LFF Day 1 – Breathe

Breathe

The BFI London Film Festival opened in familiar territory with a repeat of the beige-tinted past we saw at last year’s opening gala with A United Kingdom.

Breathe is the last film you would expect to mark Andy Serkis’ directorial debut as it includes no cutting edge motion capture performances and instead resembles a pair of safety scissors. Breathe is a safe choice in every way; it is a safe first film, a safe opening gala, and a safe choice to show your gran on a Sunday afternoon. Breathe is the quintessential (white) British period drama with the BFI and BBC logos proudly showcased at the start of the film.

The story is heartwarming; a young couple (Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy) have their idyllic existence interrupted when the husband contracts polio, is paralysed and relies on a ventilator to breathe. Given weeks to live near the start of the film events then take a turn for the uplifting as the couple defy all odds, and doctor’s advice, and go on to live full and happy lives with help from friends, privilege, and a stiff upper lip. Despite the rousing real life plot and some determined lead performance the resulting film is underwhelming.

Though better than I was originally expecting Breathe is a lightweight entry into the warm British historical romance canon with a look indistinguishable from its cousins. One to wait for on ITV I’d say.

Breathe is in UK cinemas from 27th October.

When Franchises Hog Talent Andrew Garfield

Red Riding

Originally posted at Jeff Goldblum’s Laugh

With the seemingly infinite number of franchises bubbling about at the moment more and more actors are being snapped up to appear in an adaptation of a comic book or YA novel. The actors we have grown to love for their intimate roles in independent films are suddenly committing years of their lives by signing up in appear in numerous big budget action movies. In some cases these actors manage to maintain their career outside of the franchise but for a few the pull proves too strong and they disappear inside never to be seen in a different role ever again… or at least until the film series comes to a close.

What sparked this worry off in my mind was my love for the work of Andrew Garfield, the thick haired transatlantic actor who is mostly seen swinging around in a tight red and blue suit under the guise of Spider-Man. It wasn’t always this way, oh no, Garfield used to wear jumpers and have low-budget emotions. Ah… those were the days.

Never Let Me Go

In 2007 Garfield starred in the low-budget British drama Boy A about a young man recently released from prison having served time for committing murder as a child. His performance was subtle and flawless, a feat he repeated in 2009 when appearing as a young journalist investigating a murder in the Red Riding trilogy on Channel 4. There was no denying his acting chops and his choice of roles seemed to favour quality over box office potential or fame.

The end of 2010 and start of 2011 saw Garfield hit a career high with his roles in both the highly successful The Social Network and the Heavy Knitwear Science Fiction staple Never Let Me Go. Garfield was suddenly my favourite actor in the world ever, no take-backs. What would he do next, what indie gem would he grace with his presence?

Since February 2011 Andrew Garfield has not been seen outside of his spandex suit and much as I enjoy him in the role this simply is not good enough. As a consumer I have a right to have my opinion heard!

I can’t help but feel like the Amazing Spider-Man franchise has stolen Andrew Garfield from our screens and stopped his diverse career from progressing. He may be a household name now but with great fame has come great… uniformity. His special lady friend and co-star Emma Stone has somehow escaped this fate and has made five films during the Amazing Spider-Man process. The series’ director Marc Webb suffers a similar fate to Garfield having only made the brilliant (and brilliantly misunderstood) (500) Days of Summer prior to getting sucked into Spider-Man vortex.

The Amazing Spider-Man

It is at this point that my argument collapses around my feet. This is the point in the article where I list the dozens of other actors who have entered franchises and failed to make other work but as you’ll soon see they vehemently refuse to fit my hypothesis which is rude and highly inconvenient.

Jennifer Lawrence has taken on both Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class franchises and still managed to put in Oscar nominated performances in more traditional films. Samuel L. Jackson is in every film that comes out that even tangentially relates to the Avengers behemoth and still is making more non-franchise films than I can keep track of. As for directors Joss Whedon has his finger in as many Avengers pies as Jackson and still managed to make the Shakespeare adaptation Much Ado About Nothing apparently when we weren’t keeping a close enough eye on him.

Contrary to my original fears it can be done; you can have it all and getting involved in a franchise doesn’t have to ruin your career. And by “ruin” I am naively assuming that a career is ruined the minute you become fabulously rich and famous but have a slightly less diverse roster of films. That said I can’t help but think that the big budgets franchises do limit the choices the actors can make.

Perhaps this all stems from a selfish desire to see my personal favourites appear in a larger number of films that don’t involve a single explosion (OK, I’ll allow a small one) or any mutant superpowers. When I look back at the career of Robert Downey Jr. I see Chaplin, Wonder Boys, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A Scanner Darkly, and Zodiac whereas now all we see is Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes. The films are fun, don’t get me wrong, but do they give the actors involved as much scope to test their acting mettle? I don’t think so.

Am I just being selfish, do I hate my beloved actors appearing in more mainstream films that give me less enjoyment but allow them more exposure? Am I just being a snob in assuming that acting in a franchise is less worthy than acting in an indie drama? Obviously the answer here is yes but that doesn’t change how I feel.

I for one will be glad when Andrew Garfield hangs up the spidey senses in favour for screaming on beaches and watch with trepidation as newer actors like Tom Hiddleston, Shailene Woodley, and Elizabeth Olsen take their first steps from the indie world and into the kingdom of franchises. I hope they come back out the other side and still make smaller films. If Emma Watson can manage it then so can they.

Spider-Man, With This Casting You’re Really Spoiling Us

Felicity JonesPaul Giamatti

Mild Concern was founded because on the 11th January 2010 I felt the need to say 73 words about the fact that Spider-Man was being rebooted. Since then the film gained the director of (500) Days of Summer (one of the films I most often force other people to watch) Marc Webb and the sexy young acting talents of Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. The resulting film was… well… better than its predecessor and certainly seemed to be setting up for something we haven’t seen before. Admittedly I watched half of the film on a pirated DVD bought from a Turkish market which stopped playing halfway through so perhaps I am not the best judge.

All this aside there are new rumours that joining Amazing Spider-Man 2 are character actor extraordinaire Paul Giamatti and the one and only Felicity Jones – a woman for whom this blog acts as a temple as we wait patiently for her to make a five-star film. Giamatti is said to be playing The Rhino, not just any old rhino, while Jones has no confirmed role beyond attractive young lady who will win an Oscar one day even if I have to make her one myself.

This is exciting news if true and will mean that I will actually go and see Amazing Spider-Man 2 in the cinema and not be a Korsan Kaan which is what I have translated as the Turkish version of a Knock-off Nigel. You’re welcome Turkish Anti-Piracy Committee.

Sexy Neighbourhood Spider-Man

Until recently we’d only had a single glance at Andrew Garfield’s lycra-clad superhero. Thankfully they didn’t wait until Comic Con to release new pictures from The Amazing Spider-Man, instead giving the scoop to Entertainment Weekly.

In the images below we get our first look at the entire cast, each of whom has proven themselves as quality actors above all else. It does help that they’re darn good-looking though:

See! Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield are a couple you can really root for, sorry Dunst and Maguire but upside-down kissing is out. Continue reading

Not at the Oscars – Never Let Me Go

There was a time when everyone seemed to be excited about Never Let Me Go, but that was a while ago and felt like it ended long before the film actually came out. Maybe if the film had opened in the UK first it could have gained some support before tackling the US. Instead it flopped in the US and then continued to flounder in the UK market.

With no real excitement any more and not much attention the studio seems to have given up on this little treasure. Without an Oscar campaign, something that is depressingly vital for award success, the film that opened the London Film Festival has no Oscar nominations to speak of. Hell, it didn’t even make the Baftas.

Beautiful direction, careful writing and stand-out performances all go ignored. Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan are heart breaking and Keira Knightley is surprisingly good in her unsympathetic role. The film unfolds slowly and manages to not gives itself away in the opening act. Surely something in here deserves a little recognition?

Even a nomination for all the heavy knitwear would have been enough.

Spiderman Continues to Seduce Me

Seriously Spiderman, I have never really cared for you with your latex suit and sticky arm projectiles but if you haven’t gotten yourself an amazing director and an awesome cast. And now this.

If the three latest casting rumours are true then Andrew Garfield will also be joined by Martin Sheen, Sally Field and Zooey Deschanel. That last one might be too good to be true. I am officially not getting excited.

Never Let Me Go – Review

Never Let Me Go is science fiction to its core and yet mostly consists of beautiful people in heavy knitwear in old houses. Because while there is indeed a fictional piece of science involved, the focus is on humans, emotions and violin music playing in the background.

In short the film follows Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield through their time at an unusual boarding school and through early adulthood as they discover themselves and the real world. Never Let Me Go is sad, beautiful and questions the nature of souls and the ethics of… something I won’t reveal. The film slowly unveils its plot and I’m not going to ruin that here.

All you need to know that this is not a cheery film, but it is gorgeous and features everyone’s favourite Spiderman. Knightley haters will even find themselves with little to complain about. Amazing to think this was made in just a few weeks for £15 million, long life Film4.

Never Let Me Go shares a similar plot to a certain Michael Bay film, but handles the issue in a distinctively British way which reminded me of a specific bit of Eddie Izzard material. Trust me after watching the film you’ll need a laugh.

Never Let Me Go is on general release 21st January 2011.

The Social Network – Review

When I first heard that the guy who wrote The West Wing was writing a film about Facebook I thought it sounded ridiculous but after the first trailer I knew I was wrong.

With Aaron Sorkin you are guaranteed a certain level of quality and speed of dialogue, and with 8 pages of dialogue being delivered within the few minutes that make up the opening scene, you are prepared the the rest of the film. Witty conversations fly back and forth as the film thunders forward at an amazing pace.

This pace is maintained by David Fincher, a directer with plenty to be proud of on his IMDb page, who manages to keep people either talking or typing on computers engaging for a full two hours. Not to mention pulling off a brilliant bit of actor duplication with the twins.

Jesse Eisenberg plays a brilliantly mannered version of Zuckerberg, different to his previous roles, a social awkward figure who has no real ambition to make money, just to make a successful website. That social awkwardness makes Zuckerberg for the most part hard to sympathise with, and yet you don’t really side with those that attack him either.

Andrew Garfield as Zuckerberg’s former best friend probably garners the most sympathy as the betrayed former business partner, and he certainly proves his worth as a big up and coming actor. In what is an amazing film there is surprisingly little heart. Almost every character is looking out for their own personal gain, either for money, acclaim or sex, leaving no one to really root for.

That niggle is easily put aside though when you are presented with such a great bit of cinema, recommended for anyone who has ever updated their status. Especially if they’ve ever done it when drunk.

The Social Network is out this Friday.

Most scathing comment in the film: “Good luck with your game”