Today 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?
The 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.