LFF 2018: Beautiful Boy

Year: 2018
Directed by: Felix Van Groeningen
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Steve Carrell, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan

Written by Dave Curtis

Just imagine being a parent to a child that is a drug addict. Beautiful Boy shows meth addiction and its recovery through the eyes of writer David Sheff (Steve Carrell), who watches his talented son Nic (Timothée Chalamet) as he struggles with his addiction. This is adapted from David & Nic Sheff’s memoirs and their real-life experiences.

Beautiful Boy does the hard job and shows the true horror of drug addiction, not only the damage it does to the user but also to their family and friends. It is hard to watch Nic’s plight. This isn’t just a film about taking drugs and the recovery which leads to a happy ending, this is the long and unflinching portrait of addiction.

This is a story of two sides – first Nic’s life with drugs, and the second is his father David’s and his attempts in trying to save his firstborn. The theme is set right from the first scene. David is asking advice about meth addiction and how can he help his son. The tone has been set.

Chalamet continues to show his talents (he really does remind me of a young Leonardo DiCaprio) and is the heartbeat of the picture. His slow and desperate fall is not only subtle but it also shows the respect to those that have been through it in real life. He is never over the top, showing he has done some research into the role. In less prepared hands this could have been a disaster. Steve Carrell offers strong support in yet another serious role. He does his best work when he has minimal dialogue. A terrific scene in a café (a location that means a lot to them both) offers the chance for the film to show its true colours and really show how good the two leads are. Nic clearly high on drugs is begging his Dad for money, and David can longer bring himself to help his son. It is truly heart-breaking.

It is a shame to report the supporting cast don’t have a lot to work with. David’s ex-wife Vicki (Amy Ryan) and his current wife Karen (Maura Tierney) characters are barely developed. Karen just paints and Vicki gets angry on the phone. That’s it.

Director Felix Van Groeningen has made of a few missteps. Some the editing feels a little rushed, and the timeline is littered with flashbacks and it gets a bit confusing of when its meant to be. It doesn’t help that Steve Carrell never ages. There are also a few pointless scenes, including a shower scene which is particularly odd and out of place. It is uncomfortably long. There are also issues with some scenes which feel like overly long montages with the music turned up to 11.

Sadly the film itself doesn’t match up to the two lead actors’ performances. Steve Carrell and Timothee Chalamet match each other every step of the way. Beautiful Boy is as heart-breaking as it is uplifting. It may not reach the heights it wants but thanks to the chemistry of the two leads it is worth a watch.

DAVE’S VERDICT:

3

 

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Grab Your Tissues For The New ‘A Beautiful Boy’ Trailer

“Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.  “

Directed by: Felix Van Groeningen

Cast: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan.

Release Date: January 18th, 2019 (Oct 12th, 2018 in the US)

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

Competition: Win A UV Digital Code For ‘Lady Bird’

Thanks to Sasha, we have one UV Digital code to give away for Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird and it couldn’t be easier to enter!

“The real success here is in the writing – it makes the whole thing feel so real. It is very funny – early scenes of Lady Bird ‘running for office’ in her school and coming into conflict with her teachers are hilarious. The naturalistic performances are also a key part of what makes this film so good.”

You can read our full verdict for Lady Bird, courtesy of Fiona, right here!

In Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig reveals herself to be a bold new cinematic voice with her directorial debut, excavating both the humor and pathos in the turbulent bond between a mother and her teenage daughter. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father (Tracy Letts) loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.

First Trailer For Amazon Studios’ ‘Beautiful Boy’ Packs An Emotional Punch

“‘Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.  “

Directed by: Felix Van Groeningen

Cast: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan.

Release Date: January 18th, 2019 (Oct 12th, 2018 in the US)

 

Competition: Win A UV Digital Code For ‘Call Me By Your Name’

Courtesy of our generous Reviews Editor, Corey, we have a copy of Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Call Me By Your Name’ to give away in our latest competition!

If you missed this in cinemas last year it’s the perfect opportunity for you to watch ‘one of 2017’s best’, according to Fiona in her review for us.

To enter, all you have to do is be sure you’re following us on Twitter and retweet the below tweet. It’s as easy as that!

Call Me By Your Name

Year: 2017
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg

Written by Fiona Underhill

I can’t promise that this is going to be my most coherent review, dear reader, because I’m still totally overwhelmed by the experience of watching this stunning film. Almost 24 hours later, I cannot get it out of my head and images keep washing over me, trying to take me back to the idyllic setting of Northern Italy in 1983. I will gladly be returning there as soon as I can, because this film will certainly be getting repeat viewings from me.

The third of an unofficial trilogy of films (after ‘I Am Love’ and ‘A Bigger Splash’) set amongst extremely privileged families in Italy from director Luca Guadagino, this one is based on the book of the same name by Andre Aciman. It follows a 17 year old American boy; Elio (Timothee Chalamet), who is summering in his parents’ holiday home. Mr Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) is his academic father, who has a graduate student come to stay with the family for six weeks, to work as his assistant. This student is 24 year old Oliver (Armie Hammer) who swans into the family setting with supreme confidence and immediately rubs Elio up the wrong way. Elio is an astonishingly literate and cultured teenager, slipping with ease between English, French and Italian and who spends his time reading beside pools, lakes and rivers in the breath-taking countryside.

Elio has a lively group of friends, including the lovely Marzia, who he starts to become involved with. If I had any small criticism of this film, it may be in its treatment of the female characters. Elio and Oliver treat their ‘girlfriends’ appallingly, which is understandable, given their character development. However, I would have liked Elio’s mother and the house keeper, Mafalda to have had more agency and involvement in the story. Oliver swoops in and out of Elio’s life on a whim, always leaving with a cursory “Later”. The two young men bicker and get each other’s backs up until a trip to Lake Garda, to see a project that Mr Perlman has been working on. Here they reach a truce and start to become closer. Through a series of awkward and cringe-inducingly realistic encounters, it becomes clear that Elio has feelings that go beyond friendship and eventually, Oliver responds.

A highlight of ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is Sufjan Stevens’ beautiful piano score, which complements Elio’s own piano playing (something he uses as part of his seduction of Oliver). Of course, the house and its surroundings are a huge part of the appeal here. Every sun-drenched frame of this film could be a Hockney painting and the viewer is seduced as much as the characters are. The acting is phenomenal – this is now the third Chalamet film I’ve seen in a short space of time and he could go on to a career on the scale of someone like Leonardo DiCaprio, if he chooses to. Elio is absolutely the protagonist of this story (the novel is told from his point of view) and we experience the agony and ecstasy of each moment through him. It is incredibly gratifying to see Armie Hammer finally being given a role that shows what he can do. His Greek adonis looks are a huge part of the character, but Oliver’s swaggering charm is gradually stripped away and his vulnerabilities are laid bare as the story unfolds. Hammer’s acting in the first ‘morning after’ scene is incredible; as Elio starts to gain an upper hand and Oliver searches for clues as to his feelings.

The script (adapted from the novel by the octogenarian James Ivory) is a beautiful thing. There is far more humour than you might expect – with many laugh out loud moments punctured throughout. Much has been made of the ‘chaste’ nature of the sex scenes (you don’t see that much nudity or actual gay sex). However the full spectrum of the story is told; from fumbling beginnings, to desperation and the completely new way the characters see and respond to each other afterwards. We are taken through every single emotion of the journey of this summer romance, which is all the more tender and heart-breaking for its short-lived nature.

The film really ramps up the emotional stakes at the end, with a speech from Michael Stuhlbarg which will probably earn him an Oscar nomination. There is also a stunning final shot, as the credits role, which will keep you glued to your seat, even if the house lights have come up by that point. There are so many shots and moments from this film that I still have left to unpack. If I told you that the sight of two bicycles resting together by the side of a house was one of the most erotic things I have seen on film, you might gain an idea of where I’m at. There are so many visual clues and jokes – an enormous phallus-like bollard in the foreground of one of the shots (featured in the trailer) will definitely stay with me. This film is a sensory overload; from the boiled egg that Oliver smashes to smithereens during his first breakfast with the Perlmans, to the infamous use of peaches – this is a film that fills you with sounds, sights and even scents that will linger for a long time afterwards. Almost every shot contains visual metaphors that will take many repeated viewings to fully discover.

Ultimately, it is the performances (particularly from Chalamet) that make the biggest impression, however. I would love for the Academy to finally look past their ageism in the Best Actor category and acknowledge what is undoubtedly the performance of the year. Chalamet is one to watch for the future and I can’t wait to see what he does next. I urge you to seek out this stunning film, however you can. Hopefully awards recognition may lead to a re-release early next year and if that happens, snap up the chance to see this sensual feast of a film filled with desire. One of 2017’s best.

Fiona’s Rating: 9.5 out of 10

‘Gotham Awards 2017’ Winners List

The 2017 Gotham Independent Film Awards took place last night, with ‘Call Me By Your Name’ walking away with the biggest award of the night for ‘Best Feature’ and Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out‘ walked away with 3 awards, including the ‘Audience Award’ and ‘Breakthrough Director’.

Going into the awards, ‘Get Out’ had the highest amount of nominations with a total of 4, followed by 3 nominations for Greta Gerwigs acclaimed directorial debut, ‘Lady Bird‘. ‘I, Tonya’, ‘The Florida Project’, and ‘Good Times’ also had multiple nominations, including ‘Best Feature’ with ‘Get Out’, and the winner, ‘Call Me By Your Name’.

The full list of winners: 

Audience Award: Get Out
Best Actor: James Franco – The Disaster Artist
Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Best Documentary: Strong Island
Best Feature: Call Me By Your Name
Best Screenplay: Get Out
Breakthrough Actor: Timothée Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award: Jordan Peele – Get Out
Breakthrough Series – Long Form: Atlanta
Breakthrough Series – Short Form: The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes

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Lady Bird

Year: 2017 (UK: 2018)
Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Odeya Rush, Timothée Chalamet, Lucas Hedges

Written by Fiona Underhill

Greta Gerwig is primarily known for her ‘auteur-muse’ relationship with director Noah Baumbach, which has produced such gems as ‘Frances Ha’, ‘Mistress America’ and ‘Greenberg’. I have also enjoyed watching her in the role of Natalie Portman’s best friend in the diverse ‘No Strings Attached’ and ‘Jackie’. Although she has directed before, this is Gerwig’s ‘mainstream’ directorial debut and she has very much stepped out from under Baumbach’s shadow.

There are a few surprising things about ‘Lady Bird’. Firstly, it is not set in New York, as one might expect from Gerwig, but in Sacramento. While it is the state capital of California, Sacramento is nowhere near as well known as Los Angeles or San Francisco and is described as the ‘mid-west of California’ in the film. It definitely has a small-town feel here and one that needs to be escaped, especially as Lady Bird literally lives on the wrong side of the tracks. I was also surprised to discover that it is set in 2002-2003, making the character of Lady Bird five years younger than me. Despite this age gap, many of the music and fashion references did feel painfully real to me and it doused the whole thing in the heavy pall of nostalgia; not all of it positive.

Soairse Ronan plays Christine McPherson, who insists on being called ‘Lady Bird’. She is a Catholic high school senior, dealing with typical problems such as friendships, boyfriends and what she’s going to do with the rest of her life. Her parents are going through financial problems, leading to her mother (in an amazing performance from Laurie Metcalf) working double shifts in a psychiatric hospital. Lady Bird and her best friend Julie (the very appealing Beanie Feldstein) decide to audition for the school musical, where Lady Bird immediately takes a shine to Danny (Lucas Hedges). Further down the line, Lady Bird gets involved with new friend ‘rich bitch’ Jenna and new boy, the rebellious Kyle (Timothee Chalamet) which works out about as well as could be expected.

The real success here is in the writing – it makes the whole thing feel so real. It is very funny – early scenes of Lady Bird ‘running for office’ in her school and coming into conflict with her teachers are hilarious. The naturalistic performances are also a key part of what makes this film so good. The 23 year old Ronan plays a 17/18 year old incredibly convincingly in a vanity-free performance, including showing her ‘adolescent’ skin and I would love to see her get a Best Actress Oscar nomination. I have heard everyone who has seen ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (still not out in the US) going crazy about Timothee Chalamet, but hadn’t really seen the appeal, based on photographs alone. Having now seen ‘Miss Stevens’ (recommended) and ‘Lady Bird’, I am beginning to see it more. He does have a magnetic screen presence and is very charismatic, even when playing an enormous douche, as he is here.

Smaller roles are taken by Lois Smith as one of the nuns at Lady Bird’s school and Stephen Henderson as the priest who runs the musical. Both put in funny and emotional turns. Another highlight is Lady Bird’s brother Miguel (a Berkeley graduate who now has a job bagging groceries) and his girlfriend Shelly who has moved in with the family. Lucas Hedges (both funny and devastating in last year’s ‘Manchester By The Sea’) gives another nuanced performance – demonstrating that he is definitely one to watch.

The other acting highlight is without doubt, Laurie Metcalf as Marion McPherson. This film is really about the mother-daughter relationship and is painfully real. There are the typical teenage conflicts, exacerbated by financial strains and Marion trying to keep her daughter’s college expectations in the real world. Of course, the real source of the conflict is Lady Bird’s rejection of Sacramento and her family, but this comes full circle into revealing the clear affection she has for both by the end. I almost had to watch the scene of Lady Bird trying on prom dresses through my fingers – its a scene that could have been pulled straight from my life. The audience’s empathy is pulled in both directions, between the two characters. Marion gets understandably frustrated by Lady Bird’s lack of appreciation for everything her family are doing for her. However, her mother’s hypercritical negativity does engender sympathy for Lady Bird, who at times, reaches out to her mother and is rejected. Safe to say, I was an emotional mess by the end, despite having laughed out loud throughout the whole film.

On fairly limited release in the US at the moment and not hitting the UK until February (which will be good timing for Oscar buzz), Lady Bird is definitely worth seeking out. There is something for all ages to identify with and you will find yourself torn between the generations, but ultimately feeling great affection for all of the characters. Lady Bird is a success because of the exceptional writing and directing from Greta Gerwig and I cannot wait to see what she does next.

Fiona’s Rating: 9.0 out of 10