Category Archives: Features

20 years on, Josie and the Pussycats is a meta, zany pop time capsule

Time has been kind to Josie and the Pussycats. Long before the fictional rock band featured in TV’s Riverdale, their Archie Comics source material was brought to the big screen in 2001. Writer-director duo Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan (Can’t Hardly Wait) were at the helm, with Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson and Tara Reid cast as band members Josie, Valerie and Melody, respectively, and the glorious scenery-chewing pair of Parker Posey and Alan Cumming as antagonists. But there was a twist.

While operating perfectly well as a sincerely heartfelt tale of friendship in the face of growing fame, the film is also a feature-length jab at the industries behind its existence, skewering consumerism, subliminal advertising, and the very notion of adapting a comic into a movie. Josie is an indelible early 2001 time capsule, but it also feels of a piece with the later meta stylings of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, whose 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie also walk a fine line between enthusiastic adaptation of an intellectual property and more cynically questioning their very existence. Comparing it to closer contemporaries, it’s something like Spice World meets Zoolander

Full feature for Dazed

Sex, Magic and Anarchy: Ten Highlights From Berlin Film Festival 2021

Traditionally the biggest European film festival in the calendar year’s first quarter, the Berlinale unsurprisingly had to shift to an online-only model for its early March incarnation in 2021; one that was only open to industry professionals and buyers, plus journalists reporting on the premieres. (The organisers are planning to host a later in-person repeat of the programme in the summer so that the public can experience the films on the big screen, vaccine rollout permitting).

Nevertheless, it was an impressive line-up. Although much smaller than in a more normal edition, this year’s programme has widely been deemed one of the most exciting in terms of overall quality. In alphabetical order, here are ten of the best features we caught that you should keep on your radar, some of which already have UK distribution lined up…

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A Socially Distanced Berlinale’s Socially Distanced Films

A year on from the World Health Organisation declaring the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic, film production has continued across the globe with increased safety measures in place; for shoots interrupted last March and later resumed, or productions that had their start delayed finally beginning filming. We’ve also had projects that were not only conceived during early lockdown stages (depending on where the filmmakers have been based), but also those that have already gone into production since. Some have even managed to be released already, albeit mostly directly to streaming services or video on demand in light of the crisis facing theatrical exhibition in a majority of the world’s major markets…

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Ten of the Best Films to Stream from Glasgow Film Festival 2021

The 17th Glasgow Film Festival has had to go fully online thanks to lockdown measures but, on the plus side, this model means that you can catch some of the best new films from around the world from the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the UK. And though the selection is a lot smaller than a traditional in-person edition in the Scottish city, the curation remains strong. In alphabetical order, here are ten of the best films you can rent as part of this year’s GFF, which runs from 24 February to 7 March…

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What to watch at the Glasgow Film Festival 2021

Last year’s Glasgow Film Festival was one of the final film festivals in the world to proceed as planned as an in-person event, concluding just 3 days before the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic. In the 11 months since, British film festivals have shifted to largely online models, with some physical cinema arrangements depending on their timing in relation to eased restrictions. 

GFF 2021 – taking place from 24 February to 7 March – was planned to be a locally physical and nationally digital hybrid in the spirit of last October’s London Film Festival. In light of current lockdown measures that hasn’t been possible, yet Glasgow’s now fully online programme remains an exciting prospect. The selection may be much smaller in quantity compared with a traditional edition, but the quality in the curation is still there in spades…

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Where to stream the best Scottish films

From homegrown filmmakers who’ve gone on to international acclaim to features that make evocative use of its towns, cities, communities and landscapes, Scotland’s cinematic output has always been particularly rich. Excluding movies that you can currently only watch digitally by renting or buying them (sorry to The Wicker Man, Whisky Galore! and most of Bill Forsyth’s efforts), here are some of the best Scottish films you can stream right now…

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Fokus: Films from Germany 2020 Preview

As with almost every film festival in 2020 since the start of March, Fokus: Films from Germany, presented via a partnership between the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, is moving online for its sixth edition. The now fully-digital festival, running from 3 to 17 December, will be shorter and smaller than in previous years, moving from its usual late-November start. But despite the (hopefully) one-off format that won’t involve any cinema screens, the event should still offer an exciting snapshot of Germany’s contemporary film scene…

Full feature for The Skinny

Tape Crusader: The Bizarre Brilliance of ‘Batman Forever’’s Soundtrack

In Spin magazine interview marking the 20th anniversary of his band’s 1995 album Clouds Taste Metallic, The Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne was asked about their involvement with the soundtrack for Batman Forever, an album described by interviewer Dan Weiss as, “Even by ‘90s standards… one of the weirdest batches of artists.” Coyne – reportedly not a fan of the finished film itself, though he enjoyed his group’s aural appearance – had this to say:

“I think it set up a blueprint that you could really have an interesting soundtrack that really doesn’t have that much to do with the movie and people would accept it. It was just a record that had another branding that went with it. I thought that was really a cool move, that it didn’t always just have to be a group of popular artists doing something to promote the movie. It really was a weird mixtape collection that had a movie with it too.”

Wayne Coyne, The Flaming Lips

A packed film soundtrack of popular music wasn’t a concept born in the 1990s, nor is it something that’s completely died out since, but various factors have led to that decade being the peak ‘music from the motion picture’ era, and how Coyne describes the Batman Forever soundtrack is reflective of why. And in the year 2020, Batman Forever’s album stands out as one of its decade’s most emblematic musical artefacts for how it both followed trends and also bucked the system in a way that arguably influenced the construction of soundtracks going forward; Entertainment Weekly ran a non-review article the summer of release on the extent to which the soundtrack was an outlier among its field…

Full article for The Companion

Ten of the Best Films From London Film Festival 2020

The 64th London Film Festival concluded this past weekend, taking place both online and in select cinemas across the UK in light of these unprecedented times, offering roughly a fifth of the usual number of features presented in a normal year, alongside shorts, experimental and VR works, and a couple of TV series previews. The festival ended with showings of Francis Lee’s period lesbian romance Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, in hundreds of cinemas nationwide, while Thomas Vinterberg’s drama Another Round won the inaugural LFF Audience Award.

Here are ten of the best titles from LFF 2020 worth looking out for in the future; some on their way to cinemas or digital soon, others further off…

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