Out Now – 29th November 2013

Saving Jeune et Jolie

The remake of Carrie you ordered has arrived! Supposedly closer to the source novel but still seemingly unnecessary this remake let’s us see the introduction of cyber-bullying to the mix. Probably worth a look for horror fans but the original still stands. Covered in blood. And setting fire to the school.

Free Birds
Imagine we had Thanksgiving over here and they made an animated film about two Turkeys who go back in time to take themselves off the menu. Imagine how we’d laugh! Now imagine that film existed but we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, welcome to Free Birds.

Saving Mr. Banks
A film about the making of Mary Poppins is no doubt going to appeal to someone who grew up watching the film. Add in the fact that this person greatly admires the film’s star Emma Thompson and saw the film early in the morning at the end of a week of 30 films and you might starts to see that their five cry viewing experience is not going to be a common one. That said I was blind to any flaws and loved the film to death.

The Best Man Holiday
“When college friends reunite after 15 years over the Christmas holidays, they will discover just how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be ignited.” This did really well in America which seemed to surprise everyone as the film has a predominantly black cast. Why was this surprising? I have no idea.

“A documentary shot in the North Atlantic and focused on the commercial fishing industry.” That was NOT what I was expecting from the title. It better have a giant sea monster in it or I will be pissed!

Dirty Wars
“Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill is pulled into an unexpected journey as he chases down the hidden truth behind America’s expanding covert wars.” By unexpected journey I hope they mean that he time travelled with Keanu Reeves in a phone booth.

Jeune Et Jolie
French film about a teenage prostitute. HANG ON! It’s actually really well done and not nearly as smutty as you might think. Oddly the UK poster uses the only still that features nudity and in doing so the lead actresses left breast has been partially removed. Trying to be scandalous but removing any chance of actual scandal.

Who Needs Enemies
Hmmmm…. either this title severely needs a question mark adding or this is a Doctor Who spin-off about a time when the Doctor has defeated all the Daleks once and for all and is bore out of his mind.

N.F.A. (No Fixed Abode)
“Adam has it all – a beautiful wife and daughter and home, but one day he wakes up in a hostel for the homeless – how did he there and how can he get his life back?” The tagline is “What if you woke up homeless?” and I honestly don’t know the answer. Suffice it to say this blog would suffer.

There are other films but they either have too little information available, are in just one cinema, or appear to be out on DVD at the same time so I won’t go over them. All that and I am wildly behind schedule!

Going Down in Hollywood: It’s a Girl Thing!

The Wolf of Wall Street

We love a bit of film classification chat here at Mild Concern. The whole idea of judging what age a person can be before they see a film based on the amount of sex, violence, and swearing absolutely fascinates me. We’ve previously looked at the specifics surrounding the age rating for Pulp Fiction, mused about racist remarks, and even tried to calculate the amount of blinking you need in order to use your eyelids as your very own censorship tool.

More importantly we had a proper look at the classification debate for Shame when it came out two years ago. In short the issue was that the film had been given an NC-17 rating in America due to its abundance of sex and nudity. NC-17 is essentially an 18 certificate and while in the UK an 18 for a grown-up film is not ideal but by no means a death sentence, in America there are cinemas that won’t even screen a film branded with the NC-17 label. Frequently films will work with the MPAA (the American film classification association) to edit their film to attain the much more consumer friendly R rating which allows anyone under 17 to see the film if they take an adult with them.

There is an argument for such cuts when a studio is looking to appeal for a mass market and need a lower certificate and yet the whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When you cut a film not for artistic but for commercial reasons then you are in danger of ruining the vision of the piece for the sake of improving your profit margins. There is a fine line between offering advice on classification guidelines and out-and-out censorship. When you have the power to label a film with a black mark that will severely diminish it’s market value and you do so based upon a questionable moral code then you are essentially holding a film to ransom; if they don’t edit out the bits the MPAA doesn’t like then their movie won’t get seen by very many people.

Film is a murky world where artistic and commercial concerns collide and so often when it comes to a matter of getting an R or NC-17 rating then it is the money men that rule.

Just this week there have been two cases of censorship editing as films strive to get themselves a friendlier rating. The first is the news that Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film The Wolf of Wall Street had been blessed with an R rating after the much lauded director agreed to trim down sex and nudity to avoid being branded NC-17.

Charlie Countryman

In addition to this actress Evan Rachel Wood took to Twitter yesterday to complain about edits that had been made to her new film Charlie Countryman. It would seem that an earlier cut she had been shown included a scene of her receiving cunnilingus from a character played by Shia LaBeouf (soon to trouble censors in Nymphomaniac) but now the film is in cinemas the scene has been edited so that the film could avoid being rated NC-17. Here is what Wood had to say:

After seeing the new cut of #CharlieCountryman I would like 2 share my disappointment with the MPAA, who thought it was necessary to censor a woman’s sexuality once again. The scene where the two main characters make “love” was altered because someone felt that seeing a man give a woman oral sex made people “uncomfortable” but the scenes in which people are murdered by having their heads blown off remained intact and unaltered. This is a symptom of a society that wants to shame women and put them down for enjoying sex, especially when (gasp) the man isn’t getting off as well! Its hard for me to believe that had the roles been reversed it still would have been cut OR had the female character been raped it would have been cut. Its time for people to GROW UP. Accept that women are sexual beings. Accept that some men like pleasuring women. Accept that women don’t have to just be fucked and say thank you. We are allowed and entitled to enjoy ourselves. Its time we put our foot down. Thanks for listening.

I think Wood touches on what is by far the most concerning thing about the way classification and censorship is carried out. While we can probably agree that there needs to be some level of control on what various ages can see, and that studios are well within their rights to ruin a good film with cuts, there is a huge imbalance in what they think should be kept away from the eyes of the young. Violence is much acceptable in the mainstream than sex and nudity as images of hate are seen as far less harmful than images of love. Worse still is the patriarchal and misogynistic attitude that Wood is accusing the MPAA of possessing. She would not be the first as in 2010 it took an appeal for Blue Valentine to be lowered from NC-17 to R without removing its cunnilingus sequence. It certainly looks like there is an uneven policy at the MPAA when it comes to which gender is participating in sexual activity.

Film classification is an important part of the world of film, and something our own BBFC do with admirable transparency, but I find it hard to endorse any system that finds violence to be more acceptable than sex and runs scared when faced with an expression of female sexuality. Cinema is an art form and when edited to suit commercial interests is suffering from censorship plain and simple. In America the MPAA is a shadowy organisation that somehow has gained the power to ruin a film’s box office if the group does not approve of its contents. Unlike the BBFC the MPAA answers to no one and seems to decide for itself what is deemed acceptable.

Fight censorship!

Fight the patriarchy!

Fight for equal rights for oral sex!

Shorts On Tap – Measure of the Senses Review

Shorts on Tap

Last Monday night saw the first ever Shorts on Tap night take place at Juno in London. It was an evening of short films connected by the theme of the five senses. It was a fun evening during which I laughed, got confused, and tried to look as intelligent as possible when photos were being taken. Shorts films are a great way for filmmakers to both showcase and test their talents but sadly it isn’t always easy to get them out to the public which is why evening like this are so important. Important, and fun.

From the ten films that were shown it was up to myself and my two fellow judges Cass Horowitz and Evgeny Sinelnikov to pick our favourite three films. Our three winners are below and for the most part I will let them speak for themselves…

Then We Are Together – Richard J Moir

A sweet short film about lost love that is probably the only film of the night likely to produce tears, and we all know how important a metric that has become for me… for some reason.

Then We Are Together (Short Film) from Richard J Moir on Vimeo

Planet Gong – Ian Habgood

A controversial documentary in the judges deliberation. It would be fair to say that Cass had his concerns about the possible mocking nature of the film. Sadly we only have the trailer to embed:

Planet Gong Trailer from Ian Brit on Vimeo

Haze – Meiko Deren

This film in particular stood out for me on the night, mostly for being so different from the competition and for the fact that when watching it I felt like I was having a panic attack! Have a watch full-screen with your headphones on and you may get the same effect.

Haze from Meiko Deren on Vimeo.

Overall I was incredibly impressed with the quality of films on display, with amateur short films there is always the risk of being presented with utter nonsense, examples of which I have sullied YouTube with in the past.


The next event takes place in Juno on December 17th, if you’re interest get yourself over to the Facebook page.

Out Now – 22nd November 2013

Blue is Gone with the WInd

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Since the first Hunger Games film I have now read all the books and so understand what the hell was happening. The adventure continues in this second instalment and let me tell you, book-wise at least, it is all downhill from here.

Because it’s not just the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who this week we have a drama about the chaotic events that took place in a hospital on the day JFK was shot. Expect no conspiracy stories just human drama and period clothing. Oh, and Zac Efron.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour
If you can look past all the noise, the controversy, and the titillation what you will find is a superb drama about two young women falling in love and falling apart. Yes there is sex but more often there is raw emotion and the kind of acting that enables you to forget that you are sitting in a cinema watching a film. I found it to be an “intensely intimate character study” so stop sniggering and enjoy the film.

The Family
De Niro stars as the head of a Mafia family who are relocated to Normandy as part of the witness protection program. Hilarity ensues as they try to fit into their new French lifestyle and old habits die hard. Ugh. De Niro occasionally puts in fantastic performances these days but I fear this is one of his more frequent roles that are just for the money.

Singh Saab the Great
Hindi action comedy drama. I know literally nothing more than that. Sorry!

Gone with the Wind
The BFI are screening the classic film about war and romance that somehow you still have yet to see despite running a film blog and owning the DVD. Perhaps you should just go and see it at the BFI, you love the Southbank after all. What are you waiting for?

Danny Dyer stars…

Computer Chess
Ambitious, but in my opinion unsuccessful, independent film set during a computer chess tournament in the 1980s. Shot on black and white video the film starts of feeling like an authentic documentary but eventually gets too entangled in surreal elements. Worth a look perhaps.

¡Vivan las Antipodas!
Documentary looking at four antipodes across the world – points that are directly opposite one another on the Earth’s surface. Ever wondered what is happening on the opposite side of the world to you? Now is the time to find out. THis film sounds fascinating. May be hard to find though sadly.

The Flu
A virus is spreading through Seoul and the area is under quarantine. Two people must go inside to find a thing to help make a vaccine.

Gori Tere Pyaar Mein
Through plot contrivances a man finds himself engaged to two women – the woman he loves and the woman his father has arranged to be his bride. Nobody can find out what is happening so naturally… hilarity ensues.

Breakfast with Jonny Wilkinson
“This sparky and engaging comedy returns to that golden morning in 2003 when the unthinkable happened and England were victorious.” I don’t know, is this something to do with rugby?

Win Film T-Shirts from Red Molotov

Molotov T-shirts

We have teamed up with our friends over at Red Molotov to give away three film-themed t-shirts (as pictured above) to one lucky winner. Let’s face it, Christmas is only a month away now and this prize could get three film fans crossed off your shopping list. You’re very welcome.

Red Molotov have a wide range of T-shirts to choose from (go on, have a peek) and I have picked out three that should appeal to everyone; Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Fight Club, and Alfred Hitchcock.

To be in with a chance to win simply enter your details below and I will pick a winner at random on Friday 29th November. The winner will then be contacted so that they can pick out the size and colour of their prizes.

This competition has now closed

Entrants must be at least 18 years of age and be a UK resident. The competition closes on 29th November 2013 at midday. One winner will be selected at random from the entries submitted and will be contacted using the details provided in the competition entry.

Utopia – Film Review


Reviewing documentaries about serious topics is no easy task. How do you remove yourself from an affecting topic and objectively review the feature for its film-making merits? I think the honest answer is that I can’t and that instead I should take my inability to separate the message from the craft of documentary film-making as an indication that the film was a success.

John Pilger’s latest documentary is named after a large region in northern Australia that is home to the oldest human presence on Earth. Over the course of almost two hours Pilger looks at the way the indigenous people of one of the world’s richest countries are treated like second class citizens and have been exploited, abused, and ignored. Utopia is a moving film filled with brutal images of poverty and neglect in the lives of the original inhabitants of Australia and the ignorance of those who have now come to occupy it.

Pilger does not approach the topic calmly and his opinions, filled with outrage and disgust, come pouring out in the film; he is not afraid to point the finger of blame when he sees fit. Such passion from a documentarian helps to drive a film but can sometimes create a sense of bias and subjectivity. When Pilger interviews those who do not agree with his view it soon becomes less of an interview and more of a one-way barrage of shouting on behalf of Pilger. Personally I would have liked to hear what everyone has to say on the topic not just those who agree with the message of the film.

Utopia is definitely a tricky film to review, hence why this review is so late and so brief. I am not going to ever be able to say that I enjoy this type of film but that’s not really the point. This is a film about investigative journalism in which Pilger reveals a deep-seated level of prejudice in a country that goes right up to government policy. This is another important documentaries that is worth seeking out to educate rather than to entertain.

A powerful watch about a subject I knew nothing about Utopia is a personal film from Jon Pilger that has a lot to say.

Utopia is currently on limited release and will be available on DVD from 2nd December 2013 www.utopiajohnpilger.co.uk

The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable – Theatre Review

The Drowned Man

My previous experience of immersive theatre events only stretches so far as a series of live horror mazes in York last Halloween so when I was invited to see Punchdrunk’s latest epic production The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable I tentatively jumped at the chance. Punchdrunk are known for creating new worlds for audiences to explore and for their latest piece have teamed up with the National Theatre to create their biggest work yet.

Just near Paddington station sits an innocuous looking former postal sorting office with little signage and an excited huddle of theatre fans queuing outside. What lies inside is a Hollywood studio recreated over four floors complete with surrounding woodland, a small town, and a desert wasteland. The scope of the set is large enough that as a member of the audience roaming within in search of the story you might find a room at the start of the evening and never make your way back there again. Within the labyrinth of rooms, floors, and settings characters roam around acting out a variety of stories as the evening builds to two dramatic conclusions. The audience is free to explore, and are encouraged to do so alone, each wearing white masks that create a sense of an anonymous and ghostly presence that watches scenes of lust, violence, and desperation but never acts to intervene or interfere.

I arrived at the venue just after 7pm and joined the buzzing queue outside. I was attending the event alone which filled me with dread at the idea of exploring a psychedelic world alone, but also excited me as it gave me the freedom to take my own route through the world and weave my own story from what I found. Before entering the world of The Drowned Man we were all handed a slip of paper which detailed the two major plots that would be playing out through the evening:

The Drowned Man Synopsis

At any other theatre event this might be considered as spoilery but within the world of Punchdrunk this slip of paper became a lifeline with which I was able to relate the scenes I was to witness inside to the overall narrative.

By 7:30pm I was walking in a small group down a dark corridor which weaved left and right and was lit only by red light. Fully disoriented we entered a small room where other audience members waited nervously. From here we moved into a second room and were given our white masks. An announcement welcomed us to Temple Studios and invited us to the wrap party for a film at 10pm. Until then we were welcome to explore the studio provided we did not speak or remove our masks. We were also told that helpers in black masks would be around to provide help but not guide us and that we were better off exploring alone. So far it was all feeling pretty ominous.

Fully briefed we entered a large lift and met our first character of the night. A cheery American woman in an evening dress reiterated the instructions as she commandeered the lift down to the basement. Four of the twenty or so in the lift, including myself, stepped out of the lift and the woman slammed the door shut behind us. Had I come with a companion we would by now be separated from one another with no clue how to reunite in a massive building specifically designed to boggle the mind. The three women I suddenly found myself with seemed scared and tentative, unsure as to why we were suddenly alone in a dark basement corridor wearing masks and it was at this moment that I discovered the biggest surprise of the night. I wasn’t scared!

I was excited, emboldened, and wanted to explore. Leaving the only souls in sight behind I strode off through the first door I came to and so began an evening of running down corridors, nervously peering in doors, and scaring myself with my own reflection. If there was a closed door in the building I tried its handle and if a large crowd was following a character one way I would move in another.

For two and a half hours I roamed the building and at times found myself completely alone in a peculiar landscape; a snowy film set, a desert funeral attended by scarecrows, a smoke-filled room with checkerboard floor, or a caravan park surrounded by trees. At other moments I would stumble across a large group of people, normally formed because a few characters were playing out a scene that fit somehow into the jigsaw of a narrative, and for a brief period we would form a collective audience before dissipating once more.

A Hollywood Fable

Once a scene finished you were left with two options. Either you stay to explore the room the scene took place in or run desperately after one of the characters to see where they go next and how their plot develops. I tried both options; at one point chasing three characters to the basement only for them to disappear behind a locked door. Stranded once more I happened upon an initiation ceremony for a new actor at the fictional studio and left the scene only to return later when events had moved on without me and an orgy commenced.

That is the beauty of The Drowned Man.; the plot does not you need you to be there for it to progress. At any one moment during the evening two major storylines are unfolding simultaneously and numerous other subplots are progressing as well. It is pure chance what scenes you will witness, or what clues you might find on a character’s desk while exploring. Some reviewers seem to have found the amount of responsibility given to the audience to be too great. There is every chance you will miss all the key scenes but for me the Punchdrunk experience was about more than just the plot.

Admittedly if I hadn’t done my research beforehand the whole night might have been baffling but as it was I had one of the best evenings of my cultural life. The experience really was completely immersive as when you are not watching characters interact you are free to enter any set and touch the furnishings, leaf through papers, and smell the world. Walking through a series of motel bedrooms each has their own distinct smell that told you all you needed to know about their inhabitants.

Over the space of two and a half hours I saw dancing, singing, sex, murder, joy, and despair. In one evening I got stuck in a forest, followed a naked man through a desert, explored shrines and chapels, got lost in a secret tunnel between a dress shop and a cinema, witnessed an audition and an orgy, and had a silent conversation with the owner of the studio. Time moved at its own pace and at a point when I was worried that the evening was almost over I checked my watch and found only an hour had passed. When the evening came to a close the whole audience had congregated for the grand finale as if all drawn there by an invisible force. For a brief moment we were a fully formed audience sitting and watching a show before final bows were taken and we removed our masks and returned to the mundanity of the real world.

The whole evening was funny, scary, pretentious, and wonderful. I could have spent a whole week of evenings exploring the rooms and still not got bored or even close to having seen everything The Drowned Man has to offer.

I wasn’t expecting to but I absolutely loved it and want to go back right away. It is as simple as that.

The Drowned Man is booking until 30th December 2013 and needs to be seen to be believed. Tickets can be bought online but be warned as tickets peak at £47.50. If you can afford to go then go, otherwise pester a loved one for a theatrical Christmas treat.

Be bold and explore and you won’t be disappointed.

Out Now – 14th November 2013

Writer/Director Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars with Scarlett Johansson  in Relativity Media's "Don Jon".  ©2013 Relativity Media, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

The Counsellor
Ridley Scott returns from the messy Prometheus to direct Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay with a cast including Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Brad Pitt. What could possibly go wrong? According to the reviews pretty much everything. Oops.

Don Jon
A grown up comedy about love, sex, relationships, porn, and romantic comedies. Joseph Gordon-Levitt performs the classic acting/writing/directing hat trick for the first time and the result is what I have referred to as “a bold and commanding debut with a lot to say”. Go see if you aren’t too easily shocked.

The Butler
Forest Whitaker plays a butler who serves eight US presidents all played by different proper actor types. We see the change of American society over decades both within the White House and in the butler’s own life. It all sounds a little worthy but screenwriter Danny Strong has proved himself as a great political writer with Game Change and Recount and is apparently WRITING THE LAST TWO HUNGER GAMES FILMS!?!? Sorry, got off topic there.

In Fear
“Driving, lost and tormented in the night, primal fears of the dark and the unknown give way to fear that you have let the evil in, or that it is already there.” I hear, probably from King Kermode, that this is a properly scary film and such a thing is rare these days. Shall we go? Ok, cool. You get the tickets, I just need to pop to the loo.

Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela
This Bollywood feature is currently listed as being in post-production on the old IMDb so don’t be alarmed if the editor is sitting next to you on his laptop desperately trying to get the thing finished before you reach the final scenes.

Dom Hemingway
Seemingly out of nowhere comes a crime caper starring Jude Law and Richard E. Grant. Somehow this pairing just feel right as if their matching hair lines makes them destined to work together. Reviews are what we like to call “mixed” but who cares what critics think?

Battle of the Year
Despite having a title that suggests at least one explosion what we actually have here is yet another 3D dance film. Bet there isn’t even a tank.

Pandora’s Promise
“A feature-length documentary about the history and future of nuclear power.” No idea what this has to do with Pandora. She’s had nothing but bad press ever since that whole box incident.

New documentary from John Pilger focussing on Australia. Confession time folks… I was give a link to watch this but somehow became so busy this past week that I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. Review coming ASAP. Promise!

Watch This – The Night of the Doctor

The Night of the Doctor

A treat for your Thursday lunchtime as the BBC have delivered a meaty prequel to the much-anticipated 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. This is a video best watched without any idea of what it contains. I did and it was all the more surprising for it. It should answer a question or two you might have about the upcoming feature-length episode and the three Doctors within. Now watch!

Exciting, no?

The Day of the Doctor airs on BBC One and in cinemas worldwide on 23rd November 2013.

Kill Your Darlings – LFF Film Review

Kill Your Darlings

I think I had the wrong idea about Kill Your Darlings when I decided to trundle along and see it. What I knew was that Daniel Radcliffe would be starring as a young Allen Ginsberg who starts his university career and meets the likes of Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. With this brief synopsis cluttering up my brain I was expecting to see the formation of the Beat generation unfold onscreen and what I got was something a little less defined.

At university Ginsberg becomes enamoured with fellow student Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) who goes on to introduce him to Kerouac (Jack Huston) and Burroughs (Ben Foster) and it is Carr who suggests starting a literary revolution. For part of the film the idea of the revolution seems to be the focus but it always sits on the periphery in contrast to Ginsberg’s determined pursuit of Carr despite dismissive treatment in favour of Carr’s much older lover/stalker David (Michael C. Hall). The film seems to want to imply that everyone will go on to change the face of American literature but doesn’t want to get bogged down in showing that happen when there’s drug taking, sex, and murder to be amusing ourselves with. Yes, one of the characters another and the whole film suddenly doesn’t find the drug taking and casual harassment nearly as fun as it did before.

For me the films lacks focus and a proper plot. The performances are all fine and Radcliffe does good work as Ginsberg, despite him being writing a little too pathetic to be able to carry the film, but the writing forces every performance to fall short of believability. The major trouble lies in the fact that on the one hand we are supposed to be revelling in a period piece where poetry can be seen as a form of rebellion and drug taking and child abuse as decadent indulgences, and on the other hand we have the grim dramatics of the murder and Ginsberg’s mother’s psychological issues which pop up from time to time. Nothing like murder and potential paedophilia to ruin a party.

This was no doubt quite a dramatic period in the lives of the men who would define the Beat generation but perhaps the story could have been moulded a little more to form a clearer narrative. At the end of the screening I wasn’t too sure what to think. I had enjoyed the performances and various scenes in the film but didn’t know what it wanted me to take away from it. At no point in the film did I get a sense of the legacy that these men left on the world of writing and I didn’t get any incentive to devour their collective works.

What I saw was a group of self-indulgent individuals who were finally forced to deal with the real world when one is arrested for the murder of another. I’m certain this doesn’t do justice to the combined efforts of Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs and is unlikely to have been the intention of the filmmakers.

Not awful, and a worthy debut from Austin Bunn and John Krokidas, but Kill Your Darlings meanders a little too much to impress.

Kill Your Darlings is in UK cinemas on 6th December 2013.

BFI London Film Festival 2013