Arts Groups Lose Funding, Thanks David

With the UK Film Council disbanded, and partially reformed over at the BFI, you might think the British film scene had lost enough funding for now. Sadly not. With the Arts Council England’s budget cut by £100 million back in October, more casualties were revealed yesterday as the various grants were announced. Plenty of bad news for arts groups.

Some fared well, the Young Vic had gained 15.8% in it’s funding, so it’s not all grim news, but for every extra penny one group received, another is losing that penny from it’s funding. One of the hardest hit is the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, losing between 37% and 43%, depending on which news source you believe. The ICA covers all sorts of art but most importantly is our source of bizarre Portuguese films, and is where I once saw Hot Fuzz before release with Wright, Frost and Pegg in attendance.

I realise that every sector is feeling the pinch and plenty of people I know and love are losing their jobs but this is a blog about the arts, or 3D films with gore and nudity, so it’s our job to highlight our loss when such severe cuts are made by the government.

Some might say tax money shouldn’t be spent on the arts, but that’s just silly.

2010’s Best 20 Films

Bank holidays are gone for a while so it’s time to look back at 2010, and then maybe look forward at 2011. I messed about with this list a lot, made some graphics, lost them and decided to simply list the films without too much flair.

These may not be the top 20 films I’ve seen this year but are the top 20 that have been released in cinemas. I think I may have already seen some of the best of 2011.

20. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part I
This slot is more of a token than a definitive “Top 20 Film” as Deathly Hallows deserves to be highlighted for making the Potter series credible at last. It’s the film equivalent of Doctor Who, another British series to finally finding its feet in 2010. The kids can act and the plot is finally given time to unfold. Lovely.

19. Greenberg
Ben Stiller in an understated role in a film that bridged the gap between mumblecore and mainstream should get a bit of respect. It’s not going to blow you away but will certainly help heal the wounds left by the Focker franchise.

18. Piranha
The only 3D film to make it onto the list, because it didn’t take itself seriously and brought plenty of laughs, gore and boobs to the big screen. A sequel is on its way and I hope James Cameron gets invited to the premiere.

17. World’s Greatest Dad
I can’t help but love the unseen underdog, especially one featuring a comic actor giving a subdued performance. Try to see this, the darkest comedy of 2010. A must for anyone curious to see the genie from Aladdin in the buff.

16. The Kids Are All Right
It’s a comedy, it’s a drama, it’s a truly modern family! From laugh out loud funny to cry into your sleeve devastating, this is the film so many others want to be.

15. Eccentricities of a Blonde Haired Girl
Drawn in by an intriguing review, we were delighted by a hilarious and eccentric film about one young man’s love for the girl he sees from his office window. Directed in a unique fashion by a 100 year old Portuguese film-maker, you won’t see anything like it again.

14. Four Lions
A black comedy from Chris Morris was always going to be brilliant, though could possibly have been better. Still proud to see a British film this funny, brave and with no romance in sight.

13. Monsters
A subtle sci-fi with amazing effects on a shoe-string budget, and from the UK. Slightly shaky dialogue and inexperienced actors are easily masked by the sheer beauty of every shot, with the film climaxing visually in its final scene.

12. Buried
A wonderfully tense thriller all set in a tiny coffin. Ryan Reynolds proves himself as a proper actor and the ninety minutes fly by. It’s enough to make Phone Booth look like a good idea. Bonus points for having a great poster.

11. Kick Ass
After the first viewing this could have been in the top three films of the year, but a second viewing reminded me of the annoying beginning and the less than perfect lead. Still a brilliant black comedy and awesome showcase for Chloe Moretz. Shame Scott Pilgrim came along and showed how much better a comic book film could be.

10. Please Give
I may regret giving this film such a high position but it was surprisingly enjoyable and genuinely emotional. Not a film for everyone but worth a look if you’re into more subtle comedies that don’t have happy endings.

9. Up in the Air
Almost forgotten but a re-watch over Christmas brought this early gem back to my attention. Lots of good performances, an unpredictable plot and a little bit of heartbreak thrown in. If only Clooney hadn’t gone on to do The American.

8. Catfish
The most surprising film of the year and for a moment the most terrifying. If you still haven’t seen it and have managed to remain unspoiled then get watching, you’ll never add someone on Facebook again.

7. Black Dynamite
Finally another decent parody, burying the like of Date Movie simply by actually being funny. Were it not for a few familiar faces this could have come straight from the era it is parodying as the aesthetic is pitch perfect.

6. Let Me In
The highest horror on the list is a truly classy example of the genre. Not relying on fake scares, nudity or gore, we instead have a character study filled with tragedy, heart and intrigue. Chloe Moretz puts in her second performance on this list, a totally different but equally well crafted character. Arguably better than the original, this is a tale of love and horror.

5. Another Year
The most genuine film of the lot, so easily relatable and filled with characters you feel you could meet out here in the real world. Lesley Manville comes out of nowhere with a powerhouse of a performance. Heartbreaking and hilarious, a bit of a theme in 2010.

4. Inception
Lower down the list than I expected, and I’m the one who put the list together. Inception is as good as an action film can get as the usual set pieces are presented in wonderful new ways, the audience is made to think and small indie actors get their chance at the mainstream.

3. Whip It
Ranking so high for the sheer delight the film brings and the way it was overlooked by most people. The ugly poster hid away what is this year’s ultimate feel good film. Ellen Page is doing something right.

2. The Social Network
Aaron Sorkin wrote the tightest script to be released in 2010 and was lucky to have it so well taken care of. Eisenberg and Garfield made the world take notice and even Timberlake managed to impress. Not so much a tale of how Facebook came to be but a look at friendship and the price of success.

1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
No surprise here considering the sheer number of times we’ve had to use the “Scott Pilgrim” tag this year. Almost perfect and equally enjoyable at every repeat viewing. Never before has a film been so carefully crafted, every cut planned years in advance and every eye movement accompanied by a subtle noise. And how this is not long-listed for best original song I have no idea. Edgar Wright has shown just what he can do when given the freedom to run wild and the cinema audiences of the world have shown why we don’t get many good films as the weakest of romantic comedies could beat it at the box office. For me 2010 will always be the year Scott Pilgrim came out and I’ll be re-watching long after 3D has it’s next revival.

So there you have it, my top 20 picks. Do you agree?

Eccentricities Of A Blonde-Haired Girl – Review

In order to offset all this talk about an action filled comedy I decided to add some culture to Mild Concern by seeing something a little bit classier. And so last night we were at the ICA to see Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl, a Portuguese film with a 100 year old director, Manoel de Oliveira.

At first I wasn’t sure how to take the film with its long lingering shots and bizarre, often repeated dialogue but after a few nervous giggles decided it was a comedy. While the basic plot would fit easily into a drama, that of a young man falling in love with a girl across the street from his office and then trying to make enough money to support them both, the way it was told made it so much more.

I have been thinking about what it was all about since it finished and have decided that it is all to do with the fact that the story is being told by the main man Marcário to a stranger on a train. In this sense all the dialogue is either oddly straight forward or oddly detailed and irrelevant, and major details of the plot are left out.

I will quote again the BFI, “Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl is at once a shaggy-dog story and a wry experiment in playing the codes of cinema and literature against each other.” This now makes a bit more sense when you know that like in a short story some of the specifics of a person’s actions are left out while a location or person are described in great detail. Now I’m not sure if I’m making any sense.

There was one quite bizarre scene in which the subtitles fell over a white tablecloth making them almost impossible to read. At first I took this as another playful bit of comedy messing with the medium of film but I now realise something that was mentioned over that tablecloth, the theft of some handkerchiefs, is actually a major plot point… sort of.

As a first experience with Portuguese cinema this was a real treat, being surprisingly funny and gloriously short.

“Commerce shuns sentimental accountants.”

Out Now – 6th August 2010

The studios really aren’t trying very hard this week. But it gets much better from now on. Promise.

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Covering the period after the rival film Coco Before Chanel, this French biopic of Coco Chanel does match up to the prior release. Frankly the absence of Audrey Tautou immediately makes this a lesser film. Not that I’ve seen either of them.

Knight & Day
Ugh. As if watching Tom Cruise playfully punch Cameron Diaz on the thigh during their cringeworthy appearance on Top Gear wasn’t bad enough. Now you can watch them do bad comedy and mediocre action for a full 109 minutes. You lucky bastards.

Step Up 3D
Street dancers go up against hip hop dancers in a high stakes dance showdown. Kinda like the previous two only…. IT’S IN 3D!!!!

Eccentricities Of A Blonde-Haired Girl (limited release)
At just over an hour long you certainly won’t get bored in this arty foreign film from a 100 year old director. This snippet from a BFI review makes me really want to see it; “Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl is at once a shaggy-dog story and a wry experiment in playing the codes of cinema and literature against each other.”

Undertow (limited release)
A Peruvian ghost story that somehow also involves a farmer, with a wife, struggling to deal with his male lover in a traditional town. Surely the whole having a wife issue is a struggle too?