Out Now – 7th February 2014

The Invisible RoboCop

RoboCop
Wholly unnecessary remake of the late 80s action classic that I saw when I was far too young and have been having nightmares about ever since. This version is a mere 12A so the only nightmares it will be causing are in the troubled slumber of fans of the original.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman
An animated adventure about a duo who travel through time and meet historic figures. Imagine a Bill and Ted where Keanu Reeves has been replaced by a CGI dog.

Dallas Buyers Club
According to my statistical model this film is set to win two Oscars next month and by all accounts is a fantastic film. Go and see it and marvel at McConaughey’s renewed acting vigour.

The Invisible Woman
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in a film about Charles Dickens’ affair with a young woman back in the day. Considering the woman he has an affair with is played by Felicity Jones it’s hard to argue with him. Sadly the film disappoints overall.

Lift to the Scaffold
Hey, look! The BFI are re-releasing a 1950s French noir thriller involving murder, betrayal, and sexy business!

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
Sounds like beer goggles to me! WAHEY! TOP BANTS!!! Or rather… “A quixotic artist hypothesizes about why he feels bad when a mystery girl stands him up. The event prompts him to ask: what’s the content of a momentary feeling? Is it the sum of your experiences? And, perhaps more importantly, are your experiences the sum of you?”

Hasee Toh Phasee
It’s a Bollywood romantic comedy. Can Nikhil convince Meeta that he is suitable to marry her sister? Or will they fall in love instead? I fear that I will never know.

The Patrol
“Afghanistan, Helmand Province becomes one of the most dangerous place on earth as the British Army deploys into the Taliban heartland. An overextended British army patrol struggles to keep it together under increasingly tough conditions.”

The Invisible Woman – Film Review

The Invisible Woman - Felicity Jones

When watching a romantic drama you are well within your rights to expect the film to deliver two things; both romance and drama. Sadly The Invisible Woman does not satisfy in either of these departments as alas Felicity Jones has returned to films that aren’t quite good enough.

Ralph Fiennes is following up his perfectly fine directorial debut Coriolanus with a period drama about Charles Dickens (played by Fiennes) and his young mistress Nelly (Felicity Jones). Nelly is the invisible woman of the title as her relationship with Dickens is one that is both formally arranged and kept a secret. As a director Fiennes adapts well to the change of pace as The Invisible Woman adopts a much lighter, quieter, and subtler tone to Coriolanus and Ralph is more than capable of coaxing fantastic performances from his cast including, but not limited to, Joanna Scanlan, Tom Hollander, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Sadly the one actor Fiennes fails to properly shepherd is himself. Much as in Coriolanus his performance feels all too stagey and over the top. Fiennes’ Dickens is a bounding man filled with silliness and joy but I could never quite shake the feeling that I was watching a performance rather than a real character. Fiennes’ acting was on display for all to see like seeing a giant zip going down the back of his costume. There is no denying that Ralph Fiennes is a fine actor but when it comes to directing himself on-screen I have so far found him a little too unrestrained and theatrical.

The Invisible Woman - Ralph Fiennes Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones in contrast is fantastic (of course I would say that). Her performance is one of subtlety and nuance which is often stomped out by Fiennes pantomiming around by her side. The film’s strongest moments come in its framing scenes in which an older Nelly is looking back on the affair as she faces moving on with her life. Dickens is now referred to as merely a family friend rather than the greatest love of her life. Jones’ stoney gaze as she walks along a beach contemplating her future and her past is a masterclass in understated performance that Fiennes should spend some time considering.

Back in the period of Nelly’s relationship with Dickens things unravel and the film fails to convince. I never really felt a spark between the pair of supposed lovers and their relationship felt cold and dispassionate as a result. While you could see on the surface why Dickens might be physically attracted to Nelly and she to his stature and confidence they never interacted enough to give one another to fall head over heels in love. We are supposed to believe in a love strong enough for Nelly’s mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) to allow the affair, and for Dickens to betray his wife (a brilliantly rejected and dejected Joanna Scanlan), but frankly it all seemed like they were getting a little carried away.

Without a romance to believe in and no real drama considering everybody pretty much OK-ed the affair, we are left with just a collection of fine performances, one overacting director, and a lot of wigs and bonnets. Not without its merits The Invisible Woman is another case of a good premise going unfulfilled.

The Invisible Woman is in selected UK cinemas on 7th February and is released nationwide on 21st February.

BFI London Film Festival 2013

BFI London Film Festival 2013 Line-up

BFI London Film Festival 2013

It’s that time again! Yesterday the line-up for the 57th BFI London Film Festival was announced to a lot of press that didn’t include ourselves. Last year’s festival was a lot of fun and I successfully saw more films than I could handle but there was no one film that got me properly excited like there had been in previous years. 2013 looks to be different.

A quick perusal of the festival brochure reveals a long list of films that I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of from a number of writers, directors, and actors who are at the height of their game or at the beginning of what appear to be very promising careers. The line up for this year’s festival, running from 9th – 20th October, has got me properly excited and it looks like it will be easy for me to find enough films for me to finally break the 30 films in a festival barrier.

Below I have picked out ten films from the extensive list that the BFI are screening. What follows is far from an exhaustive list but rather is made up of films I have been waiting to see for a while or anything that caught my eye as I frantically scrolled through the festival brochure. My advise to you is to download the full brochure and give it a thorough read through so that you are ready when member’s booking opens on 12th September. Tickets go fast and some BFI members (ahem) are very quick with their keyboards.

Philomena

Philomena
Judi Dench stars as a Irish Catholic woman on the hunt for the son she gave up against her will more than fifty years ago. Steve Coogan is the jaded journalist who accompanies her on the journey in this film he co-wrote. Dench and Coogan are a double act I refuse to miss out on.

Gravity

Gravity
Alfonso Cuarón directs George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in a drama about a pair of astronauts whose space shuttle becomes damaged leaving the pair stranded and unable to contact earth. Lots of good buzz surrounding this film and it could well be only the second film after Life of Pi to use 3D properly.

The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman
Ralph Fiennes returns to the London Film Festival with his second feature as director in which he also takes a starring role. The focus of the film is on Charles Dickens and his secret love affair with a young actress played by Felicity Jones as she looks back on the affair later on in life. I think we all know why this film interests me.

Blue is the Warmest Colour

Blue Is the Warmest Colour
This year’s Palme d’Or winner is coming to London. A film about a love shared by two teenage girls that stirred up a lot of controversy in Cannes thanks to extended graphic sex scenes. Those scenes aside this film promises to be a tender look at young love that captures all its messiness and turbulence.

Don Jon

Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes on the triple role of writer, director, and actor in his first foray behind the camera. He plays the title role of Jon, a porn obsessed young man who falls for a woman equally obsessed with romantic comedies. The woman in question is Scarlett Johansson who seems to be channelling the cast of Jersey Shore. A confident debut from a strong young talent, I’m there.

The Double

The Double

Early this week I was Googling The Double in the hopes that it was coming to UK cinema’s soon. I adored Richard Ayoade’s debut film Submarine and have been eagerly awaiting his follow-up ever since. Now we have it in the form of a film about a man who goes unnoticed at work until his exact double joins the company. Witty and romantic as only Ayoade can be.

Under the Skin

Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson’s performance as an alien hunting for men in Glasgow has drawn a lot of praise and excitement in the past week. The film is described as “a brilliant amalgam of fantasy and reality” and from the sounds of it not all the men in the film who fall for the alien’s charms were aware they were in a film at the time. I’m baffled enough to be intrigued.

Kill Your Darlings

Kill Your Darlings

Daniel Radcliffe has come a long way since Harry Potter and has showcased his ability to act on TV and on stage. Now it’s time for his to prove himself on the big screen. Here he plays Allen Ginsberg in his first year at University as he meets fellow future heavyweights of the Beat Generation and embarks on a tumultuous affair.

Afternoon Delight

Afternoon Delight

Any film with Juno Temple in is worth a second look which is why this film finds its way into this list. Temple co-stars as a stripper who is taken into the home of a bored housewife played but the too often ignored Kathryn Hahn. Darkly funny and the debut film from a female writer/director this should not be a cheap or sleazy affair.

Short Term 12

Short Term 12

Much like Juno Temple, Felicity Jones, Judi Dench, Richard Ayoade, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt there is another artist whose work I find myself absolutely needing to see and that is Brie Larson. Too often resigned to the role of love interest or comic relief Larson is finally getting a proper meaty role as a supervisor at a foster-care home who finds herself having to deal with her own past as she helps a new resident with theirs.