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London Film Festival 2014
Our round-up of the galas, films and interviews
Empire Blogs

Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Harvest, Let Us Prey and Nuntius

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:26 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Harvest, Let Us Prey and Nuntius

Following the Nordic Invasion, the Spanish films and the documentaries, I can’t come up with a connection for the remainder of my Night Visions, so this is just a rattle bag of The Rest.

Guest of honour at the festival was John McNaughton, presenting both his debut Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and his newest film, The Harvest. The latter, which doesn’t yet have distribution anywhere, sees the eclectic director tackling what he sees as a modern fairytale, in which young orphaned girl Maryann (Natasha Calis) lately moved in with her grandparents (Peter Fonda and Leslie Lyles), befriends sick boy Andy (Charlie Tahan) in a house across the woods. The two strike up a friendship, but are quickly and perplexing barred from seeing one another by Andy’s ferocious mother Katherine (Samantha Morton). Katherine’s beleaguered and downtrodden husband Richard (Michael Shannon) wearily shuffles in and out of the dispute.

It’s a g...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: Marcos Ortiz and In Darkness We Fall

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:19 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: Marcos Ortiz and In Darkness We Fall

The dark star of Alfredo Montero's caving horror In Darkness We Fall is actor/producer Marcos Ortiz. Not a potholing enthusiast to any extent, he told me how he ended up enduring two separate productions of the film underground. One of them nearly killed him...

Are you a caving enthusiast?
[Leans into microphone] NO! That was my first time.

Did you enjoy it? Will you do it again?
[Leans into microphone] NO! Never, never, never!

And you had to do it twice for the film, right?
Yes, we actually shot the film twice. The first time was a year and a half ago, and the second shoot was about eight months ago. The director, Alfredo Montero and myself are also the producers, so we originally financed the whole original production, with very little money. We shot it in Formentera, just next to Ibiza, for five weeks, with a Canon 5D. It was a very difficult process because the cave is actually very small an...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: Pablo Larcuen and Hooked Up

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:12 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: Pablo Larcuen and Hooked Up

Somewhere between Helsinki bars, I cornered director Pablo Larcuen to talk me through his iPhone-shot found-footage horror Hooked Up.

You shot this film in 2011. How sick are you of talking about it at this point?
Haha, well maybe we won’t talk too much about the phone. That would be good! But I actually haven’t talked about it for a while now, so it’s OK.

OK, let’s talk about the phone. Why shoot with an iPhone?
Dammit! Well it was because we had no money to rent any other type of cameras, and I don’t like cheap digital cameras. What I found with the iPhone was that when you shoot in low light it resembles film more than cheap digital cameras. So when we made that decision it was great because we then knew we could design the story around it and have the characters interact with it. It was a 4S. We’re two generations on already. I think you can do slow-motion on the 6!

We...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Spanish Contingent

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:07 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Spanish Contingent

Predictably for a Finnish festival there’s a significant Spanish contingent among the films on show (um…). Specifically, that means Pablo Larcuen’s tiny horror Hooked Up, Alfredo Montero’s intense caving nightmare In Darkness we Fall (La Cueva), and Jaume Balaguero’s Rec 4, capping the Catholic zombie rabies quartet that began way back in 2007 with the original Rec.

The hook of Hooked Up is that it’s the first feature film to be entirely shot on an iPhone. That obviously means found footage, so your patience with that conceit depends a lot on your patience with the subgenre as a whole. But for those who don’t mind the shaky camera and the characters shuffling it between them as they continue to film in unlikely circumstances, there’s a lot to enjoy here. Plot-wise we’re slightly in Hostel territory, with two idiot American guy...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Documentaries

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 17:57 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Documentaries

Given that Night Visions is a genre festival taking place in a particularly dark city at Hallowe’en, you’d expect a predominantly horror-centric programme. Not necessarily so. Sci-fi and action are well represented too, and there’s a great, wide-ranging documentary strand. I sadly couldn’t make it to the Japanese punk movie Get Action!, but I did catch 2000AD celebration Future Shock! (lots of exclamation marks in these titles), Cannon Films autopsy The Go-Go Boys, and Richard Stanley’s fascinating L’Autre Monde (The Otherworld).

Winner of the audience award this year was the brilliant vampire mock-doc What We Do In The Shadows, but in impressive second place was Future Shock!. It really is that good: it makes you want to run out and buy trade paperbacks of classic Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper and whatever else right away. But crucially, while the ...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Nordic Genre Invasion

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 17:37 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Nordic Genre Invasion

This was my third year at Helsinki’s Night Visions festival, but to my shame, I’ve never really written much about Finnish or Nordic cinema before. In my defence, that’s partly a reflection of the festival’s programme, which isn’t heavily local. Perhaps with that in mind, this year the festival organised an entire day devoted to presentations on Nordic cinema: a celebration of a deliberately organised ‘movement’.

The idea behind what’s been self-dubbed the Nordic Genre Invasion is a recognition of how popular the Nordic crime genre became in recent years, thanks to writers like Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo; the movies based on their and others’ work; and the TV series’ like Wallander, The Killing and The Bridge which achieved breakout international success. With a feeling that those things are becoming slightly old hat now, there’s an attempt underway to kick-start something similar for other genres: action, sci-fi, horror. A coalition...

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London Film FestivalLondon Film Festival 2014: Fury And Difret

Posted on Sunday October 19, 2014, 16:42 by Phil de Semlyen in London Film Festival
London Film Festival 2014: Fury And Difret

Fury

David Ayer has carved out a niche as a creator of ultra-realistic thrillers, many tapping into his own experiences in the US Navy. Since the release of his submarine thriller U-571, which distorted history to credit America with cracking the Enigma code, Ayer has devoted himself to fairly meticulous truth. Ayer subsequently made his name as screenwriter of the Oscar-nominated Training Day and writer-director of crunching cop movie End Of Watch.

His latest movie – World War II drama Fury – is the closing film of the London Film Festival. Typically character-driven and potently realistic, it’s a solid piece of work.

In the last months of the war, deep within Nazi Germany, Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) finds his tank crew one man short and is assigned the jittery Private Ellison (Logan Lerman) as his new assistant driver. Tasked by Captain Waggoner (Jason Isaacs) with defending a crucial road junction, Wardaddy and his crew must fight off the ...

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London Film FestivalLondon Film Festival 2014: Mommy, Song of the Sea, A Little Chaos

Posted on Friday October 17, 2014, 11:12 by Helen O'Hara in London Film Festival
London Film Festival 2014: Mommy, Song of the Sea, A Little Chaos

Mommy

Leading the ‘Dare’ category in the film festival, Mommy is a brave and powerful film that’s capable of knocking the breath out of your lungs. Tackling the impact of mental illness in a family, it features phenomenal acting, an unusual soundtrack and an inventive use of changing screen dimensions.

The young and prodigiously talented Xavier Dolan has made this the fifth directorial work of his already prolific career. Dolan has proved himself before as unafraid to tackle difficult topics and in Mommy he follows the life of single mother Diane (Anne Dorval), who is suddenly faced with having to home-school her son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon). Steve’s severe ADHD has meant that due to his erratic and dangerous behaviour, he’s just come out of a youth detention centre. The situation threatens to get out of control until the arrival of their neighbour Kyra (Suzanne Clément) offers a new chance for both mother and son to rebuild th...

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London Film FestivalLondon Film Festival: Whiplash, Son Of A Gun, Foxcatcher

Posted on Friday October 17, 2014, 10:36 by Helen O'Hara in London Film Festival
London Film Festival: Whiplash, Son Of A Gun, Foxcatcher

Whiplash

Whiplash came rolling into the London Film Festival with real momentum behind it. It has already wowed audiences at several international festivals, and scooped the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance in January. Damien Chazelle’s tale of a wannabe drummer battling his way to the top of a jazz band deserves every accolade it has received thus far, and a load more.

Miles Teller plays Andrew, a talented but nervous youngster at the top music school in America. During a solo practice session, he catches the eye of ferocious instructor Fletcher (JK Simmons), who subjects Andrew to gruelling rehearsals as part of his award-winning jazz band. In order to impress Fletcher, Andrew must put his family, new girlfriend Nicole (Melissa Benoist) and indeed his own body on the line.

Whiplash is a hurricane of movie. As comfortable with zingy dialogue and raw emotion as it is with breath-taking musical cacophonies, director Chazelle has constructed...

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London Film FestivalLondon Film Festival 2014: Testament of Youth, Ping Pong Summer, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them

Posted on Thursday October 16, 2014, 13:38 by Helen O'Hara in London Film Festival
London Film Festival 2014: Testament of Youth, Ping Pong Summer, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them

Testament Of Youth

Based on famed pacifist Vera Brittain’s earliest memoirs, Testament of Youth has admirable intentions of bringing a renowned story back into the public spotlight. It’s a pity then that the film doesn’t excel itself quite as it could have done.

Directed by TV veteran James Kent, the film explores Vera’s life during the time of World War I. Played by Alicia Vikander, Vera is left at home when her friends, brother and new fiancée Roland Leighton (Kit Harington) leave for the trenches. Not wanting to escape the troubles of war whilst her loved ones fight, she chooses to work as a nurse in France, an experience which inspires the lifelong anti-war views that Vera Brittain was best known for.

The biggest difficulty that the film has is in engaging the audience with Roland and Vera’s romantic relationship, an aspect of the story that is placed in centre stage. Their attraction isn’t given a foundation str...

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RECENT POSTS

Night Visions 2014: The Harvest, Let Us Prey and Nuntius
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: Marcos Ortiz and In Darkness We Fall
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: Pablo Larcuen and Hooked Up
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: The Spanish Contingent
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: The Documentaries
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: The Nordic Genre Invasion
By Owen Williams

London Film Festival 2014: Fury And Difret
By Phil de Semlyen

London Film Festival 2014: Mommy, Song of the Sea, A Little Chaos
By Helen O'Hara

London Film Festival: Whiplash, Son Of A Gun, Foxcatcher
By Helen O'Hara

London Film Festival 2014: Testament of Youth, Ping Pong Summer, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
By Helen O'Hara


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