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Entries in Gemma Arterton (3)

Wednesday
Nov022016

BIFA Nominations focus on a small handful of films

We claim no expertise on the British Independent Film Awards but this year's slate seems especially teeny-tiny. Not in the size of the films, mind you  -- some are quite supersized... at least with their length -- but in the small handful that received nominations. Most of the titles were nominated in five or six categories including the UK's Oscar submission Under the Shadow, though Ken Loach's Palme D'Or winner I Daniel Blake just barely leads with seven citations...

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Tuesday
Nov112014

Stockholm Film Festival: French Films Lack Luster with Big Stars

Glenn has been attending the 25th Stockholm Film Festival as a member of the FIPRESCI jury. Here he shares thoughts on three French films starring big names Catherine Deneuve, Jean Dujardin, and Gemma Arterton.

In the Name of My Daughter

As is common during a film festival, I had taken a seat in a cinema and completely forgotten what I was set to see. When the title card came up announcing ‘French Riviera’, I thought they were playing the wrong film as we had no such film on our schedule. Me in my festival state, stupidly didn't realise this was merely a location card. It wasn't until I checked the guide that I actually realised its name was In the Name of My Daughter. That title, far more verbose and clunky than is befitting André Téchiné’s movie, rather uncomfortably links the film to Jim Sheridan’s famous 1993 IRA drama despite not sharing anything in common. And, in further contemplation, actually comes off as rather offensive when comparing this trifle’s rich, white characters of privilege with those played by Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Posthlethwaite.

Catherine Deneuve and Adéle Haenel star as Renée and Agnés Le Roux, mother and daughter. Renée manages the floor of a casino on the southern coast of France and Agnés has just divorced and returns to the French Riviera to open a book and ethnic trinket and knick-knack shop on her mother’s dime. With the assistance of her mother’s smooth operator assistant, Maurice, a ridiculously handsome and suited-up Guillaume Canet, she seeks to separate herself from the downward spiral of her mother’s business that could see her inheritance reduced to a pittance.

And therein lies the biggest problem with Téchiné’s film. Unlike before in films like Wild Reeds or The Witnesses (and perhaps the six other collaborations between Deneuve and Téchiné, none of which I have seen) his characters are horrifically hard to care about. Haenel and Deneuve, puffing on cigarettes at every turn, aren’t given enough material to make their characters identifiable as human beings worth empathizing over; their bourgeois, petty squabbles over money increasingly difficult to care about. A third-act turn into mystery territory at least gives audiences something to latch on to, that of a mother’s devotion to discovering the truth about her missing daughter, but it’s far too little too late and the lack of genuine development in their characters makes the stakes significently dim. A brief moment featuring the predominantly non-white employees of the mother’s casino being told they no longer have jobs threatens the prospect of Téchiné navigating something interesting in looking at the population for whom the French Riviera doesn’t mean easy-living, but it’s short-lived and cannot save this bland affair. C-

More films after the jump...

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Saturday
Oct202012

LFF: Sightseeing British talent

David here reporting on three homegrown participants in the 56th BFI London Film Festival.

Steve Oram & Alice Lowe in 'Sightseers'A distinctly British melding of comedy and horror grew from the roots of Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, and it’s telling that Wright has an executive producer credit on Sightseers, director Ben Wheatley’s follow-up to his terrifying, schizoid Kill List, which made it to US theatres earlier this year. Sightseers proves similarly unclassifiable, but the black magic horror of Kill List is replaced by a crunching absurdity. Co-writers Steve Oram and Alice Lowe star as Chris and Tina, a young couple who leave behind Tina’s demanding, cruel but dependent mother and set out on a sightseeing tour around England that quickly becomes a killing spree after Chris reverses over a tourist he witnessed littering. Justifications for the killings range from a rambler’s “smug complacency” to Tina’s sexual jealousy, removing any kind of social agenda from Oram and Lowe’s anarchic, cruelly witty script. Instead they parody usual clichés – Tina is still affected by the loss of her dog, who meets an unfortunate end by knitting needle in flashback – and affectionately mock bullshit social rhetoric. There’s a guilty pleasure in our enjoyment of the escalating brutality of the situation and how the pair’s romantic entanglement evolves through this. Despite their obvious issues, Chris and Tina are genuinely entertaining people to spend time with, and the surreal, morbid flourishes of humour combine with dark flares of blood to make for a generic hybrid that has been deftly melded together. Sightseers is worth making tracks to see. (A-)

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