Archive for February, 2012

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GFF 2012: Jeff, Who Lives at Home (The Duplass Brothers, 2011)

February 25, 2012

The Duplass brothers’ fourth feature length effort opens with its protagonist Jeff (Jason Segel), wielding a voice recorder, discussing how rewarding he finds M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Heavily relating to that film’s themes of fate and purpose, Jeff also expresses admiration for how various seemingly superfluous elements in its narrative come together to provide a particularly potent conclusion. Jeff, Who Lives at Home has something of a similar narrative structure to the way its lead describes Signs, with fate and purpose being particularly prominent concerns, and various seemingly unrelated elements cumulating and crossing paths in the film’s finale. The result, however, is not quite so strong…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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GFF 2012: This Must Be the Place (Paolo Sorrentino, 2011)

February 23, 2012

“Something’s wrong here. I don’t know exactly what it is, but something’s wrong here.” Repeated by its protagonist throughout This Must Be the Place, the line captures the baffling quality of Paolo Sorrentino’s English language debut. An erratic merging of different forms and tones, it is a difficult film to describe and one even harder to discuss in regards to why much of it succeeds. It is certainly schizophrenic conceptually and stylistically, but it also never feels disjointed or packed with too many strands.

Sean Penn plays a wealthy former rock star of around 50 years of age, Cheyenne, bored and jaded while in long-implemented retirement in Dublin. Perpetually slathered in the make-up and attire of his goth rock career, as well as frequently wielding cat eye glasses and a shopping trolley, Cheyenne visually resembles a curious blend of Penn’s own inescapable looks, The Cure’s Robert Smith and a grandmother; his camp vocal intonations alternately bring to mind Truman Capote, canine cartoon star Droopy and a John Waters character. Residing in a palatial estate with his fire-fighter wife and emotional anchor Jane (Frances McDormand), the disconnected Cheyenne spends much of his time investing in stock shares and attempting matchmaking with a young Irish girl he has a tenuous connection to (Bono’s daughter, Eve Hewson). Upon hearing that his estranged father is dying, he makes the journey to New York in an attempt at reconciliation, only to find he has missed his chance. Never really knowing his father, Cheyenne discovers the extent of the man’s experience in Auschwitz at the hands of a particular SS officer, and with some guidance from a Nazi hunter (Judd Hirsch), sets off on a journey across the United States in order to track down the former officer, who had since moved to the country and may still be alive…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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GFF 2012: Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton, 2011)

February 20, 2012

Lynn Shelton’s follow-up to her “mumblecore” hit Humpday retains frequent collaborator Mark Duplass and a focus on the dynamic between a small group of people, the trio of Your Sister’s Sister being Iris (Emily Blunt), Jack (Duplass), and Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt). Humpday’s character exploration was the heart of a quite high concept premise: two straight male friends decide to make a porn film together for an art project, testing their boundaries. Your Sister’s Sister’s storyline is not so easily definable, but does eventually reveal some similarly extravagant, outlandish developments. A thankful avoidance of any sitcom-like tendencies is achieved through not relying on the farcical narrative developments themselves, the film being bolstered by grounded, engaging characters that are very enjoyable to spend time with…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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GFF 2012: Play (Ruben Östlund, 2011)

February 19, 2012

This screened as part of the Glasgow Youth Film Festival, directly preceding the main Glasgow Film Festival.

Play is a frequently harrowing and thoughtful film about manipulation, bullying, identity, race and customs. Primarily rooted in uncomfortable ambiguity, it is based on a series of real cases of bullying and robbery that occurred in Gothenburg, Sweden a few years ago. Set against the inner city backdrop of that city, the main narrative details an elaborate scheme known as the “little brother number”. Involving elaborate role-play and rhetoric rather than threats of pure brute force, the con of a gang of youths, like the film itself, is reliant on subtle, implied menace…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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GFF 2012: The Loves of Pharaoh (Ernst Lubitsch, 1922)

February 18, 2012

Ernst Lubitsch is best known for his work in Hollywood, operating as a master of comedies until his death in 1947. He left behind a legacy of films that includes the much beloved likes of The Shop Around the Corner, To Be or Not to Be, Cluny Brown, Ninotchka, Heaven Can Wait, and Trouble in Paradise. Prior to making the transition to American filmmaking, Lubitsch operated in his native Germany. He enjoyed a great deal of international success, though some of this was for large-scale productions and dramas that would not be a prominent feature of his Hollywood career. One of these films was The Loves of Pharaoh, or Das Weib des Pharao, a historical epic rivaling Metropolis in terms of ambitious German silent cinema, and Lubitsch’s last film made in the country. Incomplete prints of the film have existed for years, but the recent restoration now available is as close as preservationists have yet come to piecing together the full product…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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The Muppets (James Bobin, 2011)

February 17, 2012

James Bobin’s reboot of The Muppets provides another contribution to the trend of 2011 films rooted in nostalgia for cultural staples of the past, alongside the likes of Hugo, The Artist and Midnight in Paris. Opening with outright adoration for the original The Muppet Show, this new outing for Jim Henson’s puppet creations features an array of elements from their televisual and cinematic offerings of the past. 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan contained a very similar plot strand involving the group reuniting to put on a big show, while the much beloved song “Rainbow Connection” from 1979’s The Muppet Movie makes an appearance here. That latter film’s self-reflexive postmodern comedy based around breaking the fourth wall, as well as its road movie leanings and cameo based comedy, are prominent features of Bobin’s film, which is written by Nicholas Stoller and the film’s human lead Jason Segel. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Preview: Glasgow Film Festival 2012

February 15, 2012

Emily-Blunt-Your-Sister's-Sister

Now in its eighth year, the Glasgow Film Festival returns this February for fans of all kinds of film. One of the first major events in the Year of Creative Scotland, it will include a packed programme of premieres, unique events and special guests, alongside several festivals before and within the main festival itself. Taking place in various venues across Glasgow during February, GFF allows access to a diverse selection of new and exciting films from around the world, and of various genres, months before they receive any potential UK distribution, if any…

Full preview for the Glasgow University Guardian here