Monday, 8 October 2012


I cannot wait to see Rust and Bone which looks set to be another French cinematic success following this year's brilliant Untouchable. I am equally excited about cinema tackling 2 of my favourite novels in the coming months in the form of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby and Walter Salles' interpretation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road that defined the Beat generation. Last but not least my Weekend (2011) DVD is currently winging its way to my door. I have intended to see it for ages. Let's hope they are all worth the wait...

Live East, Live On

In the heart of the circus, Piccadilly's Apollo Cinema played host to the 20th Raindance film festival this Autumn. I popped along with fellow blogger and film fan @CatSarsfield to the world premiere of Live East Die Young a directorial feature debut from Laura Hypponen that she also wrote and produced. Nominted at Raindance for Best UK film, the feature is set in East London and and was billed by Shiaide Cameron  as "a grittier look than you might expect at the party/work lifestyle of the noughties generation".

The plot follows two key protagonists, erratic model Emma and her only confidante; the cross dressing hairdresser Max. Their lives are a frenzy of parties, sex and narcotics in a haze of cigarette smoke. Zoe Griegson and James "Jeanette" Main star. Main in particular was a revelation. His performance is both physically and morally vulgar while also being pathetically heartbreaking in his idealistic pursuit of love in a loveless scene.

As can be expected from a no budget independent debut, some of the shots and much of the sound are rough around the edges. We frequently lose lines over background noise or wind and as the microphone boom moves between actors, end of sentences trail off. I do not wish to be overly critical of some of these flaws yet sometimes it struck me as just sloppy rather than a simple, excusable case of lacking means. Retrospectively, I can comfortably argue that this rough and ready presentation lends itself easily to the content and aesthetic of the feature and maybe even stretch to it being intentional. But I think I found it so jarring whilst in the cinema, because of the immense attention to detail in all other aspects of the film: costume, make up and authentic location choices are flawless, apt and often breathtaking.

Moreover, it was the setting of a cinema that felt at odds with the film's aesthetic. Many of the films that made up the Raindance festival were of the independent low budget mould and the fact that the festival gave these film makers a platform and challenged the perceptions of its consumers. As affecting as Live East Die Young is, the lasting importance of seeing it, is realising the opportunity provided by the festival for all involved with the film, including its audience and I feel lucky to have been part of it.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Don't leave

I recently tweeted (@AntoniaVickers) about the current brilliance of ITV's Dramas in specific reference to the haunting two part drama "A Mother's Son" and endearing mini-series "Mrs Biggs" starring the prolific Sheridan Smith in the title role. I have now just caught up on the first two episodes of "Leaving" (the final episode airs tonight at 9pm) starring Helen McCrory as Julie, a 44 year old married mother of two who embarks on a passionate affair with 25 year old Aaron, played by delicious newcomer Callum Turner. 

Written by Toby Marchant and produced for ITV by Manchester based company RED Productions, the series has been a bit slammed for being improbable but I disagree. Both characters are lost and restless in their own lives making their motives for the affair clear, and the affection and turmoil linked to the relationship are genuinely and sensitively performed.

McCrory has spoken of the liberation she felt in stripping off for the camera, telling Culture magazine's Tanya Gold that part of accepting the role was due to her desire to become "less prudish". Well, she's certainly managed that. McCrory's performance matches the script's boldness and Turner is one to watch. Highly recommended, make sure you catch it before it leaves the screen.