saturday 14 February 09
What’s insIde? 2 » Tomorrow’s picks Our highlights of tomorrow’s films and events 2 » MEXICO SPOTLIGHT A glimpse into the films in the Mexican strand
Happy Birthday! Jonathan Melville raises a glass to an archer who always hit his target. Forget Jonas Armstrong in the BBC’s recent big-on-action-butlow-on-charm Robin Hood or Kevin Costner’s earnest turn in the forgettable Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: Errol Flynn as the titular hero of The Adventures of Robin Hood did more to cement the image of England’s greatest freedom fighter – or is that terrorist? – in the minds of the public than anyone before or since. As the film’s tagline screamed, “Only the rainbow can duplicate its brilliance!” Born on June 20 1909 in Hobart, Tasmania, Flynn started his life as a serial seducer early when he was expelled from school for allegedly being caught in flagrante with a school laundress. Following failed attempts to run a tobacco plantation and copper mine in New Guinea, Flynn came to the UK in the 1930s, where he took up acting with the Northampton Repertory Company, even stopping off in Glasgow as part of one tour. It wasn’t until 1935 that Flynn would show his prowess at swashing his buckle in Captain Blood, the first film (out of eight) in which he would co-star with Olivia de Havilland. Soon after that he was appearing in glorious Technicolor in Warner Bros’ The Adventures of Robin Hood, but only after screen legend James Cagney had signed up to then quit the role. A little bit of England was recreated in Hollywood for this unusually extravagant production, its budget of $2 million impressive for
the time. The studio’s faith in the Aussie actor was well placed, the film earning them nearly £4 million in ticket sales. According to film critic Roger Ebert, “Flynn shows us a Robin Hood so supremely alive that the whole adventure is a lark”. It’s hard to disagree, the sheer speed and enthusiasm on show here are almost dizzying. While Flynn would continue to wow audiences in movies such as The Dawn Patrol (1938) and The Adventures of Don Juan (1948), he was by now typecast in the role of the swashbuckler, one he would find impossible to escape from. Flynn’s image would not remain that of the hero throughout his life, with an accusation of statutory rape in 1942 and a scandal surrounding his failure to enroll in the armed forces during World War II returning to haunt him. Ironically, the fact that Flynn wasn’t allowed to serve due to heart problems was kept quiet by the film studios in an attempt to protect his image. Still, the image the cinema-going public were most interested in was that of the screen icon, and it’s fitting that the Glasgow Film Festival should choose to show The Adventures of Robin Hood to mark the centenary of the actor’s birth. Forget the impostors and the try-hards and settle back to enjoy 102 minutes of pure escapism with a lead at the peak of his powers. Happy Birthday Errol!
3 » reviews Chiko Johnny Mad Dog Elevator 4 » what’s new online Check out our online blog as well as exciting reviews, club coverage and fun stuff 4 » CHEGGERED PAST Michael Gillespie talks Shakespeare, Britflicks and Keith Chegwin 4 » Quiz You can win 2 tickets to The Burning Plain
the cineskinny Produced by The Skinny magazine in association with the Glasgow Film Festival editors Gail Tolley
Michael Gillespie Eve McConnachie
GFF Box Office Order tickets from the box office at www.glasgowfilmfestival.org.uk or call 0141 332 6535 or visit Glasgow Film Theatre 12 Rose Street, Glasgow, G3 6RB firstname.lastname@example.org
Viva Mexico! Ray Philp explores a new resurgence in Mexican cinema.
Remembering Mary Gordon
13.15 @ GFT
Journalist and relative of Mary Gordon, Alison Kerr will be in conversation to discuss this remarkable Glasgow-born character actress.
23:30 @ SUB CLUB
The closing night party of The Shorts Film Festival will be screening surreal shorts as a backdrop to this legendary club night.
Is Anybody There?
18.00 @ GFT
Michael Caine stars in this British story of an elderly magician.
16.45 @ GFT
An award-winning drama about the changing times of rural communities in France.
18.30 @ GFT
A thought-provoking yet entertaining documentary exploring faith and religion from the point-of-view of the non-religous Bill Maher.
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Half a century has passed since Mexican film apparently saw its heyday. In the middle of the twentieth century, a proliferation of films from the 1930s to the 1950s came to be known as the Golden Age. As this year’s Glasgow Film Festival showcases emerging Mexican talent, CineSkinny looks back at the period that helped shape the resurgent Mexican film industry. The golden era of Mexican cinema was so called not only because of the volume of films produced and released, but also the robust themes that struck a chord with cinemagoers. Notable examples of this include Vamos Con Pancho Villa! (1935), a scathing deconstruction of a national icon, instructive not only of Mexican culture’s high regard for friendship and familial intimacy, but of a wider distaste for embracing the individualist idea of heroism. Los Olvidados (1950) further expresses these ideas by exploring the relationship between poverty and morality, as well as the redemptive actions of a son to regain his mother’s love. Much of Mexican cinema embodied themes of perseverance in the face of poverty and tragedy. Ironically, these themes also represent the end of the Golden Age; the premature death of idolised film star Pedro Infante, coupled with restrictions placed on creative direction in order to maximise profit dramatically stunted the output and vibrancy of the film industry. If the Golden Age ended long ago, then Mexican cinema has since exploded into a maelstrom of colour that would put Frida Kahlo to shame. Salma Hayek, who portrayed Kahlo herself in Frida (2002), Gael Garcia Bernal, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Alfonso Cuaron are just some of the more prominent figures that have inspired a renewed interest in Mexican cinema. Features like Guillermo Arriaga’s The Burning Plain, debuting at the GFF, and Babel (2006) have expanded the landscape of Mexican film whilst retaining an anchor in the roots of tradition, with emphasis on social issues and denouements tinted by tragedy. This grounding in tradition reveals itself in the GFF premiere of Desierto Adrento (The Desert Within) (2009), a story about a humble peasant wracked with guilt over the death of a priest, who then builds a church in search of atonement. Furthermore, social
SATURDAY 14 FEBRUARY
issues continue to be a canon for many Mexican filmmakers. Mi Vida Dentro (My Life Inside) and La Frontera Infinita (The Infinite Border) illustrate both sides of the coin regarding immigration to North America; hope for some of one day crossing the border and fulfilling the promise of the American Dream; and despair that others find that promise broken. The GFF’s showcase also highlights the breadth of themes that have become a feature of more contemporary Mexican film, increasingly incorporating emotional extremes of sexuality, desire, depression and despair. Quemar Las Naves (Burn The Bridges) and Drama/Mex illustrate these polemic
states of mind, depicting families and couples wrestling with their individual desires and collective responsibilities. Despite the success of the Golden Era, the industry perhaps lacked the confidence to adapt to the loss of its poster boy Infante. The films of the last decade, however, have given rise to a renewed optimism and swagger to filmmaking, with increasingly daring and inventive ideas. Despite its tempestuous affinity with sorrow, there’s every reason to suggest that happy endings are back in vogue for Mexican cinema.
Director: Özgür Yildirim
Early in Chiko, its title character (an excellent Denis Moschitto) tells his best friend Tibet that if you want respect, you can’t show any to anyone else. This statement surely encapsulates all gangster films; beyond the dodgy dealings, power trips and the violence is a juvenile desire to be the biggest bully in the playground. First-time director Özgür Yildirim succeeds in creating characters that are believable, multi-layered and oddly endearing. Despite becoming embroiled in Hamburg’s seedy underworld, Chiko and Tibet still have to watch their language around
Johnny Mad Dog
Director: Jean-Stephane Sauvaire
From shooting a young boy for his basket of fruit to the gang rape of a woman caught in the middle of battle, Jean–Stephane Sauvaire’s bleak interpretation of child soldiers in war-torn Liberia will leave you feeling helpless at the situation so many of Africa’s lost children find themselves in. The film centres around the title character (played with heartbreaking accuracy by Christopher Minie) a 15-year-old ‘freedom fighter’ who along with the rest of his brainwashed peers is seen to ravage and pillage his way through the devastation caused by decades of Civil War. Pitted against our anti-hero is Laokole, a young girl trying to keep her family together amidst the ceaseless chaos, but invariably finding herself caught up in Mad Dog’s world. While there is no doubt that the distressing subject matter is one which needs to be shown to the world, and that both the story and acting is nothing short of remarkable, whether or not Sauvaire wants the audience to feel empathy towards these baby-faced killers remains unclear. Zaineb Al Hassani
Tibet’s ill mother, and details like this keep the plot grounded in a world that viewers can recognise and accept. When events begin to go wrong, as they inevitably do, the violence is brutal but not gratuitously graphic, and no less disturbing as a result. Chiko’s only downfall is that it doesn’t offer many new ideas, but it remains a solid, memorable addition to the genre. Becky Bartlett
Director: George Dorobantu
What’s Elevator about? A guy and a girl get stuck in a lift. And that’s it. Oh, and it’s Romanian. It was made for 200 euros. It was shot in eighteen days. And it’s absolutely disgusting! Former Navy officer George Dorobantu has ripped a cell from the Cassavetes reel-book by crafting a grungy, scrungy little shocker which contains zero irony,
no gore or violence, but enough (scato) logical bids for survival to rank (appropriate word) among the worst parts of Salo (Only Takashi Miike could compete). It’s too long even at 85 minutes and it’s hardly groundbreaking stuff, but the mileage Dorobantu gets out of no money and a tiny location is commendable, while the two young actors
are believable and sympathetic. A young audience will definitely find much to identify with here, and for this kind of film, that’s essential. Has the Romanian new wave found its Stuart Gordon? Michael Gillespie
SATURDAY 14 FEBRUARY THE CINESKINNY 3
Richard Jobson, director of New Town Killers (screening at this year’s GFF), recently announced his intentions to film a Sin City-style revision of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. One thing he hasn’t said, however, is whether he’ll be pulling off the kind of casting coup achieved by Roman Polanski: namely Mr Keith Chegwin. Yes, Cheggers does appear in the Oscar-winning auteur’s adaptation of the Scottish play, and as soon as his name appears on the opening credits, it’s frankly all over. This is a phenomenon most British filmgoers will be familiar with: how many times have you been enjoying a British or British-made film when you find yourself exclaiming: “That’s him off the Flash adverts!”. There are many examples of this, some more painful than others. Take yourself back to the time you first saw Mike Hodges’ crime classic Get Carter. Propelled by vengeance, Michael Caine’s strongarm works his way through the ranks of Newcastle’s criminal fraternity with only Britt Ekland and a telephone for respite. It’s gripping cinema. And it’s got Alf Roberts in it. There he is, the Corrie legend, all set to take his moment in film history as a big man who’s in bad enough shape to be thrown off a high-rise car park. Thank heavens Audrey wasn’t around to see it. Then there’s that other Hodges masterwork, Flash Gordon. Hardly serious stuff, but it’s somehow even more endearing thanks to the presence of Blue Peter’s Peter Duncan. In the film, he dares (see what we did there) to put his hand in a very unpleasant place and loses the appendage altogether. Thankfully, he’d one made earlier (groan). The more serious the film, the more painful this phenomenon is: take 2001, weird enough without Leonard Rossitter’s comedy accent; then there’s Ken Loach’s Raining Stones, an exceptional showcase for… Les Battersby; or The Krays, already a vehicle for “those two out of Spandau Ballet”, but also graced by the presence of Blakie from On The Buses. This phenomenon has hardly weaned in the last few years. Casting The Others in the UK, Alejandro Amenabar was delighted to find a spooky septuagenarian, not realising it was the God-like comic genius Eric Sykes. And if you’ve caught B movie masterpiece Equilibrium, you may remember a scene where Christian Bale roughs up (but hey, what’s new?) Brian “It’s a puppet!” Conley. No doubt this generation will have their moments, in an era when they’ll cry “Good grief, it’s him off Britannia High”, or “Wow, I never knew Danny Dyer had a career before Eastenders”, and an ailing Cheggers will only be on TV when he’s collecting his knighthood. Michael Gillespie
What’s new online? Comment online at the GFF site, MySpace, Facebook & on The Skinny’s web forums. SKINNY FORUM
We’ve started a new forum over at theskinny.co.uk and we’re hoping you’ll get stuck in and tell us what you think of the fest so far. We’ve already had one poster offer his advice to the grandchildren of the nation…
NEW BLOG ENTRY
As always, we’re posting blogs on the GFF website and our latest is an interview with animation director Joanna Susskind. Hear what she had to say about her film, Toggle, and why she’s excited about GFF.
We’ve uploaded all the best pics from the opening gala. If you missed it, look out for famous faces and party animals, and leave your (nice) comments. And if you were there, why not see if you’ve snapped at your best!
Pic of the day
This week’s podcast over at www.guardian.co.uk/ film features Jason Solomans chatting to GFF co-director Allison Gardener about the Audrey Hepburn retrospective and the closing gala film for romantics, Last Chance Harvey.
Have a look at the STV video clips from the festival including an impromtu visit to the opening gala by local comidienne Karen Dunbar www.stv.tv/gff
John Michie and Marylin arrive at the GFF Opening Gala.
Quiz Time We have two tickets for The Burning Plain to give away (Sun 15 Feb 20.30, GFT). From the writer of the Oscar-nominated Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel comes an ensemble melodrama featuring two of the finest actresses of their generations: Oscar-winners Kim Basinger and Charlize Theron.
Guillermo Arriaga wrote the directorial debut of which Oscar-winning actor? email email@example.com by 10pm to enter
What did you think?
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We ask 6 people coming out of a screening of Laila’s Birthday what they thought.
margaret It’s wonderful, everybody should see it!
david A good insight of what’s going on in occupied territories.
laureen Wellobserved and heartwarming. A sweet little tale.
janice Excellent. I liked the focus it had on people rather than the extra stuff.
joey I especially liked the character of the taxi driver, which I thought was realistic.
masha Quite Charming. Gave a bit of an insight into Palestine.
NEILL MACKAY AND MORGANE ARTACHO