In this episode we are joined by the lovely man that is Baz Cox or @Baz_Film as he’s known on twitter and he is the first to join us in our slightly new altered format. This is where Me @CinemaTronix and the gang Raghav @raghavmodi Scott @Celluloidical and Ian @i_nesbot (who was absent on recording on this occasion) to talk all about films. We all bring a film we watched recently (old or new) to give things a structure to what is essentially a good old ramble about movies.
This episode we disscuss just what makes a good sequel and what diffrence the year gap between the two. I delve into The new Sin City film, Lucy, What If and Into the Storm. Rag shares his thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy, Baz talks about Two Days, One Night and Scott brings up The Fisher King and Boogie Nights.
DIR: Richard Linklater CAST: Ellar Cotrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater CERTIFICATION: 15 UK RELEASE DATE: 11th July 2014
Winner of the ‘Golden Bear’ at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, Richard Linklater’s 18th film marks a groundbreaking achievement for the director. The idea and execution of using the same actors – only shooting for three three days a year over the course of a 12 year period – may have seemed too grandiose, yet it must be applauded for the audaciousness and ingenuity, as it something of a miracle that he has pulled it off.
Linklater has always been a filmmaker intrigued with time, with ‘Dazed and Confused’, the semi-autobiographical coming of age comedy, is set within a 24 hour period. Then there’s the ‘Before’ trilogy, with each film set 9 years apart, Linklater returns to the same characters, played by the same actors, to see what effect time has had on them. In Boyhood, the passage of time is more obvious as we can without any doubt, see the changes on screen. Not only to Ellar Coltrane, but also with Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Lorelei Linklater. We can see the change in them physically, the greying of hair, the seeping of voices, etcetera. This style of filmmaking, almost treated like a memory of Mason’s, resonates like a memory of mine. Showcasing what we all go through as part of our evolution to becoming an adult.
The film isn’t as solely contained to its main protagonist as the title suggests, each of the above characters also experience growing pains, wether it be moving house, new husbands/wives or jobs, yet, what is paramount in Mason’s story, is the way everything that is said to him, or that effects him, effects us. We have all endured the “I only want what’s best for you” parental anecdotes, and we have all ignored the “You need to be more responsible” ones. Yet, these are the moments that allow the feelings of Mason to come to fruition, and how they affect him going forward. What is so refreshing here, is the way Linklater is seemingly letting the camera be where it needs to, allowing the actors to be relaxed, showcasing their performances in manner that never feels contrived, but natural and honest. A meticulous approach to a simple coming-of-age story.
Ultimately, ‘Boyhood’ isn’t really so much about time, it’s about consciousness, it’s about choices, and it’s about the beauty of naivety. Linklater has pushed the boundaries of filmmaking without losing artistic integrity, with a stellar cast, and beautiful performance from Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood may just be the film of 2014.
Knowing full well the Fault in our Stars was going to tug on the heart strings, and possibly have me sniffling, head in arms, I thought I’d be a brave soul and venture with my Kleenex in hand, to the local cinema for a emotional thrashing regardless.
Shailene Woodley stars as Hazel Grace Lancaster, whom was diagnosed with type-4 thyroid cancer at a young age and is battling on like a trooper. Supported by her parents (Dern and Trammell), Hazel, who finds comfort in her solace, choosing to read a particular book over and over, that just happens to be about cancer, rather than anything much else.
Good old mum and doctor decide it would be good if she went to a support group where she can meet others of similar circumstances. Alas, she goes along complete with oxygen tank on wheels in tow. There she meets and begins a fluid, if slightly jovial friendship with Gus, a cancer patient who is in remission. Gus is full of dexterousness and benevolence, a trait that, whilst often worthy of eye rolling moments, really serves the character well.
As obvious as it is to say it, Hazel and Gus fall in love *insert ahs and coos here* and embark on a journey to Amsterdam (Holland, not New York) as Gus, the lovable fella that he is, has set up a meeting with Peter Van Houghton (Willem Dafoe), the author of Hazel’s favourite book. So, with the doctor’s disapproval, off they go to a city full of tulips and debauchery for fun and frolics.
I’ll leave the synopsis there. If that’s intrigued you, I suggest you stop reading now and go and see the film, as my thoughts below is about to upset the apple cart.
My one (big) problem with the film lies within its force-fed approach to the story. Yes, it was always going to be a difficult narrative to tackle, though the idea has merit, it’s in the execution the problems are evident. The film’s soundtrack is as saccharine as they come. Chock-full of those exaggeratingly sentimental moments, helping those lodged tears embark on a journey down your face. Then there’s the way that Hazel speaks. As a teenager, I knew a few choice words, but not things like “…there’s nothing that can’t be fixed by a Peter Gabriel song”, and whilst I have quoted that out of context, the important thing is that this teenage girl is saying things like this and knows who Peter Gabriel is. Maybe she does, who am I to question what goes on in a teenagers world, it’s not like I was ever one once.
Ultimately by the films tear-jerking finale, (it’s not a spoiler, honest) the cinema was flooded with teenage tears, and tissues were strewn across the isles, and I was utterly done in by the hammer to the head, emotiveness of ‘The Fault in our Stars’. It really does wear its welcome out. A few good scenes aside and charming chemistry from the leads cannot save it from being anything more than an overly sentimental piece that doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression.
Cast: Gugu-Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Emily Watson
Dir: Amma Asante
Release Date: 13th June 2014 (UK)
I am not really a fan of period dramas, so it’s best I get that out the way now. However, I didn’t allow my narrow-mindedness to affect what I hope is an impartial review. So, here it is.
Dido Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is the illegitimate child of John Lindsay (Matthew Goode), a good honest man, and a Captain in Royal Navy. It is in the opening moments of the film we see father and daughter meeting for the first time after the death of her mother, a wonderfully cherished moment that really sets up the emphasis of the film. Realising that a ship is no place for a young black girl, the Captain heads for England, where his great uncle, William Murray (Tom Wilkinson); the 1st Earl of Mansfield, and Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales resides with his wife, Lady Mansfield, (Emily Watson).
With the Captain bound to his duties, he leaves young Dido to be taken care of by his family. Needless to say, an aristocratic family, with deep ties in politics and society alike, having an illegitimate child dumped on their doorstep is fragile enough, but a black girl at that, makes matters even more formidable.
The story of the titular character is based around historical fiction. Inspired by the 1779 painting by an unknown artist (long thought to have been by Johann Zoffany), which now hangs at Scone Palace, Scotland. A beautiful piece of art, although it’s an audacious premise for a big screen adaptation.
We continue to follow the story as the girl becomes a young woman. A sharp, and intelligent individual who is fast learning the ways of the world, all whilst being sheltered from it by her great uncle, yet he is unable protect her from all things, especially matters of the heart.
Her introduction to John Davinier (Sam Reid) is sure sign of where the story will go, a little too obvious, perhaps? Davinier, a prodigious law student and pro-abolitionist, who has his sights set on changing the world. Davinier, who is clearly fighting for the affection of Dido, becomes embattled with her uncle, over the case of the Zong. A ship carrying human cargo as its trade, when it claims to have run out of drinking water and then had to sacrifice its cargo before making it to its destination. The two are at logger-heads over the case, Lord Mansfield, clearly bound by his duties as Chief Justice, to ensure that justice is done, and Davinier who clearly has an emotional attachment to the case, is pushing for a more long term solution for the destitute. Many a great scene in the film comes when Wilkinson and Reid share the screen. The quick-witted, and sharp-tongued dialogue between one another, make for a fascinating watch and gives a sense of genuine elation.
Filmed on location in the Isle of Man, London and Oxford, the film is a mix of sorts, a coming of age drama, a race story and one of social inequities. All set in the 18th Century.
Shot on 4K camera by Ben Smithard (The Damned United, My Week with Marilyn) he captures the beauty in a time filled with horror and exploitation. The design and look of the film is certainly very candid on the eye and the costumes are as you’d expect from a period drama, lavishly created and they each character looks divine. Topped off with a simple, yet not to punctuated score by Rachel Portman (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules), it flows throughout with eloquence.
In summary, Amma Asante’s Belle leaves its mark. A very profound film with a story that hits the right notes. The performances are sincere and impressive, and whilst we have seen recent films look at slavery, this one is more reigned in and less grand in terms of scale, but quite opulent in its execution. I did feel that the scale of the film, whilst it is a profound and worthy tale, it would have been better suited to a mini-series on the small screen, not because the story isn’t going to find its core demographic on the silver screen, just that it will be rather limited, nonetheless, it definitely deserves your attention..