Wednesday, 20 June 2012 Written by Ivan Radford
After days of waiting, my inner Woody Allen obsessive finally made it to the cinema to see Woody Allen: A Documentary. Let's be clear: it's not an incisive, hard-hitting exploration of one neurotic genius' inner workings. The Soon-Yi Preven situation? Yeah, no one really talks about that.
Yes, Soon-Yi appears in the background in some footage from You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger at Cannes Film Festival, but does she talk? No. Diane Keaton and Mariel Hemingway pop up to comment, but does Mia Farrow have anything to say? Not a jot. A tweet by her son on Father's Day had more to say about the whole mess than the documentary:
But as a comprehensive overview of one man's career, Robert Weide's is an entertaining and, in places, fascinating piece. It borders on hagiography (Hemingway briefly mentions "the clunkers") and the structure is a little wayward, but it contains enough factual gems to please devoted Woody fans - even the obsessives who thought they knew everything.
Here are 5 things Woody Allen: A Documentary taught me about him that I was afraid to ask:
Sunday, 29 April 2012 Written by Ivan Radford
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Cast: James Balog
In under 80 minutes, Jeff Orlowski’s documentary Chasing Ice manages to capture something that disaster movies have been trying to for years: the colossal, beautiful and horrifying destruction of our planet. It makes The Day After Tomorrow look like Trumpton.
Using still photography and staggering video footage, he follows the gradual annihilation of glaciers around the globe due to climate change. The results are jaw-dropping, easily eclipsing any amount of Hollywood CGI. If Roland Emmerich saw it, he would probably pee his pants.
(Update: This film is so good that now even my nephew has been inspired to write a review of it. To see my writing outclassed by a seven year old, click here.)
Argentine Film Festival Review: Caprichosos del San Telmo
Sunday, 22 April 2012 Written by Ivan Radford
Director: Alison Murray
Cast: Gabriel Acevedo, Hector Roterio, Sergio Pasquin
"If I'm down, I just go and dance - and everything is alright."
That's Gabriela, a dancer in the Caprichosos de San Telmo, a troupe of dancers in Buenos Aires' San Telmo district. Dressed up in top hats, spangly jackets and vivid dresses, every year the group gather to parade down the street amid a cacophony of drums and cymbals. British/Canadian director Alison Murray follows their preparations for 12 months in this colourful, enchanting documentary.
Friday, 16 March 2012 Written by Ivan Radford
The Island President trailer is here - and it introduces a great man:
Meet President Mohamed Nasheed. He is 42. He has two children. And in 90 years, most of his home country, The Maldives, will be underwater. That is, unless the world makes some drastic changes in its attitude towards the environment.
Jon Shenk's documentary is out on Friday 30th March. And it's really rather brilliant. (We'll have a full review for you soon.)
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 Written by Ivan Radford
I was so busy pretending to speak like a chimp on Monday that I completely forgot to mention this brilliant part of the behind the scenes documentary.
It's a rare treat to find a 30 minute making of special feature as engrossing - and moving - as a DVD's main release, especially when it includes a chimp sign language chart.
So here it is, in case you need another reason to buy the awesome Project Nim on DVD:
If you're still not convinced (and you should be - it's one of the best documentaries of the year), read our Project Nim DVD review.
Monday, 09 January 2012 Written by Ivan Radford
Director: James Marsh
Cast: Bob Angelini, Bern Cohen, Reagan Leonard
Release Date: Monday 9th January
Chimp is born. Chimp called Nim. Man take Nim. Man teach Nim sign. Nim learn words: Orange. Play. Hug. Steve. Nim make sentence: "Give orange Nim." "Nim eat orange." "Hug me Nim."
Nim wear jumper. Jumper is red. Nim look cute. Ivan say "Awww..."
Sunday, 04 December 2011 Written by Ivan Radford
Tyrannosaur stomped all over the competition at tonight's BIFA awards. The British Independent Film Awards, which were streamed live on the internet, saw Paddy Considine's superb film pick up three awards, including Best Debut Director, Best Actress (Olivia Colman) and Best British Independent Film. All of them were well deserved - as you can see from their lovely happy faces (image via @PaulPopplewell).
Fellow lead nominee Shame picked up Best Actor for Michael Fassbender, while Carey Mulligan was pipped to the Best Supporting Actress post by Coriolanus' Vanessa Redgrave. The other pleasant surprise was Michael Smiley winning Best Supporting Actor for Kill List - an announcement met by cheers from the audience, much like Weekend's two wins for Best Production and Most Promising Newcomer, which went to the wonderful Tom Cullen.
Whoops also went out to Chris O'Dowd's drunken hosting. He started the evening off lightly sloshed, then quickly escalated to off his tits. And got funnier as he went along. Until the end, when he could barely speak in words, let alone sentences.
BIFA's Top 5 Drunk Chris O'Dowd Quotes
1. "Mike Leigh's comedic abortion farce Vera Drake..."
2. "Vanessa Redgrave, you sexy owl."
3. "Moet! It's pronounced 'Mo-et'! As in 'pirouette'! And 'who gives a shit'!
4. (Looking at himself on the screen) "There he is!" (Then, later) "I'm so drunk!"
5. "Women want to be him, men want to sleep with him... Daniel Craig!"
Other highlights of the evening included Ralph Fiennes picking up the Richard Harris award for outstanding contribution to British film, which he accepted while the in-house BIFA band played the theme from The Avengers, after being introduced by the hilarious Tom Hollander: "I thought I would be tossed aside like the unwanted exfoliant from a gift bag... in Voldemort, I have found my truest friend.")
Massive credit should also go to Richard Ayaode for winning Best Screenplay for Submarine, the Oscar-snubbed Senna claiming Best Documentary, and also to Maria Djurkovic for taking home Best Production Design for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. All the right films got a mention somewhere - even Lynne Ramsay bagged Best Director for We Need to Talk About Kevin. Oh, and Kenneth Branagh popped up to collect The Variety Award.
And that's BIFA 2011. The whole thing was a brilliant success for three reasons. Firstly, it was a celebration of a ridiculously impressive year for British indie productions (look at just how many are heavyweights at bigger ceremonies). Secondly, it was proof that awards can be streamed online - and streamed well. This evening has done wonders for the profile of BIFA, which will only keep getting bigger from now on. And finally, it introduced the internet to drunk Chris O'Dowd. Which we've all wanted to see for a long time.
Read on for the full list of winners - and then head over here to read our five-star Tyrannosaur review and our interview with Paddy Considine. (Also, follow @AuntieNubbins on Twitter because he dutifully screen-capped the whole thing and I stole a couple of his images.)
Sunday, 20 November 2011 Written by Ivan Radford
The shortlist for the 2012 Best Documentary Oscar has been announced. And here's a brief recap of what's wrong with the list:
And that's before we even get on to discussing the absence of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never...
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 Written by Selina Pearson
Director: Errol Morris
Cast: Joyce McKinney
"Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess…" Thus starts Tabloid, a tale of love, kidnapping, scheming newspapers, silly disguises, an evil cult and magic underwear. It’s also a documentary.
Joyce McKinney is a strange but bubbly sixty-something with an outrageous past. A former Wyoming beauty queen, she claims to have been a wholesome young lady. When she moved to Utah, she fell head-over-heels for Kirk, a feeling that (we are told by Joyce) was reciprocated. But there’s a catch: Kirk and his family are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mormons.
Thursday, 20 October 2011 Written by Selina Pearson
Director: Simon Pummell
Cast: Hugo Koolschijn, Anniek Pfeiffer, Thom Hoffman
In 1892, high court judge Daniel Paul Schreber's mental condition starts to deteriorate. This spell of madness lasts 10 years, but has a lasting impact on the way we now treat mental illness. He is admitted to Leipzig University Psychiatric clinic with delusions that God is instructing him to become a woman - and hallucinating steampunk jellyfish, as you do. Throughout his experiences, Schreber documents his thoughts, which are later published as a book, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. Now, with this semi-dramatisation, these thoughts continue to give us a unique insight into schizophrenia.
Schreber fights to be free of the institution with the help of his wife, by arguing in court that he is not a danger to others. His freedom and his wife do a great deal for his mental stability, something that conventional treatments at the time weren't necessarily helping with. The turn of the century was a unique time for psychology; there was a renaissance in neurological research, people had observed brain cells and knew about the connections, and madness was being thought of as a disease with a physiological basis rather than as something supernatural or divine.