Tag Archives: Feature

IberoDocs: 2022 festival preview

As with basically every UK arts festival in the first five months of 2021, the eighth edition of IberoDocs – Scotland’s main showcase for documentary works from Spanish, Portuguese and Latin-American filmmakers – went fully online in light of lockdowns. For the ninth edition, in-person events in Edinburgh and Glasgow are back on the cards, but lessons from last time haven’t been completely abandoned.

Between 6 and 10 April there will be screenings at those cities’ participating venues, while between 11 and 17 April a selection of the festival programme will move online and be available across the UK. There’ll be one online-exclusive in the form of Bolingo: The Forest of Love – a documentary exploring the journey undertaken by women migrants from the heart of Africa to northern Morocco, searching for the ‘European dream’. Additional accessibility will also come via a number of post-film Q&As featuring BSL interpretation…

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10 films to watch out for at Glasgow Film Festival 2022

New Claire Denis, new Terence Davies and a spotlight on the first woman to direct a film noir. This year’s Glasgow Film Festival offers plenty to get your teeth into…

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Where to begin with Shinji Somai

Critic Shigehiko Hasumi once suggested that Japanese filmmaker Shinji Somai – who died young aged 53 in 2001, after directing 13 features – “is the missing link between the end of the studio system of Japan and the rise of independent filmmaking”. In their compassionate depictions of loneliness and alienation, you can certainly see the influence of Somai’s films in the works of several younger directors who followed, including Shunji Iwai (All About Lily Chou-Chou) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse).

So why is Somai relatively unknown in the west? It’s all down to the mysteries of international distribution. For whatever reason, none of Somai’s films got released in the UK, with opportunities to see them relegated to festival appearances or one-off repertory screenings. Even a particularly high interest in contemporary Japanese cinema in Britain in the early 2000s – the time of the J-horror boom – didn’t result in distribution for Somai’s final features, Wait and See (1998) and Kaza-hana (2000).

In recent years, the Edinburgh International Film Festival showcased a full retrospective of his work in 2012, while Moving (1993) was part of the touring programme in support of Mark Cousins’ A Story of Children and Film (2013). At the time of writing, we’ve just seen the first ever home-video outing for any of Somai’s features in the west: Arrow Video’s Blu-ray of Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (1981). It’s hopefully a sign of good things to come, as Somai’s CV includes some of the finest Japanese films of the 1980s and 90s…

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25 years on, Mars Attacks! is the ultimate Main Character Syndrome comedy

When re-evaluating critical or commercial disappointments, it can happen that artists’ work goes underappreciated because of trends and tastes at the time of its original release, only for the film, album, or artwork to age like fine wine as the world changes its sensibilities. Case in point: Tim Burton’s gleefully chaotic Mars Attacks!, in which humanity at large is incredibly stupid and short-sighted in the face of a potential extinction-level event. Sound familiar?

Mars Attacks! opened to largely middling reviews in December 1996 and commercially bombing domestically. It was unfairly and unfavourably compared by many to Independence Day. The two projects have little in common beyond alien invasion plots, big ensembles, and the same year of release. Independence Day had opened five months earlier, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of all time. It was a no-win situation for Mars Attacks! opening that Christmas season, coming across like a rushed, snarky response to its supposed counterpart film, despite the established (and then still fresh) brand of Burton and a much more star-studded cast…

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An Introduction to Indie Film Darling Adrienne Shelly

“I was going for a tone where you can find what’s funny in what’s painful, which has always been my kind of strategy anyway in life,” says Adrienne Shelly through archive footage in a new HBO documentary, Adrienne (2021).

An actor, screenwriter and director, Shelly broke through in the early 90s as the luminous lead of indie maverick Hal Hartley’s first two features: The Unbelievable Truth (1989) and Trust (1990), which were key early texts in a wave of independent films that helped define the stylistic directions of a considerable number of American movies that decade…

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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…

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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…

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10 to see at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2021

Moving, for the time being, from June to late August, this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival is also a shorter edition than in pre-pandemic times – a week-long affair running from 18 to 25 August.

As with last autumn’s BFI London Film Festival, EIFF will also be a locally physical and nationally digital hybrid. Unlike that first coronavirus-era edition of LFF, though, every feature programmed is scheduled for at least one theatrical screening at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse or Festival Theatre, with some getting two to three. For those outside of the Scottish capital, most – though not all – of the line-up will also be available to rent digitally through Filmhouse at Home…

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10 great horror sequels

One is the loneliest number in the world of horror movies. As cinemas welcome A Quiet Place Part II, we celebrate some of the best first sequels…

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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

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