Out Now – 6th July 2012

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Katy Perry: Part of Me
Documentary about Katy Perry in 3D. Prepare to be inspired! Inspired to pretend to be a little bit lesbian in order to gain mainstream appeal.

God Bless America (limited release)
A terminally ill man and a teenage girl take it upon themselves to kill the worst people in society. This includes a trip to a reality TV show. Naturally.

Ping Pong (limited release)
Documentary following eight competitors at the over 80s Table Tennis Championships. Old people playing table tennis! If I were in this film it would mostly be made up of me apologising and wandering off to pick up the ball.

The Players (limited release)
A series of short French films set around the theme of infidelity. Jean Dujardin from The Artist stars and he speaks. Not sure I can handle that.

Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (limited release)
“A documentary that follows the Serbian performance artist as she prepares for a retrospective of her work at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.”

Strawberry Fields (limited release)
IMDb offers no synopsis at all so I will simply point you towards Kat’s review in which she says, “Strawberry Fields is still a fairly confident debut feature but its melodramatic characters don’t make it easy to like.”

The Women on the 6th Floor (limited release)
“In 1960s Paris, a conservative couple’s lives are turned upside down by two Spanish maids.” It’s a Frenchy comedy!

The Hunter (limited release)
A mercenary is sent into the wilderness to hunt the last Tasmanian tiger.

7 Days In Havana (limited release)
IMDb synopses are not always written in the most enticing way. “A young American boy is trying to break into the acting business, and goes to Cuba during a film festival.” He goes to Cuba you say? I’m sold.

Total Recall (limited release)
With the Colin Farrell remake coming next month the Schwarzenegger original is getting a re-release. “If I am not me, then who the hell am I?” Deep stuff.

You’ve Been Trumped (limited release)
Scottish homeowners take on floppy haired entrepreneur Donald Trump when he tried to build a golf resort in the Scottish wilderness.

Strawberry Fields – LFF Review

strawberry fields

The sun-drenched English countryside takes a starring role in Frances Lea’s Strawberry Fields. Impossibly bright blue skies and lush green foliage are showcased in this visually gorgeous film right from the off as a woman (Anna Madeley) cycles through an idyllic Kent, looking pretty happy with life.

This chipper atmosphere doesn’t last long though as a phone rings, the display shows ‘Emily’ and instantly the mood changes as the cyclist flashes back to her escape – seemingly only hours, if not minutes, earlier. Accompanying the memory is the sound of a child counting and it’s one creepy set-up. She shakes it off and cycles on to a farm where she introduces herself as Tammy, an art student from Scarborough. Despite coming off as a little bit weird, she gets a job picking strawberries and attracts the attention of Kev (Emun Elliot), who is “after drugs and sex, that’s it” but gets all philosophical about fruit needing love.

Then, to ruin it all, Emily (Christine Bottomley) turns up in the flesh, outs ‘Tammy’ as her sister Gillian, a postwoman who lives a few miles away. Despite the disruption to his livelihood, the farmer doesn’t kick the sisters off his land and instead Emily tags along allowing us to soon see why Gillian ran away in the first place: Emily is even stranger than her sister – manipulative, capricious and possibly dangerous.

Film opening with the protagonist running away? Flashbacks of a disturbing past recently escaped? Cod-philosophy about the nature of life? A disturbed sister in need of care? It’s all sounding a bit Martha Marcy May Marlene but unfortunately, Strawberry Fields suffers for the comparison.

Anna Madeley swings convincingly between resolving to abdicate responsibility for her difficult sister and being unable to let her suffer but while both sisters seem younger than they are, as if they’ve been segregated from normal society, we never learn what’s actually wrong with Emily. Remarks about past experiences are thrown out without explanation and there’s little background for any of the other characters. Insights into the situation are clumsily delivered, frequently from Kev, who appears to be blessed with magical intuition while lacking any self-awareness. The lack of context strips characters of their motivation, making their reactions seem unnecessarily extreme, and overall the whole film is stilted, lurching from one confrontation to the next.

Made on a micro budget, Strawberry Fields is still a fairly confident debut feature but its melodramatic characters don’t make it easy to like.

Strawberry Fields is to be released in the UK in April 2012.

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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