Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Day Two - "I'm taking the routine and injecting industrial quantities of shazoom".

Joshua

Mainstream thriller about a young boy in New York who turns out to be EVIL! Or is he?

This is a little bit like a lame 21st Century version of "The Omen", only it's not nearly scary enough. Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga (two of my favourite actors, both of whom deserve better than this) play Brad and Abby, two wealthy New York parents who have just had their second child. Unfortunately, this doesn't sit too well with their first child, 10-year-old Joshua (Jacob Kogan, pictured) and soon the percentage of household accidents is on the increase. Will Brad realise what Joshua's up to before it's too late? The Omen references come thick and fast - at one point Joshua is even dressed in Damien's high white-collared shirt ensemble. There are a couple of suspenseful scenes and the acting is pretty decent too. Kogan is extremely creepy (where on earth did they find him?) and Michael McKean is on hand to provide a tiny bit of light relief as Brad's unsympathetic boss ("You idiot! Never beat up your kid in a crowded park on the weekend!") Unfortunately, though it's well made and well acted, director George Ratliff doesn't always get the tone right and sometimes it's hard not to burst out laughing. Unintentionally amusing highlights include: a dopey Abby cutting her feet on glass and smearing the blood on her leg while telling Joshua about a lovely pair of sexy red boots she used to own; Brad blatantly ignoring the warning signs like dead guinea pigs and stuffed toys being slashed open to perform Egytpian rituals; Grandma having a bit of an accident with some stairs; and the final twist, which is both hilarious and borderline offensive and if you don't want to know what it is then LOOK AWAY NOW. Still here? Okay then. Basically, it turns out that Joshua effectively gets rid of both of his parents because he wants to spend more time with his Gay Uncle Ned (played by Dallas Roberts), the suggestion being that musically gifted, sensitive Joshua may have tendencies in that direction himself. It starts well but it isn't nearly scary enough. If you want a movie about EVIL children, rent the little-seen (at least over here - it's well-known in the States) "The Bad Seed" instead. Two stars.

Razzle Dazzle: A Journey Into Dance

Australian mockumentary starring Ben Miller and Jane Hall as the heads of two rival dance troupes who go head-to-head in the annual Sanosafe Troupe Spectacular.

The words "Australian", "mockumentary", "dance troupe" and "Ben Miller" should tell you everything you need to know about "Razzle Dazzle" and I mean that in a good way. Miller plays Mr Jonathan, leader of the Jazzketeers dance troupe, whose controversial, politically motivated dance routines (e.g. the Kyoto Protocol Shuffle) have often stood in the way of his success at dance competitions, especially now that there's competition from the rigidly traditional school run by Miss Elizabeth (Jane Hall). As the annual Sanosafe Troupe Spectacular approaches, Mr Jonathan is counting on his routine about oppressed Afghanistan women to win the day, but will it be enough to swing the judges? The film also focuses on the relationship between pushy mother extraordinaire (Tara Morice) and her daughter Tenille (Shayni Notelovitz), as well as Barbara (Denise Roberts), a foster mother who keeps returning her charges when it turns out that they lack dancing talent. As mockumentaries go, "Razzle Dazzle" is pretty funny but there's nothing here you haven't seen before. The characters are well written, the performances are great and there are some extremely funny lines ("She's got a lot in store - she's an Ikea of talent"), but it doesn't do anything you're not expecting. Three stars.


Control

Anton Corbijn's biopic about Ian Curtis, starring newcomer Sam Riley and Samantha Morton.

Acclaimed photographer Anton Corbijn's feature debut is a terrific biopic of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis (Sam Riley), who committed suicide at the age of 23 in 1980. Shot in gorgeous black and white, the film often recalls the kitchen sink dramas of the 1960s. Riley is sensational as Curtis, beautifully capturing his electric stage presence but also his agonising private conflicts, such as his struggles with epilepsy and his love for two women: his wife, Debbie (Samantha Morton), who he married at a very young age, and Belgian strumpet-slash-groupie Annik Honore (Alexandra Maria Lara), who became his sort of on-tour mistress. The script, based on Debbie's book, is superb, particularly in the smaller details, such as Curtis' day job at the Labour Exchange, where he tries to help people with disabilities find work ("I. DON'T. LIKE. HOTDOGS!") There's also terrific, colourful support from Tony Kebbell as wisecracking manager Rob Gretton ("Where's your money? It's in my fuck off pocket") and Craig Parkinson as Tony Wilson, who does well to step out of the shadow of Steve Coogan's earlier performance. It goes without saying that the soundtrack's brilliant too. It also made me want to rewatch "24 Hour Party People" (with which this would make a great double-bill) as soon as possible. Five stars and yet another instant entry into my Best of the Fest list.

Opening Night Party

The opening night party this year was in conjunction with Hallam Foe (review to follow at some point), which meant it was decorated with David Shrigley artwork (pictured right) and there were lots of topless barmen with stag head-dresses wandering around. It also meant that Franz Ferdinand (who contribute to the film's excellent soundtrack) played a four-song accoustic set. I videoed one of the songs and hopefully will be able to embed it below. Fingers crossed. Apparently John Waters was there, but I didn't see him, unfortunately. I did see Dylan Moran, Tilda Swinton (looking spectacular in a silver jackety thing) and Ewan Bremner but I didn't speak to them. I briefly spoke to Jamie Bell (pictured) and Jamie Sives (who I've interviewed before) but the highlight of the party, for me, was a) the little pots of lamb stew, b) the chocolate mousse desserts and c) the fact that Guinness was one of the sponsors. I've spent the last seven years begging anyone who would listen for them to make Guinness one of the sponsors so, clearly, someone finally listened. Result. Paying for it now, mind.



Franz Ferdinand playing at the Festival launch party

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm - my hopes were high for Joshua after reviews like this

http://www.esquire.com/features/the-screen/screen0807

FilmFan said...

Okay, these anonymous comments have got to stop. Usernames or real names, please!

Dan said...

Oops - sorry FF, that one was me.

djo

mcnutty said...

Yeah, I quite liked the look of Joshua as well. Glad you liked Control, too. It's got a great 'Angry Young Man' vibe. Kind of strange to think that both brothers from Dead Man's Shoes have now played Rob Gretton.