Friday, November 24, 2017

A Ghost Story

Reviewed by Alan Pavelin

David Lowery's A Ghost Story is one of the most unusual films I have ever seen.  It tells of an unnamed couple (Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, each fairly ubiquitous these days) living in a Texas bungalow.  

Early in the film Affleck dies in a car crash, after which he reappears as a ghost, covered completely in a white sheet, with large eyeholes.  He spends the rest of the film, unseen by Mara, simply observing her grief and the ensuing events.  He even comes across another ghost in a neighbouring house, and they communicate by telepathy (with subtitles).  

In one much-commented-on extended scene, Mara consumes a huge chocolate cake as Affleck looks on (one wonders if she had a previous rehearsal, or perhaps another take!)  After Mara moves out, replaced by a Spanish-speaking family (without subtitles, implying that the ghost doesn't understand them), the ghost has a flash forward and flashback, showing what will happen, and did happen many years ago, to the location of the house (which we see being demolished).

Unlike his tremendous performance in Manchester by the Sea, Affleck doesn't have much acting to do here; in fact I read that he had a replacement for much of the time.  Mara is wonderfully luminous, I could watch her face all day.  I love long takes in films, and this has them in spades, creating a sense of real sadness and melancholy.  

Two or three reviews I read referred to the influence of Terrence Malick, though I couldn't see that because Malick's films, certainly the recent ones, have little pre-planning, unlike this film. But when, in a late scene, the ghost is actually seen by two children, it suddenly clicked as to the film I was reminded of, namely Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, about two angels unseen by all except children.

We don't have to believe in ghosts in order to be fully involved in this beautiful film (unusually for me, I didn't check my watch at all during the screening).  It's one of those films you either love or hate.  I'm very much in the former category.

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2017

Reviewed by Alan Pavelin

Each year I pick out several films from the Festival which sound interesting and seem unlikely to get a major theatrical release.  This year I selected six (two in the same programme, as they were quite short).  Two particularly appealing films which I didn't catch, but which should get early theatrical releases, are Andrei Zvyagintsev's Loveless (I enthused over his previous 4 features) and Lucrecia Martel's Zama (based on a recently-translated and acclaimed Argentinian novel).  

First, however, a brief mention of the four films I saw at the 2016 Festival.  Two (A Journey through French Cinema, and Zoology) were released nearly a year later.  A third, The Secret Scripture, had a brief theatrical release in the spring, to unenthusiastic reviews.  The one I really enthused over, The Son of Joseph, had an extremely brief release and has not been issued on DVD, though it can be watched via one of the streaming services.

But now to my 2017 selection.

A BLEMISHED CODE (Anne-Marie Copestake, UK).  

A study of the work of hologram artist Margaret Benyon.  Well-intentioned and fairly passionate about its somewhat specialist subject, with some emphasis on feminism.

EQUILIBRIUM (Vincenzo Marra, Italy).  

In this impressive film a priest (Mimmo Borrelli, on screen throughout) is battling the drug gangs in Naples, while a fellow-priest prefers to keep his head down because, in his view, to do otherwise does more harm than good.  The unfussy shooting style, cutting only where necessary and with numerous tracking shots along corridors in hospitals or schools, gives the occasional outbursts of violence particular impact.  Some of the actors are non-professionals, which occasionally shows, but this very satisfying film deserves an early theatrical release.

FILMWORKER. (Tony Zierra, USA).  

Leon Vitali was already a successful actor when he landed a plum role in Stanley Kubrick's 1975 film Barry Lyndon.  That changed his life, and he devoted the next 25 years to working behind the scenes, in numerous ways, on all Kubrick's remaining films ("Filmworker" is the occupation Vitali chose to give himself on his passport).  The young boy Danny in The Shining, for example, was chosen by him.  By all accounts Vitali spent every waking hour working for his hero, who in return greatly valued Vitali's assistance.  There are several brief clips from Kubrick's films, and contributions from actors and others who worked with him, but most of Filmworker consists of Vitali, now almost 70 (though looking much older), happily reminiscing.  This documentary is about Vitali, not Kubrick.

THE MAERSK OPERA (Superflex, Denmark).  

Superflex is an avant-garde Danish collective who currently have an installation at London's Tate Modern.  This film is an opera about the construction of a controversial opera house in Copenhagen early in this century.  Sections of the film show the performers, though it seemed to me they were miming to a pre-arranged recording.  Most of the film, however, consists of various kinds of visual metaphor of the building's construction and its opening.  Very imaginative visually, though I didn't care for most of the music.

A SORT OF FAMILY (Diego Lerman, Argentina).  

The "sort of" family are a professional woman and her husband intent on an illegal adoption.  Barbara Lennie, on-screen throughout (much of the time in her car), gives an emotionally high-powered performance as she tries to negotiate the various obstacles in her path, at one point finding herself in prison, though it would probably help the viewer if some explanation of Argentinian adoption laws was available..  The unexpected ending ties the film up nicely.

THE WELFARE OF TOMAS O HALLISSY (Duncan Campbell, Ireland).  

1960s Ireland had a huge rise in mental illness, according to an academic study.  By showing what appears to be archive film of a remote Kerry village from that period, the filmmaker is attempting to explain that rise.  Whether or not he is right is for the viewer to decide.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Digital launch of Estrella Damm's short film The Little Things

Release Date: Friday, 2nd June.


Starring critically acclaimed French actor Jean Reno (Leon: The Professional) and BAFTA nominated actress Laia Costa (Victoria), The Little Things is a short film by Mediterranean lager brand Estrella Damm, following in the footsteps of their debut short film released last year,Vale, directed by Alejandro Amenabar (The Others), starring Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey; A Bigger Splash).

Set against the Balearic backdrop of Majorca, The Little Things, directed by Albert Rodríguez, presents its two leading protagonists, a cynical ageing actor, Jean-Pierre Bertrand, and his thirty-something assistant, Laia, with completely opposing philosophies on life as they ride an emotional rollercoaster from the moment they first meet. Outgoing Laia tried to illumintae the way for Jean-Pierre during a surprising turn of events as she invites him to seize the moment; showing him undiscovered areas of the island, introduces him to her friends, encourages him to taste the local culinary dishes and sip the local beer.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Robot & Scarecrow

 Directed by Kibwe Tavares and starring Jack O’Connell and Holliday Grainger Robot & Scarecrow will be released on 31 May on the new social network Vero, as the first project to emerge from its partnership with DMC Film.

Set amidst the euphoric madness of a summer music festival, the short is a modern fairytale with a forbidden love story at its heart. Captured by pioneering south London director Kibwe Tavares (Jonah, Robots of Brixton) at Secret Garden Party, the film examines the festival experience through the eyes of Scarecrow, played by Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, ’71, Starred Up) and Robot, played by Holliday Grainger (Cinderella, The Riot Club).

The film was produced by Daniel Emmerson of DMC Film - the London-based production company run by Michael Fassbender and his producing partner Conor McCaughan. It was co-commissioned by Vero and The Space and co-produced with Factory Fifteen (Tavares’ studio) and Nexus. Producer Daniel Emmerson of DMC Film said: “Kibwe’s got a totally unique approach, and had an ambitious vision from the outset that involved animating pretty much every frame of the film. We got loads from the location and after that, it was a three year process with a small team of super skilled animators and visual effects artists, who translated the live action performances.”

Speaking about the film, director Kibwe Tavares said: “I feel the story is a weird, but straightforward, love story! The classic tale of two characters unable to be together as one is free and the other completely controlled. It’s also more than that, and is a nod to our youth culture, specifically at festivals. I wanted to create something that celebrated our love of festivals and it was amazing to do the shoot at Secret Garden Party. The characters are spectacularly portrayed by Jack and Holliday, and I hope people will really connect with it.” Robot & Scarecrow is the first film to receive backing from a production fund Vero has established with DMC Film to support emerging directors.

"Supporting the next generation of artists and filmmakers and providing them with new possibilities for people to connect with their work online is a big part of what we’re trying to achieve with Vero. We’re excited to be part of this project and to share this stunning film first on Vero” said Vero co-founder and CEO Ayman Hariri. DMC’s Michael Fassbender commented: “We’re really excited to be in business with Vero, and want to use the short film fund to build on our model of nurturing and developing relationships with emerging filmmakers.”

As a platform designed to make sharing all the things you love easier than ever before, Vero provides filmmakers with the tools to engage their audience in a new and valuable ways. All of the music, people, research and concepts referenced in the film can be explored in greater depth in the app itself – so the platform acts as not only a place to watch the film, but to explore a ‘rabbit hole’ of related content. Speaking about the partnership with Vero, Kibwe Tavares said: “Vero’s hands off approach enabled us stay to true to our creative, providing the freedom we needed to make this film. I’m so excited to share first on Vero - throughout my career I’ve tested everything online, rather than sharing in a more ‘traditional’ way. By sharing online you can directly access an incredible audience who find your work, share it, recommend it; providing evidence that people are intrigued by (and enjoying) your films.” Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Emmerson through DMC are also currently developing Kibwe’s debut feature The Kitchen which was written by and will star Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Sicario). Tavares has worked with Kaluuya previously on Jonah and his voice features in Robot & Scarecrow.

Robot & Scarecrow will be released on Wednesday May 31 and will be followed later in the year by the next two projects on the DMC-Vero slate: Love Pool, which will be directed by Asim Chaudhry (People Who Just Do Nothing) and John Moves In from Sundance-winner Ben Aston.


Watch / embed trailer here:
http://bit.ly/2oM0on5

Download Vero and follow Kibwe Tavares or DMC Film to watch the full film: 


Friday, March 10, 2017

MEET “BADRINATH KI DULHANIA”!



Let the colours of love fill your screens with India’s first love franchise ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, releasing on 10th March 2017 through Fox Star Studios.

Produced by Karan Johar and Fox Star StudiosBadrinath Ki Dulhania is billed as a romantic comedy drama. The sequel to the vastly popular Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Badrinath Ki Dulhania is a hardcore “desi romance” which takes fans on a roller coaster ride of emotions from fun, love and laughter to heartbreak, angst and tears.

Starring India’s next-gen superstars Varun Dhawan as Badrinath Bansal and Alia Bhatt as Vaidehi Trivedi, audiences will watch them lock horns and melt hearts in a film that is more than just your average ‘boy meets girl’ love story. It’s the coming together of raw and refined with a touch of ‘desi-pan’ and a ‘hatke’ definition of ‘pyaar’, which is sure to win hearts the world over. 

Badrinath Ki Dulhania is written and directed by Shashank Khaitan (Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania, Ishaqzaade), whose directorial ventures have garnered praises from both critics and audiences alike.

The music for the film has been composed by an eclectic mix of directors including Amaal Mallik, Tanishk Bagchi and Akhil Sachdeva.  Taking Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt’s crackling chemistry to new heights is a special twenty-first century re-boot of the super-hit 90s track Tamma Tamma Loge.

Synopsis:

Badrinath Ki Dulhania is a story of Badrinath Bansal from Jhansi and Vaidehi Trivedi from Kota and what happens when the two of them meet.
Even though they both belong to small towns, their mind-set about gender roles in society and about life in general are diametrically opposite.
This leads to a clash of ideologies, despite both of them recognizing the goodness in each other.

Will they be able to overcome circumstances to accept their love for each other? Will they be able to surpass the expectations and pressures of their small-town families to be together?
Answers to these and many more such questions make for an interesting journey of love, laughter, emotions and madness called Badrinath Ki Dulhania.


Join Badri in his search for his perfect dulhania in Badrinath ki Dulhania, out in cinemas in 10th March 2017.

Badrinath ki Dulhania is the first festive (HOLI) movie of the year and is produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Fox Star Studios. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

GODAN SUMMIT MEETING, NEW YORK




OPEN DATA on AGRICULTURE & NUTRITION – the key to end hunger on earth

GODAN Summit 2016, 15th and 16th September, New York - http://summit.godan.info/http://summit.godan.info/

FACT

Worldwide, 800 million people suffer from hunger and malnutrition – that’s one in every nine people – with the majority being women and children.


WHAT?
Open Data is the sum of available global knowledge and includes the tools to end hunger on earth. A commitment to Open Data means the proactive sharing of information about agriculture and nutrition, making it available to all in dealing with the urgent challenge of ensuring world food security.


WHO?
We represent GODAN, or Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition, formed to support and encourage open data with the aim of making the world’s accumulated knowledge and information about agriculture and nutrition available to all. GODAN is a rapidly growing initiative, with over 330+ partners, including national governments and non-governmental, international and private sector organisations.


WHEN, WHERE?

The groundbreaking GODAN SUMMIT 2016, taking place on 15th & 16th September in New York on the margin of the UN General Assembly, is the largest-ever event of its kind. For the first time in history, world leaders and prominent international figures will join researchers, farmers, students and public, private and non-profit organisations, to showcase the impact of open data for Agriculture and Nutrition around the world. The Summit will include high-level speecheshackathon by young innovators, exhibits showcasing the importance of open-data and the unveiling of the results from an online open-data revolution. The petition will be handed over at the UN General Assembly meeting in NY in September and results unveiled at the summit.

WHY?

The aim of the New York summit will be to urge world leaders to open their national datasets on agriculture and nutrition to help bring hunger around the world to an end.

“Open data is key to innovation in agriculture and nutrition – and hence, in promoting food security – by improving farming methods, enhancing food production and better informing nutritional methods and advice.”

GODAN's goal is to make all data in agriculture and nutrition freely available for better policy and decision-making by 2050, when the global population is expected to hit 9 billion. GODAN’s ultimate ambition is to achieve the United Nations’ goal 2 – ‘zero hunger’ by 2030 - ensuring food security

Agriculture Case Study - Thinking outside the box – improved farming methods in Uganda

GODAN partner, n has been using open data for the past 10 years, working successfully with poor farming communities in Uganda. BROSDI’s projects work with the poorest of the poor – people who are only able to afford one basic meal a day. BROSDI collects indigenous knowledge and rather than providing farmers with money, or instructions to follow, they empower them to form communities that can drive their own development. It does this through its network of over 300 farmers, holding regular meetings, where farmers discuss their agricultural problems and possible solutions along with local experts. All of these concerns and information are recorded and passed via BROSDI to a government agency, NARO, the National Agriculture Research Organization.  

Twelve years on, these farmers are no longer poor, they have money, they are eating three meals a day, they are helping others in their community – always looking for win-win scenarios that are sustainable, rather than relying on handouts or kindness. 

The GODAN Summit takes place on 15 to 16 September 2016 at the Hilton Midtown Hotel, New York. 
To register go to: http://summit.godan.info/

Monday, May 23, 2016

POOR COW

DIRECTED BY KEN LOACH


STARRING CAROL WHITE, JOHN BINDON AND TERENCE STAMP

RESTORED AND BACK IN CINEMAS THIS SUMMER


SPECIAL PREVIEW SCREENING ON JUNE 23 AT THE BARBICAN IN CINEMAS ON JUNE 24

ON DVD, BLU-RAY & EST ON JULY 25


STUDIOCANAL and The Independent Cinema Office are delighted to announce that a newly restored version of Ken Loach’s classic 1967 feature debut, POOR COW, will return to cinemas nationwide from June 24.

Following on from his hard-hitting work in television, including Cathy Come Home and Up the JunctionPOOR COW brought Loach’s unique, uncompromising style to a big screen audience and helped kick start a new movement in social realist filmmaking. Ken Loach has gone on to direct countless highly acclaimed films that include Kes and Sweet Sixteen. He has won numerous awards including the Palme d’Or for The Wind That Shakes the Barley and both the BAFTA and BFI Fellowship Awards.

To mark the release of the new restoration, a special preview screening of the seminal British New Wave drama will take place at The Barbican on June 23. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with one of the stars of the film, Terence Stamp, alongside author Nell Dunn who wrote the novel that she adapted for the screen with Ken Loach. The film will then be available on DVD and Blu-ray from July 25 on the Vintage Classics label, including
Brand new extras.

In a gritty 1960s London, Joy (Carol White – Cathy Come Home) is a young mother who is forced to fend for herself when her brutal and uncaring husband, Tom (John Bindon – Barry Lyndon, Get Carter), is put in jail. The film follows Joy as she searches for a glimpse of happiness, when she comes into contact with Tom's seemingly caring associate Dave (Terence Stamp, Far from the Madding Crowd, The Limey) whilst raising her son alone in squalid circumstances.

DVD & BLU-RAY EXTRAS

• New interview with Terence Stamp
• 
New interview with Nell Dunn
• Archive interview with Carol White TBC
• 
Poor Cow & The British New Wave featurette • More TBC

Poor Cow is part of the ‘Vintage Classics collection’ – showcasing iconic British films, all fully restored and featuring brand new extra content: www.facebook.com/vintageclassicsfilm
The Digital Film restoration was funded by STUDIOCANAL in collaboration with the BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage programme (awarding funds from the National Lottery).

CLANGERS MESSAGE FOR PLANET EARTH REVEALED IN A VIDEO NARRATED BY MICHAEL PALIN

GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR CLANGER
NEW CLANGERS SERIES LAUNCHES WITH POP UP EXPERIENCE ‘CALL THE CLANGERS’ IN BATTLE BRIDGE PLACE, KING’S CROSS N1C


The Clangers sent a message to Planet Earth…

This weekend, families in King’s Cross N1C were able ‘Call the Clangers’ via a pop-up pink knitted London phone box with a phone line straight through to pre-schooler’s favourite little blue planet.

Infamous UK yarnstormer Deadly Knitshade (Lauren O’Farrell) and crafter Teasemade (Sami Teasdale) created a Clangers phone box cosy, and the art installation magically transformed a traditional red London phone box into a Clangers experience, where families heard the loveable, pink, mouse-like creatures whistle a mysterious message to the world.

The pop up experience was installed at Battle Bridge Place, the gateway to King’s Cross and St Pancras International stations.

Children and parents could approach the phone box and ‘Call the Clangers’. Via a special pink phone they were put through to the international space exchange, then introduced to the Clangers by show narrator Michael Palin so they could guess the message that Tiny ‘whistled’ to them.

The Clangers costume characters were on hand to keep children and families entertained with dances, stickers and activity sheets.

The message was revealed via Clangers’ social media channels @helloclangers and facebook.com/officialclangers in a video narrated by Michael Palin.

Coolabi Group’s multi-award winning pre-school animated series Clangers returns to CBeebies from Monday 23rd May at 6pm with 24 x 11-minute brand new episodes about the loveable, pink, mouse-like creatures who communicate in whistles and eat soup from their little blue planet’s soup wells.

The episodes follow Major, Mother, Small, Tiny and Granny Clanger on a whole host of new adventures. The Clangers are joined by friends old and new as they explore their little blue planet, stumbling upon un-discovered caves and tunnels, finding new places to practice music, knit a jumper and play.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

MAJOR PRIVATE ART FILM COLLECTION IS FREE TO VIEW ONLINE FROM TODAY



* Unparalleled international private collection of films on art and architecture becomes free to view online for one week from today

* Birthday gift to the art world by private collector Anthony Roland who turns 80 today

East Sussex, UK. Every one of more than 400 films in The Roland Collection - one of the world's largest and most significant private collections of films on art, architecture and writing - is now free to view online for the next seven days, starting today, at http://www.rolandcollection.tv .

The collection of more than 400 films, many of them international award winners, has been gathered and catalogued by art dealer and film maker Anthony Roland over a period of 55 years. It has long been used by American and European universities, museums and other institutions as an important resource for art education and appreciation, and it is a boon for creative writing courses, but it has never been so freely available to absolutely everyone.

Collector and curator Anthony Roland said: "My collection features film documentaries and creative film explorations of history's great western artists from virtually every period, pre-civilisation to post-modern times, along with educational pieces on artistic techniques, art appreciation and conservation.

"It also includes films on modern architecture and, a hidden gem for writers, interviews with116 different authors talking about their writing and their craft. All together, the Roland Collection is the assembled genius of 230 film directors from 25 countries and is my life's work."

He added: "Lovers and students of art, architecture and writing will not find these films on YouTube, Netflix or any other platform. They are a private collection which until today has only been available to view for a fee. Today is my 80th birthday and I would like the world to celebrate it with me by being able to stream all 400 plus films for free, for the coming week."

Sculptor Henry Moore said of the Anthony Roland's collection, in The Times, "that it required the enterprise and courage of one individual to bring such a concept into being is a matter for amazement".

Free streaming access is provided until the end of 24 May 2016.

The Call Up


Written and Directed by Charles BarkerThe Call Up is produced by Matthew James Wilkinson (Gateway 6, SLR, Kaleidoscope) of Stigma FilmsJohn Giwa-Amu (The Machine, The Silent Storm, Little White Lies) of Red & Black Films and executive produced by Alan Martin (The Machine, Stone of Destiny, Darklands). Max Deacon (Into the Storm, Hatfields & McCoys) leads an ensemble cast, joined by exciting up-and-coming talent, including Morfydd Clark (Love & Friendship, Madame Bovary, A Poet in New York), Ali Cook (Kajaki, The Anomaly, The Messenger), Parker Sawyers (Zero Dark Thirty, Parkside With You, Monsters: Dark Continent), Tom Benedict Knight (Dracula UntoldHoudini), Boris Ler (Death in Sarajevo, In the Land of Blood and Honey), newcomer Douggie McMeekin and Adriana Randall.

Other executive producers include Richard Holmes (Eden Lake) and Marzipan Productions, Isabelle Georgeaux (Resistance, Jadoo and Keeping Rosy) of Pont Neuf Productions acts as Co-Producer and is part-funded through Creative England’s West Midlands Production Fund.

The Call Up follows a group of elite online gamers when they each receive a mysterious invitation to trial a state-of-the-art virtual reality video game. It’s a dream come true and impossible to resist.

Arriving at the test site, the group step into hi-tech gear and prepare for a revolutionary, next-level gaming experience that brings modern warfare to life with frightening realism. At first it’s a unique and exhilarating experience.  But what starts out like a dream encounter with cutting edge technology quickly takes a turn for the sinister.

Writer/Director Charles Barker said: “I've always been fascinated by the potential for technology to create worlds as real and powerful as our own. But as VR becomes ever more developed, more accessible I also have a fear. How dangerous could this be in the wrong hands?”

For further information please visit: