London Critics’ Circle Film Awards 2012: Winners

Actors, actresses, critics and industry types gathered at the BFI Southbank, London earlier this evening to reveal the 32nd annual London Critics’ Circle Film Award winners.

Emerging on top were The Artist, which scooped three awards; A Separation, which won two prizes; and We Need To Talk About Kevin, which – deservedly so – won British Film Of Year .

Anna Paquin (!!!) tied with Meryl Streep for Actress Of The Year, while Olivia Continue reading “London Critics’ Circle Film Awards 2012: Winners”

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Best Ten Films Of 2011

While 2011 hasn’t exactly been a year of record-breaking box office success, it has been a fantastic one for British cinema, emerging talent and unique independent features which found themselves surpassing the popularity of many much bigger movies.

The films I’ve chosen – and believe me when I say it wasn’t an easy process – are what I think represent the pinnacle of the cinema I Continue reading “Best Ten Films Of 2011”

Feature: Top Ten Films Of 2011: January – June

So far, 2011 has been a fantastic year for film. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my ten favourites from the last six months, with a few honourable mentions that just missed out on a place. Finally, I’ve listed some somewhat less honourable mentions that you should probably avoid at all costs.

10. Never Let Me Go (February 2011)

Mark Romanek’s shamefully overlooked adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s momentous novel Never Let Me Go wasn’t exactly the hit Fox Searchlight were banking on, but that didn’t stop it being a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of cinema.

9. Animal Kingdom (February 2011)

This Australian crime-thriller rose from the underbelly, picking up momentum thick and fact for its astoundingly honest portrayal of a fully functional crime family. Striking direction, raw performances and compelling source material have made well worth seeking out.

8. Archipelago (March 2011)

Joanna Hogg’s stark look at family turmoil is beautifully captured and carefully paced to provide a deeply resonant and affecting glimpse into the highs and lows of family life and what makes people tick.

7. Heartbeats (May 2011)

Multi-faceted Xavier Dolan follows in the footsteps of acclaimed filmmakers Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai to write and direct Heartbeats, a film of true beauty, wisdom and depth beyond its years.

6. Arrietty (June 2011 – EIFF)

Studio Ghibli’s sprightly interpretation of Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book The Borrowers is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, under the watchful eye of filmmaker extraordinaire Hayao Miyazaki. Arrietty boasts some truly illustrious animation and a score by French musician Cecile Corbel that made me go weak at the knees.

5. Bridesmaids (June 2011)

Kristen Wiig, well known for her long-standing stint on Saturday Night Live, was launched to stardom with hit comedy Bridesmaids. Directed by Paul Feig, the film features an array of flawless comedic performances, unforgettable gags and the goddess-like figure Rose Bryne.

4. Albatross (June 2011 – EIFF)

Niall McCormick’s British coming-of-age film premiered at the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival to rave reviews. Written by burgeoning writer Tamzin Refn, Albatross is a fully realised and thought-provoking piece of cinema, chock full of heart, depth and humour to boot. If Jessica Findlay-Brown doesn’t become a star, then there’s something seriously wrong with the world.

3. Black Swan (January 2011)

Granted, this film opened last year in America, but due to different release schedules it was early January before I had a chance to see Natalie Portman give an Academy Award winning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s daringly dark psychological ballet thriller. Hauntingly brilliant.

2. Submarine (March 2011)

Former IT Crowd actor Richard Ayoade made his directorial debut with the mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy Submarine. The entire cast, not least relative newcomer Craig Roberts, delivered remarkable performances.

1. Blue Valentine (January 2011)

This emotionally crippling insight into one couple’s turbulent relationship shot Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams back into the limelight, and earned them a few dozen award nominations in the process. After years of suffering various unfortunate setbacks, Derek Cianfrance’s passion project came to fruition with such intensity that it was hard to ignore. From the offset I was hooked, so it’d be impossible for Blue Valentine not to be my top film of the year so far.

Films of notable interest: Hobo With A Shotgun, Trust, Project Nim, Attack The Block, Rango, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Rubber, Pina 3D, Scream 4, Winnie The Pooh, Meek’s Cutoff, X-Men: First Class, The Silent House, 13 Assassins, Perfect Sense, Thor and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams.

Films to think no more of: Mars Needs Moms, Larry Crowne, Ghosted, I Am Number Four, The Rite, Faster, Chalet Girl, Red Riding Hood and Battle: Los Angeles.

Review: Cave Of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

Cave Of Forgotten Dreams is a new piece of filmmaking examining the recently discovered – and strictly preserved – Chauvet Cave in France, and is directed by Werner Herzog: a visionary renowned for his love of uncovering the unknown.

Herzog, whose prior left-field works include Encounters At The End Of The World and Grizzly Man, personally approached the French culture minister, Frederic Mitterand, who authorised unprecedented yet severely restricted access to the rapturous Chauvet Cave where Paleolithic drawings of a multitude of mammals have been left untouched for up to 32,000 years.

To enhance the experience, Herzog finds a refreshing alternative use for 3D technology. He collaborates with Peter Zeitlinger to show us the inside of the cave system in a remarkably bold and accessible approach, as well as displaying the many mammals that embellish the walls in all their three-dimensional glory by highlighting their realistic characteristics through long, slow and beautifully accentuating camera movements.

Herzog is clearly a director who – rather than administering it unnecessarily in the hope it will add something to a scene, shot or effect – is very careful about using the new fangled technology to the best of its ability.

It’s a very clever tactic, and works wonders to transport us, the viewer, into the eerie depths of the cave system, giving us a better appreciation of the paintings and how the artists that composed them managed to make them blend harmoniously – and three dimensionally – with the cave’s natural milieu.

Herzog is clearly a director who – rather than administering it unnecessarily in the hope it will add something to a scene, shot or effect – is very careful about using the “newfangled” technology to its fullest potential.

His extremely majestic use of cinematography not only enhances the contours of the artwork and the walls which they inhabit, but also suggestively mirrors the ways in which the artists used their environment. Lighting and positioning were clearly important, and Herzog employs both to accentuate specific renderings.

It’s marvellous to see Herzog achieve so much under extremely limited equipment (two cameras and several handheld, battery-operated lighting devices) and severe time restrictions.

By interviewing various expert scientists and archeologists throughout, Herzog – in his own eccentric and enthralling way – is able to provide an incredible, decidedly realistic interpretation of the artists.

Upon leaving the cave and encountering various contrasting unnatural consequences of modern man’s interactions with nature, Herzog is able to pose a number of outlandish and ponderous questions, such as those regarding humanity, in a way that will undoubtedly leave you entangled in the subject matter for days.

Cave Of Forgotten Dreams may not be to everyone’s tastes, but there’s no doubt it’s a compelling, questioning and pensive piece of filmaking from a prophetic director showing that, even in the earliest millennia of our civilisation, our ancestors were driven by the same impulses that compel us to create art in the modern age.

Cinema Releases: March 25, 2011

Faster

Director: George Tillman Jr.

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton and Maggie Grace

Country Strong

Director: Shana Feste

Starring – Garrett Hedlund, Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw

Cave Of Forgotten Dreams

Director: Werner Herzog

Starring: Werner Herzog, Dominique Baffier and Jean Clottes

Wake Wood

Director: David Keating

Starring: Eva Birthistle, Ella Connolly and Amelia Crowley

A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures

Director: Ben Stassen

Starring: Melanie Griffith, Isabelle Fuhrman and Yuri Lowenthal