Mockingjay: Part 1

Turns a political struggle into something thrillingly personal.

The Beat Beneath My Feet

A toe-tapping indie that is, quite simply lovely.


An extraordinary true tale made disappointingly ordinary.

The Battle of the Five Armies

"Why does it hurt so much?" Because the rest of it felt so real.
Tag:sundance london
Upstream Colour - Film Review
Director: Shane Carruth
Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth

Shane Carruth blew brains when he popped up out of nowhere with Primer in 2004. Now, he’s looking to do the same with Upstream Colour, a tender low-fi sci-fi that squirms with ideas before exploding into full-on Tree of Life rhapsody. Is that the sign of a masterpiece? Or just an unnecessary third act that’s complex for complexity’s sake?

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Blood Brother - Documentary - Film Review

Well, Sundance London has finished and after another run of sold out screenings, it's nice to see audiences connecting with indie film - despite the expensive ticket prices.

But one film that will really stick with me is Blood Brother. Steve Hooper's documentary about his friend, Rocky, who moved to India to help at an orphanage for kids with HIV, raised a lot of questions - from the ethics of making the film to the children themselves.

So, in case you've also seen the film and have a few niggling questions yourself, here's what Steve had to say in a fascinating Q&A after the screening.

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Sundance London Review: The Summit

The Summit, documentary - film review
Director: Nick Ryan
Cast: Lochlainn O'Mearain, Cas Van De Gevel, Wilco van Rooijen
For every four people who reach the summit of K2, one dies. It’s a sobering, shocking fact revealed early on in this arresting documentary. But it’s nothing compared to 2008, when a disaster killed 11 climbers on the world’s most-feared mountain. What happened up there? The survivors still don’t know. The Summit attempts to find out.

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Lynn Shelton interview, Touchy Feely

Ever since Your Sister's Sister, I've been a Lynn Shelton fan. A director who coaxed natural performances from all of her actors, she's great at creating moments, or conversations, or characters, that are instantly believable.

She drops the ball a bit on Touchy Feely, a larger ensemble piece than her previous films, but made some interesting comments in a Q+A after it premiered in the UK at Sundance London.

Here's what she had to say on Touchy Feely, improvisation and directing an episode of Mad Men.

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Mud - Film Review
Director: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Michael Shannon, Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland

When young Ellis (Sheridan) and Neckbone (Lofland) discover a boat up a tree on a remote island, they stumble across a boy’s greatest American dream of all: not ownership of property, but adventure. The only problem? Both belong to another man, Mud (McConaughey). They do a deal with the grubby stranger; they bring him food, he gives them the boat. And, more importantly, an exciting journey. 

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Mariel Hemingway, Running from Crazy
Director: Barbara Kopple
Cast: Mariel Hemingway, Margaux Hemingway

Running from Crazy is a documentary about suicide, mental illness and the Hemingway family. You can tell this because it spends half the time looking at bullfights, rock-climbing and other unrelated things.

In the 30 years since her Oscar-nominated turn in Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Mariel Hemingway has spent her life running from the stigma associated with the death of her grandfather, Ernest, who killed himself three months before she was born. Now, she’s determined to clear the air.

But while Barbara Kopple’s documentary may set out to do just that, it’s hard to know what it does end up doing. A haphazard structure combines archive footage, interviews and fly-on-the-wall observation to potentially interesting effect, but never seems to choose a subject.

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Touchy Feely - Sundance London - Film Review
Director: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Rosemarie DeWitt, Scoot McNairy, Ellen Page, Josh Pais

When is masseuse not a masseuse? When they can't stand touching people. It's the kind of story you can imagine being in a Woody Allen film - one full of potential for comedy with a strong dash of existential crisis. But Touchy Feely never really gets a grip on its idea, content to just drift around its premise before ultimately letting it slip through its fingers.

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Director: Mike Birbiglia, Seth Barrish
Cast: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose

”I’m going to tell you a story and it’s true.” That’s Matt Pandamiglio (Birbiglia) talking to the camera about himself in a film about himself. A self-obsessed neurotic guy, he narrates his midlife crisis to us like a lowbrow Woody Allen. And every now and then, he runs around the bedroom in his sleep, convinced he’s fighting a jackal.

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Director: Francesca Gregorini
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Jessica Biel, Frances O'Connor

What is the truth about fishes? Do they have legs? Are they dogs in disguise? If you’re hoping to find out from Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes, best forget the title. Because while the name implies some aquatic intrigue, Francesca Gregorini’s is too concerned staring into its own murky depths to provide any satisfying answers.

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Blood Brother - Documentary - Film Review
Director: Steve Hooper
Cast: Rocky Braat, Steve Hoover

Every now and then, a film comes along that wallops you sideways and makes you rethink your life. Blood Brother is one of them. Directed by Steve Hooper, it’s a heartfelt tribute to his best friend, Rocky Braat, a guy who sold everything he owned and moved to India to help at an orphanage for kids with HIV.

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