LFF 2010: 20 Festival Picks
What Is It? Not Tom Waits’ 1978 album, but a romantic drama (important distinction: not a romcom) starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling.
“When the movie screened the other day, me and the kid, neither of us were old enough to watch it,” Williams joked when Blue Valentine showed at Sundance earlier this year.
Not hard to see why – the flick’s stuffed with some of the raunchiest sex scenes ever committed to celluloid, according to those who’ve seen it. Seems they've taken the 'blue' in that title rather literally...
Its A Funny Kind Of Story
What Is It? That kid from TV series United States Of Tara stars alongside that bloke from The Hangover along with that chick who’s Julia Roberts’ niece.
It looks a bit like a modern day One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (just minus the evil nurse and Jack Nicholson) melded with a little Girl, Interrupted (just minus the evil Angelina Jolie). Which we like.
Check out the trailer here (opens in new tab) .
What Is It? Who is the man behind the myth? That’s what directors Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski are hoping to find out with this documentary on Motörhead band member Lemmy – aka Ian Fraser Kilmister.
And who better to base a doc around than the heavy metal rock ‘n’ roller? Numerous rumours and myths have piled up around the Brit rocker throughout the years, and we can’t wait to see which ones get smashed/confirmed/really-effing-dodged…
The frankly dizzying amount of interviewees reported to have been filmed for the doc include Dave Grohl, Slash, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, pro wrestler Triple H, Johnny Knoxville and Jarvis Cocker among many, many others.
What Is It? Buzz from the Venice Film Festival has been phenomenal for this one, where Natalie Portman’s latest flick made its world premiere on 1 September.
As if you didn’t already know, Portman plays a ballerina whose unbridled ambition has her competing against Mila Kunis for the lead role in Swan Lake.
The trailer’s breathtaking, and the Sydney Morning Herald reported that “some found its theatricality maddening, but most declared themselves 'swept away'.” Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve just found this year’s filmic Marmite.
What Is It? Paddy Considine’s in it! Really, you can stop reading now, we know you’re sold. Oh alright, Sally Hawins is in it, too. As are kid stars Craig Roberts and Yasmine Paige.
Need more? Well, Submarine is the directorial debut of Richard Ayoade, that dude from The IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh . It's about 15-year-old Oliver, who thinks that his mum (Hawkins) is diddling a new-age evangelist (Considine). Also, he wants to bed his mate Jordana and stuff.
Yep, we’re firmly in coming-of-age territory here.
What Is It? Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell play siblings in this true-life story, which has Rockwell’s Kenny banged up for a crime he says he didn’t commit. Swank is the mother-of-two sister who puts herself through law school to exonerate him.
Expect moving family drama and an Erin Brokovich -like tale of overcoming adversity. It might even be better than Legally Blonde in the legal drama stakes...
The Kids Are All Right
What Is It? Hang on, we think we hear a phone ringing over at Annette Bening’s place – oh, right, yeah, it’s the Oscars calling to make sure she’s free around March next year.
She better be, because by all accounts the three time Academy nominee gives the performance of her career in The Kids Are All Right . A whirling dervish of contradictions, she’s the matriarch of a family that consists of lover Julianne Moore, and sperm-donor kids Mia Wasikowsk and Josh Hutcherson. The latter decide they want to find their genetic pa, who turns out to be Mark Ruffalo.
Family, eh, who needs it?
What Is It? Gritty true-life drama comes of age with Carlos , if festival chatter is to be believed. Spanning the life of renowned terrorist/revolutionary (delete where applicable) Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, better known as Carlos, this new flick (which was originally created as a mini-series) from director Olivier Assayas looks set to deliver a sucker-punch of politics-infused drama.
Following Carlos through the ‘70s, the flick recreates his notorious hostage-taking ambush of an OPEC conference, then tracks his decision to sign up for the Palestinian cause.
A location-hopping, action-packed ticking time bomb of a movie.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
What Is It? Every once in a while an idea comes along that is so barking mad genius that you fall in love with it on sight. Rare Exports is one such idea.
A Finnish import, Rare Exports started life as a short by director Jalmari Helander, who has fleshed his oddball concept into a full-length feature.
What oddball concept is that? Well, the plot follows a group of hunters whose sole aim is capture wild Father Christmas’, then tame them and train them into the jolly fellows we all know and love. See? Barking mad genius.
What Is It? It snatched the number one spot at the US box office from Takers and The Last Exorcism , and opened ahead of competition Machete and Going The Distance . Clearly Mr George Clooney’s still got it.
But far from starring in an action film better suited to somebody half his age (we’re looking at you Tom Cruise), Clooney has gone with the ebb of time and here plays a near-retirement assassin who’s embarking on his feted ‘one last job’.
Well-reviewed Stateside, it’s good to have Clooney back, quite frankly.
What Is It? Another holdover from the Venice Film Festival, this action epic from Miike Takashi was nominated for the Golden Lion over there, which is surely a sign of good things to come.
The plot follows – yuhuh – a group of 13 deadly assassins who each have their own unique ability. Together, they attempt to bring down a sadistic young Lord who is wreaking havoc in Feudal Japan.
Word has it Miike’s crafted something lush and lavish, but will the story match the visuals?
What Is It? Jan Švankmajer’s Czech comedy also showed at this year’s Venice Festival, and those who’ve seen it note that Surviving Life marks a departure for the director, who’s better known for the dark imagery of 1988’s Alice .
Fusing cut-out photos with live-action, it’s an experiment in form, as we follow a married man who leads an entirely different life while he dreams. Not quite Mighty Boosh , but close enough for us.
What Is It? Brit director Ken Loach wades into the ‘war movie’ arena with his own singularly unique take on activities over in Baghdad.
Loach’s cameras follow a dangerous stretch of road in Baghdad where a British soldier is killed in very suspicious circumstances. Paul Laverty wrote this the day after 9/11, and tells his story through the eyes of two security contractors working in Iraq.
Without a doubt, this will be a gritty, tough watch. We can’t wait.
Little White Lies
What Is It? Tell No One director Guillaume Canet recruits French-actress-of-the-moment Marion Cotillard for an ensemble drama that reportedly features a stunning single-shot opening.
A pot-boiler with a twist, Little White Lies sees a group of friends embark on a holiday together, and eventually confronting each other over “personal truths and traumas”.
Talky and muted, this one should feature some knock-out performances.
What Is It? The first starring role on the big screen for Dr Who Matt Smith (whose previous pop at the cinema was with In Bruges , though his scene hit the cutting room floor).
The Doctor is sticking to sci-fi here, pairing with Eva Green in a story that revolves around human cloning. Yeah, that always ends happily.
Green plays a woman whose childhood sweetheart has just died in a car crash. Can cloning return him to her? Philip K. Dick would be proud…
What Is It? Those who can’t do, teach. Those can do, do it and then teach on the side. So sayeth Texas University professor Geoff Marslett, who’s just made his first movie with Mark Duplass.
Quirky in both style and substance, Mars takes things low-key with pseudo-rotoscoped animation and a plot that follows the first ever human expedition to search for life on Mars. Oh, and that human just so happens to be a cowboy…
Cult classic written all over it.
What Is It? Only Danny Boyle’s first film since Oscar-hogger Slumdog Millionaire ! And true to form, it’s absolutely nothing like the Lancashire native’s previous film.
Having infected England with a zombie virus, plagued Ewan McGregor with drug-fuelled fantasies, and staged his very own Bollywood dance routine, Boyle’s tackled the intimate, true-life story of rock climber Aron Ralston. Trapped for five days in the isolated Robber’s Roost, Utah, Aron ended up having to sever his own arm in order to escape.
The increasingly fascinating James Franco is playing the lead. A top notch closing night film.
Never Let Me Go
What Is It? Carey Mulligan pipped better-known English rose Keira Knightley to the lead role in this adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s haunting novel. Not that Knightley seems to mind – she’s looking on better form than ever.
The duo play school buddies at a boarding school, where they grown up with soon-to-be-Spidey Andrew Garfield. Upon leaving the school, they face unimaginable emotional torment, as, according to the Wiki page, they “confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart”.
Gorgeous-looking, with a script by Alex Garland, and that stellar cast, this could just live up to that ominous title.
Even The Rain
What Is It? Gael Garcia Bernal continues his commitment to unusual, riveting filmmaking, as he stars in Iciar Bollain’s history-warping drama.
The plot follows filmmakers Sebastian and Costa, who happen upon the story of Indian rebel Hatuey, who revolted against colonial power when Christopher Columbus first happened upon America.
Fast-forwarding the story to modern day, Bollain links that initial revolt to the Bolivian ‘Water Wars’ that enforced the privatisation of water companies in 2000... Expect weirdness. A shed-load full of it.
What Is It? No-one likes a show-off, but director Xavier Dolan is knocking gripping, profound movies out of the park with such a confident swagger that we’ll forgive him for being just 21 years old.
Heartbeats follows Dolan’s I Killed My Mother as a hysterical, cringe-inducing portrait of the love lives of youngsters who spend their time experimenting instead of settling down.
New boy in town Nicolas attracts the attention of Francis (Dolan here acting, as well as directing, editing and writing) and his friend Marie, who both compete for the guy’s attention. You can bet it’ll all end in tears…