“The Wolf Hour” is set in an era ripe for cinematic depiction; the summer of 1977. We spend part of this summer with reclusive agoraphobic June (Naomi Watts) as she is cramped in the smoldering heat of her stuffy, dusty, apartment in a dilapidated South Bronx walkup. An apartment with a window which--as June peers through with a cigarette in nudged between her pointer and index finger--seems to be a television with a crime show playing on repeat. The apartment itself is coated with dust; we see piles of books graying with grime, and what would appear to be discarded items pilling up in every corner. June herself has greasy coffee-colored hair; she is fleeced with a perpetual sheen of sweat. It’s miserable--the oppressive bleakness in her apartment mirrors the brutal crime outside. This is a rousing, dark look at a depressed, tortured woman’s self-imposed isolation. A near-colorless depiction of a mental struggle which is carried defiantly, from beginning to end, by a stunning performance from Watts.
"Banana Split" is the directorial debut film from director Benjamin Kasulke, with a screenplay written by the film's main star Hannah Marks and Joey Power. The film follows April (Marks) who has spent the last two years of high school in a relationship with Nick (Dylan Sprouse), from the first frantic make-out session to final tear-stained breakup. In the aimless summer between graduation and college, the newly single April mends her heartbreak by striking up an unexpected friendship with an unlikely candidate: Nick’s new girlfriend, Clara (Liana Liberato). Our writer Mique Watson jumped at the chance to speak to Benjamin regarding the film after reviewing the film for ITOL. Below, we hear from Benjamin about how he became involved in the project, what drew him to this story and these characters, and his transition from the role of cinematographer to the director's chair.
“Wait, which Sprouse is this?” I asked myself as “Banana Split” began. The Sprouse in question here is Dylan--brother of Cole Sprouse (as seen on Netflix’s Riverdale); one of two twins who’ve left their Disney days behind. The Sprouse brother here plays Nick, yer typical high school beach blonde with long hair and a toned physique. This tale begins with him and his best friend, April (Hannah Marks); they instantaneously mutually decide to take their friendship to the next level. Within the film’s first two minutes, you see it all: their first date, their first fight, the first time they have sex (if seeing Zack Martin of “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” in a sex scene served as a reminder of how old you’ve gotten: welcome to the club, I’m here for you), and their eventual breakup.
“Make Up” is the feature debut for English writer/director Claire Oakley. A horror/drama film about a teenage girl tangling with her own emotions and relationships in a Cornish caravan park as surreal occurrences start to untangle her sense of reality. The film starts very promisingly, as protagonist Ruth (played by Molly Windsor) arrives at the caravan park in the middle of the night. The film starts building a surreal atmosphere early, as many of the side characters speak in slightly odd, unnatural dialogue in a way that feels intentional. Wide shots and lateral tracks are frequently used to add to this unsettling air as Ruth starts to believe that her boyfriend Tom (Joseph Quinn) is cheating on her.
The person introducing “Two of Us” (aka “Deux”) to audiences at the Glasgow Film Festival made sure to note the film’s confident filmmaking from feature debut writer/director Filippo Meneghetti. This was an incredibly accurate assessment. The film’s extensive use of Spielbergian oners and dramatic push-ins is emblematic of a creator with full control of their toolbox of cinematic tricks without feeling the need to over-indulge or show-off. Meneghetti deftly uses restraint to create intrigue and suspense in this small, personal story. But key to making this film as engaging as it is are the lead performances of Barbara Sukowa and Martine Chevallier who perfectly play their roles as an elderly queer couple kept apart by tragic circumstance and the bigotry of those around them.
Edinburgh based writer/director Eva Reilly has made a compassionate coming-of-age story that brims with legitimacy with her debut feature, “Perfect 10” (2019). A Brighton-set feature that recalls such films as Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” (2009), this is a confident start to a filmmaking career. It displays natural talent and an abundance of promise for growth, for the director and main star alike. Paralleling Reilly’s debut is star Frankie Box giving her first feature performance. She plays Leigh, a gifted teenage gymnast who is suffering. Her passion for sport has slowly dissipated, drained bit by bit by a broken, neglectful home life and the other gymnasts referring to her as a “charity case”. One day, an older boy named Joe (Alfie Deegan) enters her home and reveals that they are half-siblings. This unexpected development drastically changes Leigh’s life for better and for worse.
In this day and age female screenwriters still face barriers within the film industry. In fact, a study conducted in 2017 found that women represented just 11 per cent of the writers on the United States’ top 250 films. They fared a little better in the world of Television, where they made up 33 per cent of television writers during the States’ 2016-17 season. One has to wonder what the great screenwriter Frances Marion would have to say about these figures. There's a high chance that you haven't heard of Marion, but her screenwriting attributes have had a long-lasting impact on cinema and helped shaped the language of storytelling on the big screen. She wrote the stories and scenarios for over three hundred films in a career that spans from early days of cinema and into the sound era. Her work earned her two Academy Awards for screenwriting.
Year: 2019 Runtime: 97 Minutes Director: Antoneta Kastrati Writers: Casey Cooper Johnson, Antoneta Kastrati Stars: Adriana Matoshi, Astrit Kabashi, Fatmire Sahiti By Calum Cooper The Kosovan drama “Zana” (2019) is an utterly devastating watch. It is a film that intertwines the past and present to categorically display the long term effects of trauma with blistering... Continue Reading →
Jean-Luc Godard’s "Breathless" made her the star of the French New Wave; this star, however, was an image that its actress, Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) wanted to escape from. ‘Seberg’ is a tale of how she attempted to do precisely that. In her efforts to distance herself from the frivolity of the movie industry, she was punished. She was tormented and harassed by the hands of a paranoid government and their propagandist media counterparts; sound familiar? Stewart is an interesting choice: She isn’t particularly known for the sweetness and perkiness that Seberg is, however, like Seberg, has made a name for herself in French cinema (with some help from Oliver Assayas, she has been given the chance to act alongside and demonstrate her talents with Juliette Binoche).