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World Cinema

The Artist



MV5BMzk0NzQxMTM0OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzU4MDYyNQ@@__V1__SX1217_SY602_Released: 2011

Directed By: Michel Hazanavicius

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bojo

Certificate: PG

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

The world of cinema in recent times.. has largely shifted its focus more to pushing and harnessing the technological boundaries of its projects, with story and real substance seemingly playing second fiddle. But we may have just found a saviour or two in the form of French director Michel Hazanavicius and Harvey Weinstein, with this undeniably risky but glorious throwback to the glamorous silent era of 1920’s Hollywood. It’s colourful counterparts released during 2012, get ready to be beaten ‘black and white’.. by ‘The Artist’.

The star at the centre of the captivating story is one George Valentin, played by Jean Dujardin. With his Cheshire cat grin and slick looks, he is the cream of the crop in Tinseltown with his on screen persona significantly made up of old school adventure films. A chance meeting at his latest premiere, with the beautiful Peppy Miller (Berenice Bojo) ultimately triggers a domino effect, of things going against him. Whilst trying to help her lay the foundations for a successful career and strike up a budding romance between them in the process, his career takes an unexpected nosedive.

The year 1929 signals the dawn of the ‘talkies’. Sanctioned straight away by his Kinograph Studios hotshot boss Al Zimmer (John Goodman), Valentin categorically rejects the new format and in an act of serious misjudgement, self finances a cinematic flop. This, coupled with the sad separation from his wife (Penelope Ann Miller) he is left to deal with subject of his pride being badly damaged and now has garnered the ‘washed up’ feeling, At the other end of the spectrum.. Miss Miller’s star is on the rise, but is oblivious to the mental trauma Valentin is going through.

‘The Artist’ has truly captured the visual aesthetics of a bygone era to a tee, with the genius being its simplicity. For example the playful nods to the camera, the inspired ‘on sight’ gags and the remarkably polished and photographic look to proceedings really help to make the experience of seeing such a commodity in a modern day setting, truly unique.

It’s certainly not without some killer performances either. The chemistry that Dujardin and Bojo exude is infectious and the American representation doesn’t let the side down, with Goodman and James Cromwell as Valentin’s chauffeur on terrific form. But the real star of the show, is THAT performing dog.

A film that absolutely charmed my socks off and stole my heart.. A surprisingly poignant, often hilarious, thoroughly joyous treat.

Silence.. really is golden.


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Movie Reviews

LFF 2015: A Bigger Splash



a bigger splashReleased: 12th February 2016

Directed By: Luca Cuadagnino

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton

Our modernised visions of love perfectly reflect the complications of what it actually means to feel the emotion. It is messy, convoluted, and has the progressive power to make or break a person simultaneously.

All of these themes find their way into Luca Guadagnino’s latest picture A Bigger Splash, and they are dissected under both warm and blinding lights; each to inch-perfect precision.

Marianne (Tilda Swinton) is a globally celebrated rockstar; a hyper-blend of David Bowie and Mick Jagger if you will. She is currently recovering from major throat surgery and is unable to talk. Alongside her trusting man and documentarian Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts), the couple take solace in their beautiful paradise in the Sicilian Islands, but their vacation is disrupted by an unexpected visit from Harry (Ralph Fiennes); her former lover, and his sultry young daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson).

Gloriously rendering a marriage between person and place, Guadagnino (I Am Love) purposefully creates an ethereal shadow with his environments. The hazy sun which hangs in-frame, the vast mountainous treks laden with plush foliage; it all counterbalances the narrative’s sly progressive tones. A Bigger Splash adopts the idea of “what goes on tour, stays on tour” without really forcing as such upon the spectator. It uses wit and whimsy to join the dots. From the get-go, audiences will become aware that they are in for a heady, seductive trip that will likely end in fireworks.

Furthering the location’s importance is the levels of solitude it offers our quadrant of performers. With plenty of places to relish fantasies undetected, it provides an equally mysterious and unpredictable port of exploration. Screenwriter David Kajganich beautifully shifts genre conventions and draws singular strands from a majority, consequently weaving his own yarn that blends and blurs what we have perhaps come to expect.

This is bitingly funny filmmaking; the dialogue is delivered on a high-wire and is utterly enthused with vigorous energy. So natural is the delivery and so authentic is the text that large portions feel like estranged friends awkwardly – and honestly – catching up over a much-delayed meal.

But covered by all the laughs and smarts lies much darker shades. The facade is delicately peeled away throughout the 120min duration and begins to reveal layers of deceit, debauchery and criminality. It whips and fizzes one minute; sumptuously hanging in the morning sun, and then instantaneously shifts the momentum to project a cavalcade of life’s inner ugliness.

These elegant and seamless transitions keep the spectator firmly on their toes. Constructing dense atmosphere with tightly angled frames and ambient-coloured sequences, Guadagnino controls his film like a fearless puppeteer; ensuring not a single cell is wasted or feels remotely paint-by-numbers.

Collectively the cast are exceptional – each offering a different tier to the towering cake that is bound to topple at some point. In an almost entirely muted role, Swinton provides her best work in years. She morphs with sincere subtleties and strikes the desired balance between joy and self-loathing. The same can be said for Schoenaerts who thrives in the English language. There are deep cuts in his world that are slowly filling, but are quick to feel fragmented.

Johnson provides her best performance to date no questions asked. This is a sizzling, often twitching performance that could have easily revealed many imperfections in her pallet, but rather constructs her erotically and poetically. Undoubtedly the star here however is Fiennes in likely his funniest, sharpest role to date – it could be even brighter than The Grand Budapest Hotel.

He is hilarious and endearing, provocative and repellent; a confused but emotionally sublime hybrid of the very best and worst of the modern man – karaoke-singing, penis-swinging and all. It is one of the very best character performances across the entire year.

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“A Love Worth Giving” Documentary Tells a Tragic Love Story



A Love Worth Giving tells the story of newly weds Sam and Luke, a young couple madly in love who build a life together around the physical and emotional challenges that come from living with Cystic Fibrosis.

“Sam had an appreciation of life that I didn’t.  Having Cystic Fibrosis meant she wasn’t sure how long she’d live, so she embraced life fully.” – Luke Yates

Sam was diagnosed with the degenerative lung disease at 6 months old but she didn’t let it prevent her from living an energetic and fulfilling life – going to university, becoming a school teacher and falling in love with budding scientist, Luke.

Full of hope and optimism, Sam and Luke start their new life as a married couple in their home in Basingstoke. But Sam’s health is worsening. After years on a daily cocktail of drugs, the doctors tell Sam that her only chance at survival is a new pair of lungs. So begins 3 years of waiting for that life-changing call – and a roller coaster of false alarms, hospital stays and deteriorating health.

When a donor fails to appear on time, Luke is forced to continue life alone and find a way to make sense of their short time together.

A Love Worth Giving tells this tragic and poignant story at a time when there are more than 10,000 people in need of an organ transplant in the UK – and around 1000 of those will die waiting every year.

The film’s director, James W. Newton is running a crowdfunding campaign to raise £15,000 in finishing funds to complete the documentary. This short film will be used to raise awareness about the urgent need for organ donors.

“I’ve made films about love and death before and I’ve seen how powerful stories can impact audiences… I promised Sam that I would use her story to raise awareness for the need for organ donation” – James W. Newton

For those of you who want to know more, you can check their Official WebsiteFacebook Page or Twitter Page. Also, they have crowd funding Kickstarter page for anyone who wants to get involved.




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World Cinema

Rust And Bone



MV5BNTg1MTI1OTc4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTY2MTY3Nw@@__V1__SX1217_SY602_Released: 2012

Directed By: Jacques Audiard

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts

Certificate: 15

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

French director Jacques Audiard in recent years, has made great strides in becoming one of the leading lights of cinema in his homeland. Hot off the heels of his compelling and gritty prison drama ‘A Prophet’, he returns with an expression of his more sensitive side complete with another pain fueled story of ‘confinement’ spiked with tender romance. Albeit this time, the former occurs through the events of a somewhat unfortunate nature..

At first glance, the premise for Rust And Bone would be likely perceived to be too ‘offbeat’ for the conventionalists among us. The opening exchanges revolve around the misfortunes of Ali played by Matthias Schoenaerts. Daring to imply he’s ‘saddled’ with a five year old son whom he struggles to fully bond with, Ali is forced to adapt to the surroundings of his estranged sister’s (Corinne Masiero) garage. With previous excursions including kickboxing, his impressive frame is soon put to effective use working as a security guard at a bog standard nightclub.

A minor scuffle later and he is greeted with the presence of Stephanie played by La Vie En Rose’s Marion Cotillard. A whale trainer by trade, their brief first encounter doesn’t remotely elude to the horror that ensues. A routine day at the theme park aquarium leaves our female lead disfigured and devoid of the drive that used to channel through her. Desperately seeking an ideal form of ‘healing’ many weeks down the line, she contacts Ali out of the blue. Cue an unlikely but steadily paced relationship as they both attempt to combat their own emotional and physical defecencies, whilst providing much needed solace to each other.

Refusing to cave into the Hollywood stylistics when it comes to sentiment, Audiard’s handling of the story is wonderfully restrained. The questionable musical choices which include Katy Perry’s Firework and B52’s Love Shack on the surface could be delicate stabs at many a mainstream romantic montage, but are consistently put to inspired use. Audiard’s intimate directorial style makes for some stunning imagery whilst heightening the impact of already affecting sequences, in particular Ali’s bare knuckle scraps and a gorgeous synchronised mid-shot with Cotillard and a beloved creature of the sea.

The two central performances are nothing short of staggering with Audiard expertly providing parallels between Cotillard and Schoenaert’s fractured protagonists. Cotillard brings gravitas to her devastating and vulnerable turn as the disfigured Stephanie. Thoroughly convincing as a result, her condition provides the perfect ‘metaphor’ for Schoenaert’s own underlying disabilities. Whether it’s his almost misogynistic approach to relationships and his handling of women or his lack of remorse and maturity when dealing with his son, his portrayal of Ali whilst initially hard to root for simmers with animalistic intensity.

The narrative structure of ‘Rust’ much like the characters it depicts, is not without its imperfections. Certain plot threads feel unnecessary, (swerve involving Ali’s sister a key gripe) threatening to bloat the film. In addition, with Audiard clearly desperate to deliver a killer emotional crescendo of sorts, the finale whilst deeply moving feels rather drawn out and ill-fitting of it’s underplayed whole.

Nonetheless, Rust and Bone is an enthralling slice of cinema which alternates between bruising and achingly beautiful with ease.


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