You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby: 2014 Update

Recently we’ve been lucky enough to be spending more time making films than writing about them. Dave has made Woodfalls, Ben is a professional filmographer and I’m currently mid-way through shooting my next feature film Dead Unicorns

http://deadunicornsfilm.wordpress.com

Dead Unicorns Ian Fielding 002

Our original plan was to offer film reviews from a fresh perspective. Discover a different angle about a film that would shed light on its mystery rather than simply serve up a straight good or bad review with a description of the plot. The blog has proved to be very successful, we are nearing 35 thousand views and are very grateful to all of you for sharing your time with us.

Film Ache Ian Fielding

 

You may well see more reviews here in the future as we take a breather between projects – but for now I’d like to mention a handful of films I’ve seen recently that have really struck a chord.

The first is Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty. Sincere film making about a rotten Rome and a man looking for a revelation.

Ian Fielding Film Ache Great Beauty  

Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin is an astonishing phantasm with creeping fingers.

Film Ache Ian Fielding Under the Skin

Blue is the Warmest Colour confronts the walloping emotions of love with immense snotty-nosed force.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (La Vie d'Adele) film still

From the vaults are Rossellini’s Rome, Open City. Currently on big screen re-release. He makes you fall in love with three characters and systematically kills them off. Simple, funny, moving, powerful.

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Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude is kooky and irresistible… with a shockingly powerful stab of emotion in an understated moment on a beach.harold and maude Ian_Fielding Film Ache

Look forward to seeing you in the future.

 

My name’s Ian. I’m a writer and Filmmaker from London currently shooting my second feature film – a detective thriller called Dead Unicorns

To see pics, a trailer and what’s currently happening with Dead Unicorns click here:

http://deadunicornsfilm.wordpress.com


FrightFest Special: David Campion on I Saw the Devil

The Glasgow Film Festival has been invaded by Frightfest – could you ever imagine the London Film Festival including a genre segment in their bill? No, me neither. High props to Glasgow for opening their doors and hearts to the hordes of drooling horror fans, many of whom have travelled not only from England, but Germany and even Australia [somebody must have really wanted to see Little Deaths].

So, first for me is the latest Korean export, I Saw the Devil. Having already screened across the Atlantic, most notably Toronto and Sundance, the film has already earned a lot of buzz from critics and genre fans alike. Despite my high expectations, Kim Ji-Woon managed to surprise me with a whole new level of filmmaking. ISTD combines the clinical attention to detail as seen in Zodiac, the fierce psychological examination of a serial killer as seen in Silence of the Lambs, but injects it with a hyper kinetic quality, not unlike Christopher Nolan at his finest.

Thematically, the film is strong, playing with the concept of revenge and repetition; raising the question of when does revenge become unfulfilling? Kyung-Chul [Choi Min-sik] is a depraved serial killer, with no sense of morality or empathy; in real life this man deserves to be punished, in filmic terms, he deserves to die. However, for our ‘hero’, Soo-Hyun [Lee Byung-hun], death is not enough. Instead, he plants a tracking device into the killer and proceeds to beat him within an inch of his life, before letting him go and repeating the process.

I Saw the Devil not only boasts an engaging script, fine performances, pitch-perfect direction and high drama, but it also delivers on a primal splatter level as well. The deaths are messy and disturbing. There is a moment when Kyung-Chul shares a car ride with two shifty gentlemen. There is an air of Hitchcockian tension, especially as each man looks as dangerous as the other. This tension is broken when Kyung-Chul unleashes his rage, repeatedly stabbing the driver and his accomplice. In all my years of watching horror films, I have never witnessed such fury with a knife.

Much like Oldboy, ISTD has a westernized flavor. Aesthetically, both films evoke the spirit of David Fincher, whilst ISTD also takes a direct cue from No for Country Old Men. In the way Tarantino is happy to pinch bits from European cinema and make it his own, the film wears it influences on its sleeve, confident enough in its own originality. Kim Ji-Woon is friends with Park Chan-Wook [Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Thirst] and Bong Joon-ho [The Host, Mother] and collectively, the trio represent an exciting new wave in Korean filmmaking. All three directors have a knack for taking typical ‘genre’ cinema and elevating it way beyond the norm. This has to do with their impeccable technique and understanding of cinema.  Personally, I’m keeping my eyes on these filmmakers, as I am expecting even greater films to come.

David Campion is the Co – Director of Patrol Men

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David Campion on The Fighter: Raging O Russell

It all started on Three Kings. Supposed battles with crew, scrapes with extras, and a blow up with everyone’s favourite liberal, George Clooney; say what you will about David O Russell, but the guy has heart. Speaking of heart, it was his next project, existential comedy I Heart Huckabees, which really sparked debate, when a video leaked of him kicking off at veteran actress, Lilly Tomlin. Both artist’s are obviously having a bad day, Tomlin herself is irritable and stressed, but after remaining silent for some time, O Russell lets spew a volcanic diatribe, resulting in pure YouTube gold.

These heated confrontations seem to be sparked by what makes O Russell special. He works in a loose, semi-improvised manner, giving his work a sense of urgency and spontaneity. However, there seems to be a communication failure somewhere between the great man and his accomplices, and this is his downfall. It’s no mystery why it’s taken six years for his next film, The Fighter, to be released.

Now in his fifties, it would appear the director has calmed down and possibly developed a new work ethic. The evidence of this new ethic is apparent in The Fighter, which is a lean, perfectly staged, exquisitely acted and directed piece of cinema. With a modest budget [somewhere around the $35 million mark], an ensemble cast [including a scenery chewing Christian Bale] and a very tight schedule [33 days]; The Fighter looks and feels like an effortless film.

Taking a very typical, cliché ridden underdog story and trying to inject it with a sense of vitality and importance is no mean feat. In fact, the boxing genre is one of the hardest to excel in, being overshadowed by both the archetypal underdog story, Rocky and the artful triumph, Raging Bull.  These factors, along with long history of the film [four writers, two directors, endless star changes], should point towards cinematic disaster, so why does The Fighter work???

The Fighter is very much an examination, not only of character ambitions and family dynamics, but societal demands. First, the location. Lowell, Massachusetts is the perfect urban setting to raise a fighter, as it proves “livin’ ain’t easy”. The residents of this predominately working class community are vocal in their thoughts and opinions about the characters, giving Micky Ward [Mark Wahlberg] the ‘underdog complex’. He’s passive, which for a boxer, is a pretty useless quality. Now let’s examine the family. Mother Alice Ward has not only produced two fighters, but seven ‘monstrous’ sisters. Seemingly growing up in a grim fairytale, Micky has to deal not only with a firecracker mother, but a former glory, now-turned-addict brother, who still manages to soak up all of the family’s admiration. This lack of love and nurture has obviously had a negative effect on Micky’s confidence, which could be a direct reason for his ‘stepping-stone’ reputation in the ring.

Dicky Ward [Christian Bale] is like a vacuum, demanding all of the attention from almost every character in the film. Interestingly, outside the realms of the film, Christian Bale is doing the same, receiving award nominations across the board and being the cast/crew member most likely to pick up an Oscar. I like to think his performance is in retaliation to The Dark Knight, where Heath Ledger picked up all of the accolades for his supporting turn as The Joker, while Bale had to play it straight. Now in the ‘joker’ role, Bale relishes every moment he is on screen, perfectly playing a waster way beyond his prime.

Amongst all this chaos, O Russell keeps a tight handle over the script, never deviating away from the all important structure. However, unlike more ‘mainstream’ affairs, The Fighter has a sense of truth. The supporting characters aren’t mere obstacle blocks, but living, breathing people. Occasionally flawed, but always likeable, each actor takes the character to a place of familiarity, enabling the audience to not only identify with them, but to emphasise with them as well.

Stylistically, O Russell has always had plenty of tricks up his sleeve. He moves the camera with pace, never restricting the moving shots to dollies, but employing vehicles to give them speed and excitement. However, his genius comes within the ring. Rather than competing with the untouchable Raging Bull, O Russell chooses to shoot the fight scenes using ‘video footage’. He captures the brutality within the ring, but from a perspective everybody is familiar with. Even when it comes to using slow motion he doesn’t sell out by using 35mm for a smooth finish, but allowing the jerkiness of the ‘HBO’ style to shine through. The direction in the film is non fussy and kinetic.

Whatever your opinions are of David O Russell, past or present, you really can’t question his integrity. As a successor of the ‘Sundance Kids’ stable, O Russell has established himself as an auteur. Much like Aronofsky [the once director of The Fighter, now billed as executive producer], O Russell’s next project is distinctly ‘Hollywood’. He is in talks to direct a feature based on the popular video game, Uncharted. So, in two-three years time, will two of the better ‘indie’ artists be battling it out for summer box office? Personally, I’m looking forward to Oscar race between Brett Ratner and Michael Bay.

David Campion is the Co – Director of Patrol Men

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David Campion on Humpday: Keep your friends close. How Close?

Humpday is a mumblecore film. Let’s get it straight; mumblecore doesn’t necessarily equate to mumbling. In fact, Ben and Andrew, the two thirty-somethings inhabiting director Lynn Shelton’s Humpday, are both articulate and verbose.

Mumblecore, the film movement, fits in nicely between true American indie and the alternative pathway to cinematic success known as Indiewood. With a recognisable aesthetic, usually distinguished by a tell-tale digital handycam look, Mumblecore is driven by a wave of filmmakers who aren’t waiting for the typical indie budget [indie does not mean cheap] and are opting instead to shoot ultra lo-fi dramas with very three dimensional characters at their heart.

Humpday feels like a broad comedy, not 100 miles away from an Apatow flick. Pairing mumblecore icon, Mark Duplass [who, along with brother Jay, recently directed the Sundance breakout Cyrus] and Joshua Leonard [one of the few faces from The Blair Witch Project still visible in the industry], Shelton deconstructs the male psyche and explores male friendship and, to an extent, sexuality. Plot wise, the film exists as a simple logline; ‘Can two straight best friends have sex for the sake of art?’ Wrap your head round that and try to write a 90 minute film.

Boasting a sense of naturalism lacking from mainstream comedies, Humpday takes a potentially silly concept and injects it with warmth, humanity and intelligence. Showing a savvy understanding of male relationships, Shelton’s camera remains almost invisible; never straying for style, nor using extreme angles for cinematic effect. Instead, the audience are given front row tickets to enjoy the complications of friendship, especially when sexuality and masculinity are questioned.

A key scene involves Andrew [Leonard], being offered a threesome involving two arty girls [one played by director Shelton]. As any freewheeling, warm blooded male would, Andrew jumps at the chance, spreading himself between the two desirable females. However, when a dildo pops up [literally] into the equation, Andrew is hesitant and eventually cowards away. Now, if Andrew can’t permit a dildo to enter a sexual scenario, how will he react to a real life penis?  Or, is it the circumstances of the dildo? Is he threatened by female sexuality, especially as he would be competing with a perfect version of the male sexual organ? Surely he couldn’t offer as much pleasure as a manufactured sex weapon?  However hard we try, we’ll never get our dicks to vibrate!

Some would say Humpday is a critique of the male specie. Whether it’s competition on the basketball court, or competition in the bedroom; the primitive desire to ‘one up’ one other is what urges these two straight men to have sex in the first place. However, maybe it’s less about being the ‘bigger man’ and more about the worry of slipping into real adulthood. Ben is in a stable marriage and trying to have a child. Andrew is an artist and a drifter [described as Kerouac by Ben], but both men are nearing middle age, something which affects everybody, however different their lives are. Is having a sex with your friend the ultimate way too say “FUCK YOU” to society? Will the profundity of the moment be enough to turn the hands of time back and unite them as the friends they once were? Take what you will from both the conclusion and the sentiment, but one thing cannot be denied; Humpday is an accurate representation of the timelessness of friendship. Heart-warming, natural and deeply affecting… Take that Judd Apatow!


David Campion is the Co – Director of Patrol Men

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David Campion: Top Films of 2010

1: THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL

Ti West is the most important name in American horror right now. This is his first masterpiece.

2: THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Armie Hammer for ‘man of the year’.

3: AMER

Arthouse horror is on the rise. YIPPPEEE.

4: ANOTHER YEAR

‘Come Dine with me’ directed by Mike Leigh. Loved it.

5: SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD

A $60 million film, aimed at a niche audience. Probably won’t happen again anytime soon, so we’ll just have to saviour this one.

6: SHUTTER ISLAND

The best director in the world shows no signs of growing old. The long tracking shot of the nazi’s being gunned down is as good as anything Marty has shot before.


7: A SERBIAN FILM

Anything as ballsy as this is always going to attract my attention, but the film has merits way beyond its controversy. One to watch with the family this Christmas.

8: GREENBERG

Greta Gerwig. Greta Gerwig. Greta Gerwig. Greta Gerwig. Greta Gerwig. Greta Gerwig. Greta Gerwig.

9: A PROPHET

Was my number 1 for many months, but I haven’t graced it with a second viewing yet. Elegant, streetwise and brutal.

10: EXIT THROUGH THE GIFTSHOP

Funny, satirical and enlightening.

David Campion is the Co – Director of Patrol Men

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