Out Now – 28th March 2014

Afternoon Delight

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I’ll be honest with you, there are so many Avengers related films going about that I find it hard to consider any of them appointment viewing. In particular Captain American who is a boring sod at the best of times. Maybe I’ll watch Chris Evans in Scott Pilgrim instead. Much more fun.

Muppets Most Wanted
Ah, The Muppets. Last time there was a new Muppets film out I went a little crazy and joined in with blogalongamuppets. This time I don’t even have any firm plans to see the latest outing. There’s something about the involvement of Ricky Gervais and the rumour that he will be doing THAT dance AGAIN, in capital letters and everything, that has left me less than excited.

The Legend of Hercules
Live action retelling of the legend of Hercules. Not likely to be even remotely as good as the Disney film and with none of the songs. Stars someone from Twilight with their shirt off so there’s that.

20 Feet From Stardom
Documentary about the women (and a few men) who take on the thankless role of backup singers. It features, the highs, the lows, and made Vanessa Feltz do a little seat dance. I enjoyed it but am dithering over how worthy it is.

Afternoon Delight
Surprisingly good dark comedy, think pitch black, about a bored housewife who befriends a stripper/prostitute in an attempt to spice up her life. Stars the wonderful Kathryn Hahn, above par Josh Radnor, and the always impressive Juno Temple. I was greatly surprised by how good it was.

The Past
The Artist‘s Bérénice Bejo stars as the woman in the middle of a fraught love triangle in this Frenchy romantic drama.

The Fold
“Struggling with her grief, Anglican priest Rebecca Ashton tries to replace her deceased daughter with another girl.” This will not turn out well.

Leave The World Behind
Tour documentary following Swedish House Mafia in 2012/2013. I am not aware of this band or any other band ever. What is music?

Dangerous Acts
“Creating provocative theater carries great personal risks: emotional, financial and artistic. For the members of the Belarus Free Theatre, there are additional risks: censorship, imprisonment, and worse. Director Madeleine Sackler goes behind the scenes with the acclaimed troupe of imaginative and subversive performers who, in a desolate country choked by censorship and repression, defy Europe’s last remaining dictatorship.”

My Stuff
Documentary in which comedian Petri Luukkainen puts everything he owns (including clothing) into storage and allows himself to reclaim one item each day. Item #1: My laptop.

The Borderlands
“Follows a team of Vatican investigators sent to the British West Country to investigate reports of paranormal activity at a remote church.” Well reviewed British horror.

Almost Married
“When Kyle returns from his stag-do with a sexually transmitted disease, he’s left unable to have sex with his fiancée Lydia in the run-up to their wedding.” Poorly reviewed British comedy.

Afternoon Delight – LFF Film Review

Afternoon Delight

I’m ashamed to say that I was tricked. When I decided to see Afternoon Delight I thought I would be seeing a light-hearted comedy about an unlikely friendship between a bored housewife and a stripper. I was expecting a few laughs and for the stripper to end up turning her life around, the housewife to feel fulfilled, and for me to get some light relief from the emotional onslaught that the London Film Festival has become. Thankfully this was not to be.

The housewife in question is Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) whose career in PR came to a halt following the birth of her son and whose life now consists of crafting with fellow mothers and being ignored by her suddenly successful husband Jeff (Josh Radnor) who is too busy checking his BlackBerry and trying mid-life crisis activities (surfing, forming a band, that sort of thing) with the other dads. Their sex life now non-existent Rachel suggests they go to a strip club in order to spice things up in the bedroom. At the club Rachel gets a lap dance from stripper McKenna (Juno Temple) and they soon form an occasional friendship which results in McKenna moving in with the family after the car she is sleeping in is towed.

So far it sounds like a fun comedy right? A stripper living with a middle class family, whatever next!

Well what happens next is that the comedy slowly turns darker and evolves through comedy-drama into an out-and-out drama. McKenna’s involvement in the sex industry turns out to be much more… practical than they originally thought and the bored and sexually frustrated Rachel allows herself to take the whole situation a little too lightly and gets far to involved in the antics of their house guest.

It isn’t long before Rachel has changed her mind about McKenna as soon she no longer wants to save the young woman from a life of prostitution but instead simply wants her out of the house. Over one evening we see the mothers and fathers have separate drunken nights in and as the drink flows the camera starts to veer all over the place and in gloriously dramatic fashion everything comes to a head. What seemed like a bit of fun suddenly garners serious consequences and the polite world they inhabit with its first world problems comes crashing down around everyone involved.

Writer/director Jill Soloway has done a remarkable job of creating a film with such a dramatic shift in tone from start to finish. I was completely wrong footed and totally underestimated the film’s emotional potential when it began. Kathryn Hahn gives a hilarious but deeply sad performance as the women who proves that the devil makes work for idle thumbs and Juno Temple is surprisingly sympathetic as the sex worker who decides that revenge is a dish best served naked. Josh Radnor is Josh Radnor, which is no bad thing, and Jane Lynch manages to get a laugh simply by appearing on-screen in her small role as Rachel’s therapist.

Don’t underestimate Afternoon Delight; it may seem like a simple comedy but it has a sting in its tail that will strike once your defences are down.

Afternoon Delight does not yet have a UK release date.

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.