CAMFF 2018: Burning (2018)

Year: 2018
Directed by: Chang-dong Lee
Starring: Ah-In Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jeon

Written by Elena Morgan

When Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon) goes to Africa she asks her old schoolmate Jong-su (Ah-In Yoo) to look after her cat. When she returns with enigmatic Ben (Steven Yeun) who she met in Africa, Jong-su is dismayed and feels pushed out by the two of them.

Burning is a slow-burn of a film about class and sexual desire. Jong-su and Hae-mi are both originally from the north of South Korea, from a farming town that’s so close to the border that they can hear propaganda announcements from North Korea. Ben, on the other hand, is a Gatsby-like character, he’s young and rich and no one – Jong-su especially – knows what he does to earn his money. He’s charming and mysterious and lives in a modern apartment in Seoul and appears to have the perfect life compared to Jong-su.

Burning follows Jong-su’s perspective and he isn’t a particularly likeable character. He’s quiet and reserved and, as the film progresses, it reveals to be more or a character-study of Jong-su than anything else. Burning is full of unexpected choices, evolving from a potential love triangle into a psychological mystery, with three characters that are equal parts captivating and cold.

The scenery at Jong-su’s home is bleak yet beautiful. Conversations with double meanings happen at sunset with haunting music playing that leaves both Jong-su and the viewers unsettled by what they’re experiencing. As everything begins to build, Jong-su becomes more obsessed with both Hae-mi and Ben, two characters who aren’t altogether what they seem. There are secrets and lies, and the mystery becomes more and more mesmerising.

Burning is a weird, unsettling film anchored by a subtle yet absorbing performance by Ah-In Yoo. Its 2 and a half hour runtime can be noticeable though, as it certainly takes it’s time to slowly rack up the tension, but the performances from the three main actors are all brilliant and it’s their little nuances that pull you in and make this film so mesmerising.

ELENA’S VERDICT:
4

The Headliners & Hidden Gems At The 62nd BFI London Film Festival

Yesterday saw the announcement of the full line-up of films for the 62nd BFI London Film Festival (LFF), and boy is there a ton to get your teeth stuck into! But this year we have even more reason to be excited as JUMPCUT will attending and covering the festival for the first time ever!

We’ll be covering a whole range of films screening at the festival, including some of the headliners and hidden gems! JUMPCUT’s LFF Queen Sarah has kindly picked out just some of the films she thinks you are going to want to keep your eye on!

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The Headliners

Widows
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya

Why it is worth a watch: I mean that cast list alone is worth the admission price, but this female-fronted action thriller is also helmed by the man who brought us 12 Years a Slave, a film which previously enjoyed awards success. But the talent doesn’t end there, Widows is penned by Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn and Hans Zimmer provides the score. This is an action movie of the highest calibre and one that will be well worth your time and money.

Screening at LFF: 10th, 11th, 12th October
UK Wider Release Date: 6th November 2018

Stan & Ollie
Directed by: Jon S Baird
Starring: Steve Coogan, John C Reilly, Nina Arianda, Shirley Henderson, Danny Huston

Why it is worth a watch: An ode to cinema, entertainment, and with two leading actors known for their brilliance as physical comedians, Stan & Ollie seems like the perfect film to close out London Film Festival. Coogan and Reilly bring beloved comedians Stan Laurel and Ollie Hardy to life on the big screen, focusing on the twilight years of their career. This is set to be a real crowd-pleaser and the most fitting curtain call for the festival.

Screening at LFF: 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 11th January 2019

The Favourite
Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz

Why it is worth a watch: A divisive filmmaker, but certainly one that gets people talking, Yorgos Lanthimos brings his third English-language film in four years to the London Film Festival. With stand-out performances from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, The Favourite promises to be bizarre, bonkers, and brilliant!

Screening at LFF: 18th, 19th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 1st January 2019

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Bill Heck

Why it is worth a watch: It’s the Coen Brothers! In all seriousness, the latest from the incomparable Coens promises to be wild (west) entertainment, hilarious, offbeat, and surprisingly melancholic. Dark humour and the trademark Coen brothers flair will be here in abundance

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Screening at LFF: 12th, 13th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: TBA

Beautiful Boy
Directed by: Felix Van Groeningen
Starring: Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan

Why it is worth a watch: Just try and get through the trailer to this one without crying. Sometimes you just need to let it all out, and this will be the film that gets audiences at LFF reaching for the tissues. Starring man-of-the-moment Timothee Chalamet, hot off the heels of last year’s Call Me By Your Name, and Steve Carell in what is set to be another great dramatic role for him, Beautiful Boy will be the one to watch for those early Best Actor hints…

Screening at LFF: 13th, 14th, 16th October
UK Wider Release Date: 18th January 2019

Suspiria
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, Chloe Grace Moretz

Why it is worth a watch: Full disclaimer, I am a massive horror wuss and will therefore not be seeing this on the big screen, but it would be very remiss of me not to mention it here. There is no denying the trailer is stunning, and the hype levels amongst the JumpCut team have reached fever-pitch for this one. It won’t be for everyone but it’ll certainly be a talking point. And also it has Tilda Swinton in it; you can’t go wrong!

Screening at LFF: 16th, 17th, 19th October
UK Wider Release Date: 16th November 2019

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The Hidden Gems

Wild Rose
Directed by: Tom Harper
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Sophie Okonedo, Julie Walters

Why it is worth a watch: After impressing in Beast, Jessie Buckley stars in what is set to another impressive film. A Glaswegian single mum dreams of being a country singer, how hard could it be?! This is the sort of film that will make your heart soar, and with Julie Walters also appearing, it is hard not to draw comparisons with the underdog story of Billy Elliot. This film is already set to be one of the truly underrated gems of the festival.

Screening at LFF: 15th, 16th, 20th October
UK Wider Release Date: 8th February 2019

The Hate U Give
Directed by: George Tillman Jr
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Common

Why it is worth a watch: Adapted from Angie Thomas’ ‘Black Lives Matter’-inspired Young Adult novel, this film certainly feels like an important one, and one which is sadly still so relevant. Focusing on the young lives affected by the tragic shootings of their peers, the BFI are also offering £5 tickets to see this one for 16 to 25 year olds. Even outside of this age range, this film has a lot to offer, promising to be a powerful and timely watch.

Screening at LFF: 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 26th October 2018

Assassination Nation
Directed by: Sam Levinson
Starring: Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Bella Thorne

Why it is worth a watch: Don’t let the early trigger warnings put you off, this is a film that bears everything upfront and then unleashes all hell. Assassination Nation is the Salem witch trials meets the digital generation in this thoroughly modern cautionary tale, and one which is poised to join other teen cult classics such as Heathers and Spring Breakers. Subversive and utterly unique, this could be one of the surprise hits of the festival.

Screening at LFF: 19th, 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 23rd November 2018

Burning
Directed by: Lee Chang-dong
Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo, Steven Yeun

Why it is worth a watch: This film wowed audiences at Cannes, which is often the mark of a successful festival film! This lean slow-burning thriller promises to have you gripped right from the start, as well as exploring complex themes such as obsession, class-conflict and suppressed male rage. It will be unlikely to have a wide cinema release, so catch this one at the festival whilst you can!

Screening at LFF: 19th, 20th October
UK Wider Release Date: 1st February 2019

Mandy
Directed by: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache

Why it is worth a watch: Yes, Nicolas Cage. Stop reading now! Just kidding, this synopsis alone is enough to make you want to see it so we’re not even going to add to it: “In a mountain-cabin idyll, lumberjack Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) lives in perfect harmony with his great love Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). But the couple’s blissful utopia is cruelly shattered when a ragtag band of Satanic cultists invade their humble abode and claim Mandy for their own. Traumatised and distraught, Red is left with no option but to exact a bloody revenge.” (Michael Blyth, BFI)

Screening at LFF: 11, 12, 17th
UK Wider Release Date: 12th October 2018

Blaze
Directed by: Ethan Hawke
Starring: Ben Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Sam Rockwell

Why it is worth a watch: Ethan Hawke is having quite the year, and fresh from his acclaimed performance in First Reformed, his latest directorial offering his heading to LFF. This biopic about a little known musician is shot with affection and true passion that is hard to replicate, and quite frankly anything Ethan Hawke is passionate about, we love already!

Screening at LFF: 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: TBA

Sorry To Bother You

 

Year: 2018
Directed by: Boots Riley
Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermain Fowler, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, Omari Hardwick, Danny Glover

Written by Fiona Underhill

When I heard about the cast of this film towards the end of last year, my excitement levels went through the roof. Lakeith Stanfield was an extremely hot property after ‘Atlanta’ and ‘Get Out’, Tessa Thompson’s star had risen in 2017 with ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (and only increased this year with ‘Annihilation’ and ‘Dirty Computer’) and then there’s Armie Hammer, who was at the height of ‘Call Me By Your Name’ mania when we first heard about ‘Sorry to Bother You’. Debut director and hip-hop star Boots Riley perfectly timed assembling this ultra-cool cast and he came up with an exciting, risk-taking and original idea to complement them. This film has been my most-anticipated of 2018 for six months and it still managed to exceed my expectations. It’s more surprising, crazier, extreme and amazing than you can possibly imagine.

If you CAN go and see it, then run, don’t walk to your nearest cinema!

Cassius ‘Cash’ Green (Lakeith Stanfield) lives with his artist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) in his Uncle Serge’s (Terry Crews) garage. He desperately needs a job, so goes to a telemarketing company to  try and work his way up. There he meets Langston (Danny Glover), who tells him that if he puts on a ‘white voice’, his calls will be more successful and he’ll make more money. He also meets Squeeze (a fantastic Steven Yeun), who along with Cash’s old friend Salvador (Jermaine Fowler) wants to unionize the workers at the company and demand benefits. Cash starts to gain success and begins to make his way towards becoming a coveted ‘Power Caller’; someone who gets to ride the gold elevator with a mysterious unnamed character (Omari Hardwick) to the top floor and make sales calls on a completely different level (selling arms and people – literally). He then finds himself torn between the promise of untold riches (and helping his Uncle save his home) and his friends and girlfriend on the bottom floor, trying to keep things real. This plot summary barely scratches the surface of what actually happens and especially the final third of the film goes in a completely unforseen direction. I urge you to try to remain as spoiler-free as you can, going in, because that will only add to the enjoyment.

The visual inventiveness that Riley has achieved on what was presumably a pretty small budget is insane. There are so many brilliant touches; when Cash is making his calls, you see him actually go into the homes of each of his targets and interact with them. When Cash starts to gain success, his new flashy belongings, like his TV set, grow out of his old worn items. The hair, make-up and costumes (particularly of Detroit) are witty, inventive and clever. The scene where Detroit opens her art show in a gallery, with performance art aspects is amazing. Omari Hardwick’s unnamed character is straight out of a Magritte painting with his bowler hat and apple, this time with the addition of an enormous handle bar moustache/beard. Everything about Armie Hammer’s character Steve Lift is bananas. He wears a kind of kilt/sarong, leather boots, a crop and they’ve even given him the subtle touch of David Bowie’s different coloured eyes, adding to his svengali-like status – you believe he could hypnotise you.

There are multiple themes running through the many layers of ‘Sorry to Bother You’ and a review isn’t really the right place to delve into the depths of them. This film will be analysed and picked apart, as it should be and the best people to do that with this film are people of colour (eg. Angelique Jackson, Soraya McDonald, Robert Daniels). This film has much to say about what black people have to face in white spaces and what they have to do to succeed in white-dominated worlds. The changing of register is just one example of how black people are dehumanised and that theme is taken to the extreme by the end. There is a sub-plot involving white people being used as slave labour which could have whole essays written about it in itself. There are parts of this film that will confront and disrupt the comfort of the viewer and there are parts that are hard to watch and listen to. But maybe that should be the case in a film that is revealing and highlighting what some black people have to live every day.

Yes, this film is hilarious and had the audience in hysterics, but it definitely will leave you with much to think about afterwards.

If there were any justice in the world, Stanfield would be in the running for an Oscar-nomination next February. His lead performance here is astounding and Thompson supports him with her incredible magnetism, commanding the screen whenever she is on it. This is one of the best debut feature films from a first time writer-director I’ve ever seen. Riley has been incredibly bold, inventive and has not compromised his unique voice. It’s an extremely well structured and edited film, with creative visual effects that are clever low-budget solutions, making a more interesting film than higher-budget blockbusters. I cannot recommend ‘Sorry to Bother You’ highly enough and I just hope that the international rights are sorted out, so audiences in the UK and beyond can see this film as soon as possible.

Fiona’s Rating:

5

Watch The Brilliantly Bizarre Trailer For ‘Sorry To Bother You’

“In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a macabre universe.”

Directed by: Boots Riley

Starring: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Patton Oswalt, Steven Yeun, Terry Crews, David Cross, Danny Glover

Release Date: July 6th, 2018