Fiacha Harrington picks his top 10 selections screening at this years Love and Anarchy Film Festival.
A MONSTER CALLS
A Monster Calls is the film adaptation of Patrick Ness’ novel, which is based on an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. It tells the story of a boy who is struggling to cope with the consequences of his terminally ill mother. The story was conceived by Dowd, who died before she could write it. A Monster Calls is directed by J. A. Bayona and the screenplay is by Ness. The central character Conor O’Malley, is played by Lewis MacDougall whilst his mother is portrayed by Felicity Jones. Liam Neeson appears as the titular monster, represented in the form of a giant humanoid tree who tells him stories to try to help him cope with his situation.
EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!
Director Richard Linklater is on a bit of a high at the moment with the success of Before Midnight and Boyhood. Everybody Wants Some!! sees him chasing a different kind of high as he delves back into the 1980s for a film that traces the antics of a bunch of college baseball players wasting a long weekend prior to the start of a new academic year. The movie has been billed by many as a “spiritual sequel” to Linklater’s cult classic Dazed and Confused. This new outing covers a lot of the same ground as the aforementioned Dazed and promises to deliver more crazy antics.
Paul Verhoeven has tried his hand at many different kinds of films over an often uneven career. This is his first full length film in ten years (since Black Book) – and his first French language film. Isabelle Huppert stars as a businesswoman Michèle who is raped in her home and in turn decides to stalk her assailant. This psychological thriller is written by David Birke and is based on the Philippe Djian novel Oh... The film premiered in competition at Cannes this spring.
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
Colm McCarthy is best known for his television work on Peaky Blinders and now releases his sophomore movie The Girl With All The Gifts. The setup here is a dystopian world where a zombie virus has all but devastated mankind. But a group of youngsters have shown immunity to the virus, which leads head scientist (Glenn Close) to believe the immune children may hold the cure. The film’s central protagonist is Melanie (Sennia Nanua) who battles between her own emotional needs and physical needs. This entry into the zombie movie cannon promises to elevate the genre to a new level.
HEART OF A DOG
Performance artist Laurie Anderson was commissioned to make this documentary by Arte (the Franco-German TV station). The film centres on Anderson’s relationship with her late, beloved pet dog Lolabelle. Anderson uses equal parts 8mm film footage intertwined with animation. Heart of A Dog examines reflections on life and death, in particular the aftermath of 9/11 from Anderson’s on perspective as a New Yorker. Anderson also recorded a soundtrack to accompany the film, using music and spoken word.
Another movie which premiered in Cannes this spring is the new Woody Allen picture Café Society. Love and Anarchy affords the latest Allen its Finnish premiere. Café Society is an ensemble character driven romantic comedy-drama set in the 1930s. The movie stars Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Steve Carell as the main protagonists – another Allen vehicle sports the usual impressive cast. Bobby Dorfman (Eisenberg) attempts to make it in Hollywood where his uncle Phil Stern (Carell) is a big time agent. Bobby falls for Vonnie (Stewart) who is his uncle’s secretary. Vonnie rejects his advances and that leads to Bobby returning to Brooklyn to work with his gangster brother Ben (Corey Stoll) – who is based in the New York nightlife.
Oliver Stone is no stranger to the cinematic retelling of modern history, from JFK’s assassination to the World Trade Centre attacks. This time round Stone tackles the story of Edward Snowden, a national Security Agency (NSA) employee who leaked documents regarding NSA’s illegal surveillance of citizens via documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald. Stone attempts to go beyond the headlines to look at Edward Snowden the man. Snowden is still very much in the news and his story continues to unfold.
STRIKE A POSE
(Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan)
In 1990 Madonna released her concert-documentary film Truth or Dare – which was filmed during her Blonde Ambition tour. Twenty five years on Strike a Pose looks at the lives of the primary seven male dancers from that tour, then and now. Strike a Pose is just one of the films that is part of the Strike a Pose thematic series at this year’s Love and Anarchy. Other films include the documentary Mr. Gaga, about the renowned choreographer Ohad Naharin. In Bolshoi Babylon we get to peek behind the curtains of the Bolshoi Ballet whilst Sarah Jordan’s documentary Kiki, looks at the vogue dancing scene in New York.
The new film from Todd Solondz tells the story of a dachshund who passes from one oddball owner to another and how their dysfunctional lives are impacted by the dog. The film stars an ensemble cast led by Ellen Burstyn, Kieran Culkin, Julie Delpy, Greta Gerwig and Danny DeVito. Weiner Dog acts as a sort of spin-off to Solondz’s own 1995 film Welcome to the Dollhouse, which also features the character Dawn Weiner, this time played by Gerwig as opposed to the original film’s Heather Matarazzo.
ELVIS AND NIXON
Elvis and Nixon tells the untold true story behind the meeting of Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon in December 1970. Apparently the famous handshake photograph of these two meeting is the most requested photo in the National Archives of the USA. Elvis is played flamboyantly by Michael Shannon, while Nixon is portrayed by the increasingly presidential-like Kevin Spacey.
The 29th Love and Anarchy Film Festival runs from 15th-25th September: www.hiff.fi/en/