Blue Valentine – Derek Cianfrance

A story of two halves; not just of  the two human beings that are inevitably involved in a film titled ‘Blue Valentine’, but of two different periods of time to which the film flips between.

The film opens to the present introducing Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) and their child Frankie.  The film flickers back to the roots of relationship achingly juxtaposed with it’s collapse.

With no glimmering beacon of a fulfilling and loving relationship the individuals were arguably looking to solve the need to be loved, that maybe explains their problematic take on it, instead of sharing it with each other.  The film’s honesty is a relief as the beginning relationship is shot no brighter than it’s end, until perhaps the closing sequence.  But this has been done before, (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind…)

It packs no punches but in its undertow serves a reminder how time itself can act as a corrosion to relationships.  Like I said, there’s no optimistic revelation, but there is some beauty in its dullness.  Unlike the relationships displayed in Control, which I have also watched recently.  Putting it another way; there’s a level of bliss in it’s grit.

But it didn’t depress me beyond belief, like I was told it would.  It wasn’t exactly inspiring either, and it didn’t need to be.  It’s realistic but reflective, nostalgic and creative.  However; if you’ve not seen it, you’re not missing much.


Catfish – Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman

(No spoilers – I promise!)

Catfish.  Boy falls in love with girl over facebook, only to find after plucking up the courage to meet her “in real life” – things aren’t what they seem. To which the film unravels a dark and eerie twist that makes your understanding of social networking plunge into the strange and unknown.

Wrong.  Or so the trailer would make you believe.  With so many documentary horror film set-ups, (such as Paranormal Activity, The Fourth Kind and not to mention The Blair Witch Project) it’s so easy to assume Catfish is going to be, I apologise for the pun, another fish in that pond.

But it’s really not..  I’m not going to spoil the film for anyone reading who hasn’t seen it, because I know how much I uncontrollably hate that..  Although, I was originally disappointed that this didn’t turn into a psychological horror that scared my socks off – I’ve still not been able to shake it’s chilling unmasking conclusion for four or five days now.

Like many documentary films, it has a slow pace but it does keep you hooked to reel you in for a real stunner.  (Another fishing pun – sorry!)  Catfish deserves it’s credits, there’s no annoying over-exaggerated camera jerks and the random art shots between frames are certainly not pretentious.  Reality documentaries (especially ones involving facebook) don’t get more thrilling than this.  So maybe my first statement above could summarise the film – ‘strange’ being the main adjective – just don’t expect it to be ‘spooky’ in a angry poltergeist sort of way.

I don’t want to say what you should expect before watching the film because it needs to be watched with no previous presumptions, like I had.  It’s fascinating due to the fact it is all true – and perhaps a first for reality documentary films – it’s, coldly, believable.


Has the British Film bubble burst?

The film industry in England has never really been a certain thing.

The concept of what a British film is or was…is debatable.

Statements I can remember from A-Level Media Studies had many ideas on what it should and should not be…”A British film has all British actors”…Was James Bond a British Film?  Not exactly…”A British film needs to portray life in Britiain”…Can you think of 5 films that does this?  Does Bridget Jones count?  Or is that just the same portrayal for every lonely woman…(whoa let’s not get into this one)…  “A British film can only be truly British when all funds and producers are British…Hmm well I can’t comment on that too much…

Confusion set aside, the UK does hold many national organisations supporting and promoting this scene…

British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) , British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) , British Film Institute (BFI) , Film Agency For Wales , Northern Ireland Screen ….


There is more, of course, but this morning news broke about the abolishment of the UK Film Council.  Not a film maker myself, I asked first…what does this mean to British Film?

The UK Film council not only promotes British films and Britain as a film-making location to the rest of the world, but contributes to our economy.

Budding filmmakers, directors, writers and anyone else who yearns to work in this film industry can be trained and educated through funding from the UK Film Council.

Film festivals are also funded, marketing for British movies are supported, including regional film agencies, all by the UK Film Council.

The UK Film Council has been responsible and funded many celebrated British Films in their short life of just 10 years…these include The Constant Gardener , This Is England and Adulthood.

Flicking through news stories today there seems to be no logical, or in fact any reason at all for the removal of this council, accompanied by Jeremy Hunt’s airless comment; “The changes I have proposed today would help us deliver fantastic culture, media and sport, while ensuring value for money for the public and transparency about where taxpayers’ money is spent.”

What does that mean?!

Just a month or so ago, it was also announced the British Film Institute gracefully accepted a 45m cut of funding from the government, saying they had anticipated the loss.

BFI

Obviously, we are suffering for the recession and have been told continuously about tough times ahead.

But has the film industry taken an aimless punch by a hastily structured coalition government?

Especially after the UK Film Council has had its best year in its short run, with no lead of who or what may take over its work.

Excuse me for being dramatic but… is this the beginning of end for the British Film Industry?  With it’s foundations crumbling, will the lottery still pump life into this falling art?  Will England go back to its blandish personality, only being known for its apparent high brow accent and sipping tea?

Oh God let’s seriously hope not.