***Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers***
Summer 1993 is a beautiful Spanish film charting the emotional journey of a six year old girl in the aftermath of her mother’s death; set against the backdrop of rural 90s Catalonia.
There are a number of feelings and nuances explored by way of examining the human condition through the eyes of Frida; our six year old protagonist. The child gaze, is masterfully handled in a way that doesn’t dip into the usual tropes of sympathy and sentimentality - considering what she has been through. Cinematically; the film is almost entirely shot from her eye level - the camera follows her as she wanders through the house, and her every move without seemingly ever being acknowledged or voyeuristic. This unobtrusive and documentary-style approach reminds me of the French Film ‘Etre et Avoir’ which took the festival circuit by storm when it premiered back in 2002. There are not many films that depict childhood so honestly as Summer 1993. It is worth noting, Spain has produced some of cinema’s most resonant child characters including Spanish Actress Ana Torrent in The Spirit of the Beehive (El espiritu de la colemena).
Frida is rushed off during the night and sent away from her Barcelona home, when she arrives she is unsettled, and silent. Disturbed and confused; Frida declines the family’s warm-doings to her - in the form of milk and biscuits, and rejects playing with the family’s child - Anna, who is younger than Frida. The household is strict and seemingly uncaring; with the father, who is Frida’s uncle, showing a slight leniency to her.
When Frida unpacks her backpack of teddy bears and soft toys; Anna reaches out to grab one only for Frida to refuse to let Anna touch them. This, and a number of other exchanges between Anna and Frida, reveals to us Frida has a maternal quality to the way she commands herself and her interactions with the house. She refuses to be told what to do by her new mother and father whilst bossing around Anna to do various chores for her, and almost giving ‘life lessons’ to her as a growing woman in the world when they’re playing outside during the long summery days. What comes of this is a slow, underlying acquaintanceship between the two girls that doesn’t really develop into a friendship but a means for Frida to motivate her own understanding of dealing with her grief. Although loosely realised; and perhaps as an overtly examined opinion of her character - it could be said Frida’s mother lives within her.
She feels emotionally disturbed because of the grief, and adding to that, being displaced - in a world that is completely alien to her and isolated from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. We don’t see too much of her life in Barcelona in the beginning of the film; because the events unfold so quickly we already begin with Frida’s departure. These feelings are very raw and vivid; and by using a situation of grief - Carla Simon lets us access the imagination and mind of a young child experiencing pain and confusion. She feels all these emotions yet is unable to comprehend the cause of her mother’s death innately due to her age - when she asks her Aunt-In-Law about how she died, later on during the film, she explains to Frida in a way she can understand stating that it was a virus that couldn’t be cured.
One of a handful of poignant scenes in the film is in garden where Frida is sunbathing on a lounger, outgrown for her size. In this scene; she puts lipstick on her cheeks to blush them, an endearing portrait of what have might have been her mother or someone she aspires to be - an iconic shot in the film is of her rosy-cheeks; with the buildup of pieces of lipstick on her cheek as she scrapes it on. Anna interrupts this process only for Frida to scold her, saying: “Be a good girl and let me rest”. Reminded me of Lolita.
When the family take Frida to a local dirt playground to play with the local children; she grounds herself watching on as the children play football in the distance. Trying to integrate she finds the children not wanting to play with her; tagging her ‘it’ and fleeing from her when she tries to catch them. She trips over and scrapes her knee; with one of the kids coming over to her to ask what the matter was. The mother of the child runs over to scold him and tells him not to touch her - and what follows is a subtle realisation of internal defeat and sadness in her eyes that will captivate audiences, it certainly captivated mine.
Frida’s innocent-nature combined with a conscious dare-devil arrogance happen on two further occasions; when she is asked by her aunt-in-law to retrieve a Lettuce from the Garden she runs to the allotment and picks up a Cabbage instead - windmilling herself back and calling out from out the back of the house assurance she will pick up the right one. Frida’s Grandma and Grandpa arrive by surprise to stay for a while which causes a minor frictious household as they too reel from the death of their daughter’s death. Atypically from a contemporary Spanish of this type; there isn’t a sense of an overburdening favouritism towards religion or depiction of faith as a central theme - nor is the way the film is executed structurally anything original, there is a slight nod to Christianity when her dying mother asks her to pray each night by reciting The Lord’s Prayer. One night, Frida steals away to the bottom of the garden where she comes across a statuette of the Virgin Mary; where she places a packet of cigarettes and sends them off to her mother in her thoughts.
Within the second half of the film; there is a stronger underlying sense of self-rejection where she causes unintended harm to Anna on two occasions. On the first; Frida is reluctant to take Anna with her into the woods to explore and begrudgingly makes her hold hands before walking into the woods. Frida tells Anna to stay by some trees while she ventures further into ‘uncharted territory’, almost as if making the coast clear and highlighting a child’s imagination when it comes to their interpretation of the scale of the world and what’s out there, even if only a few hundred metres from the villa’s back garden. The mother and father in worry call out for “Anna”, repeatedly only to hear no call - Frida rushes back to try and find where she told her to remain safe but she is not there. Frida finds Anna with a hurt arm and procedes to come back to the house together - with Frida getting severely told off. Frida blames Anna for venturing off further ensuring that she remained safe in her company throughout.
On the second occasion; Frida is swimming in the local public lake; Anna watches her, smiling. Frida convinces Anna to come in for a swim - Anna climbs into the lake; standing on a shallow bed of rocks, walking forward she is unsure if the water is deeper. Frida is confident that she can swim so convinces Anna to make the steps forward to come closer to her, she falls into the deep part of the lake and is clearly drowning. Frida’s sudden look of anxiety develops extremely quickly as soon as she saw her flailing. The Dad realises and jumps in to save her - seeing that she’s drowning.
In one of the last exchanges between Anna and Frida while Frida is packing her back in the middle of the night ready to leave; she tiptoes into the kitchen where they find each other. Anna asks why Frida is leaving; only to hear the most endearing response - “Because no one loves me here”, with Anna responding “I love you”. Frida then proceeds into the night calling out “Mummy” (in Spanish) and we follow her through with a handheld shot one of her face with a torch on it, in an partly-existential lapse of time where Frida is in complete despair.
Laia Artigas’ performance is extraordinary as Frida - the kind of perfectly matched personality with a character that formed Natalie Portman in one of her career’s most defining roles in Leon: The Professional. Frida’s character is explored in great detail; with great maturity and as said before; with a great sense of realism without pandering to the sentimentality. The mother has a similar charm to Victoria’s Laia Costa. It is more than apparent; that the film is an exploration of the director’s own parental loss - having lost her mother at the age of 6 - which can be deduced alone from the director’s birth to the time the film is set in. Simon offers us a portrait and self-reflection which allows us into the sensitive life of the filmmaker through a fictional lens.
About the Filmmaker
The film was written and directed by Carlo Simon, born in a small Catalan village in 1986. She chose film to portray the complexity of the human condition and family relationships in particular. She graduated in Audiovisual Communication in Barcelona after an exchange year at the University of California. After an MA TV Fiction course; she enrolled at the London Film School where she directed Born Positive and Lipstick which screened at numerous international film festivals.
About Summer 1993 at LFF
The film Summer 1993 is part of the First Feature Competition at this year’s BFI London Film Festival; which I am honoured to be working on as a member of the Young Jury, working with a panel of young experts ranging from young film theorists and researchers to the practitioners of tomorrow. I’ll also be sharing with you my thoughts on Beast, a British thriller with a heady insanity of sexual obsession set amidst a primed witch-hunt in bleak Jersey and Winter Brothers, a savagely beautiful rendering of the hermetic world of brothers and limestone quarry workers in Iceland - later on this week.
General Public Tickets for Summer 1993 can be purchased on Thursday 14th September 2017 and will be available to watch at the following dates & times:
Tuesday 10th October 2017
Thursday 12th October 2017
Sunday 15th October 2017
The Cast & Crew of Party Animal, currently touring in film festivals across the nation, are extremely humbled by this review by The Independent Critic. You can read the full review here.
Finley (Michael Oku) and Rachel (Laura Brailsford) head home to Rachel's family for the holidays in Party Animal, a just over eight-minute short film getting ready for the indie fest circuit with a slew of screenings already lined up for the independent co-production created by students at Westminster Film School in London, UK.
You could be forgiven if, ever so briefly, you found yourself wondering if you'd stumbled into Get Out, the Jordan Peele-directed film that has been all the rage this year but a film that is decidedly not comical. This film is, in fact, a comical one featuring a sly, charming performance by Oku, whose bewilderment at the scenario that surrounds him and the predicament that he eventually finds himself in is brought to life with a quiet hilarity more revealed in his body language than in Olivia Parkinson's understated dialogue.
As a fan of British humor, which tends to be more understated and character-driven than a lot of American cinematic humor, I found myself tremendously appreciate of the approach taken by co-directors Parkinson and Alexander Nijhoff, an approach that mined the off-kilter relational qualities for Finley when dropped into this strange new world where even the littlest thing that should go right doesn't.
At a mere eight minutes in length, Party Animal moves quickly and tells a story you might not be expecting. What at first appears to be yet another dysfunctional family holiday film becomes an entirely different beast altogether.
Cezar Tatarau's lensing is inventive and fun in the way that Tatarau captures events practically frozen in time and makes it feel like Finley is living in a fish bowl as his first meeting with the in-laws goes from awkward to disastrous to downright funny.
For more information on Party Animal and to follow its festival journey, visit the film's official Facebook page linked to in the credits to the left of this review. If you're in the UK, where multiple screenings are already set, you'll definitely want to check it out.
Written by Richard Propes.
In 2011 Beyoncé Knowles proclaimed in a mightily catchy hook that girls run the world, a far cry of course from James Brown's 1966 declaration that "This is a man’s world”. Whatever the truth of the matter, fast forward to 2017 and everyone seems to be a little bit lost. The topic of gender seems to continually be at the forefront of our cultural narrative, with the ever-shifting paradigm of what it truly means to be a man or a woman or indeed neither, in the modern era.
So it was that under the Lyric Hammersmith’s Open Mic banner and for one night only, Melina Namdar and Jessica Manu offered a fascinating glimpse into bringing these complex issues to the surface. Featuring a series of short, modern scenarios facing both men and women, the evening ranged from such first-world tribulations as swiping through Tinder, to the harder hitting and more volatile issues of abortion and rape. There was much here to fuel provocative thought and debate.
Overall, the show was a mixed bag. Some moments were harrowingly true and effective, hitting the right notes in terms of both gravitas and comedic astuteness. Elsewhere however, aspects seemed slightly contrived though this may well derive from the piece’s structure, compressing enormous issues into tantalisingly brief performance windows. X&Y clearly has a powerful message but it needs to expand its characters’ story lines and give more context to their plight as individuals.
What was undeniable however was the young performing talent that gives the play its authenticity and energy. Michael Ajih’s honest portrayal of a young man who suffers a traumatic event and is subsequently confronted by a therapist to talk about his experience, has an incredible impact. The hesitation and build up as he overcame his reluctance to talk, was both moving and credible.
Another stand out performance was Thea Mayeux as a woman confronted with a manipulative and ultimately bad apple of a partner, whose true colours are revealed when she informs him that she’s pregnant. Mayeux’s ability to convey emotional distress with a simple yet effective glazed look in her eyes as she realised her dire situation was immense. A captivating performance that left a considerable impression.
Melina Namdar and Jessica Manu have put together a stellar group of young actors and created a piece of theatre that asks questions and explores issues, rarely depicted on stage. If X&Y is any indicator to go by, look out for their future productions.
Reviewed by Josh Kemp on http://www.jonathanbaz.com/2017/07/x-y-review.html
A personal journey, meeting someone who'd change my life forever, and falling in love with my craft, again.
The Lost Films were somewhat of a revelation to me. I think the idea started quite spontaneously as a matter of fact upon my new-found French friend Caitlin's inaugural visit to London. I had met her and her family during a visit with the family we were staying with and both their families are connected by my godfather in terms of relations - the way in which Caitlin and I met was such a random occasion. I wasn't going to kid myself, I was nervous to meet her, being slowly nudged to introduce myself in such a casual manner considering we were swimming in a lake in the south of France half way between our villa and their family home.
We met, and I told her all about myself, what it is I do - yadder yadder... all the details and I could see the increasing grin on her face and her eyes lit up with such enthusiasm and interest I was keen to talk even more and when she responded with the things she was doing I was in such awe and excitement. She was clearly very bright, and also very creative and was telling me about a short film she had created recently entitled 24 Hours In Paris. I was keen to this piece so upon going back to the villa we were staying at, where her and her family followed us in their car, she showed it to me on my laptop and I was blown away at the creativity that had just unfolded before me. I loved the combination of imagery with sound and how she has captured Paris from a totally different perspective. The film could have been rather touristy and quite bland in the feelings and substance it carries but it was anything but that. I was screaming internally that we ought to do a collaboration together and that it'd be amazing because of how passionate we both are about the same thing but then I'm sure I must have muttered something like a little word or part of a sentence because she glanced at me peculiarly for a second or two. Maybe I let my thoughts take a hold of my vocal cords. The creative vibes were strong.
Do you know when you meet someone and you have that brief 'lightning flash' moment of euphoria that you deep down know full well you're going to be friends with them for life? I had that. And I hadn't experienced that since the first week of my new college - where me and my best friend found each other. So I was alarmed, in a good way of course, that this was someone who I should definitely watch out for and see prosper as time goes by.
So, I should probably cut to the chase and I'm sure the above could have been summarised in fewer words. As you can probably tell I'm writing this in a passionate moment of nostalgia late one Sunday night. I've just released the second half of the Lost series earlier on in the day, Lost in Vidauban, but before we get to that, let's continue the story in chronological order.
It was August 2015 and it was apparent Caitlin was flying on her own to come to London, I had been communicating with her mum and discussing plans and things, as her original intention was to stay just out of London with her Aunt who'd look after her. But of course, she hasn't been to London in years in recent memory I remember her telling me so I was determined to make her trip to London the best experience it possibly could have so she stayed with me and my mum in London so she was able to do lots of cool outings with me and see her London friends she had arranged to meet, without having to travel in so far by train each day, arriving into Waterloo, half of her pocket money would have easily been depleted knowing how awfully expensive national rail fares can be.
At this point may I just remind you that there was no plan to make a film out of this whole adventure, this only came about on the very last day of her stay in London when we were browsing through all the photos and videos we had. Although I did text her before she flew saying that we should film our meeting up from a two-camera perspective from each protagonist - in a way like in Sofia Coppola's 2003 film Lost in Translation (a big inspiration, most certainly for the title to say the least). That comes across in the edit if you've seen the finished version of Lost In London most definitely.
So that's what we did, she was due to come in early in the morning on a Saturday I think it was (or possibly a weekday I can't remember precisely) but it was definitely a UK school holidays of some sort, hence why it was perfectly timed with her being able to stay over for a good amount of time, I picked her up around 8am from Waterloo Station, her train had pulled in and I was running to meet her, very keen - sunglasses on since it was at the height of summer, I wanted to look cool but then I realised if she doesn't see my whole face she wouldn't recognise me. But then again my height gives me away, I had filmed the meetup on continuous record from when I was walking across the river right till we met, none of it was scripted nor planned. Even when I filmed the opening scene where we met and hugged, it all happened in that very moment without any hesitation or realisation a camera was even there. I don't think i could have ever pictured it differently - it was a perfect moment.
I'll let the film do most of the talking in terms of what we got up to, but I'll talk a bit about the things which surrounded the film - the things that you won't know from watching the film of course. Production Context, if you will. In terms of how I felt at the time, i was definitely at a point in time where I was lost - emotionally. My last ex at the time had cheated on me and dumped me only recently, well towards the end of the academic year so May but that affected me right throughout summer. I don't often admit my insecurities but i was quite affected by it. The holiday in France, which actually led to this inevitable production happening - otherwise if we hadn't had met which if you ask Caitlin we so easily couldn't have - was definitely a major distraction for me and I forgot about the past albeit for brief pockets of time.
There was something about Caitlin I couldn't (and still can't) quite put my finger on, I think the emotions kicked in when the film was complete and she had flown back to England. We are friends, relatives too actually but there was something purely platonic and fulfilling about being in her company and having fun around town together. It's like the way we feel about watching Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost In Translation, especially towards the end - yet again I reference the film you must excuse me. She definitely made me feel special, we still talk lots, she's a big part of my life and I hope that she sees that, she has the brightest of futures ahead and comes from a lovely family.
We had spent a whole day looking through the all the 'dailies' of film rushes we've accumulated from our three devices, her iPhone, my iPhone and her SLR camera, of which on all three devices - so much footage was accumulated. It totted up to a ridiculous amount of gigabytes. So i knew we'd have some fun looking through what we got. We chatted and laughed in my room / editing station, and checked out the content, including photographs too. Caitlin is an aspiring photographer & filmmaker and generally quite the creative virtuoso at more than just a couple things - just recently she sent me a new music track she worked on and I was quite impressed.
It made sense to me for me to have her on screen penned as Director because although it was our film together, I had only kickstarted something that without her - none of this would have been possible and it was her guidance actually that meant we could make something quite magical. I'd be keen to ask if she remembers but she actually had many great ideas for the inevitable sequences that you, the audience, would then go on to see in the finished film - based on the footage we had of course. As the actual construction of the film didn't begin until we finished getting all the footage and then realised we had a film on our hands - not the other way around as it normally is.
She told me in a conversation a while ago, preceding all of this, that her favourite film of all time was Palo Alto by Gia Coppola. I hadn't even heard of it which was surprising because I'm quite adept with the independent film scene. She showed me the film and we sat in the living room late, after a nice meal out to Five Guys. Best burger joint in the culinary world, I'm telling you that. You can even see a small extract of the film where the film's star, Emma Roberts, is out next to the soccer field having a cheeky cigarette by the fence with the film's score playing. I also used this for our film too - Scoreception?. Having a couple additional tracks for pivotal part of the film where music worked well with the imagery from the likes of Caitlin's favourite band - The 1975 and a duo I had admired for some time, Daft Punk.
There were various edits made of Lost In London with both of us contributing segments to the film but then scrapping them because they weren't quite right or something was missing or just from a frustrating day at college or work coincidentally the mindset wasn't quite there. I finished an edit that i sent to Caitlin and she loved it, I loved it too but was nervous to send it - because well, it was integral she loved it and it reminded her of how she felt being here and I guess made her sad too. I was reminded again that she wasn't here, and I became a little sad too. Remember, none of the film was scripted nor planned, apart from our day's outings of course. So everything you see is entirely genuine. And that's why I feel so connected to this piece - it's one of my most personal pieces that I've worked on.
The film's ending is especially sad, it was quite stressful - I don't know how well that comes across, but I certainly found it stressful. The slow-motion sequences were handled particularly well I felt, if anything these were the only planned parts, not in terms of inevitable content but in terms of a willingness to wanting to shoot using a high frame rate. Caitlin looks to camera for one of the final times and frowns, maybe slightly exaggeratively but in a youthful way because she doesn't want to go. This was our final goodbye, in the place that we met on home soil. London Waterloo Station, a place that many people come and go, all day everyday. Many encounters happen, and the slow motion sequence there especially with the overlay dissolve of two overlapping images of people just goes to show the amount of people and the whirlwind of hustle and bustle one can be caught in - it's so easy to lose people and forget where you are, as you might easily become disorientated. I think both of us left the station, one on train outbound, the other bound on foot, feeling stronger, more determined people but reminiscent of each other's missing presence, if you catch my drift. Even somewhat loosely.
Jump to May 2016, for ages now as a thank you for looking after Caitlin, her mum has been nagging me to go to the South of France to stay with them. Now, I kept assuring her that It was my absolute pleasure. She was so lovely and insisting on me coming and I know I couldn't say no. But I did because I was too polite, even though I was the right level of politeness I think in that situation? I didn't want to impose on their family space, as tempting as the offer sounded and of course being in the same sunshine as Cannes, I was conflicted. Caitlin & her family earlier in March, I think it was, had flown to London to stay on a family holiday which was nice and I managed to see all of them, albeit in separate instances because of their plans. Caitlin went to see The 1975 play at Brixton's O2 Academy which must have been good. Can you imagine being 15 and seeing your favourite band of all time up front close and personal with fans who love the same thing as you do? I bet it was awesome. So jumping back to April I gave Caitlin's mum my next free holidays and flights were literally booked there and then - the quickest I've ever had flights sorted out for me, and I was super excited. Not only that, I was going right in the thick of the Cannes Film Festival and was so excited to go!
I think I had maybe overthought filming of the next instalment, well I intended to make a film just as good as Lost In London and it's working title was already set to be Lost In Vidauban at the time, though that was a thing that was at times heavily discussed when wandering and meandering through the melting point that was Cannes with Caitlin during our celebrity scouting on the Croisette. I definitely concentrated on having more of a holiday and adventure than filming, I just wanted a simple getaway. To be with family and friends, in a hot country and new location - in other words, I don't think I gave the filming much attention so I ended up saying to myself most nights there that I needed to somehow accumulate more footage but ended up being distracted by whatever it is I was doing. Definitely a sense of underwhelming that I had hyped up a conjuring up of Lost In London when in reality it was going to end up completely different which it did. Among the release yesterday as a matter of fact of Lost In Vidauban, the same people who had watched Lost In London thought completely differently of this new instalment, with one calling it an 'melancholic but revitalising art piece'.
In all honesty, I loved both pieces, but I there were a few things I didn't like about Lost in Vidauban that caused me to become quite peeved about but I was determined not to scrap it, but to finish it and perhaps that why internally just by myself it was more of a struggle to squeeze the best from the limited footage there was available that was usable, a huge contrast from the overwhelming excess of footage accumulated during Caitlin's trip over here to London. So perhaps I don't feel the same way audiences do about Lost In Vidauban the entire way just because of the editing process. But my love for it is slowly growing back as I'm starting to see things which excite me more, when I re-watch it upon showing it to different groups of friends & family for the first times.
Lost In Vidauban was perhaps indeed a more melancholic art piece than an inadvertently emotional adventurous sprawl that it's London counterpart proved. Definitely it was part of my ritualistic welcome on the night I arrived, since in this film it starts at Night as that's when I arrived, that I was greeted with Caitlin's Palo Alto vinyl, yes the real deal - with the song 'Champagne Coast' playing by indie band, Blood Orange. I definitely think Caitlin is a connoisseur of indie bands and her music taste is cultured. Between September - October of the previous year we were half of a radio show collective called The Wake Up Crew where the Blood Orange track played would be the show's intro theme for. This was unintentional but it reminded me of that when it was played so thought I'd just slot that in there since that's a part of our developing friendship adventure. The radio show formed of myself, Caitlin and two others ran for 30 episodes and was predominantly recorded banter of us aired out live of a skype conversation about our daily musings and jokes.
I wanted to give this film particularly the film look so I added some significant in-edit camera grain on the regular shots, and even shot specific sequences of the film on Digital 8mm (with a special industry-grade film app) that helps to replicate the celluloid look without ever having to buy stock. Like in Lost In London, we were travelling quite a lot, constantly moving. Definitely much more in this film, it seems like a greater distance was travelled - most certainly, a lot of time was spent on the trains between the local station (I say Local but its actually a major station on the network which I was surprised at a little), and Cannes and Nice Ville stations. In one part, I chose to record using the selfie cam of us on the train, because I wanted to replicate what we did on the tube with our resting bitch faces. Caitlin remembered that because she actually says "...like in the tube". Palm Dreams, a collection of imagery from Lost in Vidauban edited against the backdrop of Arcade Fire's original score for Her, is the prologue for the main feature - also doubling as a reference point with an intent to bridge the gap between the two main Lost films. I think perhaps the short video piece, managed to get a bit lost too, but it all adds to the beauty.
I sometimes think, if we hadn't had met that summers day last year, none of this would happened, and I couldn't imagine what my life would turn out to be - because of this one person.
In my latest post, it's been more than a week since The Golden Globes ceremony took place and also over a week since Oscar Nominations were publicly announced. Now with only a couple of notable ceremonies to go till the big one - it's safe to say I've got this one in the bag on who will come out on top.
By this time last year we had been able to safely call the shots on who bagged what award, and this year, like the rest of them in recent times, is no exception. "Spotlight" currently seems like the frontrunner however don't let this cloud your judgement of the ever-increasing awards & industry momentum towards "The Revenant" and "The Big Short".
We are witnessing the same events as last year; Spotlight seems to be taking the same route as Boyhood, and Birdman has evolved into The Revenant - so it really is a case of Spotlight vs The Revenant, with an additional third contender to the ring - The Big Short. Like Richard Linklater's 12-year drama epic, Spotlight too has become a critically beloved indie that also happens to be relatively small scale in terms of production but broad in narrative scope.
Leading the Director Race is 70-year old Veteran George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), whose nomination marks his first ever in the history of The Academy. Shockingly, Ridley Scott (The Martian) was left off this left - which has been one of the major blows to just about every single person's predictions on this major event on the annual film calendar. Lenny Abrahamson's nomination for Room has increased in volatility to make this category an intriguing race.
In terms of Best Actor, say no more - LEO for the trophy. LEO for the Trophy.
In terms of Best Actress, much of the early news surrounded Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander's placement in which category (Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress), the pair were both nominated for supporting actress at the SAGs and Critics Choice however both as leads at The Golden Globes - so understandably there has been some major Oscar analysis and discussion over this. The Best Actress race seems like a head-to-hate battle with two resonating performances from Brie Larson (Room) and Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), both of whom are rising stars in the film industry. Cate Blanchett (Carol) and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) still have room to make an impact however the buzz surrounding them has died down as of recently.
Last year, you would have been damn crazy to find anyone in their right mind not not predicting that Patricia Arquette, JK Simmons and Julianne Moore would win by Christmas time. It's true that "Spotlight" has evolved into a fully-fledged frontrunner to take this year's prized award for Best Picture and that Leonardo DiCaprio might as well ready himself for accepting an award for Best Actor in his performance in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñnaritu's "The Revenant". As I expected, no film seems a certainty for a best picture nomination - let alone winning, whereas last year the race was pretty much Boyhood v Birdman - the latter of which, when it won, upset many seasoned filmgoers as the former of which was, at least in my opinion, the clear winner. As it's Awards Season and the year's biggest night in Film draws to closer - I thought i'd give you my updated verdict since early last month where I did an analysis on the build-up to the Academy Awards on my blog. My verdict on the Technical Noms hasn't changed much so I'll only be discussing new verdict updates of mine concerning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.
Best Picture - Spotlight is getting all the Spotlights.. but will this work against it's favour?
In a very crowded race, the only sure nomination is "Spotlight", a true story about The Boston Globe's investigation into allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Just to note, for those that don't know how the new Oscar voting system works, this will be the fourth year of the Preferential Voting system - where between five and ten films get in based on the amount of films that receive a certain percentage of high rankings on voter's ballots. Sounds confusing? It sure is! And some of the politics behind into how and who votes what is somewhat questionable, granted. The last minute surge of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" could be greater than currently anticipated which could mean firm Oscar favourites for this and some of the other categories, "The Martian" and "Mad Max" could suffer as a result, especially for Directing, VFX and Editing. But the chances of Star Wars winning Best Picture is very slim, at least we hope for now it is. Studios Disney and 20th Century Fox should do well to at least get one picture nominated, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" or "Bridge of Spies" for Disney and "The Martian" and "The Revenant" for 20th Century Fox. Although my predictions for nominations in all categories is ever changing, at this stage Spotlight is a sure thing, so are "The Big Short" and A24's "Room" and very possibly "Mad Max: Fury Road", "The Martian" and "Carol".
Best Director - A Sticky Situation
The Oscars, as we know, love to be able to tick boxes - and we sure hope they do this year; ticking boxes by awarding those who have been nominated so much and have never won before or whose continuing efforts have seem to have gone unnoticed - or pleasing certain groups of society - a politically motivated tactic at times to please the public and continually uphold the reputation of The Academy Awards and it's juries.
I say this because of one main thing, if "Mad Max" or "The Martian" somehow miss out on a best picture nomination, it seems pretty safe to say that their directors - George Miller and Ridley Scott - will definitely get in anyway. That's a perfect example of ticking boxes, Even if it's a slight nod or nomination towards.. Both are extremely well-respected veteran directors with no Oscars to their name, and for Miller - he's never even received a nomination. The two of them will most likely be joined by Spotlight Director Tom McCarthy however the other two slots are much bigger questions - I hope that the Golden Globe nomination results, and the awards ceremony just around the corner on Sunday January 10th, translate into Oscar nominating success for Todd Haynes "Carol" and last year's winner Alejandro González Iñárritu "The Revenant".
Best Actor - Leo for The Win, But Take With A Pinch of Salt
Now, Ladies & Gentleman, you can all start to get very excited - but take your excitement with a pinch of salt still. One of two major frontrunners this year is Best Actor, safe to say is Leonardo DiCaprio - for his performance in "The Revenant". Because there's so much excitement surrounding this possibility, the acting race is also proving rather boring. Michael Fassbender will be called for "Steve Jobs" most likely, Matt Damon for "The Martian" and Johnny Depp for "Black Mass". In terms of nominees, it will be shaky who comes out 4th or 5th however let's not forget the long shots; Jake Gyllenhaal in "Southpaw", Tom Hardy in "Legend", Abraham Attah in "Beasts of No Nation" and Michael B. Jordan in "Creed".
Best Actress - Where will Oscar voters place Rooney Mara (Carol) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) on their ballots?
It's a difficult one to predict, because of the nature of the characters in their films - whatever decision is made, no doubt it will impact all top 6 Award categories to varying degrees - especially that of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The trouble here is that the pair were both nominated for Supporting Actress at the SAGs and Critics Choice, however both were nominated for Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes. I think Rooney Mara will end up in the Best Actress category for "Carol", sadly at the expense of her co-star Cate Blanchett, but she's both Oscar-winning and humble anyway so it shouldn't be a problem at all - secretly she might probably be even rooting for her to win, as a co-collaborator, friend, and advocate for female talent. One of them will be nominated, and one of them will probably win. Mara for Best Actress and Blanchett nominated in either or winning for Best Supporting Actress, as they may consider the fact that Mara has more screen time than Blanchett - which is true.
The same situation is also true with Alicia Vikander in "The Danish Girl", no doubt she'll get nominated but as to which category - the star of the plot is Eddie Redmayne, he is The Danish Girl, but in the film Vikander is alive much more so than Redmayne ever could be - it is her who is the unsung hero and main character of the film. In this category (and/or Best Supporting Actress) for sure Mara, Vikander and Blanchett's names will all be there, as for other nominations in this category - we can be expecting Brie Larson for "Room", Saoirse Ronan for "Brooklyn" and possibly either Jennifer Lawrence for "Joy", Charlotte Rampling for "45 Years" or Charlize Theron for "Mad Max: Fury Road".
Award Ceremonies & Key Events around the corner:
Golden Globe Awards - Sunday 10th January
Academy Award nominations - Thursday 14th January
SAG Awards - Saturday 30th January
BAFTA Awards - Sunday 14th February
88th Annual Academy Awards - Sunday 28th February (still a while off to go, most likely another blog post or two before then to give you updates, based on the results from the Golden Globe Awards, Academy Award noms, SAG/BAFTA Awards and final views prior to the big one).
LOST IN LONDON was originally intended as a mash-up of Caitlin's adventure in London with Louis. Both are filmmakers who live in different countries, Caitlin aspires to be a filmmaker and takes inspiration from Louis among many people. The two of them, unknowingly document their adventures, that when it got to the editing stage, became a real nice combination of imagery, sound and narrative. Louis is inspired by Caitlin's youthful ways and though only slightly older feels inspired and motivated to influence the younger Caitlin. They had a larger-than-life project that was unforseen... however it is no doubt their story.
Caitlin Leach is an aspiring British director from Southern France with influences such as Sofia & Gia Coppola prevalent throughout her work. She started out filmmaking recently and is known for her '36 Hours In Paris' which is a short documentary looking at Paris through a different perspective.
This article is from Filmmaker Magazine
Carol is getting raves not just for Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett’s subtle performances, but also for Ed Lachman’s cinematography, which was inspired by mid-century street photographers such as Ruth Orkin, Esther Bubley, Helen Levitt and Vivian Maier.In a first-person story for Indiewire, the veteran cinematographer, who has worked with Werner Herzog, Sofia Coppola, Todd Solondz, Robert Altman and Steven Soderbergh, writes about why he and director Todd Haynes chose to shoot the film in 16mm in order to achieve the look of 1952. “We wanted to reference the photographic representation of a different era,” Lachman said. “They can recreate grain digitally now, but it’s pixel-fixated. It doesn’t have this anthropomorphic quality in which the grain structure in each frame is changing.”
According to Lachman, “the actual physical grain of film adds another expressive layer that is impacting the surface of the characters’ emotional being. It has to do with how film captures movement and exposure in the frame — finer grain for highlights and larger grain for lower light areas — that gives a certain emotionality to the image that feels more human.”
He added, “I really believe with Carol that people would feel something different than if I had shot it digitally.”
Lachman earned an Academy Award-nomination for Far from Heaven, his first collaboration with Haynes, back in 2002. Since then, they’ve worked together on I’m Not There, Mildred Pierceand of course, Carol. All four films were shot on film.
The cinematographer, who was recently honored by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics for his work on Carol, talked further to Variety about his decision to shoot in 16mm rather than, say, 35mm.
“Even 35mm negative is so grainless that it almost looks digital when you go through a DI. And the same can be said obviously for the digital world,” explained Lachman. “When you shoot digitally they can add grain to the film, but it doesn’t operate the same way.”
According to Lachman, grain has an anthropomorphic quality. “I like to feel, like, a pulsing of something living underneath the surface of the image,” he said. “So by referencing Super 16 I felt it could harken back or it could give a reference to the way you could look at a photograph from 50 or 60 years ago, that the grain structure was different back then. And Super 16, through a DI, through a digital intermediate, would feel like looking at a photograph from the past. So that was the real idea. Then this feeling of another layer of seeing their emotions through grain captured, I thought, another emotional quality of their performance.”
Earlier this year at The New York Film Festival, Lachman chatted with NYFF Selection Committee member Amy Taubin about his love of film grain and why 16mm worked so well for the romantic drama. He also discusses why he used modern stock to create a period look and why he sometimes shot through glass or Plexiglass. “I limited the color palette of the film. We shot with a lot of magenta and greens and yellows. I was trying to shift the color spectrum of the film,” he explained.
Below you can watch his interview with Taubin courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
See Carol in cinemas now!
Produced by Louis Holder, Gaye Lockwood and John Holder for Illustration Web. Ltd and Louis Holder Films.
John Holder works in the classic tradition of humorous illustration dating back to Victorian times. Newspapers, magazines, ad agencies and big brands are all among his clients, and John was also responsible for the book GOD – Good Old Drawing, in 2012, which featured the work of 100 like-minded creatives.
John loves old stuff in general – guitars, watches, bikes, and more – and lives in a 17th century home which also houses his studio. He helped set up the Cambridge Folk Festival 50 years ago, and played in one of the UK’s first Bluegrass bands. Every year he makes regular visits to Nashville, the home of the music he loves.
Will 2016 finally be the year Leonardo DiCaprio finally bags an Oscar?
We're only a couple of months away and a bit until the 88th Academy Awards, and little over a month until the Official Nominations are announced but already the probable nominations list has taken form. We've been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of excellent films that have been released over the past year, so here's my verdict on what's hot and what's not so far, combining my own Awards Season analysis which I've been doing every year now for the past three years, my knowledge on the craft, the cast and filmmakers of each production and analysis from reputable sources. I've listed the Links to external sources i've referenced to influence my verdict at the bottom of this blog post. As all film fans know, the Academy never sleeps and buzz has already built around the possible contenders, now we must really look at what's on offer here
Latest News which will come into Nomination play
In the run-up to the big night, I'll be updating my predictions weekly having also considered the latest judgement and verdict online.
Best Picture - Spotlight, The Revenant, Tangerine, The Martian, Carol, Inside Out (a very close game, it could go to one of the films with more limited/niche distribution but have had critical acclaim such as Black Mass, Son of Saul..)
Best Director - Ridley Scott 'The Martian' (the favourite), Tom McCarthy 'Spotlight', Alejandro González Iñárritu 'The Revenant', George Miller 'Max Max: Fury Road' (all of whom are in close contention).
Best Actor - Leonardo DiCaprio 'The Revenant' (the favourite), Matt Damon 'The Martian' (closely fought), Michael Fassbender 'Steve Jobs', Johnny Depp 'Black Mass' (in close contention still), Eddie Redmayne (on paper, but less than likely), and not forgetting Tom Hardy 'Legend' and Jake Gyllenhaal 'Southpaw'.
Best Actress - Brie Larson 'Room' (the near-absolute lock), Saoirse Ronan 'Brooklyn' (dark horse #1), Cate Blanchett 'Carol' and Jennifer Lawrence 'Joy' (could still rally, if only they weren't nominated recently), if Rooney Mara 'Carol' is considered a lead she could rally for the Oscar title (dark horse #2).
Best Supporting Actor - Sylvester Stallone 'Creed' (the favourite), Michael Keaton / Mark Ruffalo 'Spotlight' (Not since 1991 — when Harvey Keitel and Ben Kingsley were both nominated for "Bugsy" — have two actors from the same film been nominated in this category - could this change that?). Also consider, Mark Rylance 'Bridge of Spies' and Tom Hardy 'The Revenant' (the dark horse of this category).
Best Supporting Actress - Alicia Vikander 'The Danish Girl' (the favourite), Rooney Mara 'Carol', Kate Winslet 'Steve Jobs', Jane Fonda 'Youth', Jennifer Jason Leigh 'The Hateful Eight'. Julie Walters 'Brooklyn' and Marion Cotillard (the dark horses).
Best Original Screenplay - Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley 'Inside Out' (the favourite, absolute lock). Possible contenders in this category include Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer 'Spotlight'. An Alternative pick that could still rally, even though it is a long shot - Amy Schumer's 'Trainwreck' (though it's highly unlikely, it has helped contribute to the redefining of gender & genre stereotyping in film this year, through it's writing).
Best Adapted Screenplay - Aaron Sorkin 'Steve Jobs' (the favourite, though not so much the film), Nick Hornby 'Brooklyn', Emma Donoghue 'Room', Drew Goddard 'The Martian' and Phyllis Nagy 'Carol'.
Best Animated Feature - Inside Out (the favourite), The Good Dinosaur (another Pixar film which could work for or against Pixar's favour this season), The Peanuts Movie, Shaun The Sheep Movie.
Best Foreign Language Film - Son of Saul (Hungary, the favourite), Mustang (France), Labyrinth of Lies (Germany), The Club (Chile), The Second Mother (Brazil).
Best Documentary Feature - Amy (for the past three years, the Oscar in this category has gone to the film everybody thought it was going to, remember Searching for Sugar Man and Citizenfour?). Main competition comes from Joshua Oppenheimer's sequel to The Act of Killing - The Look of Silence. What won't be sneaking in these honourable mentions are a shortlist of snubs (annoyingly); The Wolfpack, Iris, Finders Keepers, (T)error...
Best Cinematography - Emmanuel Lubezki 'The Revenant' (the favourite, he's one two years in a row last year and the year before for Gravity and Birdman respectively) with main competition from Roger Deakins for Sicario. Also for consideration; Robert Richardson 'The Hateful Eight', John Seale 'Mad Max: Fury Road' and Edward Lachmann 'Carol'. Unfortunately we expect Macbeth (Adam Arkapaw) to be snubbed.
Best Film Editing - Margaret Sixel 'Mad Max: Fury Road' (the favourite), Pietro Scalia 'The Martian' and Michael Kahn 'Bridge of Spies' could also rally.
Best Production Design - Carol or Cinderella (both equal favourites, closely fought - though they couldn't be more different; a 1950s-set lesbian romance vs an adaptation of a Disney fairy tale). Mad Max: Fury Road and Crimson Peak and Macbeth as Dark Horses.
Best Costume Design - This year we can judge Best Production Design & Costume Design nominees in parallel since nom predictions are almost exactly the same, both work in harmony in the films mentioned above and there are others to notice to. Once again, Carol or Cinderella once again for the win.
Best Original Score - The usual composers are at it again, making original scores, themes and songs for the best sounding movies of the year. After a grand 12 nominations, can Thomas Newman finally win for Bridge of Spies? Other contenders are Jóhann Jóhannson (Sicario), Carter Burwell (Carol), Alexandre Desplat (The Danish Girl) and John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).
Best Original Song - It seems within recent years, the Original Song category noms are becoming populated by well... popular artists. For instance, Adele's platinum-selling James Bond theme for 2012's 'Skyfall'. This year the favourites to win are; One Kind of Love (Love & Mercy), Til It Happens To You (The Hunting Ground), and Simple Song #3 (Youth), although nothing memorable sticks out last year like 2013's Frozen song 'Let It Go'.
Best Visual Effects - 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (What will probably win), 'Mad Max: Fury Road' (the favourite to win, right now). Can Star Wars take down Mad Max and Jurassic World? Other contenders in the VFX arena are; Jurassic World, The Martian and though unlikely - The Walk, Everest and Tomorrowland.
Best Makeup & Hairstyling - Black Mass, The Danish Girl, Carol, Crimson Peak, Macbeth, Mr. Holmes
Best Sound Mixing - Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Best Sound Editing - (same as above for Sound Mixing).