LFF 2018: The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons From a Mythical Man

Year: 2018
Directed by: Tommy Avallone

Written by Dave Curtis

You’ve heard the stories about Bill Murray, right? The one where he gatecrashes a party or the time he bartended in a random pub. The internet is awash with random Bill Murray moments that are so bizarre that they can’t possibly all be true.  This documentary follows Tommy Avallone in his quest to find out if the stories behind the myths are true and if so, what makes one of the most famous and funniest men alive do them.

I’m sure there isn’t a man, woman or child living today that hasn’t seen at least one Bill Murray film (the younger ones may have seen Garfield!). He has been famous and in the public eye for over 40 years. He has been making us laugh since he hit the big time on ‘Saturday Night Live’, then ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘Groundhog Day’ and on to his more serious side in ‘Lost In Translation‘. Over the years pictures, videos and stories have surfaced on the internet of Bill Murray’s antics. They range from normal everyday stuff (signing autographs, pictures etc) to some out of the ordinary behaviour, then to the downright unbelievable. Tommy Avallone is clearly a massive fan of Murray, he gushes over the man to almost a saint-like level. All his interviews with the witnesses to Murray’s stories talk highly of the actor and it seems being in his company is something truly very special. Each story is fun and entertaining.

Watching this documentary was an easy experience, never does it fail to put a smile on your face, much like the man himself. What really would have been interesting is a look into Murray’s past and what makes him do the things he does. Avallone puts his points across as he delves into Murray’s acting background and his comedy routes, but what about his personal life? Bill Murray is notorious for being a bit difficult and falling out with his co-stars. Murray and Harold Ramis didn’t speak for years. He has had a few wives and has a number of children. Maybe that has some effect on his erratic behaviour. Or maybe he is just a  bit lonely and wants some company. This is all a bit one-sided and doesn’t do enough to paint a complete picture to the reasons why he does what he does.

The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man‘ is a film for Bill Murray fans. It is an easy 70-minute watch which is a light-hearted look into a very funny man. If you wanted to really get to know Bill Murray then this isn’t the film for you. On the plus side, it has a very positive message and will leave you asking yourself  – ‘What would Bill Murray do?’

DAVE’S RATING:

3

 

 

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Isle of Dogs

Year: 2018
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber, Koyu Rankin.

WRITTEN BY RHYS JONES

Wes Anderson’s 9th directorial venture, and his 2nd stop-motion feature, ticks all the boxes of what you’ve come to expect from the extremely unique Texan. You have your perfectly symmetrical shots, you have your whip pans, you have your lateral tracking shots, you have your borderline pretentious dialogue, and you have a cast to end all casts. The cast list above isn’t even half of the voices you hear in ‘Isle of Dogs’, and every character, in true Anderson style, leaves an impression in one way or another.

‘Isle of Dogs’ is set in a dystopian future Japan in which canine flu has infected every dog in the city and threaten to cross the species barrier and infect humans. As such, the dictatorial Mayor Kobayashi has banished every dog to Trash Island, including his ward Atari’s (Rankin) dog, Spots (Schreiber), and Atari takes it upon himself to fly to Trash Island to find and rescue Spots. On the island, he meets a ragtag group of dogs, lead by Bryan Cranston’s Chief, who offer to help Atari find Spots.

Immediately, the film’s stop-motion animation impresses you. In a superb opening credits sequence to the sound of Taiko drumming, as scored by recent Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat, you see 3 drummers and the camera whip panning around them, and you realise that every single drum beat was stop-motion. Every time the drumsticks hit the drum, you know a human placed them there. The film is filled to the brim of astonishing animation that borders on arrogance, but stays just the right side of it to be impressive. There is a 2-minute sequence of sushi being sliced and diced, just because they can. Honestly, Isle of Dogs is an amazing feat of animation.

Adding to the stellar animation, the voice cast doesn’t disappoint. Cranston’s voice is impressive in any environment, but his gravitas adds to Chief’s highly defensive nature and proves to be a brilliant leading dog. In his group, Edward Norton’s Rex is the democratic voice of reason, Bill Murray’s Boss is the childlike, enthusiastic dog who at one point fully breaks the fourth wall in a moment of amazement, Jeff Goldblum’s Duke is the dog who, for the ‘Game of Thrones’ fans, is this film’s version of Varys as no rumour or bit of news escapes him, and finally Bob Balaban’s King follows orders as he is told, and is a fervent supporter of Rex, but sadly Balaban is relegated to a bit-part player as he simply doesn’t stand out against the vocal stylings of Cranston, Norton, Murray, and Goldblum.

This main group is the heart of the film, each of them has honestly tragic backstories of where they came from back in Japan, several of them missing the home comforts of dog soap and eating anything other than leftover trash dumped on the island. Anderson and company do a fantastic job on the island of merely showing you how things work without explicitly telling you what you need to know. There is a hierarchy in place – there are areas of the island dedicated to certain clans of dogs, there are rumours of cannibalism on the island, and so on. ‘Isle of Dogs’ does a brilliant job of fleshing out the canine world having been relegated to living in squalor.

It is a shame, though, that the other parts of the film, following Greta Gerwig’s Tracy Walker, a foreign exchange student fighting to bring the dogs back from Trash Island as she attempts to convince the city of a possible cure, aren’t so endearing or interesting. The impressive animation remains, but there is an over-reliance on narration and telling us exactly what’s happening. At the beginning of the film, we are told that the dogs’ barks have been translated into English and the Japanese characters all speak in their native language, crucially without subtitles, and the only translation into English comes through an in-film translator, voiced by Frances McDormand. I noticed this the most in the first third of the film; there is so much information to be given to us before we can get to the main story that it becomes overwhelming. McDormand delivers her tremendously long monologues reliably brilliantly as she translates speeches, but this becomes tiresome as the film progresses. There are sequences of the film where there isn’t any translation and we have to interpret what’s being said through visuals and body language. These scenes are superb as they manage to convey all the key information we need as an audience without explicitly telling us, and it forces us to engage with the film, it’s just a shame these weren’t more common.

‘Isle of Dogs’, by and large, is very good. It’s constantly impressive with its animation and its impeccable set design, and there are sections of the film that rank up there with some of the best I’ve seen this year, mainly when the dogs are on screen. As the film progresses, the film focuses more on Chief and Atari’s building relationship and unfortunately forgets about Rex, King, Duke, and Boss which does remove my favourite part of the film which was the relationship and banter among the dogs.

‘Isle of Dogs’ stumbles occasionally when the dogs aren’t on screen, but this doesn’t
diminish the film as an impressive achievement in animation. Most importantly, ‘Isle of ‘Dogs is better than ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’  in my opinion. Yes, I went there.

RHYS’ RATING: 7.8/10

Jumpcut’s Favourites: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Year: 2014
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Léa Seydoux, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson.

WRITTEN BY COREY HUGHES

There are two rules in life that I have come to understand within my 21-years on Earth. Number one; don’t talk about Fight Club, and number two; never ask a cinephile what their favourite film is. By breaching the second rule, not only will you be met with a disapproving grunt, but also a 30-minute rant on which film is their favourite; taking into consideration how different moods influence their choice.

Yet I’ve never had this problem. I relish the opportunity to gush about my favourite film, expressing my adoration for it whilst simultaneously trying to make others love it as much as I do. The film I’m talking about here, of course, is Wes Anderson’s wonderful ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’.

Now, I believe there are two ways that you can approach this area of discussion. You can either talk about what you think is the best film, or explain the reasons why a particular film is your favourite, as, after all, your favourite doesn’t necessarily have to be good film. Yet, for me, my experience with ‘The Grand Budapest’ is a mixture of both.

There are a variety of reasons why I’d argue that ‘The Grand Budapest’ is a bona-fide masterpiece. The most obvious is Robert D. Yeoman’s delightful and completely mesmerising cinematography. Wes Anderson’s symmetrical framing and composition is in full effect here, but adding to that, Anderson and Yeoman’s choice to use three different aspect ratios for each of the three time periods in the film is nothing short of extraordinary, adding to the storytelling aesthetic that Anderson hoped to achieve.

Yeoman’s exquisite camerawork, especially the fluidity of the 90-degree and 180-degree whip-pan movements, is surpassed only by Wes Anderson’s trademark use of vibrant colour palettes; adding to the exoticness of the locations and buildings that Anderson has placed in the shop window.

Written with such extravagance by Anderson himself, ‘The Grand Budapest’ also boasts a tremendous cast, bringing back the usual suspects of Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson; accompanied by the terrific talents of Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton and Willem Dafoe.

Yet it is Ralph Fiennes as the legendary hotel concierge Gustave H. who steals the show. Played with such charisma, intelligence and total narcissism, Gustave is perhaps the most iconic and memorable character that Wes Anderson has to offer, a real compliment with Anderson’s catalogue of superbly written figures such as Max Fischer in ‘Rushmore’ and Royal Tenenbaum in ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’. Fiennes brings so much flair and humour to the role, bringing the audience and his lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori) on his remarkable journey filled with murder and conspiracy. We really shouldn’t sympathise with him, but somehow we do. He’s just a loveable asshole, really.

But above all its glitz and glamour, ‘The Grand Budapest’ earns its title as my favourite film for its huge influence on my life. It’s the main reason why I started to look at films in a different way, the reason why I was eager to study the medium in greater depth. It is essentially the reason why I started to review movies, which is something that I love doing.

And when it comes down to it, ‘The Grand Budapest’ is the film that springs to mind when the harsh realities of life become prevalent. As soon as I pop my copy of the Blu-ray in the player, everything exterior to my screen becomes irrelevant. The only thing that matters within that 99-minutes of runtime is my experience with Wes Anderson’s delightful masterpiece.

Isn’t that what films are for?

 

Athlete To Actor

Written by Dalton Brown
Edited by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Let me start off by saying this, I’m not a fan of sports. Shocking, I know. It’s just that I could never get too excited about them, no matter how hard I tried. That’s not to say I’m completely oblivious when it comes to sports. I know of a few athletes, but the few I do know of are not because I’ve seen them play, but because I have seen them act. Pretty poorly, I might add. Whilst most athletes would probably be better off sticking to their day job, there are a select few that are actually decent actors too.

San Andreas

One actor that immediately pops into my mind – who is arguably a better actor than he was an athlete – is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. For those of you that don’t know, he was once a professional wrestler. Yeah, wrestling is a sport. Now he’s an actor. I’m pretty ambivalent when it comes to this guy, but when he’s given the right role he’s golden! For example: I thought his character in the movie ‘Doom’ was awful, while his character in the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise is actually quite enjoyable. Last year, Johnson starred in the surprisingly entertaining disaster movie ‘San Andreas’, and with plenty of projects coming up, including work on a ‘Baywatch’ reboot, The Rock is cooking up quite the acting career these days. 

Following in Dwayne Johnson’s footsteps is former wrestler Dave Bautista. After playing the role of Drax the Destroyer in the hugely popular ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, Bautista nabbed a role in the latest Bond movie, ‘Spectre’, as brutish henchman Mr. Hinx. Whilst this was a role with very little dialogue, the big guy did what he does best; look tough and smash shit up. We look forward to seeing Bautista stepping in front of the cameras again for the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ sequel in 2017, and hopefully plenty more projects in the future.

Drax the Destroyer

Arnold Schwarzenegger is another athlete turned movie star. He was once a professional bodybuilder, before he turned into a Terminator. Recently, the Austrian muscle man has joined the ‘Expendables’ franchise. He’s also been in some pretty shoddy productions like ‘Escape Plan’ and ‘Sabotage’. Although he’s been in a lot of movies, he is – and probably always will be – most famous for the ‘Terminator’ franchise. My point being, he’s sort of a one-hit wonder. He was in one great movie, ‘Terminator’, and then it just sort of stumbled downhill from there. Even the latest sequel in that franchise, ‘Terminator Genisys’, was damn awful. 

Then there’s Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players to ever grace the court, who decided to play himself in a movie called ‘Space Jam’. Luckily for Jordan, he had the likes of Bugs Bunny and Bill Murray to save his ass, as his acting skills are far from world class. Michael Jordan then, is a perfect example of what not to be; a man who managed to roll his Hollywood debut and farewell into one film, thanks to cheesy, uncomfortable acting. The latest basketball king however, LeBron James, has recently found success in front of the camera in last year’s comedy hit ‘Trainwreck’. The Amy Schumer production gave LeBron the chance to allow his theatrical side to flourish, and boy did he deliver, surprising us all with his comedic talents.

TRAINWRECK

We are seeing more and more athletes taking on these cameo roles, mainly in comedies where they play themselves. Last summer, Ronda Rousey popped up in the ‘Entourage’ movie, and to be honest she was terrible. But at the time, she was one of the biggest sports stars in the world so we forgave her. Hell, the world even let her dream of playing Captain Marvel. That is, until she got her head kicked in by Holly Holm and now we don’t really trust her to be a superhero. Maybe Holly could suit up and save the world instead?

In conclusion, there are plenty of athletes who have tried acting, but only a handful have managed to reinvent themselves successfully. Dwayne Johnson has cemented himself as one of Hollywood’s top action heroes at present, and he certainly earns enough money to suggest he’s doing a good job. Everybody loves Schwarzenegger too, despite the long line of shit movies he’s performed in on the back of the success of ‘The Terminator’ in 1984 (yes it’s been that long since he actually did anything credible). More often than not, this transition from athlete to actor is probably going to be an epic fail, but we hope they keep trying. Team talk time for all you sports stars with dreams of the red carpet: just be yourself and don’t be afraid to fail, you will get that knockout eventually. Or that three-pointer. Or whatever sports metaphor is appropriate here.

Can you think of a sports star who would make a great actor? Or maybe one who wouldn’t be so great, but who would be fun to watch trying? Let us know!

Watch This Space: November 16 – 22

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Out this week is the final installment of ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise, with ‘Mockingjay Part Two’. The film will see the civil war of Panem reach its climax, as Katniss Everdeen (played by the perfectly cast Jennifer Lawrence) leads a group of rebels to the Capitol to assassinate President Snow. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the last film of the exceptional Philip Seymour Hoffman, after tragically passing away last year. The franchise finale is set to be a box-office smash, and for fans of the series this is definitely one to watch.

ON TV

Monday 22:45 GMT: Had a tough Monday? Unwind with the simple but brilliant comedy ‘Meet The Parents’ on BBC1. Easy-watching doesn’t come much easier than this, with slapstick humour aplenty from Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.

Tuesday 19:00 GMT: Okay so it might feel too early to get into the Christmas spirit, but Film4 certainly think it’s time. Watch the classic story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, in the modern adaptation ‘Scrooged’, starring Bill Murray as the main miser.

Thursday 21:00 GMT: Have an excellent Thursday with the weird and wonderful adventures of ‘Wayne’s World’ on 5*. Check out our review if you need any more persuading. Alternatively, newbies to ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise can see where it all began on Film4.

Friday 23:35 GMT: Loosely based on true events, ‘Badlands’ is all about James Dean lookalike Kit, played by Martin Sheen, and the much younger lady he falls in love with, as they embark on an unfortunate road trip through the South Dakota badlands. Filled with violence and murder, this fantastic Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque film makes BBC2 the place to be this Friday.

Saturday 21:45 GMT: With an outstanding ensemble female cast, including Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer, ‘The Help’ is one of those films that everybody should see at least once. Luckily, BBC2 are on hand to deliver a movie which will make you laugh and break your heart in equal measure.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

The Artist: How can you describe one of the best movie experiences of one’s life?  How can you make a black and white, silent movie set in 1927 (but made in 2011) sound appealing? Would a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97% swing it? How about the exemplary French and American cast, including Jean Dujardin and John Goodman? Maybe the quirky plot piques your interest, as silent movie star George and young dancer Peppy’s lives drastically change as the pioneering ‘talking pictures’ take over Hollywood. Reams and reams could be said on behalf of this modern film which says nothing at all, but truth be told, seeing is believing. Beautiful, uplifting and inspired by simpler times, this is one you should definitely seek out.

Mean Streets: It’s Mr Martin Scorsese’s birthday this Tuesday, and whilst this man should be celebrated on a daily basis, now would be as good a time as any. Last week, our Twitter debates focused on the legendary director, with ‘Goodfellas’ crowned his finest work. One film which didn’t feature in the discussions was ‘Mean Streets’. This beautifully crafted crime movie is one of Scorsese’s earlier works, but with the familiar faces of Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in leading roles, its appeal still resonates with today’s audience. Fans of Marty, and the crime genre as a whole, should check this out as a priority.

The Nightmare Before Christmas: It’s not quite the most wonderful time of the year, but the spookiest time of year has officially passed. What better film to settle you in for the transition between holidays than Tim Burton’s classic stop-motion film about Jack, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, as he decides to take over Christmas for one year. With a catchy soundtrack by Danny Elfman, a love story between Jack and Sally, the rag doll, and a heart-warming conclusion, this is the perfect film to watch now those darker nights are settling in.

A Scanner Darkly: Based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, this surreal, futuristic film is interesting for many reasons. First of all, the whole thing is shot in a quirky, animated style which gives it a strangely fun feel, which is cleverly contrasted against a narrative focusing on identity, law, surveillance and drug use. Starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson and a brilliant performance from Robert Downey Jr, as well as being directed by Richard Linklater (Boyhood), this crazy film is executed brilliantly. ‘A Scanner Darkly’ has achieved something of a cult status since its release in 2006, and now is the time for you to find out why.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Sasha Hornby and Jakob Lewis Barnes