Tag Archives: Film

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…

Full feature for AnOther

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…

Full feature for Frameland

Limbo (Soi Cheang, 2021)

Ben Sharrock’s 2020 Limbo concerns refugees waiting for asylum approval while housed on a remote Scottish island, the film’s title referring to the logistical circumstances setting its plot in motion. In contrast, Soi Cheang’s 2021 Limbo allows for some interpretation with its choice of title.

Presented in particularly bewitching black-and-white, this grisly Cantonese noir flirts with various genres and is full of characters dealing with very different forms of abandonment, each waiting to move on with their lives. And spinning off from the title’s biblical connotations, there’s one lead who’s essentially made to be a martyr, then facing a form of Hell on Earth…

Full review for Little White Lies

Tides (Tim Fehlbaum, 2021)

A German-Swiss co-production with Roland Emmerich among its executive producers, Tides is an atmospheric sci-fi anchored by an engaging performance from Nora Arnezeder. Although computer-generated vistas are employed for the presentation of a dystopian Earth, Tim Fehlbaum’s film benefits greatly from the tactility of the sets and real-world locations he employs, particularly the mudflats of Northern Germany…

Full review for Little White Lies

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…

Full feature for AnOther

Creation Stories (Nick Moran, 2021)

The spirit of executive producer Danny Boyle looms large over Creation Stories, a biopic of Scottish businessman Alan McGee, whose influential Creation Records label launched such acts as Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and Oasis. Trainspotting seems a conscious influence on director Nick Moran’s film, from the editing style and frenetic pacing to Irvine Welsh being one of its screenwriters. The presence of Ewen Bremner as McGee only hammers home the connection.

But there’s another filmmaker looming over Creation Stories. Someone who also made a largely comedic, self-reflexive biopic concerning a British record label head who was inspired by seeing Sex Pistols perform, which covered a similar period of time: Michael Winterbottom. Speeding through three decades’ worth of events but lacking any actual momentum, Creation Stories is like a version of 24 Hour Party People gone horribly wrong…

Full review for Little White Lies

Joe Dante: Master of Mischief

Originally published as a print-exclusive in SciFiNow #149, in August 2018

While his traditional feature film output has dwindled this century, Joe Dante still remains one of the most interesting American figures working in predominantly genre-based cinema. His films are rife with expressions of all-devouring cinephilia, which also comes through in his collaborative web series Trailers From Hell.

During his UK visit for the Edinburgh International Film Festival back in 2018, we spoke to Dante about projects old and new, and the state of modern mainstream genre films…

Full interview for SciFiNow

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…

Full feature for the BFI

Rose Island (Sydney Sibilia, 2020)

Relatively early in 2020, one video game became a phenomenon as Nintendo Switch players looked to simulate some sort of structured existence in the context of quarantine. Animal Crossing: New Horizons sees your customisable character move to a deserted island, decorating the place and developing it into a community of anthropomorphic animal residents. Selling the most units of any title in 2020, it has already cracked the top 30 list of the best-selling video games of all time.

All the specific factors for Animal Crossing’s success would merit a deep-dive article, but one thing appears clear: with the world in the grip of a pandemic, vaguely whimsical explorations of forming start-up communities during a period of global unrest are hot right now. By sheer luck of timing, Sydney Sibilia’s Rose Island, based on the real-life story of an island being created and bringing people together, looks set to capitalise on this…

Full review for Little White Lies

Murder Me, Monster (Alejandro Fadel, 2018)

Appreciators of Amat Escalante’s The Untamed and Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux – Latin American social dramas that toy with horror to varying degrees – may find a new work to admire in Murder Me, Monster from writer/director Alejandro Fadel. It’s a Spanish-language international co-production set around the Andes Mountains, and features a similar fusion of libidinal imagery and arguably Lovecraftian terror to that of Escalante’s film, in particular…

Full review for Little White Lies