The Last Station (15) ●●●●● (Michael Hoffman, Germany/Russia/UK, 2009) Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, James McAvoy. 113min. It’s 1910 and Tolstoy’s (Plummer) writings have become so fundamentally progressive that his long time publisher Vladimir Chertov (Giamatti) has established a small community of Tolstoyans to carry on the work of the ageing leader. Tolstoy’s wife Sofya (Mirren) has other ideas. Universal tale of misplaced loyalties adapted from Jay Parini’s 1990 novel. Selected release. Leap Year (PG) ●●●●● (Anand Tucker, US/Ireland, 2010) Amy Adams, Matthew Goode. 100min. Hanging on the purportedly well-known Irish tradition that a woman is allowed to propose to her man on the 29th February, after Anna’s (Adams) boyfriend misses a tailor-made opportunity to propose, she decides to do the deed herself. Various things then get in the way in this joyless, laugh-free embarrassment of a movie. General release. Legion (15) ●●●●● (Scott Stewart, US, 2010) Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson. 100min. See review, page 46. Selected release.
✽✽ Letter from an Unknown Woman (15) ●●●●● (Max Ophuls,
US, 1948) Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Mady Christians, Art Smith. 90min. See Also released, page 46. Filmhouse, Edinburgh.
✽✽ Limits of Control (15) ●●●●● (Jim Jarmusch, US/Spain/Japan, 2009)
Isaach de Bankole, Alex Descas, Jean- François Stévenin. 115min. Off beat but under par new film from Jarmusch in which Isaach de Bankole wanders through various parts of Spain on an ambiguous criminal mission. Philosophical and cinematic musings are present, but this is a gnomic work by Jarmusch, savedfrom irrelevance by Christopher Doyle’s fantastic cinematography. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR (PG) ●●●●● (Jonas Mekas, US/Lithuania, 2008) 286min. Filmmaker Mekas recorded newscasts that played daily on his television set from 1989 to 1991, whilst his home country of Lithuania fought for independence from the stronghold of Soviet rule. Comprised of four chapters, and offering short pauses for reflection, Mekas’ compelling work proffers a chronological overview of the birth of independent Lithuania. Gilmorehill G12, Glasgow. The Lovely Bones (12A) ●●●●● (Peter Jackson, UK/US/New Zealand, 2009) Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon. 135min. The problems with Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold’s popular novel run much deeper than the usual stumbling block of having a macabre subject matter. The casting is seriously misjudged, and, shirking away from the darkest elements of the novel, the tone and the aesthetic are completely wrong – where in the book, Susie (Ronan) resides in a 14- year-old’s idea of heaven, Jackson seems to have designed the movie equivalent in a Salvador Dali museum. General release. A Man Escaped (Un Condamne a Mort S’est Echappe) (PG) ●●●●● (Robert Bresson, France, 1956) Francois Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock, Jacques Ertaud. 102min. The true story of a French Resistance fighter’s escape from imprisonment by the Gestapo. Recently re-released, Bresson’s account is both austerely straightforward in its depiction of the story, and sublimely metaphysical in its implications of providence at work. A riveting experience. Part of The Sound of Film season. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Margaret Tait Award Screening (E) (Various, UK, Various) 90min. The Margaret Tait award recognises Scottish artists who are experimental, innovative and who work within film and moving image. At this special screening of Tait’s short works, the Glasgow Film Festival celebrates her influence and will announce the winner of the first Margaret Tait Award. Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow.
✽✽ Micmacs (12A) ●●●●● (Jean- Pierre Jeunet, France, 2009) Dany Boon, André Dussollier, Nicolas Marié.
104min. This slight but enjoyably manic satire from Amelie and Delicatessen director Jeunet sees eccentric Parisian loner Bazil (Boon) draw on a bunch of insane refuseniks for help when he is left with a bullet in his cerebellum following a freak accident. In evoking the ghosts of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati and displacing them in an anarchic underground world peopled by the forgotten and abused, Jeunet is clearly on familiar ground. Fun and innovative stuff. Selected release. Mission X (18) (David Baker, UK, 2009) David Baker, Grant Timmins, Jim Sweeney. 85min. A documentary filmmaker’s interview with a mercenary fresh from Iraq leads to dangerous consequences. Paisley Film Society, Glasgow. Monsters vs Aliens 2D (PG) ●●●●● (Rob Letterman, US, 2009) Voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie. 94min. Can a self-doubting but individualist team of monsters overcome a mob of self- confident, mass-produced aliens? Eye- popping to watch, leavened with self- referential humour that makes it easy to digest, but also playing things so painstakingly safe that any resonance evaporates the moment the end credits roll. Selected release. Moon (15) ●●●●● (Duncan Jones, UK, 2008) Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott. 97min. With this cleverly conceived, evenly paced and consistently intriguing old-school science fiction piece Jones eschews special effects and action-oriented clatter, instead delivering a cerebral adventure that’s as thought-provoking as it is thrilling. Rockwell plays a mining engineer working for a corporation that’s found a new source of energy for the clapped-out planet Earth, but as he nears the end of his three-year contract, cabin fever begins to take hold. Cineworld Renfrew Street, Glasgow; Cineworld Fountainpark, Edinburgh. Mugabe and the White African (12A) ●●●●● (Lucy Bailey/Andrew Thompson, UK, 2009) 90min. Documentary about Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s aggressive land reform programme and the effect it has had on white-owned farms and their inhabitants. The film follows the brave fight of farmer Michael Campbell to hold on to his farm and live peacefully. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. My Name is Khan (12A) (Karan Johar, India, 2010) Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Tanay Chheda. 145min. Romantic Hindi melodrama in which Indian superstar Khan plays a Muslim man with Asperger’s who decides to follow his estranged betrothed across America when they run in to trouble after 9/11. Selected release. Nine (Senior Screening) (12A) ●●●●● (Rob Marshall, US/Italy, 2009) Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard. 118min. Federico Fellini’s most perplexing and iconic work 8 1/2 gets the Broadway to movie adaptation treatment with Day-Lewis (showing a previously unseen penchant for song and dance) in the lead. His mistress Cruz is the real star turn, among a strong female cast of Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Judi Dench and Sophia Loren. Odeon, Edinburgh. Non-Ko (15) (Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, Japan, 2008) Maki Sakai, Gen Hoshino, Shingo Tsurumi. 105min. In this striking portrait of an intensely complex character, disillusioned and lonely 36-year-old divorcee Nonko (Sakai) returns to her family’s home town where her father is the local priest. Turning to drink for solace, Nonko soon strikes up a relationship with a young man who is trying to make his fortune by selling baby chicks. Part of Girls on Film season. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Ondine (12A) ●●●●● (Neil Jordan, Ireland/US, 2009) Colin Farrell, Stephen Rea, Dervla Kirwan. 104min. See Also Check out the GreatOffers on page 6
released, page 46. Selected release. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (PG) ●●●●● (Chris Columbus, Canada/US, 2010) Brandon T Jackson, Steve Coogan, Uma Thurman. 118min. Big screen adaptation of Rick Riordan’s first fantasy adventure novel featuring Greek mythology-baiting child Percy Jackson. Possible franchise? We think so. General release. Planet 51 (U) ●●●●● (Jorge Blanco/Javier Abad, US, 2009) Voices of Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Beil, Gary Oldman. 90min. Dull, mildly offensive Spanish animated feature about one astronaut’s adventures as an illegal alien on a far-flung planet. Selected release. Ponyo (U) ●●●●● (Hayao Myazki, Japan, 2008) Voices of Noah Cyrus, Liam Neeson, Frankie Jonas. 101min. Delightful animated feature from the Studio Ghibli brand about a five-year-old boy who falls for a goldfish princess. It’s funny, charming and original enough to keep adults entertained, but where it really scores is Miyazaki’s (Spirited Away) ability to understand what a child sees. Like its goldfish heroine, Ponyo may seem like a slight and slivery proposition, but it dives to uncharted depths. Cameo, Edinburgh. Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (U) ●●●●● (Frank Nissen, US, 2005) David Ogden Stiers, Jim Cummings (voices). 68min. Another camp adventure from Thousand Acre Woods. Tigger gets all the best lines again. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Pray the Devil Back to Hell (12) ●●●●● (Gini Reticker, UK, 2008) 72min. Moving documentary about the thousands of Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country. This screening will be followed with a discussion and proceeds will go to Women for Women International. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (15) ●●●●● (Lee Daniels, US, 2009) Gabourney Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton. 110min. The central turn from Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe as the titular protagonist – an abused black, overweight and uneducated single mother – is mesmerising and endearing. Despite being made pregnant for the second time by her own father, Gabby fantasises about fame and fortune. Unexpected and moving, the Sundance and Toronto film festivals’ top prizewinner, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, is a gem from the projects. Selected release. The Princess and the Frog (U) ●●●●● (Ron Clements/John Musker, US, 2010) Voices of Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David. 97min. Set in 1920s Louisiana and featuring Disney’s first African-American Princess, this culturally important, beautiful and evocative (of a New Orleans that no longer exists) film may not have the standout musical numbers of some of its stablemates but is an old fashioned treat all the same. General release. A Prophet (18) ●●●●● (Jacques Audiard, France/Italy, 2009) Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif. 150min. Naïve youth Malik (Rahim) enters prison with a view to keeping his head down, but murderous circumstance see him aligned to the Corsican mafia who run the prison. As prison population demographics begin to shift, the cunning Malik uses all his resources to elevate his financial and hierarchical status. Plotted and executed with a slow burn complexity and rare grace, this is a wonderfully mature piece of filmmaking. Cameo, Edinburgh. Rembetiko (12) ●●●●● (Costa Ferris, Greece, 1983) Sotira Leonardou, Nikos Kalogeropoulos, Michalis Maniatis. 105min. Dramatisation about Greece’s version of the blues, charting the tragic story of one of Greece’s most popular rembetiko singers, Marika Ninou (Leonardou). Part of Greek Film Festival. Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Rigas Sargi – Defenders of Riga (E) (Aigars Grauba, Latvia, 2007) 118min. Documentary about Latvia’s fight for independence in 1919. Gilmorehill G12, Glasgow.
Index Film PROFILE
MIA HANSEN LOVE Born 5 February 1981, Paris
Background The daughter of two philosophy teachers of Danish-German ancestry, Hansen-Love acted as a 17-year- old in Olivier Assayas’ Late August, Early September and in the same director’s next film Les Destinées Sentimentales. Having studied for two years at the Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Paris, she began writing for Cahiers du Cinéma. She made her directorial debut with Tout est pardonné (All is Forgiven), an intimate study of a daughter reuniting with her drug-addicted father after a long separation. What’s she up to now? Hansen-Love’s film The Father of My Children, which was inspired by the real-life suicide of French producer Humbert Balsan, won a Special Jury Prize at Cannes last May. Currently Hansen-Love is preparing to shoot a third film, Un Amour de Jeunesse.
On Humbert Balsan ‘I only knew him for a year, but he was enormously important to me. He changed my relationship with cinema. Before I met him the films I made were melancholic. He transmitted his confidence, energy and generosity to me. He profoundly loved cinema and he had the soul of an artist.’ On directing actors ‘I don’t believe in the psychological direction of actors. I like to do lots of takes and I like to work on physical instructions. I would tell Louis-Do in The Father of My Children how his character Gregoire should walk or how quickly he should speak or how he should shut the door.’
On Cinema and real life ‘Cinema has made me become much more grounded. In making films you have to overcome a series of practical problems. What interests me in cinema is the relationship between the artistic and spiritual questions you are exploring and the fact you are confronting the real world.’ Interesting fact Hansen-Love recently had a baby daughter with fellow director Olivier Assayas.
(Tom Dawson) ■ The Father of My Children is at GFT, Glasgow and Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 5 Mar. See review, page ??.
4–18 Mar 2010 THE LIST 49