This week's At the Flix will mention some mainstream releases below but in reality, if you're going to do anything remotely film related then you need to get on board with The Flatpack Festival which starts next Thursday.
The Flatpack Festival Put simply, this festival is one of the jewels in Birmingham's cultural calendar and I am always very excited at what's in store. This year is no different. Starting next week from the 20th until 30th March, you are promised 11 very exciting days of "joyous audio-visual invention in venues all over Birmingham". Check out their events calendar for all the info.
This is an essential experience taking you out of your normal confines or expectation of what film is and can achieve. It's education, quirky, experimental and nothing if not inspirational, including a number of local showcases as well as one off performances, projects, live events, a delve into film culture and much much more. Flatpack brings the city together and shows it for the creative powerhouse that it is.
Be sure to visit www.flatpackfestival.org.uk for the all the up to date info on what's happening
Mainstream releases this week ….
Under the Skin (15) This has to be one of the year's most anticipated releases, this is a film, nine years in the making from director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth). Adapted from the cult Michel Faber novel, Under The Skin stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien masquerading as a woman who stalks the streets of Glasgow, procuring not-so gullible lads from the backstreets of Glasgow and local area for her nourishment.
This film is far more than an alien preying on unsuspecting Glaswegians. The film is an exercise in dynamics, clearly influenced heavily on the visual abstraction and surrealism as well as sci-fi and horror leanings of the likes of Nic Roeg, David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick amongst others. It might as well be Johansson walking unsuspected amongst Glasgow, with a wig and makeup to make it unapparent that it is her. The alien aspect is as much about her entering a film world usually the domain of Ken Loach or Andrea Arnold.
Furthermore, the film's use of imagery, graphic or implied, serves as stark contrast to the blatant one-size fits all mentality of mainstream horror films emerging from Hollywood over the past ten to fifteen years.
British critics have largely been five-starring this film which I am anticipating to be as sexy, disturbing, gorgeous and lingering as it looks in the trailer.
The Zero Theorem (15) The Zero Theorem heralds the return of the great Terry Gilliam to the big screen. The stories of the making of Gilliam's have often been a film worthy as the actual films themselves as demonstrated by Lost in La Mancha. When he's great though, by god, he's inspiring. Gilliam's post-Python oeuvre is full of visual imagination, comedy and sheer chaos as proven with Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, Time Bandits and The Fisher King. Even some of his 'failures' I think are examples of ambition and drive even if lacking in coherency or substance.
His films are also often 'satires' of the present, even when set in the future, as proven by films like Twelve Monkeys and Brazil. Zero Theorem seems to follow closest in the spirit of Brazil, with computer hacker's goal to discover the reason for human existence yet finding his work continually interrupted by the Management.
With the always brilliant Christoph Waltz in the lead role supported by the likes of Ben Whishaw, Tilda Swinton and Matt Damon, I am always hopeful that Gilliam world this time round is challenging, mad and darkly comic and does have some real substance and coherence.
Need for Speed (12A) As Maverick and Goose once collectively said, "I feel the need, the need for speed". Well, they got their wish but in the shape of fast cars. I played a computer game many years ago called Need for Speed and it was a mildly entertaining ride for a couple of hours. Why is it then that I can't get excited about the loose adaptation of the video game into a film.
Has there actually been any really good films adapted from video games? For everything else, there's still always Top Gear for balding middle aged men driving fast cars around? That seems far more entertaining than this. I fully expect the casual gamer will stay in their couches and continue to play their games rather than watch this.
It Happened One Night Film screening and two course meal at Opus Thursday 20th March Dinner from 6pm, Film 8:15pm (105 mins), £14 Here's a lovely event running as part of the Film Bug festival (who are heavily involved in the Flatpack Festival). Kicking off a series of food and film events running through the Film Bug festival, Opus at Cornwall Street will be serving up two courses from their seasonal market menu to precede one of the greats from Hollywood’s golden age. It Happened One Night was the first film to win all five major Academy Awards, and the appearance of a bare-chested Clark Gable set in motion a 75% decline in American vest sales.
To book, call Opus on 0121 200 2323.
Right, I need to get back to my diary and mark my calendar for the Flatpack Festival goodies I want to go to. Till next week… !!!
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