there is sense of what was happening while Daphne and Josephine were getting to know their band mates and Sugar. This cleverly woven double bill works so perfectly as both stories continue to act like their in different stories. The magic of cinema isn’t broken once, not even at the end where nothing really is resolved. Ending on a joke and step towards the future.

As the film contains a few themes that would have raised the eyebrows of the Hays Code, the film was in fact what helped break down the ridiculous censorship rules. The film dares to be different and doesn’t care about ethics. If the film were made now, of course there would be outage BUT the film allows itself not only to commit to suggestive acts but actually calls themselves out on it. The only loose end, Sugar.

Sugar is the sweet and ‘not vert bright’ gal. She’s talented, beautiful and terribly modern. She knows all the mistakes she makes will hurt her in the end but she’s determined to live life to the fullest. But the one thing I can’t let go, why does she run after the guys at the end. She’s heartbroken but suddenly she forgives Joe for tricking her, using her, lying to her, all in a matter of minutes. I know its a film and I know it ties up the ending but it just doesn’t sit right. Sugar deserves better. But then again, so does Gerry/Daphne.

The duo at the center of the film are a perfect team. With their personalities shown within minutes of them being introduced and talking for a few lines of dialogue. Joe is the player, smooth talker at times and the one who makes bad decisions. Gerry is the practical thinker, the personality and the one who actually comes up the idea to dress in drag, he’s up for almost anything. Jack Lemmon at the time was not a big star, but he is the one who stands out from all three leads. Barely changing his voice, he morphs from Gerry to Daphne with ease and hilarity, he steals the show in every scene.

Thanks to Park Circus, this brilliant comedy is back in the cinema. Having only ever seen it on TV or DVD, the film is amazing on the big screen. It’s a rare treat to see one of your favourite films of all time in such splendour. From the witty and delicious dialogue to the wonderful cast, Billy Wilder’s masterpiece is one that will never age.

Find out about the film's re-release at BFI and where the 4K restoration will be screened HERE.

All pictures courtesy of Park Circus 

Thursday 15 November 2018

Thursday Movie Picks: Museum

Russian Ark
 Known for being shot in a single 96 minute Steadicam sequence, director Alexander Sokurov's 'masterpiece' took four attempts to complete. With over 2,000 actors involved and 3 orchestras and filmed entirely in the Winter Palace of the Russian State Hermitage Museum, this film indeed is a cinematic achievement. A narrator and supposed ghost joins another traveller, a French diplomat and together they travel through 33 rooms, depicting moments from history. It's a marvel of a film but I have to admit, I felt quite lost and only enjoyed moments of it. However, it did make me want to see the palace for myself.
The Square
This film about an art museum curator who's life starts to unravel when his wallet and phone are stolen and demands them back. At the same time a new installation is opening and a marketing strategy he is over seeing goes horribly wrong. The film is satrical and critical of many things surrounding the art world, with scenes and events in the film inspired by director and writer Ruben Östlund's real life. Everyone talks about the performance artist scene BUT the film is much more than that.

Museum (Museo)
As one of the films I saw at the London Film Festival this year, despite starring Gael Garcia Bernal, my reason for going to see it, it was one of the films that made the least impact on me. Two students, wanting to do 'something' with their dull lives, decide to steal priceless Mayan artefacts from the prestigious National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. As thrillers go, the heist part of the film is smooth and is actually successful, its what happens when they try to sell the stolen goods. With everyone in Mexico on high alert for the theives, the items are literally priceless with no respectable dealer wanting to touch them and no other fence to move them on. Juan, the more ambitious of the two, becomes more and more desparate, not wanting his plan to be for nothing. While Benjamin, the one who wanted to quite before they started, is too afraid to continue until he finally comes through when its too late. Not knowing the real story, made the drama more exciting/stressful but never really understanding why the two guys did what they did was just frustrating. In the end, it felt that it was all for nothing.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Way Out West

If, like me, you've seen Fivel Goes West, the sequel to the much loved An American Tail, you will of course have that song that everyone sings at the start of the film. You know the one. Everyone decides to leave New York and travel west to make their fortune. It's a great song. It is also an excellent way to begin writing about the Coen brothers' latest film, their anthology film of tales set out the west.

This was one of the films at the London Film Festival I had to make sure I bought a ticket for, I was NOT going to miss this. Standing inches away from the brothers on the red carpet before I walked it myself and settling in for the UK premiere. It was worth seeing on the big screen. Some films feel cinematic and thats what the Coens can do, create stories that need to be seen in a cinema. So, it is a shame that the film is going to Netflix, a phrase I find myself saying all too often. But at least this may encourage more people to see it as it ore available.

Anyway, happy trails folks, I hope you all get to see this fantastic 6 tales in 1. 

You can read my full review of the film over at VultureHound HERE

Friday 9 November 2018

She Makes Movies

Even though the London Film Festival was last month, I can't stop thinking about the films I saw. Having selected my films carefully (bought tickets) and saw as many films as I could (as press) I did try and see films made by women. Putting a spotlight on three filmmakers I believe deserve a mention, with films that provoked conversation, positive and negative and all I admired for different reasons.

 This story about two young women, daughters of opposing politicians, who fall in love was banned in it's home country Kenya. The ban now lifted so it can be shown in cinemas and be considered for an Oscar. Director Wanuri Kahiu sued Kenya's government in order for her film to be shown in cinemas, showing she wouldn't be pushed over or threatened.

From the brilliantly bold opening credits to the hopeful end, Kahiu's story about love that blossoms between Kena, who hopes to become a nurse and Kiki who wants to travel, is sweet and innocent. As the slowly bond as friends and gently fall in love through stolen kisses and nights out, they are never far from local gossips and the judgement of the people around them. They try and fight for their freedom but its at a cost.

Although the film was not chosen as Kenya's submission to the Oscars, 'Supa Modo' (which I absolutely loved) was chosen instead, the film was shown outside Kenya to audiences who praised the bold beautiful story. A story as tender as 'Rafiki' deserves to be seen.

Nadine Labaki's third feature film has been 5 years in the making. Years of research, 6 months of filming, Labaki has delivered as well as created a true masterpiece of a film about a young boy, living in poverty in Lebanon.  Labki won the Jury Prize at Cannes where the film recieved a standing ovation. The film and Labaki also received a standing ovation at the London Film Festival on its opening night.

Labaki's film is about a young boy, Zain, born into poverty, working on the streets to help feed his large family. After his younger sister, is sold to a much older man for marriage, unable to save her, her leaves his home. He meets and befriends a young mother and illegal immagrant, taking care of her son, Yonas, while she is at work. But one day, after being arrested, the two boys are left to fend of for themselves. The poverty and injustice, as well as a frank speech Zain gives while in prison, calling into a news programme, he talks about those who suffer, including himself and makes the choice of suing his parents giving him life.

Working with non-actors, she found two of the most amazing and profound performances from a toddler and 12 year old boy. At the screening at the London Film Festival, she told us that Zain Al Rafeea who plays Zain, was now safe in Norway attending school for the first time and that Yonas, the baby boy was in fact a girl, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole. Their stories have turned out different but this doesn't change the harsh truths that Labaki has brought to the front of people's minds with her film. She said that she wanted to do something and that the only way she knew how was through film. As awards season creeps up on us, I know the stir the film has caused but what I hope it does is spur people into action. Although Labaki has created an amazing film, this feels more than just another story that has affected people, I hoping it does more.

As the final film I saw at LFF, it couldn't have been better. Inspired by real people and real events, writer and director Eva Husson bravely decided to write a fictional story about women fighting in war and its been take so far out of proportion. The reviews I've read have either been scathing or praise, there doesn't seem to be an inbetween. But Husson is made of much sterner stuff, as proved by the way she handled the Q & A after the screening at LFF. Her first 'questions' proved that the two people talking hadn't listened and one even tried shaming her into not actual knwoing what she was doing. But Husson had done her research and by her expression, she had had to deal with people like that before. Thankfully a third 'question' backed the film for what it stood for and she thanked Husson for the film.

Cutting between present day and flashbacks, a French journalist, coping with her own loss travels to the front lines of war in a Kurdish town with batallion of women freedom fighters. The fighters themselves have suffered under the Islamic State, their families murdered, used as sex slaves, they have escaped hell to fight for freedom.

The reviews and articles questioning the actions of Husson seem to focusing on the fact women are exploited and that it is somehow glorified. I saw a brave group of women fighting for survival and for each other. The fact the women bare resemblance to real life fighters is purposeful and not distasteful. Husson said that she had taken the film to villages, wanting to be respectful and has recieved positive reaction to the film. Maybe I'm missing the point of the film but I saw a film about women fighting in wartime and that's rarely seen on screen, why aren't we talking about that?


Sunday 4 November 2018

September/October Watch List

Some films I missed off September and the very few outside the festival from October, but instead, here are the quick rounds of thoughts on some the films of the last two months:

American Animals
This film really deserves more than a few lines but for now I'll say this film is not a based on a true story, it is a true story. Its a brilliant devised combination of the fiction and reality that doesn't blur the lines of truth but in fact what each of the four guys involved in the failed heist of pricelss books. Even though you can guess the final outcome, you realise by the end that you really can never predict a story like this. The stupidity of people thinking they can pull of this theft is beyond comprehension. Documentary style works so well with the fictionalised scenes of the four guys' reality and how they remember things. And true to true crime stories, not everything is revealed. A question over some detailed is only known by one person and they never give away the real answer. A brilliant film that deserved way more attention than it got. Sometimes people just don't understand what they're missing. 4/5

Life Animated
Beginning as a tragic family story that builds into a heart warming tale of how Disney really did help one boy is just so wonderfully put together with all the usual archival materials as well as animation itself, is one of the best documentaries I've seen and one of the most beautiful stories I've heard in a long time. 4/5

Faces Places
I know some may be outraged that I'm not dedicating an entire post to Agnes Varda but one day I will. I'm actually very new to her work and the wonderful person she is, so, give me time. This has ended up with my trio of documentaries  on this month's watch list. I've not seen a documentary, in a long time where its been such a joyful and whimsical journey. Varda and photographer JR join together to take their art and hearts on the road and its perfection. Personally, I see this film and I think this collaboration gives hope to the future of art and filmmaking. I really wish they'd come to UK and paste up their giant art on villages here. 4/5

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn
Full review is over at My Film Club and can be read HERE. 4/5

For all the films I watched at London Film Festival, most, not all links to my reviews can be found HERE