Friday 24 November 2017

How did we get to this place?

 People keep asking us how we choose the films for Borderlines.

Jan Doran, one of our regular volunteers and a trustee of Arts Alive/Flicks in the Sticks, attended the BFI London Film Festival and kindly gave us access to her report:
It takes days of eyeing up the festival programme before I can build up to tackling it and establishing a system that ensures I’m not endlessly re-reading blurb or doubling up on dates. Once I’ve cracked it I’m cramming as much as possible into my four-day extravaganza.  
Having recently been bowled over by Andrew Garfield’s fine performance in Angels in America I welcome the opportunity to see him in Breathe and to see what Andy Serkis might do as director.  
The film opened with titles in a lurid yellow, very traditional font and within the first five minutes we witnessed cliched scenes of cricket matches and afternoon tea with gorgeous young leads stealing glances followed by an open top classic car scenario driving along idyllic country lanes……much fun and laughter. Forty minutes in and I was on my way out.

This really was an unfortunate start, nothing here to recommend I’m afraid. I didn’t care about these wealthy young things, couldn’t identify with them or their plight and was irritated by the music trying to tell me what to feel.
By contrast I entered Brigsby Bear, passing a life sized version of the gross cartoon character wondering why I was taking up a recommendation to see this film. Perfectly described in The Guardian as The Truman Show meets Room it was both surprising and amusing with an utterly delightful performance by Kyle Mooney as he engages with the real world following his isolated, dysfunctional upbringing. 
A trip over to Hackney led me to my first encounter with a Picturehouse picket. Wasn’t expecting that - much dithering and off to find a drink elsewhere to think this one over. Compromises and resolutions a plenty in the following days but in I siddled to see 1%
This Australian film likened by its director, Stephen McCallum, to Romper Stomper, Animal Kingdom and Snowtown was a riveting and hard edged, brutal portrayal of biker gangs. Universal themes of succession, rivalry, and loyalty were made more compelling with strong females and untypical themes of sexuality and disability driving the plot. The performances were strong particularly Matt Nable as the brutal gang leader who also wrote the screenplay. 
Queues across Leicester Square at 8am on a Saturday heralded Battle of the Sexes - a naff title that hadn’t raised my expectations. It proved to be a shocking reminder of just how sexist attitudes could be in the 70s watching the battles women encountered constantly. Emma Stone and Steve Carrell are very good and the costumes are wonderfully nostalgic for those of us who dressed like that. Billie Jean King’s struggles with her sexuality, along side the battles with the tennis world, on and off the court, provides plenty of plot lines. 
Wonderstruck, directed by Todd Haynes, failed to deliver in the way Carol had. It was particularly ambitious with settings in the 20s, black and white, and the seventies, brown and orange, with a silent film thrown in. The plot unfolded cleverly initially intertwining parallel stories but became tedious as it continued. Not sure who what sort of audience the film targets? 
Dark River
Not sure what sort of audience Clio Barnard’s Dark River targets either. It was superbly performed with a sparse script leaving much to body language, cinematography and editing, particularly evident when a rabbit is skinned and gutted interspersed with drunken attempts at arson. The film is an utterly bleak portrayal of isolation, abuse and collusion experienced by a tenant farming family. Emotionally strangled siblings, unable to communicate and consumed with anger, struggle following the death of their father. Powerful performances. This film had everything that Breathe lacked. 
120 BPM, so gritty and gripping and claustrophobic in its intensity, followed the campaigns of Act Up, a pressure group demanding better treatment and resources for Aids/HIV sufferers in 90s Paris. Unlike the black screens with white text in Meyerowitz Stories the transitions in this film were very effective: dramatic changes of focus from club scenes to intimate sex to passionate debates and radical action with sharply contrasting rhythms, volume, colour and camera work. Music was notable and arresting.