Dénes Nagy on Natural Light

When it comes to film adaptations, directors and screenwriters sometimes opt to take only the barebones of a source material’s premise in order to explore their own thematic or narrative interests; Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 adaptation of Michel Faber’s 2000 sci-fi novel Under the Skin is one recent notable example. But it’s likely few adaptations could be called as loose as that of Natural Light from Hungarian writer-director Dénes Nagy, based on Pál Závada’s 2014 novel of the same name. The reason: it’s based on roughly one per cent of the book…

Full interview for Curzon Journal

Army of Thieves (Matthias Schweighöfer, 2021)

A non-horror prequel to a horror movie, where zombies are relegated to news reports and dreams, Army of Thieves is a film where the logic behind its existence is ultimately more interesting to think about than anything presented on screen. That said, this spinoff of Army of the Dead is somewhat fascinating as an example of playing in the Zack Snyder sandbox without the same stylistic imprint…

Full review for SciFiNow

Thieves like us: Zack Snyder and co. on their Army of the Dead prequel

It’s unusual enough for a prequel to arrive barely five months after the original film, yet alone for it to be in a different genre. Such is the case with Army of Thieves, a non-horror spin-off of Zack Snyder’s zombie action movie Army of the Dead, greenlit and shot before the first film was even released by Netflix. “Because it’s a different genre than Army of the Dead,” producer Snyder tells SciFiNow, “it gave the film a freshness and uniqueness I think transcends the normal traps you can get into with a sequel or prequel…”

Full interview for SciFiNow

Ten Must-See Films from This Year’s London Film Festival

Although presenting a smaller programme than found in any recent pre-pandemic instalment, the 65th London Film Festival still offered up hundreds of new features and shorts, panels, restorations of classics, VR works, and big screen previews of prestige TV series (e.g., season 3 of Succession). It was a relative return to normalcy, made most evident by the plentiful red-carpet ceremonies and almost every programmed feature getting screened across the central London venues. That said, the increased accessibility of last year’s smaller, largely digital edition wasn’t completely abandoned: a decent amount of the features could be rented digitally from anywhere in the UK. And select cinemas in other British cities had their own screenings of some of the higher-profile titles.

In alphabetical order, here are ten of the best titles from LFF 2021 worth looking out for; some on their way to screens big and small soon…

Full feature for AnOther

Martyrs Lane (Ruth Platt, 2021)

The spectre of unprocessed grief looms large in writer-director Ruth Platt’s Martyrs Lane, an effective British ghost story with religious undertones. Told almost entirely from a child’s point-of-view, it sees a devout minister’s daughter invite a believed angelic presence into her family’s home, only for the guest’s intentions to gradually turn sinister…

Full review for Sight & Sound

Wildfire: Cathy Brady and Nora-Jane Noone on their Irish border drama

The title of Cathy Brady’s debut feature, Wildfire, references how rumours and malice spread, but also the intensity of potential damage once a dangerous spark is lit.

Inseparable sisters raised in a small town on the Irish border, Lauren and Kelly faced a devastating loss as children with the mysterious death of their mother, their father having also previously perished in a fatal bombing. Now adults, their bond is about to intensify further as the spectre of mental illness that surrounded their late mother remains thick in the air, thanks to town gossip that’s never really faded. 

After a year of being missing, presumed dead, Kelly (Nika McGuigan, who sadly died at 33 from cancer during post-production) returns to Northern Ireland amid Brexit border uncertainties on the news. Her own erratic and distressing behaviour chips away at the façade of normality that Lauren (Nora-Jane Noone) is barely maintaining.

Talking to us ahead of the film’s UK and Irish release, writer-director Brady and star Noone discuss the unique way in which their drama came together…

Full interview for the BFI

The Great Yokai War: Guardians (Takashi Miike, 2021)

Sixteen years and over 30 feature credits ago, Takashi Miike directed The Great Yokai War, one of the prolific Japanese filmmaker’s earliest forays into family-oriented fantasy. The film’s narrative incorporated various creatures from Japanese mythology, known as yōkai, whereby a modern boy is chosen to team up with them to destroy evil forces.

Now, Miike has directed a belated follow-up, The Great Yokai War: Guardians – although the standalone story by Yûsuke Watanabe (a veteran of Dragon Ball Z and Attack on Titan films) is really more a spiritual sequel, requiring no real understanding of its predecessor. This wildly entertaining fantasy adventure gets by on exuberant direction, game performances from a large ensemble, and lavish production design and makeup work. For a sense of the aesthetic, imagine a mix of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy films and Clive Barker’s Nightbreed

Full review for Little White Lies

“I Feel Completely Vindicated Now the Film’s Been Made”: Michael Caton-Jones on Our Ladies’s 20+-Year Journey to the Screen

Things were going well for Scottish filmmaker Michael Caton-Jones at the start of 2020. The director of Scandal (1989), This Boys Life (1993) and Rob Roy (1995), among many others, Caton-Jones was preparing for the theatrical release of Our Ladies, a passion project he’d been trying to get made for over 20 years. It had received its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019, where it “played out of this world”, in his words, to an audience of roughly 800 attendees in its first public screening. Flying relatively under the radar in a stacked program largely comprised of Cannes, TIFF and Venice titles, Our Ladies received strong early notices from big publications that did cover it from the festival, including a rave write-up from Sight & Sound and a five-star review from The Times. Following a Scottish premiere for the comedic drama at the Glasgow Film Festival in late February, the movie was scheduled for a saturation release at the end of April.

And then most of the world’s theaters closed indefinitely…

Full interview for Filmmaker

Five of the best films from the 74th Locarno Film Festival

Under the lead of new festival director Giona A Nazzaro, this year’s Locarno Film Festival seems to have had a generally mixed reception from those on the ground in Switzerland. Some long-time attendees have been particularly critical of the 74th edition’s heavier incorporation of genre filmmaking in the programme, in the context of a festival generally lauded for premiering some of the hardest-to-classify films around. That said, Locarno has hardly turned into Fantastic Fest, and many of those genre films were far from formulaic filler. Here are five feature highlights from this year’s edition…

Full feature for Little White Lies

Writing by Josh Slater-Williams