Tag Archives: 20 Feet From Stardom

Failed Critics Podcast: Glasgow Film Festival 2014 (feat. Pappy’s)

The Lunchbox
The Lunchbox

Och aye the new Failed Critics podcast! We’re back in Scotland for our second annual trip to the Glasgow Film Festival, and once more James is entrusted with somehow patching together a podcast without the erstwhile talents of Steve and Owen.

Luckily he isn’t alone, and for this special podcast is not only joined by our good friends Dave McFarlane of Born Offside and Paul Fisher of The Write Club, but also by our very special guests Pappy’s – the award-winning sketch comedy stars of BBC3’s Badults.

There’s plenty of chat, drinking, and reviews of the latest films from Terry Gilliam, Michel Gondry, and Richard Ayoade. We’ll be back to normal next week with our Oscars Special.

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BD_Logo_WhiteThe Failed Critics coverage of Glasgow Film Festival is sponsored by Brewdog Bar Glasgow – providing award-winning beers and brilliant food in one of Glasgow’s friendliest bars.

We would have spent most of the festival there regardless, so we’d really like to thank them for their generous hospitality.

GFF14 Diary: Monday 24th Feb – Mood Indigo, 20 Feet from Stardom, and Pappy’s

Mood IndigoToday was my first ‘proper’ day at the festival. Two films, recording for the podcast, and a sense that things had finally kicked off.

Mood Indigo was a film that I was looking forward to in spite of the reviews. Michel Gondry is an incredible visual director, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of those films that I think is utterly flawless. Add to the mix a cast containing the bewitching Audrey Tautou (Amelie), and the brilliant Omar Sy (Intouchables) and hopes were high.

Sadly, the film is nowhere near the sum of its parts. It’s based on a Boris Vian novel, and the early scenes cannot help making the audience think of Amelie, Tautou’s breakout film which also featured a romantic and highly stylised Paris as its backdrop. Colin (Romain Duris) is a well-off bachelor who quite literally demands to fall in love, leading his lawyer and mentor (and part-time chef) Chick (Sy) to help him woo Chloe (Tautou). They soon fall in love and marry, but disaster strikes as it’s revealed that Chloe has a flower growing inside her lung that is slowly killing her.

This film’s strength is also its downfall, as the visual trickery and frippery of Gondry soon completely overwhelm the entire film. Early scenes featuring a ‘pianocktail’ (a piano that mixes drinks according to the tune being played upon it) and a man dressed as a mouse soon wear thin as the story starts to take hold. In fact, during some of the most dramatic scenes, instead of empathising with the characters I was just sat waiting for the next Gondry illusion to occur.

It’s difficult to hate the film due to its sheer ambition, but at the same time I can see why Harvey Weinstein cut half an hour from its running time. I’m just not sure he cut enough.

20 Feet from Stardom is showing at the festival hot on the heels from its Oscar nomination for Best Documentary, and it’s certainly proving to be a bit of a crowd-pleaser. It’s a frank and at times heart-warming look at the world of the backing singer, featuring the likes of Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, and Merry Clayton. The fact that you may not have heard of these women is reason enough for making the film.

The film is at its best when exploring the role of the backing singer, and the impact they’ve had on popular music. Mick Jagger and Merry Clayton tell a wonderful story of how Clayton turned up in the middle of the night, in her pyjamas and seven months pregnant, and absolutely nailed the female vocal part of the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter. Fischer is also an engaging and fascinating interviewee as one of the few participants who apparently gave up the chance to become a solo artist, and doesn’t regret a thing.

At times though the film just can’t shake the feeling of being an interesting episode of VH1’s Behind the Music complete with polished looks and interviews from Bruce Springsteen and Sting. It’s an enjoyable look at an area of pop music that doesn’t get a huge amount of attention, but it ultimately feels like it’s barely scratching the surface.

I ended the evening interviewing the brilliant comedy sketch group Pappy’s, and their interview will be featured in full on this week’s podcast. What I can say is that they are both lovely, and have far more interesting and insightful things to say about the film than we’ve ever seen on the podcast. If you haven’t already bought Badults on DVD, what’s stopping you?

BD_Logo_WhiteThe Failed Critics coverage of Glasgow Film Festival is sponsored by Brewdog Bar Glasgow – providing award-winning beers and brilliant food in one of Glasgow’s friendliest bars.

We would have spent most of the festival there regardless, so we’d really like to thank them for their generous hospitality.

Glasgow Film Festival 2014 Preview

gfflogo

It’s that time of year once more, and I’ll shortly be on my way to Scotland for the 10th Glasgow Film Festival. The cinematic event that provides a more boisterous, down-to-earth, and accessible counterpoint to the Edinburgh Film and Television festival.

This year the festival is even bigger than ever, and features over 60 UK premieres. The opening gala is the UK Premiere of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, while the closing gala is the Scottish premiere of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. Although both have sold out, there’s still plenty to get excited about.

Richard Ayoade’s second feature The Double (starring Jessie Eisenberg), Terry Gilliam’s latest sci-fi mindfuck The Zero Theorem (starring Christophe Waltz as you’ve never seen him), and the film adaptation of the acclaimed novel The Book Thief all have gala screenings at the festival.

Other films to watch out for include Jason Priestley’s directorial debut Cas and Dylan (a road-trip movie starring Richard Dreyfuss), Philipe Claudel’s psychological thriller Before the Winter Chill, and the Scottish premiere of Oscar-nominated documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, complete with pre-film entertainment from the Glasgow Gospel Choir.

There are a few films that I’m particularly looking forward to, including Michel Gondry’s (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) latest film Mood Indigo. Starring the delightful Audrey Tautou (Amelie), and featuring Romain Duris (Populaire) and Omar Sy (Intouchables), it is an adaptation of the Boris Vian cult novel set in contemporary Paris with a retro aesthetic. Gondry’s films are always visually stunning, and it appears we’re getting the full cut of the film rather than the Weinstein ‘vision’, which makes it a must-watch for me.

Zero Charisma has the potential to become one of the breakout hits of the festival, and anything that celebrates geek culture without sneering at it is to be applauded. This exploration of the conflict between a weekly ‘Games Master’ and the popular ‘geek chic’ interloper into his social circle has already proven very popular at SXSW, and fits perfectly into the festival’s embrace of gaming culture.

My last ‘one to watch’ from the huge programme is the Guatemala/Mexico joint production The Golden Dream. Directed by a former Ken Loach cameraman, this powerful neo-realist look at three teenagers’ attempts to travel a thousand miles from their homes to the US packs a serious punch, and features outstanding performances from its young leads.

Then there’s the notorious GFF Surprise Film, the lucky dip of the festival and certainly worth a punt even if last year’s screening was the woeful Spring Breakers. Speculation is rife as to what this year’s film could be, and I’m trying desperately to lower my expectations from The Raid 2. Like last year’s film though, both Snowpiercer and Calvary have screened at Berlin to excellent reviews, and either would be a fantastic choice.

Horror fans are also amply accommodated during the last weekend of the festival as Frighfest heads north of the border, with Ti West appearing in conversation and Wolf Creek 2 among the films premiering in that strand.

And it’s not just new films that dominate the programme; the 1939 Hooray for Hollywood strand will see ten classics from that year being screened across the city, including Mr Smith Goes to Washington and Gone with the Wind. There are some great films in unusual locations as well, including Young Frankenstein at the Kelvingrove Museum, and John Carpenter’s The Fog on a boat.

I’m going to be covering as much of the festival as I possibly can with my daily diary, as well as interviews, reviews, and mis-typed tweets. The Failed Critics Podcast is also returning to Glasgow, and this year we’ll have some old friends returning, and hopefully making some new ones as well.

BD_Logo_WhiteThe Failed Critics coverage of Glasgow Film Festival is sponsored by Brewdog Bar Glasgow – providing award-winning beers and brilliant food in one of Glasgow’s friendliest bars.

We would have spent most of the festival there regardless, so we’d really like to thank them for their generous hospitality.