Tag Archives: Michel Gondry

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.



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.

Whine On You Crazy Diamond: The Cinema

This week’s WOYCD (or “What? I don’t get it. Who the fuck are Pink Floyd?”, as all the cool kids are calling it) is going to be shorter, more confused, and generally less-polished than normal due to the real-life trinity of work, illness, and family celebrations encroaching into my fantasy life as a widely-read opinion columnist.

Not only have I not had time to write about film, I’ve barely had time to watch one. It’s been months since I went a week without visiting the cinema, and it’s affected me so much I’ve accidentally joined a gym. Hopefully normal service resumes this week – I long for the popcorn-stickiness of a neglected carpet; the dull, disconcerting murmur of a patron patiently explaining a film’s intricacies to their partner; the patronising warnings about piracy killing films after I’ve chosen to give the best part of a tenner to the film industry.

I was even watching Orange Film adverts on YouTube last night.

Cinemas are just the perfect places to watch films. Not all cinemas mind, and on this week’s Failed Critics Review we discussed the pros and cons of the cinema chains we happen to frequent.

I’ve watched films on DVD and Blu-ray at home, streamed down the internet to my laptop, and even on my mobile phone this year. I’ve been drunk, half-asleep, keeping an eye on footballs scores, and wrestling with a toddler at various times, and more often than not I have paused a film to make a drink, go to the toilet, or answer the door and have to tell another chugger to LEAVE ME ALONE IN MY OWN HOUSE YOU BASTARDS. It’s really quite difficult to give your full attention to a film unless you take away all other potential distractions.

That’s why I love the cinema. I love the informal agreement between strangers that (in most cases) we will do our very best not to disturb each other. I love that I feel pressure not to get my phone out to check the time, or my Twitter timeline, or just have a quick go on Temple Run because this film’s just got a little boring.

Watching in a cinema forces you to pay attention to a film, and that can only be a good, nay, wonderful thing. I’m so desperate to get back to the cinema I nearly went to see Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. Nearly.

I know it’s not for everyone, and I can sympathise with the thousands of misanthropes out there who would rather grate their own knuckles than risk interacting with the ‘general public’. But if you really want to appreciate a film to its fullest extent, there is no substitute.

This week’s viewing:

DVD – New out this week is the reasonably entertaining Men in Black 3. Josh Brolin joins the cast as a younger version of Tommy Lee Jone’s ‘K’, and his impersonation is the highlight of the film. Some good ideas, executed with varying degrees of success. If you’re after a Blu-ray reissue of a classic, there are a number of options – the best probably being The Evil Dead in steelbook, or the 65th Anniversary Edition of Frank Capra’s peerless It’s a Wonderful Life.

TV – The Gunfighter (1950), Film4, Friday 9 November. I’m not going to apologise for what is a very personal choice. This western, starring Gregory Peck, is a wonderful example of the genre. Like the more highly-regarded High Noon, this is a film that tries to look behind the myths of the legends of the Old West.

Lovefilm Instant – God Bless America (2011). The latest film from Bobcat Goldthwait – known to most of you I’m sure as ‘the guy with the weird voice in Police Academy’. The film stars Joel Murray (Freddie Rumsen in TV’s Mad Men) as an office worker who snaps after being told he has terminal cancer and goes on the run with a schoolgirl – killing anyone who annoys them. Entertaining, but at times comes across as being written by a teenager who thinks they’re cooler than everyone else.

Netflix UK – Be Kind Rewind (2008). From the mind of Michel Gondry, Be Kind Rewind tells the story of Jerry (Jack Black) and Mike (Mos Def) who accidentally wipe the videotapes in the video store where Mike works. Instead of coming clean, they recreate the films at the local scrapyard, and the customers love the ‘reimagined’ versions. It’s far from perfect, but worth watching for the recreations alone. Gondry’s visual style has never been better.