Film Review: Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences

The following films are being screened as part of the Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences programme at this year’s London Film Festival.

The Pig On The Hill

Jamy Wheless and John Helms’ The Pig On The Hill is about a pig who is not happy about his new neighbour. The animation is lush, and the story is endearing. The narration by Pierce Brosnan is a perfect match for the on-screen visuals.

Colour Birds (Coucouleurs)

Oana Lacroix’s Colour Birds (Coucouleurs) is about a two-coloured bird living in a forest of one-coloured birds. Lacroix tells the story without dialogue, relying instead on her striking visuals. A film about finding one’s place, Colour Birds is enhanced by its sound design.

Funny Fish

Krishna Chandran A Nair’s Funny Fish is about a group of fish who attempt to rescue what they believe to be a fish from the surface of the water. With their enormous eyes, the fish are cute in appearance. There are some nice shots in Funny Fish, depicted how small the group are compared with the vastness of the ocean.

I Want To Live In The Zoo

Evgenia Golubeva and Myles McLeod’s I Want To Live In The Zoo is about a young girl who would rather live at the zoo than do her homework. The animation style mirrors the film’s protagonist, with bold shapes and bright colours. The filmmakers tell the story succinctly; the simplicity suits the six-minute run time.

A Walk In The Woods (Promenons-nous)

Hugo Frassetto’s A Walk In The Woods (Promenons-nous) is a animated short musical about a wolf playing a game with his cubs. The animation mixes broad characters with detailed backgrounds, in a way which complements. Half way through the style changes with the wolf’s song, giving way to a simpler, sketched style of animation. With A Walk In The Woods, Frassetto demonstrates his range.

Vivat Musketeers

Anton Dyakov’s Vivat Musketeers is about a hero who attempts to rescue a princess. The film features a good deal of slapstick humour, including a great climax. Movement in the film is great, and the soundtrack really sets the tone. There is an amusing mixture of the old and new, which gives Vivat Musketeers a distinct feel.

Penguin

At just over three minutes long, Julia Ocker’s Penguin is the shortest film in the programme. Nevertheless, the film packs in enough slapstick humour into its duration. The animation is bold rather than detailed, but this suits the style of Penguin. Dialogue is not necessary here.

A Bit Lost (Un Peu Perdu)

Hélène Ducrocq’s A Bit Lost is based on the children’s book of the same name by Chris Haughton. The illustration has a very similar style to that of the book. At five minutes long, the film is the perfect length for the simple story. It is very cute, with a tiny post-credits shot adding to this.

Ernest and Celestine – The Blizzard

The bear and mouse duo return in Jean-Christophe Roger and Julien Chheng’s Ernest and Celestine – The Blizzard. The film, featuring Gabrielle Vincent’s characters, will be adored by fans of the 2012 feature film. The animation is beautiful, with the watercolour-like backgrounds giving the film a traditional feel. The story is very cute, particularly the ending.

The Pig On The Hill, Colour Birds, Funny Fish, I Want To Live In The Zoo, A Walk In The Woods, Vivat Musketeers, Penguin, A Bit Lost, and Ernest and Celestine – The Blizzard are being screened in the Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences programme at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

Previews: Dark River Poster, Oceans 8, More!

Plenty in this pre-Christmas preview of coming events, including the new Dark River poster, Gringo, Oceans 8, and more…

Dark River Poster

Here is the new Dark River poster. The drama is about fraught relationship between a brother and a sister. Directed by Clio Bernard, the film stars Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, and Sean Bean. Dark River will be released in UK cinemas on 23rd February 2018.

Gringo Trailer

Gringo is a dark comedy about a businessman who finds himself at the mercy of colleagues and local drug lords in Mexico. The film features an all-star cast that includes David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, and Amanda Seyfried. Gringo is directed by Nash Edgerton (brother of Joel), and is set for release on UK screens on 9th March 2018.

Oceans 8 Trailer

Here is the first trailer for Oceans 8. The film features the same big heist set-up as its predecessors, albeit with a brand new cast. Sandra Bullock leads the star-studded cast, and is joined by Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, and Anne Hathaway. Oceans 8 is scheduled for release in June 2018.

Isle of Dogs Poster

Here is the newest poster for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs. The stop-motion animated film is about a boy who travels to an island of dogs to find his dog, Spots. The enviable voice cast includes Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Ken Watanabe, and Greta Gerwig. Isle of Dogs will be released in UK cinemas on 30th March 2017.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Trailer

The sequel to the hit 2008 film Mamma Mia! gets a belated sequel. The film is part sequel and part prequel as it focuses on current activity and well as telling the story of Donna when she was younger. Lily James plays the young Donna, and the cast of the original reprise their roles, including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again will be released on 20th July 2018.

Stuff To Look At

A veritable profusion of cinema-related goodness this week, with the new Tammy trailer, Under The Skin and Miss Piggy…

Tammy

Above is the first Tammy trailer. The comedy stars Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd and Kathy Bates. Apparently, Susan Sarandon plays Melissa McCarthy’s grandmother. I’m not sure how this is possible, given how young Sarandon looks. Perhaps she is aged up. Tammy is due for release in UK cinemas on 4th July 2014.

Under The Skin

Here is the full UK trailer for science-fiction thriller Under The Skin. Directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johansson the film has been receiving critical acclaim at its festival screenings. Under The Skin is released in UK cinemas on 14th march 2014.

The Love Punch

Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson star as an ex-husband and wife whose retirement fund is wiped out when their company is defrauded in The Love Punch. This comedy caper also stars Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie. The Love Punch hits UK screens on 18th April 2014.

Muppets Most Wanted

MUPPETS MOST WANTED

Miss Piggy looks resplendent. Her dress is designed by none other than Vivienne Westwood, who has also designed Miss Piggy’s key wardrobe for Muppets Most Wanted. The image above begs the question of whether Miss Piggy marries Kermit in the film. I wholeheartedly approve, particularly if Rowlf provides piano accompaniment. Muppets Most Wanted is released in cinemas on 28th March 2014.

Postman Pat: The Movie

Postman Pat can carry a tune?! This is apparently the case in the upcoming Postman Pat: The Movie. I am more interested, however, in the robots. And Jess of course. And the glimpse of robot Jess. Postman Pat: The Movie hits UK screens on 23rd May 2014.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

This teaser trailer has everything; Optimus Prime getting pumped with bullets, Marky Mark running around looking scared, Dinobots, and, erm, dragons. I’m sure more will be revealed as the release approaches. Transformers: Age of Extinction is due for release on 10th July 2014 in the UK.

The Legend of Hercules

This trailers is giving me shades of Gladiator and 300. Kellan Lutz plays the titular character in The Legend of Hercules. Having previously appeared in Immortals, Lutz is no stranger to ancient myth films. The Legend of Hercules is released in UK cinemas on 28th March 2014.

Yves Saint Laurent

Biopic Yves Saint Laurent looks slick, polished, and endlessly stylish. Pierre Niney stars as the young fashion designer who is catapulted to fame in the late 1950s. Yves Saint Laurent is released in UK cinemas on 21st March 2014.

Non-Stop

Liam Neeson has really carved out a niche as an abrasive but meritorious action hero of late. Non-Stop continues this trend, as the above clip from the movie illustrates. Also starring Julianne Moore and Lupita Nyong’o, Non-Stop hits UK screens on 28th February 2014.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel seems to be ticking all the boxes. Writer-director Wes Anderson is most admirable, and the cast, including the excellent Bill Murray, is enviable. Also, there’s a cat. The Grand Budapest Hotel is released in the UK on 7th March 2014.

Divergent

Based on the best-selling novel, Divergent stars Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Kate Winslet. The sci-fi film is set in a future where people are divided into factions based on their personality. Divergent hits UK screens on 4th April 2014.

G.B.F.

G.B.F. looks like a fun, high school-set comedy. The film is directed by Darren Stein, who helmed late nineties black comedy Jawbreaker. I’m hoping for the same kind of satirical style from G.B.F., which is released in cinemas on 21st March, and is available on demand on 22nd March 2014.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of cinematic treasure this week, with the new A Million Ways to Die in the West trailer, Noah, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and more…

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Warning: this A Million Ways to Die in the West trailer is red band. A Million Ways to Die in the West is the latest film from Seth MacFarlane, who also leads a cast that includes Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson. A Million Ways to Die in the West is set for release on 6th June 2014 in the UK.

Noah

This is the Superbowl TV spot for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. It is an intriguing prospect; a director like Aronofsky doing a large-scale biblical epic. The story of Noah does not seem meaty enough for a feature film, so it plot must be fleshed out somehow. The mystery of the unicorns perhaps. Noah is released in UK cinemas on 4th April 2014.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Black Widow

This new character poster for Captain America: The Winter Soldier suggests Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow has a prominent role to play in this Marvel sequel. Given her somewhat ambiguous nature in previous appearances, it will be interesting to see what director’s Anthony and Joe Russo do with her here. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is hits UK screens on 26th March 2014.

The LEGO Movie

I used to love Lego so I find The LEGO Movie appealing. From the above featurette, the film smartly does not seem to take itself seriously. With a host of star names and featuring Batman, I am hoping the film will be an amusing adventure. The LEGO Movie is released in cinemas on 14th February 2014.

A Long Way Down

An adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel, A Long Way Down offers a rather macabre premise made humorous. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette and Aaron Paul, A Long Way Down is out in UK cinemas on 21st March 2014.

Starred Up

Starred Up posterStarred Up is a new British drama starring Jack O’Connell and Rupert Friend. The film is about Eric, a troubled teenager transitioning from young offenders’ institute to prison. You can watch the trailer here. Starred Up is released on 21st March 2014.

Maleficent

This new trailer for Maleficent was released earlier this week, with Lana Del Ray’s rendition of ‘Once Upon a Dream’. Angelina Jolie was looks like she was made for the title role, in physical appearance at least. Maleficent looks like it will be quite dark, going back to its fairy tale roots. Maleficent hits UK cinemas on 30 May 2014.

The Invisible Woman

Here is a TV spot for the upcoming film The Invisible Woman. The story of Charles Dickens and his young lover Nelly, the film stars Ralph Fiennes (who also directs) and Felicity Jones. You can read my review here. The Invisible Woman is released nationwide in the UK on 21st February 2014.

Film Review: Love Is All You Need

Love Is All You Need

Susanne Bier’s follow-up to In a Better World is a competently-produced romantic drama. Love Is All You Need may not offer many surprises, but it is a rewarding film.

Hairdresser Ida is recovering from cancer treatments. After catching her husband in a uncompromising position, Ida travels to Italy for her daughter’s wedding. On her way, she meets the father of the groom Philip, a widower still angry about the loss of his wife…

Love Is All You Need is a romantic drama with flecks of comedy. The film balances more serious themes with amusing lines. Emotion in the film feels authentic, thanks to good writing and performances.

The plot of Love Is All You Need is rather predictable, with developments in the narrative that are easy to spot in advance. Nevertheless, the film is crafted well enough that this is not a big issue. The characters, both the protagonists and the supporting players, appear three dimensional. The introduction to both the main characters works well to succinctly reveal their present lives and dominant personality traits.

The narrative unfolds in a way which keeps the audience entertained.Love Is All You Need allows enough time for a romance to develop in a natural fashion. There are times when the film could have dragged, but director Suzanne Bier nips these in. Colour plays an important role in depicting the warmth and romance of the wedding location in Italy, compared with the mundanity of home in Denmark.

Performances from Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm are strong. The pair have good chemistry. Molly Blixt Egelind provides good support, while Paprika Steen is great in her mostly comic role.

With its well-known lead and dual language, Love Is All You Need should appeal to viewers who would not usually seek out a foreign-language film. Hopefully the film will give Suzanne Bier wider recognition.

I Don’t Know How She Does It Trailer

I Don’t Know How She Does It is released in the UK on 16th September 2011. From the trailer, it looks as if Sarah Jessica Parker is in full-on Carrie Bradshaw mode, narrating the film and speaking directly to the camera. It seems as if this role was meant for Parker, with the character almost an extension of Carrie (being a New York writer), but with young children (something that Parker can identify with). Whether I Don’t Know How She Does It will be any good or not is unclear at this point, I guess we’ll have to see when it comes out. The film also stars Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan.

Film Review: The Ghost

Based on the best-selling novel by Robert Harris, The Ghost exhibits why Roman Polanski is widely considered one of the greatest directors. From the very beginning the film is captivating, drawing in the viewer until the end credits roll.

The Ghost tells the story of a ghost writer who is commissioned to help finish the memoirs of the former British prime minister, following his predecessor’s unexpected death. Things take a turn for the worse when ex-prime minister Lang is accused of war crimes, and the unwitting ghost writer in drawn into a web of intrigue…

Part of the interest in the film is the obvious parallels between Lang and Tony Blair. Anyone with even a passing interest in British politics cannot help but notice the similarities between the two, in both career incidences and mannerisms. The film is sure to resonate with British audiences with its very topical and believable narrative.

Pierce Brosnan is perfectly cast as Lang, depicting both the charisma and smarminess associated with the former PM. Olivia Williams excels as wife Ruth, giving an engaging performance as the formidable yet frustrated partner. As the ghost writer, Ewan McGregor is a credible protagonist who viewers will side with; much what is discovered occurs from his viewpoint.

Polanski’s film is part political satire and part thriller. The beauty of The Ghost is that it is entirely conceivable; it is not by stretch of the imagination that everything that takes place could really occur. Conspiracy theorists will have a field day with what is ultimately revealed.

The narrative builds at an appropriate pace, gripping the viewer with every new discovery. Furthermore, the setting – a small island off the east coast of the United States – is perfect in providing a location which is both isolating and claustrophobic. The muted palette of the island cinematography adds to this atmosphere of seclusion.

Although Polanski is currently in the press more for his legal issues rather than his filmmaking, this should not detract from this cinematic showpiece. The Ghost is an enthralling thriller, and a welcome return to form for its director.