Junk Head (Takahide Hori, 2017)

As behind-the-scenes footage at its end shows, Junk Head is a true labour of love for Takahide Hori, who directs, writes and edits this stop motion animation, as well as voice work, composing the score and most of the other odd jobs.

A funny and both cute and creepy dystopian tale, it’s a truly unique vision, though for a taste of its style, imagine if Henry Selick or the Quay brothers made a film designed by Clive Barker, influenced by slapstick…

Full review for SciFiNow

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Mom and Dad (Brian Taylor, 2017)

For fans of a certain brand of cinematic maximalism, it’s been much too long – six years, in fact – since the directing duo known as Neveldine/Taylor (the Crank series) brought to the screen a dose of their signature high concept madness. Mark Neveldine went solo with religious horror The Vatican Tapes in 2015, but Brian Taylor’s partner-free return to the directing chair, Mom and Dad, is much more in line with the duo’s earlier collaborations.

And what a high concept he has here. A mass hysteria of unknown origin breaks out across the USA, causing parents to turn violently on their children. Not all children, but specifically their own kids; unless one is actively trying to prohibit their attempts at murder, a rampaging parent will generally leave any young person who’s not their progeny well alone.

It’s George A. Romero meets the modern family, and, crucially, Taylor (also the writer) skips any gradual escalation for the chaos. Hostility is always at the heart of the family unit, it’s just usually covered up with a veneer of performative benevolence…

Full review for The Skinny

Walking Out (Alex Smith/Andrew J. Smith, 2017)

Walking Out is a two-hander between a father and son pair, but the real star is the Montana landscape. Co-writers and directors (and real-life brothers) Alex and Andrew Smith capture the breathtaking beauty of the mountains in winter in a fashion that would surely satisfy the Montana tourism board, were it not for the fact this is also a harrowing tale of survival, after a run-in with a bear leads to a string of disasters for its protagonists. This is less The Revenant, though, and more The Reverence, as a deep respect for both nature and nurture proves vital to making it out alive…

Full review for VODzilla.co

120 BPM (Robin Campillo, 2017)

Robin Campillo’s novelistic 120 BPM (or 120 Beats per Minute) is a vibrant, sprawling portrait of life, death, love and politics that frequently bends narrative and form without compromising any of its emotional power.

Set in the early 1990s, the film follows various figures of the Parisian branch of activist group ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). It largely hones in on new member Nathan (Arnaud Valois), who is HIV-negative, and his burgeoning romance with Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), an HIV-positive member of the organisation and one of the mouthier, more radically inclined individuals…

Full review for The Skinny

Glasgow Film Festival 2018: 10 films to look out for

Running between 21 February and 4 March, the 14th annual Glasgow Film Festival opens with the UK premiere of Wes Anderson’s animation Isle of Dogs. It later closes with the world premiere of Nae Pasaran, Felipe Bustos Sierra’s documentary about Scottish factory workers’ act of solidarity with the oppressed people of Chile under the Pinochet dictatorship. In between, there are hundreds of events and screenings to choose from.

It can all be a bit overwhelming, so here are some highlights from the programme that still have tickets left…

Full feature for the BFI

Thoroughbreds (Cory Finley, 2017)

A muscular debut from writer-director Cory Finley, Thoroughbreds is a sharp social satire that blends dark comedy with quasi-horror flourishes, while also serving a portrait of female friendship that’s strangely touching. It’s like if American Psycho and Heavenly Creatures had a beautiful sociopath child…

Full review for The Skinny

Meet Daniela Vega, the trans star of ‘A Fantastic Woman’

A recurring issue when it comes to representation in cinema is allowing characters from certain minority groups to actually be played by actors from those groups. When it comes to stories concerning trans women, it’s still often the case that cis men will be cast – think Eddie Redmayne being called upon to play the historically major trans figure Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl. In the case of Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, an additional insult came from the star’s obliviousness in discussing his role as a trans woman that, disappointingly, got him an Oscar.

When Hollywood power players do comment on the lack of appropriate casting for particular groups, one common excuse is that there aren’t any or enough prominent performers from those groups with whom they can get films financed. This ignores the point that you can’t make movie stars out of, say, trans women unless you give them that chance. Over in Chile, that’s just what director Sebastián Lelio (2013’s Gloria) has gone and done with A Fantastic Woman, which features newcomer Daniela Vega, a 28-year-old Chilean actor and singer, in the lead role as a trans woman character…

Full interview for The Skinny

Writing by Josh Slater-Williams