Out Now – 27th January 2011

The Descendants
With an overly confusing subplot about land ownership, Alexander Payne’s latest was in severe danger of losing me in its opening minutes. Luckily the main plot, in which a father reconnects with his two daughters as he hunts down the man who has been sleeping with his comatose wife (the affair was pre-coma, this isn’t Talk to Her), has enough humour and charm to save the film. From my review last October, “after the muddle at the start and a few awkward metaphors The Descendants comes together as a touching and hilarious family dramedy.”

Like Crazy
With a beautiful aesthetic, great cast, and improvised dialogue, Like Crazy is a naturalistic portrayal of a long distance relationship falling apart in spite of the deluded efforts of those involved. Sadly the realism of Like Crazy is almost too much, and I found myself as frustrated by the on-screen couple as I would be by any couple who are excessively in love and making a hash of it. My personal issues aside, this is not a terrible film and worth a look to see the moment that Felicity Jones truly arrives as an actress. Read the full review for more words, sentences, etc.

The Grey
Two hours of Liam Neeson fighting off wolves in Alaska. I had to choose between seeing this and going to a pub quiz, I think I made the right choice. SPOILER ALERT: Sarah Palin saves the day in the end, shooting down the wolves in her helicopter before throwing Neeson over her shoulder and carrying him away.

A Monster in Paris
French animated film about a monster (or giant flea) who falls in love with a cabaret singer and develops his musical abilities.

Intruders (limited release)
I think this is a horror movie starring Clive Owen in which a monster from his childhood starts to harass his young daughter. I can’t be quite sure though as the synopses on IMDb and Wikipedia are vague and confusing. HANG ON! Thanks to the BBFC I can now confirm that Intruders, “is a contemporary horror film about a monster that steals children’s faces.” As someone whose worst phobia is people with no faces I don’t think I could take this film.

House of Tolerance (limited release)
Your sexy film quota is filled this week by a French film focussing on the dynamics between women working in a Parisian brothel in the early 20th century. Expect sex, subtitles and presumably some more sex.

Acts of Godfrey (special release)
Who cares about the plot when this is the first film to be written entirely in rhyming couplets? Sadly only showing at the Vue in Shepherds Bush, you’ll need to make a special trip to see this unique British film.

Patience (After Sebald) (limited release)
Patience (After Sebald) is a multi-layered film essay on landscape, art, history, life and loss by the acclaimed documentary film-maker Grant Gee. It is an exploration of the work and influence of German writer WG Sebald, told via a long walk through coastal East Anglia tracking his most famous book The Rings of Saturn.”

Mercenaries (limited release)
“Andy Marlow, an ex British S.A.S serviceman turned mercenary, is sent into the Balkans after a military coup has arisen to rescue a U.S ambassador and his aide.”

The Best is Yet to Come: 2012

As much as we are obliged to look back over the year just gone, we are obliged to look ahead at the year just beginning. It’s always exciting to look at the next twelve months and all the exciting treats that are coming to our screens. Below are my personal picks of the films worth seeing in 2012, and I’m hoping there will be many more besides, a few gems I haven’t even heard of yet. Continue reading

Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival Awards 2011

Hello and welcome to the second annual Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival awards to celebrate and berate various films screened at the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Today I will be sitting in my tuxedo handing out the feted awards, the Raised EyebrowsTM, to any film which grabbed our attention in a positive or, equally likely, negative way.

Best Use of SymbolismWe Need to Talk About Kevin
A favourite to win a few bigger awards this year, even Best of the FestTM, but ultimately a few surprises took the crown. Instead Kevin is recognised for the amount of time poor Tilda Swinton is cleaning red off of her hands, her house and her car. Red is everywhere in Kevin. It’s not subtle but it’s certainly effective.

Best Use of Jon SnowCoriolanus
Jon Snow’s cinematic appearances are few and far between, it has been too long since Zombie Farm, but they are always a treat. Here he plays a newsreader with some classic Shakespearean dialogue. Best bit of the film.

Best Use of Felicity JonesLike Crazy
As the official Mild Concern crush we had to give Felicity Jones a mention. She is at the top of her game in Like Crazy and the film gives her a chance to show her acting chops, and captures her in a gorgeous light throughout. The more I think about the film, the better it seems.

Totally a Play AwardCarnage
Carnage was a hell of a lot of fun but, with four speaking parts and a set consisting of two rooms, hasn’t gained much in transitioning from stage play to motion picture. You’d struggle to find a theatre gathering this stellar cast though so all is forgiven.

Most Improved Performer – George Clooney for The Descendants
At last year’s festival The American was a major low point in my week, it was a dull and pointless film. Thankfully George Clooney took my criticism and returned this year with two films getting rave reviews. The Descendants takes the award for one good reason: it’s the one I saw.

Most Prolific Performer – John C. Reilly for Carnage, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Terri
John C. Reilly has the unique distinction of having a major role in three quality films at this year’s festival. In every film he is a less than perfect father figure to a troubled young boy. Don’t be fooled into thinking he is just playing the same role again and again, each time he plays a distinct character proving that Reilly is not a one trick pony.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Documentary)Crazy Horse
Visually beautiful and with a few nice insights into a famous Parisian club, Crazy Horse is a documentary with nothing to say but plenty of time to spend not saying it. I checked the time three times during the screening, willing the film to end and trying to keep my eyes open.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Feature)Last Screening
With Last Screening my battle to keep my eyes open was lost and became a battle to maintain consciousness. A film about a serial killer shouldn’t be boring, this is completely unacceptable.

Biggest Affront to Germaine GreerTales of the Night
In a series of fairy tales women fail to be anything more than pathetic damsels in distress. With the actors within the film amending some of the stories they fail to acknowledge women as competent human beings and give the female characters any initiative. It’s as if Buffy never happened.

Best Mix of Tears and Titters/Best Comedy50/50
I laughed, I cried (almost) and I found Seth Rogan funny throughout a film for the first time. 50/50 manages to fill a film about cancer with humour without ever belittling the disease. Good work people.

Scared to Walk Home Award/Best DramaMartha Marcy May Marlene
Stealing Kevin‘s award is a harrowing tale of a young girl who has escaped from a modern-day cult. A brilliant debut feature for director Sean Durkin and a stellar introduction to Elizabeth Olsen. You won’t ever want to be left alone again.

Best DocumentaryInto the Abyss
Werner Herzog certainly knows how to put together a documentary. Here he presents the story of a triple homicide without comment, simply allowing the people involved to tell the story from their point of view. Includes a moving scene where a man starts to cry as he tells a story about a squirrel.

Best AnimationAlois Nebel
So far from cartoon animation this gorgeous Czech film is a truly adult feature. The rotoscoped performances and mixture of CGI effects with hand drawn images make for a real work of art. Still not sure what was going on though.

Best Short FilmThe Monster of Nix
In a similar vein the best short film mixes live-action, computer animation and hand-painted background to make a gorgeous short film which could easily be extended to a full feature. If you’re listening Rosto, we want an extra hour please.

Best of the FestThe Artist
With so many heavy films the best thing we saw all festival was a French silent film set in Hollywood as the talkies began. Invigorating my love for cinema and hopes for its future The Artist is so much fun you can’t help but fall in love with it. It also has a release date now, get ready to smile on 30th December 2011.

A Note For Film-makers:
To collect your award simply send us an email with the address you’d like it sending to and we’ll post it on as soon as we cobble something together. And in case you’re wondering how to incorporate the award into your marketing campaign, here’s an example using Coriolanus:

If you missed any of our reviews, all films covered can be found by clicking on the appropriate thumbnail below:

Like Crazy – LFF Review

British student Anna (Felicity Jones) falls in love with an American, Jacob (Anton Yelchin), overstays her visa, gets deported and so begins a whole series of angst, longing, love and despair. Shot on the fly with improvised dialogue, director Drake Doremus is going to encourage comparisons with Blue Valentine as Like Crazy has a similar natural, unstructured style. Sadly I didn’t like Blue Valentine that much…

Like Crazy certainly felt authentic, the characters seemed like real people with real, mundane problems and spoke in a genuine way. Unfortunately hanging out with a couple isn’t always a bundle of fun. When Anna and Jacob are at the height of their romance it can feel a little awkward, even irritating, as you watch them find each other adorable and share intimate moments together. The pair don’t even let us see the contents of the notes they pass together. How annoying. Later on when their relationship is put under the strain of forced separation, you get the sensation of watching friends forging on with a relationship you believe to be long dead, which leads us to the other issue I have; I didn’t want their relationship to succeed.

Felicity Jones is as wonderful as you’d expect but Anton Yelchin’s Jacob simply isn’t good enough for her. While Anna flies across the country and risks violating her student visa for Jacob, he can’t even pay her a visit without having a loud strop. In a romantic drama I need to want the romance to succeed or the whole experience can become quite frustrating. While Anna has appalling taste in men, Jacob is much more successful; I defy you to not fall for either Felicity Jones or Jennifer Lawrence by the end.

Jones and co. should be commended though for creating characters real enough for me to get so annoyed by their choices. Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead as Anna’s parents are not only a good source of comedy but the sole characters I fully empathised with for as they watched their daughter make a series of clumsy mistakes in her love life.

Like Crazy is a gorgeous film with great performances but left me unsatisfied. Though with this being a realistic portrayal of a love story, perhaps that was the point?

Like Crazy is in UK cinemas on 3rd February 2012.

55th BFI London Film Festival

For the next week or so this post will be our hub for coverage of the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Any films we’ve seen have a thumbnail below linking to their review and the video player below will update itself to show the latest video from the BFI about the festival.

We’re trying to break the 20 film barrier this year, though it may well kill us.

Films reviewed:

Latest video coverage:


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