Festivals

Paddy Considine’s Journeyman is now in post production

04 May, 2016 Productions Posted in: Cannes, Directors

Paddy Considine’s second feature Journeyman wrapped in mid April after a six-week shoot in Sheffield, Leicester, Doncaster and the surrounding areas. Post production is now underway, and Cornerstone Films will screen a first-look promo at Cannes in May…

journeyman

Paddy Considine not only wrote and directed the film but also stars alongside Jodie Whittaker (One Day), Anthony Welsh (My Brother The Devil), Tony Pitts (War Horse) and Paul Popplewell (’71). Many of the supporting cast make their acting debuts and take on roles that closely mirror their actual professions with appearances from boxers, boxing commentators, nurses and an occupational therapist. Journeyman was developed and shot in close collaboration with the boxing community and medical profession.

Cornerstone Films is handling the international sales and distribution and will screen the first-look promo from Journeyman in Cannes.

The film will be released in 2017 and is financed by Film4, the BFI, Screen Yorkshire, and the Wellcome Trust with STUDIOCANAL on board to handle the UK release.

Producer Diarmid Scrimshaw said of the shoot, “Paddy took to simultaneously writing, directing and acting like it was meant to be. He delivered a beautiful performance whilst working brilliantly with the other actors and crew. We are making another very special film here and it is clear that Paddy has a world class skill and capacity that he’s capable of exercising on multiple fronts at once.”

Journeyman tells the story of middleweight boxing champion Matty Burton. As he approaches the end of his career he knows that he must make his money and get out of the game, to secure a home and future with his wife and baby daughter. After a titanic fight with the brash and controversial Andre Bryte, Matty collapses on his living room floor, a delayed reaction to a devastating punch. Awaking from the coma, the real fight begins. Suffering from memory loss and with his personality altered, Matty must begin to piece his life back together as his world disintegrates.

Journeyman is a powerful and beautiful story about loss and, ultimately, triumph. It’s about our identity, and how in life we sometimes have to dig deep into our soul to discover who we really are.

Cannes 2016: 10 Picks

14 Apr, 2016 Posted in: Cannes, Cannes, Festivals, Opinion

Film4.com site editor and festival newbie Michael Leader selects ten films from the Official Selection at this year’s Cannes Film Festival that he can’t wait to see…

Go easy on me, I’m new around these parts. Yes, this year will be my first attending the cinema calendar’s glitziest and buzziest festival, and I’m just about keeping my composure. A good start is to dive into the Official Selection, and pick a few must-see films that will act as a guiding light once the festival gets underway in May – at which point the line-up will have filled out with the Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week programmes. Read on for my initial ten picks…

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The Red Turtle / Le Tortue Rouge (dir Michael Dudok De Wit)
In Un Certain Regard

Japanese animation titans Studio Ghibli may have halted feature film production, but don’t start mourning just yet, as Isao Takahata serves as ‘creative producer’ on this feature debut from Dutch animator Michael Dudok De Wit (director of the Oscar-winning short Father And Daughter), which tells the story of a man marooned on a tropical island who one day encounters a strange turtle. This is a must-see for Ghibli completists – and I’m definitely one of those – as well as anyone interested in where the field of feature animation will go now Takahata, Miyazaki and co have retired.

The Transfiguration (dir Michael O’Shea)
In Un Certain Regard

There isn’t a great deal of information knocking around about Michael O’Shea’s feature debut, but I’m all for mixing in some vampire horror with worthier Official Selection offerings. Cameos from genre notables Larry Fessenden (the hardest working man in horror) and Uncle Lloyd-y himself, Troma Studios’ founder Lloyd Kaufman, suggest this might be a crowd-pleaser.

Gimme Danger (dir Jim Jarmusch)
Out Of Competition, Midnight Screening

Jim Jarmusch, meet Jim Osterberg. After a career of saturating his fictional features with references to his favourite musicians – including roles for Iggy Pop in both Coffee & Cigarettes and Dead Man – Jarmusch here turns to the documentary format for a career overview of Pop’s pioneering Detroit proto-punks, The Stooges.

Paterson (dir Jim Jarmusch)
In Competition

Side B of Jarmusch’s Cannes long-player stars Adam Driver as a bus driver called Paterson who lives in… Paterson, New Jersey. Whether this is nominative determinism or simply clever-clever punning, we’ll have to see, but Jarmusch’s unique perspective resulted last time around in uber-cool vampire drama Only Lovers Left Alive, a Palme d’Or contender in 2013 and one of my favourite films of that year.

Captain Fantastic (dir Matt Ross)
In Un Certain Regard

You might recognise Matt Ross from his career as an actor – perhaps most notably as Luis, the chap whose business card sends Patrick Bateman over the edge in American Psycho – but Captain Fantastic, his second feature as writer-director, was praised by critics on its world premiere at Sundance. Although, don’t expect your usual Sundance-dramedy fare: this tale of a dysfunctionally-progressive family is reportedly given an arthouse heft by Stephane Fontaine, Jacques Audiard’s resident cinematographer, and is capped by a charismatic performance from Viggo Mortensen, playing, in Variety’s words, “the role he may well have been born to play”.

After The Storm (dir Hirokazu Kore-eda)
In Un Certain Regard

Kore-eda last two films, Our Little Sister and Like Father, Like Son, both premiered in Competition at Cannes (the latter winning the Jury prize in 2013), but After The Storm brings to mind his 2008 family drama (and, in my opinion, career peak) Still Walking, with Kore-eda regulars Kirin Kiki and Hiroshi Abe once again playing mother and son in what should be, no doubt, a gently paced, quietly devastating domestic melodrama.

Bacalaureat / Family Photos (dir Cristian Mungiu)
In Competition

One of two heavyweight Romanian directors returning to the Competition line-up this year, Cristian Mungiu follows Beyond The Hills, which won both Best Actress and Best Screenplay back in 2012 with reportedly his most personal film yet, a meditation on the complexities and compromises of parenthood.

The Nice Guys (dir Shane Black)
Out Of Competition

Just watch the trailer. Writer-director Shane Black has successfully re-vamped the buddy-comedy genre twice before, with indie gem Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in 2005, and Iron Man 3, easily the best Marvel movie to date, so here’s hoping his winning streak continues with this 70s-set murder-mystery.

The Train To Busan / Bu-San-Haeng (dir Yeon Sang-Ho)
Out Of Competition, Midnight Screening

Korean animation The King Of Pigs – a ferocious, allegorical drama set in the country’s ultra-competitive high-school system – marked out Yeon Sang-Ho as a director, and cultural commentator, to watch. The Train To Busan is his first live-action feature, and a companion piece to the yet-to-be-released animated film Seoul Station, both of which follow the spread of a virus across Korea.

Loving (dir Jeff Nichols)
In Competition

Performing a feat of Spielbergian multi-tasking, Jeff Nichols follows the sky-gazing sci-fi Midnight Special – which only premiered at Berlin back in February – with this more grounded, civil rights-themed drama, which is based on the story of an interracial couple (Ruth Negga & Joel Edgerton) sentenced to a year in prison in 1950s Virginia. It may sound like Oscar bait, but I’m intrigued to see Nichols’ spin on the award-movie formula.

Cannes 2016: 10 picks

14 Apr, 2016 Posted in: Cannes, Cannes, Festivals, Opinion

Catherine Bray runs her eye over this year’s line-up and selects ten films she can’t wait to watch at the 69th Cannes Film Festival

The official line-up is now locked and loaded, so time to have a rummage and work out what we’re keenest on seeing at Cannes this year. Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week have yet to announce, and as ever, it’s undoubtedly the case that I’ll walk away after the festival with favourites that came nowhere near my radar at this stage. Equally, it’s possible and indeed probable that some of what I’m currently salivating over will belly-flop spectacularly. Therein, of course, lies the excitement…

Sasha Lane as in American Honey

Sasha Lane in American Honey

American Honey dir. Andrea Arnold

In Competition

American Honey is a Film4-backed film, and perhaps since you’re reading this on the Film4 website you may be able to work out that we have a stake in this one, but I’d be excited even if that wasn’t the case: Arnold is quite simply one of the UK’s most gifted filmmakers. Word has it she has marshalled extraordinary performances from her young ensemble (including Sasha Lane, pictured above) in this director’s first US-based drama.

 

It’s Only the End of the World dir. Xavier Dolan

In Competition

Love or loathe Xavier Dolan (and there are certainly plenty who fall into the latter camp), his filmmaking is always undeniably arresting, whether it’s for a 1:1 aspect ratio, unconventional take on sexual tension or costume design fit to make established designers retire in despair. The Marion Cotillard-starring It’s Only the End of the World marks Dolan’s second film to premiere in Competition at Cannes, and, following a shared Jury Prize for Mommy in 2014, could be a good bet for a prize in 2016.

 

Apprentice dir. Boo Junfeng

In Un Certain Regard

A prison drama from the Singaporean director Boo Junfeng may not sound all that exciting on a first read, but the rumour is that this will be one of those films where we critics reel out clutching our pearls. Fingers crossed.

 

Sierra-Nevada dir. Cristi Puiu

In Competition

With a formidable tally of around 50 international festival prizes for his second feature film, The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu (including the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes), expectations are sky-high for Romanian auteur Cristi Puiu’s family drama Sierra-Nevada.

 

The Handmaiden dir. Park Chan-wook

In Competition

As a passionate defender of Park Chan-wook’s Wentworth Miller-scripted Stoker (whose semi-camp, semi-serious, all-delicious sensibility certainly didn’t click with everyone), I can’t wait to see what the man who brought us Oldboy has in store for the Croisette this year. Lashings of the old ultra-violence seem the likeliest call.

 

Elle dir. Paul Verhoeven

In Competition

Paul Verhoeven (Spetters, Showgirls, RoboCop) is a filmmaker capable of everything but good taste, and pairing him with one of our greatest living actors, Isabelle Huppert, is surely a recipe for dramatic fireworks. When the Verhoeven-directed erotic thriller Basic Instinct played Cannes in 1992, it generated controversy aplenty; it could be time for history to repeat itself.

 

Personal Shopper dir. Olivier Assayas

In Competition

Kristen Stewart is shaping up to trace one of the most interesting career trajectories of any of her contemporaries, leveraging her promising early childhood roles and subsequent Twilight exposure into career choices that speak to a genuine engagement with world cinema, assisted by directors able to look beyond the vamp-loving shadow of Bella Swan. Credit for a major part of that assist goes to Oliver Assayas, who cast her in Clouds of Sils Maria, resulting in the first ever win for an American woman of a Cesar award.

 

Money Monster dir. Jodie Foster

Out of Competition

Jack O’Connell tore up the screen with Starred Up and ’71 in 2014, so it should be fun to see him as a sort of Rupert Pupkin figure opposite George Clooney, who plays the host of a television financial-advice program taken hostage by O’Connell’s character.

 

The Neon Demon dir. Nicolas Winding Refn

In Competition

I wasn’t personally a fan of Only God Forgives, which took a divisive bow in Competition at Cannes in 2013, but Nicolas Winding Refn remains a filmmaker of considerable style (leaving aside for a moment those Grey Goose vodka ads), and as a self-confessed genre fan, I’m keen to see what the billing “Los Angeles-set cannibal film about models starring Elle Fanning” adds up to in the hands of the man who brought us Drive.

 

Staying Vertical dir. Alain Guiraudie

In Competition

Alain Guiraudie set pulses racing in the Un Certain Regard strand in 2013 with homoerotic killer-thriller Stranger by the Lake and, on that basis alone, I’m here for whatever he wants to show us next.

 

Glasgow Film Festival 2016

09 Mar, 2016 Posted in: Festivals, Glasgow

Film4.com’s Editorial Assistant Beth Webb took a few days to enjoy an homage to Bowie, an Elvis impersonator and a giant mutant tortoise among other delights…

Seldom does a festival cling onto its roots in spite of its ever-growing popularity like Glasgow. Now in its 12th year and with attendance matching that of its closest peer Edinburgh, Glasgow remains faithful to its audience-focused programme, and the result is a vibrant, sincerely fun few weeks.

While the festival boasts an admirable selection of UK premieres and unique strands, it’s the events programme that truly sets it apart. Whether it’s Con Air in an old BMW factory with audiences assigned luminous orange jump suits, or David Bowie gazing down from the cosmos as The Man Who Fell To Earth played within the Glasgow Planetarium, Glasgow’s organisers are constantly finding new ways for their audience to enjoy themselves.

A trip to Space: Glasgow Planetarium, venue for A Man Who Fell to Earth

A trip to Space: Glasgow Planetarium, venue for A Man Who Fell to Earth

With Glasgow there’s no preferential treatment. Residents and industry members sit shoulder to shoulder for packed-out screenings and talks. This year’s surprise film, the wickedly funny Love And Friendship, was kept tightly under wraps and the shared reaction – eagerness peppered with only a few sighs for such an unconventional selection – proved worth the wait.

This year’s programme strands were particularly thoughtful. To say that there’s something for everyone would do disservice to the identity of the festival – Glasgow is as dedicated to bringing new and colourful cinema to locals as it is to celebrating the classics. Playing off the success of commercial hits like Wild Tales and The Secret In Their Eyes, the Argentine Cinema programme proved particularly interesting viewing with its experimental shorts and pleasing stories from the country roads.

The term “geek” has long since shed its unfavourable status, to the point where it received its own series of events at Glasgow under the proudly titled Nerdvana strand. Hosting films and events for the gamers (the inspirational Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler) and graphic novel fanatics in the crowd the festival let its freak flag fly, with screenings and talks packed to capacity.

An Elvis impersonator opens a special screening of Wild At Heart

An Elvis impersonator opens a special screening of Wild At Heart

With Richard Gere swinging by to promote his film Time Out of Mind on the closing Sunday came the news that 2016 was the most successful year for Glasgow Film Festival to date. Bringing in over 42,000 admissions and with its sold out events dominating the fortnight-long programme, this festival has grown on a dedicated understanding of its city and an ever-expanding crowd of loyal attendees, a formula guaranteed to secure success for years to come.

Berlin 2016: Strike a Pose

20 Feb, 2016 Posted in: Berlin, Festivals, Opinion, Review

Catherine Bray finds Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan’s doc about Madonna’s Blond Ambition-era dancers moving and enjoyable

madonna-dancers

Look around everywhere you turn is heartache
It’s everywhere that you go
You try everything you can to escape
The pain of life that you know

These oh-so-familiar lyrics, from one of Madonna’s all-time bangers, ‘Vogue’, serve as a compressed description of the lives depicted in documentary Strike A Pose, though like the song, there’s a lot more fun to be had here than the literal angst these words suggest.

Goodness know how many documentaries, from the respectable to the cheap TV cash-in, have been made about Madonna. Strike A Pose, from Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan, instead smartly takes as its focus the less-documented subject of her backing dancers from the Blond Ambition era.

At their most prominent in the ‘Truth Or Dare’ video (featuring an unscripted gay kiss, radical at the time), over which some of the dancers subsequently sued Madonna, they have largely faded from the limelight since. Even at their height, for many fans, they were viewed collectively, rather than as individuals. This film aims to correct that.

Since the dancers are virtually all gay, virtually all classically trained, and boast an intimate familiarity with the New York drag-ball scene, the chap who initially stands out is Oliver Crumes III, who never trained as a dancer, instead growing up dancing to hip-hop, and, as he admits, scorning gay culture. A flamboyant dresser, one of the other dancers recalls wondering at the time of this odd-man out: “How can you be homophobic? You look like a parrot.” His adjustment to being the only straight in the village makes for a heartwarming journey.

Indeed, heartwarming journeys are the order of the day, as each dancer gets their moment in the spotlight, 25 years on from their heyday, to connect with the camera and share their memories and an update of where their lives have gone since.

Tragedy is abundant – not everyone survived, and some are coping with illness, or have had to fight addictions – and yet the tone is also sweetly comic. That’s largely due to the charm of these open-hearted former peacocks, now chastened by life post-fame, but still able to flash the charisma that secured them the gig in the first place.

Formally unadventurous, the film is largely comprised of talking heads and archive footage, until arguably the most moving scene, where the lads are reunited, a couple of decades after they all drifted apart. The absent figures of dancer Gabriel Trupin, who died of AIDS at just 26, and of Madonna herself, are felt, but in the case of Madonna it feels right that she is not present – we sense the absence of this mother figure in their lives more keenly than if it all ended with contrived hugs and smiles.