FREE SUNDAY 26 FEBRUARY THE OFFICAL GFF DAILY GUIDE
WHAT’S INSIDE? 2 — TODAY’S PICKS What’s happening at GFF today
2 — CINESKINNY AWARDS We pick the winners of the festival – the most important awards to be announced this weekend
3 — REVIEWS Weimarvellous ★★★★ Bel Ami ★★ Omar Killed Me ★★★
AKI KAURISMÄKI: LAZY MAN?
4 — PICS OF THE FEST A photographic recap of the last ten days.
As GFF 2012 reaches its end, we meet with AKI KAURISMÄKI, director of the festival’s closing gala LE HAVRE, to discuss his film and his future as a filmmaker INTERVIEW: PHILIP CONCANNON IT CAN sometimes be dangerous to make assumptions about an artist’s personality from the work they produce. David Lynch and Gaspar Noé are engaging, softly spoken men who happen to be responsible for some of cinema’s darkest nightmares, while many of Michael Haneke’s collaborators cite a sense of humour that you won’t find in his films. Aki Kaurismäki, however, is in every way the man you expect to meet based on his body of work. Slouched in his chair and fortified by coffee and cigarettes, the Finnish director is a morose, taciturn presence, offering short answers in an unwavering deadpan that often makes you wonder how seriously he intends to be taken. He’s at his most passionate when you get him onto certain subjects, like music, which he says is the only aspect of filmmaking that interests him nowadays, or the theme of his charming new film Le Havre, which deals with illegal immigration. “It’s a shame, that’s why,” he responds when I ask what attracted him to this subject, “I am European and it is a shame for Europe that we have this kind of disgraceful situation going on all the time.” Unlike many filmmakers who tackle the darker side of such
stories, Kaurismäki finds a note of hope and humanity in the relationship between ageing shoeshiner Marcel (André Wilms) and an African boy hiding from the authorities (Blondin Miguel). “I can’t help my natural optimism,” he says and, although he has admitted in the past to making a late decision on whether his films will have a happy or sad ending, he didn’t have any doubts about this one. “It seems to be quite mathematical that every second film is either a happy ending or sad ending, but with Le Havre it was always a happy ending, always a fairytale.” When Kaurismäki talks about filmmaking there is no pretentiousness and no self-aggrandising; in fact, he makes it all seem like the simplest thing in the world. When I ask him about directing actors he shrugs and says, “if needed, I will act in front of them, to show them how they should act. Casting for me is hiring the right actors so normally I don’t have to direct at all, which is good for a lazy man.” This idea of Kaurismäki as a lazy man just doing enough to get by is an image that he insists upon, and he claims that such laziness is what prompted him to become a director in the first place rather than a writer, which was
his original intention. “When I say ‘let’s shoot’ we hire people and equipment, and then I have to be there on the first day with some idea,” he explains, “With writing I can always say, ‘Oh, I will start tomorrow...I will start tomorrow...’ Filmmaking is the only career for the lazy man.” But for how much longer will Aki Kaurismäki be allowed to pursue that career? Throughout our conversation he makes references to the digital revolution that is currently altering the cinematic landscape, predicting a bleak future for directors like him who are “filmmakers not pixelmakers... The laboratories are bankrupt and so is Kodak, so why not me also?” he asks, and when I enquire about his next feature he glumly responds, “maybe I will retire, I don’t know. Will I still have film in a few years?” One thing is for certain, Aki Kaurismäki won’t compromise on his belief that cinema is light, and he scoffs when I suggest embracing digital technology rather than fighting against it. “I won’t make a digital film in this life,” he states sternly, “I will die with my boots on.” SCREENING 26 FEB AT GFT A S THE CLOSING GALA FILM OF GLASGOW FILM FESTIVAL 2012
Produced by The Skinny magazine in association with the Glasgow Film Festival Editor Designer Subeditors
Jamie Dunn Sean Anderson Becky Bartlett David McGinty
Thankyous... Had great fun putting the CineSkinny together at GFF Towers. Big thanks to all GFF staff for their help, especially Claire Stuart and John Carson for letting us take over their office, and Andi Denny for all the photos.
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AND THE AWARD GOES TO...
GFF doesn’t go in for awards, but we do. Here are The CineSkinny’s awards for GFF 2012 FILM OF THE FESTIVAL The Kid with a Bike: The Dardenne brothers’ most accessible film to date is also one of their best. Runner-up: This Is Not a Film DOC OF THE FESTIVAL Bill Cunningham New York: A charming, quick-footed profile of a charming, quick-footed man who has dedicated his life to documenting beauty on the streets of Manhattan. Runner-up: Superheroes SCOTTISH FILM OF THE FESTIVAL The Making of Longbird: There was more wit, style and invention in this beguiling 15-minute mock-doc animation from Will Anderson than in any of the Scottish features on offer at this year’s fest. If Charlie Kaufman was to remake Chuck Jones’ Duck Amuck it might look something like this. BEST BLAST FROM THE PAST Death Watch: This lyrical sci-fi, shot in Glasgow in 1979 by mercurial French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier (Clean Slate, The Clockmaker), is both a prescient vision of our technology- and reality TV-obsessed society and a document of Glasgow in all its faded beauty at the end of the 1970s. It’s one of the great, unsung, British films. Bravo to GFF and distributor Park Circus for reviving this masterpiece. Runner-up: Laura
BROMANCE OF THE FESTIVAL Love has been in the air over the last few weeks... Man love. Mark Millar and Nacho Vigalondao have been the couple of GFF 2012 – see our back page of Wednesday’s CineSkinny. You can keep up with this hilarious, and rather sweet, bromance by following Mark (@mrmarkmillar) and Nacho (@ Vigalondo) on Twitter. THE “FILM I’M GLAD I SAW, BUT I NEVER WANT TO SEE AGAIN” AWARD Some films demand to be rewatched. Others are so toxic they need to be buried in concrete 50ft below ground. Markus Schleinzer’s Michael, a cleareyed, matter-of-fact look at child abuse – a good alternative name would’ve been Michael: Portrait of a Pedophile – falls into the latter camp. It’s brilliant. Now only if that procedure from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was real and I could wipe Michael from my memory.
FILM OF THE FESTIVAL
BROMANCE OF THE FESTIVAL
THE “FILM I SAW AT A PRESS SCREENING, BUT WISH I SAW WITH FRIGHTFEST’S LATE-NIGHT GOREHOUNDS” AWARD The silence of the press screening is often golden. There’s no chatter, or text messaging, or stench of multiplex munchies – not even Scotland’s hardened film hacks can stomach nachos and radioactive cheeze at 10am – but they can be a bit lacking in atmosphere. Sometimes you want to experience a film en masse. The Raid is a perfect example, where every bonecrunching kung-fu move would have received a round of applause from the bloodthirsty gorehounds. THE “NEVER JUDGE A FILM BY ITS TAGLINE” AWARD Described as the “British Glee”, I was not looking forward to the screening of Marc Evans’ Hunky Dory, a musical set in 70s South Wales, but this moniker couldn’t have been more misleading. A joyous coming-of-age movie in the mode of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, it was a very welcome surprise to discover it was ace.
THE “FILM ABOUT GETTING OLD THAT NO ONE SHOULD SEE” AWARD With a cast that includes Maggie Smith, Judie Dench, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a kind of Carry on Pensioner, is going to do handsomely at the box office. Some of director John Madden’s earlier romps, like Shakespeare in Love and Mrs. Brown, felt lightweight, but The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is so insubstantial that it could be used to calibrate the scales for the Higgs boson particle. THE “FILM ABOUT GETTING OLD THAT EVERYONE SHOULD SEE” AWARD Cinema tends to balance senility with syrup (see On Golden Pond and Driving Miss Daisy), but Wrinkles, a Spanish animation about a retired bank manager whose mind is slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s, is a sensitive and beautifully humane portrait of old age that leaves the crass sentimentality of Hollywood for dust.
THE “NEVER JUDGE A FILM BY ITS TAGLINE” AWARD
Be the star in your own movie
THE “FILM ABOUT GETTING OLD THAT EVERYONE SHOULD SEE” AWARD
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REVIEWS OMAR KILLED ME DIRECTOR: ROSCHDY ZEM STARRING: SAMI BOUAJILA, DENIS PODALYDÈS, MAURICE BÉNICHOU
★★★ It’s obvious Omar Killed Me is based on fact; no fictional equivalent would make its central injustice so glaring. The film presents the murder conviction of Moroccan gardener Omar Rassad as a scandalous combination of falsified reports, xenophobic contempt and judicial malpractice on a terrible scale; corruption and ineptitude conspiring to imprison an innocent man. Roschdy Zem – star of the Oscar-nominated Days of Glory and 2011 GFF hit Point Blank, amongst others – directs with confidence if not quite flair, the film strongest in an opening third that
alternates between Omar’s arrest in 1991, and a writer’s investigation into the case three years later. This dual-thread later gives way to a more prosaic procedural structure, but as is so often the case with films by actors-turned-directors, any formal shortcomings are offset by the quality of the performances. Zem’s frequent co-star Sami Bouajila, in particular, is excellent in the lead role, convincingly internalising complex emotions: defiance, desperation, anger, and defeat. [Chris Buckle] SCREENED 21 AND 22 FEB
BEL AMI DIRECTOR: DECLAN DONNELLAN, NICK ORMEROD STARRING: ROBERT PATTINSON, CHRISTINA RICCI, KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS, UMA THURMAN
★★ Bel Ami, based on a Guy de Maupassant novel, marks the feature debut of directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod. The quality of the sets, costumes and cast belies the relatively small budget; Budapest replaces Paris – so, no Eiffel Tower or Moulin Rouge in sight. As the social-climbing George Duroy, Robert Pattinson is expected to carry the film, featuring in every scene. He undoubtedly looks the part but his determination to be taken seriously as an actor, while admirable, is evident too often, to the detriment of the film’s authenticity. The more experienced actresses, particularly doe-eyed Christina Ricci, frequently steal the scenes they share with their leading man. Yet the biggest problem here is the utter lack of passion. As George beds woman after woman, with the specific intent of moving up the social ladder, the seduction is non-existent. So too is the hedonism and debauchery of Paris in the 1890s. George is a hollow character, but it is a shame that the film is too. [Becky Bartlett] SCREENED ON 22 AND 23 FEB RELEASED NATIONWIDE 9 MAR
WEIMARVELLOUS ★★★★ Weimarvellous attempts to recall the heady decadence of 1920s Berlin through a programme of burlesque, readings and cabaret karoake. The Blue Angel, which is opening the event, launched Dietrich’s career and reflects the carnivalesque life of a touring cabaret, making it an iconic film within the neo-burlesque revival. Across the evening, comparisons are drawn between contemporary
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political anxiety and the manic flush of Germany’s post WWI democracy. The reading from Beatrice Colin’s The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite only emphasises the gap, at least financially: Dr Gypsy Charms’ two routines took up Weimar’s economic degradation and Dietrich’s sensuality, adding a modern sauciness that Dietrich’s Lola Lola could not imagine. Despite its status, The Blue Angel has weaknesses.
The first hour of Benny Hill humour descends into tragedy abruptly and the morality tale is blunt. However, weaving an evening around the film sets it in a context and accounts for its enduring appeal. The joy of Weimarvellous is that it reminds us why a film is only partially about the celluloid and also about the associations. [Phil Gatt] WEIMARVELLOUS WAS HELD ON 17 FEB
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PICS OF GFF 2012
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FESTIVAL OPENING GALA
4 THE CINESKINNY SUNDAY 26 FEBRUARY
NACHO VIGALONDO AND MARK MILLAR
Published on Feb 26, 2012
Philip Concannon interviews Aki Kaurismäki about the GFF closing gala film Le Havre. We dole out the 'prestigious' CineSkinny awards. Review...