Blue Valentine (2010) Review

First published on Snipe for London Film Festival 2010 //

If you’ve happened upon any of the interviews with director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance talking about his 12-year project, Blue Valentine, you’ll notice there’s a through-line to all of them. As wearied as his two main characters become of each other, Cianfrance, in his routine exchanges with the press, generally refers to his film as a ‘duet’. Probably because that’s the perfect way to describe it.

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Raindance Film Festival 2010 Round-up

First published on Little White Lies for Raindance Film Festival 2010 //

The 18th Raindance Film Festival launched last Wednesday with an impressive opening night screening of Jackboots on Whitehall but closed out this year with an affecting feature from Iraq. Already an award winner on the festival circuit, Son of Babylon is an ode to the disappeared of Iraq; a film about a Kurdish boy and his grandmother travelling across the country in post-Saddam 2003 in search of the boy’s missing father, conscripted then missing since the first Gulf War. Already chosen as Iraq’s official entry for the 2011 Academy Awards, it also won Best International Feature at this year’s Raindance.

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Never Let Me Go (2010) Review

First published on Snipe for London Film Festival 2010 //

Director Mark Romanek
Country UK

In 1952, the breakthrough came. All disease and illness were cured, all disability wiped out. By the 1960s, age expectancy reached over 100 years.

This is the opener for Never Let Me Go, a love-triangular pseudo-sci-fi-drama in which mankind undergoes the dystopian treatment in an alternative history, where science and technology have made the simultaneous leap to put an end to all (physical) human suffering. This, we are shown, is achieved through harvesting body parts and vital organs, taken from mild-mannered clones, to transplant into and onto the broken bodies of the higher strata of society. By now you could be tempted to think Brave New World or possibly Gattaca, and ponder that we might already be well-acquainted with this plot.

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Self Made (2010) Review

First published on Snipe for London Film Festival 2010 //

Director Gillian Wearing
Country UK

Gillian Wearing has a history of getting people on camera and making them open up. In the 1990s she did it with a series of videos asking people to “Confess all on video”, people who responded to an advert she placed in Time Out. Now she is doing it with a group of people, the focus still on individuals and their pasts, but in feature length documentary form. The result is an anaemic piece of work, simultaneously annoying and manipulative.

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Miral (2010) Review

First published on Snipe for London Film Festival 2010 //

Director Julian Schnabel
Country USA

Julian Schnabel has more than impressed, actually he has excelled in his past features, all biopics of wildly varied personalities and very different nationalities. First there was his contemporary, and fellow New Yorker, Jean-Michel Basquiat, for whom he made 1996’s ebullient Basquiat. He followed up with an Oscar-nominated performance from Javier Bardem in the Cuban-set Reinaldo Arenas biography, Before Night Falls (2000), before picking up more Academy award nominations and the Best Director gong at Cannes with The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007).

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Brighton Rock (2010) Review

First published on Snipe for London Film Festival 2010 //

Director Rowan Joffe
Country UK

The Surprise Film at previous London Film Festivals has ensured its hot ticket status, with big films making it worthy of the hype. In 2007 they gave us the Coen brothers’ adaptation of the bleak Cormac McCarthy novel No Country For Old Men. In 2008 it was the treat of Mickey Rourke as The Wrestler. And last year it was Capitalism: A Love Story. All right. That was a bit of step down but it wasn’t awful, just disappointing.

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