LFF review: 12 Years a Slave

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From Netribution

The third feature from artist-turned-director Steve McQueen needs little introduction.

It’s a visceral, unpredictable tale of life as a slave in 1840s America, based on the true story of Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who, as ever, disappears effortlessly into the demanding role), who was born a free man in New York.

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LFF Preview: Argo and Midnight’s Children

From Netribution

These two films each take an unflinching look at the damage wrought when countries have change imposed upon them, but leaven the tone with helpings of ridiculousness.

Midnight’s Children (in a nicely streamlined screenplay by the novel’s author Salman Rushdie) sticks with the magic realism of the novel, such as when India is actually plunged into a permanent midnight during Indira Gandhi’s State of Emergency in the mid 70s, known as the country’s “darkest hour.”

The novel’s sense of the absurd is woven throughout the film, mirroring the the attempts of the narrator, Saleem Sinai, to create a coherent narrative out of all the strange things that have happened to him and to the newly independent India, since both were born on 15th August 1947.

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LFF Preview: No and Grassroots

From Netribution

Grassroots and No are both political films based on real events that concentrate on the competition: to win a local election in the former film, and to win a regime-changing plebiscite in the latter.

The fact that No succeeds as an engaging film to such a greater extent than Grassroots shows that political races on film need to be contested by sharply-outlined protagonists. Furthermore, while there can be laughs, playing the whole contest for laughs kills the anticipation.

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Review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

The interiors of this latest adaptation of John Le Carré’s 1973-set novel look and feel like just like the those of the BBC’s recent drama series, The Hour, set in their 1956 newsroom. Even the plots are alike – there’s a Russian spy in our very English midst, which one is he (it’s never gonna be a she)?

The main clues as to which era we’re in are found outside – the odd black or Asian person popping up in the corner of a frame, a girl in hotpants, the lovely cars. Inside the Circus [the highest level of  British intelligence], though, it’s all closed and brownish and peopled by grey men. The Cold War is still very much on, and this film sets the scene expertly.

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The London Film Festival opens tonight with Never Let Me Go

The London Film Festival opens tonight with a screening of Never Let Me Go, an adaptation of the 2005 Kazuo Ishiguro novel, starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield. The screenplay was written by Alex Garland, and the movie directed by Mark (One Hour Photo) Romanek.

The story takes place in an alternate England, where medical research has solved most illnesses, and the average life expectancy has passed 100 years old by 1967.

These great developments have come about thanks to the National Donor Programme, where human clones – who cannot reproduce but do think, feel and age just like us – are brought up in institutions and taught to accept their futures as organ donors. They will give away parts of their body, one by one, until they “complete,” usually before the age of 30.

Kathy H, our 28-year-old narrator, is a carer watching a donor be put under for his operation. She starts to reminisce about her time at boarding school – a place called Hailsham – and about her time growing up with her friends Tommy and Ruth.

Warning: spoilers ahead

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THE SECOND GENERATION

Talent Press alumna Suchandrika Chakrabarti about the shooting of Kyoko Miyake’s HACKNEY LULLABIES, one of the five finalists of the Berlin Today Award, the short film competition of the Berlinale Talent Campus

Kyoko Miyake’s short, HACKNEY LULLABIES, which has been nominated for the Berlin Today Award 2011, looks at what it means to be foreign in London, but to bring up a child who is British.

Miyake, 34, who is from Chiba, Japan, has lived in England for the past nine years. However, as she puts it, “If I speak, you can tell I’m not British… it’s kind of a barrier.” That’s an obstacle that faces the mothers in her film, but it’s not the only one. As Miyake adds, “there is something lacking in your experience if you didn’t spend your childhood here.”

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