Feature trailer


Film life

"...film for us was just a great escape; for an hour-and-a-half you could just sit down and forget about your own life and live a parallel life in a parallel world completely different from your own"
Pedro Almodovar

Cannes 2014 Winners

And the Palme d’Or goes to…  Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s drama Winter Sleep.

Here's a full list of the winners:

Palme d’Or
Winter Sleep (directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

Grand Prix
The Wonders (directed by Alice Rohrwacher)

Jury Prize
Mommy (directed by Xavier Dolan) and Goodbye to Language (directed by Jean-Luc Godard)

Camera d’Or
Party Girl (directed by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis)

Best Director
Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Best Screenplay
Leviathan (directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev)

Best Actress
Julianne Moore (Maps to the Stars)

Best Actor
Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner)

Short Film
Leidi (directed by Simón Mesa Soto)

Film 16: Labyrinth

Dir: Jim Henson
Production: 1986, UK
Cast: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud

"Dance magic dance. Jump magic jump. Put that baby's put a spell on me" 

It’s so bad, how could I not post a short review. This film was screened as part of Bowiefest, at London’s ICA – celebrating 40 years of David Bowie’s work in film.

In brief: 15-year-old Sarah is left home alone by her parents and she has to babysit her little half-brother Toby. However, Sarah accidentally wishes Toby away to the Goblin King Jareth (David Bowie), who brings him to his castle in the middle of a Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is a fantasy world filled with goblins, ghouls and wrong turns at every step. Sarah has to rescue Toby before midnight (within 13 hours), or the baby will became a goblin. Like all good fantasy stories, the ending has a very predictable ending. 

I originally saw this film as a kid, so it was interesting to revisit this now in my more mature years. Lets just say, it’s not how I remember it, but somehow also a cult classic. 

The acting is terrible. Sarah seems to have one permanent facial expression through the film. As for Bowie, well it’s about THAT codpiece and not much else. There is a lot of energy to the film, mainly channelled through THAT codpiece but it didn’t put a spell on me. The songs are beyond cheesy and the surrounding soundtrack is a mix of classic late 80’s electro.

On a positive note the puppetry is excellent, that only of a Henson production team could achieve. Goblins and ghouls vary in size and character, adding the much needed dynamics to the film. I did get the feeling that the production team had more fun making the film, than the audience watching it! 

By the end of the film, the conversation turned to whether this film was intended for children or adults? There is some serious sexual undertones between Sarah and Jareth during the ballroom scene. Or is it just trying to please everyone – maybe trying too hard, you can be the judge. 

Trailer: "The excitement of David Bowie"


Film 15: Unrelated

Dir: Joanna Hogg
Production: 2008, UK
Cast: Kathryn Worth, Tom Hiddleston, Mary Roscoe, David Rintoul, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Harry Kershaw, Michael Hadley, Emma Hiddleston

During a sticky patch in her marriage, forty-something Anna spends a summer holiday with her friends Verena and George at their Tuscan villa. Rather than spend her time in the company of the adults, she hangs out with the couple's teenaged children and their cousin Oakley. Anna goes skinny-dipping and sight-seeing, spending hours specifically talking to Oakley. Anna takes a liking to the attractive Oakley, flirting and passing affirmative compliments his way. When the youngsters prang a borrowed car and Anna tells George how it happened, causing a huge scene with his elder son, the kids turn against her.

This results in Anna feeling isolated from the teenagers (rejection) and also from the adults due to her action of ignoring them. As an outsider - unrelated - Anna realises that she should be grateful for her relationship with her husband.

Oakley and Anna discussing sex
I’d describe this film as a simmering essay based on the links between family and those friends that intertwine. The cast consists of mother (Verena) and father (Charlie) and their three teenage children (Jack, Badge, Archie), the mother’s cousin (George) and his son (Oakley) and mother’s best friend (Anna). The two families have obviously known each other for sometime and the power balance between them is established from the moment the film begins. There is a clear divide between the adults and the teenagers, with leaders in both camps. However, with the arrival of Anna, this accepted balance is reset by her choice to spend her time in the teenage camp. Frustrating the mother and the simmering sexual tension between Anna and Oakley ultimately leads to a stand off, arguments, upset and eventually reconciliation between the two camps.

Anna snubed by the family
 Set in the rolling Tuscan landscape, the story is film in an attractive villa. For the most part of the film, the camera is locked in a fixed position with the actors moving in amongst the scenery. We are either presented with a full wide shot where we can absorb everything on screen or the scene will be cut to one side of the shot, leaving us with a limited understand or a viewpoint from one specific actor(s).

This technique is used to dramatic effect and adds intrigue to the plotline. One particular scene where this works especially well is when Anna is seated for breakfast at a long table. Initially she is on her own, but is shortly joined by the teenagers. Oakley sits beside Anna. By this point the camera has focused solely on this couple, cutting the rest of the action off to the left of the screen. Oakley leans over Anna several times, reaching for various food items. The expression on her Anna’s face is one of excitement as her dream young boy bushes past her. Whether Oakley knowingly performs his actions to achieve this reaction is left unexplained; however he certainly seems to be teasing Anna.

This is a slow burning, human interest film that would appeal to all. You can watch the film for FREE via blinkbox and add your own reviews and comments below.

The film won the Guardian First Film Award in 2008.


Mammoth month of film exploration

To study the cinema: what an absurd idea! 
Christian Metz 

Of course, Metz is wrong and to prove this for the whole month of September, thanks to the good folks of television land, you can immerse yourself in two exceptional programming masterpieces. 

The Story of Film: An Odyssey 
First up is a 15-part series from award-winning film-maker Mark Cousins. Each episode explores a specific era, starting from 1920 and the silent films. Cousins will be your worldwide guided tour of the greatest movies ever made and tells the story of international cinema through the history of cinematic innovation. 

Tune in to More4 every Saturday evening from 9pm, or watch online

There’s also an interactive timeline that allows you to explore the various milestones that the series will explore during each episode.

And if that wasn’t enough, you can also watch a few of Cousins suggested films on Film4 – highlights include Battleship Potemkin, A Matter of Life and Death, Death of Mr Lazarescu.

The Reel History of Britain 
The BBC series The Reel History of Britain explores life in 20th century Britain, using fascinating films preserved by the BFI National Archive and other public film archives around the UK. The series programmes screen every weekday on BBC2 at 6:30pm from Monday 5 September, and will be available on the BBC iPlayer. Full details are available on the BFI's website.

As Noel Carroll stated “…film had to legitimise its place in our culture. And the way that it initially set about getting itself taken seriously was to prove that it was an art...” 

Hopefully these two epic programmes will, not only add to the vast and growing expanse of publicly available cinematic material, but also provide artistic stimulation for all. 

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts, comments, and outrages – post messages below or join me on Facebook.

Film 11: If….

Dir: Lindsay Anderson
Production: 1968, USA/UK
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, David Wood, Richard Warwick, Christine Noonan, Robert Swann

What was your school like? Did it have an armoury? Did it have a guy dressed in a ‘Richard the lion heart’ slash ‘Knight of the round table’ outfit? Or what about a neurotic ex-army general as a teacher? Fortunately for Mick Travis – our anti hero of sorts – has got it all and more.

In an indictment of the British boys school, we follow Mick (Malcolm McDowell) and his friends through a series of indignities and occasionally abuse. Mick is one of three non-conformist boys among the returning class. They are watched and persecuted by the "Whips", senior boys given authority as prefects over juniors. The prefects are entitled to the services of "Scum", who are first-year boys assigned to run errands, make tea and generally act as unpaid servants. When Mick and his friends rebel, violently, the catch phrase, "which side would you be on" becomes quite stark.

The first half of the film shows the pupils returning at the start of a new school term and the rituals that accompany. For instance, in one scene the Whips process a line of Scum with questions such as “Ringworm? Eye-disease? VD? Confirmation class? Next!”

The second half of the film focuses solely on Mick and his friends as they set about their rebellion.

Mick Travis
“There's no such thing as a wrong war. Violence and revolution are the only pure acts.”
The narrative is filled with references to the British stiff upper lip, Latin lessons, sexual confusion and endless debating. Hierarchy, conformity and strict abidance to the rules are the flavour of the day. Ignorance of any of these leads down a path to a beating from the Whips.
Mick Travis
“What stands, if freedom falls? Who dies, if England lives?”
At the films narrative heart is the story of a boy fighting against the oppressive school authority. This comes in various forms, whether it is a smile and wink at the Whips after a beaten, stealing a motorbike from a showroom, to the films violent conclusion. The storyline is very brutal and filled with ideals of war. The acting in parts resembles that of a primitive society.

By the end of the film you’re left feeling unsure who’s side your suppose to take? Join Mick and is rebel gang or, through feelings of delusion, step over the line and stand with the majority. Don’t expect an answer to this puzzle; the director wants you to make your own mind up (or not).

Upon the films release in the UK it received an X certificate, but looking back on it now and the film still holds its own. Original and innovative of all British movies of the 60s, a must see for all those that love and hate the British class system with equal measure.


The Apocalypse has arrived!

Well, maybe not quite yet, so the 35th edition of Little White Lies will have to do in the mean time.

Here’s some cover shots – it’s shiny!

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. Someday this war's gonna end..."

Apocalypse Now is showing at the BFI Southbank from 27 May until 9 June. Here’s a trailer to wet your appetite.

Film 3: Inception

Dir: Christopher Nolan
Production: 2010, USA
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page

Christopher Nolan new sci-fi drama bends the divide between reality and dreamscape so far that you’ll be perplexed as to whether the whole film was a dream or not. Nolan forces us to ask question such as when is a dream not a dream? When does a dream become reality? Have you ever been awaken to the sound of the song entitled non, je ne regret rien? No me neither.

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved.

Film 2: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Dir: Blake Edwards
Production: 1961, USA
Cats: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard


So here how I’d sum up Breakfast at Tiff’s - “Divine daaahrling, simply divine” followed by a crooning rendition of Moon river, wider than a mile / I'm crossing you in style some day.

Paul Varjak
“I don't think I've ever drunk champagne before breakfast before. With breakfast on several occasions, but never before, before.”

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