WATCHED & RATED // Fast Girls

It only makes sense that with the Olympics coming to London this year that there is a film that marks the significance of this to London. And Fast Girls is one of the mainstream films that celebrate this. I had the chance to view Fast Girls at the BBC Radio 1 & 1 Xtra Hackney Academy, which was bustling with teenagers at 2pm. Which I find strange, as I’m pretty sure they are meant to be in school or college. The screening was hosted by Trevor Nelson and was followed by a Q&A with some of the cast and director Regan Hall.

Fast Girls lead character Shania Andrews is played by Being Human’s Lenora Crichlow. We see Shania, a feisty girl from the wrong side of town, qualify to be in the GB team to compete in the World Athletic Championships. Although she hasn’t got the support of her family behind her what she does have is Brian, a shopkeeper by day, her coach by night. Brian pushes her to take her chances at winning a gold medal in the Championships. When Shania starts training with the GB relay team she discovers she has an issue with working in a team. During the Q&A session Clarke did emphasise that this is the main theme they tried push out in the film. I would say, ‘isn’t it obvious to anybody that there will be situations where you will have to overcome difference with people you work with for the common gain of the team’. But I did then consider that this is a positive message for the teenage audiences that Fast Girls target.

Shania’s antagonist is not only herself but also rich girl Lisa temple, played by Lilly James (Wrath of the Titans). Lisa and Shania can’t seem to find common ground in the beginning. Firstly they are fiercely competitive over performance, as in who is the faster athlete. But then Shania finds that she has a jealous streak over the friendship Physiotherapist Carl (Bradley James) has with Lisa, because she has developed a crush on him.

Now I have broken it down, doesn’t it sound a bit fluffy? Fast girls has potential, but fails to deliver a strong punch. There are so many plot threads initiated, but never explored too deeply. We know she doesn’t have a mother, the coach can’t commit to helping her further, she has a crush on Carl, she hates working in a team; but what we don’t know is WHY. None of the issues including the rivalry with Lisa are explored beneath the surface, and this only left me feeling detached from the characters. And to add to it, Fast Girls was unquestionably a film that you know from the get-go that the Protagonist will come out on top. It does not leave much room for anticipation and guesswork by the audience.

Filmmaker/ Actor Noel Clarke (Kiddulthood, 54321, Dr Who) was commissioned to co-write this script. So admittedly I was expecting it to be a bit sloppy, conventional, not challenging any themes, only highlighting them, like in his past work. So although I can’t say in Fast Girls he challenged many themes, what Clarke did well was make the themes universal and resonate with people from various socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. It wasn’t just about the estate kids hustle, but instead about how we all hustle in our own little world.

I think Fast Girls install a sense of pride and anticipation in younger audiences, as they will be less cynical about the validity of the events taking place. During the last scene the screening was roaring with applause for the outcome, which somehow swept me up with it along the way. Maybe even a teardrop tried to rise from my eyes (it was probably a tear to represent my sadness about the second-rate films being pushed out to mainstream audiences).

Despite Fast Girls not being one of the most provocative films I have watched, I do feel that that was never the intention. It is a light-hearted drama, which intends to come across as a feel good film aimed at the youth. So I think it is fine to let it be that. But if you are looking for more thought-provoking films relating to the Olympics don’t miss out on the films being screened within the Fun and Games strand at the East End Film Festival. The festival takes place from 3rd – 8th July across various locations in East London, the home of the games. I will be there of course, so come join me in indulging in film after film, after film, and then some.

DS RATED: 6/10

Here are some snapshots of the Q&A Sessions and the trailer.

 

Fast Girls 
Production Year: 2012
Countries: UK
Cert: 12A
Runtime: 91 mins
Director: Regan Hall
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WATCHED & RATED // Match Point

With Woody Allen you kind of know what you’re getting out of him, well in his recent work anyway; can’t say I have watched much of his earlier films. You know you’re being delivered a satire with various degrees of humour, à la Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona and You’ll Meet a Tall Dark StrangerSo I’m quite surprised that Allen has included Match Point in his six top favourite films of his own work (Source: imdb). Personally I feel Match Point is a very clumsy film, from the dialogue to the acting to the structure. It’s as if he had this amazing idea for the outcome of the film and the rest was just… filler.

Match Point is a Romantic Drama with a tinge of thriller, featuring Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Chris Wilton, a former tennis pro (Meyers) falls for a femme-fatal type, Nola Rice (Johansson) who happens to be dating his friend and soon-to-be brother-in-law Tom (Matthew Goode). He is groomed by his girlfriend’s (Tom’s sister Chloe) wealthy upper-middle class family and in due course marries her. Unluckily for Chris after his nuptials Tom, his now brother-in-law breaks-up with Nola, leaving him to pursue her, which then leads to a seedy affair. Nola is taking their relationship serious and insists Chris tells his wife the truth. Chris is in two minds and deals with the matter unexpectedly with a shotgun.

During the first hour of the film I couldn’t help cringing at the mechanical dialogue and the attempt to satire the upper-middle class, especially because I felt the actors weren’t acting and they conveniently felt right in their element. The beginning of the film weirdly felt as though a romance might strike up between Chris and Tom (Matthew Goode), his then client. Between Meyers lip pout-age, plus a soft feminine tone of voice, and Goode’s grooming him into his family circle, I really started to wonder what this is I’m watching. I wasn’t sure if it was bad acting, deplorably stereotypical characters, or the attempt to push this whole poor man in a rich world scenario that made two-thirds of the film blasé. And to add to it I truly believed that Nola Rice played by Johansson was a plausible character, which meant that Johansson was doing a good job and in fact better than all the other actors, including Meyers.  Now that I didn’t expect.

But as I said the film does take turn into a more sinister and more satirical direction; what I think Allen initially intended for this film. The protagonist that we emphasise with because of his boring marriage blah blah blah… turns into the cold-hearted antagonizer that uses a shotgun to end his problems.

In the end Match Point makes sense, well only if you a willing forgive the continuous errors. But the real issue is that audiences could easily lose interest in the forbidden love affair story that takes over two-thirds of the film, and switch off before the juicy humourous bit that comes in during the last 30 minutes.

Let’s just hope Allen can redeem himself (in my eyes of course) with his latest offering To Rome with Love. It does look funny and the casting is pretty amazing.

The trailer kind of reflects the awkwardness of the film.

Enjoy!

Rated: 6/10

Match Point 
Release Year: 2005
Countries: UK, Rest of the World
Cert: 12A
Runtime: 124 mins
Director: Woody Allen

CANNES 2012 // Marion Cotillard x Rust and Bone

One thing I like is when actors not from Hollywood, or the States for that matter don’t turn their back on cinema in their native country. So it was nice to see Marion Cotillard star in a french film that holds its own against other big hollywood-esque productions in the Competition category. Cotillard is cast in one of this years most anticipated film, The Dark Knight Rises, but I fill that her role in Rust and Bone will be her stand out performance this year. I adore her, not because she is gorgeous, but I feel her performances have an understated intensity and she is really present in the scene at all times. In other words she is a brilliantly believable actress.

Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os) will be screened today at Cannes and will be one of the many foreign language films being screened throughout the festival. Director Jacques Audiard has turned this princess and the pauper story into a modern-day tale about two people from different parts of life needing each other in the midst of their struggles. Ali and his son Sam are homeless, but eventually finds shelter in his sister’s garage and a job as a bouncer. On his trail he meets Stephanie, a self-assured killer whale trainer at her local Marineland. After a night of passion, she gets into an accident which causes her to lose her legs. Ali is still a stranger to her, but he helps her through her turmoil and she finds she’s depending on him.

Rust and Bone beautifully captures how people cope and struggle with their lost dreams and hopes.

I can’t wait to see this. I love romantic dramas with depth.

CANNES 2012 // Moonrise Kingdom Opens The Festival

Yesterday The Artist star Bérénice Bejo opened the 65th Cannes Film Festival with the screening of Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom. Her speech was followed by a rendition of Elton John’s Candle in the Wind by The Gossip lead singer Beth Ditto. This was to pay tribute to Marilyn Monroe (above) which features on this year poster.

Moonrise Kingdom has been selected for the Competition category. Written and directed by Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom is a coming of age tale that will appeal to all generations. It focuses on the love story of two 12 year olds that make a pact to runaway into the wilderness together, as the ultimate expression of their love. This New England town is turned upside down trying to find them during a vicious storm. This quirky tale has had everyone buzzing over the twittersphere, but I suspect people are just excited because it is the opening of Cannes.

With the likes of Edward Norton, Tilda Swindon, Bruce Willis amongst other high profile names featured, I guess there are high expectations for this film.

Wes Anderson’s works include The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr Fox and many more. So I have no doubt Anderson will deliver adventure, mystery and a lot of laughs.

Below is the trailer for your viewing pleasure.

CANNES 2012 // The Cronenbergs takeover Cannes

Talk about keeping it in the family. Cannes has included in their selection David Cronenberg and son Brandon Cronenberg’s films to compete in this years festival. Although Brandon’s first feature Antiviral is in the Un Certain Regard category and David’s Cosmopolis in the main Competition category, I’m sure there must be some pressure to live up to the Cronenberg name in film. Father David has had a career spanning at least five decades, with successes including The Fly, A History of Violence and more recently A Dangerous Method. It is not unusual that Brandon has chosen to follow his fathers footsteps, since his sisters, aunty and cousin all have dabbled in the film industry in various crafts.

Antiviral is essentially a social commentary on the idolatrous relationship the public have with celebrities.

“Syd March is an employee at a clinic that sells injections of live viruses harvested from sick celebrities to obsessed fans. Biological communion – for a price. Syd also supplies illegal samples of these viruses to piracy groups, smuggling them from the clinic in his own body. When he becomes infected with the disease that kills super sensation Hannah Geist, Syd becomes a target for collectors and rabid fans. He must unravel the mystery surrounding her death before he suffers the same fate.” – Rhombus Media

Brandon Cronenberg has not released a trailer for Antiviral, so although the synopsis could seem quite intriguing, it is hard to tell if this plot will translate into a credible film or fall into the amateur film student kind.

At the top of the family tree things look promising for Cosmopolis, starring Robert Pattinson, heart-throb to some, not so much to others. To be honest, the premise of Cosmopolis is a bit vague, especially from the trailer. What we do know is that it’s about a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager, Eric Packer (Pattinson), that rides through a futuristic city of some sorts in a stretch limo. The story is about his day devolving into a strange journey in which characters in his life attempt to tear his world apart. Cosmopolis is said to be questioning the resistant against a future world in this new millennium. That’s some deep stuff. But does D.Cronenberg manage to pull this off without losing the message in the violence depicted in the trailer, because it could easily be conveyed as just another action film.

Good luck to the Cronenberg clan and here is the trailer for Cosmopolis for you to decipher.

CANNES 2012 // The Chair

The Chair is a beautifully captured story about a small community under attack by a fatal mould infestation. A young boy’s mother is consumed by it. Her house is emptied and her possessions are taken to the local dump. His mother’s chair remains there, even though rubbish collectors take away all of the other rubbish. The young boy explores the significance of this and his mother’s death in a poetic contemplative way, which contrasts the subtle panic of the town.

Director Grainger David has had The Chair compared to Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life aesthetically, but I feel that The Chair would be more successful in holding the audiences focus. David is an NYU graduate with The Chair being his final year thesis film. Already been awarded the Short Film Jury Award at this years SXSW festival I suspect great things are to come at Cannes for The Chair and David.

The Chair has been selected in the Short Film Competition at Cannes Film Festival, with the winner taking away the prestigious Palme D’Or.

Here’s the trailer for your pleasure.

WATCHED & RATED: The Lucky One

I don’t know about other film enthusiasts but I like to watch a range of films including outright cheesy chick flicks that ‘real’ film lovers tend to snub. Even though many chick flicks are ridiculous my film choices are based on my mood, and when I decided to see The Lucky One I was in the mood to be fed romantic lies and perve on Zac Efron. The Lucky One is another Nicholas Sparks adaptation (writer of The Notebook and A Walk to Remember). So those of you that have seen either will know that although very cliché and squirmy, they can be quite moving and be any ‘serious’ film enthusiasts guilty pleasure.

The Lucky One is a story about Logan (Efron), a Marine that returns from Iraq by the skin of his teeth back to the states. After an attack he stumbles upon a picture of a woman, which he admires for a second and then his unit is attacked at that moment. He continues to survive many attacks after this, which leads him to believe that this picture is his lucky charm, so when he heads back to the states he searches for the woman to thank her. Cheesy right? Well he does find her, ends up working for her and withholds the truth about why he came to see her in the first place. Taylor Shilling plays Beth, the woman in the picture. She is a fun-loving mother, granddaughter and divorcee. The romance between the two is inevitable from the moment he found the picture, because it was obvious that there wouldn’t be any shocking twist. All the sneaky looks, reluctant flirting, and Logan bonding with her kid, was a recipe for a romantic bore fest. The pathetic part of me could not help but crack a helpless smile at all sweet shiny parts of the growth of love and overcoming obstacles like a pointless ex-husband. The other part was screaming out “Why are you watching this hollywood manufactured myth?” But to be honest you just got to get it out of your system. It was like an itch that needed scratching. Unfortunately it was for longer than necessary and it has left me wounded.

I feel bad saying this, but Zac Efron’s melting eyes could not even make this into a provoking film. His two-dimensional acting did not up the credibility of this romantic story, like how Ryan Gosling’s stoicism did in the Notebook or Mandy Moore’s super good girl act did in A Walk to Remember. Efron getting into character consisted of his straightened stance like a marine type, and the broody look on his face when things get serious. And that was where it began and ended. A bit disappointed as I feel he could do better. I really liked him in 17 Again and Me and Orson Welles.

The Lucky One is a sweet film, sugar-coated with fast romance and lies that a handsome marine with no friends or a life post war will come knocking on your door and immerse himself in your life . It’s one of those films that you keep say to yourself ‘Really?’ or sarcastically  ‘Sure’, well only if you’ve not been totally hypnotised by Zac Efron’s smouldering eyes. Or maybe I’m just being cynical.

DS RATED: 5.5/10

The Lucky One 
Release Year: 2012
Countries: US, Rest of the World
Cert: 12A
Runtime: 101 mins
Director: Scott Hicks
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