Film Index PROFILE
MATT HARLOCK & PAUL THOMAS Background Having individually produced various shorts and television features, Paul and Matt joined forces for their feature debut American: The Bill Hicks Story, an innovative documentary combining animated photos with interviews and stand-up clips to tell the story of the late great comedian. On Bill Hicks’s comedy Matt: ‘[He could] turn a subject on its head in a very short space of time, and distil something which you’d seen as a very big, complex issue so you take away this new understanding. He had really good dick jokes as well.’
On being the ones to tell Hicks’ story Matt: ‘I had some contact with Bill’s family, because I’d been doing events in London, where we were showing his material, and there seemed to be a lot of footage that I just hadn’t seen. Paul and I started talking about whether we might be able to make it into a new telling of Bill’s story.’ Paul: ‘Hicks is getting pitched all the time, so we needed to come up with a different approach, and it was this device of animated photos – we knew that there was a huge photo archive, and that there was potential in that.’
On putting the film together Matt: ‘The first time that we watched the assembly of Bill’s life, onstage, in chronological order, it was a really moving experience, watching him go from 16 to a very ill person at the age of 32. That powerful reaction was something that we felt was worth maintaining, and that’s where the chronological approach came from.’ Paul: ‘The first half really builds the idea of who this guy is [through] his friends and his family. Thirteen years had passed when we did the interviews, but the vividness and the clarity of the recollections were astonishing. Then [the stand-up clips] had to reveal Bill the person at the same time as the comedy. That’s where the second half really took on a power.’
On the role of the film Paul: ‘He should be somebody that everybody knows. He is a key cultural cornerstone.’ (Paul Gallagher) ■ American: The Bill Hicks Story, selected release, Fri 14 May. See review, page 43.
46 THE LIST 13–27 May 2010
Films screening this fortnight are listed below with certificate, star rating, credits, brief review and venue details. Film index compiled by Paul Dale ✽✽ Indicates Hitlist entry Agora (12A) ●●●●● (Alejandro Amenábar, Spain, 2009) Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac. 126min. Controversial but uninvolving Spanish historical epic telling the story of Hypatia, a female philosopher in Roman Egypt and her relationship with her slave. Has attracted some criticism from the Religious Anti Defamation Observatory. Glasgow Film Theatre. Alice in Wonderland 2D (PG) ●●●●● (Tim Burton, US, 2010) Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter. 108min. A sequel of sorts that takes in elements of both Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, this finds Alice (Wasikowska) as a teenager returning to Underland, which has long since fallen into the tyrannical grip of the Red Queen (Bonham Carter). Dark and visually arresting, yet not quite as emotionally involving as Burton’s very best work. Grosvenor, Glasgow. Alice in Wonderland 3D (PG) ●●●●● (Tim Burton, US, 2010) Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter. 108min. See above. Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel (U) ●●●●● (Betty Thomas, US, 2009) Voices of Justin Long, Anna Faris, Jason Lee. 88min. The singing chipmunk trio contend with the pressures of high school, celebrity and rival female band The Chipettes. Cineworld Parkhead, Glasgow; Cineworld Fountainpark, Edinburgh. American: The Bill Hicks Story (15) ●●●●● (Matt Harlock, UK, 2009) 110min. See review, page 43 and profile, left. Glasgow Film Theatre; Cameo, Edinburgh. The Apartment (PG) ●●●●● (Billy Wilder, US, 1960) Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray. 125min. This new print of Wilder’s corrosive 1960 lampoon of corporate America tells the story of spineless insurance statistician CC Baxter (Lemmon). Having fallen into the practice of leasing his apartment to his superiors for illicit liaisons, Baxter is rewarded with high-speed promotion. All of which suits him fine until he realises that
one of the ladies being taken back is the girl of his dreams. Scotsman Screening Room, Edinburgh. Astro Boy (PG) ●●●●● (David Bowers, US, 2009) Voices of Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Freddie Highmore. 93min. A popular manga in Japan since 1952, and a cult TV show in the US since the early 1980s, Astro Boy makes a bid for worldwide domination in this flashy but flatly realised animation. A robot child cloned by Dr Tenma (voiced by Cage) from the DNA of his dead son, the titular space age Pinocchio (Highmore), is rejected by his father and banished to the robot graveyard that surrounds the city. Cineworld Fountainpark, Edinburgh. Azur and Asmar: The Princes’ Quest (U) ●●●●● (Michel Ocelot, Spain/Italy/Belgium/France, 2006) Cyril Mourali, Karim M’Riba, Hiam Abbass. 99min. Childhood buddies Azur and Asmar become rivals and enemies in a medieval Maghreb. With the action taking place in North African Islamic architecture and over- populated bazaars, the colourful palatte of the animation and Arabian Nights-style storyline is a welcome throwback to the days before Pixar tore up the rulebook. A compassionate and mature film based on classic legends rather than popular culture. Glasgow Film Theatre. The Back-Up Plan (12A) ●●●●● (Alan Poul, US, 2010) Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin, Eric Christian Olsen. 103min. Lopez returns to film acting in this bland, generic comedy about a single woman who opts for artificial insemination. Of course Mr Right (O’Loughlin) breezes into her life just as she learns she’s pregnant. General release.
✽✽ Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans (18) ●●●●●
(Werner Herzog, US, 2009) Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer. 122min. See review, page 45. Selected release. Badmaash Company (12A) (Parmeet Sethi, India, 2010) Shahid Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Vir Das, Meiyang Chang. 142min. A new Bollywood export, set in 1990s Bombay, where a group of friends decide they want to make some fast money by doing all the wrong things. Cineworld Renfrew Street, Glasgow. The Beaches of Agnes (18) ●●●●● (Agnes Varda, France, 2008) 112min. This idiosyncratic cinematic self-portrait of the Belgian-born octogenarian film-maker Agnes Varda is suffused by its feminist creator’s playfully eccentric spirit, and
heads off in all sorts of unexpected directions. Varda ‘walks backwards’ through her life, narrating and drawing on clips from her own films and staging reconstructions of her memories, whilst revisiting the places which have shaped her creative output. Part of Varda season. Glasgow Film Theatre. The Big Lebowski (18) ●●●●● (Joel Coen, US, 1997) Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi. 113min. The Coen brothers give their unique twist to a Chandler-esque LA noir, as 70s hippy throwback Jeff ‘The Dude’ Lebowski (Bridges) is drawn into the sordid affairs of his millionaire namesake. Suddenly he has to sleuth his way through disorganised crime. Trademark oddball characters, surreal imagery and excellent performances grace this virtuoso comedy. Cameo, Edinburgh. The Blind Side (12A) ●●●●● (John Lee Hancock, US, 2010) Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates. 128min. Based on the moving true story of Michael Oher, a black teenager from the Memphis projects with burgeoning sporting talent, who is adopted by WASPs, led by Leigh Ann (Bullock). It’s been a huge success stateside, hailing from a mildly offensive line of American sports films, blandly but effectively directed by Hancock with Bullock valiantly delivering some of the worst dialogue ever uttered south of the Dixie line. Showcase Cinema, Coatbridge, Glasgow; Dominion, Edinburgh. Bob the Builder and the Legend of the Golden Hammer (U) (Paul Sabella, Will Meugniot, UK, 2009) Voice of Neil Morrissey. 62min. Bob moves to the seaside and gets embroiled in the search for a pirate’s golden hammer. Vue Ocean, Edinburgh. Le Bonheur (Happiness) (15) ●●●●● (Agnes Varda, France, 1965) Jean- Claude Drouot, Marie-France Boyer. 85min. Varda’s third feature explores the myth of romance and the misogynistic underside of the 1960s French family, with the happily married Francois (Drouot) entering into adulterous relations with Emilie (Boyer). Part of Varda season. Glasgow Film Theatre. The Bounty Hunter (12A) ●●●●● (Andy Tennant, US, 2010) Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Christine Baranski. 110min. Comedy about a bounty hunter who is assigned to hunt down his bail-jumping ex- wife. Showcase Cinema, Coatbridge, Glasgow.
Himalaya Part of Scotland’s first festival of Himalayan film and culture, this short season is a reminder just how many great films have come out of them there hills. The season kicks off with Eric
Valli’s overlooked 1999 adventure yarn Himalaya (pictured) and includes arthouse favourites The Cup and Kekexili: Mountain Patrol and excellent documentaries Delamu and Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion. Ticket offers available. Visit www.himalayafest.org.uk for more information. ■ Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 14-Sat 22 May.