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.

Kickstarter is Eating Itself

Kickstarter

Good grief everyone. Good grief.

Debate Kickstarter all you like but at the end of the day it is a decent tool to get money to a creative type from those who want to help them create their art, craft, or food. We can debate all day whether Zach Braff was a little cheeky asking for fans to fund his latest film but this pales in comparison to the gluttony of spam that is currently clogging the arteries of the crowdfunding site.

On 3rd July 2014 a Ohioan going by the name Zack Danger Brown started a Kickstarter project to make himself a potato salad. Yes, you read that correctly; a potato salad. Zack was only looking for $10 and his humourous project somehow caught the imagination of thousands of backers who have given him well above his most target. The widget below shows you just how bizarre things have gotten and unsurprisingly other people are keen to cash in on this hopefully short-lived phenomenon.

I daren’t even look at the American side of the equation but at the time of writing there are dozens of UK imitators hoping to make it rich by boiling an egg or making a cup of tea. The full list of current UK rip-offs is as follows; lemonade, more potato salad, egg salad, frying a frozen egg, boiling an eggcookies, chocolate chip cookies, curry, a mega pizza, a regular pizza, another regular pizza, yet more pizza, random pizza(!)an oreo milkshake, evil cream pie, couscous, cake, another cake, the ultimate cake, a really nice cakepie, potato brownies, “a dinner”, peanut dessert, hotdogs, pimped out pasta, crumpets, punk burgers, porridge fingers, steak, coleslaw, cheese on toast, a sandwich, secret fudge, and a £100 cup of tea.

Phew.

To clarify none of these are people setting up a business, creating art, pursuing a dream, or doing anything other than trying to get money for a making some food for themselves. What is most annoying is that they have simply seen someone make a joke and are now producing poor imitations in the hope of getting reflected glory. I realise that this is what the internet is largely made up of but… it really annoys me.

Anyone with a genuine food based project is currently lost in an avalanche of secondhand jokes and stock photos of food. I don’t know why Kickstarter has become such an issue with me, perhaps it is because I am fond of the site and have happily backed over a dozen projects including comics, films, and podcasts and even helped a man his own pasta stall in exchange from some delicious samples of his produce. On the other hand it might just be that I hate seeing people being so lazy as to simply repeat the same joke they have seen and not come out with their own way to be ironic online.

And if I need to get particularly righteous here is the first of Kickstarter’s three rules:

Kickstarter Rule Number 1

Let’s just wait and see how easy it is to share out a pizza funded by thousands.

Long live Kickstarter! And may the “hilarious” faux projects be short-lived.

University Challenge Class of 2014

University Challenge Class of 2014

For the past two evenings on BBC Two a charming documentary has been airing about the selection process for University Challenge. Class of 2014 is a warm knitted jumper of a show offering nothing but love and respect for both the long running quiz and the encyclopedic students who fight to take part in it. While The Voice may be a friendlier version of X Factor it still glorifies the ability to sing far too much in my view whereas here the focus is on the perhaps equally arbitrary skill of knowing a whole lot of facts.

I’ll confess to you now that I don’t actually watch University Challenge; the questions are way too hard for me and the contestants seem a little alien. While elsewhere on TV competitors are a glamorous and coordinated bunch here we are dealing with academics more likely to be seen sporting an unconvincing beard and functional glasses than skinny jeans and Ray-Bans. A huge portion of culture is teaching us to fit in and avoid the nerds but with Class of 2014 those very nerds are shown as human beings with hopes, dreams, and fears; all of which feature Jeremy Paxman. These are my people after all.

Across the two-part documentary we see the various selection processes each university uses to pick their five team members and follow each team as they are tested and interviewed by BBC researchers until the final 28 teams are chosen. Former competitors pop up in interviews commenting on the whole process like war veterans telling tall tales from the battlefields and are shown helping to train the new recruits to fight their rival teams and Paxman himself.

Stephen Pearson

One particular highlight is seeing the intense training regime organised by University of Manchester librarian Stephen Pearson who has been described as the “Alex Ferguson of University Challenge. With an iPad full of questions and a homemade buzzer system by his side there is no greater asset than Pearson for a budding University Challenge team. His generous spirit and dedication to the show is what makes this film special; everyone is just plain nice with no backstabbing or double-crossing.

Class of 2014 is a very simple documentary but one that I found strangely enjoyable. It was a window into a unique subculture that exists around a quiz show that I had never bothered to give the time of day before. A subculture in which Paxman is God and an encyclopedia forms the holy text.

I’ve no doubt fallen for a not-too-subtle marketing ploy by the BBC but who am I to complain? As the episode came to a close the filming of the quiz itself began and credits rolled. We now knew the contestants well, had grown to like their little ticks and personality quirks, and wanted to know how they got on. When the BBC announcer informed us that the new series of University Challenge would be starting on Monday night at 8pm my flatmate turned to me and suggested, “series record?”. Series record indeed.

You can watch the two episodes of Class of 2014 on BBC iPlayer now, I only hope it gives you half the pleasure it gave me.