FREE MONDAY 24 FEBRUARY THE OFFICIAL GFF DAILY GUIDE
Once Upon an Apocalypse Set among the post-apocalyptic ruins of a vast empire, Rachel Maclean’s latest exploration of national identity is set to be one of GFF14’s highlights
n the wall of Rachel Maclean’s Dennistoun studio, a still of Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres in the 1921 film The Sheik is given the same pride of place as a Vermeer. These are the visual inspirations for A Whole New World, the work Maclean has made as winner of the Margaret Tait Award for this year’s Glasgow Film Festival: a left-field take on the upcoming independence vote, fusing narratives of St George and the Dragon with Avatar and Disney’s Tarzan. There’s also a screenshot from The Lord of the Rings. Not otherwise a fan, Maclean is nevertheless impressed by “its aesthetic amalgam of Caspar David Friedrich and Art Nouveau.” Making reference to these fantasy blockbusters and conscious that the film will be shown in the cinema (Glasgow Film Theatre), A Whole New World will be presented in surround sound, “something that’ll be noticeable; it’s not typical in arthouse cinema.” Despite this technical difference, as in Maclean’s previous works, all of the audio is found, pulled from the internet. “That’s the most fun bit, when I start getting ideas, piecing it together into a structure.” Above her wall’s meticulous rows of rich visuals, and with tantalising casualness, there’s a handsome handmade pink lion’s head balanced on the wardrobe in the corner.
A lot of the idiosyncratic appeal of Maclean’s energetic, off-kilter and highly colourful video work is founded on these sumptuous, handmade costumes and props. So it’s a bit surprising when she mentions that this is the quickest part of her process. “But that’s still a month,” she adds, immediately giving a sense of the labour- and time-intensive post-production that underpins her skilfully edited, carefully produced video work. With the piece still in progress, Maclean has not made life any easier for herself by taking influence from the lush backgrounds of big budget videogames like the Prince of Persia. She tells me she is “keen on a strong source of light: dramatic, painterly chiaroscuro. Though it’s different from the pop and neon of the older work it seemed appropriate as the film’s set in a Victorian or Scottish country manor in the ruins of a vast empire. There’s a low sun rising or setting on a hot dying planet.” Right away there’s a strange sense of dreamy introversion as every character in a post-apocalyptic setting is played by Maclean, as in all her work. With her typical slippage between high and low culture, she responds to the weighty subject of respective British and Scottish identities through a narrator inspired by Arabian Nights, where “figures are turned
Interview: Adam Benmakhlouf to stone and back to life again.” Opening the film following a rip-off of the Universal Studios intro, the narrator is a statue of the goddess Britannia, played by Maclean miming to a male voice. As much time as Maclean spends rendering the sophisticated finish of her work, there’s still potential for happy accidents. This latest work features a blue Avatar/Disney-inspired princess character. “The nose didn’t work, she looks like a beautiful Disney princess but with a horrible nose.” And since the whole film will be shown in HD, Maclean jokes that it might be more hideous still “if the make-up and glue’s really obvious.” Though not quite enthusiastic about it, she’s not averse to this grotesque deformity. Closing the interview, it’s clear that Maclean’s imagination is already on to the next work. “Every time you do something you see the possibility for the next thing. I teach myself more.” Maclean’s impressively brazen impulse to rubbish anything comfortable and experiment without promise of success makes GFF’s screening of A Whole New World a white-hot ticket. 24 Feb, GFT, 9.30pm
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Reviews The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared Director: Felix Herngren Starring: Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg
Based on the bestselling novel by Jonas Jonasson, The 100-Year-Old Man – let’s call it that for short – chronicles the fanciful escapades of the central centenarian as he and his companions attempt to flee their own dull existences with equal shares in a suitcase full of cash. After escaping their retirement home and accidentally acquiring said case, our elderly protagonist, Alan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson), and his crew find themselves pursued by a violent but shambolic biker gang. Life on the
lam serves to remind Alan of his past misadventures in which, for someone who loves nothing more than blowing things up, he often finds himself in the right place at the right time. In the tradition of Zelig, Forrest Gump or – more accurately – William Boyd’s Any Human Heart, Alan’s life weaves through significant events of the 20th century, recalling naïve, hilarious and unrelentingly ridiculous encounters with Franco, Stalin and Oppenheimer, among others. [David McGinty]
The 100-Year-Old Man
Director: Kelly Reichardt Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, Kai Lennox, Alia Shawkat, James Le Gros
In her follow-up to Meek’s Cutoff, Kelly Reichardt’s trademark languid, stripped-back style is maintained for her most narrative-driven film to date. The seductively shot Night Moves sees three activists (Eisenberg, Fanning and Sarsgaard) collaborate to destroy a hydro-electric dam in order to stir public consciousness, only to confront growing senses of paranoia, futility and remorse when their plan proves misconceived for multiple reasons. Reichardt, who co-wrote the film, refreshingly opts out of defined moral judgements concerning both the central trio and supporting figures peppered throughout the story. The film’s first hour, consisting of both the grand eco-terrorist gesture and the build up to it, is the strongest section regarding its character work, moral dilemmas and almost suffocating suspense. The aftermath, however, sees a dilution of the earlier psychological depth despite the new ethical dilemmas that arise; Eisenberg, the focus of the second half, struggles with the later reliance on faces rather than words to convey conflict. Night Moves subsequently loses much of the gripping momentum that previously sustained it. [Josh Slater-Williams]
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears Director: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani Starring: Klaus Tange, Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener, Birgit Yew This bastard child of Argento and Dalí had audience members streaming out of its Toronto festival screening, as those expecting something comparable to Berberian Sound Studio were delivered a nasty surprise; poor dears. This isn’t about giallo; it is giallo. Its genre motifs – the black leather glove, the stiletto blade – are more than just ironic knowing winks. Leaving nothing to the imagination it burns savagely beautiful images into the viewer’s retina, but by following Argento in using this beauty to heighten the senses it raises the
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moral dilemma of whether murder (primarily of women) should be stylised in such ways. What Peter Strickland left opaque, this makes flesh; then flays it. A man’s wife goes missing in an apartment block of oddities and grotesques that rival Polanski’s The Tennant. He is then stalked through a deadly, labyrinthine dreamscape by the mysterious Laura. It is a sensory experience of jarringly cut, hugely impressive psychedelic images and imposing sound. The red of danger and, more importantly, sex (La petit
morte), is prevalent throughout the primary coloured film. Its arthouse pretentions fail to distance it from the Italian classics, instead coating it in the unhinged residue of Fulci’s Lizard in a Woman’s Skin or Bazzoni’s Le Orme. It’s a confusing and demanding film, at times exhausting; so subjective as to defy simple rating. When a character questions whether to ‘appease or resist,’ I asked myself the same. [Alan Bett]
Director George Sluizer discusses his 1993 film Dark Blood, which makes its UK premiere at GFF two decades after production stopped when its young star, River Phoenix, died
My Name Is Hmmm…
GFT, 6pm The last time a fashion designer tried their hand at directing, Tom Ford brought us the gorgeous A Single Man. The latest tailor-turned-auteur, agnès b, is attending GFF14 alongside the stars of her debut film about a girl who runs away from an abusive home. Expect this to be the best dressed red carpet this side of the Oscars.
Interview: Jamie Dunn
My Name Is Hmmm...
GFT, 3pm Ricky Jay is probably the second most famous magician in the world after Harry Potter. Sadly, the boy who lived was unavailable for interview, but Jay himself, alongside director Molly Bernstein, will be attending this screening of the fascinating documentary.
he history of cinema is littered with spirits. Actors long dead remain young and luminous when projected, their images ghosts that haunt the silver screen. This feeling is most palpable when the work in question relates to performers who died young, their careers in infancy. Films like Giant, released in 1956 following the death of James Dean, and more recently The Dark Knight, where Heath Ledger is blistering as the film’s antagonist, retain a macabre power for being snapshots of young artists who will never attain their full potential. Dark Blood, the film in which River Phoenix gives his last performance before dying from a drugs overdose outside Johnny Depp’s Los Angeles club, the Viper Room, in 1993, is likely to be filed with the final films of Dean and Ledger when it is finally released 21 years after his death. Despite being only 23 when he died, Phoenix had amassed a string of great performances, from the streetwise Chris in Stand By Me, to a narcoleptic rent boy in My Own Private Idaho and, best of all, the kid on the lam with his fugitive parents in Running on Empty, for which he was Oscar nominated. His fans will be eager to see his nevercompleted swan song, but its director, George Sluizer, who’ll present his final edit of the film to a Glasgow audience tonight, two decades after Phoenix’s death closed down production, is happy to keep us in suspense. “It’s difficult to talk about something that’s a bit abstract,” says Sluizer by phone from his home in the South of France, when asked for details of the film he’s pieced together. “I can only say it’s a good movie,” he chuckles. What we glean from our conversation with The THESKINNY.CO.UK/CINESKINNY
Vanishing director is that Phoenix’s role is by some margin the darkest in his short career. “I thought, first of all, that he had a lot of charisma,” says Sluizer when we ask why he was interested in Phoenix for the role. “But he would bring that to any film he would do. I like that he was known as the blond, blue-eyed, charming boy and in this film he’s partly mad. It’s a very different character from what he’s done before.”
“It’s unique in film: it’s like Schubert’s unfinished symphony – no one complains that it is incomplete” George Sluizer Sluizer describes resurrecting Dark Blood as “a gamble”. He rescued the prints in 1999 only days before they were due to be destroyed by the film’s insurance company. “I saved it from there and I kept it safe,” he explains, “but I didn’t do anything with it until 2010, because I was busy with other movies.” It was only when the 81-yearold had an aneurysm that he got to work. “I got seriously ill and could not walk for a long time. The only thing I could do was edit, so I decided I would try to edit this material. I didn’t know
if there was a story there anymore, because we only had a little more than half of it filmed.” When Phoenix died, Dark Blood’s shoot was 11 days from completion. The film centres on a yuppie couple (Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce) who find themselves stuck in the desert when their car breaks down and are taken in by Phoenix’s volatile young man. Sluizer fills in the narrative gaps using voiceover played over production stills. “I’m the narrator for the little pieces that are, let’s call it, missing,” he says, “but I had to rewrite the whole story also to make it worthwhile or interesting, because obviously otherwise, when you miss so much, you can’t tell a story.” Although Sluizer suggest that Dark Blood’s gaps don’t distract from its overall charm. “It’s unique [in film]: it’s Schubert’s unfinished symphony – no one complains that it is incomplete.” When asked if he ever considered recasting the film after Phoenix’s death, Sluizer doesn’t miss a beat. “No, I never had the intention to reshoot the picture with another actor,” he says sharply. “It would have been inelegant and I would say unwise. People said, ‘Well, let’s take Johnny Depp and reshoot, or shoot the rest focused on someone’s legs or the back of the head,’ all these solutions were dismissed. It was kind of a respect for River. You cannot just change a piece of a car when it’s broken.” 24 Feb, GFT 1, 6.30pm George Sluizer will present this UK premiere and take part in a Q&A following the film
Cineworld, 8.45pm Tahar Rahim, the astonishing lead actor of A Prophet, is back with this Cannes hit about a nuclear power worker and his love affair with fellow employee Karole, played by Léa Seydoux. Featuring France’s two hottest young actors of the moment, this is the sexiest film about nuclear power since An Inconvenient Truth.
The Margaret Tait Award: A Whole New World GFT, 9.30pm This award honours the brightest experimental film talents in Scotland, this year giving the accolade to genrebending visual artist Rachel Maclean. The director will be attending this world premiere.
Geeks Vs. Gamers Super Quiz CCA, 8pm Know your Pong from your Portal? Your Skyrim from the illegal sex position of the same name? Then this is the event for you, featuring Mark Millar, Rab Florence and you, the hoi polloi of geekdom. May the force live long and prosper!
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What’s new You Want The Truth? We profile some of the excellent documentaries at GFF14 online? Moss hits escape on debate
The Festival Blog
Sean Welsh’s diary returns. Fittingly, for a festival featuring The Double, he worries that his doppelgänger might be the bloody murderer of Blue Ruin. tinyurl.com/FestBlog2
The BBC makes the claim that GFF14 is not immune from the independence debate. Richard Ayoade is the most sensible: “I’m not sure my particular brand of banality will be called upon.” tinyurl.com/GFFIndyRef
The comedian and gaming geek debuts his impressive horror film The House of Him at GFF14. He talks to STV about making it, and shooting in his old bedroom. tinyurl.com/GFFFlorence
Ask a film buff what their favourite documentary from the last five years is and you are bound to get a wide variety of responses. Likely to feature are The Act of Killing, Searching for Sugarman and Blackfish. Other possiblities are Project Nim, The Imposter or anything by Alex Gibney. The diversity of these hypothetical answers represents the renaissance the genre has enjoyed over the past few years. With the form currently enjoying such rude health, it only makes sense for GFF14 to showcase some of the most interesting factual films out there. If anthropological studies tickle your cineaste fancy, then Godfrey Reggio, the visionary behind Koyaanisqatsi, is the director for you. He brings his unique observational style to the subject of man’s relationship with technology in the black and white documentary Visitors, with Philip Glass once again providing the score.
Perhaps slightly less oblique is Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys, which follows reindeer herders in Finland. Meanwhile, festival director Allison Gardner raves about These Birds Walk, and rightly so. It’s a beautifully shot film about life in Karachi that you’ll never see outside of this festival, so don’t miss out. Fans of historical or political filmmaking should be sure to check out Bloody Beans, which traces the history of French colonialism in North Africa through re-enactments by schoolchildren. Also of interest is Plot for Peace, which uncovers the work of the mysterious ‘Monsieur Jacques,’ who helped to end apartheid from behind the scenes. Who Is Dayani Cristal? uses a real life mystery of a dead body to explore the place of immigration in the US. Another increasingly popular form of documentary is the profile of figures
Words: Nathanael Smith
These Birds Walk
who are either famous or should be. Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, The Deceptive Practice, The Last Impresario, Looking for Light and A Portrait of Robert Alan Jamieson cover everything from acting, to magic, to influential Glaswegians and poetic Shetlanders. The wealth of choice at the festival represents the strength of the non-fiction scene at the moment; if you’re yet to discover the brilliance of documentaries, now is the perfect time to do so. To find out more, visit: tinyurl.com/GFFDocs
What did you think? Six of the best tweets
Alistair Harkness reviews four of the big releases at GFF14, giving 20 Feet From Stardom the hallowed five star rating.
Tag your tweets #CINESKINNY! You may end up featured here... which would be nice
Food and Films
The Skinny looks at the various pop-up cinema events that come with a tasty meal in this particularly delicious strand. tinyurl.com/GFFFood
What better way to watch When Harry Met Sally than sprawled out on a giant beanbag in Briggait with food & drink from @stfoodcartel #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
The protagonist of Blue Ruin looks a bit like George Osbourne, which is an excellent thing once you realise it #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Treat of the day: John Sessions demonstrating how Al Pacino learnt the meaning of ‘wean’ from Gregor Fisher #tellyouthisboy #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
I’m feeling stylistically savaged after The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears. Breathtakingly insane film #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Of Horses and Men was a delight claustrophobic small community combined with a lovely sense of the absurd. Wonderful soundtrack too. #GFF14 #CINESKINNY Fucking turn up on time for the fucking film and switch off your fucking phone and shut the fuck up. #GFF14 #CINESKINNY
Picture of the day
A chef prepares ‘what she’s having’ for the pop-up When Harry Met Sally
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Photo: Eoin Carey
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 email@example.com