LFF Day 8 – The Cured | Journeyman | Angels Wear White | Princess Cyd

The Cured

For the majority of its runtime The Cured tries so hard to subvert the zombie canon and resist the clichés of the genre that we all love so much. In the end though the film stops subverting and starts reverting, and the film finally gets some teeth.

The Cured is set in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak in which 75% of infected individuals have been cured and are being reintegrated back into society. The incurable remain in captivity and society does not easily accept those that have been cured. The cured become outcasts as the uninfected protest against them and rally against their inclusion in the normal population. Choose your own metaphor for what the cured represent but in this post-Brexit times the analogy feels particularly pertinent.

For me the film tried so hard to be innovative that it forgot to be enjoyable. All the characters seem to talk at each other rather than to each other and when they aren’t doing that everyone is moping around with expressionless faces. The film is also liberally sprinkled with false jump scares which betray the genre that The Cured is desperate to break out into.

An interesting idea but not the cleanest execution. And a criminal underuse of Ellen Page.

The Cured screens at the festival on 14th October.

Journeyman

It has been six years since Paddy Considine shattered all our nerves with the absolutely brutal Tyrannosaur and now he is back to devastate us all over again.

Considine stars as the middleweight boxing world champion who reenters the ring to defend his title but doesn’t leave in the same shape he went in. Suffering from physical and mental injuries the boxer struggles to recover with the help of his wife (Jodie Whittaker) who is also juggling caring for their young baby.

As you would expect Journeyman is a technical masterclass from the writing and directing through to the two lead performances. Considine has created a meaty role for himself that allows him to take on the machismo of a boxer and the frail form of the impaired. Whittaker has the less showy, but equally impressive, role of a woman trying to remain strong for her husband whilst also dealing with her own life having been turned upside.

Everything about the film is engineered to make you weep and weep we all did. And yet… There is something almost too technical and engineered about Journeyman. The film is self-consciously trying to get you to feel certain emotions and left me feel one step removed; admiring its brilliance but always aware of what it was trying to do.

Regardless of all that; you will cry.

Journeyman screens at the festival on 13th and 14th October and opens in UK cinemas from 16th February 2018.

Angels Wear White

From Chinese writer-director Vivian Qu comes a searing drama about sexual violence, corruption, and the seemingly inescapable wrongs done to women by men with the slightest amount of power.

After two young girls are assaulted by the police commissioner in a local hotel the police and the hotel hesitate in allowing justice to proceed and the young girls involved, including a teen runaway working at the hotel, struggle to deal with the events that took place and the impact it has on their lives.

For the men in the film, only seen in minor roles, the emphasis is in protecting their own best interests regardless of the impact it might have on the victims. The girls too are looking out for themselves but also have to contend with the sexualisation that is being applied to them by outside forces; from the investigators, their parents, and their employers.

Angels Wear White is a devastating and uncomfortable watch. It digs deep into the aftermath of a horrific event and how it ripples through the lives of everyone but the perpetrator. It also discretely highlights bigger issues in society that don’t reflect well on anyone. Qu teases fantastic portrayals from her young cast and has a sharp eye for a visual metaphor.

Angels Wear White screens at the festival on 13th and 14th October.

Princess Cyd

Princess Cyd is in many ways your typical indie drama but that doesn’t make it any less pleasant to watch.

In Stephen Cone’s romantic comedy drama the teenage Cyd (Jessie Pinnick) escapes her home life and visits her aunt (Rebecca Spence) in Chicago for the summer. Cyd is in the midst of discovering herself sexually and can’t quite relate to the aunt who prefers to spend her time reading, writing, and talking with friends. The pair consider one another with fascination and during Cyd’s stay they come to understand and learn from each other.

Princess Cyd only occasionally stumbles into melodrama with the majority of the film made up of subtle moments between characters. There is nothing mindblowing about the film but I don’t think it is in the business for blowing minds.

A charming indie just waiting to be streamed.

The Double – LFF Film Review

The Double

Only a few minutes into Richard Ayoade’s second film as director I wrote in my note book in capital letters “I LOVE THIS” and ninety minutes later I did not disagree with myself. Ayoade’s first feature Submarine was a hilarious story of young love that was very much grounded in reality but shot with a distinctive style that stood it out from the crowd. With The Double Ayoade has truly evolved as a film-maker as he has taken his unique eye for film and run with it to create a surreal masterpiece that David Lynch would be proud of.

In The Double Jesse Eisenberg plays Simon James, a man who is so dull and unremarkable that no one notices when his exact double, James Simon, starts working at his office and slowly begins to steal his work, win over his coworkers, and steal the love of his life. The Double is set in a universe similar to ours but slightly askew as the world resembles a vision of the future from forty years ago. The technology is timeless in that it has not nor ever will exist; computers are resplendent with knobs and dials and the underground train stops inside the office building. Ayoade has created an entire world in which to set his doppelgänger thriller.

While the entire cast, and many more of Ayoade’s friends, pop up in minor roles this is far removed from Submarine. Everything within The Double from the lighting and set design to dialogue and camera movements is heavily stylised and the film moves with an occasionally dreamlike, occasionally frenetic pace. At first the film was a little jarring, and I never quite found myself connecting with some of the characters, but this is a film that isn’t here to patronise its audience so you have to hold on tight with both hands and let the film take you where it wants you to go.

In this bizarre, almost dystopian reality, we watch as Eisenberg struggles to battle his much more successful double. While Simon finds himself gradually removed from people’s memories and his employer’s computer system his double James is being heaped with praise and is romancing every woman in Simon’s life. Simon’s life was bleak enough as it was without someone coming along and showing him how he could have been living it. As Simon finds himself pushed to the brink of his mind and his existence the conflict comes to a head and the film ended with me just the wrong side of baffled. The only trouble with truly surreal cinema is that it will never quite connect on the same level as a film about a young boy falling in love.

I really can’t do justice to the unique visuals of The Double here in writing. Or for that matter the sound design which was INCREDIBLE, trust me. Instead you are going to have to seek out this gem for yourself when it get’s a UK release.

Some may find it impenetrable but I absolutely love this timeless masterpiece. Slightly too baffling for five stars but a bold and brave film by a director who seems set to continually impress and surprise. Actually… go on then, have your five stars.

The Double is in UK cinemas from 4th April 2014.

BFI London Film Festival 2013

Now is Good – Trailer

In no way am I posting this trailer simply because I have failed to watch and review Trishna every night this week so far. Not in the slightest.

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Now is Good stars Dakota Fanning as Tessa, a teenager diagnosed with leukaemia who is determined to make the most of her remaining life by compiling a list of experiences she doesn’t want to miss out on. This is a film about grief, fear, seizing the day, and falling in love with your attractive neighbour Adam.

If this sounds familiar you’re probably thinking of the Gus Van Sant film from last year called Restless. This starred Mia Wasikowska as a terminally ill girl who falls in love with a nice young man. The main difference appears to be that Now is Good will be 50% less irritating due to its lack of silly hats, Japanese kamikaze pilot ghosts, and young people gate crashing funerals.

Now is Good is also British (hurrah), written by Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel writer), and stars Paddy Considine (brilliant), Olivia Williams (amazing) and Kaya Scodelario (hot*). Bring it on.

Now is Good will arrive in UK cinemas on 25th May.

*Sorry Kat/women everywhere

Tyrannosaur – Review

Extrapolated from the short film Dog Altogether, Paddy Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur follows the tentative friendship formed between eternally angry and violent Joseph (Peter Mullan), and the tragic charity shop worker Hannah (Olivia Colman).

This is not the uplifting story of redemption you might be expecting, the pair don’t solve each other’s problems. The film is far more raw and honest than that, at no point satisfied with walking the expected path. To say there is a plot twist would make the story seem too gimmicky, let’s just say there is a moment that shocked me and which I couldn’t have seen coming.

Tyrannosaur risks falling into the over-subscribed category of the “gritty british drama” yet somehow elevates itself above that. The film is much more cinematic than your average kitchen sink drama; dark shots with a sharp focus raise the production values above its peers.

While Considine has done a brilliant job directing, the emphasis in Tyrannosaur is most definitely on character. Peter Mullan plays a brilliantly layered and emotionally damaged Joseph, a man so irredeemable in the opening scene and yet ultimately a man who we root for. Olivia Colman is at the top of her game, that slight sadness she sometimes allows to show in her eyes during otherwise comedic performances take centre stage as she rises triumphantly as a dramatic actress. Eddie Marsan also deserves a nod for bringing to life character so hateful the audience is against him before he speaks his first line.

Powerful, brutal and honest. An attention grabbing and emotionally raw feature debut from Paddy Considine. Olivia Colman broke my heart and Peter Mullan terrified me. In the months since I saw this film I haven’t been able to shake its shadow. Superb.

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Tyrannosaur – Trailer

Paddy Considine is not content to be a successful writer and actor but has directed his first feature film. Rather than take the easy route and direct a simple, lighter film Considine has gone right in the deep end with a dark drama about an unlikely relationship between a violent widower (Peter Mullan) and a troubled charity shop worker (Olivia Colman). You can see the first trailer below, just don’t go expecting any dinosaurs.

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While we’ve seen the film we won’t be doing a full review for a while as the film isn’t out until 7th October. After attending the press screening we were asked to provide a brief reaction so that’s what you’ll get for now:

“Powerful, brutal and honest. An attention grabbing and emotionally raw feature debut from Paddy Considine. Olivia Colman broke my heart and Peter Mullan terrified me.”

Plenty of material for a poster quote there. In fact below are three alternatives they’d be mad to not go with…