East End Film Festival 2018 – Line-Up

As festival season approaches, the East End Film Festival is returning to it’s usual spring slot to deliver another celebration of some of the best films the world has to offer this year. Let’s take a look at this year’s line up.

Opening the festival this year is Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a documentary exploring the pre-fame years of the celebrated American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and how New York City, its people, and tectonically shifting arts culture of the late 1970s and ’80s shaped his vision. Closing out the show this year will be an outdoor showing of the critically acclaimed Call Me By Your Name, as well as program of New Vision Queer Shorts.

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In competition this year, titles include documentary I Am Another You, the story of Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang crossing America with drifter who chooses to be homeless; teenage dramas Team Hurricane (Denmark) and Different Kinds of Rain (Germany), tackling subjects such as loneliness, anorexia, isolation and parental issues; Tigre (Argentina), the story of a mother trying to connect with her estranged son, and High Fantasy (South Africa/Luxembourg), where a group of friends on a camping trip wake up in each other’s bodies, challenging the idea of South Africa’s Rainbow Nation. The winner of last year’s competition, Sebastian Hoffman, is returning with his second feature Time Share (Mexico/Netherlands), the story of two men attempting to save their families from a sinister American timeshare conglomerate. Finally, there’s also The Bangle Seller/ Balekempa (India), the tale of a couple in a close knit village trying to hide the fact that they cannot conceive a child, and Daha (Turkey), based on an award winning novel about a boy helping his domineering father smuggle refugees to Europe.

UK premiers taking place at this year’s festival include In the Fade (Germany), for which star Diane Kruger receive Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival. Other premieres include Super November (UK), written by and starring Skins actress Josie Long, revenge tale Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Indonesia/France/Malaysia/Thailand), Deborah Haywood’s Pin Cushion (UK), Never Steady, Never Still (Canada), Revenge (France), Freddie Foreman documentary Fred (UK), coming of age football memoir The Bromley Boys (UK), and Blerta Ziqiri’s The Marriage (Kosovo).

Taking place from 11th-29th April, visit www.eastendfilmfestival.co.uk for more information, and see if you can make it down for some excellent cinema.

Ingrid Goes West – Review

With the rise of technology,  there always comes inevitable detractors. Many people who believe that we’ve all become zombies, attached to our screens and our social media lives. There is some truth to it: As much as the internet connects us to anyone overseas, opens us up to worlds of knowledge, and allows us a secret respite from the real world – it has a large and encroaching darkness. As we all buy into these online personas and fantastical lives, we’re addicted to bettering ourselves in self-indulgent ways or the comfort of slinging insults at whomever displeases us.

There are plenty of films out there, like sci-fi dystopias, that deal with the that  impact of social media and technology have had on our culture. Black Mirror, Friend Request, and more have all tried to slice our society down  by attacking this “addiction.” But none seem so hilariously cutting as Ingrid Goes West.

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Starring Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, the movie by Matt Spicer revolves around the titular character who is a mentally unstable woman. After deluding herself into thinking that she is friends with a woman online, resulting in the latter being maced at her wedding, Ingrid is sectioned and subsequently released to start over. Lured to California with the money inherited from her mother’s death, Ingrid soon becomes obsessed with social media business woman Taylor and wastes no time in infiltrating her life, becoming obsessed. How long can she keep up the lie before disintegrating mentally?

Spicer’s witty and intellectual script is not merely an indictment on social media but, instead, puts the onus on the user and our lack of education for social media use. Using this black comedy vehicle, Spicer aims for similar veins of obsession but different in their usage. For Taylor, her addiction is to outsource fame and adoration. While inherently a victim in the film, Taylor is also a keen Instagram user, cracking over aspects of her life for cool photos and corporate sponsorship. Ingrid is more dangerous, consumed with a wanton desperation to be in Taylor’s lives. As the film progresses, it gets darker in these elements and when Ingrid’s plan begins to fracture, the atmosphere switches into a darker and more perverse manner whilst still keeping the off-beat comedy.

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The titular role has to be written for Aubrey Plaza because she is the only one who can encapsulate Ingrid with a compelling nature morphed by her mental illness. Only Plaza can switch through dozens of emotions in seconds and portray every single element in a quiet insanity. With a dry tone, Plaza pushes Ingrid to her limits and it is wonderfully executed. Opposite her is Elizabeth Olsen as Taylor. This character is interesting because she is an airhead masquerading as someone spiritually enlightened; a typical LA socialite. Underneath that is someone equally as lost as Ingrid, using those around her to elevate her status into someone of importance. Together, they have brilliant chemistry that pushes Spicer’s script forward.  In support is the excellent O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ingrid’s Batman obsessed landlord Dan .

Ingrid Goes West‘s finale is bleak; an undercurrent message of how we put status and fictional relationships ahead of our mental illness and life. It is assuredly going to stop to make you think…and even put that Instagram down. For at least, like, an hour.

Ingrid Goes West is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Wonder – Review

We’ve seen this movie before: a disfigured child struggles to find acceptance but bonds with [complete the blank]. From Mask, the 1985 film starring Eric Stoltz as Rocky Dennis, a child brought up with a skull deformity raised by his biker mom (Cher) to Penelope (2006), in which Christina Ricci (The Addams Family) played a young woman with the nose of a pig, the genre comes with a familiar message of appreciating people for who they are regardless of class, ethnicity, disability (or different ability), size, sexuality or in the case of the upcoming Permanent, bad hair.

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Wonder, adapted from the 2012 novel by Rachel J Palacio and starring Jacob Tremblay as August ‘Auggie’ Pullman, a boy with a genetic deformity that has distorted his face and led to him being home schooled by his mom (Julia Roberts) but finally entering fifth grade for the first time, is different. The story is told from multiple perspectives, from Auggie himself to his big sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) to his new best friend Jack Will (Noah Jupe) to his sister’s best friend, Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell).

It still plays that familiar card of giving the ‘different’ kid a special ability – he’s great at science. So when there is a science fair, we know who will win. The multiple viewpoints allows for multiple climaxes, so there isn’t just one tear-jerking moment, but four of them.

As Isabel Pullman, Roberts doesn’t have much to do except play the all-American self-sacrificing mom, who put her dissertation on hold – symbolised by a floppy disc – to raise her family. As dad, Owen Wilson offers light relief as well as genuine gratitude that he is in a movie married to a woman who was once the world’s number one movie star. This primarily is about children, and has the ensemble feel of a superhero movie, one in which a Star Wars character turns up in a cameo – the film capitalises on anticipation for Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

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But co-writer (with Steven Conrad and Britain’s Jack Thorne) and director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of a Wallflower) misses a trick, by not tackling the source of bullying. Bullying is as endemic to American society as the right to bear arms. It is built into the ruthless individualism of the culture, which objectifies the opponent to justify the rightness of winning. It is the culture that brought us ‘America First’ and Donald Trump rather than community values which have reacted to it, when bullying has gone too far. Yes, the film skilfully allows us to enjoy the mini-triumphs – all four of them, and gosh, I wept buckets. What didn’t do is imagine America abandoning individualism for a ‘more perfect union’. Audiences can cry and keep their guns locked and loaded.

Wonder is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!