London – The Upcoming http://www.theupcoming.co.uk Culture, trends, fashion from London and beyond | The Upcoming Fri, 24 Nov 2017 15:49:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri closes the 61st London Film Festival: A chat with Martin McDonagh and Kathryn Newton from the red carpet http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/16/three-billboards-outside-ebbing-missouri-closes-the-61st-london-film-festival-a-chat-with-martin-mcdonagh-and-kathryn-newton-from-the-red-carpet/ Mon, 16 Oct 2017 09:00:19 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314434 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is the foul-mouthed dark comedy from British playwright, screenwriter and director of In Bruges, Martin McDonagh. Award-winning actress Frances McDormand leads in a part McDonagh wrote with her in mind as the raging Mildred Hayes, an aggrieved mother chasing justice for the unresolved murder of her daughter, Angela (Kathryn Newton). She finds herself embroiled in a feud with the local authorities, namely the town sheriff (Woody Harrelson) and his second-in-command (Sam Rockwell), even resorting to publicising her messages on the town’s billboards.

The film’s UK premiere ended the 61st BFI Film Festival on a high, forming the London-based event’s closing gala. We were there as the star-studded cast hit the red carpet at the Odeon Leicester Square.

We had the pleasure of speaking with director Martin McDonagh himself on his inspiration for the film, writing Mildred for McDormand and keeping such an array of characters and big personality actors in perfect balance.

Kathryn Newton, whose appearance in the film is short-lived but whose character the story revolves around as the murdered daughter of Mildred, spoke of the experience of being on set with the ensemble cast, working with McDonagh and her upcoming – and contrasting – comedy film Blockers.

We also had the chance to speak briefly with Sandy Martin, who plays Mama Dixon, and Clarke Peters who is Abercrombie.

Festival director Clare Stewart reflected on the success of the two-week festival, which screened over 250 films in the UK’s capital, and the blistering performance from Frances McDormand at the centre of Three Billboards, a film worthy of seeing out the final day of the event.

 

Sarah Bradbury
Videos: Marta Starczynowska

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is released nationwide on 12th January 2018.

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the event visit the official BFI website here.

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Loveless wins best film at London Film Festival Awards 2017: A chat with the winners at the ceremony http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/15/loveless-wins-best-film-at-london-film-festival-awards-2017-a-chat-with-the-winners-at-the-ceremony/ Sun, 15 Oct 2017 14:00:58 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314512 The 61st BFI London Film Festival announced this year’s festival award winners at Banqueting House, Whitehall. Hosted by James Nesbitt and with an address from BFI chair Josh Berger, guests included Andrea Arnold, Hayley Atwell, Eric Bana, Jessie Buckley, Lily Cole, Jason Isaacs, Adrian Lester, Helen McCrory, Andrea Riseborough, Anya Taylor Joy and this year’s BFI Fellowship recipient, Paul Greengrass.

Best film: Loveless by Andrey Zvaginstev

Recognising inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking, the best film award went to Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless, a powerful and eloquent film about a divorcing Russian couple whose son disappears. The award was announced by the president of the Official Competition jury, director Andrea Arnold. The jury commented:  “We felt that Loveless was a very poetic and beautiful film. Dark and told with a fierce passion. Although the film concentrated on the intimate story of one family in Russia, it felt like a universal tragedy; one that we recognized as one of the world¹s great sadnesses. The film-maker elevated the personal to a social and political statement. A critique of our current psychological and political moment. Some of us felt the film a cautionary tale. An angry warning. And some of us saw it as a rallying call for the opposite of what the film is called.

“We also commend Wajib. We found this to be a very honest, tender and beautifully acted story about a father and son delivering wedding invitations to their relatives. Sometimes funny and often sad we loved the glimpse into the lives of ordinary Christian Arabs in Nazareth. And through the intimacy between father and son, the film explored the clash of old and new in a fast changing world.  A call for patience, respect and understanding”. 

Arnold’s fellow jurors were the BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Babak Anvari; the actor Eric Bana whose latest film The Forgiven premiered at this year’s LFF; Ashley Clark, senior programmer of cinema at BAM Brooklyn; actor and social entrepreneur Lily Cole; previous LFF Best Film winner, the writer and director Alexei Popogrebsky and the BAFTA and Academy Award-nominated producer Emma Thomas.

This is the second time that Andrey Zvyagintsev has won the Best Film at BFI London Film Festival having previously received the award for Leviathan in 2014 which subsequently went on to win the Golden Globe for best foreign language film and was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA in the same category. We had the chance to speak the director ahead of his film’s screening.

Best first feature: The Wound by John Trengove

The long-standing Sutherland Award is named after the first Chairman of the British Film Institute, George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower. The Sutherland Award is presented to the director of the most original and imaginative first feature in the Festival, and this year’s winner is John Trengove for The Wound, a powerful exploration of masculinity and unspoken queer desire set in the remote mountains of South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The winner was announced by the jury president, composer and producer, Melissa Parmenter. The jury said: “Among a strong field of debut features, we found ourselves enamoured by the urgency, vitality and originality of The Wound. Director John Trengove and his terrific cast have created a dynamic and inimitable coming-of-age story that takes a heart-breaking look at masculinity and sexuality. We would also like to give a special mention to the dreamlike Summer 1993, a beautiful and personal film, impressively and sensitively crafted. Its director and screenwriter Carla Simón is an exciting emerging filmmaker to watch”.

Parmenter’s fellow jurors were freelance film writer and editor Kaleem Aftab; the multi-award-winning actors Jason Isaacs and Helen McCrory and the filmmaker and Turner Prize-nominated artist Isaac Julien CBE. We had a chance to speak with the winner and some of the jurors before the ceremony.

Best documentary: Kingdom of Us by Lucy Cohen

The Grierson Award for the best documentary recognises outstanding feature-length documentaries of integrity, originality, technical excellence or cultural significance. Lucy Cohen’s documentary feature debut is a luminous exploration of grief, identity, family bonds and emotional recovery.. The award was presented by the jury president, the BAFTA & Academy Award-winning documentary producer, John Battsek. Director Cohen talked with us about the work behind her film.

On behalf of the jury, Battsek said: “In a strong and diverse documentary selection, Lucy Cohen’s impressive debut Kingdom of Us equally fascinated and moved us all. It captures an extraordinary level of family intimacy in its delicate exploration of grief and memory. We would like to specially commend the poignant yet beautiful Makala, which examines third world poverty in a simple and unflinching way, and also the thoroughly enjoyable, charming, inventive hybrid Before Summer Ends – this French road trip with three expat Iranians really touched and delighted the jury”. 

Joining Battsek on the jury this year were BAFTA and Grierson-winning editor and producer Paul Dosaj; creative director of UK Factual at Raw TV Liesel Evans; multi-award-winning directors Edward Lovelace and James Hall and the highly-accoladed documentary veteran Norma Percy.

Best short film: The Rabbit Hunt by Patrick Bresnan

The short film award is now in its third year at the festival, and recognises short form works with a unique cinematic voice and a confident handling of chosen theme and content. Patrick Bresnan’s documentary short film The Rubbit Hunt follows a family hunting rabbits in the sugarcane fields of the Florida Everglades during the harvest season. The short film award was presented by jury President, the Academy Award and BAFTA-winning animation director and illustrator, Michael Dudok de Wit. We had the opportunity to talk with the director about his work.

Of the winning film, Dudok de Wit and his jury commented: “We were unanimously impressed by Patrick Bresnan’s verité documentary The Rabbit Hunt. The film is a thrilling look at one family’s otherwise everyday hustle, and is proof that farm-to-table eating doesn’t have to be a bourgeoisie exercise. We admired its agility, its confidence and its refusal to judge its enterprising subjects, and are excited to see what Bresnan does next.

“We are also giving a special mention to Scaffold, for its assured simplicity and economy of storytelling; Martin Cries (Martin Pleure), for its inventiveness in transforming the ultraviolent video game Grand Theft Auto V into a tone poem about loneliness; and to Deborah Zebeda, for her magnetic performance in Laws of the Game”.

Joining Dudok de Wit on the jury were film critic and culture writer, Simran Hans; BAFTA-winning producer Afolabi Kuti; one of the former BAFTA Brits to Watch and director of the acclaimed feature debut Lady Macbeth, William Oldroyd and actor Chloe Pirrie, a former BAFTA breakthrough awardee and Screen Star of Tomorrow.

Ahead of the ceremony we had a chance to speak with directors Warwick Thornton, Michael Pearce, and Ana Asensio, and producer Tim Bevan.

Maria Barrios
Videos: Marta Starczynowska/Filippo L’Astorina

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the event visit the official BFI website here.

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You Were Never Really Here premiere: A chat with Lynne Ramsay on the red carpet http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/15/you-were-never-really-here-premiere-a-chat-with-lynne-ramsay-on-the-red-carpet/ Sun, 15 Oct 2017 09:00:27 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314505  

Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here follows troubled Gulf War veteran and former FBI agent Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), a man working to save girls from child sex rings and who is hired to hunt down the kidnappers of a US senator’s daughter (Ekaterina Samsonov). Based on a 2013 novella by Jonathan Ames, Ramsay’s first feature since the success of We Need to Talk About Kevin presents an hallucinogenic and unconventional twist on a hitman thriller, hooked around a Cannes-winning performance from Phoenix.

The film had its UK premiere at the 61st BFI London Film Festival and we were there to catch up with Ramsay on why she was inspired to adapt Ames’s novel for the screen, her experience of working with the enigmatic Phoenix and how her filmmaking style has evolved over time.

Sarah Bradbury
Video: Filippo L’Astorina

The Shape of Water is released nationwide on 16th February 2018. Read our review here.

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the event visit the official BFI website here.

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London Film Festival 2017: Tides | Review http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/15/london-film-festival-2017-tides-review/ Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314416 Up-and-coming writer/director/editor Tupaq Felber premiered his feature debut Tides at BFI London Film Festival 2017. Gorgeously shot on black and white digital film, it’s an honest and touching ensemble piece that revolves around Jon (Jon Foster) who has recently suffered a shattering personal loss, that which is only really hinted at in the first shot of him at the very beginning. He and his three best mates Zooby (Jamie Zubairi), Red (Robyn Isaac) and Simon (Simon Meacock) decide to rent a massive old boat to cruise along the canals of southern England.

The subtle nuances and delicate balance of pain hidden beneath the surface of euphoric drunkenness makes this buddy film one hell of a debut. The sundrenched shots of trees, small waves and bystanders as the boat slowly rides along the canals are glorious. Felber’s interesting camera angles and variety of ­­shot sizes change quite a bit throughout the movie, without being too distracting. Paul O’Callaghan’s cinematography is lovely, especially the night scenes on the boat deck lit from light inside the cabin.

Jon Foster and Robyn Isaac give performances that reveal their characters’ insecurities and strong platonic feelings for one another. The dialogue feels almost too real, with partially belligerent friends talking over one another as if it’s been like that for 40 years. It makes sense that the four actors co-wrote the script with Felber. Even the swearing seems perfectly placed and natural, never too many words or too few. The original score by Kas-tro enhances the mood without distracting from the dialogue. At times it’s contemplative, melancholic, uplifting and at moments a mix of the three.   

Felber’s future in filmmaking looks bright. Tides has an authenticity to it that is hard to come by. Rather than recalling other mumblecore movies, Levinson’s Diner and Kasdan’s The Big Chill come to mind, portraying friendships with all their ups and downs. This canal trip makes one long for the complications that only come with one’s closest friends.

Lindsay Bellinger

Tides does not have a UK release date yet.

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.

Watch the trailer for Tides here:

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London Film Festival 2017: Here to Be Heard: The Story of The Slits | Review http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/15/london-film-festival-2017-here-to-be-heard-the-story-of-the-slits-review/ Sat, 14 Oct 2017 23:01:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314241 “These girls make the Sex Pistols look like choir boys,” was a statement describing 1970s all girl punk band The Slits when they first came on the music scene in the UK. William E Badgley’s Hear to Be Heard: The Story of the Slits documents these “girls on a mission” who were breaking the barriers of a traditionally male-dominated medium. The milieu at the time is depicted as a very sexist middle class patriarchal society – it was a pressure cooker environment for rebellion and “out of that came music”. The London cultural climate was ripe for Punk, but these female rockers took it to the edge.

Containing interviews with original Slits musicians Viv Albertine, Tessa Pollitt and drummer Paloma McLardy (Palmolive), friends and other musicians, such as Sex Pistols’ Paul Cook, the piece is a compelling look at an era and a rock group not well known to many of us.

The making of this movie was instigated by the band’s iconic singer Ari Up during The Slits’ 2006/2007 reunion tour, but after her unexpected death from cancer in 2010, filming stopped until it was taken over by Badgley. Up’s motivation for making the piece was the fact that this band was groundbreaking, setting a precedent; yet after they broke up in 1982 it was completely forgotten  – what she called “unacceptable erasure”.

Badgley was inspired by the desire to ensure the story of these trailblazing women was not left untold. Although he was initially worried about being a man filming a documentary about feminists, he realised that such an inhibition would be just another form of gender bias, since feminism concerns both women and men.

Pioneers in the melding of dub, reggae and punk, The Slits defined what was called “Punky Reggae”, and were inspirations for future artists like Sonic Youth, Gossip and Sleater-Kinney.

These raging feminist warriors caused outrage – just the name of their band was anarchistic and considered obscene. They altered the still conservative, male-dominated British cultural setting of the 1970s, irreverently smashing boundaries. “The first one through the wall gets bloody” is a phrase that, in Badgley’s eyes, sums up the spirit of The Slits.

A fascinating exposé of a raucous, rebellious, groundbreaking female rock group, hitherto obscured in history, Hear to Be Heard: The Story of the Slits is an intriguing, thought-provoking revelation.

Catherine Sedgwick

Here to Be Heard: The Story of The Slits does not have a UK release date yet.

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.

Watch the trailer for Here to Be Heard: The Story of The Slits here:

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London Film Festival 2017: Le Grand Méchant Renard et autres contes (The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales) | Review http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/14/london-film-festival-2017-le-grand-mechant-renard-et-autres-contes-the-big-bad-fox-and-other-tales-review/ Sat, 14 Oct 2017 11:46:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314226 Imagine the scene. A pig, a duck and a rabbit are racing around the countryside with a baby in their arms, fighting over which direction to take. In a new animated picture from Patrick Imbert and Benjamin Renner, this fantasy plot has come to life.

Adapted from Renner’s books of the same title, this feature film consists of three acts, each telling a different and unique tale of its own. The movie is set in the country pastures of France, yet narrated by the cast of characters as if they are performing on a stage in front of the audience. From a delivery of a baby because the stork was too lazy to saving Christmas, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales collates numerous characters and personalities and incorporates them into simple storylines with endless relatable and entertaining elements. Each adventure leaves the viewer laughing themselves silly, whilst also including an intense plot line that will leave us guessing the result right up to the end.

The French picture appeals to audiences of all ages, with adult references and themes blended into lighthearted stories about talking farm animals. The mix of blunt humour with slapstick narratives makes The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales a very pleasurable watch, allowing us to sink back and envelope ourselves in a childhood fantasia. Playful themes, colourful imagery and a joyous soundtrack add to the overall gratifying experience, with characters each owning their own unique quirks that contribute a different dimension to each tale. The wonderful thing about this movie is that no matter how predictable the stories may be, there are always sudden twists and turns that develop the characters further whilst throwing us off the sense of direction.

Short and digestible, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales is a charming French picture made up of an enjoyable series of short episodes. With a Looney Tunes feel to it, the film holds a sentimental value for the older viewer, whilst also offering fresh content to those of a more tender age. Plus, it is quite simply very humorous!

Guy Lambert

Le Grand Méchant Renard et autres contes (The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales) does not have a UK release date yet.

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.

Watch the trailer for Le Grand Méchant Renard et autres contes (The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales) here:

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London Film Festival 2017: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri | Review http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/14/london-film-festival-2017-three-billboards-outside-ebbing-missouri-review/ Sat, 14 Oct 2017 09:00:15 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314723 In Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Frances McDormand gives a phenomenal performance, so powerful and convincing it would be impossible not to expect at least a nomination from the Academy next February. Martin McDonagh’s latest picture is a step (or two) up from Seven Psychopaths and In Bruges; the “smart, razor-sharp black comedy” label doesn’t fit any longer. While it’s not a complete departure from his previous work, Three Billboards is profoundly dramatic, and cinematically bordering on the epic.

Mildred (McDormand) is a mother who lost her daughter (Kathryn Newton) in the most horrific way: she was raped and murdered. The case gets stuck and, to draw the police force’s attention, she rents out three huge billboards outside Ebbing to deliver a daring message to the sheriff, William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). As the tension rises, the town’s violence and racism awaken.

McDonagh will – and should be – praised for the near-perfect script: a series of dialogues that seamlessly click and make the audience feel not only engaged but also clever. The film is solid and striking as much as its protagonist is; it’s a very American story that anyone can relate to, with Western-like confrontational moments between the raging mother and the uncooperative people who live around her. Inspired by a similar array of billboards he saw 20 years ago while travelling through the US, the British filmmaker had McDormand in mind while he wrote the script, which marks the first time he has a female lead for one of his pictures.

Woody Harrelson’s acting and accent naturally belong to this “small town America” realm, however, apart from the obvious protagonist, it’s Sam Rockwell who steals the show with his obnoxious character whose path will challenge and impress the movie goers. It’s not all acting and script though, Three Billboards is directed with the touch of an auteur but the consistency of a mainstream director. Basically, it’s a film that found the balance.

Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is released nationwide on 12th January 2018.

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the event visit the official BFI website here.

Watch the trailer for Three Billboards here:

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London Film Festival 2017: The Forgiven | Review http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/13/london-film-festival-2017-the-forgiven-review/ Fri, 13 Oct 2017 20:40:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314232 “So many secrets, it’s like a cancer.” Powerful words from Archbishop Desmond Tutu that aptly summarise a country on its knees in the 1990s. At the end of the 20th century, South Africa was emerging from 43 years of Apartheid, a national system that involved high level racial segregation and discrimination, mainly to the disadvantage of Black ethnic groups. In the years that led up to the turn of the century, mass change was occurring in the state. One Nelson Mandela was leading the country with the backing of the African National Congress Party and Archbishop Desmond Tutu chairing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an organisation that offered amnesty and forgiveness for those individuals who confessed about committing racial crimes. It is at this moment The Forgiven begins.

It’s 1993. Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Forest Whitaker) has been summoned to the cell block of race hate murderer Piet Bloomfeld (Eric Bana), who has requested the minister’s presence in an attempt to seek a pardon for the crimes of his past. Confessing that the prisoner’s offences are too severe to be granted forgiveness from the state, Tutu offers the convict a chance to record a detailed confession that will bring justice to the families who lost loved ones at his hand. Initially refusing, Bloomfeld turns the Archbishop away after explaining to him why he hates those of differing ethnicities, and returns to his cell to face his own battles against resident gangs in the prison. In captivating scenes of dialogue between the two men, a narrative begins to emerge about the scars under Bloomfeld’s skin and how Tutu can offer a path to redemption whilst interpreting the racial misconceptions in the minds of half a nation.

In a picture that leaves no stone unturned when it comes to amplifying the genuine racial division and hatred in South Africa, both Whitaker and Bana give outstanding performances of the highest calibre. The level of accuracy in the depiction of white stereotypes towards South African natives is overwhelmingly shocking, and Bana delivers a chilling interpretation of an individual fuelled purely by hatred and superiority of the white man. He carries a fearful and powerful aura around him, even though he is the one in the chains, and when accompanied by the calming intelligence of Whitaker’s Desmond Tutu, the pair exude a beautiful, dynamic chemistry that creates such a meaningful feature film.

The movie is fleshed out with a side plot focusing on internal prison politics, and along with flashbacks to Bloomfeld’s past The Forgiven maintains a wonderful fluidity and pacing. With an educational and thought-provoking script, director Roland Joffé and writer Michael Ashton have created a stunning piece of film that shows a visionary perspective on how to tell stories that demand a platform. The Forgiven really is an emotional masterpiece that will bring a tear to the eye as the final credits role, delivering a poignant message that will resonate deep within in our minds and shake our moral compasses to the core.

Guy Lambert

The Forgiven does not have a UK release date yet.

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.

Watch the trailer for The Forgiven here:

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London Film Festival 2017: 78/52 | Review http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/13/london-film-festival-2017-7852-review/ Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:12:00 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314171 The screeching reek! reek! reek! The shadow of a kitchen knife. A naked woman in the shower. All were ingrained into film culture within only three minutes, 78 set-ups and 52 cuts. Everyone possesses a scrap of knowledge about the making of Psycho – knifing melons for the sound effect, chocolate syrup used as blood etc. But documentary filmmaker Alexandre O Philippe goes beyond – delving into the history, the context, and a frame-by-frame analysis of the most famous scene in cinema.

Unlike most documentaries dealing with filmic analysis, 78/52 is entertaining. It’s not only for movie nerds who’ve never seen real sunlight. The project takes its time before reaching a full-on discussion about the shower scene – preparing the analysis with the history, Hitchcock’s personal intentions (never making them clear), and its impact on movie culture. The documentary is largely guided by sharp, black-and-white interviews with the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Guillermo del Toro, renowned film editor Walter Murch, and many others (including critics and academics). They offer analyses steeped in intellectual discussion, but the viewer never feels stupid.

The film excels in its detailed comparisons with earlier movies and the countless pictures inspired by the shower scene – bringing it right up to the modern day with examples like Game of Thrones and Scream Queens. Although the influence is obvious, Philippe enables the audience to realise the vast scope of its influence on cinema culture, and culture full stop.

There are some superfluous reconstructions, particularly at the beginning, that don’t really suit the rest of the documentary. The interviews and archive footage are enough; these reenactments build up the story of the shower scene, but come across as cheesy.

78/52 is a thrilling and intelligent essay into Hitchcock’s most infamous sequence. There are many laughs about the peculiar production stories, as well as first reactions to the scene from the interviewees. Philippe moves away from the solemn intellectualism of Mark Cousins (The Story of Film) and Kent Jones (Hitchcock/Truffaut) and proves that in-depth film analysis can be great fun – it’s not just an activity for the devoted movie buff. Philippe’s audience is engrossed – there is so much to know. And like the swirling blood in the plughole, they suck it all in.

Euan Franklin

78/52 is released nationwide on 3rd November 2017.

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.

Watch the trailer for 78/52 here:

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London Film Festival 2017: Downsizing | Review http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/10/13/london-film-festival-2017-downsizing-review/ Fri, 13 Oct 2017 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?p=314553 Four years after the release of Nebraska, Alexander Payne’s comeback picture has been chosen to open the 74th Venice Film Festival and now is presented in London. The film, starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig, begins as a sci-fi: a Norwegian lab develops a process to shrink human beings (and any other life form) to a staggering size of five inches. This would – in theory – solve all the problems related to overpopulation in an inclusive way. In the US, however, this process opens up the opportunity for people like Paul Safranek (Damon) – an occupational therapist who dropped out from med school to look after his sick mother and is still paying off his student loan – to fulfil their ambitions: “small people” live in special communities such as Leisureland, they do not pay taxes and, because everything is so tiny, they can afford the life they couldn’t even dream of before. Diamond jewellery sells for less than $100, mansions for a few thousand with every luxury benefit. Paul’s and Audrey’s (Kristen Wiig) $150k equity translates to over $12m. It’s the American dream.

Despite the sci-fi premise, Payne delights us with his social satire and dark humour. He shows us that America is so disenchanted with the system that people are prepared to do anything to improve their status quo – even risking their lives. In fact, once they sign up for the bizarre downsizing project, among the other things the couple finds out, there’s a chance of 1/225,000 to die during the process. The shrinking sequence, which is performed to large groups of people simultaneously, is funny and a caricature of any opportunity designed for the masses. Things – naturally – do not turn out for the best; the miniature life ends up being less comforting and more boring than his previous life. Until Paul meets Gong Jiang (Hong Chau) and Dusan (Christoph Waltz) who bring colour to his pale existence.

Matt Damon doesn’t fail at embodying the average man who suddenly, on the verge of a breakdown, goes for crazy, feel-good actions. While Waltz is hilarious and has tremendous screen presence, it’s Chau who is the real star of Downsizing. Her character – a Vietnamese activist sentenced to shrinking, who then illegally migrated to the US – is cantankerous but sweet and heartwarming at the same time. The harsher she is in her relationship with Paul, the more she is likeable. There are also cameos from Laura Dern, Jason Sudeikis and Neil Patrick Harris worthy of a mention.

Due to the number of issues at stake – economic depression, personal failure, love, climate change, Apocalypse – Downsizing probably isn’t Alexander Payne’s best-crafted picture; it ticks, however, all the boxes of the director’s filmmaking style, just on a whole new level. Funnily enough, to go bigger he had to go smaller. The irony was and still remains one of Payne’s trademarks.

Filippo L’Astorina, the editor

Downsizing is released nationwide on 19th January 2018.

Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.

For further information about the event visit the official BFI website here.

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