Reel Women: June UK Releases

Written by Elena Morgan

Welcome back to Reel Women, a monthly feature where we highlight the films that are being released in the UK this month that are written and/or directed by women. As ever this is a mixture of wide and smaller releases, so depending where in the country you are, some might be easier to see than others, and there’s a couple of Netflix Original films here too. All the release date information comes from Launching Films and all dates are correct at the time this post was written – we all know film releases can change at the last minute, especially for smaller films.

This month there’s romantic comedies, documentaries, dramas, and one I’m personally very excited for – the Ocean’s spin-off.

JC-ARTICLE-IMAGE

1 June

Book Club
Directed by Bill Holderman
Written by Bill Holderman and Erin Simms

When four long-time friends (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen) decide to read 50 Shades of Grey for the book club, they all get a whole new lease for life.

Erin Simms is an actress and producer who worked as a part of the crew for such films as ‘A Walk in the Woods’ and ‘Pete’s Dragon’. ‘Book Club’ is her first produced screenplay.

Ismael’s Ghosts

Directed by Arnaud Desplechin
Written by Arnaud Desplechin, Julie Peyr and Léa Mysius

Ismael (Mathieu Amalric) is a filmmaker whose life is turned on its head when his wife (Marion Cotillard), who he hasn’t seen for over twenty years comes back into his life, disrupting his relationship.

This is Julie Peyr’s second collaboration with Arnaud Desplechin and her tenth screenwriting credit. Léa Mysius is a writer and director of a number of short films. Her debut feature film, ‘Ava’, screened at the London Film Festival last year.

Lost in Vagueness
Directed by Sofia Olins

A music documentary about Roy Gurvitz who created Lost Vagueness at Glastonbury and reinvigorated the festival.

‘Lost in Vagueness’ is Sofia Olins’ first feature-length documentary. She’s previously worked as a second unit director or assistant director on a variety of British television series including ‘Primeval’, ‘The IT Crowd’ and ‘Peep Show’.

JC-ARTICLE-IMAGE

8 June

The Boy Downstairs
Written and Directed by Sophie Brooks

Diana (Zosia Mamet) is forced to reflect on her past relationship with Ben (Matthew Shear) when she unintentionally moves into the apartment above his.

‘The Boy Downstairs’ is Sophie Brooks first feature film.

15 June

Set It Up
Directed by Claire Scanlon
Written by Katie Silberman

Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) are two stressed out assistants who each have a high maintenance boss, Kristen (Lucy Liu) and Rick (Taye Diggs). When they decide to play matchmaker, maybe they can spread some romance and get their freedom.

Think of any big American comedy show of the past ten years and Claire Scanlon has probably directed at least one episode of it. Her directing credits include ‘The Office’, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’, ‘Modern Family’ and ‘Fresh Off the Boat’. ‘Set It Up’ is her first feature film. Katie Silberman has previously produced comedy films ‘Hot Pursuit’ and ‘How to Be Single’. ‘Set It Up’ is her first feature-length screenplay to make it to the screen.

JC-ARTICLE-IMAGE

22 June

Ocean’s 8
Directed by Gary Ross
Written by Gary Ross and Olivia Milch

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) gathers a crew to attempt to rob the Met Gala.

Olivia Milch is a writer-director whose debut film, ‘Dude’, is a Netflix Original Film. As well as co-writing Ocean’s 8 she is also a co-producer on the film.

Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
Directed by Sara Driver

A documentary exploring the pre-fame years of American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and how New York City its people and the shifting arts culture of the 1970s and ‘80s shaped his work.

‘Boom for Real’ is Sara Driver’s first documentary feature film and her first film in 15 years.

Freak Show
Directed by Trudie Styler
Written by Patrick J. Clifton and Beth Rigazio

Despite attending an ultra-conservative high school, teenager Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther) decides to run for Homecoming Queen.

Trudie Styler is an actress and producer and ‘Freak Show’ is her directorial feature debut. Beth Rigazio has previously written TV movies including the Disney Channel original movie, ‘Go Figure’.

24 June

To Each, Her Own (aka Les Gouts et Les Couleurs)
Directed by Myriam Aziza
Written by Myriam Aziza, Denyse Rodriguez-Tomé

Simone’s (Sarah Stern) been in a relationship with Claire (Julia Piaton) for years but has never come out to her family. Her brothers keep trying to set her up with men, her father’s a traditionalist and her mother is just a little bit eccentric – soon everything comes to ahead and Simone is forced to make some hard choices.

‘To Each, Her Own’ is a Netflix Original and is Myriam Aziza’s sixth film. She wrote, directed, edited and was cinematographer on her documentary film ‘L’an prochain à Jérusalem’. Denyse Rodriguez-Tomé previous screenwriting credits include ‘I Hate Love‘ which won the Award of the Youth in the French Film category at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.

27 June

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
Written and Directed by Mari Okada

Maquia (Manaka Iwami) is an immortal girl and when she ventures out into the world she meets Erial (Miyu Irino) a mortal boy, their friendship becomes an unbreakable bond that lasts throughout the years.

‘Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms’ is Mari Okada’s directorial debut but she’s written episodes for dozens of different anime. In 2011 Okada won the Animation Kobe Award, an award and event that aims to promote anime and other visual media.

JC-ARTICLE-IMAGE

29 June

Leave No Trace
Directed by Debra Granik
Written by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

A father (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) have an idyllic life living in a vast urban park in Oregon, until they are forced to re-join society.

Debra Granik is the director of ‘Winter’s Bone’, a film she co-wrote with Anne Rosellini and which earned them both an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. ‘Leave No Trace’ is their first feature film since ‘Winter’s Bone’ was released in 2010.

Patrick
Directed by Mandie Fletcher
Written by Vanessa Davies, Mandie Fletcher and Paul de Vos

Sarah’s (Beattie Edmondson) life is a bit of a mess and she really could do without the pug named Patrick her grandmother bequeathed her. As Sarah struggles to look after Patrick, find romance with his vet (Ed Skrein) and cope with a new job, Sarah realises that Patrick might just be helping her turn her life around.

Mandie Fletcher has directed episodes of popular British comedies like ‘Black Adder the Third’, ‘Only Fools and Horses’, and ‘Miranda’ and her previous film was ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’. ‘Patrick’ is both Mandie Fletcher’s and Vanessa Davies’s first produced screenplay.

The Bookshop
Written and Directed by Isabel Coixet

Set in a small English town in 1959, Florence (Emily Mortimer) decides to open a bookshop but is met with polite yet ruthless opposition.

Isabel Coixet is a Spanish filmmaker with over 30 directing credits and 20 writing credits to her name.

 


 

That’s thirteen films made by women being released in the UK in June. There’s something for everyone with animation, dramas, documentaries and a fair few romantic comedies. Personally, I’m looking forward to ‘Ocean’s 8′ and ‘Set It Up’, two films that have been on my radar for a while, but one I hadn’t heard of before researching this feature but definitely want to see is ‘Freak Show’ – the trailer makes it look like so much fun!

Advertisements

Ghost Stories

Year: 2018
Directed by: Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson
Starring: Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther

Written by Lucy Buglass

For years, mankind has pondered over the existence of ghosts, demons and the paranormal. Many have claimed to have experienced it firsthand, while others dedicate their lives and careers to debunking those experiences. It seems to be a question that no one has been able to answer or prove one way or the other, and this fear of the unknown has been the basis of a number of popular horror stories.

Based on the stage play of the same name, ‘Ghost Stories’ follows skeptic Professor Phillip Goodman’s (Nyman) investigation of three unsolved cases, each one detailing a different haunting. After meeting with his idol and fellow skeptic Charles Cameron, and feeling deflated when he begins to question his lifelong skepticism, Goodman meets with former night watchman Tony Matthews (Whitehouse), teenager Simon Rifkind (Lawther), and businessman Mike Priddle (Freeman) to learn about their firsthand experiences with the supernatural. The film is split into three segments, allowing each character to explain their case through the use of flashbacks where we get to see exactly what happened to the characters.

Throughout these flashbacks, Nyman and Dyson have utilised a number of popular horror techniques that will make you jump out of your seat, or hide behind your hands.  There’s a serious feeling of unease throughout the entire film, and you have no idea what’s going to happen next. Even as an avid fan of the genre, I found myself genuinely terrified during a large portion of the film. ‘Ghost Stories’ knows exactly how to pace a horror film, and how to leave an audience uncomfortable yet unable to look away from the screen. Whilst the jump scare is inevitable, the film doesn’t overuse these and instead finds ways to build tension and fear, which actually heightens the experience because you find yourself trying to predict when something’s going to pop out at you. It leaves you on edge for the entire ninety minutes, which in my mind, is exactly what a horror film should do.

The stories told by each of the men are gripping, and the actors all do exceptional jobs of portraying their characters. Each of the men interviewed by Goodman are very different in their class backgrounds, beliefs and personalities, but are united in their adamancy that they did experience hauntings and that they left them completely shaken up afterwards. This reinforces the idea that the supernatural can target anyone, and leave anyone feeling helpless. Particular praise has to be given to Alex Lawther; after seeing him in season 3 of ‘Black Mirror’ I had high hopes, and he delivered. He’s certainly one to watch and I look forward to seeing what he gets up to next.

‘Ghost Stories’ is incredibly British in nature, mixing the right amount of dry humour and satire into what is an utterly terrifying experience overall. Other critics have said it’s the best British horror film in years, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s an incredibly gripping story that has a lot of twists and turns, and tugs at all of your heartstrings. Alongside the characters, I went through a number of emotions and felt fully invested in their lives. These are all characters that feel familiar, they’re your average human, which throws realism into the mix. Being able to identify with characters in a horror film makes your fear 100 times worse.

This film is best experienced with as little context as possible, if you walk into it completely blind, I believe you’ll get maximum enjoyment out of it. The trailers have done a great job at keeping it as vague as possible, which was a bonus. There’s nothing worse than trailers giving everything away in a few seconds. ‘Ghost Stories’ does have a twist ending, but I thought this was done brilliantly and I personally was unable to predict it. Nyman and Dyson have put so much effort into crafting an intense, thrilling, mysterious story and it’s seriously paid off. I’m now hoping ‘Ghost Stories’ will be returning to the stage soon, because I’ll be first in line for a ticket!

Lucy’s Rating: 8.0/10

It’s Time To Question What’s Real In New ‘Ghost Stories’ Trailer

“Phillip Goodman, professor of psychology, arch-skeptic, the one-man ‘belief buster’ – has his rationality tested to the hilt when he receives a letter apparently from beyond the grave. His mentor Charles Cameron, the ‘original’ TV parapsychologist went missing fifteen years before, presumed dead and yet now he writes to Goodman saying that the pair must meet. Cameron, it seems, is still very much alive. And he needs Goodman to find a rational explanation for three stories that have shaken Cameron to his core. As Goodman investigates, he meets three haunted people, each with a tale more frightening, uncanny and inexplicable than the last.”

Directed By: Jeremy Dyson & Andy Nyman

Cast: Martin Freeman, Alex Lawther, Nicholas Burns, Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse

Release Date: 13th April 2018

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Year: 2017
Director: Simon Curtis
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, Will Tiltson, Alex Lawther. 

WRITTEN BY RHYS BOWEN JONES

Winnie The Pooh, I’m sure, is a staple of almost everyone’s childhood post-1924. Everyone knows Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore. Everyone knows Christopher Robin. Finding successes as books, TV shows, and films, Winnie The Pooh is as famous a character as you’ll find in popular culture. To explore the characters’ inception is to explore deep into the childhood of everyone watching, which is what Simon Curtis set out to do with ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’; the untold story of Winnie The Pooh. A behind the scenes look at how the character came to be and what happened next. ‘Goodbye’ provides interesting insights into AA Milne and his creation, but sadly falls short as the film reaches its climax.

Domnhall Gleeson stars as AA Milne, the creator of Winnie The Pooh, and the film follows his life with his wife, Daphne (Robbie) and child, Christopher Robin (Tiltson). Milne is struggling with writers block and hasn’t had a success in a long while, thus he and his family move out of London to the country in order to focus on his next project, a treatise against war. There, Milne spends more time with his now 5-year-old child, and his child’s imagination with his toys is the spark he needs to write Winnie The Pooh, starring his own son. What follows is a look into a life suddenly thrown into fame and stardom as Winnie The Pooh becomes a phenomenon, and the film tackles how well the Milne family respond to new found fame.

Beginning with the positives, I found the performances to be good across the board. Gleeson is reliable if unspectacular in a very softly spoken role. He isn’t given too much heavy lifting to do, but he sells the fish-out-of-water role well as he is forced to be a father more than he ever had been before. Robbie arguably places too much faith in her supremely posh London accent but manages to still portray a conflicted character who desires the fame she has been given potentially more than she desires her own family. The stars of the film are, by a distance, Kelly Macdonald and Will Tiltson, playing Olive (Christopher’s nanny) and Christopher himself respectively.

It stands to reason that these two characters are the most well-realised as they are the two human characters in the Winnie The Pooh series itself. I found Macdonald to be particularly captivating as a Nanny out of her depth, having to be a mother and father to a child that isn’t hers despite wanting a family of her own. Balancing looking after Christopher with effectively being Milne’s personal assistant, and family chef is sure to be difficult, and the strain on Olive’s face becomes more and more apparent as the film progresses. In spending so much time with Christopher, he becomes overly attached, which presents another problem onto her ever-growing list of them.

Will Tiltson, meanwhile, is impossibly adorable as Christopher Robin. Trying to find time to just be a kid among the hullabaloo of paparazzi and visits to New York would be a challenge to anyone, and Tiltson plays this so impressively. When Christopher simply wants to spend time running around the forest near his house with his Dad and his Nanny, Tiltson shines. He has that wide-eyed enthusiasm that comes with having your own, enormous playground, but the more fame becomes a reality to him, the less freedom he has, and his personal playground becomes a genuine tourist and paparazzi spot. ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ is, above anything, a story about a lost childhood. Simon Curtis found a child actor able to convey happiness and loss at the drop of a hat. One scene that stands out is his joy at Nanny reading him a bedtime story, that quickly snaps into sadness as she tells him she’s going away for a while. When Olive and Christopher are on screen, the film is at its best.

When the film works as a somewhat origin story, it works really well. It builds its characters well, establishes life changes effectively, and had me mostly engrossed. When the film has a time jump and Will Tiltson leaves us to be replaced by Alex Lawther as an 18-year-old Christopher Robin, the film loses something. Whether down to Lawther not being as convincing an actor as Tiltson was, or the story simply being less interesting, ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ loses its way.

As Christopher grows up, it becomes apparent that the fame he had as a child had a deep impact on him as a person. Christopher struggled through boarding school as he was bullied for being “that boy from that children’s book,” he laments the childhood he so desired. With better execution, this could have been an emotional knockout, particularly in a late scene where Milne and Christopher argue heatedly about Christopher’s youth and how Milne took it from him. On paper, it’s a powerful scene, but in reality, it’s rushed. Spending so much time on the childhood itself and so little on its effect later in life doesn’t allow the emotion to truly develop.

It’s a real shame. The pieces are all there for ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ to work. It has the set up, but it doesn’t have the execution. It has the ensemble, but only two of them truly shine. It should have packed an emotional punch, but it didn’t. I can imagine seeing this film on a Sunday afternoon on BBC, early in its Christmas schedule. It’s watchable and mostly entertaining, it just doesn’t go that extra mile to make it work. ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ almost worked. Almost.

RHYS’ RATING: 6.2 OUT OF 10