Total films seen so far this year: 364
Films seen in the last week: The Master, Love, Marilyn, Laurence, Anyways
FILM OF THE WEEK: RUBY SPARKS
Ten Highlights of the 2012 San Sebastian Film Festival – Part Two
Last week, in Part One, I wrote about five of the ten highlights of this year's San Sebastian Film Festival. My tweets from the festival (offering, essentially, a blow-by-blow account of the whole thing) are archived here and all my photographs are here, but here are my remaining five highlights from this year's San Sebastian Film Festival, along with my top ten, culled from the 35 films I saw while I was there. Viva Donostia!
6. The scenery. Quite apart from the films, the food and the general atmosphere, the scenery in San Sebastian is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Last year I kicked myself because I was there for eight days and I never once got around to doing any actual exploring, beyond walking to the various cinemas and a quick trip to Fnac. So this year I decided to go a day earlier and take an entire day to myself. I'm really glad I did, not least because the weather on that day was the nicest day we had all festival. Anyway, if you look at this picture you can see a statue at the top of the hill overlooking the coast.
I'd been told that there was a pleasant walk to be had going up to see the statue, so that's what I did (all the photos from the walk are
here). Rather embarrassingly, I'd spent the whole time thinking the statue was of Mary, only to discover, when I got there, that it was, in fact, Jesus. Sorry, Jesus.
7. The Keler Tent. One of the highlights of last year's festival was the Keler Tent so I was delighted to discover that not only was it back this year, but it was back with a vengeance. For one thing they'd relaxed their entry policy (last year you needed a special card, this year you only needed your press pass) and for another, they had significantly upped their food options, serving bite-sized pintxos like chicken wings, lamb meatballs, chunks of beef wrapped in pineapple and a vegetarian thing that was very nice indeed. Oh, and best of all, the Keler Tent provided FREE beer (Keler, surprisingly good) and food for the duration of the entire film festival. You don't get that at the LFF. Highlights of various Keler Tent nights included befriending this man, affectionately nick-named “Spanish George Clooney” (but actually one of the festival's programmers).
8. Meeting Ricardo Darin and Luis Tosar. After last year's semi-successful stalking of Michael Fassbender, this year I had only one real goal: to meet jury member Ricardo Darin and tell him that I had written the Empire review of his break-out hit, Nine Queens (true). He walked past me while I was waiting to do an interview and I considered following him, but politeness and decorum prevailed and I stayed where I was. However, my patience was rewarded, because I met him at the Closing Night Party and we got on famously, so that was nice.
Also, although I had snapped a picture of actor Luis Tosar signing autographs, I hadn't expected to meet him, so it was a nice surprise when the party for his film Operation E turned out to be at the bar I went to the most. I ended up having a nice chat with him in Spanish and told him how much I loved two of his films, both of which are must-sees: Mondays in the Sun and Take My Eyes. So that was nice too.
9. Midnight press screenings. As a sign of just how insanely relaxed San Sebastian is as a film festival, there are press screenings at midnight. Midnight! You wouldn't get that at the LFF, etc. They are, to be fair, usually fairly poorly attended, but that often means that you get almost an entire cinema to yourself, which is rather lovely.
This year, my late night press screening was of a film called La Sirga, which I urge you to seek out at the London Film Festival.
10. Strike Day. This year there was a general strike during the festival, which we'd all been warned about beforehand. Although there were one or two films showing that day (I saw two, as opposed to the usual four), it meant that almost everything else in the city was shut down, so all plans to spend the day exploring restaurants and bars and so on were largely scuppered. At one point I was seriously worried that I was going to starve to death, until the Keler Tent came to my rescue late in the evening. Even the McDonald's was closed, which is actually pretty impressive – a symbol of capitalism closing in solidarity with a striking city. I wonder if anyone told the Americans?
In the event, it was actually a useful day for catching up on writing and having a bit of a break, to the point where various journalists started wondering if maybe we could have a strike day every year. If there is one next year though, I will be sure to stock up on food and drink beforehand...
And finally, here’s my festival top ten, which I've written about in more detail here. Note that I haven’t included films I saw in the UK beforehand, such as The Imposter. I also deemed retrospective films ineligible, otherwise Franju's Judex would be in there too.
2. The Sessions
3. ¡Atraco! (Hold-up!)
6. After Lucia
9. In The House
10. The Impossible
Trailerwatch: Fun Size
I'm not quite sure where I saw it, but I was vaguely aware of Fun Size after the poster caught my eye recently. I'm a bit of a sucker for teen movies in general and the 'everything happens on one night'
sub-genre in particular. I don't watch Victorious so I'm unfamiliar with lead actress Victoria Justice (although I like her name), but I do watch Suburgatory, so I am familiar with ginger second lead Jane Levy, whose comic delivery skills are pretty impressive.
The plot is extremely simple: high school best friends Wren (Justice) and April (Levy) get invited to a Halloween party by a hot boy at school but wind up having to bring along Wren's weird younger brother, who promptly wanders off, dressed as Spider-Man. While Wren and April commandeer a couple of nerdy classmates (no prizes for guessing where that particular plot is going) to help them in their search, the kid gets roped in on another teenager's revenge mission that involves gate-crashing a party.
The trailer gives a good sense of witty banter between the two leads and it's refreshing to have a teen movie that's actually about the friendship between two girls. I also like the sense of escalating chaos in the trailer and I confess I laughed out loud at the Giant Chicken moment towards the end. On top of that, the film has: a) someone in a Hulk costume pounding cars and b) a bit where a kid punches someone in the nuts. So I'm sold. It opens here on October 29th, so not long to wait now, Fun Size-fans!
Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Three new entries this week, with fantasy relationship comedy Ruby Sparks, animated monster comedy Hotel Transylvania (don't be put off by the presence of Adam Sandler and Kevin James – you'd never know it was them voicing Dracula and Frankenstein) and Dax Shepard's comedy thriller Hit and Run all entering the top ten. Under normal circumstances, this is the point at which I'd enter the weekly plea to See Smaller Films First (#SSFF) but there aren't any films that are particularly at risk in that respect this week. Also, the London Film Festival is on, so you really ought to be hitting that instead.
Interview-wise this week, we have a semi-exclusive interview with actor Paul Dano and co-director Jonathan Dayton for Ruby Sparks, as well as a press conference interview with Dano, Dayton, writer-star Zoe Kazan (wistful sigh) and co-director Valerie Faris. Elsewhere, you can still read our press conference interview with Emma Watson for The Perks of Being a Wallflower; a semi-exclusive interview with Liam Neeson for Taken 2; a semi-exclusive interview with Taken 2 director Olivier Megaton; an exclusive, hilarious interview with Twenty8K co-star Michael Socha, in which he confesses to getting his film titles tattooed on his arse; our exclusive interview with Twenty8K star Jonas Armstrong; an exclusive interview with Twenty8K co-director Neil Thompson; our semi-exclusive interview with Dredd star Karl Urban; a semi-exclusive interview with Dredd writer Alex Garland; an exclusive interview with Lawless director John Hillcoat; and a press conference interview with Anna Karenina director Joe Wright and stars Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Matthew Macfadyen.
Come back next week for exclusive interviews with the cast and director of Frankenweenie and Alice Englert, the break-out star of Sally Potter's Ginger & Rosa.
1. Holy Motors
2. Anna Karenina
3. Ruby Sparks
4. Hotel Transylvania
5. Liberal Arts
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
7. Killing Them Softly
9. Hit and Run
DVD/Blu-Ray of the Week: Fast Girls (out now, online RRPs DVD £10.59, Blu-Ray £13.59)
This week's DVD/Blu-Ray of the week is Fast Girls, directed by Regan Hall. Co-written by Noel Clarke, the film stars Lenora Crichlow as Shania, a gifted runner from a rough London estate, who trains every morning with local shopkeeper Brian (Phil Davies). When Shania qualifies for the World Athletics Championships (essentially a branding-free stand-in for the Olympics), she's asked to join the British relay team, but quickly develops an intense rivalry with fellow runner Lisa (Lily James), whose wealthy father (Rupert Graves) is on the athletics board.
Will they be able to put their differences aside in order to ensure the team's success? Lenora Crichlow is excellent as Shania, delivering a lively, likeable performance that feels completely believable. Lily James is equally good and there's also strong support from Davies, Lorraine Burroughs and Lashana Lynch (as gobby fellow relay team members Trix and Belle) and Merlin's Bradley James as the team physio and Shania's will-they-won't-they love interest.
The thing about clichés is that they work, so there's nothing wrong with clichés per se, providing they are marshalled effectively; consequently, there's never any doubt where any of this is going, but the script manages to push all the right buttons along the way and builds to a hugely enjoyable feelgood finale. Similarly, Hall does an excellent job on the actual running sequences and there's also a terrific stand-out scene where the girls get into trouble with some sleazy boys at a nightclub and end up putting their sprinting skills to good use.
The only real problem is that the script still feels a little rough around the edges and could have done with some fine-tuning. For example, the screenplay doesn't really sell the final stage of Shania and Lisa's relationship, while a supposedly important plot detail regarding a baton handover technique gets largely under-played. That said, this is an enjoyable, emotionally engaging feelgood sports drama that marshals its clichés effectively and succeeds thanks to lively direction and a winning central performance from Lenora Crichlow.
Extras: 20 minutes of Behind the Scenes featurettes (Cast Training, Costume Design, Fast Girls Championship, Night Shoot, The Relay), 32 minutes of interviews with cast and crew; the trailer; and a short featurette from the Fast Girls premiere. No commentary or deleted scenes though.