Tag Archives: The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby

London Film Festival Part II: Revenge Of The Festival

It’s not often I turn to a complete stranger (I am a Londoner, after all) and whisper, “I’ve only eaten free Green & Black’s chocolate and baked goods from Costa all week.  I think I’m dying”.  It’s even rarer for this opening gambit to elicit a sympathetic smile and a “I know what you mean” in response.  Such is the emotional state we are to be reduced to in the home stretch of the 58th London Film Festival, the busiest I have ever seen.  After all, I am seeing a mere 13 films (not including shorts) in 6 days; other, hardier souls have been trapped in Leicester Square for the full twelve.

15-6-4930.JPGSo, my long weekend begins with Love is Strange – a feature which came to my attention when the MPAA rated it R for no fucking reason whatsoever apart from the fact that it’s about a gay couple.  I like John Lithgow, I love Alfred Molina, so this was a no-brainer to catch.  And it doesn’t disappoint – the sweet tale of a couple who have been together for nearly forty years – but are only now finally able to formalise their union – at times threatens to tip into sentimentality, but manages to teeter away at the right times.  It’s a simple tale of what happens when a couple are forced to live apart through no fault of their own, and the pressures this puts on their family ties.  It’s light on story but makes up for it with excellent performances; Molina and Lithgow you would expect, but also from Marisa Tomei, who shines as the slightly spoilt writer who eventually finds a sudden intrusion into her family life too much to bear.

On to the next film, a Norwegian comedy (!) 1001 Grams.  This was a complete wildcard as I just liked the description in the brochure and it is also Norway’s official submission to the Best Foreign Film category at next year’s Oscars.  It starts off brightly enough – a young scientist attends a Parisian conference on the actual weight of a kilo, which apparently depends on many factors, such as whether the weight in question has been touched or not.  But that one slight joke tries to sustain a whole film, and when it realises that it won’t stretch far enough, it throws in a tragedy and a forced love interest to try and shore things up.  The problem was, I ended up not caring for these shoehorned plot points, and just a few days later I can barely remember anything about the film.  Definitely one of the more forgettable experiences of the festival.

On then, to The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.  Or, to give the film its full title, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, for this is an edited version of two full length sides of a marriage in crisis, Him and Her.  Thus, in his debut feature-length film, director Ned Benson does what Quentin Tarantino has never been able to – swallow his pride and edit together two films to form a perfectly coherent and satisfying single feature.  And it is wholly satisfying; a surprisingly stellar cast including James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, William Hurt, Ciarán Hinds and an excellent Bill Hader elevate what could have been a sappy mess into a parable about what happens when you don’t communicate in a long-term relationship (this and Gone Girl would make an excellent first date double-bill for sadists, I feel).  Well-plotted and with some surprises along the way, I left feeling like I actually wanted to watch the Him and Her versions as well, and I will seek them out when they arrive on Netflix.  Side notes: I met James McAvoy here and he was lovely.  I can be cool around famous people for about 5 seconds.

The next day – Saturday – brought a few surprises.  Going in, I was not sure what to expect from any of the three films I was watching that day.  And given that they included the new film from Michael Winterbottom and an Aussie action-comedy starring Simon Pegg, I did not expect the film that I would still be thinking about even now to be a drama about gangland Brixton.

honeytrap-002Honeytrap is loosely based on true events; centred on Layla, a recent immigrant from Tobago who comes to live with her mother on a council estate in south London.  Immediately she feels out of place – her mother (who seems to have got thoroughly used to not being a parent in Layla’s absence) can’t or won’t buy her any new clothes to replace the ones she has grown out of, so she steals outfits to fit in with the other girls.  This desperation to be accepted seems to pay off when she is eyed up by a hot local rapper, but the attention soon turns into something much darker.  Director Rebecca Johnson has spent 10 years working with youngsters in Brixton, making films with them, and it shows – there is an easy naturalism to every performance (she told me that only the main players actually went through a casting process – many were picked from the estates she has been working on for a long time) which makes the inevitable denouement much worse.  Only when it’s far too late does Layla realise the consequences of her action; she (and we) can only watch in horror as the inevitable denouement plays out before our eyes and the situation spirals away from her, out of her control.  It’s a horrifying, powerful film that I can imagine being shown as a vital part of the schools curriculum, and one that I would urge everyone to watch if possible – this is British talent at its best, in front of and behind the camera.

So perhaps a little unfairly, I went into The Face of an Angel expecting great things.  Directed by Michael Winterbottom and “loosely” based around the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, the film does not directly address the murder but rather the media reaction to it.  This is done by using the rather clever framing device of focusing on a filmmaker, Thomas (Daniel Brühl, watchable as ever) as he researches the murder in order to, well, make a film about it.  The problem with using Thomas as a framing device is, he should never really be the focus of the story; he should be presenting another way of thinking about it.  And although the films starts this way – Thomas hammers home the point that everyone is obsessed with the alleged murderers but they forget someone actually died – by the time a Return of the King-esque stream of apparent endings comes along, he does become the focus, and the film loses its way.  This is more of a lament of the media, complete with the obligatory caricatures – the slimy Daily Mail journo who embellishes his stories, the American who holds court in the cafe waiting for the actual courts to make up their mind, the local expert.  Winterbottom’s goal here is clearly to hold up a mirror to these people, and to let us all know that they should be under scrutiny as well as the accused.  But the sad truth is, they wouldn’t exist if we did not want to know every seedy detail in cases such as these.  Inevitably, no-one ends up very likeable in the film – except for Cara Delevingne’s character Melanie, who is a bouncy, cheerful English student.  But ultimately you don’t feel like she is relevant to the story in any way.

simon_pegg_kriv_stenders_kill_me_three_timesFinally on Friday night, an Aussie comedy (!) about a hitman, Kill Me Three Times.  Except it’s not really about the hitman (played by Simon Pegg), although I don’t blame the distributors at all for selling the film that way in the UK. Rather it’s about an elaborate revenge plot/insurance plot spun three different ways, which ends up going awry, as all the best plots do.  It’s pretty smart for an action comedy and did conjure up memories of Grosse Point Blank at times (Pegg did say in the Q&A afterwards that Martin Blank is his favourite on-screen assassin), albeit played out against stunning Australian scenery.  You won’t remember much about it when it’s over, but it’s an entertaining ride for an hour and a half, and the action is enjoyably messy.

Sunday, the final day, brings a certain melancholy and simultaneous relief over everyone – the poor girl introducing Carol Morley at the screening of The Killing in Hackney looks like she is about to keel over.  Which is appropriate, seeing as a main theme in The Falling is exactly that – Abbie, a promiscuous young student at a girl’s school in the 1960s, falls pregnant and starts to suffer from fainting and fits.  Soon enough her group of friends all come down with this mysterious affliction, with less reason.  I was a big fan of Morley’s previous feature, Dreams of a Life – an excellent documentary about a woman who lay dead in her flat for three years – but this failed to ignite any interest in me whatsoever.  The highlight is an excellent performance by Maxine Peake as the agoraphobic mother of one of the girls (played by Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones – sometimes decent, but sometimes quite wooden).  The film does pick up towards the end, but unfortunately the denouement needs more development beforehand to sustain it, and it never quite gets there.

And finally, the last film of the festival altogether, Fury.  I have a feeling that we will go into this more in this week’s podcast, but as a personal note I thought the performances were excellent, even though the film as a whole doesn’t quite reach the heights of great war films.  The revelation for me was Shia LaBeouf, playing a meaty role thoughtfully (although to be perfectly honest, I have never seen him in anything outside Transformers and Indiana Jones, and I’d prefer to forget both of them).  If this is where being a bit “kooky” gets him, then more power to his elbow.

Thanks for reading, and see you next year.

*faints*

US Box Office Report: 12/9/14 – 14/9/14

No Good Deed goes without an accompanying first-place victory, America shrugs at Atlas Shrugged Part III, Dolphin Tale had a sequel, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Hey!  It finally happened!  Americans were finally given films to see that weren’t Guardians Of The Galaxy!  Unfortunately, in their combined crazed panic to get to the cinema and see these new films, lest they be taken away at the last second and they end up having to see Guardians yet again for the 27th goddamn time, American moviegoers failed to realise that most of the films that they were seeing were actually utter sh*t.  But, hey, when has that ever stopped anything from becoming popular, right?  In first place is No Good Deed, the Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson starring home invasion thriller that absolutely does not have anything disagreeable going on under the surface no siree bob, with $24.5 million in ticket sales.  Behind that we have Dolphin Tale 2, a sequel to Dolphin Tale and one I whose existence I will never not be bewildered by, which managed to con $16.5 million worth of families out of their monies because they don’t have Netflix in those far flung corners of the country (along with electricity, heat, and running water) and had to take what entertainment they could get.

In the more limited release-y side of proceedings, The Drop, a crime drama starring Tom Hardy and featuring James Gandolfini’s final role, succeeded best out of being the one released in the most screens, managing to break into the Top 10 with $4.2 million banked.  As for those films that didn’t have that luxury benefit of a screen count that barely counts as “limited”; awards-season-hopeful that-will-be-nominated-for-jack-sh*t-because-it-was-released-too-early The Skeleton Twins did the best of the bunch taking $411,000 from 15 screens for a $27,000 per-screen average.  Next up is My Old Lady, a comedy-drama that looks conspicuously lacking in both comedy and drama but managed to overcome those handicaps to take $134,000 from 11 screens, for a per-screen average of $12,182.  After that we have The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, the smushed-together cut of a romance-drama that is supposed to have its separate “Him” and “Her” cuts (which view events exclusively through the perspective of him or her) released at some point but you know the Weinsteins, which disappeared $77,200 from moviegoers pockets at 4 separate screens.  Ha.  Ha.

In the midst of all of this, though, spare a thought for poor old Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?  The final instalment in the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s landmark novel that continued pressing on regardless of the fact that audiences said “no” twice before, having to raise the second film’s budget by selling the debt of the first one due to it bombing spectacularly, and taking to Kickstarter to fund the finale (not joking), escaped into the wild, this week.  Now, normally, I’d sit here and laugh ultra-derisively at its pathetic opening of $355,000 from 242 cinemas (for comparison, Atlas Shrugged Part 1 opened on 299 screens in 2011 and made $1.6 million), but I kinda pity the thing more than anything.  Everyone involved kept shouldering on, regardless of the financial bombs, the critical paddling, and the fact that they had to replace the entire cast between each film, because they wanted to tell their story.  They desperately wanted to tell the story of Atlas Shrugged on the big screen and they weren’t going to let such a little thing as “repeated total systemic failure” get in their way!  That’s kinda admirable, in a deluded way, and I applaud them for keeping on!  Then I remember that the movies are absolute garbage and return to laughing at their quixotic endeavour.

Elsewhere, As Above, So Below bottomed out spectacularly in only its third week, slipping from sixth to twelfth; The Trip To Italy, otherwise known as “the cut-down film version of The Trip’s second series for fat stupid Americans with short attention spans”, extended its reach to 71 more screens and managed to take another $481,000 overall; The Identical, otherwise known as last week’s only new release, plummeted from an already dreadful opening by 75%; and Guardians Of The Galaxy became the first film this year to cross $300 million domestic.  Which, you know, is a sign that Hollywood is f*cked and all that.  Rather than deservedly doom-mongering for a couple of minutes, though, can we at least just celebrate the fact that a brilliant goddamn movie is making serious money, with China still to go?  …  …  …  …OK, that’s long enough.


This full list just broke into your house and is standing right behind you.  I’m joking, of course.  But one day, I might not be.

no good deed 2

Box Office Results: Friday 12th September 2014 – Sunday 14th September 2014

1] No Good Deed

$24,500,000 / NEW

So, this is a film in which a big scary black man basically forces his way into a small defenceless woman’s home and tortures her mentally and physically for about 70 of the film’s 85 minutes?  Nope, can’t see anything wrong with that set-up!  Absolutely nothing that makes it tone-deaf in today’s societal climate!  Not at all!  Thank goodness the woman was black instead of white, otherwise then, and only then, would things have just crossed the line of good taste!

2] Dolphin Tale 2

$16,550,000 / NEW

Right, I want answers, which of you asked for a sequel to Dolphin Tale?  Who honestly left the cinema after seeing the first film three years ago and went, “I need a sequel to that yesterday!”  Who was it?  Was it any of you on the Failed Critics staff?  Was it you, Shawky?  Don’t try to deny it!  You’re the kind of guy who has seen Guardians Of The Galaxy 18 times in the cinema!  Seeing this there once would not surprise me in the slightest!

3] Guardians Of The Galaxy

$8,041,000 / $305,926,000

Speaking of, I finally fulfilled my promise to my cousins to get them to the cinema to see this, this past weekend.  They loved it, the elder one even forgot he had sweets for the entire first hour of the movie because he was so transfixed by the film on display.  They both declared it “BEST FILM EVER” which I imagine was just as much because it was my treat as well as it being a great damn movie, but it was still refreshing to see just how much of an impact a good film can have on younger children who haven’t hit the “jaded teenager” mark yet.  Ah, to be young…

Oh, sorry.  Forgot for a sec that you don’t give a sh*t about my personal life.  Moving on.

4] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

$4,800,000 / $181,041,000

On the subject of films with uncomfortable treatments and scenarios for women, is anyone else really kinda disturbed by how the turtles treat April O’Neal in this trailer?  They tower over her, menacingly intimidate her, one of them lays claim to her, and then they all threaten to “find her” if she reveals their existence.  Err… our heroes, ladies and gentlemen?  Maybe things are better in the finished film but, this being a film with Michael Bay involved in some capacity, I’m not holding my breath.

5] Let’s Be Cops

$4,300,000 / $72,972,000

So, I suspect that we will be getting that sequel notification any day now.  Oh, you think there won’t be one?  We are just two months away from a sequel to Horrible Bosses and seven months away from Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.  We will be getting a sequel to Let’s Be Cops, just wait for it.

6] The Drop

$4,200,000 / NEW

Yay!  Tom Hardy’s starring in movies again!  Which reminds me, I need to get around to seeing Locke.  Would have seen it already, I love me a film with a purposely constraining premise, but it never came to any of my cinemas.  Also, last time we’ll see James Gandolfini in a role.  😦  At least this gives me an excuse to link you to his scenes from In The Loop.  Not that I need the excuse, mind.

7] If I Stay

$4,050,000 / $44,937,000

Just one more week in the Top 10 and it beats The Fault In Our Stars’ run!  Let it have this one, America.  It’s going to spend the rest of its life being unfavourably compared to that film, in terms of quality, financial success, impact and staying power; might as well give it this one break.  Course, there are 4 wide release films next week, so that’s pretty unlikely, but wouldn’t it be something if it did succeed?  And what if it beat The Maze Runner into bloody submission!  Oh, wouldn’t that be something!

8] The November Man

$2,750,000 / $2,495,000

Right, forget this crap; have you seen the trailer for John Wick yet?  Tell me you have!  It is the most brilliantly ridiculous nonsense!  If you somehow don’t want to see this film immediately after watching this trailer, then you and I are no longer on speaking terms.  In fact, I’m going to embed the trailer below this entry so that there is no possible way for you to miss it!

9] The Giver

$2,626,000 / $41,329,000

Oh.  Sh*t.  Right.  So, I didn’t actually expect this one to stick around this week, which means that my world-beating pun from last week is now rendered premature and wasted.  Fantastic.  F*ck you very much, The Giver.

10] The Hundred-Foot Journey

$2,461,000 / $49,409,000

HIS DOG WAS A GIFT FROM HIS DYING WIFE AND THE BAD GUYS KILLED IT!!  That is pure gold, folks!  Why are you not as hyped for that crap as I am?!

Dropped Out: As Above, So Below, When The Game Stands Tall, Lucy

Callum Petch will shoot your mouth if he knows where he’s aiming.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!