Tag Archives: London

Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016) by Sharon Maguire

Bridget Jones is the old spinster we know. This time over 40, however, managed to reach perfect weight over the years. This film is a drift from Helen Fielding’s book “Mad About the Boy”, where Mark Darcy is dead and Bridget is widowed with two kids.

Here Mark Darcy is alive and kicking with second (sic!) wife with the looks of a clothes rack. And we all meet at Daniel Cleaver’s (sic!) memorial… Jokes aside – supposedly Hugh Grant wasn’t going to participate in this project. He is replaced by the one and only Dr. McDreamy (it seems, one more time Helen Fielding got to have a silver screen crush into her stories – well done M’am!).

One incredible addition here is that Emma Thompson (herself!) has been invited to collaborate on the writing team. As a result (chicken and egg problem, not sure what came first – the role, or her writing?) – we have received an amazing comic role of renowned actress as Bridget’s OB. Amazing dialogues! Great experience.

What I like about this film – we have wrinkled romance. Apparently people in their 40’s and 50’s also fall in love, and know how to laugh at themselves. Having gained so much distance over the years definitely helps. I love this new Bridget. Perhaps now more, than ever before. Great stuff!

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Filed under 2016 cinema releases, film reviews

“Amy” by Asif Kapadia (2015)

Documentaries are my favourite genre. And documentaries related to music personae in particular.

Kapadia got access to private archives of Amy Winehouse’s family and friends. Thanks to that, we received an in depth presentation of who Amy Winehouse was prior to releasing her hit album Back to Black which turned her life upside down.

In one of the first scenes Amy sings a simple “Happy Birthday” to her friend filming her. She was 14 at the time and her voice already gave incredible chills to my spine.
Her voice was great, she was a hard working musician throughout her career, however, unfortunately, she was prone to influences, which led her to drugs and alcohol addictions.
From the film, we find out through the words of none other but Tony Bennett himself, that Amy Winehouse was a great jazz vocalist.

The film is a bit too long, also I was missing the hard data of numbers – e.g. it is not stated when she was born, and how old she was when she passed. The general knowledge is that she joined the infamous 27 Club. At the age of 27 she died of alcohol poisoning. And that was the age that many other great artists passed away. Such as Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Kobain…

Great film telling the story of a tragic and incredibly sensitive artist – Amy Winehouse. A great watch.

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Layer Cake by Matthew Vaughn (2004)

Daniel Craig is an unnamed character at his most magnetic best. He plays a drug dealer on his last job before ‘retirement’. How many times have we seen this in cinema. One last bank robbery, one last deal, and then the protagonist will live happily ever after. How often does the last job go right? And how often does it go wrong? Exactly.

In agreement with the gangster movie genre, nothing goes right and everything goes wrong. As this scheme is the mainstream of the British cinema (I will hesitate to call it indie given the astronomic budget of £3m), Layer Cake gets served exceptionally fresh as compared to other films of the era.

The cinematography by Ben Davis is worth a special mention. It is not only phenomenally well put together – it is also creatively different and therefore a true feast to the eyes.

It was thanks to this role that Craig got into the competition for the next James Bond. And how accurately so. This film could work quite well as the prequel to Casino Royale, as the intro to who Bond could have been before he started to work for MI6, before he got his licence to kill.

Watching this film almost a decade after it has been made, after having seen Craig’s Bond in three episodes, it looks as if James Bond was his destiny. It is an incredibly fun thing to watch Craig as a character who hates guns, who does his first kill, who learns the tricks of outwitting his opponents. In a way he becomes a perfect gangster, who is smart enough to quit when he has mastered all there is to acquire in the business.

Costume designer (Stephanie Collie) did a huge favour to Daniel Craig. He should be grateful.

Yet again this is one more of the few (very few) films I have seen that has a voiceover I do not oppose against. I specifically like the last line of Craig’s character (XXXX – as per final credits) uttering what will later become the cult “My name’s Bond, James Bond.” At the end of the film he says: “My name? If you knew that, you’d be as clever as me.”

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Love Tomorrow by Christopher Payne (2010) #rdff

Winner of the UK Feature section at Raindance 2012.

This is yet another ballet themed film at Raindance. Two dancers meet at the tube escalators and what seems to be a reactivation of a previous acquaintance, it turns out they had never met before. They spend the night together – in the Linklater’s sense of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset – walking around London, talking, or not, sometimes dancing, drinking, exploring the outside world through each other’s eyes.

Supposedly it is a non-mainstream love story. Supposedly it is a fake love story without a happy ending. Supposedly it is a warm tale making us believe in humans again.

It is nicely photographed, craftily lit and London always looks stunning in October, the duo surely knows how to dance.  I liked the costumes.

Would a ballet dancer riding a bike to the audition throw in two bricks into his backpack? Just a thought.

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Culture Shock by Steve Balderson (2012) #rdff

Lightweight comedy bringing to mind Scooby Doo group of teenage friends solving criminal mysteries.

Four twenty-something Americans are forced by their parents to visit Europe ‘as adults’. That means they have to deal with issues by themselves rather than ring parents for help, who refuse to pick up their calls.

Realised in a true indie spirit – most of the film was shot on a handheld digital camera. A list of thankyous is quite long – mainly to locations. Apparently the cost of the film did not exceed £3000. And yet, it is a nice dose of entertainment.

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Confine by Tobias Tobbell (2012) #rdff

What is a good recipe for a pleasant watch?

How about this:

1x gun,

2x beautiful girls,

1x Alfie Allen,

tons of ducktape,

reasonable amount of (fake) blood,

1x cane and

1x pair of stilettos?

Does it sound sufficient? Throw in a little bit of crafty cinematography, great lighting, costume+interior design and lock it all in a reasonably sized London appartment.

What do you get?

You get “Confine” – presented at Raindance in the main UK feature competition.

Tobias Tobbell – writer-director delivered an aesthetically delectable piece fitting into the contemporary British new wave of indie films.

Starring former model turned actress Daisy Lowe and Eliza Bennett as two strong characters juggling options which are not always predictable.

This is a well constructed suspense thriller with the inevitable twist towards the ending. I want to watch it again to devour the tiny details, to admire cinematography again, to contemplate the lovely movements of the two ladies verbally wrestling next to powerless in their presence Alfie Allen.

Here’s an interview carried out with writer-director Tobias Tobbell:
http://juliaxix.filmaster.com/article/interview-with-tobias-tobbell-writer-director-of-film-confine/

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My week with Marilyn by Simon Curtis

A disappointment. I was hoping for a solid biopic. It’s a shame because with the budget and with the names on the poster, it could have been a much better film. I spoke to someone before viewing it and we concluded that Scarlett Johansson might have been a more true MM. Well, as it turns out, she was one of the big celebrities who actually turned down the role. Was it because of the thinness of the script? It may as well have been the reason.

The story is shallow and fails to turn MM into a valid human being. For the last two decades there was no film about the famous blonde and this attempt is quite frustrating. Despite the fantastic work of set decorators, costume designers, despite great music and interiors as well as locations (including Eton, Windsor etc.) the film is a weak reflection of what it could have been.

Dame Judi Dench, Kenneth Brannagh, Emma Watson… cast as if to compensate for the failures in other fields. Michelle Williams may be a good actress but there was a very limited amount of material for her to use her acting skills. Such a shame. Such a disappointment. I am still waiting for the next film, which will feature a fatter, full of sexappeal star and waiting for a script fully and fairly presenting Norma Jeane in her prime.

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Filed under 2011 cinema releases, film reviews

The Long Good Friday by John Mackenzie

Catching up, brings to mind what I overheard on the Londonist podcast; “London will be a great place when they finish it”. Looking at the town back in 1978 and in 2011 – there is a comparable amount of cranes in sight!
Setting that aside, ignoring the utopian (?) plans overlooking far into the distant future of the Olympics in 1988 (!), this film brings a new type of female protagonist in the gangster genre. Helen Mirren’s Victoria is smarter and better educated than her mafioso partner played by Bob Hoskins. She almost runs the business for him and she is the one coming up with ideas when Harold is clueless.

Look out for the young and handsome Pierce Brosnan, who I believe utters one word throughout the film (‘hi’).

Well written and with a surprisingly small amount of dialogue (ADR I think) with quite a good sound quality. Nice epoque costumes, score and old cars (only then, they weren’t old!).

A great piece of master cinema. Definite must to watch.

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Victim by Alex Pillai

Set somewhere in East End where people live in tall soulless block of flats.

A difficult tale of the vicious circle of violence and crime of which once you’re a part of, you will always come back. London is depicted as the city of extreme contrasts between wealth and poverty and how seemingly easy it is to balance on the edge of both extremes. Somehow a rich daddy’s daughter ends up flatsharing with girls who are partners in crime to three blokes burgling into rich guys’ flats & houses wooed by the girls. Somehow the brain master of the crime owns a high standard large flat and drives a ridiculously expensive car and yet his little sister attends a state school, while he copes with old time debts he struggles to pay.

There is no happy ending but there is a final message which brings us back to the title. A victim can also be the perpetrator because he is the victim of the environment. That seems painfully true even without the experience of this film.

Interesting and intertwined script.

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A Thousand Kisses Deep by Dana Lustig

This film is technically perfect which allows for total immersion into the story told. The script is a masterpiece, acting superb and the omnipresent music an additional almost flesh&blood protagonist.

The title is a direct quotation from Leonard Cohen’s famous song, obviously.

It is a powerful cinema which is deeply thought through and very carefully executed. A magic story of a life long infatuation and going back in memory of a young woman who has to cope with two deaths in her close proximity and bravely carry on with her life.

An absolute must see for those idealists who still believe in the beauty and power of story telling through cinematic techniques – like myself.

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Filed under Film Festivals, film reviews, Raindance 2011