FREE TUESDAY 25 FEBRUARY THE OFFICIAL GFF DAILY GUIDE
Joanna Hogg discusses working in London and using non-professional actors to tell her unique stories before the release of her latest, Exhibition
oanna Hogg has been living in London for over three decades, but it has taken her three feature films to finally make a picture in the city she calls home. Her acclaimed debut, Unrelated, was set in Tuscany and her second film, Archipelago, took place on the small island of Tresco, but Exhibition is set almost entirely in and around a very unusual residence in West London. The house is the work of the late architect James Melvin, to whom Exhibition is dedicated and, as with her earlier work, Hogg drew upon her surroundings for inspiration as she put her story together. “There were a number of ideas I think I’d formed before finding the house,” Hogg told me in London recently. “One of the themes or ideas I’d wanted to explore was an idea of seeing an artist creating a piece of work, actually seeing inspiration at work, and how that creativity or inspiration is also connected with sexuality. All these ideas change and develop over months and weeks, and that’s what’s exciting about the early stages of creating a story; sometimes you’ll have all these different ideas and they seem to be disconnected, but the glue became the house, in a way. So many of the ideas came from just being in that house and observing the character of it.” What Hogg eventually came up with was the story of two artists, identified only as D and H, who have decided to sell their home and whose suppressed anxieties and fraught interactions are mercilessly
captured by Hogg’s rigorous camera. Having cast non-actors in key roles in Archipelago, Hogg made the bold decision to enlist Viv Albertine and Liam Gillick in these parts, neither of whom had ever acted before. “It’s a total leap of faith. It’s a kind of bolt of lightning realisation that this person is going to be right,” Hogg says when I ask her how she came to this decision. “With Viv, I had the advantage of having known her for many years, but what I didn’t know was how good an actress she would turn out
“There is a plan but within that plan there’s a lot of room for the unknown...” Joanna Hogg to be. Likewise with Liam, I knew he had some kind of performing gene in him, but not to the extent that he did. They both became actors. They’re not playing themselves as they’re both very much playing against type, and they do it brilliantly.” Albertine and Gillick’s performances are even more remarkable when you consider that they were
Interview: Philip Concannon cast in the film less than two weeks before shooting was set to begin. It was a gamble that could have backfired spectacularly for the director, but she sees an element of risk and a willingness to embrace the unknown as crucial aspects of her filmmaking process. “There is a plan, but within that plan there’s a lot of room for the unknown, for me to change my mind. I’ve got a clear idea of what I want on some level, but I’m not afraid of something unexpected happening, and that’s a really interesting balance to try and maintain.” Having achieved her desired goal of “setting out to explore depicting different levels of reality and creating a piece of work that was less linear, more fragmented and more dreamlike,” Hogg is already looking ahead to future projects. “I’m quite guarded at home and I don’t talk about my ideas until they’re formed enough to withstand any criticisms, until the ideas stand on their own,” she tells me, but one thing she is sure of is that she wants to make more films closer to home. “I’ve got another film that I’m developing, which is set in London, but I’ve also got another and I’m not sure where it is set yet, which is quite unusual for me, to not know where the film is going to be set when the story is already coming together. So that’s a bit of a mystery.” 25 Feb, Cineworld, 9pm 26 Feb, Cineworld, 3.45pm
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Reviews These Birds Walk
Director: Omar Mullick, Bassam Tariq
Near the middle of These Birds Walk, a documentary about a foundation for runaways and orphans in Karachi, Pakistan, two young boys get into a lengthy scrap with each other about a pair of missing sandals. It’s an upsetting scene to watch, the camera lingering on the kids as they settle their differences. Yet earlier on in the film, Omar, one of the would-be brawlers, had engaged with another runaway in a profound philosophical discussion on issues of faith and family. The great strength of this beautifully shot documentary is that it holds this paradox of childhood in perfect balance, displaying the youthful capacity for violence and wisdom in equal measure.
The Ehdi Foundation – the non-profit at the centre of the film – looks after children with unwavering love and dedication, and this compassion translates into the film itself. Each character is remarkably candid in front of the camera, which captures moments of raw, tangible feeling. There is unlikely to be a more emotional scene this year than watching Omar, who had previously boasted of not crying when beaten by his father, break down in tears next to one of his friends. [Nathanael Smith] 25 Feb, Cineworld, 18.45 26 Feb, Cineworld, 13.30
These Birds Walk
Director: Joanna Hogg Starring: Viv Albertine, Liam Gillick, Tom Hiddleston, Harry Kershaw
After two impressive features that established Joanna Hogg as a distinctive voice in British cinema, her third film, Exhibition, finds the filmmaker pushing her artistry in a number of fresh and adventurous directions. Gone are the ensemble dramas of Unrelated and Archipelago, here being replaced by an elliptical, fragmented style that is simultaneously more intimate and more oblique. First-time actors Viv Albertine and Liam Gillick play D and H, two artists preparing to sell the modernist London house they have lived in for most of their two-decade marriage. With this imminent change creating a rupture in their relationship, an undefined past trauma is gradually brought back to the surface. Exhibition is a probing study of the creative process, female sexuality and the myriad ways in which we relate to our environment and each other. Both Hogg’s exceptional use of space and the complex sound design ensure that the striking architecture D and H inhabit is as much of a character as they are. [Philip Concannon] 25 Feb, Cineworld, 9pm 26 Feb, Cineworld, 3.45pm
A Touch of Sin
A Touch of Sin
Director: Jia Zhangke Starring: Wu Jiang, Tao Zhao, Lanshan Luo
Three burning cigarettes, used as joss sticks by a killer in an indecorous prayer to his victims’ ghosts; just a single remarkable moment in a composition of greatness. In Jia Zhangke’s stunning new film, four violent vignettes – all taken from real life news stories – are presented with a confidence and class that avoids any perfunctory final scene crossovers or catharsis. He simply places these separate truths on the table without judgement or concession. Then, from
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this documentary style, momentary deft flourishes are painted by the master: the auditory jolt of a tiger’s roar; an abused woman, slapped repeatedly with a wad of banknotes, adopting the poise of a Wuxia heroine. The reality of China is surreal in itself, forming backdrops of vast scarred landscapes decorated with unfinished, disintegrating structures and a dilapidated Mao, monuments to a spent past. But Zhangke is more interested in the present, where an increasingly
atomised and unjust society creates an inhuman climate without outlet, forcing vicious retort. His film’s controlled bursts of extreme violence, à la mode for the modern auteur, are in this case entirely justified. This major work is a step up for one of the world’s most important filmmakers, more cinematic in scope but losing none of the provocative truth which defines his oeuvre. [Alan Bett]
What Richard Did Next
Following his effervescent debut Submarine, Richard Ayoade returns to GFF with an altogether more salty proposal, The Double, his take on the Dostoyevsky novella of the same name
Andy Diggle and Jock in Conversation
CCA, 8pm Part of the Kapow! strand at GFF14, the pairing behind 2000 AD and the amazing Green Arrow: Year One are here to share their thoughts on working in comics and upcoming film projects. They also wrote The Losers, about people who paid to see The Losers in cinemas.
Interview: Jamie Dunn
Man of Steel
GFT, 9pm Maker of two hour long trailer montages, Zack Snyder returns with an origin story for Clark Kent, showcasing once again his baffling incompetence at structure, humour and… wait. Apparently, this is a curated programme of experimental films with artist Ed Atkins in attendance and providing musical interludes. Much better.
Masterclass with agnès b.
t’s tempting to see The Double as a very personal film for Richard Ayoade. The comic actor-turned-director must know a thing or two about duel personas. He has, after all, spent the 00s beloved by the British public for playing Moss, the nerdy computerwhiz in Graham Linehan’s broad sitcom The IT Crowd, only to emerge this decade as one of the UK’s smartest and most cineliterate filmmakers with his coming-of-age film Submarine. Its followup, The Double, a nightmarish adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name, which sets the story in a vaguely Eastern European setting completely out of time, confirms Ayoade as one of our most accomplished young filmmakers. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as Simon James, a low-level bureaucrat who’s desperately in love with his coworker Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), but he’s so shy and unassuming (“a nothing-person”) that he can barely bring himself to talk to her. Simon’s life changes, however, when he meets his suave, mischievous doppelgänger James Simon (also played by Jesse Eisenberg). We caught up with Ayoade while he was in town for the Scottish premiere to discuss the film.
On the source material
“Initially, I read Avi Korine’s [Harmony’s younger brother] – who I ended up writing it with – script and it was his idea to adapt the novella. I really liked his script. It was just that premise that I thought was really interesting, of no one noticing that this person had a double, which just felt like a very unusual way to deal with that occurrence. I mean, ordinarily you feel everyone would notice: it would be very remarkable, it would be of enormous interest to everyone. But the fact that no one cares is such an illogically strange, nightmarish reaction that I just thought it was a really interesting idea. And very funny, just trying to protest to people THESKINNY.CO.UK/CINESKINNY
that they should be bothered about something that they aren’t.”
On duel personas
“I think everyone has a persona. I remember a friend at school saying that his idea of a nightmare was having loudspeakers attached to his head that broadcast his thoughts, and that would be the worst thing that could ever happen. No one is the same with everyone. Wallace Shawn [who plays Simon’s oblivious boss] said an interesting thing: he knows Noam Chomsky, and he says that Chomsky is amazingly consistent, that he’s the same with everyone. The same when speaking to the President of the United States or one of his students, he has the exact same address. Wallace Shawn said he has never encountered that in anyone. He said that if I was speaking to you now and then someone else called, I would not know which person to be, because I am not consistent in how I am. So I think it’s very unusual for someone to not change their manner with different people.”
On Jesse Eisenberg
“He’s unique, I think, in that I can’t think of any actors his age with his range and someone who would be able to play a very shy person and also a very confident person completely convincingly without resorting to the use of goatee beards or caricature. There is a kind of unintentional compliment paid to him where people feel that he does similar things, but I think all good actors are charged with that, unless they make a massive show of physical transformation. James Stewart is not considered an actor with enormous range, but of course his range is amazing, from Anthony Mann westerns to Vertigo to It’s A Wonderful Life to Philadelphia Story. This incredible range, but he has this ability that you just feel it’s him. I think Jesse has that. You never feel that it’s a big performance, he’s very natural, but
GFT, 1.45pm Part of ‘Festival for a Fiver’, you can go and listen to the famous fashion designer talk about cinema, her influences and her debut film My Name is Hmmm… We’re hoping she might give The CineSkinny some fashion advice, or at least validate Assistant Editor Nathanael’s choice of woolly jumpers.
he is doing these very different things. The difference between The Squid and the Whale and The Social Network I think is enormous.”
On ‘the double’ in cinema
“I think it’s something films can do really well because you can have an exact photographic representation of someone. In a novel, you just have to imagine two people looking alike, but there is an uncanniness that you can get in a photo – like in those Diane Arbus photos of twins, there is an uncanniness to them that exists beyond description or something that would be verbal. And also, it’s interesting to see an actor play a different part and see how, by them varying their thoughts and intentions, they can really appear to be someone quite different. That’s kind of an amazing thing to watch and partially why it’s interesting to watch actors; it’s interesting to see how they are going to do things.”
On why he’s never cast himself in one of his films
Masterclass with agnès b.
Cineworld, 3.30pm Through a series of games, Algerian children re-enact their country’s history within French colonialism in this powerful documentary. The programme describes it as Lord of the Flies meets The Battle of Algiers, but we at The CineSkinny wouldn’t make such arbitrary comparisons.
The Italian Pastry Chef
“I haven’t really done any acting. I’ve been in some shows, I guess, but I’ve never done theatre acting. I’ve been in shows that I have written or co-written, and there is something different to doing that as a comedian. You know, you write a show and then you are in it; it’s very direct and you have an idea of how the thing should be presented, which is extremely different, I would say, to deciding to tackle Hamlet. It’s a wholly different process. I’m able to be a line delivery system in certain situations but I, compared to Jesse or Craig [Roberts] or Yasmin [Page], or even doing The IT Crowd with Chris [O’Dowd] and Katherine [Parkinson], they’re actors and there is a big difference between what they are doing and what I’m doing.”
GFT, 8.45pm A diabetic man who makes delicious pastries he can’t eat gets caught up in a murder case as he has to transport a dead body over international borders. It’s Fargo meets The Great British Bake Off! It’s Guns and Ammo meets Greggs!
The Italian Pastry Chef
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What’s new online?
Drawing a Crowd Ari Folman once again proves that animation is not just, y’know, for kids
A filmmaker haunted by bad dreams tries to rebuild memories of a massacre. A drug cop battles with symptoms of schizophrenia. A young girl grows up under the shadow of Islam during the Iranian revolution. What do these plot synopses have in common? They tinyurl.com/GFFUnforgiven all describe animated films, somewhat belying the assumption that animation Black Angel is a children’s medium. After his 18 Roger Christian, the director of the once rated war documentary Waltz With lost short film, talks to The Scotsman Bashir, Israeli director Ari Folman about cinemascope, Scotland and is no stranger to making films for George Lucas. adults that are drawn, not shot, and with The Congress he is back making tinyurl.com/GFFAngel thought-provoking, mature cinema with animation at its centre. Tae Think Again Anyone who was ever traumatised There is a whole lot of stupidity – from by Watership Down is aware of the both sides of the argument – surround- power of animated images and how ing the independence debate. Take a unsuitable they can sometimes be for look at this event curated by Margaret children. While it is technically rated Tait Award-winner Rachel Maclean for U, the leporid horror remains the some more intellectually stimulating discussion.
subject that the BBFC gets the most complaints about thanks to its bloody violence and disturbing imagery. Yet it is a story that couldn’t be told using live action, which is often the reason directors turn to drawings or digital images. Bashir, for instance, is a film about the problems of memory, particularly when faced with trauma, so its images are often too abstract or too grotesque to make sense in any other way. The Congress, similarly, needs animation to make sense. Split between live action and animation, it tells the story of a failing actress (Robin Wright, playing a version of herself) who sells her image rights forever. It promises to be both as intelligent and as thoughtful as Bashir, but is almost certainly not child friendly. Walt Disney said that ‘animation can explain whatever the mind can
Still worried that you can’t remake a classic? That Clint Eastwood’s western is untouchable? Let Empire persuade you otherwise: “majestic landscapes, humour and full-on grit…”
The Physical Impossibility Festival blogger and all round nice guy Sean Welsh launches his new zine’s second issue, which is dedicated to the films of Larry Cohen. Kicks off at 6pm, CCA – more info at the link below. tinyurl.com/ZineLaunch
Words: Nathanael Smith
conceive.’ To restrict the medium to younger audiences, therefore, is to restrict imagination to them, too. With The Congress, Folman has once again created whatever his mind conceived. Let’s hope that more directors catch on to the potential of this versatile and exciting medium. 25 Feb, Cineworld, 6pm 26 Feb, Cineworld, 3.30pm
What did you think? Six of the best tweets Tag your tweets #CINESKINNY! You may end up featured here... which would be nice @simon_tsang
Here I was thinking I was going to have a light film to start the day. Nup. Instead it’s “a compelling exploration of human cruelty” #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
What day is it again? All my reference points are gone due to film festival immersion. #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
A blogger who claims to be ‘cinema illiterate’ proves to be anything but as she @PaulEGreenwood rounds up her GFF14 experiences so far. The cloying, shapeless frippery of Mood Indigo annoyed my hole quite intensely. tinyurl.com/phonetica Just terrible. #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Mood Indigo @glasgowfilmfest wonderfully absorbing vibrant moving surreal tale of love and loss. fantastic visuals, music and performances. #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Had it confirmed yesterday that my @glasgowfilmfest pass is a licence to kill. This came from the top #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
2nd film of @glasgowfilmfest: Mood Indigo. Gondry is out of control, which is both a good and bad thing. #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Picture of the day
Starred Up producer Gillian Berrie gets up close and personal with the film’s star Jack O’Connell. Sort of. Director David Mackenzie and writer Jonathan Asser look on
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Photo: Neil Thomas Douglas
Produced by The Skinny magazine in association with the Glasgow Film Festival Editor Jamie Dunn Designer Ana Hine Assistant Editors Nathanael Smith Patrick Harley Distribution Franchesca Hashemi Graeme Campbell Jennifer Clews
GFF Box Office Order tickets from the box office at www.glasgowfilm.org/festival or call 0141 332 6535 or visit Glasgow Film Theatre 12 Rose Street, Glasgow, G3 6RB firstname.lastname@example.org