52 Films By Women – April

Signed up in January for Women In Film’s pledge to watch at least one film helmed by a female director per week. You can do so here if you want to take part. 52 Films By Women

I am going to try and see a new film by a female director every week, but I will occasionally revisit films I haven’t seen in a while, or personal favourites. U.S. Go Home and Miss Julie are first time watches. Blue Steel I saw on VHS not long after it came out but haven’t seen it since. Somewhere is a personal favourite and for me one of the best films of the last decade.

13. Blue Steel (1989, Kathryn Bigelow)

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I remember this Jamie Lee Curtis action movie as being a fairly straightforward genre piece but I was wrong. Blue Steel feels like a sister movie to The Hitcher (1986, Robert Harmon), a weird intimate dance of death between a young innocent and an older madman who is at once antagonist and mentor. No surprise to find both films were scripted by Eric Red, who also wrote Bigelow’s vampire movie Near Dark (1987).

14. U.S. Go Home (1994, Claire Denis)

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Remarkable coming of age tale set in the 60s’ from one of the finest directors in world cinema. 15 year old Martine (Alice Houri) and her best friend Marlene (Jessica Theraud) attend a party held by older teenagers but are hampered by her mother’s insistence they take her over-protective big brother Alain (Gregoire Colin). Leaving the party Martine persuades a reluctant US serviceman (Vincent Gallo) to give her a lift home. This could be a scene played for tension, yet he seems lonely and more afraid than her. Originally made for television series called Tous Les Garcons et le Filles de leur Age, it has a languorous feel, nothing much happens and but these small moments have a profound on these youngsters and you get a sense when they meet again in the morning their relationships with each other have changed irrevocably.

15. Somewhere (2010, Sofia Coppola)

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Always a pleasure visiting Sofia Coppola’s lovely mood piece about a feckless movie star (Steven Dorff) reconnecting with his young daughter (Elle Fanning). There’s no plot, just them hanging out at the Chateau Marmont, with a brief trip to Italy for press tour. Written with an insider’s knowledge of growing up in the industry it’s a quietly affecting drama, beautifully directed by Coppola and even better than her most famous film Lost in Translation (2003).

16. Miss Julie (2014, Liv Ullmann) 

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Former actress Liv Ullmann adapts August Strindberg’s play successfully relocating the setting to Northern Ireland. On a Midsummer’s Eve bored aristocrat Julie (Jessica Chastain) makes a pass at John (Colin Farrell), who is at once horrified and filled with desire. The two flirt and bicker through the night, both aware of the class restrictions placed upon them, their hostility and sexual attraction growing as the night goes on until inevitably things end in tragedy. Beautifully shot by Mikhail Krichman it’s far preferable to the Mike Figgis version filmed in 1999 and both Farrell and Chastain are outstanding.

 

 

52 Films By Women – March

Signed up in January for Women In Film’s pledge to watch at least one film helmed by a female director per week. You can do so here if you want to take part. 52 Films By Women

I am going to try and see a new film by a female director every week, but I will occasionally revisit films I haven’t seen in a while, or personal favourites. This month’s films are all first time watches.

9) Jane. B (1987, Agnès Varda)

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Varda’s inventive and unconventional biography of 60s’ icon Jane Birkin. Though there is documentary footage and interviews with Birkin talking about her life and career most of the film involves them inventing scenarios they would like to see on film. Birkin dressed up as Stan Laurel, or on a picnic with French New Wave poster boy Jean-Pierre Léaud. It’s more of a collaboration than a director/subject relationship with both women inspiring each other creatively.

10) Wildflowers (1999, Melissa Painters)

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Affecting small-town coming-of-age story set in the 1980’s and starring Clea Duvall as a teenager who befriends the older woman (Daryl Hannah) she believes is the mother who abandoned her when she was a baby. Hannah is a hippyish free-spirit who once ran with a counter-culture group in the 60s’ and still refuses to settle down. Eric Roberts in one of his more restrained performances turns up as the ex-lover she left to rot in a prison when things went awry. It’s dreamy and impressionistic in that late 90s’ early 00s’ Indie film way, but it has a feel for lost summers and the intensity of youth.

11) Middle of Nowhere (2012, Ava DuVernay)

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Thoughtful drama from Selma director Ava DuVernay about promising young med student Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) putting her life on hold while her husband is in jail. Personally I’m with the mother (Lorraine Toussaint) who scolds her for wasting time on a deadbeat, but she remains loyal to him and DuVenray’s film is about the strength needed to make that decision however misguided it may be. Especially if David Oyelowo is hanging around waiting in the background.

12) Leaning Towards Solace (2012, Flora Sigismondi)

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Wonderful short film developed by the band Sigur Ros and directed by Floria Sigismondi who made the rock biopic The Runaways (2010). John Hawkes wanders through a dead-end town, drinks a little too much, and delivers a voice-over about the daughter (Elle Fanning) he feels he has somehow failed, while she follows after him performing ballet in an outfit topped off with angel wings. Monologues about parenthood, ethereal music, walking through a barren landscape, religiosity, Leaning Towards Solace does everything a late period Terrence Malick movie does but in 12 minutes.

52 Films by Women – February

Signed up in January for Women In Film’s pledge to watch at least one film helmed by a female director per week. You can do so here if you want to take part. 52 Films By Women

I am going to try and see a new film by a female director every week, but I will occasionally revisit films I haven’t seen in a while, or personal favourites

This month’s films are all first time watches.

5) A New Leaf (1971, Elaine May)

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Wonderfully dark comedy about dissolute rich man Henry (Walter Matthau) who is surprised to find he has spent the entirety of his fortune and resolves to marry a rich woman then dispose of her. Socially awkward botanist Henrietta (May) seems like the perfect victim but his murderous intentions give way to affection and he finds himself falling in love despite his better instincts. Apparently May fell out with the producers over the final cut and the version released does not match her intended vision which was much darker and went after her targets of marriage and the lifestyles of the affluent with much more savagery. It’s still a remarkable film though, hilarious yet melancholic, and in it’s own offbeat way a love story.

6) A Second Chance (2013, Susanne Bier)

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Keen admirer of Susanne Bier (Open Hearts is one of the few really great Dogma movies) but I struggled with this. Grieving cop Andreas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is so appalled at the neglect shown by a junkie couple towards their baby he steals the child to raise as his own. It’s a mixture of gritty social realism and melodrama with decent performances from Coster-Waldau and Ulrich Thomsen as his world-weary partner but Bier’s made better films. Also been watching Bier’s impressive adaptation of John Le Carre’s spy novel The Night Manager for the BBC and if there’s any justice she’ll be Eon Productions first choice to direct the next James Bond film.

7) Belle (2013, Amma Asante)

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Understated and moving British costume drama written by Misan Sagay about the struggle of an illegitimate mixed-race aristocrat to be fully accepted into her own family. While her guardian Lord Chief Justice Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) feels he is acting in her best interests by keeping her shielded from society Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) wants the opportunities afforded to her as part of her birthright. Mansfield, a pragmatic Scot (though Wilkinson drops the accent), feels allowing Belle to attend society events would diminish the family’s standing. The main focus of the action is Belle’s desire to find a place in her world a notorious horrific tragedy haunts the film, an event known as the Zong massacre in which slaves were thrown overboard so a ship’s owners could claim the insurance. Belle that rarest of things, a great British movie and so confidently directed by Asante I wish she was at the helm of In The Heart of the Sea (2015, Ron Howard). Still, if there’s any Robert Louis Stevenson adaptations kicking around Hollywood they know who to call.

8) A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014, Ana Lily Amirpour)

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Promising debut from Iranian/American director set in a fictional city which seems to be a dead-end town for vampires. Like early Wim Wenders movies it’s a love letter to American cinema and a little too artful for its own good but I’m very interested to see what the director does next.

52 Films by Women – January

Signed up in January for Women In Film’s pledge to watch at least one film helmed by a female director per week. You can do so here if you want to take part. 52 Films By Women

I am going to try and see a new film by a female director every week, but I will occasionally revisit films I haven’t seen in a while, or personal favourites.

  1. EDEN (2014, Mia Hansen-Løve)

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Sublime drama set during the club scene in Paris in the 1990s and continuing over the course of two decades. Like Mia Hansen Løve’s previous film Goodbye First Love (2012) it deals with the intensity of youth but always in the background is the feeling this euphoria is momentary. Responsibility begins to weigh the protagonists down and the latter part of both films is this realisation that it’s time to move on.

2. BREAKING THE GIRLS (2012, Jamie Babbit)

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Watchable thriller from director Jamie Babbit, better known for outrageously funny comedies like But I’m a Cheerleader (2001) and the underrated Welcome to Fresno (2014), Breaking the Girls reworks Patricia Highsmith/Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train switching the subtle homoeroticism of the original for Wild Things (1998, John McNaughton) style erotic trysts in swimming pools. Agnes Bruckner plays the Farley Granger role as the innocent who realises too late her new friend’s plan to ‘trade’ murders wasn’t a joke. Madeline Zima is the killer with a childhood full of hurt.

3. FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991, Rachel Talalay)

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Rented this back in the day but recall very little about it except Freddy killing somebody by trapping them inside a video game. Turns out the actor in that scene was a very young Breckin Mayer. Freddy’s Dead is more entertaining than I remember though the film’s biggest flaw is it’s played for laughs rather than horror. It’s fun though and female leads Liza Zane (brainy) and Lezlie Dean (martial artist) are so strong that you wonder who will be the final girl.

4. REAL GENIUS (1985, Martha Coolidge)

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One of those 80s’ comedies that appears to be very dumb on the outside but is actually really smart and has a tremendous feeling for its outsider characters. Gabe Jarrett is the new boy at a school for geniuses who has to deal with his own social awkwardness and the chaotic behaviour of star pupil Val Kilmer. Deservedly gained a cult reputation over the years.

Ten Favourite Films of 2015

10. By the Sea (Angelina Jolie)

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Given my love for 60s’/70s’ European art movies and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tales of beautiful fuck ups, both of which are clear influences here I should have known I’d fall for By the Sea. Dismissed as a vanity project Jolie’s drama about a glamorous couple’s faltering marriage is worth taking seriously. Jolie’s other half Brad Pitt plays a writer who’s taken to drink, while she plays a former dancer who develops an infatuation with the younger couple staying in the next room of their hotel. Fittingly for a film about voyeurism Jolie displays a great eye for composing the frame. Add to that Melanie Laurent, an appearance by Diva/Subway actor Richard Bohringer, plus a Gabriel Yared soundtrack and By the Sea feels like a love letter to French cinema from one of Hollywood’s most enigmatic stars. 

9. Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro)

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Sublime take on the Gothic Romance with Mia Wasikowska as the straight-laced young lady who falls for a dashing aristocrat (Tom Hiddleston) with a secret in his attic, or to be clearer his entire fucking house. Crimson Peak is as beautiful as and haunting as Mario Bava’s Kill Baby Kill (1966) and there is no higher praise. And people who said it wasn’t frightening weren’t paying enough attention to the murderous look in Jessica Chastain’s eyes.

8. Youth (Paolo Sorrentino)

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Paolo Sorrentino’s slightly overblown follow-up to The Great Beauty (2013) will only give ammunition to his detractors but I loved every minute of it. From LFF review. 

Youth occasionally teeters on the edge of absurdity but it’s anchored by beautifully judged performances from the leads. Caine, working with a great Italian director for the first time since Vittorio De Sica in 1967’s Woman Times Seven, has wonderful chemistry with Kietel. There’s a real feeling of mutual affection present in their conversations about their memories of their shared past. Kietel does regret very well as his wonderful performance as a burnt out Hollywood agent showed in Ari Folman’s The Congress (2012) and he’s terrific here as a Blake Edwards-type film director who is blissfully unaware his best days are behind him until his muse (a coruscating cameo by Jane Fonda) sets him straight.”

7. Ruined Heart (Khavn De La Cruz)

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Khavn De La Cruz’s near wordless crime movie set in the back alleys of Manila features a familiar array of movie archetypes, most notably the charismatic Tadanobu Asano as a hitman whose relationship with a sex worker (Nathalie Acevedo) brings him into conflict with a local gangster. But it’s the approach to the material rather than story which make Khavn’s film so special. Musical performances and imagery propel the narrative. My own favourite moment is when Asano visits a grave and a mournful sax solo plays and the camera pulls back to reveal the sax-player standing close by in the graveyard. Assisted by legendary director-of-photography Chris Doyle Ruined Heart is colourful, chaotic, and ultimately moving.

6. Pasolini (Abel Ferrara)

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Ferrara regular Willem Dafoe stars as legendary Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini casually going about his business during the last few hours of his life before his murder in 1975. He does an interview, works on a screenplay (excerpts of which Ferrara has filmed and interweaves into the story), and cruises for younger men. Considering the reputation of both men for controversy Pasolini is surprisingly restrained in approach is up there with Ferrara’s best work The Funeral and The Addiction.

5. Evolution (Lucille Hadžihalilović)

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A decade after her last movie Innocence (2005) Hadžihalilović returns with another strange tale about children living in a hermetic society with its own rules. In this remarkable dreamlike body/horror a young boy grows lives on an island inhabited only by mothers and their young sons. All of the boys are suffering from the exact same illness and getting treatment at a local hospital. Yet the boy remembers things nobody else has ever seen and begins to wonder about his place in the world. Excerpt from LFF review. 

“With its unsettling horror sequences and art-house sensibility Evolution put me in mind of another great French film, Trouble Every Day (2002, Claire Denis). That was simultaneously too gory for most ‘serious’ film fans and too arty for gore-hounds leaving it with only a small devoted following. Certainly at the screening I attended there was an interesting reaction with one rather strident plummy-voiced gentleman tearing into Hadžihalilović for filming “obscenities” and asking the visibly rattled director what her film meant. Bizarrely the chap giving Hadžihalilović a bollocking turned out to be Peter Bowles, star of the 80s’ sitcom To The Manor Born

4. Carol (Todd Haynes)

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Todd Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy’s beautiful adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s ‘The Price of Salt’ captures the woozy yearning of the novel. Extract from my LFF review here.

“While Far From Heaven imitated a particular style of filmmaking from the 50s’ Carol is located firmly in the period itself. This is a more realistic presentation of the era with a muted if not quite drab colour scheme. Emotions are mostly kept in check as you would expect from a film set during a period when homosexuality was illegal, but occasionally they burst forth. Abby quietly weeping while driving, Carol pulling a gun on a private detective, and finally rising to a crescendo during its transcendent last scene.”

3. Mad Max Fury Road (George Miller) 

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Not quite the equal of Mad Max 2 (1981) but Miller’s orchestration of vehicular insanity remains as exhilarating as ever. Tom Hardy makes for an adequate replacement for persona non grata Mel Gibson, though he lacks his predecessor’s intensity. Hardy’s road warrior seems more melancholy than crazed, so it’s left to Charlize Theron’s Furiosa to drive the narrative forward. Some people have claimed there’s no plot but that’s nonsense. They go one way, then turn back, and all hell follows with them.  

2. The Lobster (Yannos Lanthimos)

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Yannos Lanthimos take on the horrors of loneliness and romance is as darkly funny as a Franz Kafka short story. It also proves that sweetly befuddled is the default setting for a great Colin Farrell performance.

“Lanthimos satirises both singleness and coupledom as being equally awful in their different ways. The first half of The Lobster is hilarious but once the action moves away from the hotel and into the forest the tone darkens. Lanthimos remains true to main theme of the film though, the insurmountable distance between people, played for laughs at first, but as it progresses and with its devastating final shot The Lobster becomes the bleakest film of the year.”

1. Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller)

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Portrait of the artist as a young woman. From EIFF roundup.

“Brit actress Bel Powley is astonishing as Minnie, a High School kid who begins a sexual relationship with her mother’s waster boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard). Based on a graphic novel by Pheobe Gloeckner about her own experiences growing up in 1970s’ San Francisco, animated sequences help express Minnie’s off-kilter view of the world. The film is also surprisingly sympathetic to all of the characters regardless how questionable their behaviour is. This refusal to moralise turns what could have been a heavy-handed, obvious drama in a lesser storyteller’s hands into something more complex.”

Criterion Blogathon – The Unbearable Lightness of Being

This post is part of the Criterion Blogathon hosted by Criterion Blues, Speakeasy, and Sliver Screenings. For my contribution I have chosen the Criterion release The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988, Philip Kaufman).

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Literary adaptations often struggle in comparison to their source material. Screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere and Philip Kaufman’s movie may be less complex than Milan Kundera’s highly praised novel but it succeeds on its own terms.“What were their deaths compared with the memories of a lost period in my life? A period that would never return.” Kundera writes and this sense of personal loss is present in the film. The Unbearable Lightness of Being was made by people whose worldview and political affiliations were formed in the 60s’ and it aches with nostalgia for failed revolutions and lost youth.

Kundera’s novel begins with two short chapters reflecting on the contrast between living once or reliving multiple lives with the ability to make choices. “In the world of eternal return the weight of unbearable responsibility lies heavy on every move we make.” This theme of lightness and weight continues throughout the novel. Kundera is the narrator and makes no pretence these characters ever existed. They are ciphers representing different approaches to dealing with the uncertainty of life. 

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There’s Tomas, a middle-aged surgeon caught up in the political aftermath of the Prague Spring and weighed down by love when he inadvertently finds it. Tereza, the small town girl whose neediness requires an authority figure to submit to. Carriere’s screenplay will omit the details about her background, her horrendous mother and weak father who ends up broken and imprisoned by the authorities. Sabina who runs from any form of commitment, be it romantic or political. Franz, a strong sympathetic Swiss businessman who is drawn to political causes and leaves his wife for Sabina. A key figure in the novel Franz’s role is cut back here and his trip to Cambodia to protest against the War is excised completely. 

Producer Saul Zaentz was well known for taking ambitious novels and adapting them for the screen. Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast (86, Peter Weir), Peter Matthiessen’s At Play in the Fields of the Lord (91, Hector Babenco), and Michael Ondjaate’s The English Patient (96, Anthony Minghella), all difficult novels for any screenwriter to approach. Carriere’s screenplay removes the narrator completely and distills events into a linear storyline. Only at the end will the film replicate Kundera’s non-linear storytelling with one character finding something out before the viewer sees it happening onscreen. Tomas is now a younger man (Day-Lewis was 29 at the time of filming), rather than in his late 40′s with a grown-up son he avoids contact with. 

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In 1968 Carriere experienced the Prague Spring first hand while working on pre-production for a Milos Forman movie. They had moved on to Paris when the Russian tanks went in to reassert authority. Ironically Forman had studied under Milan Kundera at university and was the author’s choice to adapt The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The Chicago-born Kaufman whose last film was the all-American tale of heroism The Right Stuff (84) about the development of the US’s space program seems a more eclectic choice until you look at his 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), which turns the ‘Red Menace’ subtext of the original into a movie about living under occupation. The few survivors can trust no-one, even if they look like or seem to be their friends.. A perfect allegory for life under Russian Communist rule which ruthlessly policed its subjects and demanded conformity.

The opening image is of a closed door, and we hear the laughter of  lovers coming from within like this is the beginning of an erotic film from the 60s or 70s. A series of brief inter-titled scenes setting up the relationships between the three main characters. The carefree hedonistic lifestyle led by Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis), his abilities as a surgeon and a lover, his playful sexual relationship with kindred spirit Sabina (Lena Olin), and the moment his pursuit of naive young waitress Tereza (Juliette Binoche) in a country spa are all quickly established. An inter-title which locates events in the past (In Prague there once lived a young doctor named Tomas) also adds a fairytale once upon a time feel to the story aided by composer Leo Janacek’s (who is name-checked in Kundera’s novel) Fairy Tale III. Allegro. Later Tomas will shush Tereza to sleep with an improvised spoken lullaby,

“Like a little song.
A song sung by a forest…
within a forest…
a thousand years ago”

and playfully describe himself as a “monster” while in bed with Sabina. Day-Lewis with his tall angular pre-Last of the Mohicans (92, Michael Mann) frame looks like an Old World vampire hunting for virginal waifs. The charming wolf in the forest little girls are warned about in old folk tales.

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The early part of the film has some of the anarchic comedy of Forman’s Czech New Wave era movies. While The Unbearable Lightness of Being was marketed as a highbrow literary adaptation it’s erotic content was also a selling point. Most notably in a striking poster based on the scene above showing Lena Olin wearing black underwear kneeling on a mirror. One of the reasons foreign films did so well during the 60s’ in the UK/US was the possibility of seeing nudity under the guise of intellectualism. In that respect Kaufman’s film echoes that era perfectly. As with Betty Blue (86, Jean-Jacques Beineix), The Unbearable Lightness of Being found a key audience among intellectually curious young people. Far classier and less soft-focus than Nine and a Half Weeks (85, Adrian Lyne) or White Orchid (90, Zalman King) and neither had Mickey Rourke in them.

This voyeurism goes beyond titillation. People observing each other is a key part of the film. Tomas prowls around sharing glances with possible sexual partners. He sees Tereza before she see him, watching her as she dives into a pool disrupting the game of chess a bunch of old guys are playing. She notices Tomas for the first time in the cafe where she works and takes an interest because he is reading a book. A scene that will be replicated later in the film for both of them. After Teresa leaves him in Geneva Tomas notices a pretty waitress who reminds him of his wife. Teresa is befriended by a stranger (Stellan Skarsgaard) who intervenes when a customer turns nasty, though this proves to be a ruse designed to make her complicit in a criminal act. 

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Prior to the invasion they observe the previous Communist regime eating in a bar-restaurant and decide they all look like “scoundrels.” Tomas theorises on Oedipus who removed his own eyes out of shame, with the previous regime’s refusal to acknowledge guilt for human rights abuses and writes an article for a political magazine. An act the Russians wilfully misinterpret to remove him from his position in the days after the Prague Spring. Mirrored surfaces, reflections, shots taken through windows recur throughout the film. Sabina is a painter, an aesthete with an interest in art which transcends the ordinary. Tereza develops an interest in photography and she finds her own way of seeing. During the uprising (a mixture of archive footage and new scenes featuring Day-Lewis and Binoche skilfully cut together by the great Walter Murch ) Tereza’s photographs taken to show the world what is happening end up being used as evidence by the Russians to arrest and imprison protestors. They are always watching too, looking for something they can use against people as leverage.

Tomas publishes his article about Oedipus because it amuses him, and refuses to recant on his return to Prague out of pride rather than political principle. “It couldn’t be less important” he tells a KGB official. Although Tereza gets a job at a magazine in Geneva they reject her work and ask her instead to photograph plants and pretty women. She returns to Prague because she finds life in the ‘free’ West meaningless.  Sabina copes by leaving places whenever At heart she is a solitary and Olin captures the contradiction between somebody who needs people for sexual or artistic gratification almost as much as she needs to be free of them afterwards. The weight of political upheaval lies heavily on all three of them despite their attempts to avoid it.

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In the novel Kundera describes kitsch as “a folding screen set up to curtain off death.” Something to comfort people by presenting a heightened idealised message even if that story is a tragedy. Essentially the film breaks the novel down into a romantic drama, but it successfully avoids the perils of kitsch. While in the novel the characters feel like extensions of the author’s philosophical beliefs Carriere’s screenplay and the actors make them feel real. There’s genuine emotional heft here which feels earned at the end of its 172 minute running time.

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LFF 2015 – Ruined Heart

Filmgoers hung up on plot-driven narratives might want to skip punk filmmaker Khavn De La Cruz’s crime movie. Set in the back alleys of Manila, Ruined Heart features a familiar array of movie archetypes. Criminal, Godfather, Best Friend, Whore. Khavn introduces them by having the actors walk towards the screen one by one and giving them their label. Tadanobu Asano is the criminal whose relationship with a sex worker (Nathalie Acevedo) brings him into conflict with a local gangster. The cliched elements of the story are acknowledged in the film’s subtitle (Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore). We learn nothing more about them. Khavn tells this story through images and music and his title song ‘Ruined Heart’ performed by Bing Austria becomes a refrain throughout the film. Assisted by legendary director-of-photography Chris Doyle Ruined Heart is a colourful, chaotic, and ultimately sublime sensory experience.

LFF Connects – Alistair Hope

Fascinating talk with Alistair Hope, creative director for the game Alien: Isolation. Set between events in Alien (79, Ridley Scott) and Aliens (86, James Cameron) it follows Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen, as she searches for her missing mother and ends up trapped on a space station with a Xenomorph and a handful of survivors. It’s an unbearably tense experience, beautifully designed, and oddly affecting at times as Ripley gets closer to the truth about her mother. 20th Century Fox were hugely supportive of the project and gave Hope and his team access to production material from the original movie even going so far as allowing them access to their archives. The resulting game looks pleasingly like Ridley Scott’s roughnecks-in-space vision of the future. Hope also mentioned being influenced by the work of Terrence Malick and what Hope described as “the space between the action” in The Thin Red Line. Alien: Isolation fits so well into the universe established by the film franchise it’s hard not to consider it canon.