Out Now – 25th July 2014

The Purge Hercules

Hercules
I’ve heard whispers that this latest version of the legend of Hercules starring The “Dwayne Johnson” Rock is not completely awful. I refuse to believe these rumours and instead rely on my personal bias and prejudices which tell me it will be terrible.

The Purge: Anarchy
Last year’s The Purge brought us the interesting concept of an annual event during which all laws in America are suspended and raised the eternal debate as to whether Ethan Hawke should be taken seriously or not. The concept is back with a wider scope but without Hawke and reviews are mixed.

Earth to Echo
An alien needs help from a group of children to get home. What new element can they possibly bring to the formula so classically realised in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? “The movie is shot in found footage format.” Oh good grief.

Believe
A period (1984) family drama about a young lad who does wrong but finds rehabilitation through his love for football. A film couldn’t appeal to me much less than this.

The House of Magic
Belgian animated adventure about a cat who goes into a house of magic. Sorry, not a house of magic. The cat in question enters The House of Magic. Hilarity ensues and everyone learns a valuable lesson.

The Lady from Shanghai
Orson Welles’ famously shambolic film noir gets a second run in UK cinemas sixty-six years after its original release. Go for the atmosphere, not the plot.

Joe
Both director David Gordon Green and star Nicolas Cage are known to be hit and miss with their output. United they are getting a great response for this low-key drama about a convict finding redemption through his relationship (not like that) with a teenage boy.

Who is Dayani Cristal?
I have no idea. Sorry.

Kick
Hindi action drama about an adrenaline junkie starting a new career as a thief. Not an option you’ll normally find at the Jobcentre.

Northwest
Danish crime drama about skinheads in grey hoodies.

Scar Tissue
British thriller in which a young man finds himself being stalked by a serial killer… WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD! If your mind isn’t blown simply by reading that sentence then maybe you can handle this film.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden
Documentary about some unsolved disappearances on the Galapagos Island of Floreana in the 1930s. A classic example of spicing up a weak title with an overly dramatic subtitle.

Branded to Kill
1960s Japanese action drama about a hitman who, I kid you not, has “a fetish for sniffing boiling rice”. If you find yourself targeted by such a man my suggestion would be to get some rice on the hob ASAP.

Smart Ass (Cine Lumiere only)
French comedy drama about business school students who set up a prostitution ring. I did Business Studies many years ago and we sold balloons for Valentines Day. We certainly missed a trick or two.

Mindscape (Empire Leicester Square only)
“A man with the ability to enter peoples’ memories takes on the case of a brilliant, troubled sixteen-year-old girl to determine whether she is a sociopath or a victim of trauma.”

Michael Apted’s Boyhood

Apted Boyhood

As an aspiring film writer and chronic procrastinator an above average amount of my spare time is spent reading what the rest of the world has got to say about film. Doing so allows me to stay in touch with the latest fads, deepens my belief that a good sub-editor is vital, and highlights when someone has been copying somebody else’s homework.

The numerous glowing reviews for Boyhood are a key example of when film journalists seem to be influencing one another or tapping into a limited group archive of cultural references. A striking number of reviews for Boyhood have made at least a passing reference to Michael Apted’s Up documentary series and I call shenanigans.

To back up my case I have performed a literature review of sorts and checked the coverage of Boyhood in 14 popular UK publications, skipping lowly blogs like this, to see how frequently Apted’s documentary oeuvre was mentioned alongside Linklater’s opus. The result is below:

Apted Chart

As you can see exactly half the reviews I read mentioned Michael Apted or the Up series. I am being generous to myself here and including Mark Kermode’s review in the Observer which merely refers to all the other critics referencing Apted because 50% is much more satisfying a figure than 42.86%. As I see it there can be only two reasons for the ubiquity of the comparison:

  1. It is a valid and obvious observation.
  2. One person had the idea and everybody else copied.

First let’s see if Apted’s Up series is a valid and obvious companion piece for Linklater’s Boyhood.

Up is a series of documentaries following the lives of fourteen British children. The first installment was made when the kids were just seven years old in 1964 and the series has revisited the participants every seven years with the most recent film made when they were fifty-six. In contrast Boyhood was filmed for a few days every year for 12 years taking the lead character Mason from the age of six to eighteen.

While both do follow children growing up I would argue that the comparison of Up and Boyhood is neither obvious nor valid. Boyhood‘s filming process may have been periodical but compared to Up it has a relatively smooth flow. Watching the former it isn’t always obvious when one year moves into the next apart from when hairstyles or levels of pubescence have dramatically changed. The two projects have completely different rhythms with Up actually following a similar beat to Linklater’s other most popular cinematic work; the Before trilogy.

In the Before trilogy we follow the romance of Jesse and Céline at nine-year intervals taking them from youthful love to embittered marriage in the space of three films. This pattern is much closer to the Up series if we really do have to find an Apted-Linklater connection. I have visualised the pattern of filming for the three works below to prove my point beyond any doubt and perhaps beyond all reason.

The Up Pace

Boyhood‘s filming schedule is a relative uninterrupted shoot when compared to both the Before and Up franchises. I think we can happily dismiss the first option and say that referring to Michael Apted when discussing Boyhood is both invalid and disputable. Linklater himself has dismissed Up as being a source of inspiration and now we have the charts to back him up.

Maybe it’s just because of my age – the Up kids have always been grown ups closer to Jesse and Céline but for older wiser critics they are always going to be seen as the children that started the series decades ago. If only they could have seen my charts before they submitted their reviews.

All of this leaves us with the second option; that one critic had the crazy notion to compare the documentaries to the story of Mason and everyone else jumped on their wobbly bandwagon. I’m not saying they did this maliciously but by foul means or fair the idea lodged in their brains and resurfaced when time came to write their reviews. Perhaps a critic loudly made the comparison at a press screening, critics do love to say impressive things to each other, and it was subconsciously picked up by those seated nearby. Only a seating plan for all Boyhood screenings can prove or disprove this theory.

There really is no other conclusion; Boyhood is not akin to the Up series (but the Before trilogy may be) and if you read too many reviews for the same film certain analogies and opinions will start to repeat themselves until the cinema journalism community starts to resemble one hive mind.

A worthwhile investigation I am sure you’ll agree.

Appendix

Reviews mentioning Apted:
Radio Times
Independent
Telegraph
Guardian
The Times
Daily Mail
Sight & Sound
Observer

Reviews not mentioning Apted:
Empire
Total Film
Financial Times
Express
Mirror
Daily Star
Little White Lies

No/Gloss Film Festival 2014

No Gloss Film Festival 2014

On the 11th and 12th of October this year a cinematic cavalcade will be taking place up North in Leeds. The event is the third annual No Gloss Film Festival and what makes this festival unique is it showcasing independent films of all shapes and sizes. While many of the bigger festivals seem to show the same batch of films as they start their march towards the Oscars No Gloss is proud to show “films unlike anything you have ever seen”.

Considering the fact that 2013′s line-up included a felt animation about a pig’s digestive system I’d say they aren’t overselling the individual nature of the festival.

Last year we sent along Mild Concern’s Northern Correspondent, Rach, to see for herself and she enjoyed it so much we’re sending her back she has insisted on returning. I’m almost certain it was the excellent line-up that has tempted her back and not the excellent food on offer but you never can be sure.

You can read the full line-up, buy tickets, and generally get distracted over at the pleasantly glossy No Gloss Film Festival website. You can currently get early bird tickets for just £12 which covers the whole weekend and is painfully the same cost as seeing just one film at a regular film festival.

I’m genuinely gutted that I can’t make it myself and urge you to go along and enjoy something a little different this October.

Out Now – 18th July 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Apologies, this week it has been quite literally too hot to type. I am sweltering away writing this and it’s all for you dear reader.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The Planet of the Apes has previously risen and is now dawning. The first instalment in this prequel franchise was OK and the latest is apparently even better. Consider this one A-OK. I think your enjoyment of the film essentially boils down to how seriously you take a monkey holding a shotgun. In real life I advise you always take armed apes incredibly seriously.

Pudsey the Dog: The Movie
Don’t look away and pretend this isn’t real. This is happening and we are all partly to blame. Every time we watched Britain’s Got Talent “because it was on” we contributed to the justification for this talking dog film to exist. I’m sorry for the part I played and I hope that you are too.

Some Like It Hot
I have not seen this now classic 1950s comedy. I do know that it involved Marilyn Monroe and two men in drag and that in a nostalgic haze all reviewers are giving this re-release five stars.

Finding Vivian Maier
During her lifetime Vivian Maier was “just” a nanny but after her death was discovered to be a secret street photographer of considerable talent. This documentary documents this.

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
Shep Gordon is a Hollywood manager, agent, and producer and now the subject of a documentary directed by Mike Myers. When Hollywood makes a film about Hollywood it can be fascinating or of no real interest to anyone else. I’m not too sure I care about this one.

I Am Divine
Another documentary. This features Divine, international drag icon and cinematic muse, and is suitable for fans of the subject.

Grand Central
Sexy French film in which sexy French people have sexy French sex.

Norte, the End of History
Filipino drama about a family man wrongly convicted of a double murder. While he suffers in prison his wife struggles to keep their family afloat and the real roams free. Pick of the week for sure.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to shower. All this typing has worn me out.

Out Now – 11th July 2014

Boyhood
Richard Linklater, the man who made you cry through the entire Before trilogy, has made a low budget epic about one boy and his family that is set and shot over the space of 12 years. It’s lovely that this film is getting as much press as it is and I can’t wait to see it this weekend.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
This came out either last Saturday or yesterday depending on how you fancy treating a five-day preview window that ends when the film comes out. More robots transform with the added bonus of Mark Wahlberg with his perplexed face and flexed muscles.

Begin Again
John Carney, writer/director of Once, return to the genre that he mastered with a romantic musical comedy with a little more sheen than his previous outing. Knightley and Ruffalo star in a film that I suspect is slightly less cringeworthy than it might at first seem.

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania
The synopsis is too long and convoluted for me to translate here so let’s just say that it is an Indian romantic comedy drama and be done with it.

Bastards
Moroccan documentary about a woman fighting to get her marriage recognised and earn her daughter legitimate status. “It is also a complex and compelling portrait of Moroccan society and its attitudes to women, female sexuality, their position in society and access to education.”

Goltzius and the Pelican Company
Biopic about Hendrik Goltzius, “a late 16th century Dutch printer and engraver of erotic prints”. Apparently his focus was on erotic illustration of stories from the Old Testament which is not a book I have found particularly sexy in the past.

Mr. Morgan’s Last Love
Michael Caine and Clémence Poésy (forever Fleur Delacour in my heart) star in this drama that utilises that favourite plot device; the unlikely friendship. Can an old man and a young woman really be friends?!?!?

Love Me Till Monday
A phrase that has a varying level of commitment attached depend on when in the week you ask it. British comedy with a female lead! Shame she is focussed on finding herself a man.