cinema · GFF20

Film review: Calm With Horses

 Glanbeigh is a fictional small-town on the west coast of Ireland which serves as the bleak yet breath-taking backdrop for a series of short stories called Young Skins by author Colin Barrett. Crime novella Calm With Horses is the bruising centrepiece of the collection and has been adapted for the screen by newcomer director Nick Rowland and screenwriter Joseph Murtagh. The plot centres around ex-boxer turned muscle Douglas ‘Arm’ Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis) who does the dirty work of Dympna (Barry Keoghan) for the drug-pedalling Devers family. When he discovers that his ex-girlfriend Ursula (Niamh Algar) is moving to Cork with their young son Jack, he is forced to confront his conflicting loyalties head on.

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cinema · GFF20

Film review: Eternal Beauty

It’s been a decade since Welsh actor Craig Roberts’ breakthrough performance in Richard Ayoade’s critically acclaimed indie film Submarine. Sally Hawkins played the part of his mother back then, and now she takes up the leading role in comedy drama Eternal Beauty, his second feature as writer and director. The plot centres around Jane (Hawkins) who suffered a psychological breakdown years earlier after being jilted at the altar. Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, we see how she interacts with her sisters Nicola (Billie Piper) and Alice (Alice Lowe), her mother Vivian (Penelope Witton) and her madcap love interest Mike (David Thewlis) who has mental health issues of his own.

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cinema · GFF20

Film review: Standing Up, Falling Down

Much beloved actor Billy Crystal is best known for his delightful performances in classic romantic comedies, but he started out his career as a stand-up comedian. He makes a return to this area in Matt Ratner’s directorial debut Standing Up, Falling Down. The plot centres around down-on-his-luck jokesmith Scott (Ben Schwartz) who, after an unsuccessful stint attempting to ‘make it’ in on the LA circuit, moves back in with his parents in his hometown. At a local bar, he bumps into his dermatologist Marty (Crystal) who appears to have a drinking problem, and the pair strike up an unlikely friendship.

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cinema · Interviews · LFF19

Muscle Interview: Gerard Johnson – ‘There’s a swingers party sequence and my director’s cut is a little more graphic.’

Indie director Gerard Johnson’s latest movie is Muscle, a psychological thriller starring Cavan Clerkin and Craig Fairbrass. The plot follows out-of-shape salesman Simon who meets an intimidating personal trainer at his local gym. After its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, I caught up with Gerard to discuss the film…

How did the London premiere go?

It was great! It was my first time having a film at London. I’m from London so it was nice that I finally got to play a film there. My previous two Tony and Hyena both premiered in Edinburgh, so it was lovely to premiere in London with Muscle. The three screenings went well and generated great word of mouth buzz, so it was everything I wanted from the festival really.

Where did the inspiration come from for Simon’s story?

Well I’ve been going to gyms all my life really, from the spit-and-sawdust ones to the more modern lifestyle ones. I’ve had this idea for a while of a personal trainer taking over someone’s life, and it remained a two-page treatment idea for years. Recently, in seeing how gym culture has exploded, it made me think that we’ve never really had a film about gym culture. Obviously, there was Pumping Iron, which is an amazing gym-based documentary but that’s more about Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. Nowadays, everyone is more health conscious and knows about nutrition, carbs, good fats etc. so it feels like a good time to shine a light on that world in the cinema.

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cinema · LFF19

Film review: The Irishman

The ninth collaboration between legendary pairing Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro and their first in over twenty years, mob drama The Irishman has been a long time coming. Based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by true crime writer Charles Brandt, the plot centres around Frank Sheeran (De Niro), the eponymous WWII veteran turned hitman. From meeting mafia kingpin Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) to his complicated friendship with union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), the sprawling epic tracks the life and times of the mercilessly loyal footsoldier.

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cinema · LFF19

Film review: Muscle

 Indie filmmaker Gerard Johnson isn’t content with making simple crime movies. His work to date has blended the genre with other elements, crossing into wider arthouse ideas. With psychological thriller Muscle, he casts his directorial gaze upon gym culture and the toxic masculinity that can come with it. The plot follows Simon (Cavan Clerkin), a schlubby call-centre worker stuck in a rut. In an attempt to better himself, he joins the local gym where he meets Terry (Craig Fairbrass), an intimidating personal trainer who offers Simon a helping hand. They strike up an unlikely friendship, but it soon becomes apparent that all is not what it seems.

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cinema · LFF19

Film review: Marriage Story

 Indie filmmaker Noah Baumbach explores love within the confines of separation with divorce drama Marriage Story. The plot follows actress Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and her theatre director husband Charlie (Adam Driver) as their relationship is falling apart. With their young son to consider, they want an amicable break-up, but once lawyers get involved, the situation becomes messy and emotionally charged.

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cinema · LFF19

Film review: Nocturnal

 Musician turned actor Cosmo Jarvis has quietly impressed in small supporting turns for a number of years, and now has his first leading role in Nathalie Biancheri’s unconventional family drama Nocturnal. Painter and decorator Pete (Jarvis) endures a bleak and uncomplicated existence in a small coastal town, but his life is thrown through a loop when old flame Jean (Sadie Frost) returns with his long-estranged teenage daughter Laurie (Lauren Coe) in tow. Attempting to make a connection, he strikes up an unusual friendship with the cynical schoolgirl without revealing his true intentions.

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cinema · EIFF19

Film review: Thirty (Dreissig)

Bulgarian filmmaker Simona Kostova taps into the societal pressures and insecurities of getting older with German indie drama Thirty. Writing, editing, and directing the project, she tells the story of five friends approaching the end of their twenties. Birthday boy Övünç, and his friends Pascal, Raha, Kara, and Henner come together in celebration, and head out into the busy streets of Berlin to mark the occasion.

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cinema · EIFF19

Film review: Strange But True

British filmmaker Rowan Athale heads across the pond for his latest feature Strange but True, based on John Searles’ novel of the same name. The noir-thriller plot follows Philip (Nick Robinson) who has moved back to his hometown to recover from a broken leg. When heavily pregnant Melissa (Margaret Qualley) turns up at his door, she tells him that his brother Ronnie (Connor Jessup) is her child’s father. The strange part is…Ronnie was killed in a car accident five years earlier.

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