Tag Archives: Feature

‘Grease’ at 40: A first-time look at a pop culture classic

We all have our blind spots when it comes to cinema – and that’s a good thing. Being passionate about film is being open to discovery and constantly looking to fill in gaps in one’s knowledge. But when you get to a certain age and also happen to work in film journalism, not having seen certain pop culture touchstones starts to stick out. Until very recently, my biggest blind spot – at least in terms of a film it seemed everyone had seen at least once – was Grease.

And yet, through cultural osmosis, I’ve always felt like I have seen Grease. Not only did I know most of the songs, I knew most of the words to most of the songs. What I didn’t know was what a peculiar musical it is. Take the title track, for instance, which plays over the opening credits and is one of the few songs I hadn’t heard before. One of four original songs written for the film (this one by Barry Gibb), the disco number feels surprisingly at odds with the late-’50s/early ‘60s style of the rest of the soundtrack. It’s a catchy tune, but seems as though it’s been included merely to forge a connection between the film and star John Travolta’s earlier Bee Gees-scored hit, Saturday Night Fever. It’s a curious identity crisis moment, but then perhaps it’s appropriate given the narrative arcs of the film’s leading pair…

Full feature for Little White Lies

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Best from the West: new Scottish features at Glasgow Film Festival 2018

This year’s Glasgow Film Festival was hit by an unprecedented series of setbacks, largely thanks to the combined efforts of Storm Emma and the cold wave dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’. Across three days in its second week, dozens of screenings and events were cancelled due to snow-related safety risks, while much of the talent scheduled to appear, as well as attendees not staying in Glasgow, were unable to reach the city…

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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…

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Eight films to watch before you see ‘The Shape of Water’

Combining fantastical romance with Cold War intrigue, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is both a loving tribute to all manner of movies and a swipe at societal woes – more so bigotry and the tyranny of toxic white male heteronormativity than disapproval of romancing an amphibian.

Here’s our guide to some films worth seeking out before – or after – seeing The Shape of Water: ones del Toro has cited as influences, a few explicitly referenced in the film, and the odd one that shares something of the same spirit…

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Why I love Nicolas Cage’s performance in ‘Bringing Out the Dead’

Released in 1999 to generally positive reviews but a poor box office, Bringing Out the Dead remains one of Martin Scorsese’s most overlooked films. His fourth collaboration with screenwriter Paul Schrader (here adapting a novel by Joe Connelly) acts as a fusion of the pair’s earlier efforts Taxi Driver and The Last Temptation of Christ. It is a frequently horrific odyssey through nocturnal New York, tinged with a desperate grasp at grace from a man teetering on the line between life and whatever lies beyond.

Instead of Christ, though, Bringing Out the Dead’s hero is Frank Pierce, a graveyard shift paramedic played by Nicolas Cage, an actor who probably qualifies as a deity to certain subsets of online fandom. The film follows Frank over three consecutive nights, at a point where he’s not managed to save any dying patients for months. During these hectic nights, he befriends the daughter (Patricia Arquette) of a heart attack victim he’s brought in and works in a two-man ambulance team with a slew of different partners, each as unhinged as him but in their own ways…

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Scotland Loves Anime 2017: Preview

Each year, Scotland Loves Anime gives animation fans a chance to see an eclectic selection of Japanese fare on the big screen. This year marks the eighth instalment of the festival at Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, with tours across additional locations in Scotland to follow.

Though anime on the big screen in the UK is becoming more and more common thanks to the work of distributors like Anime Limited and National Amusements (both were behind box office hit Your Name, amongst others of late), many a notable feature slips through the gaps. As such, this year’s Scotland Loves Anime line-up is an appealing mix of wide-ranging titles for both hardcore enthusiasts and the anime novice; from European or UK premieres of new franchise entries to influential classics worth seeing big…

Full feature for The Skinny

Five great British road movies

More than most genres, the road movie would seem to offer an easy route (sorry) for budding screenwriters. Though the individual style of a given film will differ, the basic narrative structure largely tends to stay the same. As such, it’s a little strange that the pool of notable British road movies is relatively small, especially when compared to the output of North America and mainland Europe – hell, Wim Wenders has made several entries on both continents.

Maybe it’s because the UK’s dual carriageways and motorways lack a certain cinematic appeal evidently in abundance in those other territories. Maybe it’s because few British road trips last more than a couple of hours, if you don’t mess them up. Maybe the M1 just isn’t sexy enough.

Whatever the reason, new Scottish road movie Moon Dogs, concerning a young trio journeying from Shetland to Glasgow, subsequently stands out a bit in the Brit-film marketplace. To mark its release, we decided to highlight five other British road movies, excluding documentaries, that offer either a unique spin on the genre or at least an endearing set of travelling companions…

Full feature for The Skinny