GFF2021 Review: My Favorite War

Year: 2021Duration: 1h 22mWriter/Director: Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen By Caz Armstrong This animated documentary memoir by Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen tells the story of her own childhood growing up in Soviet-era Latvia in the 1970s to 1990s. She explores the relationship between choice and happiness in the context of growing up under an authoritarian regime. Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen’s early childhood seemed idyllic even though it was tinged … Continue reading GFF2021 Review: My Favorite War

GFF2021 Review: Victim(s)

Year: 2020Duration: 1h 47mWriter/Director: Layla Zhuqing JiStarring: Xianjun Fu, Wilson Hsu, Kahoe Hon By Caz Armstrong This debut feature by writer-director Layla Zhuqing Ji is a stark social commentary on bullying, self-preservation and society’s willingness to judge before they try to listen. Media sensationalism is held to account for stoking unfounded accusations and rumour which destroys people’s lives. But the central theme of bullying is … Continue reading GFF2021 Review: Victim(s)

GFF2021 Review: The Mauritanian

Year: 2021Duration: 2h 9mDirector: Kevin MacdonaldWriters: Sohrab Noshirvani, Michael Bronner, Rory Haines, M.B. Traven, adapted from the book “Guantanamo Diaries” by Mohamedou Ould SlahiStarring: Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley By Caz Armstrong Jodie Foster shines in this Guantanamo Bay political drama but a good performance can’t stop the film from feeling a bit bland. “The Mauritanian” tells the true story of Mohamedou … Continue reading GFF2021 Review: The Mauritanian

Interview with Jeremy Lalonde & Jonas Chernick on “James vs. His Future Self”

Jonas Chernick and Jeremy Lalonde are a prolific duo in their native Canada. Both between them, and together, they have created various raunchy comedies that have proven both humorous, and popular among many demographics, winning several comedy and festival awards in the process.

Their most recent collaboration – “James vs. His Future Self” (2020) – is now available on SkyTV as of this week. It is a hilarious, and quietly sentimental, tale on human growth, with a unique spin on the common time travel trope. It premiered in Britain during the Glasgow Film Festival, where Calum Cooper sat down with the actor and director to discuss their latest project. Continue reading Interview with Jeremy Lalonde & Jonas Chernick on “James vs. His Future Self”

GFF Exclusive Review: How to Build a Girl

Closing the 2020 Glasgow Film Festival is Coky Giedroyc’s adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s “How to Build a Girl” (2019). With a festival that has produced so many great new films by female filmmakers and has advocated diversity in cinema since its inception, it’s appropriate to have the closing film concern the journey of a maturing young woman – the building of a girl if you will. The end result film that is flawed, but nonetheless mature and fun.

Beanie Feldstein is one of the most delightful people walking the earth right now, and her role in this film continues to prove this. Putting on a surprisingly good Warwickshire accent, she is Johanna Morigan, a sixth former who aspires to great things, looking to her wall of heroes – including Jo March, Maria von Trapp and Karl Marx – for guidance. A skilled writer, she submits a review for the “Annie” soundtrack at a weekly music magazine to buy back the family TV. Though initially baffled by this, the magazine eventually hires Johanna where Johanna dons the pen name Dolly Wilde to take her sudden new career to new, and life learning, heights. Continue reading GFF Exclusive Review: How to Build a Girl

GFF Exclusive Review: Perfect 10

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. Continue reading GFF Exclusive Review: Perfect 10

GFF Exclusive Review: Zana

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 realism. A film about pressure and expectation on top of … Continue reading GFF Exclusive Review: Zana

Interview: “Lost Transmissions” director Katharine O’Brien

Moving drama “Lost Transmissions” (2020) is Katharine O’Brien’s debut feature about one man’s struggle with schizophrenia in a healthcare system ill-equipped to help.

Theo (Simon Pegg) is a music producer who stops taking his medication and begins a rapid downward spiral, losing grip on reality and getting into increasingly dangerous situations. His friend Hannah (Juno Temple) chases him through LA and psychiatric institutions to try to get him the support he needs but is thwarted by an inadequate healthcare system.

Based on writer-director Katharine O’Brien’s experiences of trying to support her own friend who went off his medication, the film is deeply affecting. It highlights the difficulties that people suffering from mental health conditions, and their loved ones face.

I spoke with Katharine at the Glasgow Film Festival 2020. Continue reading Interview: “Lost Transmissions” director Katharine O’Brien

GFF Exclusive Review: Body of Water

Lucy Brydon’s “Body of Water” (2020) is a terrific film with sage, meditative weight on its shoulders. Its subject matter is an issue that requires a level of sensitivity to properly address. Brydon herself commented about the horrific fetishisation of such a subject in popular culture during the Q&A after the film. By refusing to fall in line with such trends, she has crafted a film that is simultaneously cathartic and melancholic.

Sian Brooke plays Stephanie, a woman who is seen leaving a care facility at the start of the film. She has been grappling with an eating disorder but appears ready to return home. Waiting for her is her mother Susan (Amanda Burton) – who is about to marry her new partner – and her teenage daughter Pearl (Fabienne Piolini-Castle). Her relationship with both has been fractured due to her struggles with her disorder. Upon her return, Stephanie must put the pieces back together while also dealing with the threat of relapse. Continue reading GFF Exclusive Review: Body of Water