Curzon On Demand

Curzon Cinemas (a wonderful art-house cinema group) have recently launching Curzon On Demand, a service allowing you to access a huge range of foreign, art-house and independent films online. Films start from £2.00 and any film you buy is yours to stream for seven days. I gave the new service a test earlier this week and highly recommend it.

Signing up was easy and once logged-in, the only problem I had was choosing what film to watch. Films range from the silent comedies of Charlie Chaplin, through Mild Concern favourites like The Portuguese Nun, and on to films currently on release in cinemas such as La Havre and Into The Abyss: A Tale Of Death, A Tale Of Life. After a lot of contemplation and soul-searching I settled on Fermat’s Room, a Spanish film about four mathematicians trapped in a room that is slowly closing in on itself as they are forced to solve riddles.

The film was great, a forgotten gem that I had given up hope of seeing years ago, picture and sound quality were perfect and even my sometimes dodgy internet didn’t ruin the experience. The film was gripping and surprising, almost like a more intellectual version of The Cube with better acting but just as much maths.

Living in London, I sometimes take for granted the easy access we have to independent film through cinemas like Curzon but the whole of the UK is not all so lucky. What makes Curzon On Demand such a great prospect is that it allows everyone across the country to have access to the lastest art-house films at the same time and for about half the cost of seeing the same film in the West End. No longer will you see the phrase “limited release” and resign yourself to never getting the chance to see a film.

I highly recommend you go to and sign up. It’s free to join and there are a fair few films to tempt you.

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Out Now – 30th March 2012

Wrath of the Titans
Those pesky titans are back and this time they’re filled with wrath. I have no idea what happened in Clash of the Titans nor do I remotely understand the plot of this sequel. We can only hope that Liam Neeson gets a line half as good as in the previous film. Now it’s time to have a debate in your office over how you pronounce “wrath”.

StreetDance 2
If there was ever a franchise I understood less than Titans it would be this one about street dancers. All I know is that people dance at each other in a competitive fashion. That and Liam Neeson is sadly absent from the cast.

Into The Abyss: A Tale Of Death, A Tale Of Life (limited release)
Werner Herzog’s latest is a chilling documentary about a triple murder, the victim’s family, the men convicted of the crime and those who must execute them. I caught this at last year’s London Film Festival and described it as thought-provoking and easily the best documentary of the festival.

Tiny Furniture (limited release)
Quirky comedy about a recent graduate forced to move back home while she sorts her life out. Quirky.

Bonsái (limited release)
“A young writer recounts an earlier romance in hopes of attracting his new love interest.” Let’s hope the woman he is wooing doesn’t mind him talking incessantly about his ex.

The Island President (limited release)
Documentary about President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives and his fight to keep the islands from disappearing under the sea. I guess moving isn’t an option?

Babycall (limited release)
Noomi Rapace (the original girl with the dragon tattoo) plays a beaten wife seeking refuge with her son who starts to pick up sounds of a child in trouble on her baby monitor (or babycall).

Corpo celeste (limited release)
“Thirteen year-old Marta has recently moved back to southern Italy with her mother and older sister and struggles to find her place, restlessly testing the boundaries of an unfamiliar city and the catechism of the Catholic church.”

The Emperor and the White Snake (limited release)
“Action director Ching Siu-Tung helms this fantasy film based on an old Chinese legend about an herbalist who falls in love with a thousand-year-old White Snake disguised as a woman. Jet Li stars as a sorcerer who discovers her true identity and battles to save the man’s soul.”

Breaking Wind (London only)
If Vampires Suck wasn’t enough Twilight satire for you here’s a second parody film to sink your teeth into. SINK YOUR TEETH INTO! LMFAO!!

Switch (London only)
IMDb helpfully has a synopsis translated into English from the French Wikipedia entry by Jamy_Kayleigh. Good old Jamy_Kayleigh. More exciting than this (imagine!) is that Eric Cantona co-stars.

This Is Not a Film (London West End only)
Smuggled out of Iran in a cake this documentary was made by Iranian director Jafar Panahi whilst under house arrest and having been banned from making films until 2030. The film follows a day in the life of Panahi as he films himself not making films.

Guess where in this post I became so exhausted by the number of films and gave up writing anything of interest.

The Best is Yet to Come: 2012

As much as we are obliged to look back over the year just gone, we are obliged to look ahead at the year just beginning. It’s always exciting to look at the next twelve months and all the exciting treats that are coming to our screens. Below are my personal picks of the films worth seeing in 2012, and I’m hoping there will be many more besides, a few gems I haven’t even heard of yet. Continue reading

Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival Awards 2011

Hello and welcome to the second annual Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival awards to celebrate and berate various films screened at the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Today I will be sitting in my tuxedo handing out the feted awards, the Raised EyebrowsTM, to any film which grabbed our attention in a positive or, equally likely, negative way.

Best Use of SymbolismWe Need to Talk About Kevin
A favourite to win a few bigger awards this year, even Best of the FestTM, but ultimately a few surprises took the crown. Instead Kevin is recognised for the amount of time poor Tilda Swinton is cleaning red off of her hands, her house and her car. Red is everywhere in Kevin. It’s not subtle but it’s certainly effective.

Best Use of Jon SnowCoriolanus
Jon Snow’s cinematic appearances are few and far between, it has been too long since Zombie Farm, but they are always a treat. Here he plays a newsreader with some classic Shakespearean dialogue. Best bit of the film.

Best Use of Felicity JonesLike Crazy
As the official Mild Concern crush we had to give Felicity Jones a mention. She is at the top of her game in Like Crazy and the film gives her a chance to show her acting chops, and captures her in a gorgeous light throughout. The more I think about the film, the better it seems.

Totally a Play AwardCarnage
Carnage was a hell of a lot of fun but, with four speaking parts and a set consisting of two rooms, hasn’t gained much in transitioning from stage play to motion picture. You’d struggle to find a theatre gathering this stellar cast though so all is forgiven.

Most Improved Performer – George Clooney for The Descendants
At last year’s festival The American was a major low point in my week, it was a dull and pointless film. Thankfully George Clooney took my criticism and returned this year with two films getting rave reviews. The Descendants takes the award for one good reason: it’s the one I saw.

Most Prolific Performer – John C. Reilly for Carnage, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Terri
John C. Reilly has the unique distinction of having a major role in three quality films at this year’s festival. In every film he is a less than perfect father figure to a troubled young boy. Don’t be fooled into thinking he is just playing the same role again and again, each time he plays a distinct character proving that Reilly is not a one trick pony.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Documentary)Crazy Horse
Visually beautiful and with a few nice insights into a famous Parisian club, Crazy Horse is a documentary with nothing to say but plenty of time to spend not saying it. I checked the time three times during the screening, willing the film to end and trying to keep my eyes open.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Feature)Last Screening
With Last Screening my battle to keep my eyes open was lost and became a battle to maintain consciousness. A film about a serial killer shouldn’t be boring, this is completely unacceptable.

Biggest Affront to Germaine GreerTales of the Night
In a series of fairy tales women fail to be anything more than pathetic damsels in distress. With the actors within the film amending some of the stories they fail to acknowledge women as competent human beings and give the female characters any initiative. It’s as if Buffy never happened.

Best Mix of Tears and Titters/Best Comedy50/50
I laughed, I cried (almost) and I found Seth Rogan funny throughout a film for the first time. 50/50 manages to fill a film about cancer with humour without ever belittling the disease. Good work people.

Scared to Walk Home Award/Best DramaMartha Marcy May Marlene
Stealing Kevin‘s award is a harrowing tale of a young girl who has escaped from a modern-day cult. A brilliant debut feature for director Sean Durkin and a stellar introduction to Elizabeth Olsen. You won’t ever want to be left alone again.

Best DocumentaryInto the Abyss
Werner Herzog certainly knows how to put together a documentary. Here he presents the story of a triple homicide without comment, simply allowing the people involved to tell the story from their point of view. Includes a moving scene where a man starts to cry as he tells a story about a squirrel.

Best AnimationAlois Nebel
So far from cartoon animation this gorgeous Czech film is a truly adult feature. The rotoscoped performances and mixture of CGI effects with hand drawn images make for a real work of art. Still not sure what was going on though.

Best Short FilmThe Monster of Nix
In a similar vein the best short film mixes live-action, computer animation and hand-painted background to make a gorgeous short film which could easily be extended to a full feature. If you’re listening Rosto, we want an extra hour please.

Best of the FestThe Artist
With so many heavy films the best thing we saw all festival was a French silent film set in Hollywood as the talkies began. Invigorating my love for cinema and hopes for its future The Artist is so much fun you can’t help but fall in love with it. It also has a release date now, get ready to smile on 30th December 2011.

A Note For Film-makers:
To collect your award simply send us an email with the address you’d like it sending to and we’ll post it on as soon as we cobble something together. And in case you’re wondering how to incorporate the award into your marketing campaign, here’s an example using Coriolanus:

If you missed any of our reviews, all films covered can be found by clicking on the appropriate thumbnail below:

Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life – LFF Review

With Into the Abyss Werner Herzog explores the case of two young men convicted for the murder of three people in Texas. One of the men is interviewed just over a week from his execution, the other is in prison serving a life sentence. The story is told through numerous interviews, with everyone from the victims’ families to a former executioner, alongside police crime scene footage. Though Herzog provides no narration or on-screen presence, he can be heard conducting the interviews and it is his curiosity and comment which drives the film.

Herzog takes his time with this documentary, allowing each participant to talk at length about their experience. The effect is very involving; when presented with the victims’ relatives you instantly feel for them but it is hard to condemn the perpetrators to death when you see them on a human level being interviewed.

It seems likely that the point of this documentary, so considered and without bias, is ultimately to speak out against the death penalty. This is evidenced by Herzog asking one relative if they would have been equally happy with life imprisonment as they are with the death sentence; they agree that this would have been justice enough. Thankfully his agenda is not forced upon us, no statistics are used and there are no brutal re-enactments.

With Into the Abyss, Herzog has made a moving documentary focussing on just one of many crimes resulting in someone being put to death by the state. Thought provoking and easily the best documentary of the festival.

Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life screens at the London Film Festival today and on Monday.

55th BFI London Film Festival

For the next week or so this post will be our hub for coverage of the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Any films we’ve seen have a thumbnail below linking to their review and the video player below will update itself to show the latest video from the BFI about the festival.

We’re trying to break the 20 film barrier this year, though it may well kill us.

Films reviewed:

Latest video coverage:
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