Watch This Space #2

Another Friday, another weekend ahead to fill with films! Over the past couple weeks the team have been watching a whole range of different films on various streaming platforms so they can recommend you some hidden gems, as well as films that totally deserve another watch.


Chronic (Michel Franco, 2015)

Netflix US

If you are in for a depressing watch, Chronic will be for you. Directed by Mexican director, Michel Franco, Chronic tells the story of David (Tim Roth) who is a top tier home care nurse for terminally ill patients. He develops close relationships with his patients, which on some occasions is a good thing, and on some not so much. Not to mention outside of his work, he deals with separate familial issues and personal ones, just as we all do. It premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and Franco ended up winning best screenplay for it at the festival as well. A truly heartbreaking and real view into the life of a man working with people at the end of their own.

Fernando Andrade

 

Crooked House (Gilles Paquet-Brenner, 2017)

Amazon Prime US

Featuring an all-star cast, this Agatha Christie adaptation is worth your time if you’re into beautiful houses and beautiful costumes. It stars Max Irons (Riot Club) as a private detective who is employed by an ex-girlfriend to investigate her wealthy grandfather’s death in the late 1940s English countryside. The cast includes Terence Stamp, Glenn Close, Christina Hendricks, Amanda Abbington and Gillian Anderson in a fabulous black bobbed wig and glamorous outfits. The plot gets increasingly ridiculous as it goes on and of course, everyone’s a suspect, but the titular Crooked House is a stunning turreted affair and the whole thing is a sumptuous feast for the eyes. Everyone involved is hamming it up to the nines, but it’s still more enjoyable than that horrendous Murder on the Orient Express film that we got last year. I would cheerfully be murdered by Hendricks or Anderson, especially in period costume, so allow them to seduce you too and check out this gorgeous film.

Fiona Underhill

 

Miss Sloane (John Madden, 2016)

Amazon Prime UK/ US

Have you accepted your lord and saviour Elizabeth Sloane? If you haven’t, that probably means you haven’t seen Miss Sloane yet. Jessica Chastain is Elizabeth Sloane, the most sought-after and formidable lobbyist in DC. When she decides to work for a group that are lobbying for stricter gun laws, the opposition will use any means to bring her down. Miss Sloane is stylish, tense and exciting. It’s got all the best bits of a political thriller and Jessica Chastain’s wardrobe is amazing. Elizabeth Sloane is that wonderful kind of character that is pretty unlikable due to the fact she uses people, but she’s also incredibly compelling due to being so smart; it’s like if lobbying was a chess game, she can see all the pieces and possible move and countermoves before her opponent makes them. I love the character, Jessica Chastain and the whole film, and can’t recommend Miss Sloane enough.

Elena Morgan

 

Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy, 2014)

Netflix UK/ US

Jake Gyllenhaal delivers yet another superb performance in Dan Gilroy’s dark crime thriller, Nightcrawler. Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom, a freelance journalist struggling to sell his photos to a major news channel. In order to beat the competition, Louis begins crossing moral borders to snap the best pictures, including tampering with crime scenes and sabotaging his competitors. Nightcrawler also stars Rene Russon, Riz Ahmed, and Bill Paxton and if you haven’t watched it yet, I really can’t recommend it enough.

Tom Sheffield

 

Let Me In (Matt Reeves, 2010)

Netflix US/ Amazon Prime US

Take the best notes of sharp horror, thrillers and curious storytelling and you’ll land on something peculiar. Such is the feel in Matt Reeves’ Let Me In, a remake of the Swedish Let The Right One In, where a bullied young boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) finds a friend and ally in a mysterious young girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) who lives in his building. Set in very dreary, cold, and ominous tones, the film gives us somewhat of a glee: the precious friendship that forms between the two main characters, set along the growing suspense of her vampiric identity. Moretz has a unique, devilishly pure presence and the film, although a bit slow-burn, is a fascinating flick for your thriller/vampire needs.

Jessica Peña

 

Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995)

Amazon Prime UK/ US

Today’s idea of a blossoming love affair is so boring. Not that the relationships aren’t fulfilling, or that the couple’s don’t utterly adore each other, but there’s not much of a story in, say, the swift right flick of your thumb, as is the case for some. Linklater’s first film in the widely (and rightly) acclaimed Before series is a wistful, heartfelt letter to the kind of fantastical brief encounter that not only you’d probably only dream of, but has also been lost in the revolution of technology and communication.

As the film opens and moves down an everyday train carriage, gently honing in on Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), there’s already a keen intrigue in the air. But from Jesse’s first act of courage, actually speaking to her, you know a fuse has been lit. It’s only as the pair begin unravelling each other’s personalities, talking about nothing and everything as they freely wander the gorgeous streets of Vienna, the sparks grow bigger and brighter. This is a story of true, pure love, and as they fall deeper, so will you.

Cameron Frew


 

We hope you enjoyed our first bunch of recommendations! If you do watch anything we’ve recommended this week, be sure to let us know on Twitter – @JUMPCUT_ONLINE

Director Crash Course: Richard Linklater

Written by Corey Hughes

Back in 2016 I started a new series to my blog and twitter page titled ‘Director Season’, a monthly challenge whereby I attempt to watch the entire oeuvre of a chosen director.

With Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Guillermo del Toro, and the Coen Brothers given the special treatment, I was able to discover hidden gems and watch a handful of movies that I REALLY should’ve watched by now.

Since then, ‘Director Season’ has been given a facelift. Now titled ‘Director Crash Course’, I’ve restarted the challenge, and with Paul Thomas Anderson tackled back in July, I spent August focusing on the wonderful work of Richard Linklater; a filmmaker I have a new-founded adoration for. The aim of this article is to round up my thoughts for each of the films I watched in August and to present my personal favourites from Linklater.

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SLACKER (1990)

Although IMDb credits It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (1988) as Linklater’s debut feature, for many, Slacker is where it all began. Linklater’s low-budget, beautifully mundane depiction of a group of bohemians in a single day in 90s Texas is an inspiring piece of indie filmmaking, proving that creativity is not dependant on budget or studio backing.

Not much happens in Slacker, characters come and go, storylines evaporate into nothingness; but that’s the whole point. Linklater simply observes the extraordinary actions of the ordinary civilian, from a UFO enthusiast to a JFK conspiracy theorist, in their everyday lives. As such, there is a palpable social realist eye to the events unfolding, particularly the guerrilla-esque, documentarian cinematography on display. Linklater seamlessly travels through the narrative with minimal cuts and transitions, the camera following the misfits as they travel through the warmly lit streets of Texas.

It’s not a film I would revisit anytime soon, nor has it particularly aged well, but it’s a film that I’m glad exists.


DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993)

Dazed and Confused is a timeless coming-of-age tale shared amongst an ensemble of social misfits and high-school stoners.

The film is seeping with nostalgia, melancholy, and authenticity, with its impeccable dialogue helping to illustrate the final day of school before summer. The excitement, the unpredictability, and the anxiety of starting something new is expertly addressed in the film; emotions that are at the heart of every living person.

But above all, it has a true ‘feel-good’ vibe that makes for a fun, energetic cinematic experience. Linklater borrows from his feature debut Slacker; the ensemble of compelling characters, the storylines that seem meaningless, the blurring between real and cinematic timelines, and expands upon them to create what is a profoundly thought-provoking story. Such energy is channelled through the film’s killer, rock-filled soundtrack, one that I will find myself listening to for years to come.

I will remember Dazed and Confused for the rest of my days.


BEFORE SUNRISE (1995)

Well, where do I start?

Perhaps what I love most about the first entry in Linklater’s ‘Before’ trilogy is how character and place are intricately linked. People come and go but their experiences will always linger on. A couple’s laughter, their romantic embraces; they fade into memory. But for Jesse and Celine, Vienna will always be there. Their deep conversations about love, past relationships, the mannerisms that will inevitably become annoying; they all take place in a city that will always be theirs. But above all, their love for each other is real, one that blossoms by open dialogue and a genuine sense of connection between the two characters, and of course, Hawke and Delpy themselves.

Not many films have the same effect on me that Sunrise has. Many would argue that it takes multiple viewings of a film for it to be considered as a favourite, but after just one viewing, this is undoubtedly a favourite of mine. What a truly transcendent piece of cinema.


SUBURBIA (1996)

Although SubUrbia isn’t as ground-breaking nor as charming as Linklater’s previous ‘slackers in reality’ projects (particularly Dazed and Confused) there’s an undeniable sense of self-depreciating anger seeping through the cracks of Eric Bogosian’s story; anger pointing toward societal entrapment and the divide between fame and normality.

Linklater’s trademark ‘kitchen-sink’ direction, the grainy cinematography with long, dialogue-heavy takes, the focus on the characters and their personal quirks; is reliant on the performances, and thankfully, the ensemble cast is bursting with charisma. From Ribisi’s constant grumbles and Zahn’s drunken outbursts, SubUrbia is driven by these characters – and Linklater understands how to blend them together without feeling overly convoluted and incoherent.

SubUrbia is hard to pick out, but if you can get your hands on a copy, then I’d advise giving it a watch.


WAKING LIFE (2001)

By far Linklater’s most peculiar project, Waking Life tailors around the experiences of an unnamed main character who journeys through the dreamland via lucid dreaming. On his mind-bending journey, he encounters a roster of strange individuals whom question the values of life and the philosophical and existential ideologies that come with it: life and death, free will and determinism; notions that linger forever in the human mind.

Through Linklater’s mesmerising, rotoscoped animation, we become the dreamer; with his thoughts becoming ours. He merely exists in his dream world, listening to the rambles of those he encounters; the philosophical and the victimised, the rational and the irrational. He doesn’t challenge what he hears but just listens – his curiosity manifesting into a journey of existential self-discovery, as clichéd as that may be.

Waking Life, for some, will pass by with no sense of penetration. It will, like the dreamer, just exist; fading into nothingness. But for others, the film with change the way they perceive the world. For me, my experience falls dead centre between this threshold. I accept and appreciate its existence, and I also apply the many ideologies from the film to my own life; yet I fear I will never have the urge to watch it again. For a film that runs for just 99 minutes, it felt much longer; much heavier. A slight deviation of attention with result in a state of confusion, and sadly, I felt my attention slowly slipping away as the film progressed.


BEFORE SUNSET (2003)

Linklater’s second entry to the ‘Before’ trilogy is just as wonderful as the first, and I can’t express in words how much of a personal connection I felt to this sequel. The loss of romanticism in love, the feeling of what could have been, the fear of settling; these are all emotions that everybody in a long-term relationship consider at some stage of their lives.

Where Before Sunrise sets up this promise of romanticism, Sunset has the bravery to introduce the realism of Jesse and Celine’s relationship. They don’t meet 6 months after their mesmerising night in Vienna, instead they move on with their lives. Jesse has a wife and son; Celine works as a humanitarian in love with a war journalist. Yet when they meet once again 9 years later, their spark is reignited. Hawke and Delpy become Jesse and Celine, the pair morphing into their roles with a true sense of connection and raw authenticity.

Linklater somehow manages to find the perfect balance between hopefulness and realism; humour and melancholy. As the final scene fades to black, I found myself teary eyed. Was it with hope? Or was it with an unexplainable tint of sadness? Well, isn’t that what love is?

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A SCANNER DARKLY (2006)

Linklater’s second animated feature, A Scanner Darkly, is an expertly crafted adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel; a story of existential crisis and voyeuristic surveillance.

It’s also a story of manipulation, coming in the form of Dick’s compelling, detailed characters; a catalogue of individualised creations that all have their own motives, whether it’s Robert Downey Jr’s sociopathic James Barris or Winona Ryder’s manipulative Donna Hawthorne; they all bring something unique to the table. This, of course, is a true testament to the performances on display and the preciseness of the post-rendered animation – with Linklater placing an onus on physical expression through the eye-catching cartoonish feel.

There are moments where the film becomes heavy with foreshadowing and subtle detail, but that only adds to the change of direction in the film’s final moments; a denouement that will undoubtedly encourage multiple viewings. I can’t wait to watch it again.


BERNIE (2011)

Linklater’s mockumentary about a former funeral director who shot his lover dead in Texas is much lighter and far more comedic than the actuality of the event itself, and the ethical implications of such a contradiction is enough to warrant discussion.

The film itself is utterly bonkers. Jack Black is tremendously cast as Bernie Tiede, the beloved funeral director who ‘fooled’ an entire community with his charm and generosity, whose malevolent actions are, as the tag line suggests, ‘so unbelievable that it must be true’. Funnily enough, however, I never once thought that these characters were based upon real people. The moment archived photographs of the real Bernie are shown on screen during the film’s closing credits, I found myself in a state of shock. “How on hell could this actually happen?”, I found myself asking.

Such disbelief is heightened through Linklater’s questionable decision to make Bernie as a comedy, albeit a black comedy. The humour is dry and relies solely on the ignorance of the characters themselves, which raises the issue of whether Linklater is sympathising or mocking them. I feel that for the average viewer, the ones from the outside looking in, this is a charmingly raucous story; but for those involved in the event, will find that the story criminally undermines the severity of Bernie’s actions.

I, however, found myself chuckling along. Perhaps I shouldn’t have; but when you have Jack Black at the forefront of such a project, you’d have to be dead inside to not find it amusing.


BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013)

Linklater’s beautiful ode to love in all its truest forms comes to an end with Before Midnight; a nostalgic, melancholic, and most important of all, real depiction of human relationships.

Where Sunrise was brimming with hope and romanticism for Jesse and Celine, their relationship matured and blossomed 9 years on in Sunset. Now, in Midnight, the harsh realities of mature romance come to the fore. Now roaming the sweeping landscapes of Greece with twins almost two decades since their first meeting on that train bound to Vienna, Jesse and Celine’s relationship is tested like never before. The prevalence of parenthood is accompanied with conflict and compromise, flirtation and feud; the palpable friction between the pair slowly slipping through the cracks.

Said conflict culminates in an emotional implosion set in a hotel room during the film’s final moments that can only be described as perhaps the realest argument ever depicted in cinema. Hawke and Delpy bounce off one another in a way that most couples do, with little triggers resulting in overly catastrophic outbursts and the most minuscule of facial gestures emitting the wrong message. It’s hard to watch, as if you’re a child watching on as your parents yell and fight.

I can’t put into words how much I love this trilogy. Sunrise, Sunset, and Midnight act as the vicious cycle of love itself; the promising romance, the blossoming relationship, and the inevitable darkness of growing old together. If this isn’t the end, then I can’t wait to see the next chapter of Jesse and Celine’s journey. Even if it does mean watching them ramble on about the meaning of life in the lounge of a nursing home.


BOYHOOD (2014)

There’s not much more to say about Boyhood that hasn’t already been said. Filmed over a 12-year span depicting the Bildungsroman story of a boy and his journey through adolescence; this is a coming-of-age tale like none other.

The use of cinematic time in Linklater’s films has become somewhat of a recurring motif in his works, but in Boyhood, it’s taken to another level. The film simply observes the actions of Ellar Coltrane’s Mason, and thus forces the viewer to watch on as he progresses through life; hurdling over the barriers that rapidly approach. The issue of family dysfunction is profoundly prevalent throughout the film’s entirety, with Mason and his older sister being raised by a compassionate single mother who struggles to juggle abusive partners and achieving her own aspirations.

Ethan Hawke’s Mason Sr. provides a momentary rest-bite from the struggles his kids face at home; taking them bowling and buying them gifts. At first he seems like the conventional immature and incompetent teenage father, but like Mason Jr., he goes on a journey on his own; working backwards, as it’s referenced in the movie. In truth, Mason Jr. isn’t the only character that has his own story, it’s very much a family piece. The family unit, albeit tested at times, stay firm as one; moving together through life together as time relentlessly passes by.

It’s a miracle that this film exists. For Linklater and his cast to dedicate 12-years of their lives to this project is a cinematic achievement that exceeds all expectations; a monumental achievement that requires a meticulous amount of patience, precision, and preparation. How anybody can have nothing but admiration for this project is beyond my understanding.


EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! (2016)

Everybody Wants Some!! has been labelled as the ‘spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused’, and it’s not difficult to see where the similarities lie. Like his 1993 classic, Everybody Wants Some!! is brimming with charm and charisma; helped by Linklater’s eye for realist dialogue and the incredibly delightful cast on display.

Linklater has a distinct ability to create a sense of genuine, off-the-cuff chemistry between his cast members, and with this, it’s no different. It’s so impressive that with an ensemble cast of mostly unknown actors, Linklater’s catalogue of characters all feel distinctively different from one another; each of the members providing something new and original to the table. The humour between them all is unprecedentedly hilarious throughout the film’s entirety, with special mention to Glen Powell’s Finn and Austin Amelio’s Nez; who remain at the forefront of the laughs every time they’re on screen.

Without the charm and charisma from his ensemble, Linklater’s film would undeniably fall apart, but there’s not a second of this film that doesn’t make you ‘feel good’, heightened, I think, by the equally as delightful 80s aesthetic that is captured here.
If you want a feel good coming-of-age story helmed by a master of the genre, Everybody Wants Some!! is the film for you. I loved every second of it.


LAST FLAG FLYING (2017)

Linklater’s latest film, a story of ex-veterans who rediscover their friendship after the tragic death of Doc’s (Steve Carell) son, is by no means the strongest project on his ever-impressive resumè, but it’s a provocative, heavy-hitting piece of work.

The rekindled camaraderie between the long-lost veterans result in a heartfelt and inspiring trio of performances. At times, Fishburne and Cranston act as an angel and a devil on Carrell’s shoulders, both providing contradicting advice. Cranston is terrific as the heavy-headed Sal, the ‘devil’ in this instance; and Fishburne is equally as compelling as Mueller, a calm and collected vet-turned-priest whose optimism finds itself battling against Sal’s growing cynicism.

Last Flag Flying undoubtedly sheds light on the hypocrisy and corruption of the ‘heroic American soldier’ philosophy of Western culture; American sons being killed for what they believe in labelled as heroes, Eastern sons being labelled as terrorists for the same fate. It’s a controversial issue, but Linklater handles it with a true sense of objectivity; showing both sides of the debate from Cranston’s Sal and Carell’s Doc.


And that concludes my Linklater journey! Below you will find the list of films that I was unable to see this month, and my top 5 Linklater films.

Unseen films:
It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (1988)
The Newton Boys (1998)
Tape (2001)
Bad News Bears (2005)
Fast Food Nation (2006)
• Me and Orson Welles (2008)

My top 5 Linklater films:
1. Before Sunrise (1995)
2. Before Sunset (2004)
3. Before Midnight (2013)
4. Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
5. Boyhood (2014)

That was way too difficult…

Last Flag Flying

Year: 2017 (UK: 2018)
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, Steve Carell, 

Written by Jessica Peña

We can always count on Richard Linklater to project the sincerity of human conversation onto the big screen for the world to marvel at. His unrested love for his characters is truly moving, and he manages to do it again in his latest film, ‘Last Flag Flying.’ Set in 2003, the film follows three aging Vietnam-era Navy vets as they embark on a sentimental roadtrip across states accompanying one to bury his son after being killed overseas. Supplemented with ideas from Darryl Ponicsan’s novel and Hal Ashby’s 1973 film, ‘The Last Detail,’ Linklater co-wrote the screenplay with Ponicsan to craft a story that brings us the same kind of originality as its spiritual predecessor film.

Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) decides to reunite with his two old marine friends, Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston), and Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), in hopes they will accompany him to his son’s funeral. It’s not until Larry and Sal have dinner at Richard’s home that he informs them of the reason for his visits. We find out that Larry’s wife passed away just earlier that year due to breast cancer. He also tells them that his son, Larry Jr., joined the Marine Corps a year ago, and was recently informed that his son had been killed in combat during the Iraq War.

I would hate to review a Linklater film and not give deep thought to his characters; they tell you the story! While we are not given a justifiable arc in this film, Carrell, Cranston, and Fishbourne drive these personalities and hold the film solid. The story is as much of a comedy as it is a drama. We see old war buddies yank each other’s leg about aging, old habits, and good times from the past. The film has the background of tragedy tied to its comedic forefront. It offers sensitive attention to Larry’s hardships, as well as lighthearted fun.

Cranston nails it as the foul-mouthed and boozy tough guy who just aches to kick it like he did in his younger years. His performance as Sal is as impeccable as Jack Nicholson’s Billy “Badass” Buddusky in ‘The Last Detail.’ Carell gives a somber energy to Larry that eventually becomes more lively as his pals don’t let the travesties engulf him. Larry is dealt an unfortunate hand in life, but is given a chance to comfortably deal with his loss while finding little joys to ease his pain. Fishbourne is hilarious in his own right and offers up a great performance as a former marine who used to overindulge his time with women as well as booze. His recent years brought him to seek God and it takes a determined Sal to bring ole’ “Mueller the Mauler” back out. The trio of actors command the screen and even in enclosed spaces like cars, hotel rooms, and train stations, they live up to the dialogue of Linklater; an honest and intimate human reflection.

In a group Q&A at the New York Film Festival premiere, Cranston spoke on dealing with grief and how the comedic relief plays in the film. In ‘Last Flag Flying,’ Larry found a way to naturally laugh and relish in the beautiful memory of his fallen son. Truth and honesty are demanded in parts of the film where true heroism was in question. The politics of war are slightly examined in this adult dramedy. It’s a film that explores the real things we fight for and the way a war can define a person’s character. It’s a pleasant little road trip that brings us along with these old friends.

Linklater’s devotion to humanist ideas and thoughtful dialogues in film never rests. It helps sustain ‘Last Flag Flying’ in a way that is both heartfelt and honest. He continues to soar as a big time director with such grace put into his films. He is keen on making time itself a character in his films. Time has the ability to change people and Linklater plays it to the advantage of the loose narrative here. He uses this property to tap into characters’ lives from their memories and bring them forward to tell their stories. ‘Last Flag Flying’ lets us breathe and indulge in the feel-good moments that remind us that everything will be okay.

Jessica’s Rating: 7.0/10

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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

Watch This Space: November 9 – 15

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

Here in the UK, we finally get to see what could be one of the best films of the year. Whilst critics are loving ‘Steve Jobs’, box-office figures are surprisingly low and personally, we cannot fathom why. With Danny Boyle at the helm, Aaron Sorkin behind the script and Michael Fassbender in the lead role, this biopic of the late Apple founder should be a great watch.

ON THE TV

Monday 21:00 GMT: Want to watch four friends getting extremely wasted the night before a wedding and then enjoy the hijinks that ensue the day after without the headache? ITV have got your back. I feel like everything that needs to be said about ‘The Hangover’ has probably already been said, so all we can say is WATCH IT! Here’s our review in case you needed any more persuasion.

Wednesday 21:00 GMT: JumpCut UK favourite (and arguably the best actress around right now), Jessica Chastain, stars in the critically acclaimed ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ on Film4. From the director of ‘The Hurt Locker’, Kathryn Bigelow, comes another intense look at the war on terror.

Thursday 21:00 GMT: Although it isn’t very memorable, ‘Iron Man 2’ is always an enjoyable watch. It may not be the greatest Marvel movie, or even the best in the ‘Iron-Man’ series, but it’s worth a watch for Mickey Rourke’s Russian accent alone. It’s Film4 to the rescue once again, making sure you have a super Thursday night.

Saturday 11:00 GMT: Hayao Miyazaki is the go-to-guy when it comes to anime films, and is world renowned for his work with the Studio Ghibli animation company. Among his finest works is the magical, family-friendly ‘My Neighbour Totoro’, which you can catch on Film4. This film has become a cult favourite since its release in 1988, and sits at #127 in the IMDb all time top 250, which should tell you just how brilliant this Saturday morning flick will be. 

Sunday 21:30 GMT: BBC3 may be changing, but hopefully its desire to promote modern British realism will never fade. This Sunday, take a look into the dangerous world of teenage life in London with ‘Kidulthood’, starring the likes of Noel Clarke, Jaime Winstone and Nicholas Hoult.

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.

Her: This is a movie that you really need to get behind. If you’re weirded out by the idea of a human man dating his O.S. (Operating System), then this might not be the film for you. If you can get past the unique plot, ‘Her’ is actually a really good film and an experience like no other. It may be weird, but normal is overrated and I think everybody should try to watch it at least once. DB

Boyhood: When I first heard about this film I gave it a lot of hell; I trolled it, essentially. But when I eventually watched it, I instantly fell in love with it. There isn’t much that actually happens, per se, in ‘Boyhood’, but it’s more about the journey and watching this boy transform into a man. It’s a really cool concept and one that only director, Richard Linklater could pull off. Interesting factoid, Linklater spent 12 years making this six-time Academy Award nominated film. Here’s our review if you want to know more. DB

Titanic: Do you like boats? What about Leonardo DiCaprio? What about Leonardo DiCaprio on a boat? Well then, you’ll probably like ‘Titanic’. Jokes aside, ‘Titanic’ is a truly great movie. Don’t believe me? This James Cameron romantic-drama won a whopping 11 Academy Awards, and still remains the second highest grossing film of all time, 17 years after its release. Impressive, right? DB

Donnie Darko: I honestly don’t know where to start with this film. ‘Donnie Darko’ is my all-time favourite film (I even have a tattoo of the devilish rabbit on my arm). Director Richard Kelly has barely done anything since this 2001 cult hit, but if I was him I would be more than happy with my work. A young Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the titular character, a messed up teen with schizophrenia and an imaginary friend in the form of a giant bunny rabbit who can travel through time. Sounds ridiculous, but this is one of the most engaging, thought-provoking and enigmatic films you will ever see, and it even has a fantastic soundtrack to boot; a must watch for fans of the psychological-thriller genre. JLB

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Dalton Brown

The Oscars 2015: Winners & Losers

What a night! What a long night! From this side of the pond, watching The Academy Awards live was hard work, but ultimately a satisfying and worthwhile experience. The 87th annual awards show was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, but I have a feeling we may have witnessed his swansong appearance as the presenter of the show. Aside from a theatrical, energetic and rather funny opening gambit, Patrick Harris quickly sunk into an apparent depression, barely even cracking a smile (even at his own jokes).

On a positive note, we were treated to some truly great acceptance speeches, from Patricia Arquette’s rousing feminist speech, to Graham Moore’s emotionally charged display, culminating in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s modest show of gratitude. The highlight however, has to be John Legend and Common, with their powerful, moving rendition of their track ‘Glory’, which won the award for Best Song. The performance, swiftly followed by the award, drew tears and a standing ovation from the crowd, with the emotive connotations linking the song to the story of ‘Selma’ and Martin Luther King’s drive for racial equality.

All of the eight nominees in the Best Picture award managed to get their hands on at least one of the little, gold statuettes, but it was ‘Birdman’ who stole the show with wins in the major categories. ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ swept the board for design-oriented categories, whilst ‘Whiplash’ also enjoyed three victories. Richard Linklater will probably be the most disappointed, with many fans taking to social media to vent their anger and disbelief at The Academy’s oversight.

Here’s how the night unfolded:

Lupita Nyongo takes to the stage to present the award for Actor In A Supporting Role. This category was pretty much sewn up weeks ago, by J K Simmons for his role in ‘Whiplash’ and there were no surprises this time.

A quick-fire double for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ as they check in with the awards for Achievement In Costume Design, and Achievement In Hair & Make-Up. A lot of people saying ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ should have took the latter.

Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor present the award for Best Foreign Language Film to Polish flick ‘Ida’. Director Pawel Pawlikowski ignores the get-off-the-stage-now music and completes his rather long acceptance speech.

The award for Best Live Action Short goes to ‘The Phone Call’ whilst Best Documentary Short is given to ‘Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1’. More of those long acceptance speeches.

Sienna Miller and Captain America present the awards in the sound category. Sound Mixing goes to team ‘Whiplash’ and Sound Editing to ‘American Sniper’. I feel Sienna Miller may have rigged the votes on that one.

Last year’s winner of the Supporting Actor award, Jared Leto takes to the stage, head to toe in baby blue, to present the award for Actress In A Supporting Role. Another relatively predictable win as Patricia Arquette takes home the award, for her role in ‘Boyhood.

The award for Achievements In Visual Effects goes to ‘Interstellar’, rightly so. Disney’s ‘Feast’ scoops the award for Animated Short, whilst a stunning Zoe Saldana and Dwayne Johnson AKA The Rock present the Oscar for Animated Feature Film to ‘Big Hero 6’.

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ makes it a hattrick of wins, taking the award for Achievements In Production Design. Swooping down to grab the award for Cinematography, with a strong indication that more are to follow, ‘Birdman’.

A big win for ‘Whiplash’, taking the award for Achievement In Film Editing, is preceded by the ever-emotional In Memoriam montage. A pair snubbed by The Academy this year, Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo step up to present the award for Documentary Feature to ‘Citizen Four’. This is all soon forgotten as John Legend and Common raise the roof with their performance of ‘Glory’, which takes the award for Best Song soon after. Common poetically describes Selma Bridge, “this bridge was built with hope, welded with compassion and elevated with love for all human beings”. A truly powerful performance and speech which is worth watching.

The last of the relatively minor categories, the award for Best Original Score goes to, you guessed it, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. Screenplay appreciation time, with ‘Birdman’ taking the award for Original Screenplay and ‘The Imitation Game’ writer, Graham Moore, recognised for his Adapted Screenplay.

Time for the big four. Richard Linklater took 12 years to create his epic ‘Boyhood’, but that counts for nothing apparently. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu steals the show again, taking the award for Best Director and claiming to be wearing Michael Keaton’s “tighty whiteys”.

No such surprises in the category of Best Actor In A Leading Role and Best Female In A Leading Role, with Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore picking up the awards we all knew they deserved. Last but by no means least, the big one, the award for Best Picture. Before the big night I had ‘Boyhood’ down to take this one, but as the night went on I think we all realised that it was, of course, going to be ‘Birdman’ and Inarritu who would scoop the number one prize.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

BAFTA Awards: The Winners

Tonight marked the 68th annual British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA). ‘The Theory Of Everything’ took home two of the big awards, winning in the Outstanding British Film category, and star Eddie Redmayne named Best Actor. Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ stole the show however, winning Best Film and Best Director amongst others. Click here to see the full list of nominations and winners.

 

Oscars 2015 Close Up: Boyhood

Talk of The Oscars is everywhere right now, so to continue the buzz I will be bringing you interviews and features from the biggest films in the nominations list. First up from the Best Picture category, amongst others, is Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’. Click here to read the interview with director Linklater, as he discusses awards and unexpected success.

Golden Globes 2015

The Oscars 2015 are fast approaching, so what better way to prepare and start the guessing games than with the Golden Globe awards. The big winners were ‘The Theory of Everything’, with star Eddie Redmayne scooping the Best Lead Male award, whilst Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ won three awards including Best Drama and Best Director. The full list of nominees and winners can be found here.