Friday, February 24, 2012
Beats Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest brings the story behind the titular hip-hop band - Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White to the big screen this year's Glasgow Music and Film Festival. Taking its title from the band's first album, the film traces the band's meteoric rise to fame within the hip-hop community. The band takes us back to their former hang-outs, illustrating the music scene of the late 80s and early 90s as they go. In its best moments, the film is a Behind the Music style mash-up of interviews and music video footage, but digs deeper into the psyches of its subjects. Quest's chilled out sounds soon clash with strains of disagreement as Phife's diabetes and artistic differences caused a rift between band members. Beats, Rhymes and Life gets caught up in its own life-based dramas but redeems itself with consistently engaging characters and cool jams.
Beats, Rhymes & Life screens at Glasgow Film Festival this Saturday 25 February at 10.45pm. Book tickets here.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Chilean directing talent Cristián Jiménez brings his second feature to Glasgow Film Festival this week. One for the bookish, Bonsái's protagonist is more of a leader-on than a leading man. Julio, using his cultural smarts (namely, the dubious claim of having read Marcel Proust) to woo his student girlfriend Emilia. Years later, under the guise of transcribing his local hero's novel, he uses their relationship as inspiration to write, be it under an elaborate rouse.
Despite channeling a mumblecore vibe, charm-free, statuesque young actors may speak of unmeasured still waters. Not knowing how deep they run will only get you so far, and Julio's mumbling and bumbling is curious but not much more, and quickly wears as the film's non-linear narrative shuffles through time like the worn pages of a well-thumbed paperback. But if you're looking for a touch of solipsism without picking up Proust, Bonsái is a good start.
Bonsái screens again at Glasgow Film Festival today, 23 February at 8.45pm. Book tickets here.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Cedric Diggory, Edward Cullen, and now Georges Duroy, 25 year-old heart-throb Robert Pattinson - affectionately known as R-Patz - steps into another role for the ladies in the screen adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's Bel Ami. Stepping out of the sparkling vampiric skin of the chaste Edward Cullen and into the dapper facade of a man a little more attuned to the ladies' needs, Pattinson's already setting hearts alight in Glasgow as frenzied fans of the actor have been demanding news of his arrival since the GFF programme was revealed.
Fans of Pattinson are known for their own particular brand of fervour - one that sees them snooping outside his parents' estate, riled all the more by news he isn't home. Critics have censured Twilight for its celebration of self versus other -- for dedicated fans, no is all the more likely to mean yes. One thing is certain, the audience will sparkle at the film's Glasgow FIlm Festival release tonight.
If the (albeit 2D) presence of Mr Pattinson isn't enough to make you want to lock up your daughters, Bel Ami is set to encourage further arduous swoons at this week's screenings - and not only from the teenagers - as his character Georges Duroy beds Paris' finest, played by the likes of Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, and Kristin Scott Thomas. Ooo la la!
As Pattinson casts off the burden of sullen Cullen, forging ahead as Twilight fans breathlessly await the final chapter later this year, Bel Ami becomes an interesting next move. Although Water For Elephants put him in a new leading man position, its focus on forbidden love and dark debarring forces failed to preclude a good long mope. Instead, Bel Ami and an upcoming project with David Cronenberg - who has already pronounced Pattinson as the best actor he's ever worked with - seem certain to turn our vampire into a warm-blooded movie star of great repute.
Bel Ami screens at Glasgow Festival tonight, 22 February at 6.15pm and tomorrow 23 February at 5pm. Buy tickets here.
Bel Ami is released in UK cinemas on Friday 9 March.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels star Dexter Fletcher made his way to Glasgow FIlm Festival for the first time last month to screen Wild Bill. This impressive directorial debut is everything but the kitchen sink, a tale of life on the breadline that's imbued with a western edge.
Honing in on a low-income family in East London, the film begins as “Wild” Bill (Charlie Creed-Miles) is released from prison and returns home to find his estranged 15- and 11-year-old sons have been abandoned by their mother. Sound like Ken Loach territory so far? Think again. “I didn’t want the film to start feeling like it was brow-beating anyone," says Fletcher by phone ahead of his film's Scottish debut at the Glasgow Film Festival. "There are social issues in the film and I do my best to deal with them, but at the same time I’m trying to leave it open so as to observe it rather than making a big laboured point about it. There’s a realism about that – it’s not so much about the massive emotional effects [of poverty], it’s about how people in life invariably get on with it.”
As well as taking an alternative view on social issues, the western elements of Wild Bill take the film further from the doldrums of the kitchen sink and into more cinematic territory. “I looked at a lot of westerns in terms of how I wanted to frame [the film],” says Fletcher. “Even though I’m telling a small, contained story set in a council estate, I wanted to give the film scope, and these westerns felt like a good place to look. It always spoke to me, it kept that sense of drama, giving drama to something that otherwise could’ve felt quite small and kitchen sink-y. It was about paying homage to those films that I love and, at the same time, retaining this sense of scope of the big city out there.”
It’s a technique that raises the bar for gritty local films bringing universal issues into the mix and, as Fletcher says, “you could make this film anywhere.” The film is dedicated to his father, and it’s easy to see why. “My issues are tied up in that film – my dad and mum were together for 50 years, and we all lived very nicely in a nice house in the suburbs of London, but I still have issues with my dad. I still felt that I couldn’t do enough to please him and a lot of the issues [in the film] are about me trying to communicate with my father.”
The father/son relationship is another factor that distances the film from its presumed genre. “I want people to know that it’s a festival film, that it’s not about horrible gangsters dealing drugs and beating each other up! To me, it’s more than that. I needed to make something that I felt had humour and heart and hope in it. The festival circuit is a great place to show that.”
Wild Bill is released in UK cinemas on Friday 23 March. Read my review.
Image by Stuart Crawford.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Crossing the Line, the new strand at this year's Glasgow Film Festival, brings experimental and avant-garde films to the Glasgow, exploring the crossover between cinema and visual art. Finnisterrae is, in many ways, an excellent introduction to experimental filmmaking, blending stunning vistas with an unusual, almost farcical storyline of two ghosts in limbo. Tired of being spirits, they ask oracles and whimsical beings how to become living creatures, resolving to take a journey to Finistarrae - the end of the world. At once weird and wonderful, gently creepy, but remarkably structured, it's a slow and philosophical pilgrimage that invokes odd recollections of Silent Running and Monty Python. Some segues into visual art – a dream of naked dancing ghosts and a self-conscious insert of 80s Catalan visual art – feel forced, but these are balanced with beautifully wacky run-ins with creatures of the netherworld. Above all, the striking image of white-cloaked beings staring into the camera with their jet-black eyes makes Finisterrae an innately compulsive watch.
Glasgow Film Festival runs until Sunday 26 February.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
As a wise woman named Jeanine Basinger once said, "You give your heart to Fred Astaire but you save your body for Gene Kelly." And save itself Glasgow Film Festival did, right up until this year: the centenary of Mr Kelly's birth. The MGM man with the superstar gene will be honoured as the subject of the festival's 2012 retrospective.
One of the greatest all-round talents of his time, he tap danced his way across tinseltown in roller skates, sang in the rain, and left his American heart in Paris. "Gene Kelly led a one-man revolution in Hollywood that changed the screen musical forever," explains Glasgow Film Festival co-director, Allan Hunter. "He really pushed the boundaries of what was possible and created a uniquely American art form that dazzled the world.
“His work has withstood the toughest test of all – the test of time. The films in the retrospective are as joyous and captivating now as the day they were first shown. Audiences are in for a treat with a rare chance to see them in all their glory on a big screen."
Nominated for the Best Actor gong at the 1945 Academy Awards for Anchors Aweigh (20 Feb), Kelly won a special Oscar in 1951 for An American in Paris (19 Feb) recognising his 'brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.' The Glasgow retrospective includes both titles, along with On the Town (23 Feb).
Scots favourite Brigadoon will be screened on 24 Feb, followed on 25 Feb where you can see it again at St Andrews in the Square along with a very special event: the Gene Kelly Ceilidh. Don't miss your chance to celebrate a couple of his worthy co-stars, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor, in the pièce de résistance of this year's retrospective: a special 60th anniversary screening of Kelly's immortal classic, Singin’ in the Rain (18 Feb, 1.30pm). Come on with the films, I've a smile on my face…