Underwire Festival: Celebrating Female Talent in Filmmaking

by Becki Crossley

The UK’s largest film festival celebrating female talent both in front of and behind the camera is back for its eighth year. From Wednesday 22nd to Sunday 26th November 2017, you can catch an incredible line-up of shorts, feature films, panels and events at venues across the city.

Underwire was founded in 2010 by Gabriella Apicella and Gemma Mitchell, with the aim of addressing the gender imbalance in the film industry and celebrating female filmmaking talent across the crafts. Since its debut, the festival has screened over 300 films and awarded training and mentoring opportunities to over 50 filmmakers. Their films often go on to be recognised at leading festivals and achieve multiple awards – including the 2016 BAFTA for Best Short Film!

2017’s festival will open with Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down, a collection of short films led by brave, angry and passionate women facing everything from menstrual stigma to a Donald Trump piñata. Over the course of five days, you can enjoy collections and feature films across all genres, from sci-fi and horror to period dramas and comedy, and addressing themes such as quarter-life crises, consent, war and motherhood.

The Underwire Awards party on the penultimate day of the festival celebrates the women behind the films. With the aim of nurturing female talent, prizes include mentoring, training and development opportunities with the festival’s award partners. Entry to this event is free but places are limited, so get there early to grab a drink and celebrate the talent you’ve seen on screen over the week.

Underwire Film screens 22nd to 26th November!
You can check out the programme of events and grab your tickets on the Underwire Festival website.

The Mercy – Brand New Trailer!

Colin Firth is one of our best actors and now he is setting sail in James Marsh’s latest biopic/real life film The Mercy. 

The film revolves around Donald Crowhurst, a man who decided to single-handedly circumnaviagte the globe without stopping. However, being an amateur sailor, he runs into many issues along the way. Especially as he has left his wife and children behind.

Honestly? Much like it’s poster, this film looks to be a little naff. What do you think?


The Mercy is out 9th February 2018

Brakes – Brand New Trailer!

Love in the city is hard. It’s a tricky beast, people weaving in and out of love under the London skyline. A lot of films have tried to capture this and portray it on the big screen. We end up with sickly awkward but genuinely sweet movies such as Love Actually or Man Up.

But Mercedes Gowers’ Brakes is a toe-curling and intimately emotional indie film about the pain of love. Bringing together our finest British actors, Brakes is a series of vignettes about couples breaking up before flitting forward to see how they got together.

Funny, dark, and unmissable, relive your heart-break with this great film.

Brakes is out 24th November 

Unpopped Kernels: Macbeth (2015)

It’s not very often I see a film that I am utterly enthralled with that I actively put off writing about it. There is a general sense of falseness as I write this; like I’m putting on the mask of a critic in order to explain what captivated me so but the words all seem hollow. Awkwardly shuffling in my seat, my fingers hesitating over the clippity clap of keys because it cannot echo the beating of my heart I experienced coming out of this film.

Nevertheless, my first world struggle is now being battled. Mainly because I’ve seen a lot of superb films lately, including the furore driven space epic The Martian, and I can confidently say that Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth is defiantly the best movie of the year.

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Starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, Shakespeare’s biggest tragedy is stunningly realised on the big screen. Macbeth revolves around an ambitious Bain of Scotland who, on the aftermath of a battlefield, sees three witches who gift him with a prophecy that he will be King. Taking the news back to his wife, Lady Macbeth, she ruthlessly urges him to kill the reigning King Duncan in order to succeed the throne. However, racked with guilt and visions of bloody war, could the act send both Macbeths into turbulent insanity?

Taking Shakespeare and placing his works on the big screen is something that artists of screen and stage have been doing for an extremely long time. I mean, each generation as a whole hoard of Romeo & Juliets and even Macbeth has its own versions every now and then, with James McAvoy being the most notable recent version in Jamie Lloyd’s production. On the screen, Orson Welles and more have similarly tackled the movie. So Kurzel has a lot of success to live up to whilst still creating something completely new, which is a hard task in this age of cinema.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about Macbeth because Kurzel mostly kept to the original text dialogue. Not to generalise an entire audience base but the stuffy Shakespearian language can be off-putting to an average sect of cinema-goers. Whilst I’m not trying to polarise people into those who enjoy the old dialogue and people who don’t, this modern adaptation is contemporary in the sense of some of the sillier elements of Shakespeare’s work have been shifted and changed to make much more of a tonal sense with the story. As well as this, Kurzel utilises current cinematography and filmmaking techniques in order to embellish the tale with a gorgeousness that I’ll touch upon later.

One of the main successes of Macbeth is its cast. Spectacular, haunting, and altogether profound, both Fassbender and Cotillard excavate the darkness within their characters in such a visceral manner that they spellbind you. Fassbender as the titular warrior drowns in the madness he has crafted for himself whilst similarly quenching at the teat of ambition. This concoction leads to a devilish performance in which Fassbender’s talent poisons Macbeth with something completely original. Ensnaring you into this tale of brutality and violence, Fassbender equally captures a tenderness and abandoned soul and unearths a quaking fear with similar ferociousness that James McAvoy did in Filth (the pair are really complimentary acting souls).

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Within Cotillard, Lady Macbeth becomes witch-like in her drive yet human in her ultimate demise. Balancing the two halves of Macbeth, Cotillard defines the role. Poetically alluring, she passionate captures the mercilessness of the wife and drags you, as an audience member, into her palms as she is ready to crush you. In Cotillard, the film charges forward and the actress is able to balance the duality as she teeters into guilt and dismay. In equal measure, against the doldrums that she beats on the screen, her enrapturing abandon is gloriously realised. Romping around the moors of Scotland, Cotillard unravels her character’s mentality like a silk thread spiralling with an elegant yet pain-filled conscious, rambling with her journey in an excellent way.…

Surrounding them, the likes of Paddy Considine as Banquo, Sean Harris as Macduff, and David Thewlis as Duncan spice the film with even more acting excellence. Each actor, from leading man to small extra, brings the distinction to this wondrous film and not one person is out of step with Kurzel’s vision.

Vision is a fortunate word to use for Kurzel’s work here because, whilst actors are knocking performances out of the moors, he and his crew are painting a masterpiece on the screen. Through gripping camera moves that slows the action down and speeds it up at timely moments to the colours that dance like tamed flames on the screen, this is a simply beautiful film. The palette is crafted carefully and poignantly that the colours are opulent and in sync with the burning themes. Not only this, but Kurzel truly sends you back to medieval Scotland. In Macbeth’s lair, the mud and wood all heighten this period setting and is juxtaposed by the glory of the King’s castle which all culminates to make a striking film.

Macbeth is perfection. Never once has arse been so poised on edge of a seat with a gaping jaw dangling to the floor than my screening of Macbeth. Kurzel has crafted something insightful and stirring, passionate and devilish, accomplished and authoritative. Demanding your attention from the beginning, Macbeth is a film that is an artistic exploration enhanced by powerful story-telling. With a slow release and competing against the biggest blockbusters, Macbeth should be scene, witnessed, and treasured.

Macbeth is available on Amazon Video!

Game of Thrones – Prince Charles Cinema Marathon

Game of Thrones has been a cultural phenomenon. It is one of those shows that  transcends every background and age  – people are hooked upon a mystical world of death, dragons, and power-plays. Launching the careers of several a prominent actors, Game of Thrones is now a definitive television series that is at season seven.

If you’ve missed the show OR you are just so addicted you’d love to go through it all again, luckily for your The Prince Charles Cinema (aka, the best in alternative programming,) is showing every single episode of HBO’s greatest series. Every. Single. One. From the beginning to where we are now. How bloody amazing is that?

Starting on the 27th of November and finishing on the 30th of November, head to Westeros for four whole amazing days!

So here’s the question: Could manage three days in a cinema watching your favourite TV shows?

Sign up for your tickets now! 

The Orphanage (El Orfanato) – 10th Anniversary

“Seeing is not believing, it’s the other way round. Believe and you will see.”

The Orphanage (El Orfanato in Spanish) is a supernatural thriller movie. I’m sure I heard a lot of you sigh. After all there is a check list for supernatural horror/thriller movies and on the surface; The Orphanage seems to tick them all. Dilapidated old building? Check. A vast old history? Check. Invisible “friends?” Check. Possible children ghosts? Check. Vengeful mothers? Check. Every worn out cliché? Check check, check and check. It just makes you want to not watch.

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Don’t be dismayed though because what director J. A. Bayona does here with The Orphanage is takes all of that and builds on it making it more of a brilliant movie than a cheap thrill ride.

The Orphanage centres on Laura who with her husband Carlos and son Simon returns to the titular place where she grew up. Intent on re-opening the run down building as a facility for disabled children, Laura aims to bring new life there. When Simon starts saying he has new invisible friends, and strange noises start to echo around the house, it is clear that old life there just doesn’t want to let go. After an argument with Simon and Laura, Simon threatens to run away with his new friends and soon after, he disappears. It is up to Carlos and Laura to find him as soon as they can.

What The Orphanage isn’t is an all budget, all CGI and all screams ghost story. Where most would rely on jumps or gore to shock the audience, The Orphanage doesn’t. Like the great thrillers of Hitchcock, Bayona here uses suspense and intrigue to coax out the frights. The ever-turning story is filled with a building pace that drums as a soft heartbeat only to increase as the story goes on.

Drawing on the atmosphere within a grand building,  Bayona makes an intellectual supernatural thriller that requires more attention as he draws you in. The maze of the house serves as a winding labyrinth of fear as trepidation mounts in winding corridors and secret rooms. On top off this, there is a visceral and palpable emotion that curves alongside the angst. As the two emotions combine, the finale will hit you in the core of your soul.

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Of course, it helps that he and writer Sergio G Sanchez have developed characters with a little bit more juice than American thrillers would. Laura, played delicately by Belen Rueda, is a complex but caring mother. Her past and her future collide as she is devastated by her son’s disappearance. Rueda not only captivates us with the spooky fears that The Orphanage offers but the realistic sadness and distress of losing a child. She is a leading protagonist who gets under our skin much more than the spectres do.  Her support are fantastic too; Fernando Cayo as Carlos the just as troubled father is an outstanding voice of reason and Montserrat Carulla is eerie as the mysterious social worker.

The Orphanage is usually over sold in the U.K. and America as being Guillermo Del Torro’s work (he produced the film) which I believe is wrong. Although his influence and input are in here, it is very much a testament to Bayona’s talent. In fact, The Orphanage is his first feature work and he has since gone on to make weepy The Impossible and this year’s brilliant and emotionally astute A Monster Calls. Bayona knows how to play emotions like a fine piano and The Orphanage is his concerto.

Check out The Orphange with JA Bayona at Prince Charles Cinema TONIGHT!