Remember – LFF Review

Remember

Zev (Christopher Plummer) wakes up in his nursing home to be told that his wife has died the week before. Every time Zev wakes up he has to be reminded of this and every other detail about where he is and why he is there. To complicate matters Zev’s routine is disrupted when his fellow resident Max (Martin Landau) gives him a letter which details a promise Zev has made; to hunt down and kill the Nazi who killed their families at Auschwitz decades ago.

Zev packs his wash bag, flees the nursing home, buys a gun and sets off on the trail on an elderly Nazi hiding somewhere in America. This revenge tail is made more difficult by Zev’s dementia which often leaves him vulnerable and relying on the letter in his pocket to tell him what he needs to do next and remind him of who he is. This is Taken meets Memento via Last of the Summer Wine.

Remember 2

I have read mixed reviews of Remember but I fall squarely in the camp of those that loved it. Zev’s mental state brings a lot of sadness to what could have been a traditional thriller; his repeated discovery that his wife is dead is heartbreaking every time. As a thriller Remember manages to be satisfyingly tense as Zev put himself in risky situations made all the riskier for his lack of cognition. Rounding off the emotional trifecta is the large amount of humour injected into the film. Humour that had the audience laughing up until Dean Norris appeared on-screen. I will say no more.

Remember is not perfect. The ending in particular may undermine your enjoyment but on the whole I think this is a smart film from writer Benjamin August. A film that takes genre conventions and gives them a delightful little turn, if not a full twist. As a showcase for the still sharp and on form Christopher Plummer Remember exceeds the most.

Funny, thrilling, and sad Remember gets my vote. But I understand if you disagree.

Remember screen again at the festival on the 18th October and tickets can be bought online.

Oscars 2012: One Big Yawn of Agreement

The Oscars are clearly, and arbitrarily, the most important of all the award ceremonies yet coming as they do after a dozen of similar awards are given out to the same winners, by the time the Oscars finally arrive we are suffering from award season fatigue. This is where the desire for surprising winners comes in, despite The Artist, Meryl Streep, Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer all being worthy winners writing about them winning the awards they were tipped to win isn’t all that exciting.

But is that the point? The Artist really was the best film of the past year and deserves to win all the awards it won, the list of winners is not surprising but for the first time in years it is hard to disagree with any of the choices. Let’s not gripe about predictability and just be happy that worthy winners won awards and that Eddie Murphy wasn’t the host.

I am happy that The Artist won five Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Costume Design and Best Score) leaving Hugo to pick up all the technical awards. I am happy that A Separation won Best Foreign Language Film for being an amazing drama and that Rango won Best Animated Film despite being semi-grown-up. I’m happy that Woody Allen won an Oscar for the screenplay for Midnight in Paris and showed that he remains a relevant film-maker. I’m happy that Jim Rash co-won an award for co-writing The Descendants leaving amazing-but-almost-cancelled-sitcom Community with an Oscar winner amongst its cast. I’m happy that The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore won Best Animated Short Film because, as we all know, it is damned adorable.

What I am most happy about is Bret McKenzie won the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Man or Muppet”. There has never been a more obvious (there was only one other nominee for a start) yet deserving win.

So there you have it, the 2012 Oscar awards have made me happy but weren’t very exciting. It was the award ceremony equivalent of eating a trifle (for me at least).

BAFTA 2012 Debrief

Last night BAFTA presented their annual film awards to an excited crowd of famous people, and I managed to forget that the ceremony was happening due to having a fun weekend and the fact that BAFTA somehow forgot to invite me along to the event.

BAFTA made some wise choices last night as they threw plenty of awards at The Artist, (Best Film, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Music and Best Costume Design) and showed some much-needed love for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Outstanding British Film and Best Adapted Screenplay).

Meryl Streep took home an obvious win for her role in The Iron Lady making her Oscar win so certain it isn’t that exciting any more (and makes me think I should really make an effort to see the film). Christopher Plummer took home Best Supporting Actor for Beginners, a great role in a charming film which hopefully more people will seek out now that Plummer is winning awards all over the place.

Senna picked up Best Documentary and Best Editing making this the first year I can actually see what makes the editing in a certain film superior to others. As Senna was cut and pasted together from archive footage with nothing new being filmed for the documentary it is a pure feat of editing. It’s the equivalent of taking all of your old home movies and trying to cut together a BAFTA winning documentary, probably not worth the effort.

Further down the list of winners The Skin I Live In was dubbed Best Film not in the English Language and Rango won Best Animated Feature Film. Both films from my Top 20 Films of 2011 and both deserving winners, not least because I haven’t really seen any of the other nominees.

Perhaps the category with the most interest for me, partly because of the great talent taking up each space on the short list and partly because this was a category for which the winner was not obvious, was the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer. The award went to Paddy Considine for Tyrannosaur and is a great victory for a stunning debut. Frankly I would probably have had the same reaction for any of the nominees (though possibly not Coriolanus) as I have a lot of love for Black Pond, Submarine and Attack the Block.

For the full list of winners skip on down to IMDb.

Well done BAFTA, you did good.

A Few Obligatory Thoughts on the 2012 Oscar Nominations

In case you haven’t been lucky enough to have me mumble at you about the 2012 Oscar nominations in person, I thought I’d share with you some of my gut reactions to this year’s list of films of actor types that may win a fancy gold statue. For the full list of nominees have a look on IMDb, it’ll save me a lot of copying, pasting, and messing around with italics.

Extremely Lame & Poorly Reviewed
Somewhere amongst the nine nominees for Best Motion Picture of the Year is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, the family drama about a young boy searching for the lock to match a key left to him by his father, a victim of 9/11. What makes this film stand out, beyond its terrifying poster, is that it is the worst reviewed film to get nominated for this award for the past 10 years. At the time of writing this potential Oscar winner has just 47% positive reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes with a pretty damning consensus; “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it.”

Albert Who?
Noticing that a film called Albert Nobbs had gathered three nominations I decided to look into it. Turns out that Albert Nobbs is a woman in 19th century Ireland pretending to be a man in order to survive, and is played by Glenn Close. Curious to see what Glenn Close would look like as a man I bravely Googled on.

Thanks Glenn, I didn’t need to sleep tonight anyway.

Gary!
With Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sadly missing out on a Best Picture nod it’s great to see Gary Oldman getting his first ever Best Actor nomination, and not for his role in Kung Fu Panda 2. In Tinker Oldman ably held together a weighty bit of British cinema and showed hipsters that some people actually wear oversized glasses for medical reasons. What a guy.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Mediocre Biopic
With Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams both getting nominated for Best Actress, it seems that it really doesn’t matter how lukewarm the reaction is to your film so long as you give a scarily accurate portrayal of an icon. In a way it’s reassuring to know that no matter how mediocre the film you’re in, there’s still a chance to act your way above the rest of the film.

Plummer!
It’s exciting enough that the little seen film Beginners might get some free press thanks to Christopher Plummer’s nomination, but the fact that Captain Von Trapp has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor twice out of the last three years is almost too much too handle. Excuse the hyperbole, I’m tired.

Woody’s Back
Woody Allen has another hit on his hands as Midnight in Paris garnered four nominations, and three of them are the kind that people actually care about. Shame I have 45 Woody Allen films to get through before I’m allowed to watch this one.

How Could They Leave Out ________?
For every nomination which warms the cockles of your heart there will be dozens of omissions which are completely outrageous and terribly short-sighted of the academy, only in your humble opinion of course. For me there’s not enough love for Drive and Olivia Colman has been robbed, robbed blind I say! I’m sure you have your own opinions, but how can they be as important as mine?

A Few Surprising Screenplays
The fact that fantastic Iranian film A Separation and delightful silent film The Artist are both nominated for Best Original Screenplay, a category normally filled with English scripts filled with dialogue, shows a fun bit of diverse nominating from the academy. It brings to mind the fact that the only time Buffy was nominated for a Golden Globe for writing was for the almost silent episode Hush. For anyone not sure why I’m rambling about Buffy, why not have a look at what the script for The Artist looks like, you can download it here.

The Difference Between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing is…
The same as the difference between Drive and Moneyball, apparently. These two categories, for Sound Mixing/Editing, have always baffled me and no more so than this year where they share a fourfilmnomineecrossover.

Is the Animated Feature Oscar Just for Kids?
I had a theory that Best Animated Feature only goes to the most accessible end of the animated film genre. With a few “proper” animated films on the shortlist, Chico & Rita and A Cat in Paris among them, I look forward to being proven wrong. The absence of Cars 2 from the list gives me hope.

If nothing else, at least we’ll get to see this fella again (I hope):

2012 Golden Globes Nominations

With awards season truly hotting up we are treated with the nominations for the 2012 Golden Globe Awards. They’re an interesting bunch, a lot of the more challenging and/or smaller films have been passed by. The Los Angles Times has it spot on when they say that the nominations seem to recognise those works featuring the A-list actors, more accessible films and less dark dramas. No Tyrannosaur or Like Crazy to be found below.

What you will find is my gut reaction and my opinions for each category (apart from Best Original Song and Best Original Score as that is not my strong suit) whether you want it or not. Continue reading